RECIPES: Mary’s Strata

When I was a little girl, my mother would make a breakfast casserole for us every Christmas. It was filled with eggs, crumbled sausage and that sharp cheddar cheese that comes in a block. It was incredibly tasty, but she had to make it the night before so the eggs could properly soak the bread. That’s what gave it such an awesome, custardy texture. It was always strange to watch Mom fry sausage and whisk eggs on Christmas Eve though and she did seem annoyed by the interruption. I clearly remember her working on that late-night-breakfast while drinking a glass of Cold Duck.

The Breakfast Casserole was NOT a tradition I continued because frankly, it seemed like a pain in the ass. That changed though when I visited my Mother-In-Law’s house for the first time. She whipped up a sausage free breakfast casserole that very morning and it was fantastic (though she called it a Strata). I don’t know if it’s the white bread or the Cream of Tartar that makes the difference, but Mary’s Strata was light and fluffy even without the benefit of sitting in a fridge overnight. I have been making it ever since and now even serve it for dinner.

You will need:

5 Pieces of White Bread (or 4 leftover hot dog buns, which are great for this)

1 C Shredded Sharp Cheddar

5 Eggs

1 1/2 C Half-N-Half

1 tsp Garlic Salt

1/2 tsp Pepper

1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar

1/2 C Shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a pie plate with nonstick spray. Tear the white bread into small pieces and dump into the plate. Spread cheddar cheese over the top.  Whisk the eggs and next 4 ingredients in a separate bowl, then pour over the top of the bread and cheese. Make sure all of the bread is properly coated with the egg mixture. Sprinkle parmesan over the top (and an optional 1 tsp of oregano if your kids aren’t scared of green things like mine are).

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until your Strata puffs up like Jiffy Pop popcorn. Get your Instagram-Brag-Photo as soon as you pull it out of the oven though because it WILL deflate within minutes and look like a regular (but delicious) egg & cheese casserole.

You can get creative with this and top it with cooked bacon or sauteed veggies but we tend to eat it just like this. If I serve a simple salad on the side, my 10-year-old acts like we’re eating birthday cake for dinner.

Enjoy and feel free to copy my Mom with the Cold Duck!


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