Friday, January 30, 2009

English Muffin Strata with Ham and Cheese: Breakfast for Dinner

When spaghetti isn’t cutting it and pork chops have been done to death, hungry citizens all across our fine nation turn to a beloved American tradition: breakfast for dinner (or BFD for short). Truly, there are few treats more glorious than eating bacon at 7pm, eggs after work, and hash browns during reruns of “Murphy Brown.” And if you can sneak in a cup of coffee without giving yourself a raging case of insomnia, bonus.

At its core, the most fabulous aspect of BFD isn’t the infinite possibility or the low expense. It’s not even the potential for a much healthier meal than you would have eaten otherwise. Nope – it’s the ability to feel like you’re nine-years-old again. Because BFD makes you feel a little naughty - like you’re doing something you’re not supposed to. Like you’re going against the natural progression of your day. Like you’re flipping time, space, and convention the bird. That may sound like a lot of responsibility to assign a piece of toast, but I assure you, it’s all true.

Which brings me to English Muffin Strata with Ham and Cheese from Cooking Light. It’s a breakfast casserole no doubt, but it’s hearty enough to make your whole evening, especially with a nice salad on the side. Personally, I loved the bits and pieces of Canadian bacon, along with the general eggy, custardy goodness. The Boyfriend loved that there were five more pieces when I was finished taking my share.

If you decide to go forth, there are a few things to know:

1) This is an egg strata subtly flavored with ham and Swiss, not a ham and Swiss strata subtly flavored with egg. Don’t go in expecting a Philly cheesesteak.

2) It's very good, but it's not going to smack you across the face with outrageous flavor. Sprinkle it with kosher salt and freshly grounded pepper before you eat it.

3) Don’t fret about serving size. While an 8x8 pan makes six portions, each is almost three inches high. It’s a decent amount of food.

4) Canadian bacon is a pricey ingredient ($3.99 for ten pieces at my local supermarket). BUT the leftovers can be used to make wonderful things like EGG MCMUFFINS, which will be Monday’s featured recipe. Don’t forget to check back.

5) Nutritional information was provided by Cooking Light, so only the price calculations are posted below.

So, go forth, lovelies. Have a sweet weekend, and if you get the chance, try a BFD. You’ll stick it to The Man, and it might just be the best part of your day.

English Muffin Strata with Ham and Cheese
Makes 6 nice-sized servings
Adapted from Cooking Light.

6 English muffins, split
Cooking spray
3/4 cup chopped Canadian bacon (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
2 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground red pepper
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites

1) Coat an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.

2) Slice each English muffin half into 6 equal pieces, like a pie. Place half of them in the baking dish. Layer as follows: all the bacon, half the cheese, remaining muffin pieces, remaining cheese.

3) In a small bowl or large Pyrex measuring cup, combine milk, mustard, salt, pepper, red pepper, eggs, and egg whites. Whisk together until smooth. Pour egg mixture over baking dish contents. Cover and stick in the fridge overnight (or at least 8 hours) to let everything soak in.

4) Preheat oven to 325°F.

5) Remove dish from fridge and uncover it. Bake for 60 minutes, or until "a knife inserted in center comes out clean." Remove from oven. Cool 15 minutes. Serve.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
253 calories, 8.3 g fat, 3.4 g fiber, $1.01

6 English muffins: $1.13
Cooking spray: $0.03
3/4 cup chopped Canadian bacon (about 3 ounces): $1.99
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese: $0.62
2 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk: $1.25
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard: $0.27
1/4 teaspoon salt: $0.01
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper: $0.01
Dash of ground red pepper: $0.01
2 large eggs: $0.38
2 large egg whites: $0.38
TOTAL: $6.08


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