Monday, December 22, 2014

Recreating Holiday Memories with Johnsonville Sausage

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Johnsonville; all opinions expressed are my own. 

Growing up my parents were good at creating Christmas memories for me and my siblings especially centered around food (thank goodness for stretchy pants!). This year will be our last going to Maryland to see them for Christmas and just as we had a last Christmas in Ohio before they moved to the DMV, I'm still looking forward to some things staying the same: most importantly, the delicious menu on Christmas day.

Throwback Christmas - my mom has epic sewing skills too!
I've never replicated my mom's breakfast casserole she makes as a labor of love (she detests eggs but makes it anyway!), but this year when Johnsonville reached out to me to create a breakfast casserole I used my mom's recipe as inspiration. Although I helped her make it time and time again, I don't know exact measurements so I was unsure if it'd be as good as hers.

Starting with Johnsonville sausage, I selected the Vermont Maple flavor which has real maple syrup. Next, I thought about which breakfast items I like most: challah bread French toast, eggs, and cheddar cheese. I have a delicious stuffed French toast recipe I like to make that uses Texas toast and a critical step is drying out the bread plus I remember my mom would always make it the day before so I knew I too would want to make it as a make-ahead recipe.

It turned out to be super simple and quite addictive (I even ate it for dinner!). If you haven't determined your Christmas menu yet, I promise you this make-ahead recipe is a winner:

Johnsonville Sausage Challah Bread French Toast

  • 1 package of Johnsonville Vermont Maple breakfast sausages 
  • 1 loaf of challah bread
  • 10 eggs
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Butter
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

  • In a 200 degree oven place 1" cubes of challah bread on a wire rack over a baking sheet and allow to dry for 15 minutes
  • While the bread is drying remove the casing from the sausage and brown it then drain
  • Whisk eggs, cream and sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg (to your liking)
  • Butter a 9x13 baking dish and toss in half of the bread cubes, sprinkle with half the sausage and half the cheese pouring half the egg mixture on top
  • Repeat previous step with remaining ingredients and wrap container tightly with plastic wrap then foil over it, refrigerating overnight (up to 24 hours)
  • The next day preheat oven to 375 degrees, remove wrap only leaving foil; bake covered with foil for 25 minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 25 minutes; you'll know it's done when a knife comes out clean, but be careful not to over bake as it will continue cooking when you remove it from the oven
  • Allow it to cool about 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving (top with syrup and confectioner's sugar for extra yumminess!); makes 12 servings (or 6 if you're in my home)

I'm sure native New Englanders will disapprove, but my husband and I do not like the taste of real maple syrup. I know, I know. I've tried to like it, but I've been conditioned by the fake stuff all my life and can't break the habit. At least there was real maple syrup in the Johnsonville sausage so I cut myself a bit of slack! To make my breakfast a bit more authentic, I did have a cup of Green Mountain breakfast blend coffee. From Vermont, it is some of the best coffee I've had in my life and goes perfectly with the breakfast casserole.

To learn more about Johnsonville (and for coupons!) be sure to visit their website and follow on Facebook and Twitter

Does your family have a traditional Christmas meal? What do you like to put in your breakfast casserole?

P.S. To see Nia's 1st Christmas click here! If I can find her 1st Christmas PJs before we leave I'll have Grayson wear them.