Wednesday, November 24, 2010

French Toast Casserole

You can file this recipe under the "not so healthy for me, but so delicious I'm willing to make it a few times a year anyway" category.

Your taste buds will thank you.

I originally found this recipe online, and have tweaked it to make it a bit more healthy diet-friendly, but still not healthy enough to make it a weekly event at our house.

More like a couple of times a year, mostly around the holidays, sort of treat.  And even then my inner healthy cook cringes as I pop it in the oven.

Say it with me:  it's a treat, not a staple.

If you love french toast or bread pudding, then this one is definitely a keeper.  Mr. ReddHedd would probably gobble up the entire pan if I'd let him (which I don't), because he is a sweet breakfast kinda guy.  Since I'm more of a savory person, I can have a serving in the morning and be done with it.

But be forewarned, if you are a sweets person, only make this when you have enough company to spread it around a little bit.

The best part of this is that you can throw it together relatively quickly in the morning.  Or, if you prefer, make it at night, cover well and refrigerate, and then just pop it in the oven the next morning.  Can you say Christmas Day?  I know I can.

Here's my version:

Oven-Baked French Toast Casserole

8 c whole wheat bread cubes, lightly toast before cubing if possible (if you are using stale bread, definitely let this soak overnight if at all possible)
4 whole eggs
1 c. egg whites
2 c. skim milk  (I used a combination of canned evaporated skim milk and skim milk to make a total of 2 cups, because I like the rich taste and flavor of the evaporated for something like this -- it makes it close to a cream taste without all the fat)
2 Tbsp. Splenda
2 Tbsp. Splenda brown sugar blend
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
4 oz Neufchatel (reduced fat) creme cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 c. chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. Splenda brown sugar blend
2 Tbsp. regular white sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray or lightly butter. Line bottom of pan with bread cubes. Dot with butter and creme cheese cubes. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, egg whites, milk(s), Splendas, salt, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour egg mixture over bread; let stand for 15 minutes. Combine chopped pecans and remaining sugars with cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, and sprinkle over the top. Bake in preheated oven about 40 to 50 minutes, until top is golden.

I'm baking some right now in the oven, and boy does it smell delicious.  I serve it with some sugar-free pancake syrup or warmed applesauce, or even frozen mixed berries simmered on the stove for a bit with a little water and some Splenda to make a fruit syrup.

This morning it will be just the sugar-free syrup because it's easy to pull out of the cupboard and I have Thanksgiving side dishes to make today.

COOKING NOTES FROM TODAY:  I used a really hefty 100% whole wheat bread that was nice and fiber-licious, but soaked up the custard portion of this like a hungry sponge.   Next time I make this, if I use the same bread, I'll make half again as much custard liquid so that this stays nice and moist.  Otherwise, this was just as yummy today as always.  And it was nothing that couldn't be solved with a little extra syrup.  Plus, we have leftovers for in the morning, so all we have to do is reheat and eat, which is a huge plus for Thanksgiving cooking-fest morning, isn't it?

(Photo via maaco.  Lovely shot.)

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

ohmystars that sounds yummy! thanks for sharing that recipe

hope you and yours have a wonderful thanksgiving christy