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Archive for July 27th, 2008

Orange Pecan French Toast

Orange Pecan French Toast

I love breakfast.  Just about any breakfast food will grab my attention and make me stop whatever I’m doing so I can dig in. Hot breakfasts particularly.  Sweet, savory, it doesn’t really matter.  If it makes up that wonderful food group known as breakfast, I’m in.

I had recent occasion to prepare breakfast for a small group, but my time was very limited.  We had to be on the go fairly early in the morning, so I wasn’t going to have time to prep and cook the same morning.  I thought about a variety of prepare ahead breakfast dishes, but I wanted to try something I hadn’t done before.

Searching through my archives of many, many unused recipes I’ve collected from recipe and blog sites.  I had a collection of recipes filed as Breakfast Casseroles, so I drilled down deeper.  I was thinking about a savory type casserole – something with hash browns, eggs, cheese and some kind of meat, but I had made that recently and it didn’t fit my desire for something different.  Then, I happened across a group of recipes that I’d forgotten about – Baked French Toast.  I must have at least 10 different recipes for some kind of Baked French Toast.  There are a number of variations of this recipe, including some that are really more like a baked bread pudding, all of which looked mighty tempting.  As I perused the virtual stack of culinary deliciousness, my eyes locked on one I had picked up from Allrecipes.com some time back. 

Now, I can sometimes be an Allrecipes.com junkie.  There are quite a few good recipe sites out there, and some even more amazing foodie blogs, but Allrecipes is definitely in the top 10 as my go to source for recipes.  What I like best about Allrecipes, besides the very large database of recipes, the great photos that often get posted, the good looking and easy to navigate site and the nice printing options, are the reviews and ratings from readers.  While I can usually find reviews and ratings on other sites, Allrecipes consistently seems to get loads of good feedback from people who have tried and modified the recipes.  Some of these recipes have hundreds of reviews from folks that have taken the time to give their suggestions on how to tweak a recipe to make a good recipe great or a bad recipe better.  That feedback helped me to make my choice:  Orange Pecan French Toast

Rated 5 out of 5 stars, it just sounded (and looked) too good to pass up.  I read at least half of the 60+ reviews to get some ideas on how or how not to modify the recipe.  In the end, I decided to stick pretty close to the original.  I used thick cut french bread from the bakery aisle that did not have a crunch crust.  I added more pecans than noted, mostly because I like pecans and I happened to have quite a bit on hand.  I also used 5 whole eggs instead of 2 whole eggs and 3 egg whites as another reader suggested it and I didn’t have any use for 3 egg yolks in the near future.  I whipped up this easy recipe and put it in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, I tossed it in the oven, and voila – out came a masterful piece of oooey-gooey uber-sweet nutty and hearty French toast. 

Actually, it’s really a bit more like a sweet roll than French toast.  That’s okay, once I got a taste, I could have eaten the whole pan – but that wouldn’t have been fair to anyone else (can’t say it didn’t cross my mind though….).  This stuff is awesome.  Seriously.  You need to make this – people will thank you.  Significant others will kiss you.  Non-significant others will kiss you.  Strangers on the street will kiss you.  On second thought, don’t make this, you’ll just be mad at me for getting you addicted to this little slice of breakfast ‘crack’.  Want to live on the edge (of breakfast)??  Here’s the recipe, you’ve been warned.  (BTW, I hope the folks that host ‘Sugar High Friday’s’ don’t mind my nod to the name of their event.)

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Cape Mears Lighthouse

Cape Mears Lighthouse

Since the name of this blog is ‘Baking in Oregon’, I thought it would be a good idea, from time to time, to talk a bit about my home state.  I was born here, have grown up here, and will probably spend the rest of my life here.  I’ve traveled a bit, and seen some very beautiful places around North America, but when it all comes down to it, I love Oregon.  I’ve been excited to see visitors to my little blog from all over the world.  To those of you returning for a visit and to those visiting for the first time – welcome, I’m glad to have you stop by.

Looking North Near Cape Mears Lighthouse

Looking North Near Cape Mears Lighthouse

For the benefit of those outside of the United States and who those may not be familiar with the location of Oregon, we are on the west coast of the United States, immediately north of California and immediately south of Washington State.  We refer to our region as the ‘Northwest’, a term you’ll probably see me use from time to time, a term which typically includes Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. 

Before we get too far, let me start by saying that ‘Oregon’ is pronounced ‘or-eh-gun’, not ‘or-y-gun’ or ‘or-y-gon’ as it is sometimes heard from non-Oregonians.  I thought I would highlight a few key things about Oregon for those who may not know much about us here.  For this post, I’m focusing on one of my favorite areas, the Oregon Coast. 

The Oregon Coast is far too big a topic to cover in one post, so I just want to give a little summary of what you’ll find, along with a few photos I’ve taken.  You can find a variety of different types of features on the Oregon Coast.  The Oregon Coast stretches 362 miles, from the northern tip of California to the Columbia River (which separates Oregon from Washington).  Along the coastline you’ll find sandy beaches, rocky cliffs towering 100′ above the surf, low level wetlands and estuaries, and massive sand dunes.  You can find just about anything on our coastline.  Old growth forests line much of the coast.  Thankfully, those who came before us had the foresight to protect much of this land.  In 1913, the State Legislature passed a law leaving our coastline as public land, accessible by anyone, anywhere, anytime as well as placing restrictions on development.  While a small amount of coastal land is privately owned (ownership that occurred prior to 1913), the rest remains public land, a ruling which was upheld by the Beach Bill of 1967.  Only Hawaii provides as much protection of public beaches as does Oregon.

The towns that dot the coast host a vast array of shops and attractions from wineries, seafood restaurants (clam chowder and salmon being two foods we’re well known for here), bakeries, sweet shops (saltwater taffy, fudge, chocolates and ice cream), knick-knack shops, art galleries, kite shops, clothing stores, aquariums, museums, arcades and many others.  For activities, you can try your hand at deep sea fishing, camping, hiking, sailing, horseback riding, golfing (Bandon Dunes is rated as one of the top 50 golf courses in the world), mountain biking, motorcycling (touring and off-road), swimming, surfing, beachcombing, scuba diving, dune buggy riding, climbing, bird watching, historical tours and even sun-bathing (okay, maybe not year-round, but definitely in the summer time).

You won’t find any large cities on the Oregon Coast, which gives it a more ‘rustic’ feel.  There are some cities and towns (populations up to 4,000 to 10,000) that cater to the tourist trade, but sometimes the little places in-between can be some of the most interesting.  You can reach the entire coast along Highway 101, which extends the entire length of the coast.  NPR called the tourist traffic on Highway 101 the worst in the United States.  I don’t know about that, but I can say you won’t be using Highway 101 to make ‘good time’.

There is something very peaceful about the Oregon Coast.  At less than 2 hours from downtown Portland, it’s an easy day trip, but it’s isolated enough to feel like you’ve really gotten away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  When I want to relax, it’s my first destination of choice.

I’ve included some photos I’ve taken of Cape Mears Lighthouse and the surrounding area.  The Oregon Coast has 7 Lighthouses spread across its length.  I love photography, and lighthouses, for whatever reason, are one

Looking South Near Cape Mears Lighthouse

Looking South Near Cape Mears Lighthouse

 of my favorite subjects.  The lighthouse you see here is located just 20 minutes outside of Tillamook, OR (have you ever had Tillamook Ice Cream or Cheese, that’s where it’s made) it’s an easy drive off Highway 101 along the Three Capes Loop.  It’s the shortest lighthouse on the Oregon Coast at just 38 feet tall, which isn’t a problem as the lighthouse is located 217 feet above the Pacific Ocean on a rocky cliff.  The location of the lighthouse is a State Park and is a great place to get some photos or relax for a nice picnic.  The walk down to the lighthouse from the parking area is short and paved, but quite steep, so be prepared for a little work on the return trip.  I took a series of photos this day as a storm front moved right past me (because of the questionable weather, I was the only one there at the time – big loss for everyone who didn’t see what I saw that day – beautiful).  I’ve placed 2nd and 3rd in two different photo contests with photos from the series of shots I made that day.

If you’ve enjoyed this post on Oregon, please leave a comment, I’d like to know what you think.  I’ve got plans for more ‘…in Oregon’ posts, so your feedback will be helpful.

Another Shot Looking South

Another Shot Looking South

Silouhette Near Tillamook Bay

Silouhette Near Tillamook Bay

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