One Step Ahead

When I know I'm going to have a crazy day, I try to have something ready for an easy dinner, trying to stay one step ahead of the resident eating machine (a.k.a. my teenage son, who is prone to ask "What's for supper" first thing in the morning). This recipe is a family favorite, and I serve it with a green salad or green beans and maybe a cup of my sundried tomato soup. I use the leftover bits of the homemade bread I bake most days, saved in the freezer in a zipper bag for just such a time as this, but whatever bread you have will work just fine.

Busy Day Strata
Savory bread pudding layers

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Rest: 8 hours
Bake: 30 minutes
Carbs: total dish 95g carbs

For an 8 x 8 baking dish:
5 cups day-old bread chunks (any bread, and even hamburger buns, sandwich bread, or seasoned croutons will do nicely)
3-5  eggs
3/4 c milk or cream (can be skim milk)
1 t dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste (Note: I rarely add salt.)
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup thawed, drained, squeezed spinach
2 T chopped fresh parsely
1/2 cup cooked meat (sausage crumbles, ham, bacon, pancetta, etc.)
2 T green onion tops, chopped fairly fine if for breakfast
Seasonings to taste. (Try Italian with parmesan/asiago/romano, or parsley/chives with cheddar. Or no seasonings other than salt and pepper. I wouldn’t skip the cheese, though.)

1. Mix milk, eggs, salt/pepper, seasonings with a fork or whisk. Add mustard and parsley. Pour over chunked bread and stir well to coat every piece.
2. Put a layer of bread/egg mixture on the bottom of a lightly sprayed glass baking dish. Layer with cheese, meat, spinach. Repeat, ending with bread. Dot the top layer of bread with a bit of meat and cheese just because it looks pretty. Pour any leftover egg/milk mixture over the top.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
4. To bake, remove wrap and bake at 350°  for 30 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and the egg looks cooked, not runny or wiggly. (I have been known to lightly butter this top browned crust just before serving it.)
5. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into squares like cake or serve with a spoon like pudding.

The recipe is easily made smaller or larger so there’s no waste. When I have several ladies over for breakfast, I make a 9 x 13 and save squares for our's great heated up in the microwave if you don't mind that the topping isn't crunchy any more.

Here's how:

Enough bread chunks to fill your baking container (any bread, and even seasoned croutons will do)
One egg for roughly every cup of bread chunks (I add fewer...3 eggs for 5 cups of bread, just to cut back a bit)
For every egg you add, also add
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • 1/4 t dry mustard

Season and embellish in proportion to the size of your dish. Your baking time will vary...look for the center to be set and the top crumbs to be lightly browned.

Carb count: I usually count 1/9 of the 8" x 8" casserole as about 18g carbs, and I serve my husband 2-3 of the squares. With a nice-sized salad, it's enough to eat and still under the 60 g C is allowed per meal. (Remember, YOUR carb-count will be different, and should be based on proper medical advice.)

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