Comfort Food Sunday: Breakfast for Dinner

I love putting together a big family breakfast. Family breakfast could be homemade pancakes, waffles, or French toast, almost always with eggs the way everyone likes them, either sausage or bacon, sometimes fresh fruit if I need to feel saintly. It could be a big pan of scrambled eggs and diced ham with freshly baked muffins, or some store-bought bagels with lots of toppings to choose from.

I think what I love the most about these breakfasts is the message they send about the day. No quickly scarfed toast and gulped fruit juice, and it’s out the door to do battle, no, these breakfasts say, “Hey buddy, sit down, stay in your jammies, have another cup of coffee, and take a minute to appreciate how great this food looks and smells, how lucky you are to start this day in this way, with these people.” When The Boy was younger, we tried to have some version of family breakfast every weekend. It was something we all looked forward to, as a family, that time for just us three. We’re tight, the three of us, even now as The Boy moves ever closer to manhood, and I’m pretty sure these family breakfasts had some part in that.

But as our lives have changed over the years, family breakfasts have become harder and harder to have. More often than not these days, The Boy sleeps in very late, and The Husband tries to grab a few extra minutes of sleep after long work weeks, leaving me up in the mornings alone, with Luna my only company, and her breakfast hasn’t changed in five years, her kibble and glop that she inhales from her bowl before I can pour my first cup of coffee.

Which is where breakfast for dinner comes in. Many of us grew up having breakfast for dinner, and saw it as a fun treat, out of the ordinary, when most of the time it probably meant all there was in the house was eggs, milk, and bread, so the best was made of the situation by making it a novelty.

Even now that we are more fortunate, breakfast for dinner has a mischievous ring to it, a way to refuse to conform to society’s norms, a rebellion topped with jelly and maple syrup. I realized it’s also a way to get back to “family breakfasts” that we can all actually enjoy without being dragged out of our warm beds and our happy dreams. We can even put on our jammies for it. Who’s going to stop us?

Dinner tonight is kind of a cross between breakfast and brunch, as there is a sausage, leek, and mushroom strata in the refrigerator, resting while the cubes of bread slowly soak up every last bit of the egg and milk mixture, to be put in the oven later to bake up bubbly with a crispy top.

Stratas are another casserole that everyone’s mother and grandmother have their own recipe for, and there are dozens more online. The name strata means “layers” and that’s all there is to assembling them, layering bread with your chosen ingredients, pouring an egg and milk mixture over the top of it all and letting it rest in the refrigerator for as many hours as you can spare. The recipe I used is from Joy of Cooking, and can be put in the oven after as little as two hours, but many recipes I read said 8 hours or overnight is necessary. I’m glad I only need to wait two hours for mine, because it’s been a long day, and this was the first chance I got to put it together.

If you haven’t had breakfast for dinner for a while, you might want to give it a try. Just as it’s a great way to start the day, breakfast is a great way to end the day, too. In your jammies. Trust me.

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