Monday, July 3, 2017

An Easy Breakfast for the 4th of July and my recipe for a Summer Wine Slushie

Hello Everyone!
Its a holiday weekend and that means fun in the sun and more time to work on projects - be they crafts or things that you want to get done around the house.  I have a couple of craft projects that I want to work on tomorrow while my husband works in the kitchen and, if everything goes well, I will have a new cast iron kitchen sink to ring in my Fourth of July this year!

So if you read my blog you are probably wondering, where are the flower barrettes, where is the tiki mantle, and all of the other things that you said were coming?  They are still coming, but I had to do this post which was inspired by an unexpected visit from my nieces and their father.
I hadn't seen my nieces in about a decade so I was very excited to see them.  They were going to stay the night with me and then continue on their way to see New Orleans for the first time.
Living in Louisiana, I almost always have a huge amount of homemade gumbo in the freezer, so I had dinner solved, but I was a little concerned about Breakfast/Brunch.
I am a firm believer that a holiday weekend should have at least one day where you have a larger than necessary breakfast/brunch and I always try to do one whenever I have the chance.  The catch for me with this brunch was that I didn't want to spend all of my time in the kitchen on the day when they were leaving when I would rather spend time talking with them.  Fortunately for me, they both love French Toast and not eggs, so a French Toast Casserole was the perfect way to go.
 I first had a french toast casserole on the day of my wedding to my husband.  His aunt made a french toast casserole and some tiny quiches and I ate like.......  well I don't want to draw demeaning comparisons to anything, so lets just say that I ate ALOT.  I naturally had to get the recipe.

Wait!  Are there any more of those little baby quiches or maybe some of the French toast casserole?  I'm still hungry.  (This is a picture of me putting on makeup for my wedding, and I'm fairly certain I am asking for food here.  Even though I just ate!

I have changed this recipe a little from the one that she gave me, as I often do to suit my tastes or what I have in my cabinets and fridge, but the basic idea is still the same.
I thought that today would be the perfect day to post this as you can make it for the Fourth of July.  Just make it the night before, and pop it in the oven the next day. Bam!  Super easy breakfast and a great start to a day at the lake or whatever you plan on doing.

French Toast Casserole

I don't have pictures of this because I made it in a hurry so that I could go spend more time with my family.  Sorry!

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
8-9 inch round loaf country style bread (Or, if you can't find that, you can use french bread but it won't fill your baking dish as well)
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (can also use buttermilk or 2% milk that has been thickened to the constancy of heavy cream by adding sour cream.  I know that last bit sounds weird, but trust me, it works in this recipe and I am far more likely to have sour cream and 2% milk and hand than I am those other items.)
1 tsp. vanilla, over flowing (What do you mean over flowing.  Well, what I means is, pour the vanilla in a teaspoon above your bowl, when it starts to over flow the sided and go into the bowl, you have enough vanilla.)
1 tsp. Grand Marnier, overflowing
1 tsp. Cinnamon

1.  In a small heavy sauce pan, melt butter with brown sugar and maple syrup over moderate heat, whisking until the mixture becomes a smooth consistency.
2.  Pour the sugar/butter mixture into a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish.
3.  Cut six, one inch thick slices from the center portion of the bread loaf. If you are using the french bread, keep the crusts on.  If you are using the round country bread you can leave the crusts on or off depending on your preferences.
4.  Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish over the sugar/butter mixture.  (With the round country loaf you may have to squeeze the bread slightly to have it fit in the dish, that is fine.)
5.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, salt and cinnamon until all of the ingredients are well combined.  Pour evenly over the bread in the baking dish.
6.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least eight hours or up to one day.
7.  When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bring bread mixture to room temperature.
8.  Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are golden, 35-40 minutes.

Can serve it with powdered sugar sprinkled on top, but is wonderful just as it is coming out of the oven.

I do have some variations on the recipe, depending on the season and how I am feeling.
To make the dish slightly more citrus-y, add about 1 tsp. of orange zest to the half-and-half mixture.
During the fall, I like to add about 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/2 tsp. dried ginger to make it seem more fall-like.
You can mix and match the syrups that you use, so you don't have to use maple syrup.  The aunts recipe called just for regular corn syrup.  Or, if you are feeling adventurous you can try substituting a flavored syrup like blueberry syrup or strawberry syrup and garnish with summer berries for the summer time.

Also, this dish freezes very well after baking, just store in an air-tight container and it will last in the freezer for up to one month.

And what is a 4th of July celebration without a little frozen beverage goodness?

The next recipe is a perfect recipe for a hot Louisiana day.  It just hits all the right buttons and makes you feel fancy when you are lounging by the water.  (I don't know why, but I always picture having the 4th of July by a lake or pool.  Even though I haven't done that since moving to Louisiana.  I blame it on my childhood where we used to go to Shell Knob, MO and we would celebrate the holiday on Table Rock Lake.

Summer Wine Slushie

This is one of the pricier of the Frugal Femme food items, but it is delicious and wonderful and, if you would purchase this at a bar or restaurant, would cost you way more than it would to make at home.  So, if you think of it like that, it is still frugal.  I got all of my ingredients for this at Trader Joe's for about $20.00.  (No, Trader Joe's is not paying me to write this.  But they do have $7.00 limoncello and $3.00 wine so it makes this recipe a whole heck of alot cheaper than if I went somewhere else.  This recipe will make about 6 cups of frozen goodness, if you do the large cups like my friends and I do -  or about 10 glasses if you serve it in a champagne flute and make it pretty.  It is great for parties - which is one of the reasons that I thought it would be great for a 4th of July post.
This recipe is very similar to my other smoothie recipes, there really isn't a wrong way to make them, its just a matter of personal taste.  So, have a blast and experiment with it.

1 bottle of white wine  (I like a Pinot Grigio but my husband likes the chardonnay.  I say do whatever white wine you like the best.  Heck, I think a Riesling would go great in this recipe, although I haven't tried it.)
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup Limoncello*  (If you don't have limoncello, orange juice is good.  Or you can split the difference and do both!)

     *  A quick note here, you can use whatever kind of fruit that is frozen that you would like to put in this beverage, I also like to use pineapples.  For this recipe I was trying to stick with more of a summer theme, but if you wanted to go for a tropical theme, pineapple would be the way to go.

1.  Carefully put all of your ingredients into a blender and pulse until the mixture is smooth.  (If the drink is too thin, just add more of any of the fruit that you would like.  If the mixture is too thick, then add more of the orange juice or the limoncello.)
2.  Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Garnish it with whatever floats your boat.  Some ideas are:  fresh fruit, fresh basil, and fresh mint.

Just a quick note, this drink is sweet, but is not sweet like a smoothie or a daiquiri, so do not expect it to be.
This photo was taken by George Barris.  They are arguably some of my favorite photos of Marilyn Monroe and were taken on Santa Monica Beach.

I do think that these could be made individually if you would like.
I haven't done individual servings before, but here is how I think that it would break down.  Again, I haven't tried to do these single servings, so you may need to re-adjust the ingredients from what I have here.

1 small single serving white wine of choice
1/4 cup frozen mango (about two slices)
1/4 cup frozen peaches (about two slices)
1/4 cup strawberries
1-2 tbsp. limoncello or orange juice
This is the photo that makes me want to go to the Eastern seaboard and hang out on a cold beach.  It is one of my vacation destinations and I fully plan on taking photos that look like these.  Photo by George Barris.

Well, I hope that y'all can use both of these recipes for your Fourth of July and I will be back shortly with my tiki mantle and some how to's on how to create it for yourself!

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