Jen’s French Toast Casserole

My neighbor Jen made this unusual breakfast casserole for a potluck. There’s no added sugar, so it’s not overly sweet – but perfect served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a little drizzle of maple syrup.

I’ve made it tons of times since – and it’s a great brunch dish. I’ve never made it with regular bread, but you could easily add a tsp of cinnamon to the eggs if you did.

6 eggs
1 1/2 cup half n half
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 loaf Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl bread
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
5 Tbsp butter, melted

Blend eggs, half n half, milk and vanilla.

Remove “heels” of the loaf of bread (the outer, all crust slices), dice them fairly finely and mix them with the nuts and butter.

In a 9 x 13 baking dish pour a little egg mixture. Lay the first two slices of bread at one end, in the corner. Pour a little egg mixture over them, and layer the next slice halfway down and add a little more egg mixture. Repeat until all the slices have been used up. You should end up with two rows of bread slices fanned out. Pour all the egg mixture on and gently lift the slices of bread to be sure the egg is really soaked in. At this point, you can let it soak for 20 minutes or as long as overnight in the fridge. Before baking, sprinkle the top with the nut, crumb and butter mixture. Bake at 375 for 45- 50 minutes.

Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup.

Corned Beef Hash

April, 2009

1 large, corned beef brisket, thoroughly cooked and cut into bite size pieces
1 bag frozen hashed brown potatoes (or real potatoes – see note below.)
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
generous splash or Worcestershire sauce
1 squirt of yellow mustard (maybe 1/2 – 1 tsp?)
3 Tbsp olive oil

Saute onions, pepper and garlic in a little oil, until onions are soft and translucent. Heat olive oil in your largest frying pan. Add veggies and everything else to a large bowl and blend gently.

Scoop the mix into the hot oil in the frying pan. Gently even out the potatoes with a spoon. (You may not be able to get everything in – so if you have to – just do a second batch.)

Let hash cook five minutes without stirring. Then turn and saute another five minutes. If in doubt – cook longer. I just turn it in sections, so don’t worry if it starts to break apart.

Give a final sprinkle of salt and pepper and serve. Yum.

If you want to use real potatoes, you can. Just use 4-5 yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2″ thick slices, and boiled in salted water until they are almost all the way cooked through. Drain them well, dice them up and add them to the mix.

Rainy Farm Day Baked Apple Pancakes

baked apple pancakes

The peculiar name of this dish comes from the time and place I first made them.  We were staying at my Mom’s farmhouse one summer day and it just raining cats and dogs.  The kids were off playing in the attic or somewhere upstairs and Kumy and Mom and I were just sitting and talking in the kitchen, when I got a yen for something sweet.

Dutch Babies, which is what this really is, is a very eggy baked pancake that soars to 6-7″ above the pan before collapsing as it cools.  It’s a glorious brunch or lunch dish.

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (Can use any apples.)
1/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp sugar and a dusting of Cinnamon

Melt butter in your largest ovenproof frying pan, and saute apple slices until they start to soften – about 4-5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and stir gently until the sugar starts to caramelize and the whole thing is getting syrupy and gooey. Remove from heat.

2 Tbsp more of sugar
1 cup flour
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all these ingredients together until very smooth, and pour over the apples. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, until puffy and golden and tips are browning. Serve with powdered sugar or enjoy them plain.

Another option: Use thinly sliced peaches or pears or a blend of both instead of the apples. No need to peel the pears, which are especially tasty.  I used half peeled apples, and half pears today an it was especially good.

Update:  Last weekend, I made too much batter and needed to use it up in another pan.  Since I had ripe bananas, I lightly buttered the pan, cut two ripe bananas into chunks,  poured the batter over and baked as usual.  It was delicious!!  The sweetness of the banana chunks added just the right note to the pancakes.  I’ll definitely do this again.