Happy 2012 everyone!! Part of me is sad to say goodbye to 2011 because it was such an awesome year. A year filled with a trip to the Dominican Republic, graduating from PT school, an epic road trip with my favorite traveling partner, a big move to Minnesota, and starting a new job. But I have a feeling 2012 is going to be even better.
I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I’ve always associated resolutions with dieting or quitting a bad habit, and I don’t diet or have any habits I’d like to quit. Then a few weeks ago I was thinking about the upcoming new year and I realized I have some room for improvement in my life right now. Maybe I could write some resolutions for positive improvements I want to make. I guess you could say I’m setting goals for 2012, rather than resolutions.
Goals for 2012:
1. Find a new church. Since moving to Saint Paul, I haven’t made an attempt to find a church and I definitely want that to change. I have a few on my list that I want to check out and I think this is a good time to start.
2. Learn how to play piano. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and Marc has one in our apartment, so it’s time that I get some use out of it too!
3. Make (and stick to!) a cleaning schedule. I guess you could say I’m not the most cleanly person when it comes to housekeeping. Marc doesn’t call me “Hurricane Taylor” for nothing.
4. Blog with intention. I feel like many bloggers get so caught up getting people to “like” them, “follow” them, “stumble upon” them, “pin” them etc. that they lose sight of why they are blogging in the first place. I’ll admit, I’ve gotten caught up in this too. I mean, it’s pretty exciting to see that a huge number of people visited my blog that day or that I got a handful of new followers. But I really want to get back to my purpose of blogging, which is to explore the wonderful world of cooking and share it with whoever feels like reading. So instead of worrying about having the newest, most creative dessert in the blog world, I’m simply going to focus on cooking and baking what I want and what sounds good to me.
Which is exactly what I did this morning! Yesterday I picked up a day-old loaf of bread with the intention of using it on New Year’s Day morning for either a breakfast egg bake or french toast casserole. Naturally, I woke up craving something sweet so I took advantage of waking up 2 hours before Marc and got started in the kitchen. Now, I’ve seen quite a few french toast casserole recipes that call for an overnight refrigeration before baking in the morning. Since I didn’t plan ahead I used an overnight recipe, crossed my fingers, prayed for a New Year’s Day miracle, and skipped the overnight part. Oh and I added a streusel topping. Because everything is better with streusel. Everything.
Guess what? It turned out delicious as ever, even skipping the overnight refrigeration. The benefit of the overnight part is the ease of making breakfast that morning. All you have to do if you make it the night before, is turn the oven on, make the streusel, and toss it in the oven. It doesn’t get much better than that on a Sunday morning. Luckily, if you wait until the day of, it’s really not much work to put it together.
As you can maybe tell from the picture, I cut the recipe in a quarter and used a teeny tiny baking dish since I was making it just for the two of us. The full recipe would fit in a 9×13″ pan but since the main problem with french toast casseroles usually comes from sogginess in the middle, I would recommend baking the casserole in two 8×8″ baking dishes instead of one 9×13″ to avoid that problem. However, if you want to make it all in one dish, I would add 5-10 minutes to the baking time.
French Toast Casserole with Streusel Topping
for the french toast casserole:
1 loaf crusty french bread
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
for the topping:
1/2 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
dash of nutmeg (optional)
Grease 2 8×8″baking pans with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut loaf of bread into 1″ chunks and place in prepared baking pans.
In large bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and ginger and whisk well. Pour evenly over 2 pans of bread.
At this point you can let it soak up overnight in the refrigerator to easily pop in the oven the next morning, or you can just go ahead and bake it. If you are going to bake it right away, make the streusel and then following baking instructions. If you are going to refrigerate it overnight, wait until the morning to make the streusel before putting it in the oven.
To make the streusel: combine all streusel ingredients in a food processor and pulse until resembling fine crumbs. Sprinkle over casserole.
If baking it after refrigerating it overnight, let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before putting it in the oven.
Bake for 45-55 minutes in preheated oven, until it puffs up and top is golden brown. If you find the top is browning too quickly, place aluminum foil over the top and finish the baking. Let it sit for 10 minutes before digging in. Enjoy!