Do you have a great freeze-ahead meatless breakfast casserole?

gellchomAugust 14, 2014

Thing Two's wedding is fast approaching -- August 31! I've written before about this challenge and am very grateful for the advice you've given me so far.

Our wonderful future son-in-law's parents and three sisters are all staying with us (sisters sleeping next door but eating here) along with Thing Two and Fiance Two and for part of the time Thing One and Mrs. One, too. That is a lot of people at such a busy time, and what makes it really challenging is that the new in-law family don't eat in restaurants. So that means three meals a day for all those people. The dinners are covered, and most days I think breakfast will be my usual strategy of getting up early and putting out dishes and bagels, yogurt, cereals, juice, coffee, etc. and letting people take care of themselves as they get up rather than trying to cook eggs or something for so many people.

But I still have to figure out a couple of things. First, I need lunches for at least two days. I can maybe get away with cold cuts or tuna and salads and rye bread once. And I thought maybe a veggie lasagna or eggplant parm that I can make ahead and freeze and then serve with a tossed salad and a fruit salad for another day.

The one I'm working on now, though, is the day of the wedding. It's a Sunday, and the wedding is at 6:30. I don't really want to serve a big meal for lunch the same day as the wedding, but we have to eat something. Plus, the mom and sisters and I need to get downtown to the hotel for hair and makeup fairly early. So I figured: brunch is the answer. I was envisioning a make-ahead, pop in the oven cheese strata or other meatless breakfast casserole.

But I am having trouble finding one that can be made WAY ahead and frozen. All the recipes seem to say, "So convenient, because you make it ahead! Just assemble and refrigerate it the night before!" Needless to say, with 120 people here at the house for the "rehearsal" dinner (feeding the out of towners) Saturday night, cooking that night is anything but "convenient." I need things I can make a week ahead and freeze. Luckily I have lots of freezer space.

Well, I know whom to ask. YOU!!!

What do you suggest? I especially need ideas for that brunch dish, but other freeze-ahead lunch ideas or general advice are very much wanted, too.

No meat, please, but fish (not shellfish) is fine.

Thanks so much in advance!

This post was edited by gellchom on Fri, Aug 15, 14 at 21:46

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Congratulations on another happy event in your family!

I have had good results by baking quiches a couple of weeks before I need them and then defrosting in the fridge the night before and reheating them in the oven at 375 degrees. I do loosely cover with foil so the edges of the crust don't overbrown. A spinach and mushroom quiche would be my suggestion.

I make what we call "puffs" with bread cubes soaked in an egg mixture overnight with additional ingredients but have never tried freezing them.

Making and freezing a few of containers of soup for lunch or late night snacking might work for you. Many varieties can be frozen and defrosted as needed.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 3:09PM
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I agree that some kind of custard will freeze best. Quiche is a great idea! Maybe have some hard boiled eggs as well for those who want more protein or don't care for quiche.

Do you do a sweet kugel that freezes well? I wish I had a recipe to share--a friend makes one with layers of potato slices and vegetables--and I think she freezes it. Red bell peppers are important to the flavor of that one.

Back to custard, I recently did a savory bread pudding with layers in a large lasagna dish. I cut it into portions before freezing, but it reheated well, and I bet that it would heat well whole if given enough time to come to temperature. It was very forgiving of excess liquid, too. If you want me to write it up as a recipe for you, I can (minus the chicken (I don't keep kosher though often cook kosher for others), and plus more veg). Basic outline is large chunks of bread, custard to cover (2 eggs per 1 cup 2% milk), layers in the middle with a thick cheese sauce and vegetables, and cheese on top to keep in the moisture. The custard was seasoned with fines herbes and garlic pepper blend, the cheese layer had mushrooms and shallots reduced in merlot, and the veg layer was sautéed with balsamic and crushed red pepper. That is, each component was seasoned, but the only salt was what was in the cheese and bread, and each layer had different flavors. They all amalgamate, but there's more overall complexity that way.

All the best for the occasion and the catering. :)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 4:42PM
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Thanks, ruthanna.

I've been searching freezable cheese strata and similar recipes. Evidently, they can be frozen unbaked. But just as the ones above all seem to say "Just assemble the night before and refrigerate!" ALL of these seem to say "Thaw completely in the refrigerator and then pop into the oven in the morning."

(Always "pop" -- always. Why is that the only verb for this? Well, anyway, that's not my problem. I'm happy to pop.)

What I want to know -- and what none of these recipes tells me -- is how long it will take to thaw completely in the refrigerator? I don't want to risk a frozen middle.

Can anyone help me?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 5:01PM
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... Or is it better to bake them frozen for a longer time?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:33PM
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Hi Gellchom,

I have a noodle kugel recipe that includes cottage cheese and yogurt, as well as apples, pineapple, and raisins. I can supply the recipe, if you want it (mine is lactose-free and reduced sugar), but I guess the following note could apply to any similar recipe of this type (I would be encouraged by the words "partially defrost"--and you could always extend the baking time a bit if you think it needs more time in the oven):

"Kugel may be refrigerated for 1 day before baking, or it may be baked and then refrigerated or frozen (if frozen, partially defrost at room temperature before reheating). If previously baked, add topping, cover with foil, and bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350ðF. oven. Test by inserting a small, sharp knife into the center. If it comes out hot, itâÂÂs done. After reheating, let sit at least 10 min before cutting and serving. Leftovers can be reheated in oven or microwave."

Mazel tov on the happy occasion!


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:31PM
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This is a Cooking Light recipe that has become a standard at our house. I have not frozen it, but I don't see why it wouldn't work to freeze it.

I've taken it to events where I needed a vegetarian option -- for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I usually use the whole can of black beans, a generous cup of salsa (I use Pace medium and will measure more generously if using the thick and chunky). I also tend to add another egg and/or egg white to have enough to cover it all. It will fill a deep pyrex casserole that is almost the size of a 13x9.

Breakfast Tortilla Strata

1 cup bottled salsa
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
10 (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded reduced-fat Mexican blend or Monterey Jack cheese, divided (who measures? ;-) )
1 cup low-fat sour cream
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (optional)

Combine salsa and beans in a bowl. Place one-third of tortilla strips in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with 1/3 cup cheese and about 1 cup salsa mixture. Repeat procedure with one-third of tortilla strips, 1/3 cup cheese, and remaining salsa mixture; top with remaining tortilla strips.

Combine sour cream and next 4 ingredients (sour cream through egg whites); stir with a whisk. Stir in onions. Pour over tortilla strips; sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.

Remove casserole from fridge and preheat oven to 350ð. Remove cover and bake.

My recipe got cut off here, but I think the original instructions said 45-55 minutes. Mine always takes a bit over an hour and it seems most folks cook an hour to an hour and 15 minutes depending on the type of baking dist, depth of the strata, etc. The top should be a bit browned and the center just set.

If you have folks with no heat tolerance, use a mild salsa in the strata, You can serve with a spicier salsa and sour cream on the side for folks to dress to taste.

I have made this with nonfat plain yogurt instead of sour cream -- works fine.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 1:29PM
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