... with a scrumptious, ooey gooey and yet hardy breakfast casserole full of everything needed to jump start the day. Well, as you can see, I did add a helping of creamy stone-ground grits to each plate.
Many times folks refer to this type of casserole as a Strata but the way I put it together, it just ain't so. You see, a true strata is a casserole made up from layering varying ingredients on top of each other. A true breakfast strata consists of a bottom crust of bread followed with (in no particular order) a layer of cheese, bacon, sausage and/or ham, a medley of sauteed vegetables followed with another layer of cheese before lastly smothered in a seasoned egg/milk mixture.
The recipe today is more like a savory bread pudding, kinda like the sweet dessert type where everything is jumbled together and placed in a casserole before baking. When cooked, the egg mixture transforms the toasted English muffins into a firm bread pudding, and with the help of the coddling of the cheeses and sauteed vegetables, both keeps the casserole moist and flavorsome. Like most bread based strata recipes or those for breakfast puddings, an overnight rest is essential. Enjoy!
Holiday Breakfast Pudding
a blend of favorite vegetables that pairs well with the cheesy egg breakfast pie base
1 pound fresh thin asparagus, ends trimmed
2 strips thick-sliced bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup small-diced cooked ham
1 1/2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 scallions, finely chopped
6 English muffins, split and toasted
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Remove the tips from the asparagus; put aside and cut the remaining stalks into 1/2-inch pieces. Keep the tips and stalks separated.
In a large skillet, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel and remove all but about 1 teaspoon of bacon grease. Add the butter and when melted, add ham and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms reduce to about half the original size. Add the bell pepper, onion and asparagus stalks and cook until onion is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs until slightly beaten. Whip in the milk, salt, mustard and black pepper. Fold in the cooked vegetable mixture along with the bacon. Fold in the scallions and half of each of the cheese. Lastly, break or cut with kitchen shears the toasted English muffins into 1/2-inch pieces. Fold muffin pieces into the egg mixture. Pour mixture into a well-greased 3-quart casserole. Sprinkle the asparagus tips on top followed with the remaining cheeses.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove casserole from refrigerator and allow to set out for 3 minutes. Place casserole in center oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until center is set and cheese is nice and toasted.
Remove, cut into servings and enjoy with a side of fresh fruit, grits or fried breakfast potatoes.
Note: The photos show a halved version in a 1 1/2 qt. casserole.