As much as we love mac ‘n cheese at my house; and the fact that this is one of my daughter’s fave food… I definitely don’t make them enough. She gets a lot of Black Bean Soup, Turkey Bolognese, and Tomato Soup for lunch at home. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t remember when the last time that I made one. I mean, how is that possible? So recently, I decided that I should make one. After one, baked macaroni and cheese is a winter time staple, right? A casserole of pasta with goey cheese sauce and crispy topping… that is definitely a comfort food that will be accepted by anyone.
In an attempt to make a lighter version of this dish, I stumbled upon this recipe that suggested the use of pureed cauliflower to substitute for some of the cheesy sauce, mixed into it. Score! I have always heard of using cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes, but I have not tried it – and have definitely not heard it use in place of cheese sauce. Brilliant idea. Mac ‘n cheese is a perfect dish to sneak a little vegetables into, like this pumpkin version that I have made a while back. This dish was beautiful and it was hard to imagine that there was actually a TON of vegetables in it. My daughter and Red devoured this – and I felt good about serving this dish, since I know that it already has a good amount of vegetables so I don’t have to think about getting another vegetable dish. I started making this every other week now. I also tried to freeze it once – and it turned out fine. I just left the cheese topping while freezing, and added those just before baking. I took the frozen casserole out in the morning before I head out to work, and left it in the refrigerator – and I baked it for 30 minutes.
4 cups 1-1/2-inch cauliflower florets (about 1 lb.; from 1/2 head)
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Fine sea salt or table salt
12 oz. dried penne
2 cups 1% milk
1 tsp. dry mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 oz. coarsely grated sharp white Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)
1-1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1-1/2 cups using a rasp grater)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
Put the cauliflower, onion, and garlic in a steamer basket set over 1 inch of boiling water in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower, onion, and garlic to a blender.
Fill the pot three-quarters full of salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package timing. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.
While the pasta cooks, add 1 cup of the milk, the dry mustard, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper to the vegetables in the blender and purée until smooth. Transfer to a 3-quart saucepan and stir in the remaining 1 cup of milk and the thyme. Heat over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling, about 3 minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar and Parmigiano. Add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the sauce to the pasta and stir to combine. Transfer the pasta and sauce to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, 20 to 30 minutes.
Recipe source: Fine Cooking ~ January/Feb 2013
You guys are probably wondering whether I have disappeared. Well… I have just came back from visiting my newborn nephew in Maryland, and helped my sister adjusting to her new life as a mom. I contributed to my good karma by cooking tons of yummy food for her. Now I’m back, but then my daughter got hit with all kinds of ear & sinus infections. I’m definitely really for life to go back to normal. Now, let’s talk about this oatmeal. I didn’t really start eating oatmeal as breakfast until I graduated from college. However, once I started eating them, I truly got hooked on them and ate them for breakfast basically every morning after my workout. My favorite way to prepare them is definitely baking them fresh in the morning like this Baked Blueberry and Banana Oatmeal, but I have always been curious about prepping them overnight in a slow cooker. I have tried several recipes with less than impressive result. It seems like the ratio of the actual oatmeal and the liquid was off, and I must have not cooked them for the right amount of hours.
This recipe below came to the closest to what I thought was a successful oatmeal, and I cooked them for about 7 hrs. A few tips that I would recommend to you would be to make sure that you use steel-cut oatmeal, since that is the only kind that would stand the long hours of cooking. Depending on your slow cooker – you may want to experiment cooking this while you’re up and able to check the the consistency at 7, 8, or 9 hours. I have made this recipe before and left them for close to 9 hrs, and the oatmeal was burned on the bottom. When I redid them at 7, it came out perfect to my taste (I like my oatmeal a little on the dry side, and then I’d add a little milk as topping). The type of milk used really didn’t make much of a difference – I have made them with both 2% and whole and they both turned out fine. I am sure that it can be substituted with almond milk as well.
2 medium-sized baking apples, diced
1 cup milk
2 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats (do not substitute)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Kosher or coarse salt for sprinkling when serving
Suggested toppings: milk, maple syrup, dried or fresh fruits, etc.
Spray a 3 1/2-quart or larger slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine all the ingredients except for the salt and additional toppings.
Cover and cook on low for 7 hours, do not stir. Serve with additional toppings.
Adapted from Our Best Bites
My hubby surprised me with a Bouchon Bakery Cookbook for Christmas. I’m not an easy person to buy for – and I don’t necessarily like surprises. Even the good ones. But he knew that I have a pretty soft spot for cookbooks, especially this one. Red and I took a mini moon to Napa right after our wedding and spent three nights in a hotel which shared a wall with Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. I really wouldn’t want to have it any other way – waking up to the smell of Bouchon Bakery cooking up their masterpieces. While I didn’t actually have these when I was there, I knew that I had to make these right away.
Bacon, cheddar, and chives were mixed beautifully in the gorgeous flaky layered dough. Don’t let the long list of ingredients and preparation discourages you – because the result was absolutely worth it! I made one batch of this recipe and saved half of the dough in the freezer, but I loved it so much that I took them out the next day to enjoy right away… they were just that good. As a savory breakfast person – this scone had everything that I wanted in a perfect breakfast. Next time, I’d definitely double the batch so that I can have quick access to these perfect scones.
¾ cup + 1 teaspoon (107 grams) All-purpose flour
1 ½ cups + ½ tablespoon (196 grams) Cake flour
1 ½ + 1/8 teaspoons (8.1 grams) Baking powder
3/8 teaspoons (1.6 grams) Baking soda
2 tablespoons + ¾ teaspoon (27 grams) Granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons 3.6 grams) Kosher salt
4.7 ounces (132 grams) Cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon (71 grams) Heavy cream, plus additional for brushing
¼ cup +2 ½ tablespoons (89 grams) Crème fraîche
12 ounces (340 grams) Hobbs applewood-smoked bacon, cooked, drained, and cut into
1/8-inch pieces (77 grams cooked weight)
2 cups (144 grams) Grated white cheddar cheese
½ cup (36 grams) Grated white cheddar cheese
¼ cup (10 grams) Minced chives
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the all-purpose flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sift in the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar and mix on the lowest setting for about 15 seconds to combine. Add the salt and mix to combine. Stop the mixer, add the butter, and, on the lowest setting (to keep the flour from flying out of the bowl), pulse to begin incorporating the butter. Increase the speed to low and mix for about 3 minutes to break up the butter and incorporate it into the dry mixture. If any large pieces of butter remain, stop the mixer, break them up by hand, and mix until just incorporated.
With the mixer running, slowly pour in the cream. Add the crème fraîche and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, until all of the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough comes together around the paddle. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and paddle and pulse again to combine. Add the bacon, the 144 grams/2 cups cheese, and the chives and pulse to incorporate.
Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together. Place the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using your hands, press it into a 7-by-9-inch block, smoothing the top. Press the sides of your hands against the sides of the dough to straighten them. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours, until firm.
Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper. Cut the block of dough lengthwise in half and then cut each half crosswise into 6 rectangles (70 grams each). Arrange them on the prepared sheet pan, leaving space between them. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until frozen solid, at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. (The scones can remain in the freezer for up to 1 month.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F (convection) or 350°F (standard). Line a sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.
Arrange the frozen scones 1 inch apart on the sheet pan. Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with the remaining 36 grams/H cup cheese and black pepper. Bake for 24 to 27 minutes in a convection oven, 33 to 36 minutes in a standard oven, until golden brown. Set the sheet on a cooling rack and cool completely.
The scones are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a covered container for 1 day.
Note: Scones baked in a convection oven will have a slightly higher rise and more even color (like shown on the picture above).
Yield: 12-16 pieces
Recipe from: Bouchon Bakery Cookbook by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel (Artisan Books)
One of the items that I crave during the winter, believe it or not, is brownies. It seems like around the first few months of the year – when it’s insanely cold, I really, really want a piece of intensely dark, fudgy, chocolatey, and perfect brownies. I wanted something simple, that doesn’t have extra of anything – just a big chunk of brownie that can be put together pretty quick, and doesn’t produce two dozens pieces. Apparently everyone around me in the office is having some sort of diet or exercise goals – so I feel that I probably shouldn’t tempt them with any leftover of my baked goods.
This one turned out to be as good as it promised. And I may even venture out to say that probably by far, the best brownies that I have produced in my kitchen. My biggest challenge was to wait until it cooled off. As you can see from the first picture, I dived into it probably within 30 minutes after I took it out of the oven, and it created goey mess of chocolate heaven that was perfect with vanilla ice-cream. But after I let it cooled off overnight and set appropriately: it cut beautifully and was a little less messy, thus easier to eat. But I like them both versions
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons finely ground instant coffee
2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup broken or chopped walnuts or pecans
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, if you’re using it, and salt together.
Put the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and place the pan over low heat. When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee. Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it. Remove from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes.
Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time. Next, stir in the sugar and vanilla (don’t beat anything too vigorously — you don’t want to add air to the batter), followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.) Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper and invert onto a cutting board. Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side.
Storing suggestion: Wrapped well, the brownies will keep for 3 days at room temperature or frozen for up to 2 months.
Yield: (16) 2 inch x 2 inch brownies
Recipe printed from Baking: From my Home to Yours
I love roasting potatoes and mixed vegetables in the winter. For years, I’d specifically try to cut potatoes into sticks to mimic french fries in hoping that I would get somewhat the same level of crispiness from frying them. My issue though: it is always a challenge to get them equally cut, and then to cut them thin enough that they will be crispy, without being too thin that they will burn in the high-temperature roasting. Recently however, I discovered that roasting the smaller potatoes actually gave me the crispy texture that I had desired without fiddling too much with using a mandolin for prepping them.
This recipe below is basically my favorite version of what I would call an ideal roasted potatoes. I love garlic, so I definitely add a good amount of it. Then a generous amount of salt and freshly ground pepper. Then just before serving, I toss some fresh parsley and grated parmesan to add a little freshness to the potatoes. Hmmm.. they are fantastic to go with anything really. And it only takes 30 minutes in the oven, score!
1-1/2 lbs baby potatoes (yellow dutch or fingerling), halved
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp of freshly grated parmesan
Pre-heat oven to 450 degree F.
Rinse potatoes and pat them dry with a paper towel. Cut them in halves, they should be approximately about no more than 1.5-2 inches in diameter. Pat them dry again to ensure they are pretty dry. Place them all in a large shallow bowl, toss them with olive oil, garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper.
Roast them for 30 minutes, toss them halfway through to ensure that all of the potatoes were browned and crisped evenly.
Transfer them into a serving platter, and quickly toss with fresh parsley and grated parmesan. Enjoy immediately.
Yield: 3-4 servings
I haven’t tried a new breakfast recipe in a while – so I thought, how fun would it be to try these red velvet pancakes? I keep on going back to my regular whole wheat pancake recipe and maybe mix up the toppings a little bit, but I never really stray away from my tried and true recipe. I figured that this would be a perfect one to make. I absolutely love red velvet flavor in cake, or cupcakes, so making them into these tiny little fluffy cakes for breakfast seemed like a great idea. The ingredients, naturally, are pretty much the typical ingredients I’d normally find in red velvet cake, down to the white vinegar and the cocoa powder. These pancakes were house smelled amazing when I made these which was a bonus!
It came together in no time, and I successfully sold these pancakes as “cake” to my daughter. I didn’t have any large shaped cookie cutter, but it will be so much fun to turn them into different shapes using fun-shaped cookie cutters. To save time, I prepared the dry and wet ingredients the night before (minus the butter). I left the dry ingredients out in a closed container on top of the counter, and the wet ingredients in the refrigerator. This way, all I needed to do was melt the butter, mix it into the wet ingredients, and then proceed with the rest of the direction.
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour, or all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (add a little more if the batter appears to be too thick)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon red food coloring
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted
Pre-heat skillet or griddle over medium heat or 320°.
Mix all of the dry ingredients (flour through salt) together in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine until all lumps are gone.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture. Stir until mostly combined. Add in the melted butter and fold gently to mix.
Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with maple syrup, whipped cream, butter, and or fruits as desired.
Yield: ~12 medium sized pancakes
Recipe printed from the Recipe Girl
For the past year since we moved to Ankeny almost a year and half ago, our Friday night ritual consists of going for a Korean dinner in Ames. A friend of mine recommended a hole in the wall Korean restaurant on a local college campus, tucked inside an industrial building with miscellaneous businesses inside. The restaurant is about 750 square feet in size, a handful of tables, a limited menu, and only open from Monday to Friday. It is a good 20 minutes drive from our house; so I happily obliged.
These cucumbers remind me a lot of the pickled vegetables that we normally get at typical Korean restaurants. I started making them last summer, and was pretty happy at how tasty they taste – and how easy to put together. I crave these once in a while when I want something light and a bit spicy. They are a perfect companion for any Asian inspired dishes, like these Sweet and Spicy Korean Chickens or Kalbi (Korean BBQ Short Ribs).
1 Korean cucumber or 2 Kirby (pickling) cucumbers
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Korean hot pepper flakes (gochugaru) – use less if desired
1 tablespoon chopped scallion
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Thinly slice the cucumber (1/8 to 1/4-inch thick).
Toss gently with salt and set aside for 15 -20 minutes.
Drain excess liquid. (Avoid squeezing them because they will bruise.)
Mix well with all remaining ingredients.
Adapted from Eating and Living
Pasta is always a winning dish at our house. Sometime though, I often forget how a simple addition of shrimps to it, cooked in a simple olive oil with garlic, lemon juice, and garlic can turn everyday pasta into such a luxurious treat. This is probably one of those dishes that I often order in a restaurant since we don’t cook them enough at home. But this dish takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish, and that already includes cooking the pasta.
If you have access to a good seafood counter, I’d recommend purchasing the shrimps already peeled and deveined (with tail-on). This will save you a ton of time at home in getting them cleaned and ready to cook. Also, since the sauce goes together very quickly, I recommend that all of the ingredients (herbs, lemon juice, wine etc) are measured and set aside so that they are ready to go. I love garlic, so I add a generous amount of it to my version below – but you can also reduce that by half, and replace them with shallots.
1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
7 cloves garlic, sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled and deveined, tail on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Adapted from Tyler Florence via Food Network
I love looking back at all of the recipes that I have shared with you last year and seeing which ones ended up being the biggest hits with my readers. I have also made a commitment four years ago when I started blogging that I wouldn’t post and share a recipe with you that I wouldn’t make again for my own family and friends. What came as a surprise to me though after reviewing my stats, the cupcake posts actually received the biggest hits. Considering that I don’t make a lot of cupcakes in general – and don’t consider myself a fancy baker, I was glad to see that you enjoyed them as much as I did.
Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting I’m really glad that my readers agree that this was your favorite recipe in 2012, because it could pretty much be mine. I remember that snowy weekend when I finally decided to try Dorie’s recipe for Banana Cupcakes. I can never have enough banana recipes in my list. So moist, full of fresh banana flavors, and very versatile – you can’t go wrong with this recipe. Skip the frosting, you can have a fancy breakfast. Heck, if you dare to live a little, leave the frosting alone.
Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting - This cupcake recipe was so beautiful: it has a gorgeous fluffy texture, light almost like sponge cake, and this beautiful, pink frosting that tastes like fresh strawberries. This is definitely one of my top three cupcake recipes. Hands. Down. LOVE this cupcake!
Lemon Cupcakes with Fluffy Vanilla Frosting - Aaahh, if I get to pick just one – this is THE cake recipe that I love to make for myself. I love them with any frosting really, but especially with this Strawberry Meringue Buttercream. You can’t go wrong with them. I baked this cake for my own baby shower, and there weren’t any crumbs left on the cake stand.
Stromboli with Salami, Capocollo and Provolone - This is probably my husband’s favorite dish. Made from pizza “bready” dough, it is filled with all kinds of meats and cheeses. He was really glad that he finally convinced me to make them. Obviously, my readers agreed!
Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries - Oh, if I could have these everyday, I would. I almost forget that they are actually pretty healthy. I couldn’t stop eating them.
Pumpkin Bars - These bars are absolutely a favorite all year long. I remember making this earlier in the year, way past the pumpkin season, but people still loved them.
Sweet and Spicy Korean Chicken - Now this is a fried chicken at a new level. While I am not necessarily fond of being covered in grease while deep-frying the chicken, the sauce was absolutely to die for. This was a savory indulgence at its best.
Creamy Egg Salad - This quick dish becomes a go-to staple for me during the week when time is tight. I can add a bowl of soup to go with this, and maybe a small salad – and have a pretty tasty dinner or lunch.
Soft Garlic Knots – I’ m glad that I finally made these!!! I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t love these knots. Perfectness in a knot
Turkey Meatloaf - This is another dish that keeps on showing up on my menu. It is awesome since it makes a huge batch, and it is freezes wonderfully. I love making them in mini loaf pans – and stash some for future dinners.
Baked Blueberry and Banana Oatmeal - OK, so this is #11, but I had to do a shout out on this baked oatmeal. It is my personal favorite breakfast item to make. During the first couple of months of my pregnancy, this was one of the only items that I was able to eat (breakfast or lunch). My husband would make this on Sunday nights and have them ready for me to take to work so I could eat them all week. While you can use any fruits really, my fave is fresh blueberries with bananas. In the summer when berries are plentiful, sweet and plump, I’d make them at least once a week.
Here’s the 2011 Top Recipes in Review for comparison! I hope you’ll join me again in 2013 and let me know what recipes you enjoy from my blog.
I’m sure that a lot of you share in my sentiment that 2012 flew in a blink of an eye! Look, we are finally down on the last day of the 2012. Where did exactly the 250+ days go? Yep, I’m definitely dreading the end of my winter break and still wish that I get an extended time off because apparently, a week and a half off isn’t enough for me :) It started off with pretty nasty snow storm that wiped the power in over 30,000 homes in our area, ours included. After recuperating the stress of wondering whether I had spoiled everything in my refrigerator (all of those cheeses!!), we were able to finally just have a nice Christmas at home. Heck, we even took a short shopping trip out of town.
Now on to this baked french toast. I have been wanting to experiment with a new recipe for baked french toast for a while. I haven’t really made it lately – and have only tried this one recipe. I really wanted to come up with a breakfast casserole that took very little time to prep in the morning for my weekends. This time, the breads were cut into smaller pieces (which I think makes them nice and soft), and yummy topping (and fruits) were added. Since we’re smack in the middle of winter and there weren’t a lot of fresh berries in the market, I added some frozen berries (thaw first, drain, then sprinkle on top) to cut some of the sweetness and richness of the custard. I have added sliced bananas and blueberries, just raspberries, etc and each one turned out pretty well. I love that this recipe is so versatile and can be adjusted in portions and ingredients. So whether you have a fun exciting plan for New Year’s or not – this is an impressive breakfast or brunch item for your New Year’s Day. Thank you everyone for reading my blog – and especially for many of you who have been my loyal readers, and taking the time to drop by and leave comments. Have a Happy New Year’s!
Butter (softened) or Cooking Spray, for greasing
1 loaf crusty bread (sourdough, French bread, or Challah), cubed (should be approximately 6-8 cups)
8 whole eggs
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
4 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Berries or other fruits (optional)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick cold butter, cut into pieces, plus more for serving
Warm pancake syrup, berries or other fruits, for serving (optional)
For the French toast
Grease 9-by-13-inch baking pan with softened butter or cooking spray. Cut breads into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, maple syrup and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Make sure that all of the pieces are soaked in the milk mixture. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge until needed (overnight preferably).
For the topping
Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a separate bowl. Mix the butter pieces into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a re-seal-able plastic bag in the fridge.
When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the fridge, add sliced fruits or whole berries. Sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour or more for a firmer, crisper texture.
Scoop out individual portions, and top with butter, syrup, or berries/fruits of your choice.
Yield: 8-10 servings
Adapted from Pioneer Women