I still get super excited about Christmas, just like I did when I was a kid. I can barely sleep Christmas Eve and usually end up waking up at some ungodly hour. I really get in touch with my inner child during the holidays.
When we were kids, my mom would set out stockings stuffed with goodies before she and my dad went to bed for my siblings and I. She couldn’t fit very much into the stockings, so the bulk of the goodies were placed right next to the stocking. Mom hand crafted the stockings out of felt long ago and I’m sure they were originally created to be decorative– not to house honey buns and new socks, but they are awesome nonetheless. We also have a sweet tradition of receiving Japanese snacks in our stockings like Pockey and wasabi peas. Oh man, can’t wait!
I’m kind of sad that I can’t wake up at 5 a.m., go downstairs, ransack my stocking, and start present peeking, but my life is good. We celebrate Christmas Eve with Tony’s family, then get on the road bright and early for a 2 ½ hour drive to my parents’ house. I’m thinking about my stocking the whole way there.
So all of this got me thinking about how the holidays are an all day (or week) event and I’d say there is a good possibility that more than a few of you could use a holiday breakfast recipe. And let’s make it easy, shall we? It’s time to celebrate, not slave in the kitchen. So how about a Red and Green Breakfast Strata that can be thrown together the night before and baked in the morning? Let’s do it!
A strata is basically a layered savory bread pudding. This one’s got hot Italian sausage, red bell peppers, green onions, cheese, and more cheese. It’s so darn tasty, it’s perfect for a big crowd. Serving is also low maintenance. Just scoop and devour. Plus, it’s got everything that’s sacred about breakfast: eggs, sausage, veggies, and cheese. It’s nice and soft in the middle, kind of like French toast, then crunchy and cheesy on top. Delicioso!
To make this lovely strata ahead of time, simply throw everything together except the final addition of cheese for the top and green onion garnish. Cover and store in the refrigerator. The next morning, uncover, sprinkle with the remaining smoked Gouda, and bake. Top with the green onions and serve your ravenous holiday crowd. Since there red bell peppers and green onions and top, it’s all festive. Your guests will be happy and so will you.
What do you guys make on holiday mornings? I’d love to hear about it. See you next time!
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced into strips
- 1½ pounds hot Italian sausage, without casings
- 8 large eggs, beaten
- 2 ½ cups milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup sliced green onions, white and green parts separated
- 1 (1-pound) French baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 ½ cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil followed by the red bell pepper and cook until slightly tender, but still crisp. Transfer to a plate. Add the sausage to the pan and cook, breaking it up as you go, until it’s browned and cooked through. Transfer to the plate with the bell peppers and set aside to cool
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, Parmesan, thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the green part of the sliced green onions. Add the rest of the onion to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
- Spread half of the baguette cubes in the bottom of the casserole dish. Top with ½ cup of the smoked Gouda, all of the sausage, half of the bell peppers. Ladle half of the egg mixture over the bread in the casserole dish. Top with the remaining bread and ladle on the remaining egg mixture. Press the bread to submerge. Top with the remaining bell peppers followed by the remaining cheese. You have now assembled the strata!
- Let the strata sit for 20 minutes, then bake until it’s cooked through, puffed, and browned on the top, about 1 hour. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle with the remaining green onions, then dig in!