Monday, June 4, 2012

French Toast Lasagna

This morning I took a look at our sad, sad little list of meats we had left in the freezer and all the possible meals I could make from it. I do a major meat shopping trip once a month, and then I post all the meats and meal ideas next to my weekly menu. That way if I'm just tired of chicken and don't want to dig through the freezer to see what else we have, I can just look at the list. This also gives my husband an idea just in case he gets the bright idea of cooking dinner one night. :) So anyway, I was looking at the list and was not feeling inspired by "hot dogs, chicken enchilada soup, pork chops, or tilapia". Then I spied on the counter a huge loaf of French bread I got off the clearance rack at Wal-Mart (only 96 cents!!!) and decided French Toast for dinner it is!

But I didn't want to do just any French Toast. I was in the mood to be a little creative. I have made little French Toast cups before (seen on Rachael Ray's show) and my own crockpot french toast. But I wanted something bigger than the RR FT cups, and I didn't plan far enough in advance for the crockpot FT. I decided I would utilize the LARGE cupcake pan and make some HUGE FT cups, but layer them with an apple-walnut mixture. Look at me! Being so "Next Food Network Star"ish! Below you will find the recipe and my family's reaction to this new dish! 

French Toast Lasagna

Yeah, so this is MOST of the ingredients. As I went along, I realized I needed a few extra items. See the list below. 
  • Large loaf of french bread
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp plus 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp plus 1 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 2 green apples, cored and diced 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • cooking spray
  • powdered sugar 
  1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, butter, 2 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and vanilla. Set aside. 
  2. Slice the French bread, at an angle, into 1/2 inch slices. You don't want it too thick, but not too thin either. You need to cut at least 2 slices per person. I cut 18 slices to make 6 large FT Lasagnas. 

3. Layer the French bread slices on a cookie sheet with a lip. Pour the egg mixture over the bread as evenly as possible. Set aside for about 10 minutes to let the bread soak up the egg mixture. Don't let it sit too long, otherwise you will have bread that is just not manageable. 

4. While that is soaking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

5. Now on to the apple mixture, in a large bowl, combine diced apples, chopped walnuts, brown sugar, and the rest of the cinnamon and nutmeg. *See note below. 

6. Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray and then begin layering your FT. (NOTE: you ARE going to get your hands messy and some of the bread WILL be soggy and floppy. It's okay. It will turn out great.) Layering: place one slice of soaked bread on the bottom of the muffin cup, add a spoonful of the apple mixture, add another slice of bread. At this point, if you are using smaller muffin tins, this is where you will most likely stop. If you have large muffin tins, go ahead and make one more layer of apples and bread. It will end up looking like a little pie in your muffin pan. 

You could also sprinkle a little of cinnamon/sugar on top of the last piece of bread before you stick it in the oven, but it's not necessary. I'm doing it next time, though. :) 
I left the last one empty for the picture so you could see what it looks like with and without the apples. 
7. Once your oven is ready, place the muffin tin inside and set the timer for 30 minutes. WARNING: your house will smell wonderful!! Go ahead and make a pot of coffee, sit back with a good book, and wait until your little pieces of heaven are ready. 
BEFORE they were cooked. They look kind of gross here. Don't judge a  book by its cover! 
8. They are done with the bread is golden brown and firm to the touch. I never have a problem with the eggs not finishing cooking, so don't worry about that. 

9. Run a knife around the edge of the FT Lasagna and gently remove from the pan. Place on a plate and sprinkle with powered sugar. 
Fresh out of the oven! 

Now, I could have SWORN I took a pretty picture of my FT Lasagnas on a nice plate sprinkled with powdered sugar. But it's no where on my camera. So we scarfed ours down without a final picture. :( 

These turned out great! I fried up some red potatoes to go with them, and it was a meal fit for a king...or my hubby...and my two boys...and my picky eater daughter. 

*NOTE: the ONLY thing I would change about this would be to cut up about a cup of strawberries and mix them in with the apples and walnuts. It tastes just fine without them, but I think strawberries would add a little more color and just a little bit of flair to these French Toast Lasagnas. 
If you give these a shot, let me know what you think! These were quick, easy, and pretty inexpensive. AND it's a great meal to make for Meatless Monday or those nights you are craving Brinner! 

Enjoy and Happy Cooking! 

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