Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Eats!

As I mentioned in my previous post, we hosted Easter brunch. This was our 2nd year so and I really enjoy hosting a brunch. It's a change in pace from the typical holiday-type dinner that we are all accustomed to, likewise Easter and brunch are a perfect fit.

Per usual when entertaining, in my haste to get everything out of the oven and served before it got cold, I neglected to take pictures of most of my meal. However, here is how the menu looked:
* Fruit & cheese kabobs
* Orange Cream Mimosas
* Broccoli, Chicken, and Mushroom Quiche
* Bacon, Onion, & Cheese Quiche
* Scrambled eggs, ham, and cheese in puff pastry pockets
* Corned Beef Hash
* Mashed Potato Hash Brown type casserole
* French Toast Souffle
* Blueberry Bread (confession: this came from a box mix!)

The Fruit & Cheese kabobs were a great little idea I had seen on KraftFoods.com. Strawberries, kiwi, and grapes on wooden skewers and alternated with cubes of Monterey Jack Cheese. I gave my husband the distinct honor of cutting and assembling these. I was quite impressed with the results - very nicely laid out - go Greg! I thought this was easier than making a huge fruit salad. These were easy and fun to eat! No good excuse to not have gotten a picture of these since they were done an hour before guests arrive, I just simply forgot!

Unfortunately I don't have a real recipe for the 2 quiches. I had decided on my fillings in advance and prepared them in their own containers so that on Easter morning I just had to beat the eggs, throw the fillings in, and pour everything in the pre-baked pie shells. I had a basic quiche recipe that I intended to use as a guide for the number of eggs to use, cooking time, etc. That plan went out the window. I added more eggs, half-and-half, etc. then the "guide" called for. To be honest I couldn't even tell you how many eggs I did in fact use, nevermind any other measurements. Trying to recreate my recipe here probably would only spell disaster. What I can tell you though is that they came out good!

The scrambled eggs, ham, and cheese pockets were a last minute inspiration. My friend Lindsay had mentioned something of the like to me a couple of weeks prior and it clicked with me this could be fun for Easter. Basically all I did was scramble eggs to the semi-runny state, and then laid out a little egg, a sprinkle of cheese, and some diced ham into a little puff pastry pocket. I got 3 pockets for each sheet of puff pastry (I used the fold lines as my divider). It worked out nicely and despite my fears the eggs weren't dried out at all.

There are 3 recipes I can provide you with though...

The first being is homemade Corned Beef Hash. I got this from one of my buddies, Pam, on my local Nest board for my Easter brunch last year. Since it was so popular last year, I didn't think twice about including it on this year's menu. I love how easy it is and how it's something I can prep and then not think about again! You'll never find something this good from a can!

The next recipe is for Paula Deen's Mashed Baked recipe. It's a cross between mashed potatoes and hash browns. I thought this might be a nice bridge between breakfast and lunch and hence fitting of brunch. It was delicious. I lightened it up a bit by using low fat cream cheese, low fat sour cream, and low fat cheese.

Lastly is a French Toast Souffle from myrecipes.com. I don't really know why they call it a souffle, because it's really not a souffle. I digress. It was good, but not great. I really enjoy Paula Deen's French Toast Casserole that I've used in the past (including last Easter) more. I'm sure that has something to do with this recipe being from Cooking Light and Paula's recipe...well...let's just say 2 sticks of butter can change everything!

Corned Beef Hash

3 Cups cooked corned beef
2 small chopped onion
3 potatoes, peeled and diced into small chunks
1/2 Teaspoons salt
1/2 Teaspoons black pepper
1 Cups beef broth

Run first three ingredients through food processor. Mix well with all the remaining ingredients. Press into well greased pot. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours.

Mashed Baked
(from FoodNetwork.com)

4 cups frozen hash browns
1 (7.6-ounce) package butter and herb mashed potato mix
1 stick butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups boiling water
2 cups prepared French-fried onion rings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a pot of water to the boil and add the hash browns. Cook for 5 minutes and drain.

In a large bowl, mix together the cooked hash browns, mashed potato mix, butter, cream cheese, jack cheese, sour cream, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Stir in the boiling water.

Place in a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle the onion rings over the casserole and bake for about 5 to 8 minutes longer until onions are golden brown.

French Toast Souffle
(from myrecipes.com)

10 cup (1-inch) cubed sturdy white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm Hearty White, about 16 (1-ounce) slices)
Cooking spray
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat-cream cheese, softened
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup

Place bread cubes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Beat cream cheese at medium speed of mixer until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add milk, half-and-half, 1/2 cup maple syrup, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over top of bread; cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Remove bread mixture from refrigerator; let stand on counter for 30 minutes. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until set. Sprinkle the souffle with powdered sugar, and serve with maple syrup.

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