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Sunday, April 4, 2010

French Toast Casserole

Breakfast is, by far, my favorite meal of the day.  In fact, I somehow managed to eat breakfast for all 3 meals the other day.  I woke up to some granola with fruit, I ate egg whites on a bagel for lunch and I had an egg white omelet for dinner with peppers and onions.  Hmm.  Perhaps I overdid it with all of the egg whites.  It didn't happen intentionally.  But, we were eating out for most of the day while we were running errands and that is just what appealed to me.  Regardless, I would choose breakfast over anything.  Even my snack foods (granola, yogurt, cereal, bagels, toast) are breakfasty.  

We don't often eat breakfast together on weekends.  I've normally eaten 3 small meals by the time Ron wakes up!  But, I decided that we would have a prepared breakfast for Easter.  So, Ron was forced to get up around 9:00.  I don't think he had a problem with it though.  He was able to indulge in a french toast casserole!

You prep the ingredients the night before, so it was nice to wake up and just throw it in the oven.  I opted for a lighter version of the casserole.  It seemed appropriate.  No one needs in indulge in 1,000 calories before 10am (at least I don't think so).  There was still a lot of sugar in the recipe, but it was very, very good.  I would suggest baking it for a bit longer.  The bottom of the bread was a bit soggy, but it still tasted fine.  I really liked the caramel flavor.  It definitely added something to the dish without being too overwhelming.  I ate mine with bananas and berries.  The original recipe called for 2 tbsp of dark corn syrup, but I replaced that with maple syrup.  The sugar didn't dissolve quite as nicely as it would have with the dark corn syrup (and I think that's why I had trouble spreading the caramel on the bottom of the pan) but I think it worked out just wonderfully.  

Note:  because the recipe is a "lighter" version, it uses skim milk and egg substitute.  Feel free to replace these with whole/2%/1% milk and regular eggs.  
French Toast Casserole
adapted from Cooking Light
Yield:  6 servings
  • 2/3  cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2  cups  1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2  cup  egg substitute
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  grated orange rind
  • 2  large eggs
  • 6  (1 1/2-inch-thick) slices French bread
  • 6  tablespoons  frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
  • 1  to 2 teaspoons Maple Extract (or Grand Marnier, or whatever flavor you desire)
  • 2  tablespoons finely chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes or until bubbly and sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Pour sugar mixture into bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of pan. Set aside; cool completely.
  2. Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (through eggs) in a large shallow bowl; stir with a whisk. Dip 1 bread slice in milk mixture; arrange bread slice over sugar mixture in dish. Repeat procedure with remaining 5 bread slices. Pour any remaining egg mixture over bread slices. 
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°.
  5. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. While casserole bakes, combine whipped topping and extract. Place 1 bread slice, caramel side up, on each of 6 plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon topping and 1 teaspoon pecans, or top as desired.

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