Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

I hope you listened to me when I told you to save the hollowed out bread from the egg boats (Shh..! I know it might be too late... but next time!). Anyways, even if you didn't, not to worry. Either go out and grab a loaf of airy, yet crusty bread - one that you would want to soak up in an eggy custard mixture and bake until it is full of gorgeous, aromatic deliciousness. 

The best thing is that it can be (needs to be!) prepped the night before, so all that needs to be done in the morning is to tuck the prepared dish into the oven... and wait. If you can.

This is like a decadent bread butter pudding for breakfast, yet its not guilt-inducing because the ingredients are all relatively "normal" and there's not a ton of sugar or butter in here.

Another reason you should definitely make this (soon) would be the fact that this is my mom's FAVORITE brunch dish, breakfast dish, bread butter pudding dish, french toast dish. Basically, she loovvveeeesssss it. And let me assure you, that's saying a lot! 

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast
A loaf of crusty bread, cut into 1" cubes
7 eggs
1 cup of milk (skim, low-fat or whole - whatever rocks your boat)
8 tbsp brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon (I adore cinnamon, so cut back to 1 tbsp if you don't!)
1/3 cup of raisins (feel free to increase if you like raisins)
3 tbsp butter, melted

In a 9 x 13 baking dish, spread the melted butter on the bottom and sides of the dish, making sure to coat every bit. Sprinkle 4 tbsp of brown sugar on top. Layer half the bread cubes, followed by half of  the raisins. Repeat once again.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and remaining sugar. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes and tilt it around a bit to make sure that each piece has sponged up some of the custard-y mixture. Cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. 
Next morning: Preheat oven to 175 C. Bake uncovered for around 45 minutes, or until egg looks almost set and the bread has caramelized on top.

Serve hot with a dusting of powdered sugar and some maple syrup :)


Baked Egg Boats

Yup, this is still another recipe that I had made for my family brunch two weeks ago. My mom, sister and I have a huge sweet tooth and thus, all the sweet brunch options appeal to us. That leaves my dad hanging, so I always try and include at least one savory dish. We need it to cut the sweetness anyways. I came across this idea when I was browsing through savory brunch recipes, and it just clicked!

I wasn't sure what I was expecting out of it, but it blew my mind. All four of us throughly enjoyed it and it has become our favorite savory brunch/breakfast option. Even though this recipe is perfect for 4-5 people (in combination with other dishes, of course), it can easily be made a single portion by simply using a smaller bread bowl sort of thing.

Anyways, what this is is bread hollowed out, filled with a scrumptious mixture of eggs, milk, salt & pepper and customizable filling options. It is then topped with cheese and baked until the egg is cooked, cheese is browned and bread is hollowed. This recipe can be made healthy by using skim milk, less cheese and only vegetable fillings. I splurged a bit and used a hefty amount of cheese, regular milk and a bit of pepperoni. On the other hand, you can make it as indulgent as you wish by using cream in place of milk, several meat fillings and tons of cheese.

Baked Egg Boats
I unfortunately don't have exact measurements for this recipe, but below is a list of ingredients. I will put in parentheses the approximate amount I used, but only use it as a baseline. Use your own judgment and preferences to build your own egg boats.
-Crusty bread such as baguette, French or Batard (2 Batard loaves)
-Eggs (6-7)
-Milk (1/3 cup)
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-Fillings (1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, 1/4 cup sliced pepperoni, 1/2 cup spinach, 1/2 cup sliced onion)
-Cheese (3/4 cup grated)
Preheat the oven to 200 C. Take the bread and scoop out the center (save the hollowed out bits for later - to make baked french toast, bread crumbs, anything really). Beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together. Mix in the fillings and pour the mixture into the hollowed out bread loaves. Top with cheese and place in the oven for 35 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 3 minutes and slice into thick garlic bread-type slices. It's as simple and delicious as that! Enjoy!
Finished product just before slicing. Ignore the dripped cheese!


Out-of-the-World Cinnamon Rolls (No yeast!)

Sorry I've been gone for so long. I've just been catching up with a ton of stuff from school and swimming is super fun and exciting, but tiring at the same time. Anyways, these are the cinnamon rolls from that brunch I made a few weeks ago. Here goes.

These cinnamon rolls require NO waiting, NO proofing and NO rising. And they are absolutely fantastic: moist, ooey, gooey, cinnamon-y goodness. The dough is made with part skim ricotta cheese and low fat buttermilk, so are much much healthier than any regular cinnamon rolls recipe. To be honest, they beat Cinnabon any day (and the whole experience is very similar, actually).

I added pecans to half the rolls, because my sister strongly dislikes nuts, but my mom and I LOVE pecans in cinnamon rolls, so why not?

Even though the ingredient list may look long, the recipe is super easy to throw together, and they taste absolutely fantastic with a healthy slather of cream cheese frosting. I mean come on, what's a cinnamon roll without cream cheese frosting?

Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from dontforgetdelicious.com)
Makes around 12 medium-sized rolls
For the Dough
3/4 cup park skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups AP flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

For the Filling
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped pecans

For the Frosting
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Skim milk, as needed
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 200°C. Grease the sides and bottom of a 8 or 9″ baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the ricotta cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (please please please don’t over process). The dough will be soft and moist.

Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4 or 5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into an (approximately!) 12×15-inch rectangle.

Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and spices. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and press gently into the surface. Pour the pecans onto one half of the area of the dough.

Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.

With a sharp knife or string, cut the roll into equal pieces. Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don’t worry if there are small gaps.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 2 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the rolls, and transfer them to a serving plate.

In a small bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. Add milk if needed to achieve desired consistency. Spread or drizzle onto warm rolls. Let stand 10 minutes (or as long as you can wait!) and savor.