Breakfast Strata

1 loaf of fresh bread (rye is good)
6 slices of bacon, cut in pieces
1 small onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
pepper to taste
1c shredded swiss cheese
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
2 c. milk
seasonings as desired (basil goes good with this...)

Fry bacon pieces, set aside on paper towels to drain. Saute onion, celery, red pepper & pepper till crisp-tender. Mix sauteed vegetables with bacon in large bowl. Add 3/4 cup shredded cheese (reserving 1/4 cup for top of strata) & mix. Add sliced hard-boiled eggs & gently toss, being careful not to break up egg too much.

Grease an 8X8 deep baking dish. Make enough 1 - 1 1/4 inch thick bread slices to cover bottom of pan 2 times. Place first layer of bread slices in pan. Add vegetable/cheese mixture & spread evenly over bread. Add second layer of bread slices.

This top layer should be about level with the top of the baking dish. If the second layer of bread is taller than the baking dish, you need a deeper dish.

Combine beaten eggs, milk & seasonings in large measuring cup for easy pouring. Pour evenly over strata. Use spatula to press down on top layer of bread to ensure bread soaks up liquid.

Sprinkle remaining cheese over top of strata. Cover & refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Bake covered at 375 degrees for 45 - 55 min. Uncover 10 minutes before it's done to brown cheese on top of strata. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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