Pizza for breakfast

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 4, 2009

I have always considered myself to be fairly handy in the kitchen. I don’t prepare gourmet meals every night, but some pretty tasty treats have come out of my kitchen in the past.

Cooking is a hobby that I’m sure I inherited from my granny, who was possibly the world’s best Southern cook. Her meals wouldn’t have been featured on the menu at a fine dining restaurant, but you couldn’t convince me to skip one.

However, my culinary confidence, and my family’s cooking tradition, took a bit of a hit Thanksgiving morning. It wasn’t the turkey or the cornbread dressing that had me stressing. It wasn’t even a fancy dessert that had multiple cookbooks cluttering my countertops.

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It was a simple breakfast pizza that had me staring blankly at a pile of ingredients.

You see breakfasts, usually Saturday morning breakfast, are a special time at my house. It is one of the few times that my husband and I don’t have to rush through a meal with our children.

And for that reason, we always make a point to enjoy the morning meal together. It is a tradition that I admittedly stole from my in-laws who serve a pancake breakfast each Saturday morning.

Our branch of the Edwards family has altered the tradition a bit to include breakfast cuisine other than pancakes, but the tradition started out at my in-laws kitchen table.

But all of that was in jeopardy Thanksgiving morning.

A few days before the holiday, my husband requested a breakfast pizza for out next family breakfast. Thinking that sounded simple enough, I agreed.

As the day drew nearer, I realized I had never made a breakfast pizza. Still not panicked, I opened a few of my favorite cookbooks and flipped to the breakfast sections. I was sure I would find a basic breakfast pizza recipe. To my amazement, there wasn’t one.

All the recipes for breakfast pizza included ingredients my notoriously picky husband would never let touch his fork — things like mushrooms and spinach.

Even though I knew I wouldn’t use the exact recipe, I read them hoping to figure out the proper technique for making a breakfast pizza. After just a couple of recipes, I thought I had it.

So Thanksgiving morning, I walked into my kitchen to start breakfast. I rolled out the dough for my pizza and placed it in a jelly roll pan. Then I stopped.

I didn’t know what to do next. How do the eggs stay on the dough, does the cheese go next or on top or both places, what about the sausage and bacon?

The morning was ticking away, so I changed my plan. I transferred my dough to a large baking dish, poured in my beaten eggs, added the meat and topped it all with cheese.

When I pulled it out of the oven, my husband was surprised to see what I was calling a breakfast pizza.

“It is a breakfast casserole, not a pizza,” he pointed out.

“It’s deep-dish,” I responded in my defense.

But nonetheless, we all gathered around the table to enjoy the deep dish breakfast casserole pizza. And my husband must have enjoyed it since I saw him go back for seconds.

The makeshift breakfast pizza hasn’t made another appearance at our family breakfast, the tradition continues unfazed by my failed pizza.

Lately we’ve reached for tried and true favorites on Saturday mornings. My husband’s favorite breakfast dish is a sausage casserole recipe I found in a church cookbook from my home church in Tupelo. Originally called sausage rolls, he has renamed it sausage cake.

Sausage cake

2 pounds ground breakfast sausage

12 ounces cream cheese

2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 11×7 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Brown sausage until it is no long pink and crumbles. Drain on paper towels and return to warm skillet. Melt cream cheese with sausage, stirring until well combined. Unroll one can of crescent rolls and place in bottom of the prepared baking dish, pinching seams to seal. Top with sausage and cheese mixture. Roll out second can of rolls and place on top of sausage filling. Bake uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes until rolls are golden brown.

We usually serve this next recipe with simple scrambled eggs and grits.

Sausage stuffed French loaf

1-16 ounce loaf of French bread

1 pound of ground pork sausage

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons butter

1 garlic clove, minced.

Cut off ends of bread loaf and set aside. Hollow out center of loaf with a long serrated bread knife, leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell.

Put bread removed from loaf in a food processor and process until it makes coarse crumbs.

Cook sausage and onions in skillet until sausage is brown and crumbles, drain well. Stir in one cup of the reserved bread crumbs, cheese and next six ingredients. Spoon sausage mixture into bread shell. Replace loaf ends, securing with toothpicks. Melt butter in a small saucepan, add garlic and cook for about a minute. Brush over loaf. Wrap loaf in foil, but leave a slight opening on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheese is thoroughly melted, in a 400 degree oven.

This next recipe is a favorite on our breakfast table, but it also makes a good all around side dish.

Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole

1 package of frozen shredded hashbrowns

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 stick of melted butter

salt and pepper to taste

Spray an oval shaped baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well combined. Transfer mixture to prepared dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hours until cheese is bubbly and hasbrowns are cooked.