Tis the week before Christmas and all through the house, not a counter was empty...well, maybe not that dramatic. Truth is, everything is stored nice and neat as of right now. This weekend was the first big prep for Christmas Eve and Day. It was exhausting but incredibly productive. I’ve got four pounds of meatballs, cooked and in the freezer. Nearly 12 gallons of gravy (pasta sauce if you’re new around here) packed up and also in the freezer. And somewhere around 500 cookies packed in airtight containers waiting to be decorated next weekend. My feet are still a bit achy and my lower back is going to be sore through the rest of 2018 thanks to bad posture and poor core strength but it’s all worth it. I’m really looking forward to Christmas this year. We’ll have upwards of 50 people between Christmas Eve and Day and I’m hoping beyond anything that they have a wonderful time that’s full of memories.
Meanwhile, I’m going to try my hardest to share a post each day this week before heading out for my standard break through the new year. I have three recipes left, today’s brunch item and then two quickies for when you might feel in a pinch over the holidays. I also have a gift guide for you guys that I’ve been working on (it’s never too late!) and a post looking back on 2018 and forward to 2019. It’s one of my favorites each year so I’ll make time for it one way or another. This final brunch recipe is one of my personal favorites. It’s a twist on my Cinnamon Roll French Toast Bake...still indulgent but less like dessert and more like breakfast. Apples mix in with the bread and the cinnamon roll icing is replaced with a brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. That top mixture always makes or breaks the casserole. Without it, it’s just not the same!
This is a perfect dish for Christmas morning because it preps the night before and pops in the oven the morning of. Very simple, very easy and hands-free so you can make yourself busy with whatever else you prefer. Maybe you want to be present while everyone opens their presents. Maybe you have an army coming over and need to make a few other breakfast items for the table. Or, maybe you just don’t want to worry about anything. Whatever the reason, I get it. This year, we’ll be heading over to my grandparents for breakfast instead of everyone coming over. It’s a nice reprieve from the usual since this is the first year we’re taking complete control over both Christmas Eve and Day. I was hoping to not have to worry about breakfast too! Especially since we probably won’t have the refrigerator space to store a casserole as delicious as this one.
This French Toast Bake is delightful on its own with a steaming cup of coffee. However, I love sweet and savory in the mornings so scrambled eggs are a nice addition...or maybe a frittata like the Butternut Squash and Bacon one I shared last week. A fruit salad would be another nice addition and maybe some breakfast sausage or bacon. So tell me, are you going crazy preparing for the upcoming holiday? What is your Christmas morning tradition?
Apple Cinnamon French Toast Bake
1 loaf Cinnamon Bread (a regular Italian loaf works too!), cut into cubes
2 Apples, diced
2 cups Milk
1 ¼ cups Brown Sugar + 2 tbsp., divided
½ tsp. Vanilla
¾ cup Butter, melted
2 tbsp. Cinnamon + 1 tsp.
1 - Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Evenly add the bread and apples throughout the dish mixing them up as you go.
2 - In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, ¼ of the brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread and cover with plastic wrap. Set in the fridge overnight.
3 - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the casserole from the fridge. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the butter, 1 cup of brown sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle all over the dish so that the cinnamon mixture coats the bread on top and starts to seep down into the casserole.
4 - Bake covered with tin foil for 15 minutes. Mix the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and two tablespoons of brown sugar together in a small bowl. Remove the foil, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture all over the top of the casserole and finish baking 25-30 minutes. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.