Christmas Breakfast Casserole with a Za’atar Bloody Mary

Turn on a “Cozy Christmas Coffee Shop … Christmas Jazz Music…” while you read.

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?

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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

Like most stratas (layered egg brunch dishes), this one is better made the night before and baked in the morning. If you’re in a hurry, go ahead and throw it in the oven without the chilling. You can easily sub chopped ham for the cooked bacon or add cooked mushrooms or asparagus to the bell peppers. Look through the recipe before making; you’ll need to cook the bacon, onions, and garlic before combining the rest of the ingredients. If you fry the bacon first, you can then pour out most of the fat and cook the onions and garlic in the same pan.
6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

This casserole goes from spicy to mild depending on whether you add crushed red pepper, pepper jack cheese, and jalapeño on top or choose to go with the milder options like skipping the crushed red pepper and using Cheddar cheese with all sweet bell peppers on top.
Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2020. All rights reserved.

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

A decked out version of our Cheep A$$ Bloody Mary.
Makes one cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Copyright Alyce Morgan, 2020.  All rights reserved.

A favorite breakfast for one: Avocado and Tomato Toast with a Fried Egg and Salsa. (Grill buttered bread on both sides, spread with mashed avocado, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a little squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Top with seasoned sliced tomatoes, a fried -or poached- egg and a spoonful of salsa. Garnish with salt and freshly ground black pepper.)

MORE INFO THAN YOU WANTED:

What is Za’atar, the Spice Mix That We Can’t Stop Sprinkling/BON APPETIT

20 Different Kinds of Peppers…/EPICURIOUS

How to Make a Breakfast Strata Without a Recipe/EPICURIOUS

We’re having clam chowder for Christmas Eve.

Want to listen to A FESTIVAL OF NINE LESSON AND CAROLS/KINGS COLLEGE, Cambridge on Christmas Eve (morning if you’re in the US)?

Christmas (Dinner) Menus for Two (or for one with great leftovers!!)/ALLRECIPES

Two Hours of Instrumental Christmas Music/Youtube

Straight No Chaser Christmas Can-Can/Youtube

Listen to the complete book, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, by Charles Dickens

“Christmas Eve” -Shaker Hymn (1875); The Rose Ensemble live….


Need a GF or Low-Carb breakfast? Try my SHRIMP & GREEN CHILE QUICHE:

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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,

Alyce

Miss you.

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