October 19, 2010

Mini Sausage, Fontina, and Bell Pepper Stratas

sausage, fontina, and bell pepper strata

Where to begin? So much has transpired since my last post (which was well, over a month ago). I spent nearly 3 of those weeks in Hawaii (both Maui and the Big Island) and I will discuss that surreal and unforgettable experience at a later time. (I plan on doing a Hawaiian series, much like my New York one, with pictures and inspired recipes in the very near future). For now however, I would like to talk about the other major event that has recently taken place.  Please indulge me for a moment while I brag on myself. Are you ready for the big news??? Drumroll please.... My recipe for Pumpkin Latté Crème Brûlée (created for this blog and posted last November) has been published in an internationally distributed cookbook!! I submitted this recipe way back in February and quickly found out I was a finalist, but as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, I began to lose hope in my chances at winning. What a pleasant surprise to find out I was wrong (one of the only circumstances where I will gladly accept and acknowledge the notion of being wrong)!

My recipe was one of 100 selected to be a part of the first grassroots cookbook to emerge from social media. The book, Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook: 100 Great Recipes, Photographs and Voices, was published by Andrews McMeel Publishing and is available through Amazon (there is also a Kindle version) as of today! So support me, Foodista, and the other 99 featured food bloggers and order your copy today. It's a beautiful book with lots of great recipes (mine, of course, being one of those) and I'm so very proud to be a part of it! 

eggs, sausage, cheese, peppers... mmm

Alright, enough bragging I suppose. I'll instead talk about the matter at hand: mini sausage stratas. Stratas are one of my favorite ways to prepare a breakfast casserole. As long as you include eggs, milk or cream and bread, you can pretty much throw whatever other ingredients you have on hand into the mix and come up with something tasty and filling. The type of bread is also easily interchangeable. French bread, sandwich bread, english muffins, you name it. The sheer versatility of this dish is why I often suggest it for catering menus. However, some parties I do are less formal, with standing room only, which can make eating with a knife and fork somewhat of a difficult task. So I wanted to create a way for a strata to become hand held, kind of like a muffin. This was actually a rather simple solution and the end result turned out pretty much just as I hoped it would. 

personal sized strata

Mini Sausage, Fontina, and Bell Pepper Stratas
Heavily Adapted from Epicurious.com

4 eggs
8 oz half & half
4 oz skim milk
1.5 oz shredded Romano cheese*
¾ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup chopped green onion
¾ lb hot Italian turkey sausage
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 oz French bread (about half a loaf), cut into ½-inch cubes
1.5 oz shredded Fontina cheese*
2 oz shredded smoked Fontina cheese*
1 oz shredded cheddar cheese*
chives for garnish

10 foil muffin cups

*all cheeses are easily substituted, you what you like!

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.  Arrange folded muffin cups in a regular size muffin pan. Place a foil muffin cup inside each folded muffin cup (this helps eliminate greasy paper muffin cups).  Whisk first 9 ingredients in a medium sized bowl until well combined; set aside.
  2. Place turkey sausage in a large non-stick skillet; push to one side. Add bell pepper to other side of skillet. Sauté over high heat, breaking up sausage with fork, until sausage is cooked through and bell peppers are tender, about 7 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, egg mixture, sausage mixture and Fontina cheeses. Mix with hands to insure bread in thoroughly soaked.  Let stand for 20 minutes or cover and chill overnight.
  4. With a large cookie scoop, evenly divide the strata mixture among the 10 prepared muffin cups.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake until puffed and brown, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool, garnish with chopped chives, and serve.

Makes approximately 10 mini stratas