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Home Cooking: Breakfast with friends

Sausage and cheddar strata with sweet rolls.
Photo by Suzanne Anderson

Last Friday, I hosted a breakfast on the deck for four friends. Sitting outside allowed us to safely social distance while being able to hold a conversation and enjoy the pleasant late summer weather.

We kept the menu casual. I made a strata and served coffee, Pat brought sweet rolls, Susan brought a bowl filled with chucks of chilled watermelon, Kathie brought a bouquet of colorful flowers, and Cindy brought a basket of chrysanthemums (always my favorite first sign of autumn).

The breakfast was served family-style on my picnic table. We served ourselves and spent the rest of our time talking. That’s the way it should be. In my opinion, food should be a gateway to conversation and amiable companionship.



I hope our example proves that entertaining doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive: Ask each guest to bring something of their choice, and then serve the meal family-style. My most memorable get-togethers always focused on the joy of those present, rather than perfection.

Case in point: On Saturday, we enjoyed ourselves so much that we’re doing it again next month.



Sausage and cheddar strata

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 9 slices rustic bread, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt, pepper and paprika to taste

The night before, cook the sausage and onions together in a large frying pan and cool. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish or a large, shallow cast iron pan. Add bread cubes (I use half olive bread and half sourdough bread), sprinkle in cooled sausage chunks and diced onions, and then add the shredded cheese.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and half-and-half. Season with mustard, paprika, salt and pepper. Pour the egg custard over the bread, sausage and cheese. Gently press down with the back of a large spoon to encourage the bread to soak up the egg custard.

Cover with foil or a lid and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, remove the casserole from the fridge, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when egg custard is cooked through. Allow to rest (and set) for 10 minutes before serving.

Fleishmann’s beginner cinnamon rolls

  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packets Fleischmann’s rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 9 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, dry yeast and salt in a large mixer bowl and stir until blended. Place water and 6 tablespoons butter in a bowl and microwave on high in 15-second increments until very warm but not hot to the touch. Add to flour mixture with egg.

Beat 2 minutes at medium speed in an electric mixer, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add 1 cup of flour, beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in just enough remaining flour so that the dough will form into a ball.

Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic and dough springs back when lightly pressed with two fingers, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

For filling, combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll dough into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle using a rolling pin. Spread 3 tablespoons softened butter over dough, stopping at least 1/2-inch from the edges on the long sides. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Beginning at the long end of the rectangle, roll up tightly. Pinch seams to seal, and cut into 12 equal pieces.

Place cut sides down in a greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Cool on wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract in a large bowl and beat until creamy. Spread over cooled rolls.

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Home Cooking” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson taught herself to cook after college when she discovered dinner parties were a cure for loneliness. Her latest cookbook is “A Year in the Mountains Cookbook.” She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at suzanne@suzanneelizabeths.com.


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