Sunday, July 17, 2011

French Toast, two ways

I've really been wanting to try this baked french toast recipe from The Sweets Life, so I woke up this morning and headed down to the kitchen, promising Aaron tasty treats if he'd keep Zoey occupied while I cooked. However, once I got in there, I decided to get a little more creative. To start with, I wanted to make the recipe a bit healthier, so I made a few lower-fat substitutions (adapted recipe below), and used raspberries instead of cranberries, since it's not exactly cranberry season right now.

The cast of characters:

Ground cinnamon, 1% milk, real vanilla from Mexico, liquid egg whites, a loaf of crusty wheat bread from the Super Target bakery, a Jazz apple, and a half-pint of fresh raspberries.

This recipe was pretty quick to put together--peel and dice the apple, cube the bread, then toss both with the berries. Whisk together the milk, vanilla, egg whites, and cinnamon, then pour over the bread mixture. I sprinkled on a bit more cinnamon for good measure before baking it at 350°F for 45 minutes.

How did it turn out? Well, let's put it this way...the first time I saw the completed product, there was a huge hunk missing! :-p  (I was feeding Zoey when the oven timer went off, so Aaron went to take care of it for me. Luckily he remembered to snap a few pics before digging in!) I also thought it was good, but, full disclosure: I'm not a huge raspberry fan. Next time, I'd probably go a little heavier on the apple and liquid amounts. Still tasty, though--I look forward to trying this with cranberries in the fall!

So, that was french toast one way...when I discovered I had quite a bit of bread left over, I decided to try a slightly less healthy version. French toast is one of my favorite breakfast foods, but before today, I'd never made it with thick, crusty bakery bread--what a (very delicious) difference! This time, I just dipped the bread in roughly equal parts real eggs and fat-free half-and-half, then fried it in a skillet with melted margarine (recipe below). (Hey, it was light margarine, even though it made my inner foodie cringe. To be honest, I don't even know how margarine, let alone light margarine, made its way into our fridge in the first place, but there it was, so I gave it a try.) The result:

Yum, light margarine and all. I'd definitely make that again, and even though it wasn't necessarily the best choice for the ol' diet, it certainly could have been worse.

Apple-Cranberry Baked French Toast
(adapted from The Sweets Life)

1 medium loaf of crusty, whole-wheat bread, cubed
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
2 medium apples, any variety, diced
1 1/2 cups liquid egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups fat-free milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a 13x9 casserole pan by spraying with cooking spray.

2. Toss the bread, cranberries, and apples together in the pan.

3. Whisk together egg whites, vanilla, milk, and cinnamon. Pour liquid mixture over bread in casserole pan, then bake for 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Slightly-More-Indulgent French Toast
by Jimmie

3-4 thick slices of crusty whole-wheat bread
2 eggs
3/4 cup fat-free half-and-half
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter or margarine
Optional toppings: bananas, berries, powdered sugar

1. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, and vanilla in a shallow bowl.

2. Dip bread, one piece at a time, into egg mixture. Give bread plenty of time to soak up egg before transferring to hot skillet. Cook approximately 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

3. Serve as-is, or top with powdered sugar, bananas, and berries. Enjoy!

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