Thursday, January 3

French Toast Casserole & Owl Corner Returns!

Over Christmas, my mom and I decided to try a recipe that I had heard about from a co-worker for French toast casserole.  We thought it would be a great dish to serve on Christmas morning, but after looking at the recipe, we realized that we would have to tweak it a bit to fit our needs (the original recipe called for two "large" pans, and there were only four of us, so what were we going to do with the leftover one and a half pans??), and the resulting recipe is what you see below.  It's good, I think you'll like it!

½ loaf of Texas toast, torn into pieces
4 eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter (unsalted is preferred)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans (optional, we didn’t use)

Directions: Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (don't skip this step--we learned that the hard way).  Spread the bread pieces evenly in the pan, then mix together in a separate bowl the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  You could add more spices, or additional spices, if you would like here.  Pour this mixture over the bread, and toss the bread to coat the pieces.  Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and allow to sit in your refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, melt the butter, then mix in the brown sugar.  Pour this evenly over the bread mixture, and then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown on top.  You can also sprinkle more spices over the casserole before baking it for a little extra deliciousness.  Enjoy with butter and syrup, or my favorite way to eat French toast: peanut butter and syrup.  Soooo tasty!

Owl Corner 
Photo from Wikipedia
Today, we will learn about the Spectacled Owl.  The name pretty well describes its distinguishing characteristic: contrasting feathers around the eyes give this guy a distinguished, scholarly appearance.  One interesting fact about their appearance--the photo on the left shows an adult owl, but the juvenile owls are a photo negative as far as color goes: white head and black "spectacles".  It can take several years for a young owl to change appearance into adulthood.  The size of these owls is medium-large, measuring about 17"-18" fully grown.  These birds are considered anti-social, and prefer their alone time.  Their habitat ranges from parts of southern Mexico south into the northern half of South America, and also Costa Rica.  They are found in tropical rainforests and anywhere with trees, including savannahs and dry forests.  The females will lay a clutch of up to five eggs, but it is typical for only one of the chicks to survive into adulthood.  Those who do survive will prey on mice and small rodents, possum and skunk, as well as insects, spiders, caterpillars, and bats and birds, among other critters. 

I've done several owls for the Owl Corner, and now I'm considering branching out to other animals, namely different breeds of cats and dogs.  What do you think?

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