The Lenten season is starting next week, so Catholic cooks start to get creative with their cooking-more eggs, more fish, and no meat (on Fridays). Kids love breakfast for dinner, so this makes a great Friday night meal, whether you celebrate Lent or not.
The secret to this dish is the fresh strawberries. You can replace with frozen strawberries, or strawberry jam (for a sweeter taste) but fresh is best!
- One loaf of French Bread
- 1 8 oz. Bar of Cream Cheese, softened
- 4-6 Large Fresh Strawberries
- 3 Tbsp. Orange Juice (I used fresh squeezed)
- 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 6 Large eggs
- 1 c. Half and Half
- 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. Vanilla
Slice the bread into 2 1/2 -3 inch pieces. Normally, I would not use the ends of the bread, but I did not want it to go to waste, so just cut the very ends off.
Now, the bread could be dipped in the egg mixture on both sides. Take the sliced piece of french bread, and cut a slice 3/4 of the way through the center, forming a pocket in the bread.
Place the softened cream cheese in a large mixing bowl. Clean and dry the strawberries, and cut off the green end (hull). Slice the strawberries into thin pieces. Place in the bowl with the cream cheese. Add the orange juice, and cinnamon. I used fresh-squeezed orange juice, but refrigerated orange juice is fine.
Using a hand or stand-alone mixer, blend the cream cheese mixture. Make sure to stop and push the cream cheese to the bottom of the bowl, so it is thoroughly incorporated, and so the strawberry pieces break apart. It's okay if you have a few larger chunks of strawberry, but make sure the cream cheese is well blended. If you were to have a taste of the cream cheese mixture, it will not be sweet (unless you add the strawberry jam). The combination of the tangy cream cheese, the fresh strawberries, and the maple syrup will create a wonderful explosion of flavor in your mouth!
Using a knife, spread the cream cheese mixture into the pocket of each piece of bread. Lay the bread flat, and press the bread flat, so the cream cheese is securely in the bread. Be careful not too squeeze too much, as the cream cheese mixture will ooze out. Set the french toast pieces aside.
Crack the eggs into a large wide-mouthed dish. Using a whisk, blend in the half and half, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Dip each slice of stuffed bread into the egg mixture, soaking each side. Place the bread in a heated griddle, and cook on each side until brown. Since this type of french toast is so thick, and I am wary of uncooked egg dishes, I placed the browned french toast on a baking sheet, and placed in a 350 degree, preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.
This also allows you to do make the french toast ahead of time. Just brown both sides on a griddle, and place in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven about 20-25 minutes before serving, and reheat for 15-20 minutes. Serve with sliced strawberries and maple syrup.