For me, breakfast is the most difficult meal to get enthused about. Perhaps because it rarely includes chocolate. (I say rarely because now and then I sprinkle chocolate chips on pancakes.)
Or perhaps it’s because growing up in a family of ten, each morning we were greeted with a big pot of goo on the stove. Sometimes it was cream of wheat; other times it was oatmeal; and if Mom was really feeling her oats we got… Malt-O-Meal. Whatever it was, it always contained big lumps. I melted big spoonfuls of brown sugar over the white stuff and scarfed it down before pulling on my boots, scarf, coat and mittens and sliding off to school. (In Minnesota, my mother country, we had nine months of snow and three months of lumpy sledding!)
No matter the weather, we walked a mile to school. (Yes, of course it was uphill both ways! Have you already heard this story?) And no matter the day, I was always late. I remember racing along in pounding rain one day, (a nice change from the snow) clutching my brown bag lunch and books, and keeping my head down to save my teased hairdo. When I got to school I was holding only the top of the paper sack. My lunch had been scattered behind me like bread crumbs in Hansel and Gretel.
But when I grew up, (chronologically at least) I married a farm boy who thought breakfast was all about eggs – at least on weekends. Muffins, pancakes, waffles were all fine – as long as there were scrambled eggs cozying up to them on the side of the plate.
For awhile that seemed OK, but after 27 years of scrambled eggs every weekend, I started looking for some relief. (I may be slow to change, but eventually even I get off the starter pad.)
That’s when I discovered breakfast casseroles. They combine eggs with some sort of meat and toast all in one dish. And you can make them the night before, if you want, so all you have to do is pop them into the oven in the morning.
Drag yourself out of bed – put the dish in the oven – relax until it’s done. Yes, I should be doing jumping jacks, or some such exercise, but that might injure my brain so early in the day.
This is an easily adapted recipe, so play with it.
Ingredients for 4 servings
1/2 pound cooked pork sausage – or bacon or Canadian bacon – or turkey sausage
4 pieces whole wheat bread
4 tsp butter
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
Spray an 8 or 9″ square pan with cooking spray.
Butter the bread. Cut two pieces in half down the middle and cut the other two pieces diagonally.
Lay the first two pieces of bread – butter side down in the pan.
Take the bread that was cut diagonally, and place one half on each side of the pan with the point sticking up. (Don’t worry, that was the hardest part!)
In a bowl, beat the eggs and add everything except the Cheddar Cheese. (You’re way ahead of me, aren’t you?)
Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Sprinkle on the Cheddar cheese.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Put in the fridge to sit overnight.
In the morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees f.Take the plastic wrap off the dish and pitch it (the plastic wrap that is).
Bake about 30 minutes until the eggs have set up.
The toast will be crunchy and the egg dish will have a nice firm texture with no lumps.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have made my peace with oatmeal. In fact I have it often with walnuts and fruit – and a bit of brown sugar. I even blogged about it last year.