Saturday, May 31, 2014

Overnight Cinnamon- Pecan French Toast

What a beautiful May morning to round out the wonderful month it has been!  Mr. Cozy has been on vacation for almost 2 weeks now, and he's about finished with his second year of residency!  Can I get an AMEN and praise my sweet Jesus for this??!  We've had so much fun together as a family this month.  I celebrated Mother's Day officially as a first-time mom to our two precious kids, but all of that is for another blog post!

This morning we ate this scrumptious overnight French toast bake topped with farm fresh strawberries and real Pennsylvania maple syrup!  What a dreamy breakfast to eat on the patio with the family.  

This French toast bake is a great idea for a special breakfast to make ahead of time so your morning can be spent being with the people you love instead of just being in the kitchen.  It comes together quickly the night before and rests in the fridge.  All the bread pieces soak up the brown sugar and butter on the bottom of the pan and the vanilla-cinnamon  custard poured overtop!  It's sprinkled with chopped pecans for the crunchy finish I love, but you can leave those out if you like.  In the morning it bakes until puffed and golden, and it's ready to eat with your favorite syrup or fruit and whipped cream... Or a little of it all!

We enjoyed it with sliced cantaloupe and a mug of dark roast coffee while the kids had cold milk.  I hope this is a breakfast you will find the time to make on one of these lovely summer mornings! 

Overnight Cinnamon-Pecan French Toast Bake
Adapted: Virginia Willis, Bon Appetite Y'all

1 loaf Italian, French, Challah, or Brioche 
3/4 c. Brown sugar
4 Tbsp. Butter, melted
8 Eggs
1 c. Milk (I used skim)
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Apple Pie Spice
Pinch of Salt
1/2 c. Chopped Pecans

Topping (Optional): Maple Syrup, Fruit, Whipped Cream 

Cube the bread into 1 inch pieces.  Set aside.  Combine the melted butter and sugar and pour into butter 9x13 in. pan and spread out.  Put the cubed bread on top.

Combine the eggs and remaining custard ingredients and whisk together until well combined.   Pour this all over the bread and lightly push down bread to soak into egg mixture.  Sprinkle pecans over the top.

Cover with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate for 3-13 hours.  Take out of fridge and sit for 20 minutes before baking in a 350 degrees oven for 30-45 minutes. (I baked 45 minutes.)

Cut into squares and enjoy warm with your favorite topping.

** I like to put my cold French toast bake in the oven as it preheats to prevent the dish from cracking.  Therefore I bake it the full time, and it saves time letting it come to room temp first!

The creator of this recipe, Virginia Willis is the real deal!  She is classically French trained Southern style chef!  So take it from me, this is yummy!!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

His Mercies Are New

I absolutely love writing in the solace of the morning, so here I am again...

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'  The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait patiently for the salvation of the LORD. "
Lamentations 3:22-26

This scripture was written by the prophet Jeremiah during a very hard time for the Jews.  A time that was filled with tragedy and sorrow.  In the midst of what is known as a rather depressing book in the Bible, he pens these words of hope that come out of his heart from God.  

These words of life and hope are what the prophet chose to meditate on amidst otherwise very dark times!  I had this verse on my mind this morning, because I'm so thankful for new mercies every day, but as I read deeper in the chapter, it's amazing to see how such peaceful words came about in a time devoid of peaceful circumstances.  That same inner peace is what I am accepting from God, and that is truly a peace that passes all understanding!  

The dew is fresh and the air is still cool, as I'm here sitting outside on my patio in my PJs, (warmest) robe, with a cup of favorite dark roast Caribou coffee.  I've been talking to my Lord, and I'm thanking Him for the wonderful things I have in my life, and the promises He's fulfilled!  My marriage, children, house, my personal growth in knowing God, and so much more than I have time for now.

Thanking Him for carrying me in the times I couldn't lift my head from the fog of worries and fear.  When Psalm 91 was my air in the day, and blanket of security at night.

For the future and hope He has for my family that I have yet to know!  While there are crossroads we'll meet, and bridges to cross, the Holy Spirit will continue to comfort and direct us along the way.  There is not even one place we could ever go in our mind, or heart, or on the earth that is out of reach for God to meet us there.

I'm sitting in wonder at the incredible beauty that all my senses are soaking in! Just sitting in the small part of the world that He has given Heath and I to live.

admire the old yet strong, steady, heaven-reaching oak that stretches his massive branches up and into about 4 different yards surrounding us.  It has endured years of storms and change, yet keeps growing!

The flowers so delicately formed, so varying in color, so dependent on the water I give in order to stay fresh.

The squirrel families who chase or dance from branch to branch and tree to tree with all the energy my own two "squirrels" wake up with each day!

The chirps of birds in the neighborhood singing a song about something that invites me to want to be a part of.   Maybe it's the tune of their babies hatching or perhaps it's their own way of celebrating God's creation!  Either way, it's a lovely sound.

The once orderly patio that now parks a pastel pink tricycle and Spider-Man bike, is waiting for eager little feet to jump on and find roly-polies to play with. The stack of coloring books with a jelly jar of well-used crayons waiting for innocent hands to make their black and white pages come to life.  The crumbs on the table from last night's supper eaten on the patio.

There is no denying God exists, when we take a moment to truly look at what is going on around us.  He will not only open our eyes but fill our senses with new wonders every single morning, if we just ask Him to!  

Speaking of new, I'm crazy thankful that His mercies are brand new every morning!  My heart and soul (cup) can be filled over and over to overflowing and I can once again receive His joy, peace, hope, love, patience, forgiveness, grace, direction, & wisdom .....

New every morning, Friends!  The God of Wonder gives us new mercies!!  

Let us wake up and come to Him laying our doubts and trials at the cross, at His feet.  Let us accept His free gift of forgiveness, love and peace in order to live the life He has planned for us.  At His feet, freedom is found!  There are no limitations to God using a humble heart who is free in Christ and willing to serve Him!  

Today is --again-- a new day for me, and today I choose to accept the gift of mercy and peace!

My coffee is gone and though I could go on and on, my sweet ones are waking up!  Excuse me as I use my new portion of His love on my family this beautiful spring morning!