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Awesome Cranberry French Toast Casserole!


Did you stock up on fresh cranberries before Thanksgiving when they were $0.99 a bag?  You didn't?  Well, drop everything and rush to the nearest store while you still can!!

I bought bags and bags.  You can just toss the bags in the freezer and have cranberries available all year long.

 I love fresh cranberries.  They are soo good for you.  They are absolutely loaded with antioxidants and nutrients.  They are widely known to be good for the urinary tract, but did you know they have proanthocyanidins that actually help keep E. coli bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract?  E. coli is the bacteria primarily responsible for most urinary tract infections.  But wait, there's more.

Lab studies have shown that cranberry extracts may prevent breast cancer cells from multiplying, and actually helped inhibit the development of various cancer cells in lab animals.  And cranberries help lower bad cholesterol levels, help prevent plaque from forming on artery walls and thus reduce the chance of stroke and heart disease.  The antioxidants in cranberries improve the immune system and can help flush out your body which improves the metabolism (hello, weight loss!)  They also reduce free-radicals, which gives them anti-aging properties.  (Young and skinny?  I'm in.)  They have even been shown to help with skin problems and prevent gingivitis, cavities and plague build up.  What's not to love?

Except for one thing.  They are a leetle bit on the tart side.  Which makes it difficult to hand Jr. a bowl full of cranberries for a snack.  Think of them as a berry with an attitude.

But not to worry.  Some studies are showing that cranberries may even help reduce blood sugar levels.  In my book, that means a little bit of sweetener can go a long way to making these berries something my family will consume.

Last night, I concocted a super make-ahead breakfast featuring these wonder-berries.  This morning, my whole family gave it the thumbs up.  My husband even asked me to make it again.  Score!

So, without further ado, I give you the recipe for:

Awesome Cranberry French Toast Casserole with Cranberry Syrup

THE NIGHT BEFORE you want to serve this, butter a casserole dish (mine was 11x8 inches).

Arrange slices of day old wheat bread in the dish.  I used the rolls I made for Thanksgiving dinner.  They were made with 100% freshly ground whole white wheat flour.  I just cut the rolls in half and arranged them cut side up.

In a large bowl, whisk together the following ingredients:
     5 eggs
     2 cups whole milk (you could use a milk alternative if you want)
     1 tsp. real vanilla extract
     1/2 tsp. cinnamon
     1/4 tsp. nutmeg
     1/4 tsp. sea salt
     3/4 cup brown sugar (I would have used pure cane juice sugar if I had it, but I was out.  You could also use maple syrup or even stevia, but I haven't tried those).

Pour the egg mixture over the bread, making sure there are not dry spots on the top of the bread.

Sprinkle over top:
     1 cup fresh cranberries (mine were still frozen -- no worries)
     1/2 cup pecan halves
     a little brown sugar to sprinkle on top (maybe a Tbsp or two)

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

     Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until set.

     While the french toast casserole is baking, make the syrup.  It takes about 10 minutes and you will want to serve it warm.  Put 1/2 cup Real Maple Syrup in a small saucepan with 1 cup fresh cranberries (again, mine were still frozen.)  Bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries start to pop.

Once the berries start to pop, mash them a bit with the back of the spoon to release the juices.  Remove from heat. 

That's it.  You just made Cranberry Syrup.  Aren't you cool?

When the french toast casserole is done, cut a slice and drizzle the Cranberry Syrup over top.
Serve to your family.  Stand back and wait for the ooh's and ahh's.  Don't tell them that E. coli will no longer stick to their insides.  They don't need to know that right now.

Have a great day!


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