Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one in the DC metro area who doesn’t love brunch. It’s not that I hate brunch — really, I don’t — I just don’t see what the big deal is.

Whenever I go out for brunch, I can’t shake the feeling I’m being herded through like cattle. The restaurants are overcrowded and understaffed. I don’t feel like I have time to taste my food, let alone enjoy a leisurely meal or enjoy the conversation. Sometimes I don’t think the wait staff even refills my water… because I haven’t had enough time to drink it.

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Maybe my problem with brunch isn’t brunch so much as it’s going out for brunch. I enjoy a hearty breakfast after my Sunday morning BODYPUMP class, especially if it involves something I can’t readily make on a weekday before work. And I love the company.

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So when a work trip was unexpectedly canceled and I found myself hosting a friend for Easter, brunch seemed like the ideal choice. This casserole comes together quickly the night before, and falls somewhere between a bread pudding and egg casserole. I served it with a spinach salad, a bowl of fresh strawberries, and mimosas. We decorated a bunny cake, watched a movie, and caught up on life. If you ask me, as holidays go, this one was pretty perfect.

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Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Yield: 4-5 servings

8 oz. ciabatta bread, cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb. pork breakfast sausage (or substitute turkey)
1 1/4 cup milk
6 eggs + enough egg whites to make 1 1/2 cups
4 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.

Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until toasted.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Remove any casings from sausage and add to pan. Cook 6 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. (If using turkey sausage, you may need to add a little grease to your pan.)

Combine sausage and bread in a large bowl. Combine milk, cheese, eggs and salt and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to bread mixture, tossing to coat bread. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart baking dish generously coated with cooking spray. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Uncover casserole. Toss the ingredients. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until set and lightly browned. Serve immediately, and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

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