As much as I love holiday evening festivities (sparkly dresses, champagne, cheese plates!) I think I love holiday mornings even better. Family gathered around the kitchen, pj pants and fuzzy socks, nibbling on leftover desserts from the night before, filling up coffee cups one by one, planning the day ahead…yes, that’s my favorite.
Our holiday mornings traditionally involve a baked blueberry french toast. My mom or aunt will make it the night before, let it soak overnight, then pop it in the oven as everyone is coming downstairs in the morning. It’s one of the best smells to wake up to. I’m partial to the blueberry (I’m a sucker for traditions), but I also love this sweet pumpkin pecan version I made recently too. It’s a chinch to make so you won’t be spending whole a lot of extra time cooking (better spend that time watching movies with your cousins). I’m thinking this is perfect breakfast for the morning after Thanksgiving or Christmas…especially served up with a side of bacon and hot coffee.
Pumpkin Pecan French Toast
- 1 baguette, sliced
- 7 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg)
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 3-4 tablespoons brown sugar for topping
- 1 cup chopped pecans for topping
- Slice day-old baguette into 1-inch thick slices. Line a large baking dish with slices.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, pumpkin puree and spices until well combined. Pour mixture over bread and push down with your hands until it’s all soaked and mostly covered. Cover with saran wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees, uncover and top with brown sugar, additional cinnamon and pecans. Bake for about 40 minutes or golden brown and no longer wet. Serve immediately for breakfast or with a scoop of ice cream for dessert.
My weekend away in Vermont was just amazing. Jenna, Alejandra, and I escaped DC at the perfect time and took leaf peeping on as a full time job. What I loved about this weekend, or a weekend at home in New Jersey too, is how the simple world around you can make you feel so much. Every time we walked out of our hotel, I stopped, looked around at the mountains and stars and colorful trees, took a big soul-filling breath of fresh air (imagine doing that in the city?) and smiled. When the air smells and feels that good it moves you. But it’s just air…and that’s what makes it so special.
I felt this way about walking through a big pile of crunchy yellow leaves and sipping apple cider too. It’s the simple things. The simple tastes of fall that also warm your soul and remind you to stop for a minute or a weekend and just take life all in. There are beautiful things happening around you just because the days are getting shorter and cooler. Take it in.
So when I got home from Vermont and thought about my afternoon in the kitchen, I didn’t want to make anything elaborate. I wanted to celebrate the simplicity. So I made pumpkin bread (and a big pot of meatballs). It will be my breath of fresh fall air every morning this week. This recipe makes two loaves, but instead I made one normal size one and a few mini loaves. I want to share this feeling and taste of fall.
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg)
- 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper or grease with butter.
- In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, spices. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together pumpkin, vegetable oil, water, vanilla, sugar, and eggs until combined. Slowly add dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until fully combined.
- Pour into loaf pans and bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
I couldn’t agree more with this F. Scott Fitzgerald quote…we’re reborn in the fall. Cool air, warm colors, hilarious but infectious excitement over scarfs and boots and pumpkin. We just can’t help it. More fall inspiration and recipes coming soon! In the meantime, go outside with a scarf and read a book. (I could’t recommend The Fault in Our Stars more.) Soak up the season changing and take a minute to think about how you’re changing…even if it’s just your growing boot collection.
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Happy Friday, friends! Hope you had a great week. I’m so looking forward to this weekend…celebrating all things fall with a visit to a corn maze, sleeping in with the windows open, plaid and boots. I’m soaking up as much of it as I can before winter rolls in.
Oh, did you catch me over on the Washingtonian this week? I shared a few of my favorite work outfits including the cutest under $30 Target dress. I hope to have more photos to share with you next week!
Ok, so what are you doing this weekend? Pumpkin picking? Brunching? Baking this easy apple galette? Whatever you do, have a great one!