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Mushroom-Less Strata and a Heart-Warming Screwball Holiday Dram-edy #FoodNFlix

After last month's assignment of Friendsgiving - that I couldn't get through - I was not excited about the pick for this month's Food'n'Flix. Holiday movies can either go very wrong or very right for me. But after I read Eliot's Eats' invitation for The Family Stone - and after my kids made me watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2 - I eagerly started streaming this month's Food'N'Flix pick online. 

You still have half a month to join the fun, if you're inclined. Spoiler alert: this landed in the 'love' holiday movie category for me. I will happily add this to my annual watch list!

On the Screen

The Family Stone invites you in to the eponymous family's holiday gathering. Adult children Amy (Rachel McAdams), Everett (Dermot Mulroney), Ben (Luke Wilson), Susannah (Elizabeth Reaser), and Thad (Tyrone Giordano) come home to celebrate Christmas with their parents Sybil (Diane Keaton) and Kelly (Craig T. Nelson). Okay, with that line-up, I knew I would enjoy this. The addition of Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) as Everett's girlfriend, Meredith's sister Julie (Claire Danes), and Thad's husband, Patrick (Brian White) added a layer of complexity to this beautifully dysfunctional family.

I love this exchange, probably because I can relate to the big family that feels like a circus. Every. Single. Family. Gathering. Both on my side and Jake's side!

Ben: So, uh, where's Dad?
Sybil: He ran away. Joined the circus.
Everett: Better circus.
Patrick: Yeah. Less clowns.

Everett is bringing his girlfriend Meredith home to meet his chaotic liberal family for the first time. Sybil's breast cancer has returned, but she doesn't want anyone to know. I think I loved this movie because it's so real. The individuals are quirky. They bicker; they push each other's buttons. But, at the base of it, they really do love each other.

Okay, set aside the cringe-worthy dinner conversation when Meredith insensitively plows ahead with her assertion that no mother would wish for a gay son. Actually almost all of her scenes have you cringing. But that's by design and they do a great job. Otherwise, this is a heart-warming screwball holiday dram-edy, that is to say a comedy-drama.

On the Plate

I was inspired by the Christmas morning strata that Meredith wants to make as her contribution to the holiday gathering. As she toils in the kitchen to to make it, we all realize how much she doesn't know about Everett...

Sybil: Are those mushrooms?
Meredith: Yes, those are mushrooms.
Patrick: Isn't Everett allergic to mushrooms?
Meredith: He is?
Ben: OK, what we got going on over here? Santa's workshop. Er... OK, wha-what can I do to be of service Meredith, wha-what can I do?
Meredith: Oh, well... I think I'm all set. Everett had to run some errands in town, then he and Thad are going to meet Julie's bus...
Ben: Are those mushrooms?
Meredith: I DIDN'T KNOW!

My youngest son isn't allergic to mushrooms, but he strenuously objects to eating them. So, I decided to make a strata with the bread cut into the shape of mushrooms. Here we go, mushroom-less strata a la Family Stone. And I love that this was an easy, make-ahead breakfast that is assembled the night before, refrigerated, then just baked in the morning. It was perfect for a holiday breakfast.

Ingredients serves 6 to 8

  • 8 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup milk, cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan + 1/4 cup for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 4 slices bread (I used some leftover wholegrain bread - use what you have)
  • Also needed: mushroom cookie cutter (optional!), baking dish, butter for greasing the dish


Butter your baking dish and set aside. Use the cookie cutter to make enough "mushrooms" to place on top of the strata. Tear the rest of the bread - including the crusts of the mushroom breads - into bite-sized cubes.

Add a splash of olive oil to a skillet and add the sliced onions and bell peppers. Cook until softened and beginning to caramelize. Pile the cooked onions and bell peppers into your baking dish. Sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the parmesan.

In the mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and ground mustard. Whisk well to break up all the yolks. Dunk the mushroom bread pieces into the egg mixture and set aside. Add the bread cubes to the egg and pour everything over the onions, peppers and cheese.

Arrange the egg-dunked mushrooms on top of the strata. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup parmesan. Use a spatula to lightly submerge all of the filling. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and puffy in the center. Insert a knife into the center to check that the eggs are set. If not, bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes. 

Cool for 5 minutes before cutting. Serve warm. That's a wrap for our December #FoodNFlix. We'll back in 2022 with a re-formed group. Stay tuned for that. We'll be watching Oceans 11. One of our family's favorites! I have never watched that for the food. Can't wait. Stay tuned...


  1. Glad you liked it! I have added it to my must-watch-in-December list, too. Love the mushroom cutouts. I was lazy and just slapped down whole slices of bread!

    Happy 2022!!!!

  2. Very clever this mushroom less strata.

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