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?


My Attempt at Being the Pioneer Woman {Poppyseed Chicken with Havarti}

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… and also at healthy-ing up a dish, somewhat.

Poppy Seed Chicken is a Southern favorite. But it’s usually made with sour cream AND cream of chicken soup. Add a whole sleeve of crushed Ritz crackers to the mix and you have your fat for the day in a small dish.

I was feeling creative Saturday night but didn’t have much in terms of food to work with except a package of chicken breasts. So I decided to put my own spin on Poppy Seed Chicken and see how it worked out.

I only cooked mine for 30 minutes, which was a mistake. The sauce needed to thicken up more and the chicken needed to cook through slightly more, I think. It was pretty done but not quite as done as I like my poultry.

Without further ado, here is my Pioneer Woman-esque recipe. [For any of you who don’t know what that means, it’s just that it has step-by-step pictures.]

Poppy Seed Chicken with Havarti
a Vanderbilt Wife original

In a large saucepan, melt three tablespoons of butter.


When the butter is completely melted, whisk in three tablespoons of flour (I used whole wheat). Whisk continually for about a minute.


Whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk. Continue whisking until your sauce thickens. This took about 5 minutes for me on medium-high heat. You want to be able to have your sauce coat a wooden spoon, like this:

coating the spoon

Sprinkle in a little salt and freshly ground pepper and about two teaspoons of chicken base or boullion. Then remove the pot from the heat. Chop up three boneless, skinless chicken breasts and about 3 ounces of Havarti cheese (if you are too lazy to find your cheese grater, dicing the cheese is fine).


Stir the cheese and chicken into your sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds. (I only had about half a tablespoon on hand, so my sauce was not very poppy seed-y.)

(oops. blurry sauce. sorry!)

Stir until the cheese is all melted and incorporated into the sauce. Fold in 1/3 cup plain yogurt. Pour the mixture into a medium-size casserole dish (about a 2qt or an 8×8 cake pan).

Next, you need some bread crumbs. I usually have a canister on hand, but I didn’t for this, so I made my own for the VERY FIRST TIME EVER. Then when I went to buy some today, I looked at the list of ingredients on the can of bread crumbs and just about died. It’s bread! Crumbed! How can there be corn syrup and red #67 in it? Decided from now on I’ll just make my own. I used half a hamburger bun from the freezer and it worked fine. Just processed it in my mini chopper.


Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top of the casserole (this is probably about 1/3 cup). Dot with butter so the crumbs will get nice and golden. (About another 1 1/2 T of butter, cut into very small pieces.)

Pop it in a 350 degree oven for 40-50 minutes or until bubbly in the middle. Serve over rice or egg noodles, something to sop up all the yummy sauce.


And the simplified version.

Poppy Seed Chicken with Havarti


  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3 oz. Havarti cheese, diced or shredded (could substitute Swiss if you can’t find Havarti at a good price)
  • 4 1/2 T butter, divided
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. chicken base or boullion
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T poppy seeds
  • 1/3 c. plain yogurt
  • 1/3 c. soft bread crumbs


Melt 3 T butter. Whisk in 3 T flour. Whisk for one minute or until bubbly. Whisk in milk; stir continuously for 5 minutes or until thickened. Add salt, pepper, and bouillon. Remove from heat.

Stir in chicken, cheese, and poppy seeds. Keep stirring until cheese is all melted. Fold in yogurt. Pour into a casserole dish.

Top with bread crumbs; dot with butter. Cook at 350 for 40-50 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles.

Joyfully submitted to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, and Friday Feasts.

Visit Kitchen Stewardship for more Un-Processed Foods Recipes as part of the October Fest Carnival of Super Foods. Next week’s theme: “Healthy Fats.”