Christmas breakfast should be, without a doubt, nearly carefree. That being said, it must also be delectable, desirable, and delightful all the while taking care of itself while you open gifts, listen to A CHRISTMAS CAROL, or zoom with the family or friends. Egg breakfast or brunch casseroles — also known as stratas — fit the bill perfectly and are endlessly adaptable to ingredients on hand. This bacon (ham? sausage? veggie crumbles? chorizo?) version topped with brightly colored chopped peppers (mushrooms? tomatoes? jalapeños? zucchini? fennel?) provides six or eight servings but is also perfect for a smaller group who also might enjoy leftovers. That would be us. Though we are rarely at home alone for Christmas, we are this year as are many people all over the world. We’ll make our brunch dish a day ahead, of course, bake it on Christmas morning, and enjoy it over the whole weekend. We might even freeze a couple of pieces for an easy weekend brunch in January.
Serving one? Halve the recipe, which works perfect in an 8 or 9-inch square casserole dish. Relish for a couple of days, share, or freeze.
Need something sweet to serve alongside the casserole?
And, of course, a little cocktail never hurt. Here’s our new brunch favorite, a Za’atar Bloody Mary. (Lovely in the “virgin” version, too.) Recipes for the casserole and the mary just below. Have a merry feeling you’ll try this festive fare:
CHRISTMAS BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
- 1/2 pound bacon fried very crispy and chopped
- 1 small yellow onion — chopped and sautéed
- 1 clove garlic — minced and sautéed a minute with the onion
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper–optional
- 6 slices good quality white sandwich bread or rustic loaf — somewhat stale is fine
- 2 cups grated pepper jack cheese (can use jalapeño jack or sharp white Cheddar or Gouda)
- 3/4 cup diced red and green bell peppers-can sub jalapeño or poblanos for the green bell peppers–to be added on top just before baking
- Set aside the cooked bacon, onions and garlic. Beat eggs alone in a large bowl and then beat in milk, mustard, salt, black and crushed red pepper. Stir in the bread, cheese, and the reserved onions, garlic, and bacon. (You'll add the bell peppers later.) Mix well. Pour into a greased 2-quart casserole. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight if possible.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove casserole from fridge and top with bell peppers. Grate a little more black pepper over the top of the egg mixture. Bake 45 minutes or until firm and crispy brown at edges. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 5 minutes before cutting. Serve hot, warm, at room temperature, or cold. Reheats well in the microwave or in hot oiled skillet, covered.
Warm up leftovers covered for just a minute or so in the microwave or heat a small skillet with oil, add a piece of casserole, lower heat, cover and cook until bubbly. If you cut the casserole in half or into pieces, it’ll heat more quickly whichever method you choose.
Za’atar Bloody Mary
- Ice cubes
- Shot of vodka (leave out for a virgin version)
- 5 ounces low-sodium V8 juice
- 1 teaspoon pickle juice
- 1/8 teaspoon grated Horseradish
- 1 shake each Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco-double for a spicier version
- Sprinkle each Celery, or kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper (double for a spicier version)
- 1/2 lime
- Generous sprinkle of za’atar seasoning
- Stir together all ingredients except lime and za'atar in an on-the-rocks glass. Run lime around edge of glass, squeeze juice into the mary, and add to the glass. Sprinkle on top with the za'atar and serve cold.
MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED:
We’re having clam chowder for Christmas Eve.
Need a GF or Low-Carb breakfast? Try my SHRIMP & GREEN CHILE QUICHE:
LIFE GOES ON:
Hard to see (arrows help somewhat) Saturn and Jupiter — “The Christmas Star” — in our southwest sky Saturday night:
Drinking tea late last night with Dave on the LR couch, we kept hearing odd sounds outside the house. The car alarm even went off. A little later, this guy (below) puts his face in the window by our front door and refuses to leave. Whine, cry, bark, scratch…. He wanted in and wouldn’t give up. Our own dogs were a little bonkers. After a little online investigation and a trip to the emergency vet to drop him off (the pound was closed), he was reunited with his mom and dad, who, it turned out, lived only a block away. New in the neighborhood, we hadn’t seen him walked or would have known to whom he belonged. All’s well that ends well. His name is Petey and he’s our new friend!
The fruitcake finally got made Friday. Do ya think I waited long enough? I had a terrible time getting dried fruit and could get no candied fruit at all; I ended making the candied citrus rind. Now it sits in rum where it waits until Christmas Eve! Unless we give up early and sneak a piece at midnight tonight. BTW, I used one of my favorite food writer’s recipes: Check out David Lebovitz recipe for BLACK (JAMAICAN) FRUITCAKE.
Pizza night (Dave’s homemade), I always make the salad. Sometimes it’s quite pretty all on its own:
I wish you the most joyous of Decembers, the healthiest of New Years, and, as always, more time at the table… You have my deepest thanks for reading and helping me stir up trouble in the kitchen all year long.
So cook up some merriment this week and take good care of yourself,