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Bonnie Aeschliman: Make-ahead casserole is quick, tasty breakfast

  • Published Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, at 7:36 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, at 8:15 a.m.

Southwest Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Serves: 10

1/4 cup butter, softened, plus additional for greasing baking dish

1 pound package bulk breakfast sausage

1 pound loaf soft-crust French bread

1 garlic clove, minced

20 large eggs

11/2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

8 green onions, cleaned and thinly sliced (green parts too)

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Generously butter bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch baking dish.

Cook sausage in heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps with a fork, until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove sausage from skillet, discarding fat.

Slice enough bread into 1 inch-thick slices to fill bottom of pan. Reserve rest of loaf for another purpose. Combine butter and minced garlic. Spread a thin layer of garlic butter on both sides of each bread slice, and line bottom of pan with garlic-buttered bread. Spread sausage on top of bread.

Whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large bowl until frothy. Stir in green onions, red bell pepper and half of the shredded cheese. Pour mixture over sausage. Bread may float to the top but pat it down with spatula to help it absorb egg mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

Place a sheet of buttered foil (buttered side down) over top. Refrigerate overnight.

Before baking, remove casserole from refrigerator while preheating oven to 375°F and place rack in middle of oven.

Place covered casserole in preheated oven and bake 30 minutes. Carefully remove foil and bake until top is slightly puffed and custard is set in center, about 20 minutes more. Transfer baking dish to a rack and let stand 10 minutes. Cut into 12 squares and serve immediately.

THE WICHITA EAGLE — Dec. 12, 2012

With Christmas less than two weeks away, I’ve received many e-mails and calls from readers. I’ve enjoyed hearing from each of you and sharing your excitement as you prepare for the upcoming celebrations. Your questions have been varied — ranging from culinary gifts to recipe requests. Many of you were soliciting advice in finding a special item.

Q. We have several in our family who love to cook. I am looking for quality stocking-stuffer items that would be useful and that they would enjoy. What small items do you regularly use that you could recommend?

A. I think every kitchen should have a set of stainless steel, rectangular shaped measuring spoons. They are unusual as they also have 1/8 and 3/4 teaspoon measurements. With their rectangular shape, they slide easily into spice jars. Because they are stainless, they go in the dishwasher and do not discolor but retain their bright finish. Other gadgets I use and love are stainless steel measuring cups;, good silicon brushes that clean easily, a self-cleaning garlic press, heat-resistant silicone spatulas that do not melt when stirring hot mixtures, herb shears, instant-read thermometers and a cheese knife so versatile that I use it to slice everything!

Q. Can you tell us the brand of the stove-top smoker that you wrote about, and where we can find it?

A. The one I use is the Camerons Stovetop smoker. It was rated No. 1 by Cooks Illustrated. I carry the smoker in my store but it is also available online. The company website is http://cameronsmoker.com, though the smoker is available elsewhere as well.

Q. We are having relatives stay overnight with us. I don’t do breakfast. But I will need to have something for my guests that is delicious but also easy. Do you have an easy breakfast casserole that can be assembled the day ahead?

A. Yes, here is one that is a standby; it can be made the day ahead and baked while you are enjoying a cup of coffee.

Bonnie Aeschliman is a certified culinary professional who owns Cooking at Bonnie’s Place in Wichita. For more information, call 316-425-5224 or visit cookingatbonnies.com. To submit a question to Bonnie, e-mail her at bonnie@cookingatbonnies.com.

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