Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Short Staycation and My Version of The Original Pancake House's Cinnamon Almond French Toast

I've been a bit lax about posting this past week due to a mini staycation that I've been enjoying.   You see about every year at this time my step-mom stops in for her yearly visit.  I love every minute of the time we get to spend together and wouldn't dream of interrupting it by doing anything that remotely resembles work of any kind.

I'd like to at least be able to post about the wonderful meals I cooked for her, but unfortunately that's just not going to happen.  When she first arrived I cooked a couple of simple meals, welcoming her into our home, but as the days rolled by and I thought her sufficiently impressed, we started eating out more and more. Nothing fancy mind you, just whatever we felt like and happened to be close by as we shopped and hung out.

The week flew by and it was over before we knew it, but we saved her last day to do a serious TJ Maxx roundup.  We have some pretty great stores in my part of Denver and I'm a bit more than sure that in addition to seeing me and the grand kids, they are a big reason that she flies up here.  She just might be the original "Maxxinista".

Just so we wouldn't be distracted by hunger pangs, we stopped by my favorite breakfast place, The Original Pancake House, for a bite before we hit the sale racks.  All I can say about our meal was that it was a testament to the old saying that it is the simple things in life that count. Thank goodness after building up their French toast to her, we were not disappointed.  It was so hot, crispy and delicious that I knew I'd have to head home and figure out the recipe so I could share it here with you.

So now that the party is over, rested and refreshed, I got back in the kitchen and started creating once again.  Thank goodness my maiden voyage back into the kitchen was a complete success and I was able to get pretty darn close to the taste of that original dish.  So if like my mom, you don't have one of these restaurants anywhere near you, you can still share this really special meal with those you love too.

Cinnamon Almond French Toast

3 tablespoons powdered (or superfine) sugar
About 1/4  - 1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2/3 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoons light olive or vegetable oil
2 - 3 tablespoons butter
8 slices bread (thick sandwich sliced or French Bread)

Combine the powdered sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside until ready to use.

In a medium size shallow bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, vanilla extract and almond extract. Pour the almonds into a plate, spreading out to a thin layer that is big enough to cover the surface of the bread.

Prepare a medium size frying pan by pouring in a tablespoon of oil and a tablespoon of butter and preheating it over a medium high heat.  You will need to add the remaining oil and butter a bit at a time as you fry batches of the remaining bread.

Taking one slice of bread at a time, quickly dip each side of each slice of bread into the egg mixture. Then coat one side of the bread in the sliced almonds by gently setting it on top of the almonds on the plate and lightly pressing it.

Immediately place prepared bread into the preheated frying pan (bread should sizzle as you place it into the pan). Cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side or until it is golden brown, carefully turning it so that you don't knock off the almond coating.  Remove from the pan and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

Serves 4 - 8

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