Monday, February 3, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Freezer Breakfast French Toast Sticks

I love, love this breakfast! I didn't know about french toast sticks until college (did they exist in the 90s?), at which point I ate way too many. I'm sure the highly processed, sold in the freezer aisle, toast sticks that I bought from the grocery store were not a healthy breakfast option. Sadly, I bet they were healthier than the deep fried Burger King version that I also ate plenty of during my college days.

I was thrilled to find this toddler recipe over at once a month mom. But let me tell you, this is not a toddler breakfast. Sure both my kids love it, but I love it too! This is a hot breakfast you can serve your whole family. I make a batch every six weeks or so. Whenever eggs and bread go on sale, which almost always happens in the same week, I stock up and make more Freezer French Toast Sticks. 

This time around Reid helped me make them. As you may know, he does not like getting his fingers dirty. Correction, he doesn't mind actual dirt on his fingers. He doesn't like slimy stuff like paint, eggs, yogurt, etc on his fingers. So having him dip some bread pieces in the egg batter was quiet a breakthrough. I guess he'll do just about anything to help out in the kitchen. 

After making this over a dozen times, I have adapted the recipe from once a month mom (who appears to have changed her site to once a month meals), and so I wanted to share my recipe here. 

French Toast Sticks
1 & 1/2 loaves of whole wheat bread (about 40 pieces)
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature
10 eggs, at room temperature
1 & 1/3 cups milk, at room temperature*
1/3 cup white sugar 
2 teas vanilla
1 teas cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
a heaping 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree (from the can, not pie ready)
* I always take care to use all the ingredients at room temperature. Otherwise the cold milk and eggs will turn your melted butter right back into clumpy refrigerator butter. I simply gather all the ingredients onto my counter half an hour (no longer than an hour) before I mix them together. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking mats or greased parchment paper. I use (and love) these Silpats.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except for the bread. Working in small batches, cut the bread into thirds. Dip bread pieces into the batter until coated and then place them on the baking sheet. 

Bake for 30 minutes, turning over half-way through to ensure even cooking on both sides. If oven allows, cook two baking sheets at a time. When flipping half way through, rotate top and bottom sheets. When done, promptly remove to cooling rack.

Cool completely before freezing. To freeze, place toast sticks in a ziploc freezer bag and leave in the freezer until ready to use. To serve, microwave desired amount of frozen sticks for 30 to 60 seconds. Eat immediately. 

This recipe makes four baking sheets full of toast sticks and if there is any leftover batter I simply use it to grill stove top french toast with a few whole slices of bread. We always eat plenty of these as our mid-morning snack during the day we make them, and then freeze four bags full. Each bag contains approx three breakfasts, so this recipe gives us about 12 days worth of breakfast.

This is hands down one of Reid's favorite breakfasts, and Nell started eating them independently before her fist birthday (great finger food for babies learning to eat). I usually serve them each four sticks accompanied with some fresh fruit (orange slices, bananas, etc.)

If I knew how to turn photos into cartoons, this one would have a quote bubble that read "Make these for your kids right now! They'll love you for it." And most importantly, you'll love yourself. You'll have almost a dozen breakfasts all ready to go!

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