Easter Brunch: Egg Strata, French Toast Casserole, and a bunch of other stuff

I am going to start by saying that I did not get very good pictures of this brunch.  I have never hosted a holiday before, and I was a little preoccupied by preparing it, so I kept forgetting to take pictures.  I apologize for that. However, things did go well.  I was not entirely sure what I wanted to make for brunch.  Plus, we were headed to Easter Service so I needed stuff that I could make ahead of time.  I decided on doing a breakfast casserole, an egg strata, deviled eggs, and a bundt cake.  I also had coffee, tea, orange juice, and stuff to make Arnold Palmers (pretty much the best drink ever).

First the bundt cake.  I made the lemon one I invented not too long ago.  Here is the link to that recipe:

https://meteaandlucy.com/2011/04/12/lemon-bundt-cake/

This time I added one cup of milk to the recipe.  It did change the consistency.  This cake was much denser and more moist.  However, it was lacking the nice crumble of the other.  Both were good; I think I may leave the  milk out in the future.

Next up is the French Toast Casserole.  This recipe is from the newspaper a number of years ago.

Ingredients:

1 loaf cinnamon bread (with or without raisins depending on preference)

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups half and half

1 1/2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

5 teaspoons butter

1 cup nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Method:

Cut the loaf of bread into cubes.  Take about 1 cup worth of the cubes and set aside.  Put the rest of the cubes in a greased 9″ by 13″ Pyrex baking dish.  Meanwhile mix the eggs, milks, and vanilla together.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread making sure all the cubes are moist.  Put the in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, melt the butter and add the set aside bread cubes and the nuts.  Mix until all moist and sprinkle over the egg/bread mixture in the pan.  Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Serve with syrup and strawberries (optional).

Ideas: I would have liked it to be a little sweater so I would not have had to add syrup in the end.  I wonder if adding brown sugar to the egg mixture would have that desired effect.  I also think it would be good if you added some apples to the dish. I might try that next fall when apples are in season again.

Egg Strata:


This one I made up, and it worked great.  The above picture is the strata before it was baked.  I don’t have a picture of it baked.  Sigh. This is a dish that you can personalize easily.

Ingredients:

10 eggs

1 cup cheese

1 cup milk

about 1/3 of a baguette, cubed

vegetables (I used potatoes, onions, asparagus, red bell peppers)

sausage (optional though good)

salt and pepper to taste

Mix the eggs and milk together until well blended.  Mix in the cheese and bread cubes.  Make sure the bread all gets moist.  Fold in the vegetables and sausage.  I pre-cook the  potatoes and the sausage, but I put everything else in raw.  The vegetables end up cooked but still crisp that way.  Pour the mixture into a greased 9″ by 13″ Pyrex casserole dish.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.  You can put a knife in the center and it will come out clean when the strata is done.

Note: I have made this pre-made this strata and let it sit overnight.  I have also made it and baked it immediately.  I honestly can’t tell much of a difference (sitting overnight might have a slight advantage, but it is slight).  I would just do what is more convenient for you.

Finally here is a couple of funny picture of Lucy in her Easter dress:

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Oatmeal Pancakes

I love breakfast food.  I would love to go out for breakfast every weekend.  Alec does not particularly like breakfast food, and he certainly does not want to get up on weekends to go get some.  The result is I usual have some oatmeal standing in the kitchen talking to Lucy in the mornings.  Not that there is anything wrong with that–oatmeal is a good healthy way to start your day, but still.  This evening I decided to make some pancakes for dinner because Alec was out with some friends (if he is going to have any breakfast food, he usually prefers waffles), and I have been craving pancakes for the past couple of days.  After thinking about which type of pancakes, I went with some oatmeal ones.  I originally got the recipe from my mom, and I am not sure where she got it.  It is a nice recipe because it is quick–it only took about 10 minutes to make dinner–and tasty.

This is probably the simplest and least exciting recipe I have posted, but it is a good standard pancake.  I ate mine with a little butter, syrup (the cheap store-bought stuff which I actually prefer to maple syrup for some reason), and blackberry jelly.

1/4 cup flour
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 large egg

1.  Combine the first 7  ingredient in medium bowl  Stir with whisk.

2.  Combine buttermilk, melted butter and egg.  Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.


3.  Cook pancakes on greased griddle over medium heat.  Makes about 12 pancakes.

P.S. If anyone wants to go out for breakfast some Saturday with me and Lucy–let me know! I am in the mood for some Eggs Benedict!

Dill! Biscuits and Vegetable Salad

The other day I got a bunch of fresh dill, and I have been making good use of it ever since.  Two of the better things I made were dill buttermilk biscuits and a dill vegetable salad.  Both reminded me that once again summer will come, as will my organic farm share, and I will be able to eat fresh herbs and vegetables all the time.  I can’t wait!

Dill Buttermilk Biscuits:

This recipe makes about 6 biscuits.  It is made in the food processor so it is nice and easy.  It is important that you eat this biscuits right away; that is when they taste by far the best.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 T. fresh dill (can use more or less depending on taste)

1/4 cup buttermilk (can use sour milk if you don’t have buttermilk)

1 T. sugar

2 t. baking powder

3/4 t. salt

1/2 t. baking soda

1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces

a little more than 1/2 c. whole milk

Method:

Heat the oven to 450 degrees

Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a food processor to combine.  Scatter the butter over the dry ingredients. Pulse until it looks like course meal.

Transfer the flour/butter mixture into a bowl.  Pour the milks over it and stir until the dough comes together.  Be careful not to over mix! Pour out the dough and knead for about 30 seconds.

Using a biscuit cutter, or in my case, a low ball bourbon glass, cut circles out of the dough.  It should be about 1 inch thick and 2 and a half inches wide.  Space them out on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes at 450, then reduce the heat to 400 and bake another 12-15 minutes.

Cool slightly on a wire rack.  But do eat while still warm, they are much much better.

We made little sandwiches out of these biscuits.  We put ham, dill mustard, and white cheddar on them.

Vegetable Salad

I have made this salad many times, but I had never made it with dill before (usually I use tarragon or sage).  It is a great salad that you can make with a variety of different vegetables.  This time I used broccoli, cauliflower, and black olives, but other favorites include orange peppers and artichokes.

1/2 head of broccoli

1/2 head of cauliflower

2/3 can of black olives

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup vinegar (I generally use white wine vinegar, but you can use whatever kind you like most, though I would avoid balsamic)

3 T. mustard (for this recipe I used dill mustard)

1 T. sugar

salt and pepper to taste

Steam the vegetables so they are still crisp.  You can use a steamer if you have one.  Since I do not, I put a strainer in a pot of water and steam them that way.  It works pretty well.

I mix all the non-vegetable ingredients together with an immersion blender, a regular blender would work just fine.  Pour it over the steamed vegetables and let marinade for at least three hours in the fridge.

Meatballs

The other day my husband suggested we have meatball sandwiches for dinner.  I love meatball sandwiches actually, but I had not made them in a long time.  Meatballs are a great and versatile food.  They freeze well so you can make them in advance.  They work on pasta, in sandwiches, with couscous, etc.  Below is a very basic recipe, but you can easily add more to customize your meatballs.

1 pound of meat (beef, pork, turkey, or lamb)  I made plain beef ones this time but I think a beef/pork mix tastes better.)

1 egg

1/2 c. breadcrumbs

1 onion finely chopped or grated

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix it all together by hand.  I have tried to do it with a spoon because I am not a fan of mixing meat by hand, but I always end up tossing the spoon aside because it really doesn’t work.  Roll into balls about one and a half inches wide.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  I suggest lining your baking pan with tinfoil.  The meatballs leak out a bunch of fat and it is not fun to clean off your pan.

Variations:

Italian meatballs: add basic, oregano, and garlic to the meat

Greek meatballs: use some lamb in the meat base and add some mint

Swedish: add some nutmeg and cardamom

Or: add your favorite spices and make up your own custom meatballs

You can also vary the size of your meatballs, just vary the baking time.  For small ones, about half an inch or so, you can cook them on the stove top with a little olive oil.

Note: If you freeze meatballs, a good way to thaw them is to put them in a saucepan with a little water and put over medium heat until they are warm.