Thursday, July 29, 2010

109. Bacon and Cheese French Bread, Side Dish

In my early-mom years, I was always on the alert for ways to save money, especially at the grocery store; I certainly clipped my share of coupons in the process. I now know that if I had had the use of the internet, my level of savings would have been increased significantly because of access to more coupons and also advice from other coupon-clipping mavens.

If couponing was one way to save money, so was the art of finding or inventing economical recipes, provident vegetable gardening and strategic meal planning. With four children and a limited budget, I was very happy when the meals I planned used home-grown produce and a thrifty recipe of my own design. An even better feeling was watching my family enjoy and even devour the food in front of them.

Bread used to be fairly economical and was a great meal stretcher, but today good bakery bread can cost upwards of four or five dollars a loaf. The only break in the price of better bread seems to be if and when it is available as day-old. Growing up, we would only use older bread for French toast or for feeding the ducks.

How times have changed; with today's high prices, I look for recipes that can make use of  yesterday's bread. The recipe below calls for a loaf of French bread; day-old is fine to use. This flavorful bread is wonderful as a side dish with spaghetti or soup, alongside a salad or could even make a light meal all by itself.

The spread for this bread can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a week. Bread slices can be prepared for an individual or a crowd. (Prepared bread may also be baked in a grill on heavy duty foil; use same timing and watch for burning).

Bacon and Cheese French Bread

3 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 T bacon bits
1 1/2 tsp milk
1-2 green onions, chopped
1 loaf French bread

Set oven on broil with a rack set at 5-6 inches from top. Combine softened cream cheese, cheddar cheese and mustard in a small bowl. Heat milk in a glass measuring cup for 15 seconds. Pour warm milk into cheese mixture, and beat until fluffy. Add bacon and chopped green onion and mix well. Cut bread into 1-inch slices. Divide cheese mixture among slices  and spread evenly and place them on a baking sheet. Broil for 2 1/2 minutes. Watch carefully!

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