Pumpkin French Toast Bake

The season of pumpkin continues here in Jerusalem! Last week I went to a pumpkin-themed potluck, and, in fact, I will be attending another one at the end of this week as well! For last week’s potluck, I made a pumpkin french toast bake following this recipe with only a few modifications (just cinnamon and nutmeg instead of pumpkin pie spice in the pumpkin filling, challah rolls instead of Hawaiian rolls, and no pecans/powdered sugar for the topping)

Since the recipe requires time to sit in the fridge and set before baking, I started it on Wednesday night to bring it to serve on Thursday. To begin, I combined one package of cream cheese, powdered sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl:

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In a separate bowl, I mixed milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla:

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I tore three challah rolls into small pieces and placed them in the bottom of a round baking pan:

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On top of the bread, I layered half of the pumpkin mixture, the full amount of the cream mixture, and the other half of the pumpkin mixture:

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I covered this to rest in the fridge overnight, and the next day I prepared the topping of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter:

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I baked the french toast for 40 minutes at 350º until it was browned on top:

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Yum!

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Out to Breakfast

A meal out for lunch or dinner with friends or a hot date (read: my fabulous and fun bf) is not so unique for me. Obviously, as evidenced by my extensive list of restaurants visited around the Twin Cities area. A breakfast out though…now that’s something special!

Over the last couple months I’ve gone out to breakfast not once, but twice! IT’S A RECORD!

My first breakfast out was at the Uptown Diner

Uptown Diner is – you guessed it – a staple of Uptown. It serves breakfast and lunch Monday-Wednesday and then stays open all night long Thursday-Sunday. Read: it gets the brunch crowd and the bar-close crowd. Because who doesn’t want a juicy burger and fries and a malt after bar-close? Really though, I wouldn’t know.

I do know, however, know that their hash browns are bomb.

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As is the veggie omelette with fruit:

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And the french toast with fruit and nuts that my friend got looked superb:

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If you want large portions and hearty food, this is a good bet for any meal of the day.

The second breakfast out I enjoyed was at Hazel’s Northeast

Another restaurant with a neighborhood association, Hazel’s is an icon of the Northeast neighborhood, and weekend waits can climb to close to two hours. Luckily we went on a weekday and avoided a rush (but the restaurant was still almost full!).

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We were seated near the open kitchen and were immediately overwhelmed by the multitude of good-looking options presented by the menu:

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The choice was made for hot cocoa, pico omelette, and drunken banana french toast (warm bananas, rum soaked raisins, caramel, and toasted pecans).

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Everything was great!

Both of these locations are top-notch breakfast eateries, and the lines out the door prove it. If you go on a weekend, go early or expect to wait.

Applesauce Oat Bread and Brunch

I’ve always felt like brunch is an inconvenient creation. I always want breakfast. And I always want lunch. So brunch becomes an awkward middle meal where I never know whether to try to hold out and be starving or eat before and be full….

I’m lucky to have such problems. Alas, this weekend I had a brunch scheduled. It was a fairly late brunch – 11:30 – so I tried to solve the above dilemma by eating  a smaller sized breakfast as soon as I woke up:

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In the mix: yogurt, fiber one, strawberries, banana, and coconut whip (the cream from a can of coconut milk with just a tad of vanilla. See here for a tutorial).

I then hit the gym for some NROLFW and a quick burst on the stairmaster before coming home to make my brunch contribution: applesauce oatmeal bread! The recipe I used was from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book, and I made a few minor adjustments. full recipe below

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and 1 cup oats:

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Add 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda:

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In a separate bowl, mix together 1 egg, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 2 tablespoons oil, and 1/2 cup water:

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix it all up:

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Bake for 55 minutes at 350°.

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Allow to cool before slicing:

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This definitely had the taste of a healthy bread – a little dry and oaty. But I enjoyed and will particularly be looking forward to for breakfast later in the week! Maybe with peanut butter…or hummus…or as french toast. Only time will tell. 🙂

Ingredients
 - 1 cup all-purpose flour
 - 1 cup whole wheat flour
 - 1 cup oats
 - 4 teaspoons baking powder
 - 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
 - 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
 - 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
 - 1/2 teaspoon cloves
 - 1 egg
 - 3/4 cup applesauce
- 1/2 brown sugar
- 1/2 water
- 2 tablespoons oil
Method
In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In a separate bowl, mix the egg, applesauce, brown sugar, water, and oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. 
Pour into a greased bread pan at bake at 350° for 55 minutes. 
Allow to cool before slicing.

The rest of brunch was yum-azing. There were homemade caramel pecan rolls:

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Crustless quiche:

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French toast casserole:

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Plus fruit and juice boxes:

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This is my plate with a sampling of everything:

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A chocolate cinnamon roll came out of the oven a little later which I also sampled.

I hold by my original statement that the timing of brunch is monstrously inconvenient, but this meal was so delicious I wasn’t too bothered. 🙂

Keys Cafe Bakery

If you are ever in downtown Minneapolis for breakfast/brunch, there are really only two options as far as I’m concerned: Hell’s Kitchen and Keys Cafe Bakery at the Foshay. Keys, like Hell’s, serves breakfast lunch and dinner but, also like Hell’s, really shines with their breakfast menu.

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Keys has more standard fare than Hill’s, but there are still a few unique items on the menu (blueberry bran pancakes anyone?). The regular items – omelettes, scrambles, pancakes, eggs benedict, etc. – are all served freshly and deliciously with large servings and they taste just. plain. good.

When you walk in the door, you are greeted by a display case of oversize and delicious looking desserts, a la Cafe Latte.

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cookies!

Deciding what to get for breakfast was tough since so many things looked good, but we had an eclectic sampling at our table. First off, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee:

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I ordered a fruit plate that came with cottage cheese, homemade wheat toast, and homemade strawberry jam:

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Other family members got a buckwheat pancake with granola (the granola was cooked into the pancake):

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Cinnamon bread french toast:

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And huevos rancheros which came with eggs, refried beans, salsa, American fries (small diced breakfast potatoes), and two enormous flour tortillas:

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Holy yum! Everything was great. While there, I also perused their lunch and dinner menu and thought those looked appealing as well. Plus, if I were there for lunch or dinner maybe I could get one of the desserts. 🙂

Honey Wheat Quick Bread and Birthdays

Depending on what time zone you’re in, either today or tomorrow is my roommate’s birthday. To celebrate, she hosted a potluck at our apartment over the weekend. It was really classy, see?

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What do I wear to such a classy party?

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A black sequined dress, obviously.

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Since it was a potluck I couldn’t just show up empty handed, so I made a quick bread. I found inspiration from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book (copyright date: 1985), but I ended up making my own recipe.

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I like this cookbook because
1) the recipes are good and,
2) I think it’s slightly comical that it’s advertised as a special high-carbohydrate cookbook.

High-carb, of course, to maximize health. Here is a quote from the back cover:
Jane Brody’s nutrition book…demonstrated the dramatic health benefits of a diet that relies on complex carbohydrates – foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta, beans and bread.

In case you didn’t notice, those are EXACTLY the foods that are most vilified in mainstream diet culture today. I think it’s a great illustration of how ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods are more a product of diet fads and marketing rather than a reflection of what is actually best for our bodies.

Anyway…I made some quick bread inspired by Brody’s honey health bread (p. 590 if you have the book). My recipe was as follows:

Ingredients
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 cups coconut creamer
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Method
Mix all dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. 
Combine the wet and dry and stir until one consistency. 
Pour into a 9x5x3 bread pan and cook at 325° for one hour.

Tada!

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The bread was thick, chewy, and had a mild flavor. Since the whole loaf didn’t get eaten at the party, I decided to be creative and make french toast for breakfast in the morning! For the batter, I combined one egg with a few shakes of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, and a generous splash of coconut milk. That amount of batter was enough for two full slices (which would be four of the half-slices pictured above), plus a little extra. On the skillet:

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I’m a lot better at flipping french toast than I am at flipping pancakes. Go figure.

All done – plated and topped with walnut butter, 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, and a banana:

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Yum. This sort of french toast is so much more satisfying than the white bread kind at most restaurants.