Kitchen Wit & Wisdom: Make it ahead and relax

Instead of slaving over a hot stove Christmas morning, try preparing breakfast ahead of time, leaving you more time to enjoy the day

A breakfast frittata can be prepared ahead of time

As the years pass, certainly I’m not the only one who is getting smarter when it comes to preparing meals for family during Christmas. Simplifying and make-ahead recipes are my favourites now because it’s far more important for me to spend the time with family than in the kitchen, especially Christmas morning.

I’ve been offering make-ahead recipes for almost two decades now and today I have a couple more that might interest some of you. Frittatas are excellent served warm or at room temperature, which means that this meatless main is a perfect do-ahead dish. The second casserole can be made with any favourite sausage and it’s a colourful full-meal deal. Both are easy and take little prep time, either finish and bake, or pop into the oven 45 minutes prior to eating.

Mushroom, Leek, & Fontina Frittata

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 medium leeks, whites and pale green parts only, chopped

8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced

12 large eggs

1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream

2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided (I use cheddar)

Salt, freshly ground pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until softened and all liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, crème fraîche, and parsley in large bowl; mix in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper. At this point, refrigerate ingredients.

In the morning; place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 350 F. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet, increase heat to medium-high. Place mushrooms/leeks in skillet. Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms, shaking the pan to evenly distribute mixture. Cook the frittata, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over eggs and transfer skillet to oven. Bake frittata until golden brown and centre is set, 25-30 minutes.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

with Sausage, Hashbrowns and Eggs

1 pound Italian sausage (I prefer hot, but mild or sweet also work)

1 med. white onion, peeled and diced

1 red bell pepper, cored and diced (or 1 jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (20 oz.) bag frozen hash browns, thawed

2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese

6 eggs

1/3 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

Add sausage to a medium sauté pan. Cook over medium-high heat until browned, crumbling the sausage with a spoon as it cooks. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of sausage grease in the sauté pan, discarding the rest.

Add the onion and red pepper* to the sauté pan, and sauté for 5 minutes until cooked. Add garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant. (If using the jarred roasted red peppers, wait to stir them until after the garlic.) Pour vegetable mixture into the mixing bowl with the sausage. Add the hash browns and 1-1/2 cups cheese to the mixing bowl with the sausage and veggies. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and black pepper until combined. Then add them to the hashbrown mixture, and stir to combine. Pour mixture into a 11×7-inch or a 9×9-inch baking dish (a 9×13-inch dish will also work), and top with remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate.

In the morning, heat oven to 375 F and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes and the top of the potatoes begin to slightly brown. Remove and let casserole rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions and serve! Great served with warm rolls and a fruit salad.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.



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