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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oh My Goodness, Breakfast Strata Bake

Okay ladies and hopefully gentleman...this one is easy and SUPER delicious!  I have recently begun cooking for a family that requested some weekend breakfast fare during their mini vacation to the mountains.  I gladly obliged as breakfast foods are one of my favorites.  I scoured the internet, as I usually do, and my cookbooks to find the perfect recipe for these folks.  The dad voiced that he preferred juicy, eggier breakfast dishes so I was thinking a crustless quiche perhaps when I stumbled upon a wide variety of strata variations.  This dish really has it all.  I mean seriously...everything you could want in a breakfast dish, this one's got it.  You have bread of your choice, cheese, meaty part, veggies, eggs and an almost gravy like coating to it all.  I can't wait to dip my feet into the world of stratas, both savory and sweet varieties.  The possibilities are endless and that is what I truly love about cooking.  There are so many flavor combination with different ingredients that the options and variations are truly unimaginable. 

Okay enough with the rambling of how amazing this dish was and onto the recipe. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a picture of this dish while composing but will post a picture soon of the finished dish shortly.  Please keep in mind with this dish I was also trying to use up ingredients, as I normally do, and was grabbing almost everything in there.  You do not have to abide by these measurements exactly.  If you don't have the tofu, add an extra egg.  If you're short on zuchinni, who cares?  Throw in some shredded carrot or diced celery or simply omit it altogether. 

Breakfast Strata
1 lb sausage/ham
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 clove minced garlic
3/4 c. diced onion
1 c. zuchinni chopped
1 med carrot, grated
3/4 c. green pepper
1/2 c. nonfat milk
5 eggs
8 oz tofu
1/2 nonfat half and half
1 c. mixed cheddar cheese
2 oz cream cheese (I would have used more if I had it on hand...probably more like half a block)
3 c. day old bread (or lightly toasted fresh bread) cubed *I used an Italian style loaf for this and it was perfect*

Preparations instructions are again, up to you a wee bit.  You can brown the meat in one pan and the other ingredients in another if you're meat is super oily.  Just make sure you drain everything before throwing it together, but here's how I did it this time around...

1.) Saute onion in a wee bit of olive oil for 3 minutes over med heat.  Throw in green peppers and saute for addition 4-5 minutes till onion is crisp tender.  Add in garlic, carrots, mushrooms, zuchinni and frozen Morning Star Farms Sausage Style Crumbles.  Stir and cover.  Let heat for 5-6 minutes before stirring and adding seasonings of your choice.   I used thyme, oregano and celery salt.  And of course the obvious salt and pepper. Continue sauteing an addition 5-6 minutes till the mushrooms have done their thing.  Turned a darker brown and look juicy.

2.) Turn out onto paper towels if you have used real meat to drain off excess grease.  Blot with extra paper towels if necessary.

3.) While things are simmering away.  Heat your cream cheese if not already softened in a large bowl in the microwave.  Blend together with half and half and milk.  Once combined, add in your eggs and stir thoroughly until the mixture is creamy and smooth.  Add in cheese and bread and toss to coat.

4.) Add in veggies and meat to bread mixture.  Pour into lightly greased 11x7 baking dish.  Place in 350 degree, preheated  oven for 35-45 minutes until fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and your house smells like you've died and gone to heaven.

5.) Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.  At this time I sprinkled a tiny bit more cheddar cheese on top and let it stand until melted.

Serve and enjoy!!!

Variations I look forward to making in the very near future:

Including only asparagus and mushrooms with an Italian cheese blend
Apple French Toast (I have a thing for apples and french toast)
Blueberry Cream Cheese
'Chicken', swiss cheese and 'ham'

Let me know what you come up with!  I'd love to hear how they turn out.