Berry French Toast Bake

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Well, hello! It’s been approximately eight million years since I posted a recipe. This possibly has to do with the insanity of having four children and the added bonus that right before I had Hannah in October, my real camera decided to stop working.

(I’m pretty sure it has sand in the lens and won’t retract … but it would probably cost more to fix than to replace it. Argh.)

My husband keeps telling me my iPhone will take pictures that are just as good. I don’t really think so, but they’re good enough for me, for now.

This is one of the recipes I’ve probably made the most over the last six or seven years. It’s my go-to when I want to take a meal to someone; I find that when there’s a meal train, people usually bring chicken casseroles or pasta. And that is fine and AWESOME, but I think breakfast for dinner mixes it up a little.

This Berry French Toast recipe comes from Cooking During Stolen Moments, which was one of my VERY favorite food blogs ever. Almost everything I ever made from there was a hit. Unfortunately, the site is not accessible any more. I am so glad I had this one written down in my recipe book so I didn’t lose the recipe! I’ve only adapted it slightly – mostly I just skimp on the berries because I like a lot of chewy, eggy bread. It’s delicious with fresh berries of any kind, but you could also use frozen ones – or peaches!

Serve with a side of bacon or sausage for a delicious meal any time of day.

Berry French Toast Bake

Yield: about 8 servings

Berry French Toast Bake

Delicious berry-enhanced French toast casserole is taken over the top with a brown sugar drizzle.


  • 1 loaf French or Italian bread
  • 2 to 3 c. berries
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Start with day-old bread, or cut bread into large cubes a few hours before you want to start making this and let them sit out to get slightly stale. Slice strawberries into quarters. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can be left whole.

Place a layer of bread cubes in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add most of the berries, reserving about 1/2 cup. Top with the rest of the bread cubes.

Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Pour evenly over the bread. Top with remaining berries, then dot with cream cheese pieces. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375F. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk together until the sugar begins to melt and the mixture is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon. Drizzle sugar topping over the casserole. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, covered, until egg is set.

Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving.


To make dairy-free, use almond milk instead of dairy milk and leave out the cream cheese. If you are taking to a new mom who is breastfeeding, you might ask if she is avoiding dairy. (I usually am.)

What’s your favorite breakfast for dinner?


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread {Secret Recipe Club}

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Libbie has been asking for banana bread lately, and since I had a bunch of very brown ones on the counter, my choice for Secret Recipe Club this month was a no-brainer. Well, sorta.

My assigned blog was It’s Yummi, written by Becca, a trained chef who shares her classic, nutritious dishes with some treats thrown in. I eyed the Bacon Cheddar Cornbread (sadly I had no creamed corn – but how genius is that to keep it moist?), and I’ve actually bought the ingredients to make her Morning Glory Muffins, but in the end I settled on Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread.

I adore peanut butter and bananas together, and I think chocolate balances them out well. And apparently so does Joshua. I almost didn’t get to take pictures of this bread, because while it was cooling, he pulled a stool up to the oven and my husband found him scraping off chocolate chips with his palm and saying, “Mmmm! MMMM!”

But we mostly rescued the bread, Joshua got a bath, and all was right with the world. Two-year-olds.

I loved Becca‘s banana bread recipe. It’s super moist, the peanut butter added a nice touch, and it baked up high and beautiful. It’s one I will definitely go back to. Or maybe try her banana bread with chocolate chips and chocolate ganache. Because HOLY MOLY. YUM.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Peanut butter adds complexity to banana bread and chocolate chips make it irresistible. Recipe source: It's Yummi.


  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 1/3 c. melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8x4-inch loaf pan.

Mash bananas in a large mixing bowl, then stir in melted butter until well-incorporated. Stir in peanut butter.

Add sugar, egg, and vanilla and mix well.

Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the top and stir. Then stir in flour, just until it is all incorporated - don't overmix.

Spoon batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and press them into the batter gently.

Bake 60-70 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool, then slice and enjoy.

Outback Bread {Secret Recipe Club}

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Outback Steakhouse's Brown Bread

It’s been about a million years since I ate at an Outback Steakhouse. But when you eat there, one of the best parts is the dark brown bread that comes before your meal. It’s kind of sweet … and really, I am a fan of any warm bread with butter.

But let’s rewind first.

This month for Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned to Morsels of Life. CJ started her blog when she found herself with extra free time, and now she loves to share simple food with easy-to-find ingredients. I eyed the Sesame Chicken Sauce, Banana Bread Muffins, and Lentil Sausage Soup, but in the end I was craving that wonderful yeast-rising scent and settled on Outback Bread.

Outback Bread

I was slightly worried that this bread would be really dense, because it only rises once. (You may remember my favorite, 100% whole wheat bread, has a triple rise!) But it wasn’t. It’s a lovely flavor, with the honey and molasses and touch of cocoa, with lots of craggy nooks to sop up butter and jam.

It may not be quite as brown as that Outback bread (probably due to lack of food coloring), but I will highly recommend you try out this recipe for a lovely, dark, honey whole wheat loaf. With minimal kneading and only one rise, it’s the perfect recipe for a beginner bread-baker, too.

Outback Bread

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Outback Bread

This honey whole wheat loaf is similar to what is served at Outback Steakhouses. Adapted from Morsels of Life.


  • 1 T molasses
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 1/4 c. warm water
  • 2 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1 T cocoa powder
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • cornmeal


In your mixer's bowl (or another large bowl), stir together molasses, honey, and warm water.

In a small bowl, cut butter into the whole wheat flour, until it is interspersed throughout. You can use a pastry cutter, two forks, or just your fingers.

Add the whole wheat flour mixture, yeast, and cocoa powder to the wet ingredients. Stir until uniform.

At this point, if you're using a stand mixer, you can start it on the number 2 (kneading) setting with the dough hook attachement. If not, continue stirring with a wooden spoon; you may have to knead a little with your hands.

Add all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time, until it is all incorporated. Knead with the dough hook or hands for 2 minutes, just until it is uniform. Shape into an oval and roll lightly in cornmeal.

Place loaf in a greased 9x5 loaf pan. Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm place. (My kitchen is cold; I turned on the oven and set it on top.) Let rise until it is about 1 inch above the lip of the pan. This took mine 1 hour 15 minutes.

If you haven't already, preheat the oven to 350. Bake loaf for 30 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you tap on it in the center. Let cool in pan about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.


Do you have a favorite restaurant copycat recipe?

Savory Cheesy Waffles

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Savory Cheesy Waffles

I first discovered cornmeal waffles one day last summer when we came home from vacation to bare bones in the kitchen. Determined to make something with what we had so we didn’t have to eat out again, my mind drifted to waffles. I found a recipe then for some bacon and cheese waffles with cornmeal. I didn’t have bacon, but I had enough cheese, milk, and eggs to concoct what ended up being a fantastic waffle. And waffles get even better with a runny egg on top!

Those waffles had cheddar, but last week I had some Monterey Jack on hand, and I am crazy about its flavor. You could use any cheese you really love here, but I love the bite of Monterey Jack (or even Pepperjack!). This is a super versatile recipe; you can add chopped chicken sausage or cooked bacon or sausage, maybe some minced herbs, using up odds and ends from the fridge. Savory waffles make a perfect easy dinner for nights you just don’t know what to make.

Savory waffles with monterey jack cheese

Savory Cheesy Waffles

Yield: 8 small waffles

Savory Cheesy Waffles

Adapted from Fabtastic Eats.


  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. milk or buttermilk
  • 2/3 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onion


Plug in waffle iron to preheat.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together butter, eggs, and milk/buttermilk.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir to combine. Fold in cheese and onion.

Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and cook waffles according to your iron's directions. I have a smaller, Cuisinart waffle iron. It uses 1/3 cup batter and made about 8 waffles from this recipe.

Top with over-easy or medium eggs (or poached, I just don't know how to make a poached egg ...). Sprinkle with more cheese, salt, and pepper.

Do you have a waffle iron? We got one for our wedding, and I never used it. We went years without one. But when the kids starting loving frozen waffles, I was determined to make my own! I can make a batch of waffles whenever, freeze them in big ziploc bags, and then pop them in the toaster for breakfast. Delicious!

Coda Alla Vaccinara (Oxtail Stew) and Sun-Dried Tomato Bread

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OK, I know I’ve lost you just with the word oxtail. But hang with me, please? Because this. is. delicious.

Coda Alla Vaccinara - Oxtail Stew

I’ll admit that usually with Secret Recipe Club I lean toward baking. I don’t have to cook dinner during the school year because we can eat in the dining hall. But this month I was assigned An Italian Cooking in the Midwest. And she makes real Italian food, y’all. Authentico. The author, PolaM, is indeed an actual Italian working on her PhD here in the American Midwest.

I Pinned several recipes that I thought looked amazing, like tiramisu, balsamic vinegar chicken wings, and orange and chocolate cake. But what really drew me in was her recipe for Rigatoni Butcher-Style. It’s a delicious beef stew with some celery added at the end, giving an interesting texture element. The stew is so rich and amazing. And what makes it that way? Oxtail.

Searing oxtail

I had to research oxtail because I’ve never, ever made it before. It’s just the cow’s tail, chopped up. Yep. Just what it sounds like. The cut is very affordable and I was able to find it at Publix already out in the case. The bones in the tail have a lot of gelatin, which contributes to the richness of the stew, although you probably want to spoon off a little of it before serving. Some sites recommended I even refrigerate the stew overnight and skim off the fat easily, but my foodie friend pretty much promised to disown me if I did, saying that is what makes it so good.

I used my pressure cooker since that is what Pola did, but you could also do this in a slow cooker with the same results, I think. Just sear the meat beforehand and dump it in there, then let it cook for a long time. I would think 8-10 hours on low.

Coda Alla Vaccinara (Oxtail Stew)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 1 1/2 lbs. oxtail
  • 3/4 c. diced carrot
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 stalks celery, sliced, divided in half (plus some of the inner leaves)
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • 1/4 c. red wine
  • 1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. short pasta


Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Sear the oxtail on all sides; remove to a plate.

Add carrots, onion, and half the sliced celery to the pressure cooker and reduce heat to medium-low. Sprinkle with cloves and pinch of salt and add bay leaves.

When the onions are starting to turn translucent, add the red wine. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until most of the wine has evaporated.

Add meat back into the pan, then pour in beef broth and tomato sauce.

Close the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. (Your knob thingy should be gently rocking. Yep, that's the technical terminology.) Cook 1 1/2 hours, then remove from heat and cool until the pressure releases.

Use a ladle to remove some of the lighter liquid on top of the stew - that is the gelatinous broth. Take off about three ladle-fulls. Stir in remaining sliced celery.

Boil pasta in well-salted water. Drain; mix sauce into pasta and serve.


If you use gluten-free pasta or serve as a stew, this is gluten-free as well as dairy-free. You could also serve over rice.

To go along with the stew, I wanted to try out Pola’s Sun-dried Tomato Bread. Then I looked and saw it had to rise for 4-8 hours. So I added some more yeast and hoped it would move things along quicker. It may not be as authentic, but it worked and was tasty.

This is the kind of bread you just tear off chunks of and dip it right into the delicious stew.

Sun-Dried Tomato Bread

Rustic Sun-Dried Tomato Bread


  • 4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. bread machine or instant yeast (also known as rapid-rise or quick-rise)
  • 1 1/2 c. very warm (but not hot) water
  • 1/4 c. sliced sun-dried tomatoes (the kind preserved in oil)
  • 1 tsp. salt


Add yeast to the warm water and let sit for a few minutes.

In the bowl to a stand mixer, add flour, oregano, and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the water-yeast mixture and knead for 5 minutes - that's speed 2 on a stand mixer. You can do it by hand also. You want a dough that is soft but not sticky. Add more water or flour if needed - in very small increments.

Turn dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let rise for an hour in a warm place.

Drain the tomatoes and then knead into the dough. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll toward you, then connect the ends to make a circle, pinching together to seal. Place on a baking sheet or stone, cover again, and let rise 20-30 minutes.

Preheat over to 450. Bake 25-35 minutes, until dough is brown and the bread sounds hollow when you knock on it.

Gluten Free Meal Plan via Musings of a Housewife

Brioche Loaf & Brioche French Toast (Secret Recipe Club)

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Brioche bread loaf

Doesn’t that look amazing? It is.

My Secret Recipe Club assigned blog this month was Cook Book of Trial and Error. It seems the author doesn’t share about herself, but I enjoyed browsing the recipes on her site!

I bookmarked several dinner recipes from her site, including a Persian green bean pilaf that sounds so interesting and Brunswick Stew, one of my favorite dishes. In the end, though, I decided to tackle breakfast with this homemade brioche made into French toast.

The brioche recipe is adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, which means it takes very little effort, although there is a lot of waiting time you need to factor in. I decided to just make enough dough for two loaves, but you can double the recipe and make four loaves if you want.

The bread is luscious and eggy and it made some awesome French toast that we all gobbled up. I plan on using my other portion of dough to make rolls for sloppy joes tomorrow night, and I think that will work well!

UPDATE: Here are the buns I made. I formed the dough into four rounds, let them rise about an hour, then cooked about 20 minutes.

Sloppy Joes and German Potato Salad


Yield: 2 large loaves


  • 3/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 2 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted and set aside to cool
  • 3 3/4 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 T water for brushing


In a large, plastic or glass bowl mix water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter. Stir in flour. The dough will be very loose; don't try to do anything with it until after it's been chilled.

Cover with a dish towel and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Cover loosely and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Beyond 5 days, freeze in 1-lb. (grapefruit-size) portions.

When ready to bake: Grease a 9x5 loaf pan. Sprinkle flour on your refrigerated dough and cut off half the dough (a grapefruit-sized ball). With floured hands, quickly shape dough into a ball. Elongate into an oval and place in loaf pan. Let rest, covered with a dish towel, for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Five minutes before resting time is up, turn oven to 350F. Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash (the egg beaten with water). Bake bread for 35-40 minutes, until top is medium-brown. Because of the fat content of the bread, it will not get very crusty.

Allow to cool before slicing.

Brioche French toast

Brioche French Toast

Yield: about 8 slices of French toast

Brioche French Toast


  • 1 loaf brioche
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • butter for greasing your griddle


Heat a griddle over medium-high heat. Grease with butter.

In a 9x13 dish, lightly whisk together eggs, milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

Soak your bread in the egg mixture, about 30 seconds on each side. Place bread on griddle and cook for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Repeat until all is cooked, buttering griddle in between batches.

Serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup.

Last April, Cook Book Trial and Error also posted a Lower-Fat Brioche, if that’s your thing!