Saturday, March 7, 2015

Egg and Cheese Oven Bake with Vegetables or Meat (or both!)

What to do with leftovers? A common concern for those of us on tight budgets or not wanting to waste. Today we will take a look at an egg and cheese bake recipe that can use a variety of different vegetables or meats that are sitting around in the fridge or pantry. The basic recipe never varies, but what you do with it does. It is very flexible and can be made as a breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner meal and can have meat or be vegetarian.  

And, it has the virtue that it is fast, easy and hearty.

(We will be using portions that are family sized and suited for a 15"x11" baking dish. For smaller or larger portions, adjust accordingly.)

For all ingredient variations you will need 6 pieces of white or brown bread. You should use a standard sized thickness, not a rye or thin sliced bread, as you want the bread to absorb the egg mixture. You will also need 8 eggs and 3 cups of milk.

In a large mixing bowl blend the eggs and milk together with a whisk. Add salt and pepper to taste (I tend to use 1 tablespoon of each), 1 teaspoon of dry mustard and, if you want a little kick, a teaspoon (or two!) of red hot chili pepper flakes. Blend thoroughly.

Meanwhile, rip the bread into chunks, a few chunks a slice. Line the bottom of the baking pan with the bread chunks. Then top these chunks by evenly sprinkling over them 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese (I suggest old and sharp cheddar, but marble, mozzarella, or whatever grated cheese strikes your fancy, work as well). Then you add the leftovers (or whatever ingredient you want!).

This is really the best part. For the bake I picture here, I used pepperoni slices leftover , unused, from some homemade naan bread pizzas we had made a couple of nights before. I spread them evenly over the bread and cheese. But you can use leftover chicken slices, other sliced meats, or any number of vegetables, like mushrooms, onions (sautéed is particularly good), zucchini, etc. Experiment and use more than one. Olives and cooked bacon for example. Or sliced up left over turkey with chopped celery. Or leftover cooked spinach. You want to use about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of these ingredients.

Once you have laid the layers of bread, cheese and other ingredients, pour the egg/milk mixture over it.

Place into a preheated 350 degree oven. You want to cook for 40-45 minutes. It is done when the eggs are set and the cheese golden brown.

Take out and let sit for 5 minutes. The bake will have risen and it will settle by "deflating" a little. The bread will have formed into a kind of crust and you will get a great blend of flavours and textures.

Cut the bake into slices and serve.


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