Strawberry-Filled French Toast with Caramel & Pecans

Breakfast is not a big deal to me. I could take it or leave it.  More often than not, I leave it.  Unless it’s a homemade sausage and egg mcmuffin with cheese, than I’m alllll over it!! 🙂 Breakfast for dinner is another story! I dig that!! A LOT!

Growing up my mom got up early every morning to prepare all our lunches and ensure she sent my dad, my siblings and I off for the day with a healthy breakfast in our tummy.   She was the last person we saw as she dropped us off at school or the bus stop, and she was the first to welcome us home in the afternoon.  My mom has always been there for us. To listen, encourage, support and most importantly love us.  Even more so during times that we may not have been easy to love. My mom was and continues to be, our biggest cheerleader.  Leading by example, my mom has taught me great strength and the importance of independence. Although a mothers honesty isn’t always wanted, it’s always needed.  And no one, I mean NO ONE will be as honest with you as your mother! 🙂

My mom is a financial planner, accountant, interior decorator, chef, baker, housekeeper, gardener, nurse, chauffeur and most importantly one of my best friends. When I was in my early teens, I could have never predicted the special relationship I’d develop and have with my mom today. Those were certainly trying times and I’m thankful she let me live thru them so that I can look back and appreciate all that she’s done for me along with the lessons she’s taught me. My mom and I have cried, laughed and laughed till we cried together.  Sometimes at inappropriate times.  Tell me when I was younger that one day I’d be just like my mom and I’d probably tell you to kick rocks.  Tell me that same thing now and I can’t think of a better compliment. 🙂

This past Mother’s Day, I wanted to make my mom something special for breakfast.  Something different.  I received an email containing three filled french toast recipes and ran them all  by mom to see which one sounded best. At first she said, “none of them”. There’s that honesty! Then when I shared with her that I was thinking of making one of them for Mother’s Day, she chose Strawberry-Filled French Toast with Caramel & Pecans. I believe her words were something like, “if I had to choose, the strawberry sounds the best!” As breakfast was baking Sunday morning, the house smelled like a bakery (my mother’s words! :)).  I think my mom was happy with her choosing.  This recipe was delicious, a comforting cross between bread pudding and french toast.  I knew I had the stamp of approval when everyone went back for seconds! 🙂

Strawberry-Filled French Toast with Caramel & Pecans, going into the oven!

Strawberry-Filled French Toast with Caramel & Pecans
(courtesy ~ Cooking Light)

Sauce ~

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup evaporated fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

French Toast ~

Cooking spray
1 (12-ounce) loaf French bread, cut into 16 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
1/2 cup strawberry preserves
2 cups fat-free milk
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare sauce, combine granulated sugar and water in a medium, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cover and cook over medium heat 1 minute. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until light golden (do not stir).

Remove from heat, and let stand 1 minute. Add butter; stir until melted. Add evaporated milk; stir constantly. Place pan over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until caramel melts and mixture is smooth, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and salt.

To prepare French toast, pour sauce into 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 8 bread slices in dish. Spread preserves evenly over bread; top with remaining bread.

Combine fat-free milk and next 6 ingredients (through eggs). Pour milk mixture over bread; sprinkle with pecans.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35 minutes or until top is golden. Let cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Strawberry-Filled French Toast with Caramel & Pecans, HOT out of the oven!

Strawberry-Filled French Toast with Caramel & Pecans! Mmmmm Mmmmm Gooood! Spoken like a true Campbell! 😉

 

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