Weekday mornings are often a blur as we rush about, trying to start the day. We resort to cold cereal or a toaster waffle for the kids before school, and grab a banana for ourselves on our way out the door as we head to work. Then the weekend comes and it’s finally time to relax and enjoy the morning with our family, gathered together around the kitchen table. This weekend, instead of waking up early to cook pancakes or bacon and eggs (and making a big mess), why not try one of these easy, make-ahead breakfast casseroles. Whip one up the night before and pop it in the oven when you rise — over easy! And the best part is you can heat up the leftovers for a warm, satisfying breakfast Monday morning! We can’t think of a better way to start your week off right.
French Toast Bake
This sweet, make-ahead casserole is a kid-favorite! Start with a large (9×13) baking dish. Add a stick of melted butter, ¼ cup real maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of pulp-free orange juice (optional). Cut up a large loaf (or two smaller loaves) of French or Challah Bread into large chunks. Challah is light and fluffy — similar to brioche — and a great choice for French toast. Arrange your bread in the baking dish, on top of the sticky liquid. In a separate bowl, whisk together 10 eggs, one cup of whole milk, a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon powder. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, making sure to cover every inch of bread. Top your casserole with more cinnamon and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight, allowing to bread to soak up the custard.
In the morning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the foil halfway through baking. Allow your casserole to cool slightly before serving, and then dig in!
Ham, Egg and Cheese Strata
If you prefer savory to sweet, this simple casserole can’t be beat! Lightly grease a large (9×13) baking dish. Break up a package of your favorite English muffins into large chunks and arrange evenly in your baking dish. In a separate bowl, whisk 10 eggs and 2 cups of milk. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Mix in two cups of shredded cheddar (or Swiss) cheese and two cups of diced, cooked ham. Pour the mixture into your baking dish, thoroughly covering the English muffin. Cover with foil and refrigerate the strata overnight.
In the morning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake the strata for 45 minutes to an hour, or until set in the middle, removing the cover halfway through baking. Top with a sprinkling of extra cheese, and let stand for ten minutes before serving.
Overnight Baked Oatmeal
This one-dish wonder is hearty and nutritious. In a large bowl, whisk 2 lightly beaten eggs, 3 cups of milk, ¼ cup coconut (or canola) oil, 2 cups of old-fashioned oats, ¾ cups firmly packed brown sugar, ½ cup raisins, a teaspoon of salt, and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon powder. You can also add other dried fruits, such as cherries or diced apricots, based on preference. Pour the oatmeal into a square (8×8), lightly greased baking dish. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dish from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Uncover and gently stir, then top your oatmeal with ¼ cup of pecan pieces. Bake uncovered 45 minutes to an hour, or until cooked completely. Serve warm, drizzled with real maple syrup or topped with fresh fruit, and enjoy!
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