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Easter Week brings Family Celebrations!

Original post made by Jacqui Love Marshall, San Ramon, on Apr 26, 2011

Easter Week 2011 is turning out to be awesome. I'm spending the week in Tarrytown, New York, visiting with my son and his family.

After a bumpy red-eye flight, we arrived on Easter Saturday at 7am, travel-weary and achy from sleeping sitting up for 7 hours. My husband had to immediately whisk my son away to Manhattan and keep him occupied for hours, while we rolled out the well-planned surprise party logistics for his 40th birthday -- the decorations, balloons, food, beverages, cake and arriving guests. When my son and his dad finally arrived, he was completely surprised and in awe of all the friends and relatives whom he hadn't seen in years. Everyone had a good time, and at some time during the evening, a 3-layer strawberry-decorated cake appeared for my son and a red velvet birthday cake appeared for me!

A baptism for my youngest grandchild (8 months)-- Zoe Alani -- was planned for Easter Sunday, to be performed by her grandfather, a retired priest. Family members came back at 11am and a lovely baptism ceremony was held. Zoe was beautiful in her Easter/christening dress. Since I knew that some of the guests, like us, were from out of town and would return the next day for the baptism, I slipped away during the birthday party to assemble this easy breakfast casserole. We added a large bowl of fruit salad, a platter of bacon and sausage patties and, voila, an easy family brunch for Easter or for any occasion.

Baked French Toast Casserole (serves 6-8)

1 loaf French bread (14-16 oz)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping (below)
Maple syrup

Praline Topping:
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

1. Slice French bread into 20 or so 1" slices. (You can use any leftover bread for garlic toast or croutons.)
2. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9"x13" baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.
3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and beat or whisk until just well blended.
4. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are evenly coated. Spoon the remaining mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
5. Next Day: Preheat oven to 350F. Spread Praline Topping over the bread and bake 40 min, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve warm with maple syrup.

Tomorrow's my birthday, so I'm excited to see what food goodies will come my way then...


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