Dear Jeanne: This is delicious, but it could use a little lightening. Can you help?
Jessica S., Springfield, Ohio
Dear Jessica: This can be a delicious special breakfast or a dessert. I added a few more berries to make it even better in every way. I used a frozen mixture of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. (Do not thaw first, as the juice will make the casserole all blue.) This makes it easy to make anytime.If you want to make this right away, you can let it sit and soak up the custard for as little as half an hour you don't have to leave it overnight. If you are using frozen fruit, do not allow it to sit overnight; also, it will take an extra 10-15 minutes to bake. Stale bread actually makes this better; if you have only fresh bread, let it dry or toast it first.
BLUEBERRY FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup butter
12 slices bread
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and half-and-half. Butter the bread and place 1/3 in bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan. Add 1/3 of the berries; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Pour 1/3 of the egg mixture over. Repeat layers two more times. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.Makes 8 servings.
LIGHTENED BLUEBERRY FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE
1 1/2 cups liquid egg substitute, or egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups 1 percent low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 slices high-fiber bread, cut into cubes
3 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg substitute or egg whites, beat and combine with the sugar. Add the milk and the vanilla, and mix well.
3. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar, and set aside.
4. Place 1/3 of the bread cubes on the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour 1/3 of the milk-and-egg mixture on top of the bread. Sprinkle bread cubes with 1 cup of the blueberries and 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar. Repeat layering 2 more times. Pour the melted butter over the top, covering as much of the surface as possible. You can prepare the dish up to this point as early as the night before, but at least half an hour before. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake it.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted halfway between the center and the edge comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let stand for about 10 minutes before cutting into 8 servings.
Makes 8 servings.Each serving contains approximately: Original Recipe: 527 calories; 22 gm fat; 236 mg cholesterol; 413 mg sodium; 70 gm carbohydrates; 12 gm protein; 3 gm fiber. Revised Recipe: 253 calories; 3 gm fat; 8 mg cholesterol; 203 mg sodium; 48 gm carbohydrates; 9 gm protein; 6 gm fiber.
Jeanne Jones is the author of 33 cookbooks, most recently "Cooking From the Cupboard" (Rodale Press). For more information, you can go to her Web site, jeannejones.com.
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