I Made Caramel French Toast And Now I’m Queen of the World

Or, y’know, just… Queen of the house.

My friend Rachel does this awesome thing on Mondays – Mouthwatering Monday – where she posts a recipe and a picture that makes you curse your own lack of culinary ability and marvel at the ease with which she flexes her culinary-know-how-muscles and whips up these awesome meals for her family…ALL THE TIME.

Well, I hate cooking. Sometimes, I get into it and get excited about making something new – but, y’all know – I’d rather bake than cook ANY DAY.

This recipe from Cooking Light magazine kind of allowed me to combine the two – technically, it’s cooking but really, it’s baking. Overnight Caramel French Toast was an absolute hit in my house – and the leftovers (which I had for breakfast this morning) were every bit as tasty as the day-of meal.

(I’d post pictures but, lemme tell ya: Caramel is NOT photogenic. Caramel is shiny. And every time the flash hit the caramel, the picture looked like hooey. Which is why I am a baker and not a food photographer, I suppose).

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup*
1/4 cup butter
cooking spray
10 (1-oz) slices French bread
1 1/2 cups 1% Low-fat milk**
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Combine light brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in small saucepan and cook over medium heat five minutes or until mixture is bubbly. Pour mixture evenly into 9 x 13 pan that has been coated with cooking spray.

2. Arrange bread slices in single layer over syrup in dish.

3. Combine milk, flour, vanilla, salt and eggs in a large bowl and beat with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over bread slices.

4. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

5. The next morning… Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over bread.

7. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until golden.

8. Let five minutes before serving.

They say this should serve 10… That depends – I used more than 10 slices of bread because I had room in my pan, and honestly… maybe I had two pieces versus the recommended one piece serving (c’mon Cooking Light – this is like the yummiest fresh baked goods for breakfast). And if I’d have had bacon, I’d have served some to cut a little salt in with the sweetness.

There you go – ENJOY. Invite me over for breakfast when you make this, alright?

* I ran out of light corn syrup and used a mixture of light and dark – it was fine
**I used skim milk. It was fine.

Gingerbread SmackDown!

I love gingerbread. I know people who don’t, and to that I say: More for me. One of my favorite aspects of winter, though, is that gingerbread flavors are everywhere. Panera has an awesome gingerbread bagel. Starbucks has the gingersnap latte (which is not as good as last year – and I finally figured out today what it was missing: NUTMEG). I even saw an ad for Coldstone Creamery that showed a gingerbread cake with gingerbread ice cream inside and even though it’s far too cold for ice cream, I’m more than a little tempted.

I always make gingerbread cookies at this time of year, but admittedly – I’ve typically made them from a mix. This year, I figured I would do it right. I would actually make them from scratch. I dug through my binders of recipes (seriously: HUGE binders filled with recipes) and found two gingerbread cookie recipes. One was from Cooking Light magazine. The other was a Paula Deen recipe.

I made the CL version on Friday night, the Paula version on Sunday. The CL version had less butter, more molasses and used white sugar instead of brown. The Paula version had twice as many calories and more than twice as much fat (but I still have to say, nutritionally, gingerbread cookies? Not that bad for you. Thank god – because I have eaten A LOT of them in the past few days). The CL version was easier to roll and work with and though both versions tasted good, the CL cookies were actually better.

Once I finish eating all the gingerbread cookies that are sitting on my counter and finish the Paula gingerbread dough in my fridge, I will be using only the Cooking Light recipe for the rest of the season.

Oh the trouble I go through for my cookies.