Simple Living

Information, recipes and resources for health and home, body and spirit.


Leave a comment

Make Ahead French Toast Casserole

 

I absolutely love French toast, but it’s not practical when cooking for one or for a crowd. Here’s the tasty solution you’ve been looking for!

 

2014-07-18 13.54.101

 

The “technical” term for this dish is a strata, so if you decide to surf for more recipes that’s the term you want to look for.  There are as many variations as your imagination can come up with.

There are a few things I really love about this dish.  One is that it’s easy to put together.  The other is that it can be made ahead.  Perfect for gatherings with sleep over guests or holiday breakfasts because you can make it the day before and stick it in the fridge, then just put it in the oven when you wake up.  

This is also great for “breakfast for dinner” item since you can just make it ahead and pop it in the oven when you get home from work.  By the time you’re settled in and caught up, dinner is ready!

The other bonus is cooking for one.  Remember that you don’t have to live alone to want to cook in single portions.  This makes for a great traveling breakfast to eat at the office, for the kids to fix themselves when you want to sleep in, etc.

For the strata that you’re seeing here, I used:

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage, cooked & crumbled (mild, spicy, maple – your choice)
  • 1 medium apple, diced
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • 6 seedless, crusty rolls, cubed (these were the size of kaiser rolls)
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1-1/2 c milk
  • 1-1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • Cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top

 

 

IMG_3418

 

What you’re seeing is a one pound roll of breakfast sausage that I cooked up, then tossed in diced apples and craisins.  Blueberries are a wonderful addition as well.  Again, the sky’s the limit!

 

IMG_3419

 

I got a beautiful bag of crusty rolls that were marked down (frugal!)  French toast is always better with sturdier breads or stale bread. When I made this for Thanksgiving breakfast I found a couple of beautiful sourdough loaves that were just wonderful.  

I love this dish for holidays.  You do so much cooking on the holiday that it’s not a good day to skip breakfast but you don’t want to cook anymore than you have to.  I made this the night before, covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.  When we got up that morning, I put it in the oven and started my prep.  By the time breakfast was ready, it was time for a break anyway!

 

IMG_3422

 

If you’ve never had fresh ground nutmeg, you’re truly missing a treat.  What you’re seeing is a whole nutmeg.  They last pretty much forever and only don’t lose potency when they’re kept whole.  What you buy pre-ground at the store, isn’t nearly as flavorful or aromatic as fresh.  If you’re interested in getting one, Amazon has got a great selection to choose from.

 

IMG_3424

 

After I cubed the bread, I tossed it in with the sausage/fruit mixture.  In the blender I put the eggs, milk and everything else.  You’ll want to have soapy water in the sink to wash your hands when you’re done, truly the best way to mix this is with two hands so you can toss it well without mashing the bread.

You’ll want to mix/toss this a couple of times while letting it rest a few minutes in between so that the egg mixture can be completely absorbed by the bread.

 

IMG_3425

 

I used a 13×9″ glass baking pan and sprayed it with non-stick cooking spray before putting the mixture into the pan.  Then I gave it a quick spritz over the top and gave it a light sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before baking it at 350°F for an hour.

 

2014-07-18 17.15.49

 

Once it was completely cooled, I cut it into 12 pieces and put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet so that they weren’t touching.  Once they were firm and I knew they wouldn’t stick together, I put them all in a Ziploc bag and back in the freezer.   When I want a piece for breakfast, I take one out and put it in the microwave for a few minutes.

Everyone’s microwave is different, so play around with the times to see what works best in yours.  When you figure it out, write it on the bag.  If you find you’re getting hard spots when you reheat it, you can prevent that by putting a cup of water in the microwave along with the slice of casserole that you’re reheating.

As I said, your only limit is your imagination.  The only “rule” for a strata is the egg/milk mixture, the bread and how it’s baked.  You can make it sweet or savory.  Consider things like ham, swiss and spinach or bacon, turkey, broccoli and cheddar cheese.

Remember that you can make this as frugal as you want also!  This is a great use for leftover veggies or fruits, leftover meats, etc. along with bread store and mark down rack finds!

And don’t forget, it takes virtually the same time to make two as it does one.  So make two and have one for dinner and portion the other one for easy meals on the go!

I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe when you try it and let me know what variations you come up with so please post a comment!
{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


Leave a comment

Thanks for Reading

Grr Arg

 

I have reached my one year anniversary as a blogger and it’s been a really great year.  I’ve moved out-of-state to my new home at Creekside manner and I’ve loved the friends I’ve made both in person and online.

For those of you who haven’t been following me long, my health issues have been getting worse and so I’m having to pick and choose what and where I spend my energy.  This blog posts to my domain, Tumblr, Google+, Facebook and Twitter and I have additional posts going out through the day on Facebook and Twitter.

While my blog is my voice, it has not turned into a financial resource that I’d hoped it would become.  I will continue to write and post occasionally but I will be cutting my Facebook and Twitter feeds down to new posts only.  It is my hope that I can then work on other projects and to supplement the dwindling income from my “day job” due to my waning health.  I aspire to eventually be able to publish a book, as well as a cookbook, sell a few articles and possibly a few paintings and will chronicle it here as I go along.

I thank you all for your support and staying with me.  I look forward to sharing future posts and reading your comments as time goes on, and as always…

 

{{{hugs}}}

 

Maggie


Leave a comment

All Natural Wasp Remover

As most of you who follow me know, I have COPD which is why I’m so passionate about non-chemical ways to do things. Fumes are not my friend.  My sister was a severe asthmatic from birth so we’ve always been mindful about toxins and fumes.

Then today in my email I found a link for a DIY Wasp Remover and I followed it to a YouTube video and I’ve got to say… GENIOUS!

As soon as I go grocery shopping again I will get a big brown paper bag (another great reason to go to Aldi) so I can put this on the front porch where we’ve been getting wasps!

It’s frugal, it’s non-toxic, you don’t have to worry about kids and pets being around chemicals; and you don’t have to worry about getting stung while trying to spray a can of poison!  And no worries about asthma attacks or COPD exacerbation either!

 

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


4 Comments

Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop to Drink

“It’s easier to get free wi-fi than it is to get free water and people act like there’s nothing wrong with the world”. – Fidel Littlelight
Homeless - bottle of wather

Rick Wood gives food and water to a homeless man near his tent under an overpass near downtown Birmingham, Saturday, March 29, 2014. (abc3340.com)

Water has turned into a huge commodity. As a former retailer I can tell you that water is one of the most profit bearing items in a store.  I used to be able to get cases of water for less than $2 each (making the cost of each bottle roughly 9¢ a piece) and the suggested retail price was 99¢.  That’s a heck of a margin huh?  

In fact, have you seen a water fountain recently? Probably not.  Usually only in schools and hospitals anymore, with an occasional sighting at an office building (leftovers from days gone by).  They’re getting harder to find, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re homeless.  Where do you get a drink of water?

I understand that even if it’s within your means, many people are not comfortable handing cash to the person with the sign at the intersection and I don’t disagree.  Sadly there are scammers out there and there is no way to determine who is legit and who just figure it’s a great way to make a buck.

Shortly after I stopped living in a shelter I was back living with my parents.  My mom needed to go for a therapy appointment due to an injury, so I dropped her off and used her truck to go grocery shopping.  When I got back, there was a man in the parking lot begging for money from everyone he could find talking about how he, his wife and child were now living on the streets and hungry.  When he approached me, I let him know that I had no money but that I had just gotten done grocery shopping and walked him to the back of the truck asking if he had the means to cook and started pulling out groceries for him.  He thanked me and turned down my offering of food, then proceeded to go skittering off to the fast food drive thru next door to return to his quest for cash.

Please do not take what I’ve said as a reason to never help someone with a sign.  There are many, many needy people who need our help and cities and municipalities are really aiming to put the homeless population out of sight and out of mind.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to read my piece on the homelessness – Insights into the Dark  – I would ask you to check it out when you have a chance.

16-oz-water

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to challenge everyone who reads this to buy a case of bottled water. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just whatever you can find at the best price, and keep it in a cooler with a little ice. As you’re driving around town doing errands and you see someone with a sign, sleeping on a piece of cardboard or a park bench or under an overpass – offer them a bottle of water.  It’s a small kindness that goes an incredibly long way.

I think a case of water at Wal-Mart is around $3.50 and at CVS you can catch it on sale for $2.  While you may not be willing to hand someone cash, offering them a bottle of water that cost you 9¢-15¢, that would cost them a dollar or more at the nearest shop is a huge help.  Can you think of any other way to help that many people for under four dollars? 

It’s a frugal way to help and it’s a great way to help your fellow-man.  Thanks for listening.  

{{{hugs}}}

Maggie


Leave a comment

Powerhouse Breakfast Cookies

When you don’t have time to make breakfast or need an afternoon snack to keep you going, these are the way to go.  No chemical preservative and are also amazing crumbled up with some vanilla yogurt!

Powerhouse Breakfast cookies

Powerhouse Breakfast Cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups quick oats (they are finer cut and more powdery)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups Peanut, Almond or Sunflower seed butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • 3 Bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 dried cranberries or raisins (or both)
  • 1/3 Chocolate or carob chips

Mix all ingredients together. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or parchment paper.  Flatten the tops slightly as these cookies do not rise or spread when they bake.

Bake at 325 degrees for 15-16 minutes or until slightly browned. Cool completely and store in an airtight container or freeze in a freezer bag.

Back to School Tips & Tricks at Lunchtime

Everyday a mountain of trash is needlessly thrown away at lunchtime, creating environmental problems, health hazards and wasting hundreds of dollars for every family packing a lunch. School trash cans nationwide are overflowing!

Have you thought about going green at lunchtime? ECOlunchbox is an elegant solution to this problem of lunch waste.

With news about the health dangers of plastics growing, green consumers are seeking out non-plastic food containers as well as generally avoiding potentially leachy synthetics when it comes to food packing.

Plastic water bottles. Granola bar plastic packaging. Plastic chip baggies. Plasticized cardboard juice boxes. Cheese stick plastic wrappers. Paper napkins. Plastic yogurt cups. Brown bags. Plastic utensils. Plastic Ziploc baggies.

How to Pack A Waste-Free Lunch:

  1. Cloth napkins by ECOlunchbox are great for everyday and make great gifts
  2. Snacks packed in nifty stainless steel ECOdippers and ECOpods by ECOlunchbox are healthy for people and our planet.
  3. Sandwiches, and other main dishes, fresh fruits and, fresh vegetables, and treats packed in a non-toxic & reusable stainless steel ECOlunchbox bento
  4. Reusable utensils are also great.


5 Comments

Why Is The Internet So Personal?

Why do people see something that someone writes and assume it applies to them or go out of their way to apply it to themselves?

Kindness

I’m seriously perplexed about this one.  I’m finding more and more that people seem to find everything as an insult and they go out of their way to find it!  Do you have any guesses?  I know I don’t.

I found this funny video (below) that was shared to a blog for “mommies”.  The person making the video intended it to be a tongue in cheek explanation to their single childless friends as to why she couldn’t just pop out for dinner or coffee like they used to.  Since she put it on YouTube it’s gone viral.  Even though my own daughter is now 23 years old, I still “remember when” and found it not only funny but relevant.  I’ve known even recent friendships that have gone awry because of this very thing.  Lives take on different paths, it happens.

Anyway, it’s a funny look at an overwhelming “Mommy day”.  Comments I saw were outrageous!  People commenting about how if you can’t handle your kids you should get rid of them!  Comments about how the video was “a stab in the heart” to women who can’t have kids.  Comments expressing the resentment of how pregnancy and babies are treated as celebrities in this country. Even comments disparaging the parenting & organizational skills of the woman who made the video!

I don’t understand this.  Why the need for personal attacks?  I know I’m using this as an example, but I think we’ve all seen behavior like this all over on practically every subject so it’s not exclusive.  As far as this example, why go to a site that you’re clearly not interested in or represented by only to be offended because the content somehow makes you feel challenged about your personal life choices?  I don’t know about you but I don’t have to look to find negativity in life, I work to avoid it.

I’m at a loss as to why we can’t just say “I enjoyed that” or just close the page and move on.  If there is the need to post opposing comments, why do they have to be personal attacks?  Why can’t we be nice anymore?  As a nation we’re now regularly talking to kids about bullying on a regular basis, but I don’t see much difference in some of this behavior.  I’m also going to say that going out of ones way to be offended is not being very kind to yourself.  Why would you work to put yourself through that?

Kind to yourself and others

As a blogger, I do hope you enjoy what I write about my life, my experiences, feelings, etc…  I hope we connect and find common ground and can share ideas.  I look forward to comments and suggestions and I must say, I have had some really great feedback. Thank you all so much.

At the same time, if you don’t enjoy what I write, that’s okay too.  I don’t like all blogs or all authors.  It would be foolish to think that everyone who reads what I put out here will fall in love with it.  Even Hemingway was a love him or hate him type of writer.  If you read one of his books and don’t care for it, it would make sense not to read another.  You wouldn’t blast him with letters telling him how badly he sucks as a human being.  (Well he’s dead so I really don’t think he’d get offended, but you get the idea.)

I read a blog post just yesterday from a woman (aptly signed Mama Bear) that was an eye opener.  She’s a single mom whose son works part-time at the local grocery store.  When she picked him up from work she asked how his day went.  He began to tell her how he had a great day, that is until some woman came through his check out line and made a point of letting him know how she noticed his acne… not a passing comment mind you; rather a very pointed, one-sided conversation – all so she could hand him her business card for her skin care products!  While she may have meant well, she pushed so hard for the sale that she never considered putting a teen into a very self-conscious, awkward position as you continued to point out his personal flaws in front of other customers and co-workers.  How considerate!

Just today a friend on Facebook  expressed frustration with someone who had posted something rather controversial. Instead of the original poster defending their position or simply saying “my wall, my views”, the poster chose to mock those that responded with views that countered her own and then deleted them as friends.  Why bait people?  If you don’t want to befriend people of opposing viewpoints then don’t.  Face it, we all know which friends are “with us” on certain topics and who will debate.  If you don’t want to hear from them, why not just say so or unfriend them.  Why make it such and antagonistic event?  I really don’t get it.

So here’s to being nice and to thinking of others before we speak.  I wish you the best in your day and your endeavors.  I support your right to your personal decisions and I hope you have found peace with them.  I hope the happiness you find in your daily life spills over to support and raise up others.  If you’re unhappy, reach out.  We should all be here to help, not to tear others down.

If you need to talk, message me.  No seriously, I’m always happy to lend an ear and to make new connections. Please don’t tear others down.  We’re all humans dealing with pain, challenges and difficulty and we all deserve to be supported and happy.

{{{hugs}}}
Maggie

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 479 other followers