This past weekend, my cousin Dustin married his lovely bride Casey in their current hometown of Chattanooga, TN.
Above are us “3 Cousins” at the rehearsal dinner after a fabulous Italian feast given by my Uncle Danny & Aunt Lana at Alleia, a wonderful Italian restaurant in downtown Chattanooga. I might have eaten my weight in Bacon wrapped dates and grilled Romaine Salad, but that is a different story for a different day.
We had beautiful weather and beautiful company as all our family was together to celebrate the occasion.
Isn’t that just a dreamy photo?!?
Dustin & Casey were married at Cloudland Station, in Chickamauga, GA, just outside of Chattanooga.
The setting was just perfect complete with a big, beautiful barn, a knee-slapping bluegrass band, BBQ, and the best blackberry & peach cobblers for dessert.
Their cake was beautiful too, made by the bride’s cousin.
It’s so special when you can have your whole family together to celebrate such a momentous occasion in your life, and I know Dustin felt very loved and cherished.
And he is.
But, then on Sunday, we had another occasion to celebrate… my dad’s youngest brother, my Uncle Frank, or Uncle “Zook” as I nicknamed him years ago, turned 50!!! So, we had a family breakfast/brunch on Sunday morning before we all dispersed and headed home.
We had a little theme going… “the many faces of Frank!”
It was hysterical, and I wish I had more pictures to share, but I am not really known as the photographer in the family.
My part, as you might have guessed it, was something sweet. A baked good, perhaps. And I decided on an Easy Overnight French Toast Casserole.
Who doesn’t love this stuff?!?
Chewy, gooey, crunchy-topped, sugary, and oh so sweet & delicious! It was the perfect accompaniment to bacon, ham, fruit, and grits that morning to show Zook our love. All of his favorites on the table, and his favorites around the table too!
So, here is how I made it… I actually prepped everything the day before, before we all left for the wedding, and then poured on all the goodness the night before, let it all soak up and get gooey overnight and then baked it off fresh Sunday morning.
I love make ahead items. So perfect!
We then served it alongside some thick pats of softened butter, Maple syrup, and blueberry syrup if you were feeling a little rebellious.
Sometimes, that’s a good thing. A very good thing.
Easiest Overnight French Toast Bake
*Note: I made two 9×13 pans of this, since we had about 13-14 people, but this recipe is for one 9×13 recipe which would easily feed 7-8.
- 3 small French Baguettes, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds and ends trimmed off
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Confectioner’s sugar and Maple Syrup for serving
Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place bread slices evenly into the baking dish.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture evenly over the bread slices. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or, for best results, overnight.
Kind of press the bread slices down just a bit so that they soak up even more of that goodness.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the bread mixture into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on the top and a little bit crispy.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and served alongside warmed Maple Syrup, if desired.
But, let’s just face it… who wouldn’t want the drizzle of syrup too?!? It can’t hurt. I can tell you that much.
Happiest of happy birthdays Uncle Zook! We love you!
And on his 50th, he kayaked 9.5 miles on the Tennessee River…
Celebrate life, even when you don’t have a special occasion.
Life, in and of itself, and the people we share it with, is a special occasion.