Banana Bread French Toast with Mashed Potato Pancakes

Growing up, we HATED eating up the leftovers from the previous night's dinner. Now in part, this is due to the fact that neither my sister nor I could cook all that well at the time--it was enough to get through the meal the first time, let alone face it twice. Of course, had I known that you could make the recipes I am about to share with you, we would have skipped the original meal altogether!

First, I had a few remaining pieces of Sarah's Banana Bread leftover from about a week and a half ago. As you can well imagine, the bread was starting to get a bit stale--so, I decided to make some banana bread french toast! To make this, you will need the following ingredients:

-Stale banana bread (week old or so)--sliced 
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-Splash of milk
-Pinch of salt
-1 tablespoon of sugar
-1 teaspoon of cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
-1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
-1 tablespoon butter

First, mix all ingredients except for the butter and banana bread in a shallow dish (I used a pie tin). Place the slices of banana bread face down in the egg mixture and allow to sit for 3-5 minutes. This will give the bread some time to soak in the egg mixture. Flip the bread over and allow the other side to soak in the mixture for about three minutes as well. In the mean time, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Finally, place the slices of banana bread into the skillet. Let them sit for 2-3 minutes, and when they are lightly browned on one side, flip the slices over. Cook for an additional minute or two, until the opposite side is brown. See below:

 When both sides are browned, remove from the skillet and plate!

Mmmm...buttery, eggy, banana-y goodness! Serve with powdered sugar. You can choose to use syrup, but between the bananas, chocolate chips, and sugar, this dish is already pretty sweet. My husband was not a huge fan (as I mentioned in the banana bread blog entry, he likes banana bread--just not bananas). According to him, "It was too banana-y; [the french toast] accentuated the banana-ness." I will take that as a compliment!

The final, delicious leftover is pictured below with two cheesy, mashed potato pancakes, which I will explain next:

Now onto the potato pancakes! I found the idea for these watching a Rachel Ray show and checked out the recipe online. I usually read through the comments at the bottom of any recipe (people often comment about their challenges while making the recipe and ways to improve upon it), and the comments on this one left me a bit apprehensive. Most of the posters struggled with the potato pancakes falling apart, just staying mushy and not solidifying, etc. and, having failed to make a tasty boxty (an Irish potato pancake) in the past, I was worried I was going to waste my time and potatoes this morning. However, I am proud to say (and my Irish ancestors should be as well), that I made AWESOME potato pancakes this morning. And soon, you will too.

A quick word on this recipe: these are not traditional potato pancakes. They are not made from shredded potatoes destined from the start to become potato pancakes, and they have no flour. Otherwise, they are potatoes, cake-shaped, and made in a pan, so they still count! Here is what you need:

-2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes (I used my pierogi filling extras from an earlier blog entry)
-1 egg
-1 tablespoon butter

That's seriously it. How easy, right?

First, mix together your mashed potatoes and egg. You ideally want to use leftover mashed potatoes, because you want them to be cold and a bit stiff for the recipe. Freshly-cooked potatoes are fine too, just give them some time to cool off in the refrigerator before you use them.

Next, melt your butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using a large spoon, gather up a heaping spoon's worth of mashed potatoes and drop them in the skillet. Flatten the potatoes into a potato patty about an inch thick, then repeat for another two patties (or as many as will fill your skillet, if you chose to make yours smaller). I was able to get 5 potato pancakes (about 3-4 inches in diameter) total out of my mashed potato/egg mixture.

See? They just look like little heaps of mashed potatoes:

Here is the key to perfect mashed potato pancakes: once they are flattened, put the lid on your skillet and leave them alone for 8 minutes. I am not kidding on this. Do NOT NOT NOT try to move them at all during those 8 minutes. Read my blog, facebook stalk someone, reflect on the mysteries of life, but leave the pancakes alone! If you try to move them before the 8 minutes are up, they will not be able to crust up on the bottom and become pancake-y, and you will have a weird, half-pancake/half-mashed potato combo that will not impress anyone. So leave them be.

Once the 8 minutes are up, however, get a spatula and carefully flip the mashed potato pancakes over. Note that the top and middle of the cake are all still mashed potato, however--and, hence, not solid yet--and set the pancakes back into the skillet carefully to cook the other side. I stupidly forgot to check the time once I flipped them back over, but I know they cooked for at least 6 minutes on the other side too. This is how the potato pancakes should look after the flip--just look at that color!

If you want to cook your pancakes in several batches, or just have several dishes to make, you can always keep these warm in the oven (I technically made these and then went back and made the french toast). Just preheat your oven to 200 degrees and place your pancakes on a rack so that the air can circulate around them (keeping them crisp and not soggy).

When you're ready to eat, plate them and serve with a little side of sour cream or applesauce. My husband wasn't a fan of the french toast, but he did eat three of these and loved them. So give them a try, and remember that you CAN enjoy your leftovers!

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