Here are a few easy breakfast dishes you can whip together and toss in the oven Christmas morning while gifts are being unwrapped.
Breakfast casseroles or stratas — typically a mix of bread, eggs, and sausage or other ingredients — are also a convenient dish to serve if you have a house full of guests. One baking dish (9 inches by 13 inches) can easily feed eight. If you have a larger crowd, make two.
These dishes are perfect for Christmas Day breakfast because they are assembled the night before and then baked the next day.
The idea with these is that the bread soaks in he liquid so it puffs up when baked. If you only have a few hours, you can assemble, place plastic wrap directly on bread and top with something heavy so the bread gets soaked with the liquid.
The recipes are a mix of sweet and savory with two options for French Toast, also assembled and refrigerated overnight. With stratas and casseroles you can use any variety of breakfast sausage, seasoned or unseasoned.
Overnight French toast
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
12 French bread slices ( 3/4 -inch-thick)
1 1/2 cups 2 percent milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups maple syrup
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
Spread a thick layer of butter over bottom of a heavy large baking pan with 1-inch-high sides. Arrange bread slices in pan. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar, syrup, vanilla and salt. Pour mixture over bread. Turn bread slices to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap. Using a spatula, transfer bread slices to buttered baking sheets; discard any remaining liquid. Bake 10 minutes. Turn bread over and continue baking until just golden, about 5-8 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the maple syrup and walnuts. Bring to simmer and keep the syrup hot.
Transfer cooked toast to plates and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, passing maple-pecan syrup separately. Serves: 6.
Adapted from www.epicurious.com.
Raisin-bread strata with sausage and dried plums
1 pound bulk breakfast sausage (any variety, seasoned or unseasoned)
8 large eggs
4 cups 2 percent milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 loaf (16-ounce) sliced raisin-cinnamon-swirl bread, each slice halved on diagonal
18 pitted dried plums (prunes), each cut into 3 pieces
Pure maple syrup for serving
In a large nonstick skillet, saute sausage over medium heat until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of fork, about 6 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl; cool.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Arrange half of bread in bottom of prepared dish with bases of triangles facing in same direction. Scatter half of the cooked sausage, then half of dried plums over bread. Arrange remaining bread in dish with triangles facing in opposite direction. Scatter remaining sausage and plums over. Pour milk mixture over; press on bread to submerge. Cover; chill overnight.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Place strata on rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered until strata is puffed and golden and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut strata into squares and serve with maple syrup. Serves: 8.
Adapted from www.epicurious.com.
Eggnog French toast with cranberry-apple compote
4 cups low-fat eggnog
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (about 14.5 ounces) country white bread loaf, halved horizontally, each half cut crosswise into 8 slices (do not use ends)
1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
In a large bowl, whisk together eggnog, eggs, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Place bread slices in a single layer in two 9-inch-by-13-inch glass baking dishes. Pour custard over bread, dividing equally. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a large rimmed baking sheet; use 2 if needed. Using a spatula, transfer bread slices to prepared baking sheets; discard any remaining liquid in the dishes. Brush bread slices with remaining melted butter. Bake 10 minutes. Turn over bread slices and bake until golden brown and crisp on the outside but soft on the inside, about 6 minutes longer. Place 2 French toast slices on each of 8 plates. Dust generously with powdered sugar; serve with Cranberry-Apple Compote .
Cook’s note: To make the Cranberry-Apple Compote, in a saucepan, whisk 2 cups apple cider, 6 tablespoons light corn syrup and 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar. Boil over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons unsalted butter; whisk until melted. Remove from heat.
In heavy large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add 3 chopped favorite apples; saute 2 minutes. Add 2 cups cranberries and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir until cranberries begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Stir in reduced cider mixture. Boil until reduced to syrup consistency, about 6 minutes. Stir in more sugar, if desired. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, stir over medium heat until heated through. Transfer compote to bowl and serve warm. Makes: 8.
Adapted from www.bonappetit.com.