Some Do-ahead Brunch Ideas

 We like this breakfast casserole from Better Homes and Gardens New Plaid Cookbook with pepper jack cheese and ham for a nice wakeup.  The proportions are just right, and the casserole bakes up in the exact time.  It’s a good brunch or lunch dish too, served with a fresh fruit salad and hot biscuits.  Make it ahead and pop it in the oven while your house guests get dressed in the morning. My husband suggested sprinkling some salt and pepper on the potato layer before continuing with the dish.  If you want to double this dish, 2 casseroles bake a little quicker than a larger dish.                    
Farmer's Casserole
  3             Cups  Hash Browns, Frozen – shredded  (9 ounces)
     3/4      Cup  Pepper Jack Cheese-- shredded  or Cheddar (3 ounces)
  1             Cup  Ham -- diced, or Breakfast Sausages, or Canadian bacon
     1/4      Cup  Green Onions -- sliced
  4             Large  Eggs -- beaten
  1 1/2      Cups  Milk -- or 12 oz evaporated milk
     1/8      Teaspoon  Salt
                  Dash  Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 350°.  Coat a 2 quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Arrange hash brown potatoes evenly in the dish.
Sprinkle with cheese, meat and onions.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over layers in dish.
Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
For 12, double ingredients and bake in a 13 x 9" baking dish for 45-66 minutes.

Make Ahead:  Prepare as directed; up to baking, then cover and chill up to 24 hours.  Bake uncovered, for 50-55 minutes.
6 Servings

Per Serving: 215 Calories; 8g Fat (35.0% calories from fat); 12g Protein; 23g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 162mg Cholesterol; 441mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 1/2 Non-Fat Milk; 1 Fat.

I baked two loaves of challah bread yesterday, with the intention using one loaf for making this recipe from "The Best of Byerly's".  I’m sure glad I did.  I made this recipe in the afternoon, after the bread was cool enough to slice, and froze it overnight.  For lunch today, I baked a few slices in our toaster oven to try it.  My husband’s comment was “This sure beats the French toast we buy at the restaurant.”  Since that’s his go-to breakfast when we go out, that’s high praise. 
This would be absolutely perfect for entertaining, as it bakes while you set the table and assemble the remainder of the meal.  No standing over a hot stove frying French toast.
Buy thick slices of Challah, French bread or Texas Toast for this recipe.  I needed a half-sheet pan to spread out the bread, and poured half of the mixture over the top, let it soak in a few minutes, turned it over and poured the remainder over the areas that didn’t already have mixture soaked through.  Freeze on the pan until solid, then bag the slices for future use and put back in the freezer for quick brunches or light, last-minute suppers.  I have started keeping it on hand, like I do Bonnie’sWaffles.
                        French Toast ...Oven Style
  4        Large  Eggs -- beaten
  1        Cup  Milk
  2        Tablespoons  Sugar
  1        Teaspoon  Vanilla Extract
  1        Teaspoon  Grated Orange Peel
     ¼     Teaspoon  Ground Cinnamon
  12      Slices  French Bread -- 1" thick diagonal slices
             Butter -- melted
In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, orange peel and cinnamon.  Arrange bread slices on a 10x15" jelly roll pan.  Pour egg mixture over bread and let stand until partially absorbed, turn slices and allow bread to completely absorb remaining mixture.  Place in freezer, uncovered, until firm, about 1 hour.  Using a wide spatula, loosen slices from pan.  Place slices in freezer storage bag; seal and freeze until needed.
To bake:  Grease 10 x 15" jelly roll pan.  Heat oven to 450°.  Place frozen slices on greased pan.  Brush top side of each slice lightly with melted butter.  Bake 8 minutes.  Turn slices; brush with butter.  Continue baking until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.  Top as desired. 
12 Servings

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