Country Grits with Sausage and Cheese

2 pounds mild bulk pork sausage
4 cups water
1¼ cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon dried thyme
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Paprika
Tomato wedges for garnish
Parsley sprigs for garnish

Cook sausage in a large skillet, stirring to crumble, until browned. Drain excess fat and set aside. Pour water into large saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in grits, return to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add cheese, milk, thyme and garlic, stirring, until cheese is melted. Add sausage and eggs. Spread mixture in lightly-greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with tomatoes and parsley.

Note: Casserole can be assembled the evening before and stored, covered, in the refrigerator overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Serves 8 to IO.