GINNA PARSONS: Breakfast casserole on tap for Dec. 25

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

Whenever the holiday season rolls around, I start thinking about all the special things I’d like to cook. My mind fills with recipes from days gone by … cakes, cookies, casseroles, appetizers.
And then reality sets in and I end up putting the same thing on the dinner table week after week.
But there are a few occasions where I insist on traditional fare, even if I don’t use the same recipes each time. Specifically, I’m talking about Christmas breakfast.
When our children were small, this meal consisted of a bowl of cereal or maybe some frozen waffles. They were so busy playing with new toys and munching on candy from their stockings they didn’t even care if they ate breakfast. And Charlie and I were so tired from doing the things dutiful parents do on Christmas Eve, we were content with large mugs of coffee and naps.
Now that the kids are 16 and 18, they appreciate a big, hot breakfast to tide them over until Christmas dinner, which usually doesn’t happen until 3 or 4 in the afternoon.
The past few years, the breakfast menu has consisted of a casserole with meat, which daughter Mary won’t eat; a sweet dish, like orange rolls or coffee cake, which everyone will eat; and fresh fruit.
I found this recipe earlier this month and tried it out as a possibility for Christmas morning. Not only was it delicious, but it was pretty, too. The key, I think, was using a sturdy white bread that didn’t get gummy, like Wonder bread will sometimes do. I used a loaf of ciabatta bread.

Sausage Breakfast Casserole
1 (16-ounce) package hot pork breakfast sausage
10 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups cubed hearty bread
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 cup thin-sliced green onions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard and salt; stir well.
Distribute half the bread evenly in a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half the pepper, half the cheese, half the sausage and half the onions. Repeat layers. Pour egg mixture evenly over casserole. Bake uncovered for 1 hour, or until eggs are set.
Note: This may be assembled ahead and refrigerated up to 12 hours before baking.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.