The weekend is here and it is time for a treat. There has been a lot of healthy cooking going on here – Mushroom & Edamame Salad, Baked Trout (or Salmon), Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins and Roasted Cauliflower, to name a few. For weekend brunch, we are going to break out the cream cheese, pumpkin and white bread, and cook up some stuffed French toast. Besides, with what we experienced in Utah yesterday, we deserve some comfort food. Keep going, you’ll see what I mean.
Last weekend, we loaded up our daypacks with water, sunscreen, sandwiches and apples, and headed up Big Cottonwood Canyon for a hike. If you have ever skied Solitude or Brighton, then you have travelled up this beautiful canyon, complete with dramatic mountains jutting straight up from the side of the road and pine and aspen trees interspersed between the slate gray rocks. It is beautiful in every season, but really shows off its best side at the beginning of autumn.
We started at the trailhead, ready to set off on the 3-mile hike to Lake Blanche, which is flanked by Sundial, Dromedary and Sunrise Peaks. Three miles may not sound like a long route but when the elevation change is 2700 feet, you work up a sweat and an appetite. Let me tell you, turkey sandwiches never taste as good as they do when you are sitting by a mountain lake after a big hike. The boys were troupers, never complaining on the 5-hour round-trip journey. Our youngest picked up a walking stick within the first five minutes and strolled with it the whole way.
As much as I enjoy playing in the leaves in our own backyard and watching the mountains from afar as they change from a blanket of green to a rainbow of fall colors, there is something special about experiencing the changes of autumn right smack dab in the middle of nature. It is peaceful, it is spectacularly beautiful and it provides an opportunity to share it with each other. My husband and I always say that a quiet spot high in the mountains, where the hustle and bustle of every day life seems so far away, is our church.
Yesterday, a mere four days after the hike (in which we were wearing shorts and t-shirts), a cold front came through. I don’t mean that there was just a nip in the air. No, I mean that the temperature plummeted from 85 degrees to 35 degrees F. And it snowed! In case you think I’m pulling your leg, here’s a scene from our back door.
You can see why we might be craving comfort foods – foods that warm us from our fingertips to our toes. Pumpkin and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon hold a natural warmth, as though someone is wrapping a blanket around you. This stuffed French toast is full of all of those things and is a lovely way to start a weekend morning. Top it with toasted pecans for a little crunch and nutty flavor that complement the tenderness of the French toast nicely. Serve with pure maple syrup and a pat of butter, if you wish.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg until fairly smooth (it’s okay if there are a few lumps).
Divide the pumpkin mixture across 6 pieces of bread, spreading almost to the edges. Place the pieces of bread on top to form sandwiches.
Note: I photographed this post with sandwich bread, but I highly recommend that you use a sturdy French country bread for better results.
Preheat a nonstick griddle to 375 degrees F or set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. With a nonstick griddle, it’s not necessary to use any butter, but you may find you need to coat a nonstick skillet with some butter or cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Transfer to a shallow dish.
Place sandwiches in the egg batter, working with 2 at a time. Let the mixture soak into the bread, about 1 minute per side.
Transfer the sandwiches to the prepared griddle or skillet and cook until the bread is golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer to the oven to keep warm, laying the French toast in a single layer on a wire rack set over a large baking sheet. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
Serve with toasted pecans and pure maple syrup.
Other stuffed French toast recipes:
Inn Cuisine’s Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast
Panini Kathy’s Banana-Stuffed French Toast
Eclectic Recipes’ Nutella Stuffed French Toast with Maple Strawberry Syrup
La Bella Vita’s Raspberry & Italian Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast
From the kitchen of Cookin Canuck. www.cookincanuck.com Inspired by The America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book.
- 6 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 16 slices French country-style bread
- 1 3/4 cups 1% milk
- 8 eggs
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg until fairly smooth (it's okay if there are a few lumps).
- Divide the pumpkin mixture across 6 pieces of bread. Place the pieces of bread on top to form sandwiches.
- Preheat a nonstick griddle to 375 degrees or a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. With a nonstick griddle, it's not necessary to use any butter, but you may find you need to coat a nonstick skillet with some butter or cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and salt. Transfer to a shallow dish.
- Place sandwiches in the egg batter, working with 2 at a time. Let the mixture soak into the bread, about 1 minute per side.
- Transfer the sandwiches to the prepared griddle or skillet and cook until the bread is golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer to the oven to keep warm, laying the French toast in a single layer on a wire rack set over a large baking sheet.
- Repeat with remaining sandwiches.
- Serve with toasted pecans and maple syrup.