Mother’s Day Brunch <3

Peanut Butter, Banana, & Marshmallow-stuffed French Toast

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I can entirely attribute my love of cooking and baking to my 100% homemade mom.  Not that there’s anything wrong with TV dinners or McDonald’s…wait, actually, the general consensus seems to be that there is MUCH that’s wrong with TV dinners and McDonald’s…but, there’s nothing quite like a homemade chocolate chip cookie in a lunchbox or a Sunday night roast chicken dinner.  Seeing the care and love that my mom put into every meal — even the Red Beans and Rice that I hated as a kid — taught me to have a strong appreciation for food and the messages that one can convey through its sharing.  Though she might have made some questionable fashion calls (see floral turtleneck in photo below) and flat -out refused to make any attempts to tame my hair (again, see photo below), she did a pretty good job overall.  So, here’s to you, Mom; I think you raised me right! ❤
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And, of course, no Mother’s Day post would be complete without a quick “I love you” sent out to my mother’s mother!  1924131_93747360591_5803761_nIt’s commonly noted that we females tend to mother (or, smother) the way we were mothered, so, by default, my grandma did a pretty swell job with my mom, too.  So, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom mom!!!
On this rainy, gloomy Mother’s Day morning, what better way to honor the lady who brought me into this world than with a 10 mile run and a big plate of Mother’s Day stuffed french toast!  Just to be clear, this Mother’s Day brunch was made and consumed to honor my mother, not to announce any motherhood on my part, so you can close that Babies-R-Us browser window right now.
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Working on my first ever Mother’s Day brunch! Pretty sure my dad did most of the work.
Brunch is one of my favorite meals to make.  It can be sweet, savory, or anything you want it to be!  I tend to favor the sweet options — french toast, pancakes, waffles — but I’ve certainly been known to make a massive omelette as well, so I’m certainly no one-trick brunch pony.
This french toast, in particular, is stuffed as full as a pregnant womb — perhaps that’s not the best analogy for something that’s supposed to be eaten, but, you get the picture.  Ideal french toast breads include two-day-old baguettes, inch-thick slices of plain old white bread, and, surprisingly, sourdough bread (Freihofer actually makes a “French Toast Bread,” which is what I used here).
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Sourdough french toast, with lightly sweetened ricotta cheese.
Whichever type you use, lightly toasting the bread before soaking it in the egg mixture makes the slices extra thirsty so they soak up even more delicious custard, yielding moist and tender french toast.  Seriously though, lightly toast the bread…not even to the point of browning at all.  Additional tip:  if you soak the bread while it’s still warm from the toaster, it will absorb the egg mixture even more efficiently.

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Though you can certainly french your toast by just dipping it in a beaten egg, I like to make more of a flavorful custard to really amp up the brunch game, because, hey, my mom’s worth it.  With the glaring exception of drilling a tooth for a filling, life is always better with a surprise in the middle!

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Peanut Butter, Banana, & Marshmallow-stuffed French Toast

4 slices french toast bread of choice (white bread, sourdough bread, old baguette), lightly toasted
1 egg
2 tablespoons almond milk (or regular milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 ripe banana, sliced
2 tablespoons peanut butter
Scant 1/4 cup mini marshmallows
On a large dinner plate, use a fork to whisk together egg, milk, vanilla, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, until no large clumps of egg white remain.  Place two slices of lightly toasted bread in the egg mixture, and spread the top of each slice (the dry side) with 1/4 of the peanut butter (1/2 tablespoon per slice).  Divide banana slices and mini marshmallows between the peanut butter-topped bread slices.  Spread remaining peanut butter on the other two slices of bread, and lightly press the slices (peanut butter-side down) over the banana slices and marshmallows.  Flip sandwiches over so the top slice is now soaking in the egg mixture.
Meanwhile, as the bread slices soak up ALL of the glorious custard, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet, over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted and started to sizzle, carefully place the sandwiches into the skillet — TRICK:  place the side you soaked FIRST down in the pan first…this gives the other side more time to absorb the egg without yielding a fried egg layer on the bottom.  Listen for the sizzling to resume, and be ready to flip sandwiches about 2 minutes later, when the first side is beautifully golden-brown) — don’t worry, if you flip too soon, you can always flip it back again at the end!  Cook for another 2-3 minutes on the second side, and remove to a plate to serve.  Top with strawberries and a dusting of powdered sugar, if you’d like.
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