Fruit-stuffed french toast with hazelnut spread

Karel and I were set-up by mutual friends on a group bike ride in May 2006. I stood Karel up for a few weeks because I was really nervous to do the group ride so I kept making excuses as to why I couldn't meet him.

But on my 24th birthday (5/31), I decided it was time....not only would I meet Karel for the first time but I would face my fears and do the group ride.

After I said hello to Karel at the beginning of the ride, I felt a little less nervous but that good feeling didn't last long. I got dropped on the warm-up of the 3-mile loop course and I was so frustrated with my poor bike skills and a fitness level that wouldn't let me ride "fast" with everyone else. I had tears in my eyes as I was riding by myself on the other side of the road (in the opposite direction of the group) watching them go by and seeing Karel have so much fun attacking the group and pulling everyone along. I wanted so badly to be able to enjoy the ride with everyone else and I also thought Karel wouldn't like me because I wasn't a fast cyclist.

After the ride, a few of the riders always had food and beer at the Varsity Club restaurant across the stress from the bike course so I joined the group and had a chance to get to know Karel a bit more.

My friends were right...not only did he have a cute European accent but he was also fast, intelligent and super nice. What I noticed the most as we were dating was the Karel supported me as I was training for my first Ironman and he believed in me at times when I didn't believe in myself.

And wouldn't you know, I can now ride with Karel. Not only ride behind his wheel but I can now trade pulls with Karel without slowing him down. He is always challenging me to take my fitness and skills to a new level as an athlete and I am so happy we can make so many great memories together on our bikes. 

Thank you Karel for not letting me give up! You saw something in me that I never thought was possible. 

Every year since we met, I have always cooked breakfast for dinner on Valentine's Day. Or as you may like to call it, "brinner."

Fruit-stuffed french toast with hazelnut spread

This year I came up with the most delicious creation with the following ingredients. 

French bread baguette
Brie Cheese
Olive oil
Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (Justine's brand)

I know how much Karel loves hazelnut spreads (in Europe, peanut butter is not very popular) whereas I love peanut butter (Karel eats PB too - I introduced it to him when we were dating) so I choose a hazelnut spread because I knew it would make Karel super happy. I choose Justine's brand compared to Nutella because of the ingredients. 
This meal was for both me and Karel so I enjoy the same brinner, just in a slightly smaller portion to fit my needs (you can see the sizes of bread in the bellow pic - two slices for Karel, two slices for me. Similar foods just different portions for two different bodies.)

Justine's brand:
Dry Roasted Hazelnuts, Dry Roasted Almonds, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Cocoa, Organic Cocoa Butter, Palm Fruit Oil*, Natural Vanilla, Sea Salt.


1. Heat large skillet to low-medium heat. 

2. Slice baguette into sections (about 4-6 inches per person) and then slice in half. 
(you can use any bread that you'd like) or replace bread with a crepe or pita)

3. Drizzle a little olive oil to cover bottom of the pan. A few tsp should be enough.

4. In shallow bowl, scrambled eggs. 

5. Place the flat side (inside) of the baguette in the egg mixture and then immediately place on to the skillet (only dip one side, the inside). Repeat for all of your sections. 
While the bread is cooking, slice fruit. 

6. After letting the bread cook for a few minutes until golden brown, remove bread from skillet. 
(you can also make this sandwich without the egg and serve as a hazelnut and fruit sandwich)

7. Add eggs to skillet (may need a little more olive oil to prevent sticking) and scramble. Turn off heat when eggs are finished cooking to your liking. 

8. Add a light layer of hazelnut spread to the bread. 

9. Add a layer of strawberries, pineapple and bananas to one side of the bread and then top with the other section. You may also do open face sandwiches. 
Secure with a toothpick. 

10. Top the bread with a light layer of brie cheese and serve with a side of fresh fruit (if you have extra) and scramble eggs.