So here's what I wrote on Christmas day:
Because every recipe sounds better if you add the word "surprise!"
I wanted to make something I could do the night before and throw in the oven on Christmas morning. I looked up recipes that used the basics; eggs, milk, sausage, cheese, bread. But I was stuck on using some potatoes, too, since I'd made a hash brown casserole last year that was tasty and delicious. So that's how I found Paula Deen's recipe and used that as a starting point. I also looked at this one.
You could do all kinds of stuff with these recipes. So GO CRAZY! Here is what you need if you want to do what I did. I have been told my version was pretty yummy!
Most of you know I'm not good with measurements and stuff, so I apologize in advance for not being terribly helpful on that front!
Christmas Morning Strata Surprise
(Should serve at least 6 HUNGRY folks if not more)
Frozen hash browns (I used Ore-Ida's Southern Style, a 2 lb bag, but I didn't quite need the whole bag)
Chicken apple sausage (Aidells), 4 links
Onion (I used one medium yellow)
Cheese, whatever kind you like (I used Havarti [some brand I got at Target for cheap and it's really good] and Dubliner; shred up enough to make... not sure it was quite two cups, but maybe?)
8 eggs (egg substitute would totally work, too)
2 cups of milk (I used fat free and it worked just fine)
Parmesan cheese (Ummm... didn't measure... a few tablespoons, maybe? 1/4 cup, perhaps?)
Salt, pepper, garlic powder (to taste... check out some recipes for ideas on this if you don't trust your abilities in this area, I just sorta sprinkle and stuff!)
Couple squirts of mustard (I used a jalapeno mustard I get from Target that is yummy; I think anything that adds zing would be good, dry mustard of course, would work)
Few drops of hot sauce (I used Crystal, and of course, if you don't like spicy then skip it)
Get out a 13x9 pan (I used glass) and spray that with some cooking spray.
Thaw the hash browns in the microwave. I put the bag in a casserole dish and had them on defrost for 15-ish minutes. You know how your microwave works better than I do! Set those aside. Dice up some French bread. I used a small loaf I got a target but you could do whatever kind of bread you like. You're just going to need enough to make a layer in the pan. Dice your sausage and slice up the onion thinly. Sautee them together over medium heat just to get a little color on them. I did not wind up draining mine; I cooked them in cooking spray and I didn't really have to much residual oil, but depending on what kind of sausage you use you might want to drain it. Shred your cheese(s).
In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
Put a layer of thawed hash browns into the pan. Add some seasoning like salt, pepper, and garlic powder and mix it up a bit, just so you don't have boring taters. Then put the bread on top of that. I sprinkled a little bit of my cheese over the bread. Next, add the sausage and onion. On top of that, pour the egg mixture carefully, making sure you get it even distributed. End with cheese. Cover it in the foil and put it in the fridge overnight. Of course you don't need to do this, Paula's recipe doesn't call for this, but that's how I did mine.
In the morning pull the casserole out. Let it sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350. Bake uncovered for 45-50 minutes; it will look firm and golden brown and delicious on top. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. ENJOY!