Now, I'm not usually a big fan of casseroles, but the ability to make it in advance and pop it into the oven as needed had me at "hello."
Here's the meal plan:
The day before (I did the first three earlier before our Christmas Eve get-together, then the last before bed) --
- Cut loaf of French bread into 1" squares
- Thaw bacon
- Dice/cube (depending on how big you like them) sweet potatoes for hash browns
- Assemble rest of casserole and allow to sit overnight in fridge
The day of --
- Turn on the oven and take out the casserole to sit for 30 minutes -- Open stockings :-)
- After stockings, throw the casserole in and start the hash browns in a frying pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, over medium-low -- this should avoid any burning, and using a lid allows the insides of the potatoes to cook. If you like more brown, start higher and allow them to get some color before turning down.
- After opening the rest of your goodies, check on the casserole, stir the hash browns and cook any sausage/bacon.
If you like coffee, get that started first thing. We did tea, though, which doesn't take long at all.
The only way that I swayed from the meal plan was thanks to the fact that my boys slept in. So, here I was...up...not doing anything...so, I started the meat and sweet potatoes earlier than I probably should have and kept them at low before serving.
The french toast casserole recipe that I used came from Taste of Home, but while I decided to throw in some extra cinnamon and some nutmeg, it made the top appear burned (but it wasn't). So, if I make it again, I'll do a sugar topping (maybe with a little cinnamon mixed in) but probably put most of the seasoning in the egg mixture. Regardless, here's the recipe, in case anyone wants to try it:
French Toast Casserole
1 loaf french bread, cut into 1" cubes
3 cups milk (I used whole; you could use half and half, but I wouldn't do skim or 1%)
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon salt
a few sprinkles of cinnamon (or you can mix more directly into the casserole)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Place bread cubes in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
- Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Dot with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.
- Cover and bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with maple syrup if desired. Yield: 12 servings.
So, what do you do for holiday mornings? (You know -- those days when things are crazy enough without having to figure out a way to sustain the family until that late afternoon meal.) Casseroles? Do you eat breakfast? Brunch? Do tell! It'd be great to hear how other folks juggle the holiday craziness.
On that note, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! It seems to have come and gone so quickly!