Sunday, August 17, 2014

Western Breakfast Strata

I graduated with my Master of Architecture this past Saturday!  I was so excited for the day to finally arrive, and wanted to make a special breakfast to celebrate the big day!  I didn't want to make just any ordinary breakfast, I wanted to try something completely I decided to turn my favorite breakfast - western omelette with toast and a side of home fries - into a single breakfast strata that is out of this world delicious!

The base of the strata is comprised of a large russet potato, half a green pepper, half a medium onion and 1/2 cup of cubed, pre-cooked ham (you can find this in the ham and sausage section of the grocery store).  After I peeled the potato, I diced everything in equally sized pieces, about the size of the cubed ham.  Since the ham only needs to be warmed through, I put the potatoes, onions and peppers in the skillet first.  I cooked them over medium heat in olive oil for about 8 minutes until they had a chance to soften a bit, and then added the ham, cooking an additional 4 minutes.  The goal is for everything to be almost tender, but not quite perfectly tender; they still have a chance to soften in the oven.

While the veggies and ham were cooking, I mixed 5 eggs and 1.5 cups of 2% milk in a medium bowl and whisked it together. I added some salt and pepper to make the mixture extra good, and then folded in 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and 2.5 cups of cubed day-old french bread.  Feel free to use fresh if it's all you have, but a crunchier, less soft loaf of bread will absorb the liquid much better!

Time for the fun part!  I put the ham and veggie mixture at the base of an 8" x 8" glass dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.  I topped this mixture with a little bit of cheddar cheese...because is there really such a thing as too much cheese??  Didn't think so!  I then topped the cheesy potatoes with the bread and egg mixture.  In order to ensure that the bread is in an even layer, I found it easier to scoop out the pieces of bread and place them individually over the veggies, and then pour the remaining liquid over top.  It looked sooo good!  To make it even better, I sprinkled a dash of pepper, garlic powder, basil and oregano over the top. Mmmmm.

I put the western breakfast strata in a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes, checking to make sure that the top was golden brown, the egg mixture was bubbling hot, and a toothpick inserted into the center came out clean.  All that I had to do while it cooled was make the mimosas.  What a perfect way to celebrate!

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