Mushroom, bacon, and potato breakfast casserole
Instead of a fun spring break this year, my daughters and I got to experience “spring broke.” My oldest daughter came home from college for spring break with a cough/cold thing she’d had for two weeks and the first Monday she had off, she went to the doctor to get a prescription for a sinus and ear infection. Towards the end of her spring break she started feeling a little better, but I got the cough/cold thing and she went back to school without getting to do anything fun. My youngest daughter started her spring break with a severe sore throat, swollen glands, chills, and a fever and the doctor told us it could be mono or strep throat. Fortunately it was neither, but she got to spend her spring break with me and my hacking cough and on and off fever, on the couch watching movies.
By the time Easter weekend rolled around, we were feeling better and were ready to entertain our cousins from Yuba City for the weekend. We usually have a family event on the Saturday before Easter at the party barn and on Easter Sunday at cousin Wendy’s house, so on Friday night my sister Nancy and I try to show them a good time in Livermore and fit in as many places as we can.
On Friday night we met Nancy in downtown Livermore a little after 5:00 and went straight to Demetri’s for flaming saganaki and shots of ouzo. Demetri stopped working for a moment and had a shot with us. That ouzo is great for hacking coughs (Nancy has the same hacking cough as I do). Next, we stopped at the First Street Ale House for salads (ok, I had a Paulaner hefeweizen too). The Black and Bleu Salad is our favorite. It has strips of thinly sliced marinated tri-tip on top and crumbled bleu cheese mixed with red onions, tomatoes, carrots, and mixed lettuce. After a bit of shopping, we headed out to the Underdog at Concannon Vineyards for dessert and wine. As usual, the desserts were fabulous.
On Saturday morning I planned to make apple French toast casserole, but discovered I did not have brown sugar, which is a required ingredient for that dish (note to my kids: when you use something up, put it on the shopping list!). So, I decided to improvise my favorite potato and ham bake casserole with a lower fat mushroom and bacon version. I keep of bag of crumbled bacon in my freezer for moments like this.
The bag of crumbled bacon from my freezer
The casserole can be made the night before and heated before serving in the morning. I have provided my improvised recipe directly below and the original recipe at the bottom.
Mushroom, Bacon, and Potato Casserole
– Serves 9
- Non-stick spray or olive oil
- 1/2 to 3/4 package frozen hash browns, thawed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 8-oz. package fresh sliced mushrooms
- 1 chopped shallot or 2 tablespoons chopped onions
- 1 – 2 tablespoons of crumbled bacon
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup 2% milk shredded Mexican four cheese blend
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/3 cup non-fat milk
- Cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Sautée the mushrooms and shallot until brown in olive oil or in a skillet sprayed with non-stick spray .
Use the non-stick spray or olive oil to oil a 8 1/2 – by 11-inch baking dish. Season the thawed hash browns with salt and pepper. Line the baking dish with the thawed hash browns, pressing them firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan as you would when making a graham cracker pie crust. Spray the hash browns with oil or brush with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy.
While the hash browns are baking, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season the egg and milk mixture with salt and pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper.
Remove from the oven and put the sautéed mushrooms and shallot into the browned crust. Sprinkle on the crumbled bacon. Cover with the cheese. Pour on the egg and milk mixture.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden and an inserted knife comes out clean.
The browned hash browns on the left, finished version on the right
Here’s the original, fully loaded recipe
Potato and Ham Bake Breakfast Special
– Serves 6
This recipe was given to me and my sister, Susie Calhoun, by Raelene Vieux. The Vieux family are local cattle ranchers who are used to serving large meals to many people. You can double the recipe to serve twelve people—use a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. When I make this dish, I use hash brown patties and omit the butter.
- 1/2 (30 ounce) package frozen hash browns, thawed
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups diced ham
- 1/2 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
- 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup half-and-half
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a 12-inch pie pan or an 8- by 8-inch baking dish with the thawed hash browns, pressing them firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan as you would when making a graham cracker pie crust. Pour the butter around the edges. (If using patties, omit this step.) Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy. Remove from the oven and arrange the ham, chilies, and cheeses in layers on the browned crust.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half and pour the mixture over the layers. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and an inserted knife comes out clean.
Here’s to a happy and healthier spring!