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French Toast Casserole and Peachy Bacon-Wrapped Sausages

I have been so busy that I’ve posted very few recipes lately. I actually fixed this brunch during the summer, but to me, the best brunch seasons are spring and fall. And while fall doesn’t officially begin for a couple more weeks – once the calendar flips to September – my heart belongs to autumn. Now that our new “coffee deck” has been installed, I look forward to having friends and family gathered around our big, sturdy table for a hearty brunch then taking mugs of steaming coffee outside to sit and chat under a glowing canopy of autumn leaves warmed by a benevolent late morning sun.

This is a great make ahead breakfast casserole, and the fresh fruit and the sausages may be prepared the night before, too.

French Toast Casserole

Ingredients:
1 – 2 loaves cinnamon bread
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
¾ cup pure maple syrup, divided
10 eggs, beaten
3 cups half & half
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Confectioner’s sugar
Fresh fruit in season, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and sliced peaches

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 15x10-inch glass baking dish.
Tear cinnamon bread into pieces and arrange in prepared pan. 
Blend eggs, half & half and ½ cup maple syrup. Set aside. 
Mix cream cheese, butter and remaining ¼ cup maple syrup until smooth. Spread over bread pieces. Pour egg mixture over bread. Concentrate on the outside, as the egg mixture tends to pool in the middle of the pan. Using the back of a large spoon, press bread down into egg mixture. Sprinkle with cinnamon and granulated sugar. 
Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Uncover and bake casserole 50 – 55 minutes, or longer if necessary. To serve, cut into squares, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and top with fresh fruit. Serve with extra butter and lightly warmed maple syrup. 

Peachy Bacon-Wrapped Sausages

Ingredients: 
2 packages “smoky-style” breakfast links
1-pound package regular cut bacon
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Dash or two cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons peach preserves
2 tablespoons honey

Directions:
Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Combine brown sugar with spices; set aside. Cut each bacon slice horizontally in thirds. Wrap each breakfast link with a piece of sliced bacon and arrange on baking sheet with ends tucked underneath. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over links. Place peach preserves in a one-cup glass measuring cup and warm in microwave for 20 – 30 seconds, stir in honey and drizzled over sausages. At this point, they may be covered and refrigerated until the next morning.

When ready to prepare, uncover and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes.

 Peachy Bacon-Wrapped Sausages

Peachy Bacon-Wrapped Sausages

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