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What to do with stale bread? Make Strata!

One of the timeless kitchen creativity questions is what to do with crusty, hard stale bread. French toast comes to mind first for me, but I don’t always want to have that for breakfast. Another option is a dish called Strata.

beef strata in a pan

I had a bunch of hard rolls that had just gotten too, well, hard. I had some ground beef and didn’t really feel like hamburgers, so I went to the store to gather some ingredients to make a strata. They had sliced mushrooms and a spinach salad mix on clearance, and so the following recipe was born. De-lish!

Beef Strata with Mushrooms and Fresh Spinach

2 lbs ground beef
dash salt
dash peper
dash lemon pepper
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 small package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 bag of spinach salad mix with bacon bits, sunflower seeds and crispy onions
1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1 tsp dried basil, crushed
1 12 fl oz can of evaporated milk
1/3 cup water
5 large eggs
dash salt
dash pepper
8 cups bread cubes (3/4 inch)
2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar mix works well)

Brown ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until beef is no longer pink, breaking into 3/4 inch crumbles. Remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Season with salt, pepper and lemon pepper. Set aside. Discard drippings from skillet.

Heat oil in the same skillet over medium heat until hot. Add chopped onion and cook until just starting to become translucent. Add mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms just start to get soft. Add spinach. Cover for a few minutes until spinach is soft. Stir until well mixed.

Add beef, thyme and basil to the skillet and cook until heated through, stirring frequently. Remove from head and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together milk, water, eggs, salt and pepper. Once blended, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a shallow baking dish (like the one pictured above) with cooking spray. Layer half the bread cubes, then half the cheese, then half the beef mixture. Pour half the egg mixture over that. Push down ingredients so the bread is nicely soaked. Top with remaining bread cubes, then cheese then beef mixture. Pour remaining egg mixture over the top. Push down any bread that is not soaked.

Sprinkle bacon bits, sunflower seeds and crispy onions from the spinach salad mix over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven an enjoy!

beef strata on a plate

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About the author

Carma Spence has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas. She is the author of Bonkers for Bundt Cakes and Your Perfect Pie, as well as author and contributor to several more non-food-related books. With Carma's Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining.

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