Berry French Toast Casserole
Breakfast for dinner always reminds me of New Year’s when my kids were little. We’d want to celebrate, but it was tough to find babysitters who could stay till 2am, or who didn’t have plans themselves. We did often get together with other families, but we were always home early, as we all had young kids. It was really fun, a great option for us while our kids were little, but not a celebration on the scale of past New Years.
At that time we were in our first house. The house had a den off of the kitchen that was well used. It also had a large living room off of the dining room that I never did furnish. One year I decided that if we weren’t going to have a major New Year’s Eve celebration, we could have a New Year’s Day party. Perfect. People weren’t working and most had no plans. What to serve? Easy, everyone loves breakfast. I cooked and baked for weeks, set up the food on the dining room table and set up long tables in the unfurnished living room so people could sit and eat. It was an Open House so no pressure to be there at a designated time, and it frequently went all day (well, till the champagne was gone anyway). Afterwards my closest friends would stay to critique the dishes to see what would make it to the next year. There were years when I had over 40 guests.
So breakfast for dinner is not only a delicious treat but, because I always make a dish from those New Year’s Brunch days, it brings a nostalgic smile to my face. True comfort food, it’s my own inexpensive therapy of sorts.
Setting up for one of the earlier New Year’s brunches
Lately I’ve been going through my kids’ scrapbooks. I kept them diligently for about 6 years then stopped, cramming new pictures into empty sleeves. The pages prod me to remember stories of fun times, of sad times when we had to pull together, uncertain times when we started new chapters, people who’ve moved into and out of our lives. I may be amusing myself at others’ expense, but I’m thoroughly enjoying pulling out naked-first-bath pictures and threatening to put them in the school yearbook. Not really sure if this would be characterized as therapy, or my need for therapy, but it brings a nostalgic smile to my face. Just like having breakfast for dinner.
Berry French Toast Casserole
12 slices of cinnamon bread or 2 (6 slice) boxes of frozen French toast
2 cups berries (bigger ones like strawberries need to be sliced)
approx. 4 ounces of cream cheese
1 1/3 cups milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
cinnamon for sprinkling on top
*Grease a 9 X 13 glass baking dish.
*Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on one side of all of the bread slices. Put 6 into a dish in a single layer, cream cheese facing up.
*Sprinkle with the berries, then cover with the other 6 bread slices, cream cheese facing down.
*Wisk together eggs, milk and maple syrup and carefully pour over top.
*Sprinkle with cinnamon, cover with foil, refrigerate for the day (dinner) or overnight (breakfast).
*Bake in a 350 degree oven, covered for 50 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10 minutes.
*Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.