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Cheddar Bacon Wake Up Casserole

Got guests to impress this holiday season?  This yummy make-ahead breakfast casserole will certainly do the trick.

4 oz. dry french bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (4 cups)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled, or 1 cup diced cooked ham
2 cups milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/2 tsp. mustard
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. onion powder

In a large bowl toss together the bread cubes, cheddar cheese, and cooked bacon or ham. Divide among six 10-ounce individual casseroles or place all of the mixture in one 2-quart rectangular baking dish. In a medium bowl whisk together milk, eggs, parsley, mustard, pepper, and onion powder. Pour over the bread mixture in the casseroles or dish. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Bake, uncovered, in a 350° oven for 25 to 30 minutes for individual baking casseroles (about 40 minutes for 2-quart dish) or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 374 cal., 26 g fat (12 g sat. fat), 194 mg chol., 595 mg sodium, 15 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 20 g pro.

Greek Variation: Omit bacon or ham and substitute 6 ounces feta cheese and 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese for the cheddar cheese. Stir 1 cup drained and chopped canned or marinated artichoke hearts, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, and 2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives (optional) into the bread mixture before putting into casseroles or baking dish. Continue as above.

Mushroom-Sweet Pepper Variation: Cook 2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms and 1/4 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir mushroom mixture and 1/4 cup chopped roasted red sweet pepper into bread mixture before putting into casseroles or baking dish. Continue as above.

Sausage and Provolone Variation: Substitute 1 1/2 cups shredded Provolone or Italian cheese blend for the cheddar and 1 1/2 cups chopped fully cooked turkey Italian sausage links for the bacon. Substitute basil for the parsley.

JUST ADD FRUIT
Serve this rich breakfast dish with a refreshing fruit salad. An eye-catching and tasty combination might include honeydew melon, oranges, and fresh raspberries drizzled with honey.

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