This is what the casserole looks like right out of the oven.
And here it is all plated up with powdered sugar and strawberry sauce.
Now the original recipe calls for two 12.5 oz boxes of French Toast. I looked at my grocery store and, on sale, a 12.5oz box contains only 6 slices for $2. Now I can make 12 slices of French Toast from scratch for less than $1 total. $1 and a little bit of my time seemed a whole lot better to me than spending $4 and no time.
So I did a little advance planning and made a double recipe of French Toast using this recipe for waffled French Toast. (Just cook the bread on a skillet instead of in the waffle maker.) Doubling the recipe yielded me 15 slices. I made the French Toast one day, let it cool on racks, and then stuck 12 slices in a large zip bag and stored it in the freezer. This left me with 3 extra slices which I greedily ate for breakfast the next day. I took the French toast out of the freezer the morning I planned on making this hotdish, and let them thaw all day in the fridge. When as I was preparing dinner, I popped them in the toaster to get nice and crispy.
I used leftover ham that I had frozen from Easter. The turkey was a bit trickier. I looked in the deli and the turkey there was crazy expensive. The brand of lunch meat Mrblocko usually eats was loads cheaper so I used some of that instead. I grabbed a stack of slices and chopped them into cubes. This was easy as the slices really like to stick together.
I also used the last of my failed strawberry freezer jam that didn't set up, instead of the frozen strawberry and jam topping mixture. This turned out perfect, and we're finally done with all that failed jam! Hooray!
Although this took a bit of advance planning, I felt it was worth it. Even the leftovers were good. So good, in fact, that we fought over who got to eat the last slice. I didn't attempt to reheat the casserole as it tasted so great, cold, from the fridge.
Monte Cristo Casserole from Real Mom Kitchen
2 packages (12.5 ounces each) frozen French toast slices, thawed (or 12 slices if you're going to make your own)
1 cup milk
1 cup of thick sliced deli baked ham, diced
1 cup thick sliced deli roast turkey, diced
8 ounces or 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
24 oz container of frozen strawberries slices, thawed and drained
1/2 cup strawberry jam or ice cream topping (I used my homemade freezer jam and omitted the frozen strawberries)
Preheat oven to 375. Cut the slices of thawed French toast into 3/4 inch cubes. In a bowl, whisk milk and eggs. In a large bowl, place half French toast cubes. Pour half of the egg mixture over cubes and toss gently with a spoon or spatula. Toss until cubes are well coated.
Place the coated French toast cubes in a 9 x 13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.Next layer half the ham, turkey, parsley and cheese on the coated French toast cubes.
Using the same large bowl, toss the remaining French toast cube and egg mixture to coat. Place coated French toast cubes in an even layer in the baking dish followed by layers of remaining ham, turkey, parsley, and cheese.
While the casserole bakes, combine sliced strawberries with jam/ice cream topping. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and set in center. Remove to cooling rack; cool 10 minutes.
Cut into 8-12 squares. Sprinkle the top of each square with a dusting of powdered sugar followed by a spoonful of the strawberry mixture.