This French Toast Casserole is basically a strata, which is a layered dish of eggs, milk and bread, plus whatever else you are flavoring it with. Stratas can be sweet, enhanced with chopped dried fruit, nuts, chocolate or booze, or savory, layered up with cheese, ham, etc. This one is on the sweeter side, and so much easier to make for a group than individual slices of French toast.
It’s a great brunch for a lazy weekend morning because all the work (and there isn’t much) is done the night before. In the morning, just transfer the dish from fridge to oven and slice up some fresh fruit, or do whatever it is you want to do while a hearty and luxurious breakfast cooks itself.
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It’s the ultimate make-ahead dish, which actually must be made at least 8 hours ahead, so the bread has time to soak up all of the sweet, eggy batter. You could also bake it the night before, then refrigerate the cooked casserole and reheat it in the morning. However, reheating the cooked casserole will take about 20 to 25 minutes; cooking the whole thing takes only about half an hour, so you’re not saving a ton of time. Still, it’s good to know that leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave or oven.
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Try to use slightly stale challah bread, which, because it is dry, will absorb the milk-and-egg custard better. If your bread is fresh, slice it and let it sit out for a few hours to dry slightly, or even toast it lightly in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 5 minutes.
If you are going for the whole indulgent Mother’s Day brunch vibe, why not add a cocktail into the mix? An orange champagne “mule” fits the bill.
Simply combine the juice of 1 orange and 1 lime with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) chilled vodka and 4 ounces (½ cup) chilled ginger beer in a small pitcher or measuring cup. Split the liquid between two champagne glasses. Top each with about 2 ounces (1/4 cup) chilled champagne, prosecco or other sparkling wine. Garnish with orange slices and fresh mint sprigs and serve chilled.
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