By Beth Lema
For many families, especially young families, Christmas begins with church Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, celebrating the gift of the birth of Jesus. For some the anticipation by children begins with an old tradition of an Advent Calendar, counting down the days of Advent, as with each day the miracle of Christmas comes closer. The children can be impatient, and the counting down helps them to learn just what anticipation means. “Good things come to those who wait” as the saying goes. Young children are especially eager for Christmas to come so they can open their precious gifts that they find nestled under the tree on Christmas morning. Yet it is this time of year for parents to share the greatest gift of all — the Birth of Jesus— by attending Mass with them, fitting this into their very hectic schedules of life.
Parent schedules are very hectic to say the least this time of year. But somehow, all the presents are bought and wrapped, ready to be placed under the tree. We have a giant size supply of batteries at the ready and oh, don’t forget to get the family pet a toy! So, you may ask, who has time to think about cooking breakfast on Christmas morning? Just give me a strong cup of coffee to get me started. Yet it is a special time not to be missed by parents and grandparents who eagerly await the smiles, surprises and joy of the children opening their gifts. This recipe for a Christmas Morning Casserole has been in my family for years. It saves time by combining the ingredients from the night before into a casserole, chilling it overnight and baking it in the morning, and it serves a crowd. So, start the oven, put on the coffee, pour a cup, let the oven bake away and watch the gift of Christmas Morning fill your soul with Jesus’ love.
- 8 slices of Italian Bread, crust removed, and cubed
- 4 cups shredded cheese of choice (Colby jack works well)
- 12 ounces of Italian sausage
- ¼ medium sweet onion, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp pepper’1/4 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp dry mustard
Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan
Cube the bread slices and place them in the bottom of the greased pan, covering the bottom.
Brown the sausage in a skillet and set aside
Sauté the chopped onions and bell peppers, 3-5 minutes
Spread the cheese over the bread, add the cooked sausage evenly on top, followed by the onion and bell peppers.
Whisk the eggs and add the milk, salt, pepper paprika, oregano, dried mustard and garlic power.
Slowly stir the egg mixture as you pour it evenly above the top of casserole
Cover the baking dish and refrigerate at least 6 to 8 hours. Overnight is best.
Turn the oven on and set it to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes or until the center is set
Allow it to cool slightly before serving.