There are people who love leftovers, and people who will go to great lengths to avoid them. But there’s one dish everyone can agree on, especially if you include this twist.

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving, and most holiday meals are loaded with carbs. In generations past, holiday meals brought families and friends together. Carbohydrates are inexpensive. Bread, potatoes, rice, and sweet potatoes. They all stretch the budget when feeding a crowd.

Holiday Feast Leftovers Don't Have to be Boring

If you’re in the no leftovers lane, you may already have your finger ready to push the takeout or meal delivery button on your smartphone. But wait! There are two words that are sure to change your mind. Bread pudding.

This is no ordinary bread pudding. This is bread pudding with a twist.

Start with five cups of coarsely chopped bread. These can be leftover dinner rolls or hot dog buns from the kids’ table. You can adapt this recipe to allergies or even a keto diet by modifying the ingredients you use. I used gluten-free hotdog buns from the freezer, and they were perfect.

If you have kids or a partner who resists normal attempts to consume their antioxidants, add some dried berries to the bread pudding. I added barberries, which are similar to currents in the Pacific Northwest, only with a higher level of antioxidants.

Next, you are going to need three cups of liquid. The standard recipe includes two cups of whole milk, two tablespoons of butter, three large eggs, beaten, and one teaspoon of either pure vanilla extract or pure almond extract. If you are following a keto diet, opt for keto bread, four eggs, the same amount of butter and extract, and less milk.

You will also want to add a third of a cup of sweetener. Sugar, agave, or honey: it’s your choice. Mix everything together and let it sit for 40 minutes to an hour.

 Here is where it gets fun! You can go crazy here. The wilder the better!

Create a smorgasbord of fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, caramel, hot fudge topping, whipped cream, chocolate crumbles, and anything else that seems like a great idea to eat alongside or drizzle on your bread pudding, alone or in combination.

If you use a Bundt pan to bake your bread pudding, it’s so pretty when it comes out of the oven. Your guests will be wowed by your fancy culinary skills. Just make sure to grease your pan or use a non-stick pan so it slides out perfectly.

Let's Face it, Everything is Better With Bacon

Now here is a big secret! Bacon. Unless you’re a vegan, bacon makes everything better. Cook your bacon a day or two before and then finish it off with swirls of maple syrup under the broiler, and refrigerate. It will be chilled and ready to add to your bread pudding buffet. (If you’re short on time, most local restaurants sell pre-cooked bacon, ready to pull out of the refrigerator. No need to fuss with all that grease yourself.) If bacon is not your thing, add or substitute your favorite protein: sausage, ham, tofu. It’s up to you.

Since everybody will be able to build their own plate, your work will be complete when you set up the toppings and sides bar. Think of it as a breakfast or mid-day charcuterie board, without the cheese and crackers.

Customize your toppings tray or center with sweet or savory selections. No one will suspect this fresh-from-the-oven bread pudding delight is leftovers from Thanksgiving. Your presentation will be irresistible, as will you.

The Easy-to-Follow Leftover Bread Pudding Recipe:

5 cups dense, or slightly dried bread, cubed (gluten-free or keto substitutions allowed)

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar (or some combination of sweeteners)

3 eggs, beaten

Optional: 1/3 cup of dried fruit or berries

Bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 5-6 minutes before covering the Bundt pan with a plate and flipping it for your beautiful, delicious presentation. Check these pictures.

Thanks to Guest Contributor, Debra Yergen, who also provided the recipe & pictures!

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