The main event on the Fourth of July is always the backyard barbecue, but I think the patriotic pride should start the moment you rise and shine. Take a trip to the farmers' market, load up on beautiful berries and a fresh whole-grain baguette, and then come home to whip up this scrumptious berry-cream cheese casserole before you dig into peeling potatoes and marinating steaks.
Many French toast casseroles require an overnight sit. That's great if you remember it—and you can certainly let this casserole sit for several hours before you bake it—but it isn't always necessary. In fact, I designed this one to be done in under an hour so you don't have the "Oh gosh!" moment when you realize the breakfast you're supposed to cooking has to sit for eight hours. (Been there. Done that.)
Use all of one kind of berry or mix the berry combo however you desire. You can't go wrong. We've greatly reduced the sugar—berries are so very naturally sweet—but you're welcome to add a little pour of maple syrup or a brief dusting of powdered sugar. Of course, we don't think it needs it at all.
Strawberry and Blueberry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
- 8 ounces multigrain or whole-grain baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- dash of salt
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat 1% milk
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
- 2 ounces Neufchatel (reduced-fat cream cheese), cut into 1/4-inch slices
- Cooking spray
- Optional toppings: maple syrup, whipped cream, berry syrup
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease the bottom of an 8- x 8-inch baking dish. Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients (through milk). Pour over bread mixture. Let sit 10 minutes, folding twice to allow bread absorb liquid.
3. Pour half of bread cube mixture into the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle half the fruit and cream cheese. Top with remaining bread cube mixture, fruit, and cheese.
4. Bake, covered, 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes or until bread is golden brown and the casserole is set. Serve alone or with desired toppings.
SERVES 4 (serving size: 1/4 casserole)
CALORIES 331; FAT 9.5g (sat 3.4g, mono 2.4g, poly 1g); PROTEIN 13g; CARB 50g; FIBER 3g; SUGAR 19g; CHOL: 153mg; IRON 3mg; SODIUM 453mg; CALC 162mg