Fox Valley Cooks: Sharon Nelson shares French toast recipe
By Judy Buchenot For The Beacon-News January 16, 2013 3:54PM
Sharon Nelson takes her Baked French Toast out of the oven to serve to her friends who have joined her for breakfast.
Baked French Toast
8 to 9 ounces day old French bread (half of a one pound loaf)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup flour
12 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries.
Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Slice bread diagonally into one-inch thick slices. Place in baking dish. Lightly beat eggs, sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk until well blended. Pour over bread, turning slices to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in softened butter until mixture forms soft crumbs. Turn bread over. Scatter blueberries over bread. Sprinkle on crumb mixture. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to stand five minutes. Sprinkle strawberries over mixture, cut into squares and serve.
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:21PM
Having lunch together has been the longtime standard for meeting with friends. But for Aurora resident Sharon Nelson, she prefers breakfast gatherings.
“We try to meet for breakfast once a month. Breakfast is nice because then we can go to work or get other things done the rest of the day,” says Nelson, 69.
Nelson frequently has guests at her house.
“I look for ways to entertain that I can do ahead so I can have fun with my guests,” Nelson says.
For many years, Nelson and her husband hosted backyard pig roasts on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Nelson had a professional handle on roasting and carving the pig and asked guests to bring a dish to pass. One year they had more than a 100 guests for the event.
Another one of her favorite ways to visit with friends is to host a chili dump.
“I ask each person to bring 1 or 2 cups of chili. Then we mix all the chili together. I make a salad and a dessert. It makes for a nice meal together.”
The chili dump has allowed her to try interesting chili variations, including chili made with corn and garbanzo beans.
Entertaining friends is just one of Nelson’s many interests. She is a Creative Memories consultant and supplier, and enjoys all aspects of scrapbooking. She and her husband also enjoy traveling and going on cruises. She makes a scrapbook for each trip and already has the book finished from their November cruise.
Entering sweepstakes is another one of Nelson’s hobbies. She spends about two hours each day entering contests and attends an annual sweepstake convention.
“I have won hundreds of prizes over the past 20 years,” she says. “I send out an average of 10 entries a day. The year my husband retired, I won three trips.”
She has won trips to see the World Cup in Germany, to Maui and to China.
With so many interests, Nelson tries not to spend too many hours in the kitchen. She looks for recipes that can be made in advance like her Baked French Toast.
“It is a great recipe because I can put it together the night before and bake it in the morning,” she says.
The recipe uses half a loaf of day-old French bread. Sharon prefers the larger loaf instead of the baguette style. She serves the baked French toast with fresh fruits, juices and coffee for a simple and delicious breakfast.
She encourages others to invite over a few friends and try her French toast recipe for a friendly get together.
Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact
columnist Judy Buchenot at