November 07, 2011

Breakfast Casseroles - Another frugal meal

In our house we always seem to have a few slices of bread (usually the heels) left in a bread bag that end up drying out and no one wants to use them in a sandwich.  Now I use unwanted pieces of bread as seasoned bread crumbs, croutons and such, but my favorite thing to do with them is to use them in a breakfast casserole or Strata as some people call it.

I keep the ends of bread in a bag in the freezer and then when I have enough, it's time to make a breakfast casserole. 

Here is my original recipe that I got out of a church cookbook some 30 years ago. 

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

12 slices bread, cubed
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 lb. cubed ham
4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 stick margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Place 2/3 thirds of the bread cubes on the bottom of the pan.  Arrange the cheese and the ham over the top.  Pour the melted margarine over the remaining bread cubes.  Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.  Leave in refrigerator overnight.  Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Here is how I have made this casserole more versatile:

I reduce the amount of melted margarine to 1/4 cup and I also don't use near as much meat.  It's not necessary.

If I have no meat or cheese but a lot of bread, I make it into a French toast casserole.  Just sprinkle a bit of nutmeg and about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon into the egg batter.  Then sprinkle the top of the buttered cubes with cinnamon and sugar.  Bake as usual.  Serve with syrup.

I substitute sausage, bacon, even chicken for the ham.  I have used swiss cheese with the bacon, co-jack cheese, muenster and so on.  Basically I take any cheese I have on hand and use it.  Also, I tend to take the bits of cheese I may have left from another recipe and freeze it for this use.   

I love quiche because you can use up bits and pieces of meat and cheese but with this breakfast casserole you can also use up one more item and that is bread.

The only problem you may have is that when you start to tweak the recipe you may want to keep track of what you put in, because if it turns out really, really good you're family will want you to repeat it. 

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