I DON’T know if you can call something a tradition after only 2 years, but I’m going to go out on a limb: it’s now a tradition for my friend Marissa to come into Philly on New Year’s Eve and ring in the new year with me. We top it off by going to the Mummers Parade on January 1st, and it’s also tradition to have freezing toes and to retire before the string bands.
This year, we kicked off our celebration with dinner at Sahara Grill, both because of the meze option but also because we both hold the Lebanese in high regard. (The cheekbones! AUB! Our high school chemistry lab assistant!) I’m a big fan of the labneh, and you really can’t go wrong with the sampler platter. And the sandwiches, too, are worth it (I recommend either the lamb or the shish taouk); I’m definitely adding Sahara Grill to the take-out listing in my mental rolodex.
Afterwards, we joined up with friends and headed out to Brie’s South Philly party, whichoffered champagne as we watched the countdown at Times Square, drinking games, and even e-fortunes. (Sure, the fortunes were a little snarky, but that just encourages us to do better this year than last. Right?) As we staggered home, we congratulated each other on ringing in a new year in such a classy fashion.
So this morning, then, not wanting to lose the momentum of last night, I baked the french toast I had prepared yesterday afternoon. We figured a good meal to start us on our way was exactly what we needed, because if we learned one thing from last year’s Mummers Parade, it’s that we need stamina. Though the french toast was amazing, we still somehow failed on the stamina thing (could it have been the hangover? the cold temperatures? sheer sloth?). Regardless, we took ourselves off the stands right before the string bands started their performances, giving up prime real estate to go curl up on my couch and watch the live coverage.
I maintain, though, that the french toast served to motivate us and get us out the door. Armed with hand warmers and hats, we clapped and stamped our feet; Marissa snagged one of the free Turkey Hill Duetto samples, and we cheered for several floats and brigades. Ultimately, though, we ended up on the couch, wrapped in blankets and snoozing through commercials.
And there you have it. A new year, a new french toast recipe, and a new appreciation for Mummers.
Baked Blueberry French Toast
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 6 eggs
- 10 slices bread, cut into 1″ cubes
- 3 oz package cream cheese, diced (whipped cream cheese works just as well)
- 1 cup blueberries
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Grease a casserole dish (a 13×9″ is recommended, but I used a large Corningware one). In a large bowl, beat eggs, flour, milk, 2 tbsp sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in bread cubes until well coated, then pour into prepared dish.
Top evenly with the creame cheese cubes and blueberries. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and tbsp sugar. Toss to mix. Sprinkle over the blueberries and cream cheese. Cover the dish tightly and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
To bake: preheat oven to 400F. Uncover the casserole and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Enjoy with a fruit salad or side of breakfast sausage!