My father and stepmother, both retired mathematics teachers, live in Plymouth, New Hampshire. My Dad has a large tribe; six children with spouses and ten grandchildren with assorted partners, scattered across the country. Marilyn has become a pro at feeding large groups of visiting family. Besides the Wixson annual gathering in May, there have been two family weddings this summer, and each time, she has graciously hosted 20 or more of us for breakfast.
Marilyn’s secret to large-scale, relaxed entertaining is good math skills and organization, planned menus, and prepping things in advance. I particularly relish breakfast with them, and often come away with new food ideas and recipes.
The occasion of our last visit was to enjoy my nephew’s outdoor wedding at Pawtuckaway State Park. The weather was glorious; a picture-perfect autumn day. After the ceremony, where the bride arrived by canoe, we played lawn games, feasted on homemade pies and danced.
The next morning, Marilyn had a full house for breakfast, serving up decadent slices of French toast with New Hampshire maple syrup and a delicious bacon breakfast casserole. Almost like a soufflé, this is an easy dish to prepare the night before and bake in the morning. Plus, there is lots of room for creativity of the cook. Sausage or ham would be tasty instead of the bacon, kale substitutes easily for the spinach, try chopped tomatoes, cooked cubes of squash or grated zucchini. We like to vary the cheese; mozzarella, smoked Gouda, even local goat cheese. Large crowd? Double the recipe and use a 9 by 13 inch pan. The best part just may be the leftovers.
BACON BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped bell pepper
- 5 slices bacon cooked and chopped
- ½ cup frozen chopped spinach defrosted and drained
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Sea salt and fresh pepper
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- 3 cups cubed whole grain bread about 3 slices
- Grease an 8-inch square casserole dish. In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft. Add the chopped bell pepper and cook until soft. Add the spinach and chopped bacon, stir and briefly heat.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, salt and peppers. Spread the bread cubes evenly over the bottom of the casserole dish. Spoon the veggie and bacon mixture on top, and spread evenly. Pour over the egg mixture, then sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least for 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole until set, about 25 – 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting.