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Photo by Baxter Miller

My favorite time to entertain is morning because breakfast comes with cues everybody understands. It suggests beverages like O.J. and coffee that take the guesswork out of what liquid to offer. It has a distinct beginning and a quicker end than dinner parties or long lunches. And more than at any other meal, a buffet with its casual, help-yourself aesthetic seems most appropriate at breakfast. But my fondness for early-day entertaining has taught me a lesson. While I’m not a sweets-for-breakfast kind of gal, there are a lot of you out there. So in an effort to keep everybody happy, I always insert a sweet offering among the cheesy eggs and salty meats I select for my own plate.

This one says stuffed French toast, bread pudding, and cheese blintz with whispers of Danish in its depths. It checks the sugar-for-breakfast box but it’s not gonna give anybody a toothache because the cream cheese swoops into every bite to balance Sweet Potential’s presence. And for those of us who aspire to that easy entertaining vibe, you can put this breakfast casserole together the night before and bake it just before your breakfast buffet begins.


Serves 8

8 large eggs
2½ cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 cups 1-inch cubed bread, such as ciabatta, sourdough, or baguette
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

Step 1

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt into a homogeneous milky mix. Put half the bread in a 10-inch round or 8 x 12-inch rectangular baking dish and pour half the egg mixture over top. If you partially froze your cream cheese it will crumble easily, so crumble half the cream cheese on top of the bread mixture then top that with half the Sweet Potential. Finish with the remaining bread, egg mixture, cream cheese, and Sweet Potential. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or up to 48 hours.

Step 2

The following morning, preheat your oven to 350°F. Combine the sugar and nutmeg and sprinkle it over top of the bread. Refasten the foil, slide the whole thing onto the middle rack of your oven, and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes, until crisp and browned. Serve warm.

Cook’s note:

To make things a little easier, put your cream cheese in the freezer for about 15 minutes before you get ready to assemble your Blintzed Bake. Once assembled, the unbaked breakfast bake can rest in your fridge for up to 48 hours before you bake it.

Excerpted from This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking. Copyright © 2020 by Vivian Howard. Used with permission of Voracious, an imprint of Little, Brown and Company. New York, NY. All rights reserved. Buy the full book from Amazon or Bookshop.

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