Tag Archives: brunch

Apple and Cranberry Baked French Toast.

This week’s swap theme was Breakfast, which is great since I’m always looking for new ideas.  Usually, I’m more of a savory flavor kind of girl, much preferring omelettes and benedicts over pancakes and waffles.  But there is always a time and place for the sweet stuff and this dish hit the spot.

I made a double batch in order to have a pan to freeze for later (the recipe below reflects just one pan).  I’m looking forward to pulling out the extra one the morning after Thanksgiving!

Apple and Cranberry Baked French Toast.


  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter, melted
  • 3 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 3 Apples, peeled, cored and finely diced (I used Golden Delicious)
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1 Loaf Hawaiian Bread, torn into pieces
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 1 Tbsp. Vanilla


In a 9x13 baking pan, combine brown sugar, butter and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Add the diced apples and cranberries and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan. Arrange torn bread pieces on top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining 2 tsp. cinnamon. Pour over the bread, making sure it is completely soaked.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Bake covered for 40-50 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

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Pumpkin Coffee Cake.

The Secret Recipe Club took a break in January but now that February is here, it’s back with a vengeance!!  This month, I was assigned Jeanette’s Healthy Living.  Jeanette’s blog is chock full of amazing, delicious looking healthy recipes, including recipes that are vegan and/or gluten free.  I also really enjoyed reading through her series of 50 Woman Game Changers in Food.  With this year’s goal of living a healthier life, I truly couldn’t have asked for better blog and will definitely continue to read, especially since I had a hard time deciding which recipe to make!!

I ultimately decided on Jeanette’s recipe for Pumpkin Coffee Cake.  Her recipe is completely gluten free, but since we don’t follow a gluten-free diet, I made a couple of substitutions to “regularize” it, mainly just by using real butter, greek yogurt and all-purpose flour.  I kept everything else the same.

Now you may be thinking, “Jey, it’s February.  Aren’t pumpkin treats only limited to October?”  The answer is simple:  No, no they are not.  I checked the rulebook and didn’t find anything barring me from enjoying pumpkin in the middle of winter.  And if you’re anything like me, you stocked up on canned pumpkin back in October and still have a few cans in the pantry.

And while my coffee cake might not look the prettiest, it was seriously tasty.  Paired with (duh) a cup of coffee, it was the perfect way to start the morning or end the night, topped with some cinnamon ice cream.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake – slightly adapted from Jeanette’s Healthy Living

For the Coffee Cake Batter:

  • 1 Stick Butter, at room temperature
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder

For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:

  • 1 15 oz. Can Pumpkin Puree
  • 3/4 Cup. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup Almond Milk

For the Streusel Nut Topping:

  • 1/3 Cup Butter, at room temperature
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 325.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl), combine the butter, eggs, vanilla and yogurt.  Mix well, then add the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Mix to combine.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the pumpkin pie filling and mix well.

In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the streusel nut topping and mix well.

Spread half of the cake batter evenly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Top with the pumpkin pie filling, then the remaining half of the cake batter.  Sprinkle the top with the streusel nut topping.  Baking for 40 minutes, or until coffee cake is set.

Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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Caramel Almond Oatmeal Banana Bread.

This bread is bananas – B A N A N A S!!

The Fruitaholic could live off of bananas alone.  Seriously, this kid was eating whole bananas at 18 months old.  Therefore, we always have the fruit bowl stocked full.

But even so, we don’t always get to all of them in time, and everyone knows that the best use for brown bananas is making banana bread!!  That being said, everyone has their own recipe for “The Best Banana Bread Ever.”  I knew I wanted something different, something that was a little bit on the healthy side so that I wouldn’t feel too guilty eating a slice (or two) for breakfast and a slice (or two) for dessert.  So I sifted through a ton of recipes online until I found “the One” – a low fat oatmeal banana bread adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe.

I loved the addition of oatmeal since it’s such a power food with the ability of helping you to stay fuller longer.  I also added some sliced almonds and caramel bits to the batter, keeping it still relatively healthy yet adding just a touch of sweetness and crunch.  It was most excellent fresh out of the oven, yet still great this morning heated up for a few seconds in the microwave and savored with a cup of green tea.

The only thing I would change?  A friend and I made this together and I sent her home with half of the loaf, leaving less for me to devour!  But I know for sure what I’ll be making next time we don’t finish our banana bunch in time.

Caramel Almond Oatmeal Banana Bread – slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

  • 1 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Oatmeal, uncooked
  • 1/2 Cup Caramel Bits (or chopped caramel)
  • 1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds, plus 1/4 Cup for topping
  • 3-4 Bananas, very ripe
  • 3 tsp. Canola Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Egg Whites

Preheat oven to 350.  Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, oats, caramel and 1/2 cup almonds.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork, then add the oil and whole egg.  Mix thoroughly.  Add this mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk attached (or a medium bowl, using an electric mixer) and whip the eggs on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Add one-third of the batter to the bowl with the egg whites.  Mix gently, then repeat until all batter has been incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and top with 1/4 cup sliced almonds.  Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top of the bread is golden brown.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes then run a knife around the sides to loosen the edges and turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Reader Request: Croque Monsieur or Madame.

A few days ago, my friend Shannon, who lives out here in Seattle, asked if I would be willing to teach her how to make Croque Monsieur.  She has fond memories of eating them when she lived in London and wanted to take a crack at making them back here in the states.  I, of course, was happy to oblige.

Croque Monsieur or Madame are basically the most ooey gooey decadent ham and cheese sandwich you’ll ever eat.  The difference between the two is that the Madame tops off all of the cheesy goodness with a fried egg.  It’s a filling meal, eaten with a fork and knife and served with a simple salad on the side.They’re definitely not diet friendly but, boy are they good.  They’re relatively quick and easy to make as well.  Shannon is already planning to make them again on her own next week, and I have every bit of faith that even the most novice cook, such as herself, can do it!

Croque Monsieur or Madame – barely adapted from Ina Garten

  • 2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (+ 2 Tbsp. for Croque Madame)
  • 3 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Cups Hot Milk (I microwaved mine for 2 minutes)
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • 12 oz. Emmental or Gruyere Cheese, grated (about 5 cups)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 8 Slices White Bread
  • Dijon Mustard
  • 3/4 Lb. Black Forest Ham, sliced medium-thin
  • 4 Eggs, optional (for Croque Madame)

Preheat oven to 400.

Set a small saucepan over low heat and melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter.  Add the flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.  Slowly pour the hot milk into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce has thickened.  Turn off the heat and add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 Cup Gruyere and the Parmesan.  Set aside.

Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, then flip each slice over and bake an additional 2 minutes until lightly toasted.

Remove the bread from the oven but do not turn off the heat.  Smear mustard on half of the slices.  Add a few pieces of ham on top, then sprinkle with half of the remaining Gruyere.  Top with a slice of the plain toasted bread.  Repeat for each sandwich.

Slather each sandwich with the cheese sauce then top with the rest of the Gruyere.

Bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and broil on high for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.  Make sure to keep an eye on the broiler so as not to burn the sandwiches.

If making a Croque Madame, set a frying pan over medium heat and melt the butter.  Crack an egg into a bowl and slowly transfer into the frying pan.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, then cover and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, until whites have set.  Place on top of sandwich.  Repeat for remaining sandwiches.