I warned you back in March that I was going to be quite absent for a while, and I keep my promises. I’ve checked in here and there, but really, there hasn’t been much writing. And frankly, a lot of the eating in that period was unremarkable. Of course, there was some other stuff going on, such as:
- July 13: Stephen gets another year of funding for his DC job.
- July 16: We got married!
- July 21: I get a DC job offer (yes, I took it.)
- July 22: Offer accepted on Pittsburgh house.
- August 12: I moved to Washington, DC.
- August 26: I sold my Pittsburgh house.
- August 30: I started my new job.
It’s true: Burghilicious up and moved away. And many people have asked if that means I’m going to quit the blog. It is, after all, pretty Pittsburgh-y.
In a word, no.
Here’s my Burghilicious resolution.
Whereas, I love this blog; and
Whereas, changing domain names is a hassle; and
Whereas, I can’t bear the idea of someone else getting the @Burghilicious Twitter handle; and
Whereas, mostly what I do around here anyway is post my favorite recipes;
Be it resolved that Burghilicious shall continue! (Albeit with some changes that are to-be-determined.)
So: on to more important things, like brunch.
After all, when you’re starting new, it makes sense to begin with a hearty breakfast.
We had our first Pittsburgh friends come to visit this weekend. We spent Saturday tooling around the Our Nation’s Capital, visiting museums and famous landmarks, fueled in part by this delicious breakfast casserole.
I’ve known since childhood that a breakfast cassserole can be prepared before your guests arrive, so you don’t have any messy prep to do while your guests are waiting. You also don’t have to wake up at 7 to have a hearty breakfast at 9. You can even make it way in advance and freeze it unbaked, if you’re as well-prepared as my mother tends to be. (Indeed, a breakfast casserole made an appearance during our wedding festivities for this very reason.)
More importantly, it combines the best of breakfast: eggs, sausage, cheese and bread, all happy together in one baking dish. (Oh, and maple syrup, too.)
This casserole is similar to the one I grew up with, with an important substitution: it uses toasted Eggo waffles instead of day-old bread or croutons. You know that I’m not usually one to rely on store-bought gimmick ingredients, but for this casserole, it made sense: the waffles give the finished casserole additional structure without heaviness. It was a Cook’s Illustrated idea that I just had to try out, and as usual, they were right.
You might also like…
- French Toast Sandwiches are another great dish breakfast dish for houseguests.
- You can freeze a pan of Classic Lasagna ahead of time, too.
- Leek and Goat Cheese Tart takes eggs in a whole different direction.
Maple Breakfast Casserole
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
I hate using only a portion of something like a tube of breakfast sausage, so I adapted the recipe to use the full tube. I also have a fix if you can’t find the maple sausage that the original calls for. Other than that, it was a pretty simple recipe that demanded little tweaking. I’ve also added specific instructions for doing it overnight.
8 frozen Eggo Homestyle waffles
16 ounces breakfast sausage (maple if you can find it)
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
2-3 drops maple extract (optional; omit if you have maple sausage)
6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
The night before…
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 baking dish.
Arrange the still-frozen waffles in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until crispy, turning over halfway through.
While the waffles are crisping, cook the sausage in a nonstick skillet. Break it up into crumbles as it cooks, then drain it on a paper-towel-lined plate.
In a large measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the eggs, milke, maple syrup and maple extract (if using). Season liberally with salt and pepper.
When the waffles are ready, cut them in half. Arrange the halves of four waffles in the bottom of the baking dish. You might need to trim them slightly to make them lay flat. Feel free to eat any scraps that result from this trimming. Scatter half of the cooked sausage over the waffles and top with 1/3 of the cheese. Build a second layer on top of the first, following the same pattern. Pour the egg-milk-maple mixture evenly over the dish. Reserve the remaining cheese for the morning.
Next, weight the casserole to force the waffles to absorb as much egg as possible. Cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of the casserole. Set the dish on a baking sheet. Set another 8×8 inch baking dish* on top of the plastic wrap, and fill it with canned goods from the pantry to weight it down.
Put the baking sheet with the weighted casserole in the fridge, and go to bed. (Or, put it in the freezer if it’s not for tomorrow. Yes, weighted. You can take the weights off one it’s frozen.)
In the morning…
Get out of bed momentarily about 90 minutes before you want breakfast. Take the casserole out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Let the casserole stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Top it with the remaining shredded cheddar and put it in the oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes and go take a shower, or go back to bed.
Your guests will wake to the heavenly smells of maple-syrup-sausage-egg-cheese and will rouse themselves of their own volition if they have any sense. When it’s cooked, the casserole will puff in the center and around the edges. Cool for five minutes before cutting and serving.
Serves 4-6. Delicious with fruit salad!
*If you don’t have another 8×8 baking dish, you can use a 8″ cake pan. That’s what I did, and while a few shy corners of waffles avoided being submerged in egg, no one died or even noticed. You just want to weight as much of the surface area as you can.