Mini Breakfast Stratas

If I had to choose between lounging around in bed on a weekend morning or getting up early to make a hearty breakfast, it would be no contest. I’d pick the lazy option every time. But why choose when you can have both by spending ten minutes assembling a breakfast strata the night before? This popular, make-ahead casserole includes all of the ingredients of a classic “English” breakfast in one easy package — eggs, optional ham or bacon, cheese, vegetables, and bread — while minimizing the cook’s time involved and letting the oven do most of the work.

mini-strata3603In this simple recipe, I have considered how breakfast strata’s winning formula might be improved and settled on the idea of baking my default recipe for the dish in individual portions using muffin cups. Do members of your household eat breakfast at different times? No problem. Each serving can be reheated in the microwave oven for 10 seconds and then served. Wrapped, these mini stratas make excellent additions to lunch boxes. They can be eaten on the go or as afternoon snacks. They cook in half the time of a traditional strata casserole and are a great way to use leftovers. A vegetarian (ovo-eating) option is provided. And, finally, they make a satisfying light dinner served with soup or salad. I think of these as anytime stratas.

Ingredients
5 large eggs
1 1/3 cups milk or half & half
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon paprika (sweet or smoked)
A pinch of cayenne
A dash of nutmeg
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
5 slices day-old bread, cubed (about 2 cups)
(Optional) 4 ounces cooked smoked ham, cubed (about 1 cup) or 5 slices cooked bacon, drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup cooked and very well drained mushrooms, spinach, swiss chard, potatoes, or other vegetables (double the amount of vegetables and dispense with the meat if opting for the vegetarian version of this dish)
6 green onions, the roots and half the greens removed, thinly sliced
4 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) grated cheddar, emmental, or other cheese
(Optional) 1 tablespoon chopped bell peppers

Preparation
Oil 6 jumbo-sized, 12 regular-sized, or 24 mini-sized non-stick muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl with a spout, whisk together well the eggs, milk or half & half, mustard, paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

mini-strata-insert22mini-strata-insert3

Evenly distribute among the muffin cups, in order, half each of the bread cubes, meat (if used), vegetables, green onions, cheese, optional bell peppers (if used), and the milk/egg mixture. Repeat.
Cover the muffin cups with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. with the rack in the middle position. Bake for 15 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the muffin cups used, until the tops are lightly browned and the eggs set. Allow the mini stratas to cool in the muffin cups for five minutes, remove them, and serve.