Nothing Will Ever Be the Same & French Toast Muffins

French Toast Muffins

French Toast Muffins

 

It goes without saying that when one loses someone they love nothing will ever be the same. Life takes an unexpected detour and certainly does not turn out as planned. The grief journey is filled with painful twists and turns and ups and downs. There are road blocks and hurdles around every corner. The challenges are incredibly difficult, but also surmountable. Just keep telling yourself, “I am stronger than I think” and “I am never alone”.

forever in my heart

forever in my heart

Change comes slowly. Open the door and let it happen. Reinvent yourself. At some point the pain is manageable. You no longer feel exhausted and the anger is gone. Recovery doesn’t mean you forget; it means you continue to live a healthy life with good amounts of holding on and letting go. And in the end, moving forward is the best that we can hope for. Just remember, as you change, you are taking the best parts of your loved one with you.

People often ask me, “What is your favorite thing to cook or bake?” and I usually reply, “Nothing is ever the same” or “I almost never cook the same thing twice.” I am constantly re-inventing my recipes. Take these French Toast Muffins for example. My original recipe won an award from a most prestigious group of judges at betterrecipes.com. So, why would I change a winning recipe? —because change is good—-and in this case, surprisingly good!! If you compare the two recipes you will see I have eliminated lots of the fat (not all but lots), but without sacrificing flavor or texture.  Enjoy one of these sweet treats and still look good in your bathing suit.

French Toast Muffins---A Baker's Dozen

¼ cup skim milk

3 eggs, divided

8 slices cinnamon swirl bread, crusts removed, cut into ½-inch cubes

2 cups all purpose flour

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

3/4-cup buttermilk

1-teaspoon maple extract

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Heat oven 400F. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin with no-stick baking spray or line with paper cups. Use a small ramekin for the 13th muffin. In medium bowl, whisk milk and 1 egg until blended. Add bread; stir to coat (this is the French toast topping). In medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. In another bowl, whisk remaining 2 eggs for 30 seconds. Add buttermilk, maple extract and melted butter; whisk well. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry; blend just until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not over mix). Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon the French toast topping evenly over the batter; pressing down slightly. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert the muffins onto a wire rack, turn them upright; cool 5 minutes. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush maple syrup over muffins; sprinkle with some cinnamon sugar. Serve warm. Makes 13 muffins.

Here is the original recipe that won the contest.

French Toast Muffins

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Milk

3 Eggs, divided

8 slices Cinnamon Swirl Bread, crusts removed and cut into 1/2″ cubes

2 cups All Purpose Flour

3/4 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar

2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Salt

1 cup Sour Cream

1 tsp Maple Extract

1 stick Plus 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted and divided

1/4 cup Sugar

1 tsp Cinnamon

Directions:

Heat oven 400 degrees. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick baking spray or line with paper cups. In a medium bowl, whisk milk and 1 egg until blended. Add bread, then stir to coat, for the French toast topping. In a medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. In another bowl, whisk remaining eggs for 30 seconds. Add sour cream, maple extract and 1/2 cup of the melted butter, then whisk well. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, then blend just until the dry ingredients are moistened, but do not over mix. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon the French toast topping evenly over the batter, pressing down slightly. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert the muffins onto a wire rack, turn them upright and cool 5 minutes. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush remaining melted butter over muffins and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.

 

Good Grief & French Toast Take Time

Overnight French Toast

Overnight French Toast

It should have come as no surprise that the first new episode of Downton Abbey would be about GRIEF. By the end of last season, Tom Branson lost a wife, Mary lost a husband and Mrs. Crawley lost a much loved son in a tragic accident. (Sigh! I can still see that handsome Mathew pinned under that car. That final episode haunts me.) We even saw a bit of angry suffering in the character of Carson as we learned of his love and loss. The episode enforced many of the things I have felt and have discussed on this blog like  finding strength to celebrate life, the need for forgiveness and the need for distraction.

good times around the fire pit

good times around the fire pit

However, I beg to differ with one final notion as portrayed through the grief-stricken Mary. With the exception of her father, the other characters believe 6 months should be plenty of time for her to resolve her grief and get back into the swing of things. What is so magical about 6 months? Good grief takes time–however long it takes. I am going on 3 years and I am still in the resolution phase. If, however, after 6 months, you still are not eating, sleeping or enjoying any kind of social interaction then it is time to see your health care provider as those are signs of a deeper, more complicated grief and depression.

Good French toast, believe it or not, also takes time. Especially if you like it a little crispy on the outside and melt in your mouth soft and creamy on the inside. It takes some simple planning. First of all, your bread should be just a bit stale–1 day old is good with most artisan breads that don’t use preservatives. The bread also needs to get a good 8 hours (overnight) in a yummy milk bath to soak up all the creamy goodness. Topped with butter and real maple syrup it is worth the time.

IMG_0742

Simple Overnight French Toast

4 (1-inch thick) slices French baguette*

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

butter

Arrange bread in a single layer in a baking dish. In bowl, whisk remaining ingredients until well mixed; pour evenly over bread. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or as long as overnight. Melt some butter over medium heat on a non-stick griddle. Place soaked bread slices on hot griddle. Cook, turning once, until deep golden brown on both sides. Serve with your favorite toppings.

*Use the center portion of the bread and save the ends for another use. Trimming the crusts is optional.