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Dorothy Dean presents: Overnight Hash Brown Breakfast Bake gives hosts the gift of time

Wondering what to make for Christmas morning? Consider this dish. (Audrey Alfaro)
Wondering what to make for Christmas morning? Consider this dish. (Audrey Alfaro)

Your morning favorites – eggs, sausage and hash browns – are packed into a cheesy casserole that can be prepped the night before.

All you have to do is pop it in the oven and relax with your Bailey’s and coffee – I mean, after all, it is the holidays – while it bakes.

With a clean kitchen and 45 minutes to kill, you can open presents, FaceTime the relatives, play in the snow or stare at the oven timer, counting down to deliciousness.

And this comforting casserole serves up just that.

Rich and creamy eggs, thanks to the addition of sour cream and half and half, are loaded with tender shreds of potatoes, salty bites of sausage and speckled with onions and peppers. And, of course, cheese.

I love this recipe for the ease of it, and also because it’s quite versatile.

Bacon, ham, chorizo or steak can be added or used in place of sausage. Chopped asparagus, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli florets or mushrooms would be a nice addition to the casserole, too, especially if you’re making it for brunch or lunch. Just be sure to cook them first so they don’t make it watery. And any easy melting cheese, or mixture of cheeses, can be used.

Whether it’s a holiday, or any day, make your morning more merrier while breakfast is baking, and spend time where it counts, with each other.

Overnight Hash Brown Breakfast Bake

Adapted from thekitchn.com

1 pound ground breakfast sausage

1 medium onion, diced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 (30-ounce) bag frozen shredded potatoes (do not thaw)

2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

10 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup half and half

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish

If baking immediately, preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in sausage. Cook, while breaking it into smaller pieces, until browned, about 6-8 minutes.

Add in the onion, bell pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Place mixture into a very large bowl and add in potatoes and 2 cups of cheese. Toss to combine. In a separate large bowl, beat together the eggs, sour cream, half and half, mustard and remaining salt and pepper, parsley flakes, paprika and nutmeg. Add egg mixture to the potato mixture, stir to combine then pour into prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and cover with nonstick sprayed tinfoil.

(If making in advance, refrigerate at this point, then let sit at room temp for 20 minutes before baking.)

Place in preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, until set. Remove foil, and broil until cheese is lightly golden. Let sit 5 minutes and sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

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