Why do you like this recipe? It’s easy to assemble ahead of time and it bakes up warm, cheesy and delicious. I started making this recipe two years ago as one of the dishes for my Christmas breakfast.

Name: Lisa Funderburg


City of residence: Springfield, Ill.


Age: 48


Occupation: Lawyer


Family: Married to Stu for 20 years; four children: Katie, 18, Maddie, 16, Sam, 13, and Healy, 10.


Favorite TV food show: “Chopped” on The Food Network


Name of dish: Ham, Spinach and Gruyere Bread Pudding


History of the recipe: It’s a Paula Deen recipe that I got out of one of her specialty publications two years ago.


Did you tweak the recipe? No –– I didn’t need to.


Why do you like this recipe? It’s easy to assemble ahead of time and it bakes up warm, cheesy and delicious.


Tell us about an occasion when you made the recipe for others: I started making this recipe two years ago as one of the dishes for my Christmas breakfast. This is a party I’ve had for 14 years, and it has grown to include about 100 of my friends. I make 20 or so breakfast casseroles and this dish has become the one for which I get the most recipe requests (and the one with the least leftovers after my party).


Describe your cooking style: Family-friendly comfort food.


Other dishes you have been complimented on? Probably a few of my other breakfast casseroles, like my Green Chile Strata and Cheese Danish.


What do you like most and least about cooking? Someone told me once that giving a dish to someone else is like giving them a hug –– comfort in a 13-by-9-inch pan. I think that’s so true. So, I guess what I like is making other people happy and comforted with food that I’ve prepared. My mom is a great cook and so was my grandma. I hope to pass it on to my children –– my 16-year-old is already quite a good cook. The thing I like least is cleaning up. I need a Food Network staff to do that for me.


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Ham, Spinach and Gruyere Bread Pudding


¼ cup butter


2 leeks, thinly sliced (pale green parts only)


1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach


1 (18-ounce) loaf challah bread, cut into small cubes


2 cups chopped cooked ham


2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese


1 (5-ounce) package shredded Parmesan cheese


2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme


5 large eggs


2 cups heavy whipping cream


½ cup whole milk


¼ cup Dijon mustard


In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add leeks and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add spinach and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.


Spread half of bread cubes evenly over bottom of greased 13-by-9-inch casserole dish. Top evenly with half of ham. Spread half of spinach mixture over ham.


In medium bowl, combine cheeses and thyme. Sprinkle half of this mixture over spinach.


In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk and mustard. Pour half of egg mixture evenly over casserole. Repeat layers, beginning with bread and ending with egg mixture.


Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, let sit out 30 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes.


Makes about 12 servings.


Best Dish is an occasional feature that highlights the favorite recipes of home cooks who live in central Illinois.


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