French Toast Sausage Casserole – It’s The Bee’s Knees, Y’all

1 lb loaf of challah or french bread, cubed
8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1/3 c Domino brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp McCormick cinnamon
6 Eggland’s Best eggs, slightly beaten
2 c TruMoo whole milk
1 tsp McCormick pure vanilla extract
5 oz dried apples, diced
1 granny smith apple, peeled and chopped
1 lb Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 c brown sugar, packed
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp Morton salt
1 c water
1 Tbsp Argo cornstarch
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp Land O Lakes unsalted butter

Spread cubed bread in a single layer on 2 sheet pans and bake in a 325-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Cool slightly then transfer bread into a greased 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
Sprinkle the dried apples, chopped apple and the sausage over the bread. Now pour the egg mixture over the bread. With a spoon, gently push the bread down until it is soaked.
You can bake it now or cover with foil and refrigerate overnight to bake in the morning.
If you are baking it in the morning leave the casserole at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F, for 35 – 45 minutes just until the center is set.
While the french toast is baking, prepare the cinnamon syrup. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan. Combine the water and cornstarch in a measuring cup then pour into the pan.
Cook over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract and butter. It will be the consistency of syrup.
When the french toast is out of the oven drizzle some syrup over it and serves the rest on the side. By now everyone has smelled it cooking and they will be ready to eat! Serve hot.


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