The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

December 17, 2013

A Christmas breakfast casserole that has it all

The Associated Press

What you want on Christmas morning — a house that effortlessly fills itself with joyous sounds and delicious aromas. What you usually get on Christmas morning — towers of wrapping paper, hermetically sealed toys that can be opened by no human, and a kitchen that demands way too much of your attention.

I can’t help you with the wrapping paper or packaging, but I can make your holiday breakfast a little easier. I’m a big believer that Christmas morning is meant to be spent under the tree, not at the stove. And yet I still want the house to fill itself with delicious aromas.

My solution? A do-ahead breakfast casserole that I can prep the night before, then just pop into the oven to bake unattended while gift insanity commences. So this year I created an indulgent dish that is equal parts casserole, hash browns, fruit crumble and French toast. Because.... why not? It’s Christmas.

This recipe makes plenty so it’s easy to feed a crowd, particularly if you have guests joining the fun closer to brunch. The leftovers are easily reheated. I like it served with a drizzle of maple syrup. But if you’d rather take this in a savory direction, add chopped ham when combining the potatoes and cheese.

FRENCH TOAST HASH CRUMBLE CASSEROLE

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (15 minutes active)

Servings: 12

9 eggs

2/3 cup half-and-half

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 slices sandwich bread

4 cups (about 1 pound) frozen shredded potatoes

3 large apples, peeled, cored and diced

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded cheese

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 tablespoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, thyme, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Coat a deep 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange 4 slices of the bread in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.

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