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Recipe of the Week: Crunchy French toast sticks from Ree Drummond

Everyone’s favorite Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond published her fifth cookbook this year, “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!: Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives” (William Morrow, $29.99), where she shares recipes for her favorite quick, easy and make-ahead dishes.

These crunchy French toast sticks freeze so well that she uses a dozen slices of Texas toast when she makes each batch. You could make a smaller quantity for a fun Christmas breakfast or double the recipe to freeze for on-the-go breakfasts in January.

Crunchy French Toast Sticks

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand (actually, I’m sitting at my desk) before you now with irrefutable (actually, it’s probably somewhat subjective) evidence that these crispy, crunchy, bake-as-needed French toast sticks (actually, they’re slabs) are the Drummond children’s current favorite thing in our freezer. The best thing about them (the French toast sticks, not the children) is that they’re always ready to go in the oven and bake at a moment’s notice. They’re technically for breakfast, but I’ve seen them pass as lunch, dinner and snacks as well. (Once you coat French toast in Cap’n Crunch, the rules are pretty much out the window.) — Ree Drummond

12 slices Texas toast

6 large eggs

1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 1/2 cups Cap’n Crunch cereal, crushed to fine crumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Powdered sugar, for serving

Warm maple (or pancake) syrup, for serving

Fresh fruit, for serving

Cut the slices of Texas toast into three strips each.

Crack the eggs into a pie plate and add the half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the sugar, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Whisk lightly until combined and set aside.

In a separate pie plate, stir together the breadcrumbs, crushed cereal and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Use a fork to stir in the melted butter, so that the crumbs are slightly moist. Crack up at the madness that is in this dish, then set it aside.

One by one, quickly dunk the bread strips in the egg mixture, turning them to coat. Then lay them in the dish with the crumbs and crushed cereal, turning them over, sprinkling and pressing so the crumbs totally cover the surface.

Place the sticks on a rack set in a baking sheet. Flash freeze for 30 minutes to set the surface, then transfer to plastic zipper bags for storage in the freezer. I do smaller bags of 6 to 8 sticks each, but you can do larger batches if you prefer.

To bake them from a frozen state, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake on a rack set over a baking sheet until golden brown around the edges, 15 to 18 minutes. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and serve with warm syrup for dipping and fruit to make you feel good about life! Makes 36 sticks.

— From “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!: Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives” by Ree Drummond (William Morrow, $29.99)

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