Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Manly Breakfast Casserole

Today we're talking breakfast. But before we do that, I thought I'd share a couple of gratuitous puppy pictures.
I'm sure you remember Maddie, the puppy we adopted a year ago last Valentine's Day. Well, turns out Maddie is quite the ball player.
I mean this dog loves/lives to play ball.
Ever hear of Air Bud?
Meet Air Maddie.
This is one focused puppy. Pro ballplayers could learn a thing or two from her about keeping their eye on the ball. I've seen her leap four feet off of the ground, twist around and catch the ball.

So last weekend we were at the ranch and, aside from playing ball, I found myself needing to prepare breakfast for 15 hungry men. Since it needed to be ready by 6AM, I immediately thought of breakfast casserole, my go-to dish for holidays and those  mornings when I don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen, but still want a stick-to-your-ribs, eggs-and-bacon kind of start to my day.
However, I feared my usual breakfast casserole wasn't going to be enough for these hard working fellows. I needed to take things up a notch. 

As you will see, I made two extra large batches, but I'm giving you the ingredients for a single, regular batch.

Here's what you'll need:

6 slices of bread, cubed
6 eggs
1 lb. of your favorite breakfast sausage
Half a pound of bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
2 cups whole milk
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. ground mustard 

First, you'll need to brown your sausage and cook your bacon. I've found the easiest way to cook up a lot of bacon is to do it in the oven. Place the slices in a single layer on a large foil-covered baking sheet (the foil makes for easy cleanup) and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Then I simply drain and chop the bacon before stirring it into the drained sausage.

Next, I mix together my milk, eggs and seasonings.
Sometimes I'll add a dash or two of cayenne for nice little kick. 

Then it's on to the assembly.
Place your cubed bread into a greased pan.

Top with your meat mixture.

And pour the egg mixture over that, making sure to wet everything.

Finally, top it all with cheese.

Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

When you're ready to bake it, place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, or until set. The cheese will be slightly golden and the edges bubbly, even a bit crisp.
But, of course, I forgot to take a pic of the finished product. I just hurriedly covered them with foil and was on my merry way out to the pasture. Because when one has hungry men waiting, there's no time to waste.

Adding bacon to the classic breakfast casserole really ramped up the flavor. Of course, as we all know, everything's better with bacon (sorry, Kav, but it's true), so I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. 

The guys loved it and I was happy to fill their tummies. And on the way back to the camp house, I was treated to a beautiful sunrise.
An experience that was far more pleasant than what happened later in the day. I was picking dewberries, minding my own business, when a red wasp decided to take aim at me.
Stupid little critter nailed me right between the thumb and index finger. Two days later, my hand still looked like this. Next time, I'm taking bug spray.

What's your go-to when making breakfast for a crowd?


  1. OH NO! Did you take an antihistamine? That could reduce the swelling along with soaking in Epsom salts.

    Wasps can be really territorial around a food source like berries. I was just talking dewberry/blackberry/ boysenberry/ raspberry picking etc with Rachelle McCalla. We have blackberries growing wild just a few minutes walk from us, along the river bank. We pick several gallons a day until they're too high or too old. I just used the last jar of blackberry jelly and it's May!! So long to wait until they're in season again... but cherries will be here soon.
    I hope your hand has recovered!

    1. Antihistamines, Motrin, baking soda, ice...no Epsom salts, though. Might have to give that a go next time.

      All those berries sound amazing, Virginia. I love berries. The downside to dewberries, though, is that there very tart, so you have to add a lot of sugar to counter that. They're kind of like the rhubarb of the berry world. Pucker up. ;)

    2. I've never had dewberries. We only hack black berries and raspberries, but on the coast they have salmon berries (like pink raspberries, sometimes in white) and boysenberries are more of a mountain- western thing. Very sweet!

    3. Dewberries grow wild and are very tart. Their prime is usually from the end of April through early May, then it's bye-bye til next year.

      I love blackberries and raspberries. Oh, and blueberries. Those bring back fond memories of my grandmother. Hard to grow in Texas, though. I think Grandma is why I like to pick the wild dewberries and make things with them. We used to pick wild blueberries, then she'd make jam and pie. πŸ˜„

  2. Yay!!!! Love the gratuitous puppy pics. Go, Maddie, go!!!!!!!

    So, I really like the idea of a breakfast casserole -- have never made one before but trying to figure out if I could do it vegetarian. Would a bunch of veggies do the trick, do you think? And what about the bread....would it get too soggy and not flavorful enough? Adding in potatoes maybe? Or make a hash brown topping? A neighbour gave me two dozen eggs and I already have a dozen so making a breakfast casserole would help me go through some eggs. LOL

    Oh -- and for me, a 'big' crowd over for breakfast or brunch would likely amount to about six. We usually make pancakes with different fruit toppings. Or if we want to be fancy we make crepes and add on a dollop of whipped cream and grated chocolate. Yum.

    1. Yes, potatoes would work, Kav. Off the top of my head, I don't have a recipe, but I know there are several that use hash browns as a base. Try Googling Mountain Man Breakfast. That's usually done in a Dutch oven over a campfire, but you'll get the gist. Throw in some onions, mushrooms, bell pepper and who knows what else and I bet it would be yummy.

      Oh, I'd love those crepes. Never have tried to make them, but I sure do enjoy eating them.

  3. I love doing breakfast casseroles, and I'm always looking for a new twist. Thank you, Mindy!

    And I remember those red wasps in Texas. Oh, what a surprise the first time we saw one! My oldest was six, my daughter was two, and I THOUGHT we were having fun playing in the back yard...until my son yelled for me to come and look at what he had found.

    It was a creature from the nether-world. It had to be. And then there were more of them! Huge, angry red, and super scary (especially to this wasp-phobic mom!).

    And my children wonder why I wanted to move back north!

    1. Your crew will love the bacon, Jan.

      Stupid red wasps. I swear it was like slow motion. I saw him coming, but didn't think much about it. I was about to pluck a big juicy berry and here he came. I watched the whole thing. Then ran back to the house for a baking soda paste. Hopefully he died shortly thereafter.

  4. My condolences over the wasp sting! The only time I've been stung was while I was pregnant...it happened twice, but then never again. Weird!

    The casserole sounds fantastic. It's like a breakfast bread pudding! I have a couple recipes for breakfast casseroles and they're great for a family gathering when the gang is going to be sleeping over. Definitely adding this to the collection.

    1. That is weird, Carol. I wonder if they were drawn by the excess hormones or something. Glad it never happened again.

      Casseroles, breakfast or not, are always good when family comes a callin'. Means we get to spend more time with them and less time working in the kitchen. Hope you like this one. :)

  5. Oh, your poor hand!! I bet it's hard to type!

    That casserole looks YUMMY! I need to try this next time my daughter has a sleepover. I think a houseful of girls will love it too!

    1. Typing wasn't too bad, Missy, but it was tough to grip things. The skin as so taut.

      This is perfect for sleepovers. Although, if yours are anything like the ones at our house, it usually ends up being more like brunch. πŸ˜‰

    2. Definite brunch for the ones who don't have to rush off to get to work. :)

  6. Ouch! I had that happen on my knee once. Elephant leg.

    And your post will go great with mine tomorrow!

    1. I can imagine, Julie. I bet it was hard to bend.

      We seem to have a habit of coordinating our posts. Like we're in sync. πŸ˜‰

  7. Oh, this sounds awesome, Tex! I love a good breakfast bake and frittatas. They make me smile big time! And the dog is stinkin' marvelous! LOVE the jumping!!!

    Sorry about the sting. I'm frowning, you can't see me, but I'm creating wrinkles in my brow in total empathy. :( But I'm too busy eating this casserole to stay wrinkled long!

    1. Ruthy, you left off one thing. You love bacon. πŸ˜‹

      And I know you love dogs. Boo on the wrinkles though. They'll hang around longer than we want them to. Like FOREVER. I can feel your empathy, though. πŸ˜„