Blueberry French Toast

Who doesn’t love brunch? Isn’t it just the most leisurely of meals? What time should it start? Doesn’t matter.  What time should people go home? Doesn’t matter (unless they’ve over-stayed their welcome).  Should you serve coffee or mimosas?  Both, please.   For some reason, it seems to be a meal that we don’t often get to enjoy unless we’re on vacation or it’s a weekend where we don’t have a thousand errands to run.  Brunch is a table in which there is a taste for every person around it.

As mentioned  in this post, I’ll eat a Croque Madame at every brunch, lunch, breakfast, dinner.  I’m a savory girl.  But I have many a friend who love the sweet: the pancakes, the waffles, the sweetened whipped cream.  And I want need to make my people happy.

The last time we held a brunch at our home, I wanted to do something a little different, a little more elevated.  So I fiddled around with a fancier french toast.  I started off with some croissants from our French bakery, prepared them like french toast, and added a sweetened cream cheese with fresh blueberries inside and out.

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Yum.  It was the perfect amount of sweet, combined with that beautiful, flaky croissant.  It took the same amount of time as any other french toast or pancake recipe, definitely less time than waffles, and it provided a ‘wow’ factor when brought out.

I like blueberries with this, but you can try any other berry.  If you use strawberries, just slice them so they fit nicely in the croissants.

Enjoy this while you have the most relaxing of meals, the brunch.  What other things would you like to see on the blog that can elevate your brunch?  Let me know below!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 good-quality croissants
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 TAB honey
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a small bowl, whisk or cream together cream cheese and honey until smooth.  Set aside.

In a shallow dish, combine cream, milk, egg, and cinnamon and whisk well.  Slice croissants in half.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Dip both sides of croissants into milk mixture and fry each side, about 2 minutes each, trying not to flatten croissant.  Remove from pan to plate.  Repeat with other croissants.

Smear cream cheese mixture evenly on bottom of four croissants.  Add blueberries.  Top with top part of croissant and a little more cream cheese mixture if desired and blueberries.

Serve immediately with warmed maple syrup.

 

 

Herb & Garlic, Pumpkin Spice, and Blueberry Cream Cheese Spreads

Any Canadian knows the Tim Horton’s franchise.  While I am not known for being a patient person, I would still willingly get into the drive-through line up at Tim Horton’s of minimum 8 cars, (all the time wondering if they were giving away money because the drive-through never seemed to be empty) for my everything bagel with herb and garlic cream cheese.  I never got sick of my bagel and cream cheese to go.

When we had our own shop here, we made bagels.  One day again we will make them and post a recipe, they certainly were pretty darn good.  But of course, being a Canadian girl, I HAD to sell some flavored cream cheese with it.  While I am certainly not a fan of the sweet cream cheese spread on a bagel, of course many are.  And seeing what season it is, I just had to add a Pumpkin spice spread to the mix.  I’m not going to lie, I thought I wasn’t going to like it.  I was wrong.

It’s quite simple to make your own cream cheese spread.  Save yourself the drive-through line-up time.  Make a few different flavors this weekend and keep them on hand for the week.  Make your own bagels with cream cheese, wrap them up in some wax paper, and off you go.  Trust me, it’ll be shorter than a drive-through lineup.

 

HERB & GARLIC CREAM CHEESE

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used dill, but parsley works well)

Combine all ingredients in a food process and process until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate.

 

BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted

Combine all ingredients and process until smooth.  Add more icing sugar if desired.  Cover and refrigerate.

 

PUMPKIN SPICE CREAM CHEESE

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 – 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves OR 1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients and process until smooth.  Adjust spices and sugar if desired.  Cover and refrigerate.

Bacon and Cheddar Waffles

I love a good brunch, it seems there’s something for everyone: piles of pancakes with syrup for the children, croissants, eggs, bacon, toast, roasted potatoes …. there’s something for everyone. And eating without having to rush off somewhere is probably the best part of enjoying such a glorious meal.

I’ve never been a huge pancakes or waffles fan, but my mom has been making these for years.  And somehow, I can’t refuse them.  There’s something about those strips of bacon poking out the top of the waffles, and cheese, well, I never, ever, turn down cheese.

Although, I will admit, I hated the cleanup. Growing up, my mom didn’t have one of these fancy round flip waffle makers that I have now.  She had a heavy, square one, which made great waffles, but somehow, made a complete disaster of the machine and the counter around it.  It usually took me a half hour with a toothpick to clean out every nook and cranny.  Maybe that’s why I’m not a big waffle fan?  (note: she still has her original machine, so when she offers to make waffles I say “sure! at my house!”)

When we owned our cafe here in Mexico, we made waffles in bulk and froze them.    We would pop them into the toaster at the cafe and serve with syrup, or we sold them in packs of four for people to enjoy at home.  I haven’t stopped this habit and continue to make sure I always have waffles in the freezer.  They’re way better than anything you can buy at the grocery store.

If you have a waffle recipe you love, keep it, and just add the cheese and pre-cooked strips of bacon on top like this.

waffles2

Use good bacon, it does make a difference.  While I don’t use the waffle batter recipe that my mom did all those years ago, I can’t argue with those beautiful strips of bacon baked right in on top.

Please, leave a comment and let me know how you liked them!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tab sugar
  • 1 Tab baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 8 strips bacon, cooked and drained
  • 1-cup cheddar cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS:

Mix together dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, milk, and oil.  Mix until batter forms.  Add grated cheese and stir to combine.

Pour batter onto greased, hot waffle griddle.  Lay strips of bacon on batter however you like.  Close lid and cook waffles according to waffle maker instructions.

Serve warm.  Or cool on rack, seal in ziploc bags, and freeze.

Banana Bread

When we were newly married and living in an apartment complex in Toronto, we had two couples that we were friends with, also newly married, also living in these apartments.  We enjoyed hanging out with each other after our jobs and our volunteer work, and not having to go far to do it.  Especially on those cold Toronto winter nights, when all we had to do to get home was walk up two flights of stairs.

Since we were all starting out, none of us had a lot of money, but still liked to get out of the city and rest, so we started camping together. The first time we went with one couple, two people I had been friends with for many years who were now married.  The four of us went to Algonquin, a beautiful park in northern Ontario. It was real camping; we took a canoe to our spot, set up our tent, and hung our food in the trees to keep the bears away.  Such a beautiful and peaceful place it was/is.  Then we asked another couple to join us, and we camped in Algonquin a few more times over the years before moving to the easier and closer ‘car camping’ of Killbear Provincial Park.  Ah the stories I could tell from there.  A place very near and dear to my heart.

We had our annual camping trip organized down to a tee.  Each couple had their cook night and breakfast and brought the ingredients for that, and the rest was free for all.  We all knew what items each other had and we camped together so often, it was rare we forgot something behind.

One of the wives was so prepared, she even made banana bread that she saved for the men as they set up camp.  As they were pitching the tents and trying to figure out where to hang the tarp, she pulled out her two loaves: one was with nuts, and the other with chocolate.  Secretly, I always hoped she pulled the nut one out first because the men could inhale it and I could eat the chocolate chip one all by myself.

This recipe is my favorite banana bread recipe ever.  Is it because it is tied to such fond memories and such great friendships? Maybe.  But I’ve been making it for many years and people seem to love it through and through.

We can’t buy buttermilk here in Mexico, but that’s an easy fix.  For each cup of buttermilk that you need,  use 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice, plus enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes.  Also, the flour here is not great, (sorry Mexico, you know I love you but you can’t be great at everything).  Once I realized how I had left great quality flour behind in Canada, I regretted not appreciating it more then.  Fun fact, when people ask my mother what they can bring her down from home, she often asks for Robin Hood flour.  I am not sure a 25 lb bag of flour is exactly what they had mind though.  I don’t get imported flour, and sometimes I’m not in the mood to make extra dishes to wash, so instead of sifting it to get out the lumps, I just whisk all my dry ingredients together to get air through it.

Double the recipe, make four loaves, because the first will be inhaled, and you’ll need more for later.  They also freeze beautifully.

bananabread2

 

Banana Bread

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas (3 to 4 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped nuts (optional)

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

Head oven to 350. Grease bottoms of two loaf pans.

Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl.  Stir in eggs until well blended.  Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt just until moistened.  Stir in chocolate chips or nuts if using.  Pour into pans.

Bake loaves about 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool ten minutes on wire rack  Loosen sides of loaves from pans, remove from pans, and let cool on wire rack.  Cool completely before slicing.

 

Baked Oatmeal Cups

My kids have been home-schooled for years. Which means we don’t usually rush out the door every morning.  But, now that they are older (16 and 14), and we are involved in a lot of volunteer work, some days we are up and out of the house early, and others we stay home.  Which, to be honest,  is almost worse than kids who go to school and have a regular schedule because some days they wake up and are like uuuuhhhh what day is it and what am I doing today?  And it’s usually those days that they are less prepared than someone who goes to school five days a week.

Food on the go is quite cheap here, you can get home-made tacos at any time of the day for less than $1 and faster than the lineup at Tim Hortons at 8 a.m. on any weekday morning.  The snacks at the local corner stores (the most popular one where we live is called the Oxxo, no, not hugs and kisses, actually Oxxo) are also cheap, but of course, not even the slight bit healthy.  My kids have tried to convince me for years that “it’s okay mom, we’re not hungry now, but we’ll just get something at the Oxxo”.  Sadly, when I saw when they ended up eating for ‘breakfast’, I had to crack down.  

These cups were super easy to make and can be adjusted so many different ways: no chocolate, add nuts, a different fruit besides bananas …. The options are endless.  They mix and bake quickly and my favourite thing, they don’t crumble all over the place in the car.  I also freezed half a batch and they warmed up nice and quick.  Also, because they’re oats, they fill that empty stomach feeling in the morning with more than any junk (sorry Oxxo) you can find out on the streets.  

Although some morning we do head straight for those taco stands …. I’m not gonna lie.

 

Ingredients:

3-4 mashed, ripe bananas

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1 Tab baking powder

3 cups oats

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tab chocolate chips, or berries, or nuts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.   Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray or fill with liners.

Mix all ingredients together.  Divide batter into 12 muffin cups.  Bake 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.  Let cool on rack.  

These freeze very well and can be warmed up quickly in the morning.