Cheese Strata Casserole

AKA the main staple breakfast dish for any holiday or special breakfast/brunch that we attend. It's so easy to make, here I'll show you:

12 slices White Pepperidge Farm Bread (crust removed)*
6 slices of thick cheese (I usually use Cheddar or Swiss)*
1 pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained*
1 1/2 cups chopped or diced ham or bacon (really crisp bacon)*

4 eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbsp. minced onion

To construct this dish, the night before you plan on serving it, prep all ingredients (cook bacon if need be, thaw broccoli, trim bread crusts, etc.)

In a 9 x 13 dish, layer 6 slices of bread (or however many pieces you need to cover the bottom). Put a slice of cheese on top of each slice of bread. Scatter broccoli on top of cheese, then spread ham or bacon in with the broccoli. Top with remaining slices of bread.

Mix together all other ingredients listed beating the eggs first. Pour the liquid mixture over the entire casserole dish. Refrigerate overnight. (This lets the bread soak up all the liquid)

Next morning, bake at 325 about 55 minutes. (I usually bake the first half hour with foil on the dish and the last 25 minutes without) Let the casserole stand 10 minutes before serving.

Now you may have noticed some *s above. There's some tips to the ingredients:

* The reason Pepperidge Farm Bread is listed is because it's dense and will hold up with all of the liquid and cooking. You want the regular thickness, not the thin slices, but you could probably substitute another equally dense bread. Just don't use Wonder Bread or something like that.

* Same thing with the cheese, get the thicker slices from the Deli counter. This dish bakes almost an hour, you want it to hold up through all that cooking. Last time I mixed Colby Jack and Swiss - Yummy!

* If you don't like broccoli, fine! You can put in whatever veggies you like. For Easter I did a mixture of Spinach, Mushrooms and Shallots. If you put any real onion or Shallot in the dish here, don't add the minced onion into the liquid mixture.

* I made the last one with Sausage (brown and crumble beforehand) and it was yummy. Any meat will do.

So that's it. Customize however you like to suit what might be in season or your family's tastes. I hope you like it and enjoy! I love this recipe! If you have any other ideas for veggies or seasons, let me know! I'd love to hear it!


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