January 19, 2011

Baked Apple Cinnamon French Toast

Let's talk breakfast, shall we? I usually just eat cereal for breakfast during the week (or a stray cracker from my desk drawer at work), so come Saturday or Sunday morning I like to spend a little extra time and effort making a yummy meal. Johnny is a huge fan of breakfast foods - pancakes, waffles, bacon egg and cheese bagels (ahem) - and would love to eat a giant breakfast everyday. There's no shortage of breakfast/brunch spots in our neighborhood, but being a vegan means that my options are severely limited. I can no longer just go down to my favorite diner and order pancakes anymore (not even the banana pancakes at Lyric Diner [whimper]). So I decided to take matters into my own hands and develop a breakfast recipe to satisfy us both.

As inspiration, I used a dish that my mom has made for our family on Christmas morning every year for the past decade. It's an incredible baked french toast that she prepares the night before, chills in the refrigerator overnight, and bakes in the morning. It is the only time of year we eat it and it is insanely good! However, the original has eggs, butter, milk, and cream cheese in it, so I wanted to create a recipe that is equally special, but vegan-friendly. I'm happy to say I made this for my family on Christmas morning this year and everyone ate it up! Score! I served it with tempeh bacon, which, if you haven't tried it, is probably the best damn thing ever invented. Not even joking.

Note on the recipe: this is really what I consider a "base" recipe, meaning it can be easily adapted to what you have on hand. Experiment with the type of bread you use, the type of "milk" you use, the spices you use (and how much), etc. When you combine bread, apples and cinnamon, the finished product is almost guaranteed to taste good! The brown rice syrup can probably be left out if you want to add additional margarine and brown sugar. However, I recommend buying a jar of brown rice syrup and keeping it on hand. It is a less harsh sweetener than sugar and can be used in lots of recipes. I use Lundberg's Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup which I got at Whole Foods for $6.00 or so. Also note that this recipe tries to be healthy, but it's really not the most nutritious thing to eat on a daily basis, so it's probably best not to make this too often. Without further ado...

That's the French Toast in the pan on the left (tempeh bacon seducing you from the lower right... hello there...)

Baked Apple Cinnamon French Toast

Serves 8

1 loaf whole wheat French Bread (I have also used semolina bread and it was delicious)
1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (soy, almond, rice, hemp, etc.)
3 tbs. cornstarch
4 tbs. white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice or nutmeg

3 tbs. vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 tbs. brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice or nutmeg
5-6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (use a firm variety)

1 cup walnut pieces (toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant)
Maple Syrup
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Slice bread into 2" pieces. Place into a 10"x14" glass baking pan. In a large bowl whisk together milk, cornstarch, flour, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice. Pour mixture over the bread in the baking pan and turn the bread over a few times to make sure the mixture is equally absorbed.
Melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat and stir in the brown sugar, brown rice syrup, cinnamon and allspice. Add in your apple slices and toss until they are coated in the brown sugar sauce. Pour the apple topping over the bread in the baking pan and evenly distribute. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with toasted walnut pieces and drizzle with maple syrup (the french toast is not too sweet, so the syrup is a necessity in my opinion). Eat it all up!

Nutritional Info (approximate/per serving - does not include optional walnut or maple syrup toppings): Calories 317; Fat 4.9g (Saturated 1g); Sodium 403mg; Carbs 62.2g; Fiber 5.1g; Sugars 26.7g; Protein 6.6g; Vitamin A 4%; Vitamin C 12%; Calcium 9%; Iron 15%

This picture makes it look like my family is a figment of my imagination. I swear they're real and they joined me for breakfast right after this pic was taken!

January 16, 2011

My first post!

That's me - your humble blogstress - having an ale at McSorley's

Hello, internet universe! My name is Hally and this is my first post on my new blog, The Odd Couple Eats. As you may have already read, I live in New York City with my husband, Johnny. I have been a vegan for a few months now and throughout my journey I have been buying foods I had never heard of in my life (umeboshi plums, anyone?) and working my way through a slew of recipes - some good, some inedible. My goal is always to cook healthy food that is free of all animal products (meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, honey, etc.) and that actually TASTES GOOD. I know some people think this is an impossibility, but I am here to ensure you that if you know what you're doing, it is not only possible, but can be easy. Johnny is an omnivore, meaning he eats meat and everything else, though his diet is restricted for health reasons. This balancing act can make it tough to find foods that we both can eat and enjoy, but we've had a lot of success, and it is this info I want to share with the world!

Johnny and I in front of the Rockerfeller Center Tree this year!

I am working to develop some original recipes to share with you all, but will also review recipes that I've tried from cookbooks and other blogs. I'll also share reviews for restaurants in NYC and Tucson (my hometown!) and for vegan foods and products that I've purchased. And lastly, I'll share info on vegan and eco-friendly household products, make-up, and clothing that I purchase. There are a LOT of products and recipes out there and I know it can be tough to know which are worth trying and which aren't. My foremost goal is to make it as easy as possible for others to incorporate veganism into their own lives. It's a lifestyle I'm passionate about as it's good for the planet, our bodies, and for our furry friends! (I sound like such a hippie.)

Peace and love,