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Exploring Breakfast/Brunch Casseroles

Updated on August 3, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”

— A. A. Milne

I Like Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

I walk 2 miles every day. I have an adult child who needs some assistance each day and, when my husband isn't available, part of that assistance is an hour on the road twice a day to take her to and from work. I do all of the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and bill paying for our family. We live on 1.5 acres, and I do my best to keep those 1.5 acres maintained (some days are better than others).

I quilt. I design church banners. I have a blog, I write here on Hub Pages (obviously), and I love to cook. So as you might surmise I don't have a lot of "free time." That's one of the reasons why I love breakfast casseroles.

But Wait, There's More!

If the only criterion was "easy" we could have toast, or cold cereal, or even a scrambled egg, and we often do. But there are times that we (me) desire something more satisfying, luxurious -- yes comforting. And that's when we enjoy a breakfast/brunch casserole.

Many Shapes and Sizes

A breakfast casserole can take numerous forms.

  • It might be a quiche; silky, custard-like eggs and cheese baked in a flaky, buttery crust.
  • Or perhaps a Spanish tortilla of herbs and thinly-sliced potatoes sauted in a splash of olive oil, then topped with beaten eggs and baked in a hot oven until the eggs puff and the potatoes are soft and creamy.
  • Have you ever had an Italian frittata? It's like a quiche without the crust. Eggs and cheese baked in the oven until the top is golden and the eggs are gently firm.
  • Or, what about a strata? A strata is perfect for the thrifty in me -- stale bread that would otherwise become croutons is allowed to bask overnight in a bath of beaten eggs, herbs, and cream. When baked the next morning the once stale bread takes on the texture of a rich, savory custard.

Or, we could go back to the origin of the word "casserole". According to the foodiescompanion.blogspot.com:

The word casserole originally referred to the pan in which the dish was cooked. Casserole is from a French word meaning "sauce-pan"; a large, deep dish used either to cook something in an oven or to serve the food cooked in it. The French word "casserole" had been derived from the old Provencal word, "cassa" and the Medieval Latin word, "cattia", both of these words meaning "ladle". This seemed to imply that these words were describing a common pot from which everyone shared.

Time is Running Out

I don't know when you will read this post, but as I write, Christmas is just days away. Now is certainly the time to think about a breakfast casserole! So is:

  • New Years Day
  • Valentines Day
  • Easter
  • Mothers Day
  • Fathers Day
  • or any lazy weekend when you awake and want to share some kitchen love with your household

Recipes Featured Here

  • Carb Diva Breakfast Quiche with Tater Tot Crust
  • Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelette)
  • Italian Frittata
  • Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole
  • Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Breakfast Casserole
  • Italian Sausage-Gouda-Spinach Strata

The Recipes

Carb Diva Breakfast Quiche with Tater Tot Crust

tater tots
tater tots

The Ore-Ida (Oregon-Idaho) Potato Company introduced 'tater tots' in 1953 -- popcorn kernel-sized morsels of pre-cooked potato seasoned and shaped into tasty little blonde nuggets waiting to be baked,sautéd in a pan, or deep fried to crunchy golden perfection.

Here I use tater tots in place of the usual pie crust to form the base for a simple quiche. You may add whatever meats, cheeses and vegetables you wish (suggestions follow):


Ingredients

  • 3 cups potato puffs (tater tots), thawed overnight in the refrigerator
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced (see note below)
  • 1/2 pound cooked sausage, diced (see note below)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Generously spray a 9-inch pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the tater tots in the prepared pan in a single layer. I squish them a bit so that they flatten and form a uniform mass (with no gaps or holes). Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese, the bell pepper, and the cooked meat on the crust. Top with the remaining 1/4 cup grated cheese.
  4. Whisk together the milk and eggs. Pour over the cheese/bell pepper/meat mixture in the crust.
  5. Reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake the tater tot filled crust for about 30 minutes. Let sit about 5 minutes then slice and serve.


What makes this recipe work?

This recipe is very flexible and allows you to use whatever you have on hand.

  • Don't have Cheddar cheese? You could use Swiss, provolone, gouda, or a smoked cheese.
  • If you don't have or like sausage, you could substitute cooked crumbled bacon or ham, or veggie crumbles.
  • Don't have red bell pepper? What about sautéd sliced mushrooms or zucchini?

Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelette)

Spanish tortilla
Spanish tortilla

Don't confuse this "tortilla" with the Mexican flour or cornmeal flat bread used to make enchiladas. A torta is Spanish for "cake", so a tortilla is a small cake--in this case a "cake" made of potatoes. The origin of the Spanish tortilla is unclear; some say it was "invented" by Tomás de Zumalacárregui, a Basque general who led the Carlist War in 1833. Another similar tale states that he stopped at a farmhouse, looking for something to eat; the poor housewife had only potatoes, onions, and eggs and made an omelette for him using those humble ingredients.

I like this recipe from the Betty Crocker Kitchen because, after sauteing the potatoes (this step can be done ahead of time), the dish is finished in the oven.

Be sure to use Yukon gold potatoes; russet or Idaho potatoes will not hold their shape.

Italian Frittata

Frittata with asparagus
Frittata with asparagus

Unlike a Spanish tortilla, an Italian frittata is simply eggs, cream, and cheese. OK, you might toss in some vegetables, but no starchy potatoes or tons of bacon or sausage. Think of it as a comforting quiche, but without the crust.

The origin of the frittata, the "where and when" is lost in time; the word itself means "mess." The cook would use whatever bits of vegetable or cheese were in the pantry. This version uses asparagus and fontina, a deliciously melty cheese.

ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp B1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 12 oz asparagus, trimmed, and cut into ½-inch pieces (see note below)
  • 1 cup of grated fontina cheese (see note below)

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together eggs, cream, salt, and ground black pepper in medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil and butter in an 8-inch nonstick oven-proof skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the asparagus and saute until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes and then remove from the heat.
  5. Pour in the egg mixture and then top with the cheese. Cook without stirring until the egg is partially set (on the bottom and sides).
  6. Bake in the preheated oven about 10 minutes, or until set in the middle.
  7. How to be sure if the frittata is done? Insert a knife into the center and then pull it out. If the knife comes out clean (no uncooked egg clinging to the sides), the frittata is done. If not, cook for another 5 minutes and check again. Repeat until it tests "done".

NOTE 1:

Don't like asparagus? You could substitute

  • broccoli--just plunge florets it in boiling water for 2 minutes. Skip Step 4 and proceed to Step 5.
  • spinach--wash leaves (remove stems) and coarsely chop.
  • mushrooms--slice thin and then saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned; about 4 minutes.
  • oil packed sun-dried tomatoes--blot gently before adding to skillet.
  • zucchini or yellow squash--slice in half from stem end to blossom end. Cut again into quarters. Remove seeds. Cut into 1/4-inch slices.

Note 2:

Don't like fontina cheese? No problem. Any melty cheese will do -- Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, etc.

Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Source

Sally likes to write (she has two published cookbooks), take photographs, and bake. Actually she LOVES to bake -- she is a "Grandma taught" baker and creates easy recipes that can be achieved by anyone.

Her make-ahead breakfast casserole is extremely versatile -- use whatever vegetables you have on hand to make this your own unique creation.

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Breakfast Casserole

Source

Alyssa shares her passion for "tried and true" recipes on her blog therecipecritic.com. Her overnight breakfast casserole is comfort food at its best -- imagine waking up to the aroma of sausage, potatoes, eggs and cheese, all hot and savory and ready to eat.

Italian Sausage-Gouda-Spinach Strata

Source

Strata is the plural form of the Latin word stratum, which means ‘layering’, and that is exactly what a strata is – a dish composed of layers of ingredients. A recipe for strata was first published in the 1984 Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

Kevin is the creator of the blog keviniscooking.com and this comforting dish. He has a background in restaurants and catering but his interest in cooking began at an early age. Kevin is dedicated to making delicious foods for the people he loves, sometimes healthy but admittedly sometimes a bit indulgent because “life’s too short to be bland!”

Kevin’s take on the breakfast strata is a bit on the indulgent side—but all of that spinach does ease some of the guilt.

By the way, keep in mind that to work successfully, a strata needs to be made ahead and stored overnight in the refrigerator.

© 2016 Linda Lum

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    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 months ago from london

      No, cooking is like putting things together for me. So write a poem or something about Bob Marley or Mohammed Ali. Ha ha.

    • Carb Diva profile image
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      Linda Lum 5 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita - Thank you for your kind words. It makes me chuckle to hear you say that you are not good in the kitchen (you have made that statement more than once).

      That is why I am here--the teach and encourage. Start with a simple dish, and my words will guide you through the steps just as though I was in the kitchen with you. If you want a few suggestions please let me know. And, if there is something on which I have NOT written but you would like to see, please let me know that as well.

      I hope you have a wonderful day.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 5 months ago from london

      I like your Hub and your breakfast ideas look scrumptuous indeed. I have to admit, though, that I'm not really good here.

      I admire your love and care for the family as well as your ability to do all these interesting recipes. God bless your noble Heart.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda it is a test of patience but we (me) are bringing in these tastes in metered amounts to sophisticate the palate of both mom and son. So I cannot follow all your recipes to the letter. Your work is a blessing.

    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric - The authors have the same problem as do the readers--even if you are signed in, you often need to sign in again. It's a pain in the kazooty -- a bug that I hope will soon be fixed. As for your fritrata, I'm sure it was wonderful. I love eggy-cheesy stuff!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Oh I definitely read this, some times on these niche "sites" I get irritated and don't sign in to comment. I will do better. I improvised a frittata off of this. It was good.

    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Janelle - I have inserted a strata recipe into this hub. I hope you have an opportunity to give it a try.

    • Carb Diva profile image
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      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna - The tater tot quiche is a family favorite, and I'm with you. I LOVE breakfast for dinner. Brinner? Just make sure that the tots are totally thawed so that you can successfully "squish" them to cover the bottom of the baking dish.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 9 months ago from Central Florida

      I love breakfast dishes but never eat them for breakfast. I'm one of those people who doesn't eat breakfast for the simple reason that I have to be up for several hours before hunger kicks in. However, I love breakfast for dinner! Your tater tot quiche looks yummy. I love the idea of substituting something easy (and breakfast-y) for the crust.

    • Carb Diva profile image
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      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Jackie - I wish I could say that the walk is a piece of cake, but arthritis makes it a real bear sometimes. But I KNOW I have to keep doing it. The town where I live makes it pretty easy. Lots of nature trails through the trees, near the beach, etc. Thank you for taking the time to stop by. Merry Christmas to you.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 9 months ago from The Beautiful South

      Your recipes sound wonderful and I am finding time finally to try some great recipes. I love sausage and yours with the tator tots just sounds right up my alley. I like that the sausage is precooked to get most of the fat out.

      With all that walking I imagine you can pretty much eat what you want. I love walking but health problems just now are keeping me from it...but I am not giving up.

    • Carb Diva profile image
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      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Hi Flourish - We will definitely be doing the tater tot casserole on Christmas Day. How unfortunate that our friends who do not live in the USA do not have tater tots. Blessings to you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      You have such an active life! All of these sound good, but that first tater tot recipe sounds like a great place to start. I have always wondered who came up with the tater tot and what sparked it. They're such a flexible treat. Christmas morning is a grear time for a good casserole given how busy the day can be. Merry Christmas to you!

    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 9 months ago from United States

      Great Hub. These are all amazing recipes for breakfast casseroles. I like having variety of things to eat in the morning than just scrambled eggs, cereal or waffles. I will definitely try making some of these. I never heard of or had strata before, but it's new and unique.

    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, sleep is highly overrated (LOL). No, just kidding. My day sounds like just about that of anyone else -- I just bothered to write it down. I love what I do, and I guess that's what matters.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And you say I'm busy??? I'm exhausted just reading about your typical day. Sheez, Linda, when do you rest? When do you find time to cook? Even on casserole would take longer than you seemingly have.

      Sigh!