Anyone who does any cooking in the kitchen has an opinion about slow-cooker meals – you either love them, or you don’t. I happen to be of the opinion that – growing up in the midwest where we live and die by the casserole – slow cooker meals are one of the greatest culinary ideas ever. I mean, what’s easier than prepping a load of ingredients, dumping them in a big ceramic crock, setting a temperature, and leaving it until it’s done and ready to eat?! Nothing, that’s what!! There are some, however, that do not enjoy these delicious pots of goodness. These are often the kinds of people who complain about such trivial things as their foods touching each other. You know the like. To those people, I say…PHOOEY!!
What’s even greater is the fact that on occasions when you have lots of hungry people to feed such as holidays, family sleep-overs, or just any darn time you wanna, you can pile breakfast grub into this magical mini-oven before heading to bed for the night, and in the morning, wake up to a full breakfast for the fam!
We recently made an overnight masterpiece, and I wanted to share it with you so you can see just how easy it really is.
The first thing to remember is, use whatever you have on hand. One of the great things about slow-cooker meals, especially breakfast, is that you can make it as simple, or as complex as you want it. Have bacon in the fridge? Use bacon! Leftover taco meat? Use that. I happened to have some pre-packaged, frozen kielbasa on hand, which I simply diced into chunks in preparation of the big overnight cook. When I make this type of thing, I honestly don’t usually follow a recipe. I just find things that I think I would like to eat together, and use them. Kielbasa sounded good, so kielbasa it was!
In addition to the kielbasa, I chopped about a half of a green pepper, sliced up about a dozen white mushrooms, used approx 2 cups of frozen, shredded hash browns (I had Ore Ida brand), a cup of shredded cheese, about a half a cup of pre-packaged, chopped bacon pieces (like they sell for salads), salt, and cayenne pepper. Keep in mind that all of these “measurements” are for a 6-quart oval slow-cooker and might need to be adjusted based on the size of yours.
Ok, first things first…you’ll want to make sure you spray the inside of your crock with cooking spray. Then, create a base layer with the frozen hash browns.
After that, I simply layered the other ingredients on top of the spuds…kielbasa, peppers, mushrooms, bacon. At this point, I add a few shakes of salt and of cayenne on top of everything.
Now, crack a dozen eggs into a bowl with some milk (I use 2%, but others may like to use whole milk, skim milk, Half & Half, or even water) and scramble until the eggs are mixed thoroughly.
Simply pour the egg mixture directly over the layered ingredients already in the slow-cooker, until the eggs completely (or nearly completely) cover them.
I always add a little extra shredded cheese to the top, just because my family really likes their cheese! But this is certainly not required. Again, go with what you like, or with however you want to make this.
At this point, place the lid on your slow-cooker and set the temperature to LOW. The casserole will take approx 7 hours to cook thoroughly overnight. When you wake up, your crock will be nice and steamy, and its insides will be ready to consume.
The hash browns provide a nice base for all of the eggy goodness and the meats and veggies on top. Of course, you could also mix the hash browns in with everything else, too, if layers aren’t your thing. Other breakfast bake ideas might be a Philly bake with thinly sliced steak, peppers, onions, & mushrooms (Oooo, I just thought of that. That sounds really good!), a veggie bake with shrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and such, or even a sausage gravy bake, with the whole thing covered in a heavenly country gravy. This is the way I like to cook. Using a basic outline, and then just using whatever ingredients sound good at the time.
Have fun experimenting! And as always, if you decide to try it, let me know what other awesome ways you can come up with to prepare it!!