Monday, October 7, 2013

Slow cooker breakfast casserole

Two weekends ago, I ran the Great Race with my husband, sister, and a few friends.  It was, as far as I can remember, the most ideal conditions I've ever had for a race! 

We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather.  At the start, temperatures were in the low 60s and the sun was shining among a few sparse clouds.  I was comfortable when moving and just barely cool in the shade when still.  Though I've happily run in extreme heat, rain, and even snow, I realize that I'm a tad crazy and not everyone enjoys jogging in the elements.

(Mother Nature, please please remember that and try to repeat them for the Pittsburgh marathon on May 4th.  Danke sehr!)

The course for the Great Race also happens to be the easiest one I've encountered.  It's a net decline, uses main roads, and affords participants a fantastic view of the rivers and the city first thing in the morning.  Post-race, I always wish I'd taken my camera along for the journey so I could capture the scene.  Thankfully, Julie had her iPhone with her so we could get a group photo at the Point, where the race concludes.  The Point is already lovely, but with the Duck?  Unforgettable!

But the best part?  The real icing on the cake?  Was that we all gathered at our apartment for a slammin' breakfast that was already done and waiting for us.

That's right.  Our sweaty and savagely hungry selves didn't have to wait to dig into a hearty brunch thanks to a little planning and the always-a-lifesaver Crock Pot.

Leading up to the race, I had romantic ideas of a massive tray of gooey cinnamon rolls waiting for us but realized that involved way too much hands-on prep and a lot of waiting around.  Ain't nobody (especially a runner who hasn't eaten for nearly 3 hours) got time for that!

I couldn't have saved this recipe for a better occasion.  A breakfast casserole with all of the familiar ingredients you love -- eggs, potatoes, onions, cheese, sausage, and more cheese! -- ready at the moment you want to dig in.

This is a great way to feed a big crowd when you want to maximize time with company and minimize time in the kitchen.  Definitely bookmark this one for your next early tailgate, kids' sleepover, or Christmas morning.  Served right out of the Crock Pot with a bottle of hot sauce and jar of salsa nearby for the opportunity to customize your casserole.  Couldn't ask for more!

Well, maybe a little more.  Like some fresh fruit and a batch of Mom's banana muffins with the volume turned waaaaaaaay up thanks to the chopped Reese's cups stirred into the batter.

Come to think of it, I couldn't have dreamt up a better day: sun, run, party, and friends :)

Two years ago: "Famosas" (alcohol-free mimosas)
Three years ago: Perfect roast chicken

Slow Cooker Sausage Breakfast Casserole
(adapted with some changes from Jimmy Dean's recipe)
-makes 12 (roughly 1 cup) servings

A few notes: This is one of those use what you like recipes.  Spicy sausage can be used in place of sweet, or even sausage crumbles as the original recipe suggests.  Cheeses are up to you, as well -- a Mexican or Italian blend would be great.  Also, to save some time for quick morning assembly, cook sausage and chop onions ahead of time.

1 (32-ounce) package frozen shredded potatoes
1 pound bulk (no casings) sweet Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
12 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
Hot sauce, for serving
Salsa, for serving

Preheat skillet to medium high heat.  Cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon or spatula, until browned.  Cool slightly.

Time-saving tip: Cook sausage ahead of time and refrigerate in container for up to 3 days.

Coat the bowl of a 5-6 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.  Arrange half of the frozen potatoes in the bottom of the bowl.  Top with half of cooked sausage, 1 cup of each of the cheeses, and half of the onions.  Repeat layers with remaining potatoes, sausage, cheese, and onions.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper until well blended.  Pour evenly over potato sausage mixture in slow cooker.  Cook on low setting for 8 hours OR hot setting for 4 hours until eggs are set.  Serve with salsa and/or hot sauce, if desired.  Enjoy!


  1. We just tried this today for our Christmas breakfast and it was great! Definitely better with something spicy, but super duper great. This will definitely be our new Christmas breakfast!

    1. I love your adaptation of using spicy sausage. I will try that next time since my husband loves it. Thanks for the great idea and a very merry Christmas to you and your family!