My week of living dangerously in the kitchen

Well, the week wasn’t so much dangerous for me as it was for my guests, whom I used as guinea pigs to test a bunch of new recipes. Whenever I host a dinner or brunch, I typically turn to dishes I know will turn out well. But when I kicked off my event-hosting on Saturday, October 27th, I decided to live dangerously and try new recipes for a change. Some turned out well. Some just turned out.

I won’t bore you with the details of the ones that were just average, things like stuffed zucchini (too bland), stuffed chicken breasts (ditto) and apple pie overnight oats (not as delicious as my usual).

Let’s cut right to the best discovery from my week of living dangerously in the kitchen: Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup, a recipe that comes from Paula Deen and the Food Network. I made this for a Saturday brunch for my mom, aunt, cousin and two uncles and was thrilled with the results. I love that you can put most of it together the night before, which makes for easier hosting come morning. I replaced the pecans in the praline with almonds (boo nut allergies) and served it with bacon and fruit salad. Yum.

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
courtesy of Paula Deen via The Food Network

  • 1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Dash salt
  • Praline topping, recipe follows
  • Maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs.) Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13 inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

My only mistake that morning was forgetting to take a photo. Whoops. You can check out a photo of the finished result at The Food Network.

Instead, I leave you with some photos of our girls’ weekend, which proceeded in Banff, post-brunch.

Thanks, ladies, for such a fun weekend!

~Michelle

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