Good Morning Cinnamon-Raisin Bread!

Wow – we’ve reached the middle of September already. Hard to believe. Of all the seasons, I really think I love fall the best. The days are still warm, but the nights are cool. There is a hint of smoke in the air from nearby fireplaces. And a crispness that no other season can impart.

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Love to Laugh in the Morning

My guys are quite the pair. To their faces, I will give them a stern look. But inside, I am laughing. I just know that laughing out loud would only encourage their twisted sense of humor.

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Wishing You a Happy Eggnog Day!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! Nothing about 2020 has been as it should be. So many traditions have fallen by the wayside or modified to fit the current rules and regulations.

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Good Morning World!

On this day in 1903 near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, two brothers with big dreams let their lofty ideas take flight. On September 24, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower declared December 17 to be Wright Brothers Day. His proclamation invited the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I must confess, I cannot recall a single celebration. I’m sure in certain circles, this is a very big day. Their 12 second flight was proof positive that the human spirit was meant to soar and dreamers are the pilots of that spirit.

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Let the Holidays Begin

Today is National French Toast Day. So I bet you are wondering what in the world French Toast has to do with the beginning of the Holiday Season. Today is also National Small Business Day. While the rest of the world might go insane on Black Friday, we like to finish our Christmas Shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And we do so by visiting the Mom and Pop small businesses and craft vendors that set up shops in the town square. I’d rather support my neighbors, small family run businesses that the big stores.

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Sunday Morning Glazed Churro French Toast

Oh for the good old days, when we could visit a real zoo instead of a virtual one. And any trip to the zoo meant hunting down those carts with giant soft pretzels and warm Churro Sticks.

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Easy French Toast Cinnamon Sticks

Did you know that today is National French Toast Day? Like we need a reason to make French Toast! This year, it also happens to be Thanksgiving. We all know what that means – craziness in the kitchen.

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Zesty Grand Marnier French Toast

Maybe it’s because the morning air is crisp and briskly-cool. Maybe it’s the way the morning light filters into the room. Maybe it’s for no other reason that I have a hankering for a French Toast that isn’t just ordinary. I want some “grown up” toast, made with Grand Marnier and fresh orange zest. Yeah, it’s a beautiful morning – might just need to whip up some fancy French Toast. Would you like a slice or three?

Zesty Grand Marnier French Toast
6 Eggs
1 1/3 Cups Milk
6 Tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 Tablespoon Fine Orange Zest
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
12 Slices Texas Toast
Butter
Maple Syrup

Heat electric griddle to about 325 degrees. Brush with butter-flavored margarine.

In a blender, blend eggs and milk until smooth. Add Grand Marnier, zest and spices. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a shallow bowl.

Slice Texas toast to create two points. Dip into batter and cook on griddle until golden brown. Flip and cook to golden brown. Just before removing from griddle, place a small pat of butter on each toast slice and allow it to melt.

Cook toast in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the griddle. As toast is finished, simply transfer to a large serving platter and keep in a warm (not hot) oven until ready to serve.

If desired, dust with powdered sugar and garnish with slices of orange just before serving. Serve with warm Maple Syrup.

This wonderful toast goes great with crisp bacon and fresh fruit. For awesome, crisp bacon check out Kiddo’s Secret to Crisp Bacon.

French Toast - With Bacon

Overnight Blueberry French Toast Casserole with Blueberry Syrup

As long as we’re on a Saturday morning breakfast roll here (no pun intended) – how ’bout one of those delightful overnight recipes for French Toast? This recipe will feed a crowd, which is great with the holidays looming just around the corner. As a casserole cooked breakfast dish, it travels nicely to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving morning when you are helping out in the kitchen or Christmas morning when the kids are opening up their stockings.

Be it family gathering for Thanksgiving or over the Christmas Holidays, this is a great start to the morning. It just pops with color, flavor and delight. In our house, Blueberries and Christmas Morning have always gone hand-in-hand.  Blueberry muffins; blueberry pancakes or blueberry waffles – you get the idea. What I really like about this particular blueberry breakfast is that most of the prep work is done the night before. Just make the syrup in the morning while the toast is baking. (I suppose you could cheat a little and buy blueberry syrup . . .)

Overnight Blueberry French Toast Casserole With Blueberry Syrup
French Toast Casserole
12 slices day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries
12 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup

Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish, and top with cream cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese, and top with remaining bread cubes.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned.

While toast is baking, make syrup.

Blueberry Syrup
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tablespoon butter

In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes.

Mix in the remaining 1 cup blueberries. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the blueberries burst. Use a fork to mash berries, leaving some more or less whole. If a smoother syrup is desired, pour into a blender and puree. Return syrup to the saucepan over low heat before continuing.

Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked French toast.

 

Autumn Morning Eggnog French Toast

I love this time of the year – from now until New Year’s. It’s this magical time of the year when grocery stores stock and carry Eggnog. I have several recipes for making my own Eggnog, but why make it when it’s so convenient to simply reach for it in the dairy section? Maybe one of these years I’ll make it from scratch, but only at this time of the year.

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Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

Have I mentioned that I adore Cannoli? I first fell in love with Cannoli while attending an Italian Food Festival over twenty years ago at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. These were no ordinary Cannoli.  These were genuine God Father Cannoli, made by the same man who made the Cannoli for the 1972 film, The Godfather. He had a little booth set up at the festival adorned with pictures from the film of him posing with some of the big name stars. An older Sicilian gentleman, he was a talker, sharing his experience with anyone willing to listen. Imagine the delight of my friend and I when he offered to teach us how to make his Cannoli! Hey, if you are going to learn to make Cannoli, why not learn from a behind-the-scenes Cannoli maker? I used to joke that I learned to make Cannoli from the Godfather’s baker himself. Now the problem with having genuine Cannoli is that these delicious, deep-fried shells stuffed with the most luscious of fillings became my yardstick by which all other Cannolis are measured. The key to good Cannoli is that the shells cannot be filled until just before serving. The shells need to be crisp. The filling well-chilled and then piped into the shell mere moments before you take your first bite. But all of that is a posting for another day.

While Cannoli are a dessert, the clever couple over at Two Peas and their Pods have taken this wonderful concept, given it a French Twist and much to our delight have legitimized dessert for breakfast. I’ve taken their recipe and doubled it. It’s an easy recipe to adjust and oh so delicious! What’s that you say? Someone at your table won’t eat Cannoli? That’s okay, leave out the filling and fry up a couple of extra slices of egg-dipped French Bread. Enjoy your stuffed toast and let them know just what they are missing.

Cannoli Stuffed French Toast
2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1  teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 slices French bread
4 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar-for serving

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk the eggs and heavy cream together. Spread 4 slices of the bread with the ricotta mixture, about 1/2 cup per slice. Place the other slices of bread on top and gently press them together. Carefully dip both sides of each sandwich into the egg mixture until well coated.

On a flat griddle melt the butter on medium heat; about 325 degrees. Add the French toast sandwiches and cook until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Cut the sandwiches in half on the diagonal and transfer to plates. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

Baked French Toast with Streusel Topping and Being Brave

Oh how I wish I were brave. For several years now, Kiddo, Hubby and I have spent our vacation time meandering along the Pacific Coast Highway. I fell in love with everything about the Pacific Northwest – the tiny towns, the friendly people, the beauty that surrounds you. Rising early in the morning to the cold, crisp, clean air. Hearing the cries of seagulls circling overhead and the rushing sound of a grey whale’s spray as she breaks to the surface.

07-15-2017 - Bob Creek (25)

If I were truly brave, I’d pack up everything and head up north to open a little bistro serving breakfast and lunch. It would be family style, with guests feeling right at home. I’m just not that brave. More than 60% of restaurants fail within the first year. A staggering 80% will not survive to see five years in business. Why? There are a number of factors – location, start-up costs and the most dreaded of all – yelp. In this day and age of trendy eateries, all it takes in one bad review and you may as well hang a sign on your door with a giant thumbs down symbol. thumbs downEverything has to be perfect BEFORE the doors ever open. There is no room for mistakes. And no forgiveness should something go wrong. The power of the internet and opinion of others can snap a small business like a twig. It’s very scary out there. And yet I wish I were brave. Brave and younger – much, much younger.

Some of you might remember this offering from Calling on Home Cooks for Sunday Brunch Ideas. I was looking for brunch ideas and had offered up some of my favorite brunch recipes for consideration. While the Baked French Toast was not the winner, in my heart it is one of my favorites. Anything that can be assembled the night before and simply popped into the oven the next day is great when feeding a crowd. It allows plenty of time to scramble up a few dozen eggs and fry up a few pounds of bacon. Served along side fresh season fruit, the presentation is great.

Baked French Toast with Streusel Topping
French Toast
1 loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 eggs
1½ cups whole milk
½ cup half and half
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Spray a 13″x9″ casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray or liberally coat with butter. Set aside.

Cut bread into 1″ cubes. Place cubes in the casserole dish and distribute evenly.

In a large bowl, wish together eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Cubes may begin to float. Gently press bread cubes into the dish to make sure they absorb all the custard mixture.

Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap to seal and refrigerate overnight. Next make the strudel topping.

Streusel Topping
½ cup All-purpose Flour
¼ cup Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
½ stick butter, diced

In a small bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar and cinnamon until well-blended. Cut butter into spiced flour mixture. Break up into small crumbs.

Cover streusel topping tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To Assemble and Bake
Heat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven warms, remove casserole dish and Streusel topping from the refrigerator. Uncover casserole dish and sprinkle Streusel topping liberally over the top of the French Toast.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, checking at 30. Remove French Toast from the oven and allow to rest on the counter to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, before serving.

Serve with warm Maple syrup and cups of fresh fruits.

 

 

Brioche Tressee French Toast with a Kiss of Orange

brioche-tresse beradBrioche Tessie is a lovely, thick sliced brioche loaf. While brioche looks like sliced bread, it’s actually a bread-like pastry. Brioche is made with extra eggs, butters and creams than a loaf of bread. It is rich, dense and oh so delicious.

Brioche Pasquier is a family owed French base bakery that has been baking up the most incredible, sweet buttery breads since 1936. In 2002, they expanded their baking facilities to San Francisco, but up until a few years ago, unless you shopped in Paris or the City by the Bay, you couldn’t buy this wonderful bread. Safeway Stores in Northern California now carry the SF produced breads. Unfortunately, finding a loaf of Brioche Tessie is a hit and miss, and a loaf can be a little expensive. Oh but so worth the search and the price tag – the bread is so soft and sweet and exquisite. The first time I tried a loaf, we toasted it and served it with Wild Maine Blueberry Preserves. It was awesome as toast goes. I knew instantly that this would make a great base bread for French Toast. Just as I had predicted, Brioche Tressee makes a wonderful French Toast. So luscious with a golden “crunch” on the outside while retaining all the soft sweetness on the inside. Guess you could call it French French Toast.

Brioche Tressee French Toast
6 Slices Brioche Tressee, cut into 2 triangles each
1 Cup Whole Milk
2 Eggs
1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Orange Juice
Butter as needed
Syrup as needed
Powdered Sugar for dusting

Warm a flat griddle to 325 degrees. Lightly brush griddle with butter.

In a 4-cup Measuring cup, measure 1 cup of milk. Add eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange juice.

With a hand-held electric whisk, whisk batter CAREFULLY on low until well blended and frothy.

Pour the orange-custard batter into a rimmed bowl or pip pan. Dip slices of Brioche Tressee two at a time into batter and place on griddle. Cook until lightly browned and golden, about 3 minutes.

Flip toast over, butter top side with butter while still on the griddle. The butter will melt nicely, seeping into the bread. Continue to cook about 1 minute longer.

Transfer to warmed plates. Serve with syrup. If desired dust Powdered Sugar just before serving.

For a pretty presentation, garnish with fresh fruits such as strawberries and orange twists.

Best Ever Cinnamon Bread French Toast

cinnamon breadIf you have a Costco near you, RUN don’t walk to the bakery section and pick up a loaf of Greenleo’s Best Cinnamon Bread. We are talking Handmade Artisan Bread the way we would bake it if we had the time. I kid you not, this sticky, sweet bread will transform into the most awesome Cinnamon-Roll-French-Toast extravaganza and your entire family will be doing a “It’s a Beautiful Morning” happy dance around the breakfast table. So quick, so easy and oh so delicious!

Cinnamon Bread French Toast
1 Loaf Greenleo’s Best Cinnamon Bread
3 Large Eggs
1 Cup Half and Half
1/2 Teaspoon Fine Baker’s Sugar
1/2 TEaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Pinch Nutmeg
Powdered Sugar for dusting, if desired
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans for garnish, if desired

Using a blender or electric mixer, blend together the eggs, half and half, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg until smooth. Pour mixture into a shallow dish or bowl large enough to dip the bread into.

Heat a flat griddle to about 300 degrees.  Lightly butter hot griddle. Slice bread in half. Dip bread into egg mixture. Grill bread for about 3 minutes or until nicely golden, flip and grill other side about 2 minutes.  Once bread has been flipped, smear on a little butter so that it melts into the bread.

If desired, dust with powdered sugar and chopped pecans or serve with warm syrup.