Easter Brunch: Baked French Toast Casserole

It’s Easter weekend and I am sharing with you a delicious recipe, a spin on a classic, and one you will want to make as soon as possible for your Easter brunch or frankly any day of the year! It’s one I’ve been meaning to share with all of you for a while now, but for some reason there’s been other things to write about and this recipe kept taking a back seat. I’ve been making this baked french toast casserole for my family for years. It’s become one of my family’s favorite dishes and a recipe that I use not only for breakfast on holidays (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) but for weeknight dinners as well. (Do you have breakfast for dinner in your house? We do here and we love it!) There are many things we love about this recipe, not only the fact that it tastes delicious, and feeds a crowd, but I love the versatility and that it can be made ahead of time giving me more time with family if baking this on a holiday or more time to get things done on a weeknight. So, if you’ve got a busy Easter weekend ahead of you with company headed to your home, I’ve got you covered with this delicious baked french toast casserole recipe you can whip up in no time the day before friends & relatives arrive!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Salted butter
  • Brown sugar
  • Thick sliced bread (I use sourdough)
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Vanilla extract
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground nutmeg
  • 9×13 baking dish

How To Make:

To start your baked french toast, begin by making your own syrup combining butter and brown sugar (on the stove or in the microwave) and pouring into a 9×13 baking dish.

Prepare a simple egg wash with eggs, milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Place bread in a single layer over the syrup in the baking dish. Arrange slices to fit. No need to cube the bread, I just add the slices to the dish. Fill in holes between slices with small pieces of bread.

Pour half of the egg wash over bread and top with a dusting of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Layer remaining bread over the top and pour the rest of the egg wash on top with a final dusting of brown sugar and cinnamon.

If baking immediately, let casserole rest for about 30 minutes before baking in the oven.

If making ahead of time, place covered casserole in the refrigerator for no more than 24 hours. Remove from fridge when ready to bake and let rest on counter for about 20 minutes. Bake for about 45 minutes and prepare to excite your taste buds!

Simply top with a pat of butter and a small amount of maple syrup. Enjoy!

My Tips:

  • Here’s a little secret of mine…don’t tell anyone! I use salted butter when baking, there my secret is out! I love how salted butter adds just the right amount of salt to sweet foods. I don’t add additional salt if using salted butter.
  • My family discovered our love of sourdough bread many years ago, and it is mainly what we purchase these days. So, using sourdough bread for this recipe was a no brainer for me! The slightly sour flavor adds so much depth to this very sweet recipe. I also love the texture of sourdough bread, which works so well with this casserole.
  • Use good vanilla extract! As tempting as it might be to buy the cheap stuff at the grocery store, spend a few more dollars on quality vanilla extract, you will taste the difference. I’ve made my own in the past, but have found Trader Joe’s vanilla extract to be a very good substitute when I don’t have my own!
  • This recipe calls for milk, however for a richer french toast casserole feel free to substitute the milk with light cream, heavy cream, or half and half.
  • Serve your baked french toast with a side of fruit, bacon, sausage links, or breakfast ham. We love the saltiness of bacon or ham with the sweetness of the casserole. It’s fun to swipe a slice of bacon through the brown sugar syrup. Yum!

Do you have a breakfast or brunch planned for Easter weekend? What will you be serving? I hope this recipe makes it’s way into your recipe book for Easter or any other day of the year, it’s one my family loves and I am so happy to finally be sharing it with you!

Links to products featured in this post can be found in our new “Shop Our Home” page. I hope this page makes shopping our home a little easier for you! I do earn a small commission when you make a purchase from one of our LTK links. Your support helps me continue to create meaningful content for you!

I look forward to sharing more of my home with you and inspiring you to have a well loved home! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LIKEtoKNOW.it.

Baked French Toast Casserole

Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 loaf thick sliced bread (I use sourdough)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 9×13 baking dish

DIRECTIONS

  1. Lightly grease on oven safe 9×13 casserole dish.
  2. Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for 15 second intervals, until butter is melted.
  3. Stir 1 cup brown sugar into the melted butter, mix well until fully combined. Pour brown sugar mixture into the prepared dish and spread evenly to coat the bottom of the dish. Set dish aside.
  4. In a bowl beat eggs. Once beaten, add in milk, vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon. Set aside.
  5. Combine remaining brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a separate small bowl. Set aside.
  6. Arrange bread in a single layer over the butter/sugar mixture in the dish.
  7. Pour half of the egg wash over bread. Top with half of the brown sugar/cinnamon.
  8. Arrange remaining bread slices over the top. Pour over remaining egg wash and top with remaining brown sugar/cinnamon. Lightly press bread into the egg wash to ensure slices are evenly soaked.
  9. Cover dish with tin foil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to soak up the custard mixture, or overnight for best results.
  10. When ready to bake, take the dish out of the refrigerator 20 minutes before baking (if it has been overnight) to remove the chill from the dish.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for another 15 minutes.
  13. Serve with butter and syrup. Enjoy!


How To Naturally Dye Easter Eggs

Dyeing Easter eggs was one of my favorite Easter traditions growing up. We would dye the eggs and place them into a basket filled with green plastic grass. It was something I looked forward to each year, along with decorating our Easter tree with fuzzy chicks, plastic eggs, and painted bunny ornaments. We would go to the grocery store down the street from our home to buy a dozen white eggs and the PAAS Easter Egg dyeing kit to color the eggs. Then we would head home to hard boil the eggs before coloring. After the eggs were cooked and cooled (and after gagging a little from the smell), my sister and I would take the wax pencil that was included in the dye kit and draw shapes and patterns onto the eggs. We would then dip the eggs into the dye and watch the eggs turn fun shades of red, yellow, orange, green, and hues of blues & purples. Do you remember the small sheet of stickers that came with the dye kit, stickers you would stick to the egg after it was colored? Well truth be told, I never liked or used the stickers on the eggs! It drove me nuts that the flat sticker wouldn’t fully stick to the round egg. (You can see that my obsession in attention to detail started at an early age.) We would save the stickers for other craft projects, ones that didn’t include sticking stickers to round objects. Once the eggs were colored, my mom would eventually make deviled eggs, or egg salad, or creamed eggs on toast. Now the difference between the home I grew up in and my home today…you will not find any of those egg recipes in my house (we are not fans of hard boiled eggs)!

When my children were younger, I used to buy the same dye kits. However, in our home these days, we are more conscience of the food we eat, the cleaners we use, and the overall ingredients of the food or products we bring into our home and put into our bodies. I typically only purchase organic foods and all natural cleaners for our home. So this year, I decided to dye our Easter eggs with natural ingredients from foods/spices we already had in our refrigerator and in our pantry. We used red cabbage, turmeric, and beets to dye our Easter eggs which resulted in eggs shaded in beautiful spring pastels of blue, yellow, and pink. I think they look like oversized Cadbury mini eggs, don’t you?! There are a bunch of other natural foods & drinks that you can use to dye your eggs with too, continue reading to the end of this blog post for more foods you can use for dyeing. This dyeing process is easy and one I really enjoyed, and think you will enjoy also!

Before starting the dyeing process, I recommend preparing a working area to handle these highly staining dyes. They will stain everything from cutting boards, to clothes, to kitchen counters! Wear an apron or clothes that you are ok getting stains on. Cover your work area with a plastic tablecloth, old towels, or lots of newspapers and/or paper towels before beginning.

You will need one dozen hard boiled white eggs.

BLUE EASTER EGG DYE:

  • 1/2 head read cabbage (cut into 1/8 strips)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  1. Place sliced cabbage and water in a medium sized pot over high heat. Bring to boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 1 hour. Pour mixture through a colander to remove cabbage; discard solids. Stir in vinegar. Your dye is ready for use.
  2. To dye, fill a mason jar about 1/2 full with dye, and gently lower in egg. Let sit for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove egg from dye and set on a paper towel to dry. (Note: Eggs will appear lavender after removing from dye. Dye will transform to a more blueish shade within a few minutes.) Turn eggs occasionally so all sides dry, eggs are typically dry in about 15-20 minutes. Once mostly dry, wipe off any excess dye with paper towels.

YELLOW EASTER EGG DYE:

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  1. Place turmeric and water in a medium sized pot over high heat. Bring to boil then remove from heat. Let sit until cool. Stir in vinegar. Your dye is ready for use.
  2. To dye, fill a mason jar about 1/2 full with dye, and gently lower in egg. Let sit for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove egg from dye and set on a paper towel to dry. Turn eggs occasionally so all sides dry, eggs are typically dry in about 15-20 minutes. Once mostly dry, wipe off any excess dye with paper towels.

PINK EASTER EGG DYE:

  • 1 medium beet (washed and quartered)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  1. Place beet and water in a medium sized pot over high heat. Bring to boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 1 hour. Pour mixture through a colander to remove beets; discard solids. Stir in vinegar. Your dye is ready for use.
  2. To dye, fill a mason jar about 1/2 full with dye, and gently lower in egg. Let sit for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove egg from dye and set on a paper towel to dry. Turn eggs occasionally so all sides dry, eggs are typically dry in about 15-20 minutes. Once mostly dry, wipe off any excess dye with paper towels.

Easter Egg Dyeing Tips:

  • Let eggs sit in dye baths for a longer period of time. The longer the eggs are in the bath, the deeper the colors will become (can even soak overnight in the fridge). For lighter shades, remove from dye bath sooner.
  • Be creative when dying your eggs and think outside the box. Dip half an egg in one color dye and the other half in another color dye for a two toned egg!
  • Rub a small amount of olive oil on your eggs for a little added shine.
  • No white eggs? You can use brown eggs too, however the dye colors will be more muted.
  • Use other natural ingredients to dye your eggs. Here are some other natural ingredients great for dying due to their high color pigmentation: yellow onion skins, blueberries, grape juice, parsley, avocado pits, spinach, carrot juice, tea, coffee.

Links to products featured in this post can be found in our new “Shop Our Home” page. I hope this page makes shopping our home a little easier for you! I do earn a small commission when you make a purchase from one of our LTK links. Your support helps me continue to create meaningful content for you!

I look forward to sharing more of my home with you and inspiring you to have a well loved home! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LIKEtoKNOW.it.


Stamped Easter Napkins

Easter is a little over a week away, and that has me scrambling to get all of the Easter crafts, décor, recipes, and more that have been stewing in my head for few weeks out to you! Since I started this blog, I find myself with so many seasonal ideas and not enough time to share them all before the holiday is upon us. Easter is no exception! Today, I’ve joined some friends on an Easter blog hop to bring you more inspiration before Easter is in our rearview mirror. Continue reading to the end of this blog post for links to their blog posts and more Easter inspiration!

This week, I was inspired to create my own Easter napkins from something I saw on Pinterest, and I couldn’t love these napkins that I created more. If you’re looking for a simple way to elevate your table for this year’s Easter brunch, lunch, or dinner…this craft is for you! These stamped bunny napkins would be the cutest addition to your table, couldn’t have been quicker or easier to make, and look like you spent a small fortune on custom napkins for your home. This craft only requires five relatively inexpensive items and a small amount of your time but will make the biggest impact on your table whether you entertain your Easter guests with an elaborate tablescape or choose to host Easter dinner as less formal affair (more my family’s forte).

Here is what you will need to create your own stamped Easter napkins:

  • White Cotton/Linen Napkins – I chose these napkins with a lace edge.
  • Rabbit or Easter Stamp – I loved this bunny stamp, but any stamp would work!
  • Permanent Ink Stamp Pad – I used a brown ink pad, you could choose any color.
  • Ribbon – Use your favorite ribbon, this is the one I used!
  • Iron

To start this craft, decide upon the napkin that you want to add your stamp too. For our home, I purchased a twelve pack of white cotton/linen blend napkins with lace edge detail. I chose this napkin because I loved the lace detail along with the vintage style. You will want to find an inexpensive cotton, linen, or cotton/linen blend napkin you love and use that for your stamp. The important part is that you choose a napkin made of natural fibers to ensure your stamp will adhere. Here’s another napkin I love, or this one would be cute too!

Iron your napkins with the highest heat setting (with steam), removing all creases and wrinkles. You want to do this so that your stamp comes out neat and clean, and isn’t smudged or placed on a part of the napkin that is wrinkly. As you iron each napkin, move to a clean, flat surface. Cotton and linen can wrinkle very easily!

Once all of your napkins are ironed, keep off to the side. This next step is optional! In order to ensure that I was going to be using the right amount of ink on my stamp with the right amount of pressure, I took a scrap piece of fabric and on a clean, flat surface practiced stamping the stamp on the napkin. This way when I went to stamp my napkins, I knew how much ink I needed and how hard to press down on the stamp. If you are confident in your stamping abilities, you can skip that step! When you are ready to officially stamp your ironed napkins, take one napkin at a time, place on a clean, flat surface, place stamp in ink, then place your inked stamp on one of the four corners of the napkin. Make sure each stamp you press on each napkin is in the same location and at the same angle, that way all of the napkins are uniform. As you stamp each napkin, place off to the side to allow the stamp to dry completely, being careful not to smudge stamp.

Allow the stamp on each napkin to fully dry (about 10-20 minutes), then with a warm iron, iron over the stamp to seal and set it. Do not use steam when ironing over the stamp as this could cause the ink to run or spread on the napkin. Once you seal the stamp on the napkin, they should be safe for using and washing.

Your Easter napkins are just about ready for your table. The final step, is tying your napkins with ribbon for your Easter place settings. I decided to use an organic brown twine ribbon for these napkins. I liked the texture and color of this ribbon, with the bunny print and lace detail of the napkin. You can get creative with the ribbon you choose! There a multitude of ribbon choices from gingham, to striped, to extra wide, or even layer different textured or patterned ribbons together. Cut your ribbon in 12″ lengths. To fold your napkins for tying, fold the napkin in half by matching opposite corners together with the bunny stamp facing you at the bottom of the napkin (see photos below). Take one of your ribbon lengths and tie in a knot or a bow about 1/4″ down from the top of your napkin. Leave the ribbon tails as long or as short as you like. Always remember to finish the ends of your tails by folding the bottom tail in half, and then cutting an upside down “V”. Doing this will help to prevent your ribbon from fraying and leaves a polished end to your tail!

That’s it! Can you believe how simple and easy but absolutely adorable these napkins are?! I can’t wait to set these on our Easter table, but in the meantime, I styled these napkins simply on our kitchen table with a few carrot cake cupcakes, our white china, and an urn of orange tulips.

Interested in seeing a video tutorial on how to make these napkins? Check out this reel I shared on Instagram!

There is so much more Easter inspiration to be had! Check out these blog posts from my talented blogger friends:

Emily ~ LeCultivateur ~ SIMPLE EASTER DECOR IDEAS

Rebecca ~ Rouse in the House ~ DIY EASTER EGG DYE

Cynthia ~ Vintage and Grace Living ~ BEAUTIFUL SPRING EASTER TABLE CENTERPIECE IDEAS

Links to products featured in this post can be found in our new “Shop Our Home” page. I hope this page makes shopping our home a little easier for you! I do earn a small commission when you make a purchase from one of our LTK links. Your support helps me continue to create meaningful content for you!

I look forward to sharing more of my home with you and inspiring you to have a well loved home! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LIKEtoKNOW.it.


Fireplace Mantle Styled in Shades of Spring

This week finally feels like Spring is making it’s way to Massachusetts. There are new signs around us that Mother Nature is awakening and warmer weather is on it’s way. Everything around our home is starting to show buds from the Hydrangeas we planted last spring (we were nervous they would not make it through the winter), to the Oak trees in our yard, to the thorny brush that grows along our wood line. The sun is higher in the sky and feels warmer on the skin. I’ve even started exposing my toes on sunny days with a pair of my favorite sandals. And, a sure sign of spring at our home…bugs. There are mostly positive things having a home in the country surrounded by wetlands, but one of the negatives is certainly the bugs. Spring starts off the bug season with tiny black gnats that incessantly fly around your face, then we progress to Mayflies & Mosquitos, and then as the weather gets warmer so do the amount, variety, and size of the bugs. However, despite the bugs and their annoyances, I must admit that spring is my favorite season. It’s the season of rebirth and living in the northeast that is made clear by the shades of greens and yellows that suddenly appear on the brown branches, poking through the mulch beds, and sprouting through the dead patches of grass. That was the inspiration for this mantle styling, shades of spring. Ever since painting our fireplace Pewter Green by Sherwin Williams last summer, I’ve been envisioning adding vibrant yellow flowers to the mantle to add a pop of spring color against the dark green of our fireplace mantle. So, I decided to bring my vision to life!

When I started to think about how I wanted to style our spring mantle, I knew the color palette I wanted, but I also knew I wanted a framed rabbit print as the main focal point. Over the past couple of years, I’ve developed a love of rabbit décor. I like decorating with rabbit prints and figurines all throughout the year, but this time of year is my favorite, especially with Easter right around the corner! I searched high and low for the perfect rabbit artwork for this space, but I could not find it. So, I took to Etsy to look for a print. I actually do this all of the time. I have some of my favorite shops that I purchase digital download photos from, and then print & frame the photos myself. It’s actually a great way to save money and it eliminates having to buy multiple picture frames (you can reuse the frame each time you switch out your prints). I found this vintage rabbit sketch here on Etsy. I purchased the JPG file of the rabbit print for $5 (which came with multiple print size options), and then downloaded that file onto my phone. I then went to the Walgreens website to purchase the actual print. I always make sure to use a coupon when ordering prints. They can be pricey but for the most part I can find a code that gives me anywhere from 20%-50% off. I purchased this print on 16×20 print on poster board. Within twenty minutes my order was ready for pickup! Now that I had the print, I needed a frame. It is hard finding a good quality wooden frame as large as 16×20 so, Dave (my handsome handyman) was kind enough to make a frame for me. This print could very easily stay unframed, or you could order a smaller print size, and use a frame you already have in the house.

Here is how Dave created the custom wooden frame in his own words (maybe this will inspire him to make an appearance around here a little more often!):

  • Purchase a pine board that is 1″x6″ wide and 72″ long.
  • Rip it down to 1.5″ wide x 3/4″ pieces.
  • Cut the pieces to length by measuring the size of the picture.
  • Rabbit the ends of each board and fit them together with wood glue and brad nails.
  • Stain or paint your frame.
  • Add the picture to the frame, then add simple thumb screws threaded on an angle to the back side of frame to hold the picture in. This will allow you to take the print out at your leisure and use the frame on another piece of art.

To bring shades of spring to the mantle, I kept it simple by only adding two yellow flowers. Daffodils and Tulips. These flowers more than any other signify spring to me, and are some of the very first flowers to bloom in the northeast. To make the flowers the focal point of the mantle, I decided to keep the vessels holding these flowers plain and uncomplicated. I found long glass jars around our home (some vintage, some not), filled them with water, added Daffodils to the shorter jars, and added Tulips of all assorted heights to the taller jars. I wanted an organic look, so I loved when I added the Tulips to the jars they started going in varying directions, just doing what they would typically do in nature. I added four jars on either side of the rabbit print, with the shorter jars next to the print, and the taller jars (alternating in heights) flowing out to the end of the mantle. Typically, I do like to group things in threes or odd numbers. However, I found myself drawn to the groups of four jars on either side of the print, so I stuck with that. Remember to play around, nothing is set in stone when it comes to the décor in your home, do what feels right to you!

Because we have a glass cabinet right next to the fireplace, I wanted to make this entire area look and feel cohesive. To do that, I added just a few simple touches that I think brought these two connected spaces together. I added a stout, round, glass vase to the top of the cabinet, filled with more of the yellow Daffodils, and then added multiple rabbit figurines on top of and inside the cabinet.

I love how our mantle came together and how it feels like spring to me, minus the bugs! What does spring look and feel like to you? Is spring your favorite season too? Let me know in comments, I would love to hear from you!

Links to products featured in this post can be found in our new “Shop Our Home” page. I hope this page makes shopping our home a little easier for you! I do earn a small commission when you make a purchase from one of our LTK links. Your support helps me continue to create meaningful content for you!

I look forward to sharing more of my home with you and inspiring you to have a well loved home! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LIKEtoKNOW.it.