Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Whether you believe in the Resurrection of Christ, pagan spring fertility rites, or just dig chocolate bunnies, I wish you a Happy Easter!

I managed to do pretty good cheap Easter baskets for the kids. I started about six weeks ago, combing the dollar bins at Michael's and prowling the Wal-Mart aisles. They ended up with cute little notebooks, sticky notes in the shape of their initials, little wind-up toys, candy corn with no artificial dyes, and pastel colored "chocolate" rabbits. I spent maybe 20 dollars on the whole thing, including egg dyes, baskets and grass. I would have loved to get more elaborate, but since they sat there playing with the stuff for over an hour, it's a success.

Easter has foiled my plans for blogging deboning chicken for later use (again), as Sam's Club is closed today. Safeway's less popular chicken parts are $2.39 a pound. No way. I did get a whole chicken at Wal-Mart, though, to roast and do the stock thing with again. See, we keep finding inexpensive chopped ham (five pounds for $4.99 today at Safeway), but we've been eating it almost exclusively for about six weeks. Now, to quote someone who's name I've forgotten, "Oatmeal every day is better than no oatmeal at all," but dang, I'm heartily tired of chopped ham. Chicken and rice was a nice change, even if I ate it five days in a row.

I found a new cheap recipe to put into the casserole recipe rotation. We haven't tried it yet; I'm making it tonight. This is courtesy of Baby Center: a Savory Bread Pudding. I hear bread pudding and think dessert (yum!), but we forget that a pudding is also a baked custard-y thing of almost any variety. Ask the British! This also bears a strong resemblance to the Stove Top Brunch Bake. In cooking, very generally speaking, you can think of "savory" as the opposite of a sweet, often rich and usually spicy. Webster's says "pungently flavorful without sweetness".

Savory Bread Pudding

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
4 slices bread, cut in half
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 zucchini, cut into cubes
1 cup cooked chicken, turkey, beef or ham, cut into cubes
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup grated hard cheese

Use 1 tablespoon butter or oil to grease the bottom of a large ovenproof skillet or baking dish. Place the bread slices so that they cover the entire bottom of the skillet or dish. Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter or oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook 4 minutes. Add the broccoli and zucchini and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the meat and cook 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Spread the cooked vegetables and meat on top of the bread slices. In a bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and half the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture on top of the bread and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the eggs are cooked. Serve hot or at room temperature. (Makes 4 servings)

This is a great way to use up leftover, somewhat "stale" bread. You can omit the meat and make this a vegetarian dish.

Bread never gets stale here, but I bought some day-old rolls at Wal-Mart ($1.50 for a dozen good-sized rolls), and used 2 1/2 of them to line a 9 x 13 baking dish (I sliced them like bruschetta). Zucchini is not a fav here, but I bought one broccoli head and a yellow onion. The meat, I have (shudder) cubed chopped ham. 4 servings won't be enough, so I'm going to increase the eggs to three and add an extra 1/2 cup of milk. The result should be somewhere between a bread pudding and a quiche. And most importantly, won't involve rice, pasta, or Cream of Celery soup. Just chopped ham....

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