Sunday, April 7, 2013

Strawberry & Mango Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

 This French Toast Casserole came out of necessity and imagination. I had about 1/2 loaf of whole wheat bread I had purchased at Trader Joe's and we hadn't finished off quickly. (The bread from Trader Joe's doesn't have any preservatives so it goes stale rather quickly.) I made a few pieces of regular french toast the other morning, but today I needed a big breakfast/brunch for the family so I decided to make it into a casserole.
 This morning we had general conference.That's where instead of going to church, we watch a world-wide broadcast of the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints address the church members as a whole. It's wonderfully inspiring and uplifting, and it's nice to have a break from getting everyone dressed up and ready for church. But it's also a little trying to get all the kiddos to sit and be reverent during conference, when they are in their pajamas and their toys are just a few feat away. A good motivator for the kids was knowing that this french toast casserole was in the oven waiting for them when the first session of conference was over.
   I made up the recipe as I went a long, and I didn't have my camera near by so I don't have any step by step pictures. However, when it came out of the oven I did take a few shots and then I tasted it. It's amazing - if I do say so myself. The whole family loved it and asked for seconds and thirds. What makes this even better is that I made it with things I had on hand. I like the idea of strawberries, mangoes and cream cheese, but you could really put anything you want in here. The sky is the limit. Chocolate chips, cinnamon, peaches, blueberries, nutmeg, coconut, etc. Let your imagination (and your cupboards) be your only limitations. :)
Right out of the oven
One thing I forgot to do was spray my casserole dish before putting the ingredients in. So, it stuck a little and doesn't look as pretty around the edges as it could have, but it still is a stunner.
 I wouldn't think twice about serving this to company.

The white and yellow pieces are the cream cheese and mango chunks.

Here's a corner piece. This is always my favorite part of any casserole (or brownies!!). I like the crunchy corners.

It tastes even better than it looks. Like a bread pudding, but for breakfast!

This center piece photographed much better.

We just served it plain, with a little maple syrup but I think that Kim's Coconut Syrup would be delightful on here as well. A pureed strawberry sauce would also be nice. Again - the sky's the limit. (Ooh. I just thought of drizzling my homemade Chocolate Sauce over it. Mmm. Another time for sure!)  The hubby said that a few nuts might be nice for some more texture.
I hope your family like this casserole too! It's definitely a keeper in this house.

Here's the recipe:

Strawberry & Mango Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

10 slices of stale (but not hard) bread, torn into pieces
8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup diced mango
1 cup sliced strawberries
8 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Spray/grease a 9x13 casserole dish. Evenly distribute the bread pieces, cream cheese and fruit in the dish. (Sprinkle a few bread pieces, then cream cheese, then fruit and repeat.) In a pourable mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt. Pour the eggs mixture evenly over the bread, cheese, and fruit. Let sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes (until the top is golden brown and the middle is cooked). Serve hot or at room temperature.

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