Tuesday, December 20, 2011

French Toast Makes Life Sweet!

 "She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks." Proverbs 31:5 (Amplified)

Is this what your morning looks like?  It does in my house except its usually me looking at the clock, barking commands from the bottom of the stairs and my daughter rushing to get dressed and eat.  In the end I end up stressed out and my daughter is usually attempting to eat a tortilla with melted cheese wrap in the car on the way to school.

I tell myself everyday I am going to be the Proverbs 31 woman who wakes before everyone else, prays and then gently wakes her children from their slumber and has breakfast on the table, lunches made and sends everyone on their way all with peace in her heart and a ginormous smile on her face.

I know some of you out there are like "yeah right!" in what world is she living in but truly I get tired of being stressed out by the small things and have come to learn that most of the time that I waste being stressed out could have been prevented had I just been a little bit more organized.  You know prepare lunches and have Asabea put her clothes out the night before.  Things like that.  Wake up when the alarm clock goes off instead of pushing the snooze button. 

Most of us push the snooze button because we just want that 5-20 minutes extra sleep in the morning, but what I realize is that all we are doing is postponing an opportunity to serve God and receive the fullness of his presence in our lives.  

So I thought to make mornings a little sweeter for myself, my family and for you, I would post my recipe for french toast casserole with brown sugar bacon streussel topping.  Sounds good doesn't it? It smells good to. I bet you and your family would love to wake up to the smell of this delicious recipe. 

French Toast Casserole w/ brown sugar bacon streussel topping

This is definitely a weekend breakfast or brunch recipe but leftovers taste great! So what I will do sometimes is make ahead and warm it up during weekday mornings for a quick and filling breakfast.You can also assemble everything the night before and allow the custard to soak into the bread overnight and pop it in the oven the next morning.

10-12 cups bread broken into bite size pieces (I used about a 3/4 loaf of day old italian bread but whatever you like) 
8 eggs
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
*4 slices of turkey bacon (chopped into bite size pieces)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons margarine or butter

Grease a 9x13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Add the bread pieces to the casserole dish and put aside.  In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla and 1/4 cup sugar together until fully combined.  You should have a nicely blended light golden yellow custard at this point.  

Pour the custard over the bread pieces making sure that the bread is fully coated with the custard.  Break the butter into little pieces and place over the top of the custard soaked bread mixture. Set aside and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.  

Meanwhile cut the turkey bacon into tiny bite size pieces and add the 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Mix until the brown sugar has fully dissolved and coated the bacon pieces.  Right before you place the casserole in the oven to be cooked crumble the bacon over the casserole and sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the whole thing.  Place in the oven and allow to bake for about an hour.

*NoteI have made this recipe with turkey bacon but regular pork bacon can be used as well.  However, if using pork bacon partially pre-cook to render off some of the fat first then continue as I have instructed with the turkey bacon. Also for a less sweet topping you can omit the 2 tablespoons of sugar. I just like the extra sugar topping because it caramelizes and causes the top of the casserole to have a crunchy and golden brown top.

There you have it.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"The Coat"

" I can do anything through Him who gives me strength"
                                                         - Phillipians 4:13 (NIV)

So I am at the tail end of what feels like I gave birth to a 10lb. baby.  (I know what it feels like to birth big babies. my son was 8lbs. 12oz ouch!). I'm talking about my first coat project.  Being a penny pincher and a budding seweprentreur,  I decided that this year I was making my children's much needed fall coats.  You know for those chilly fall days when the air is robust and crisp but not quite cold enough for the thick winter down coats.

So I went through my existing stash and right away figured out what I was going to use for the little guy but was a little stumped on my daughters coat.  Determined not to spend unnecessarily I decided to meditate on it.  Sure enough in the dark of night in between getting my sons 2am bottle and drifting back to sleep,  The fabric came to me along with the perfect pattern.  Easy!  So I thought.  Everything after that was a whole lot of breathing, pushing and panting.

It all started when I decided to put in a lining along with an interlining for extra warmth on a pattern that didn't come with a lining.  No sweat! I thought. I looked online along with some of my sewing books and magazines for some ideas on how to line a coat.  I settled on the "bagging method" which sounded like it was going to be a breeze but turned into a late night boxing match.  Frustrated Mama vs. The Coat.  and mama was getting a beat down and ready to throw in the towl.

Instead I called a time out and went to bed.

From there it was the whole pockets nightmare.  I hate sewing pockets, especially patch pockets. whether they are for function or embellishment, the chore of prepping them and trying to get them to look the same is not an easy task for me.  None the less being the concerned and loving mother that I am, I didn't want my daughter to have cold hands.  So I decided to add them.  

From there it was a series of impromptu mistakes and/or embellishment ideas that turned this project from a one week coat project into an almost 3 week "its complicated" relationship.

All is not lost however.  For what seemed like an eternity turned into a pretty cute coat if I do say so myself.  The beauty for me though was in all of the lessons that I learned along the way.  This coat not only helped be build my sewing skills but taught me some personal lessons as well.

I have always been someone who has cared too much about what others thought of me.  I always felt like I had to fit a certain mold in order to have value.  That's how I approached sewing.  I would buy a pattern and felt like I had to follow it to perfection (which for most novice sewers isn't easy to achieve).  Only to be unhappy with the finished product or feeling inadequate because it didn't look the way it did on the envelope or like something that I saw another home sewer make. I would hang my creation at the back of my closet because I was afraid someone was going to tell me that it looked like a homemade dress or top (which I don't know why I was trippin' because that's exactly what it was).

This project forced me to toss most of the instructions aside, take control of the creative process, and accept myself and my sewing for who I am.

The truth is that no one thing is the same.  Not even patterns although massed produced are the exact same.  I always felt when I was growing up that if I just kept quiet enough or didn't make too many waves I wouldn't bring too much attention to myself.  That meant a lot of conformity and not so much self-acceptance. I have spent a lot of years trying to look like I got it all together.

Like the coat I took a lot of trouble to look pretty cute on the outside but if you looked a little bit deeper you would see that structurally I needed a little help.  That's me and whole lot of other people out there who are constantly trying to fit the mold and are leading miserable lives. I have chosen to believe that Christ came so that we may have life more abundantly.  To me that means that even though me and the coat have some structural imperfections I get to have a taste of the good life and accept that we are all a work in progress.

And that to me.....Well....Is alright!

Stay tuned for my next post where I will include a tutorial for how I made the flower applique that I attached to the coat.