As I work my way through my recipe stash, I keep finding themes. Snack bars were definitely one of them. Blueberry muffins, pumpkin pie, and butternut squash soup are a few of the others. And so is this week’s stash busting effort: breakfast casseroles. I found five different recipes in my stash, and decided that we’d try them all. I had planned to cook through them in a week, but the Sweetie Pie got called out of town for a few days, and then I caught the kiddos’ cold. Between the two hindrances I only cooked one meal the whole week. So we’re a little behind on our breakfast casserole taste testing. But we’ve managed to try out three of them.
My love for breakfast casseroles lies in the fact that they can be made the night before, refrigerated, and then baked when needed. Every busy mom needs a reliable stash of make-ahead recipes that can be assembled whenever the time presents itself–during naptime, morning cartoons, piano lessons–and then set aside until meal time. Since breakfast casseroles usually involve soaking bread in some egg-type mixture, they are ideal for advance preparation. Not only will they tolerate a bit of time sitting in the fridge, they get tastier and softer the longer they do so.
For part one of our breakfast casserole stash busting, we tested out three recipes. One of them turned out to be not a casserole at all, but more of a quiche-pizza (a quich-za?) and, while it was tasty, it was fussy and took too much time to prepare. That recipe was weeded out. The second one was a baked frittata, an egg-based dish that fit into my diet restrictions. I thought it was tasty and it made a convenient breakfast for me, but the recipe needs a little tweaking to be just right and I haven’t had time to experiment with it. I’m also not sure that anyone not on a restricted diet would find it that tasty. So I’m hanging onto the recipe, for myself, but I’m not declaring it the most successful.
The real stand-out was the Marmalade French Toast Casserole recipe that I tore out of a Cooking Light magazine 7 years ago. It made the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. I assembled it on Friday night, and then popped it in the oven first thing on Saturday. The kiddos were delighted that I made a special Saturday breakfast even while the Sweetie Pie was out of town–major Stellar-Mom points for this. I didn’t tell them how easy it was to put together the night before.
I made quite a few adaptations to the original recipe to suit our family’s diet and appetites. My adapted recipe will feed about 12, and is free of refined sugars. If refined-sugar-free is important to you, be sure to seek out a fruit-juice sweetened brand of marmalade (I like St. Dalfour brand). Be sure that your eggs are cooked all the way through before removing it from the oven. After an hour or so, remove the casserole and tip the dish to the side just a bit. If there are any eggs that come running out from the middle, it’s not done yet. Cook it for another 10 minutes and then check it again.
By the way, our family highly recommends serving this dish with a side of “The King’s Breakfast” by A. A. Milne. (We think this French toast would have pleased both the cow and the king, even though they were British and perhaps wouldn’t eat French toast, but whatever.)
I adapted this quite heavily to make a large batch, and for our family’s taste preferences. This version is not as sweet, but is still sweet enough.
Source: Cooking Light, 2006 (adapted)
- 6 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing softened
- 1 1⁄2 loaves (24 oz.) French bread, or other bakery loaf sliced thickly
- 1 (12-ounce) jar orange marmalade
- 5 1⁄2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 12 large eggs
- Spread softened butter on one side of each bread slice. Arrange 12 bread slices, buttered side down, slightly overlapping in a single layer in a deep 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with butter. Spread marmalade evenly over bread; top with remaining 12 bread slices, buttered side up.
- Combine milk and next 3 ingredients (through eggs), stirring with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Bake at for about an hour, until golden on top and eggs are cooked through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Amount Per Serving (12)
- Calories: 293
- Protein: 9.1g
- Fat: 9g
- Cholesterol: 116mg
- Sodium: 315mg
- Fiber: 1.6g