Last Sunday, for Mother’s Day, I hosted a brunch at my parents’ house. Actually, my first blog post was from our Mother’s Day brunch last year! I guess it was my little blog’s first birthday too. :)

 This year’s theme was “Queen for a Day.” I decorated the table with colorful glitter, jewel rings and sparkly wands. Five moms were present (my mom, grandmother, two aunts and cousin) and they wore crowns for the day. It was a fun theme!

Now, onto the food. Last year, the menu consisted of both breakfast and lunch foods plus dessert. This year, I focused on mainly breakfast but didn’t forget about dessert.

My family members brought delicious additions for the brunch including fruit salsa, pecan rolls, fruit salad and pineapple upside-down cake. Here’s the menu, based on what I made:

Appetizers

Homemade Granola with Vanilla Yogurt (I’ve made this before – it’s so easy!)

Banana Nut Muffins (I replaced half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat and added chopped walnuts to the batter)

Entrees

Cheesy Crustless Quiche (I replaced the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour)

Hashbrown Casserole with Bacon, Onion and Cheese

Spiced Bacon Twists (I made these last year, they are always a hit!)

Scrambled Eggs from the Oven

Simple French Toast (See recipe below. Thanks, Sara!)

Dessert

Heavenly Chocolate Mousse

The meal turned out really well. I was able to prepare the granola, muffins, quiche, hashbrown casserole and chocolate mousse ahead of time so I wasn’t stressed during the morning. All I had to do in the morning was cook the casserole, warm the quiche and make the bacon twists, scrambled eggs and French toast. Check out my great results!

Quiche. I’m not really a fan of quiche normally, but this quiche turned out great! It was a different texture than traditional quiche and was  full of savory flavors. I will definitely be making this quiche again, it’s a go-to recipe and has a nice wow factor. 

The hashbrown casserole also turned out exceptional, I really loved it. The flavors of the bacon, cheese and onion really blended well together and I enjoyed the bold flavors. Another go-to recipe for sure! It was just so tasty!

My friend Sara made a delicious French toast for her St. Patrick’s Day brunch and I knew I had to include it in this spread. It’s different from any other French toast I’ve had and when she said it was an easy recipe, I was even more excited to give it a whirl. Here’s the recipe:

French toast

1.5 c. brown sugar
1.5 stick butter
1.5 tsp. cinnamon  
1 large loaf of bread, crust removed and sliced in half                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 6 eggs, beaten                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 c. milk (2%)

1/2 c. maple syrup

1. Melt brown sugar and butter on the stove. Mix with cinnamon and pour on the bottom of a 13″x9″ pan.

2. Layer bread in pan. Combine eggs and milk and pour over bread.

3. Bake at 350* for 45 minutes.

4. Pour maple syrup over French toast and serve.

The chocolate mousse was divine. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy this treat. Even for a chocolate lover like me, it was too rich for more than a few bites. Delicious. I made this mousse the night before our brunch and let it sit overnight. It turned out creamy and decadent. Topping it with whipped cream, a raspberry and a mint leaf gave it a restaurant-quality presentation.

I hope you try some of these recipes for an upcoming brunch, or nice weekend breakfast. You won’t be disappointed.

Have a great week!

I love when I find new, easy recipes that also taste great!

Sorry, let’s back up. How was your weekend? I hope it was relaxing and fun. I was excited to put away my suitcase since I’m done traveling for a little while. It’s the simple things. Now, I just have laundry to tackle.

During the weekend, I went into Boston and got a new car! It was a fun few days. I even had a chance make a tasty pasta dish this weekend. As I mentioned earlier, it was easy to toss together and made leftovers for lunch! Perfect.

The recipe for Easy Penne and Tuna Salad came from the May 2010 issue of Cooking Light.  Meant to be served cold, it’s going to be a great addition to my summer meals. The dish is light with a nice touch of Mediterranean flavor (I love red peppers!). I used whole wheat pasta for extra fiber but followed the recipe as written otherwise. It was my first time using  tuna packed in oil and I really liked the moistness.

I honestly don’t know how people give up carbs as I swear I gravitate towards pasta and bread. I enjoy these types of foods so as long as I choose healthier options (whole grains) and limiting my portions (to one), I’m okay with it.

What’s your carb of choice?

Finally, a new recipe! I have been traveling for work with little time to cook (more about that later) but I have a yummy recipe for you today. As I’ve mentioned before, I rarely cook a big breakfast. I normally stick to toast, cereal or oatmeal but a bigger breakfast is always a treat. This morning I made Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes with Cinnamon and Fruit.

Whole wheat pancakes can sometimes be dry and bland but this recipe is great for fluffy, moist pancakes. While I followed the recipe for Cooking Light’s Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes, I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the batter. The cinnamon/vanilla flavor enhances these already-tasty pancakes. I served these pancakes with fresh fruit which was a perfect addition to my weekend meal.

 

This batter seems very versatile and could easy be used for making waffle or pancakes with chocolate chips or blueberries. I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of loving chocolate chip pancakes…it’s a real treat for breakfast. I say, the more chocolate chips, the better.

While I haven’t been cooking lately, I have been eating out quite a bit. Last week, in Chicago, I had one especially memorable meal at Ditka’s. I ordered an 8 oz. filet with blue cheese which was extremely moist and cooked perfectly. For dessert, I enjoyed decadent homemade ice cream. If you’re in Chicago or Pittsburg, I highly recommend it.

I won’t be cooking much this week but hope to get back to my old ways soon. With the spring here, we’re starting to see fresh vegetables in Boston. It will be great to buy local again soon! I’ll be back with another recipe ASAP.

Enjoy your week!

How was your Easter weekend? It’s been beautiful here in Boston so I’ve been enjoying the weather. I love it when it’s unseasonably warm! Hope it’s nice where you are.

So, every month, I receive a few different cooking magazines…Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Taste of Home’s Healthy Cooking, and Cuisine at Home. Not surprisingly, I don’t usually get a chance to read them immediately but get around to checking out the recipes eventually.

I recently made a combined dinner of two recipes from different magazines, Broiled Shrimp with Spinach Orzo Salad. The Broiled Shrimp recipe came from the April 2010 issue of Cuisine at Home and the Spinach Orzo Salad came from the April/May issue of Healthy Cooking. It turned out to be a great light meal.

Shrimp is something I don’t cook too often but when I do, I’m always surprised how easy it is. This broiled shrimp is super quick to prepare and cook. The mixture of flavors resulted in a tasty shrimp dish!

I love pasta salad, especially because it reminds me of summertime cookouts. This Spinach Orzo Salad is an easy side dish that’s a little different from a tradition rice or pasta side. I ate the leftovers for days and it was perfect for lunch.

Broiled Shrimp

Adapted from Cusine at Home

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. minced garlic

1/8 tsp. dried dill

2 Tbsp. whole wheat panko breadcrumbs

¼ tsp. dried oregano

12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails left on)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Stir in lemon juice, garlic, dill, salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and oregano. Set aside.
  4. Coat two small cassserole dishes with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
  5. Arrange six shrimp in each dish and divide butter/lemon juice mixture over shrimp. Top with breadcrumbs mixture.
  6. Broil shrimp for about 5 minutes. Watch closely as the shrimp cooks very quickly.
  7. Serve with Spinach Orzo Salad (recipe below). 

 Spinach Orzo Salad

Adapted from Taste of Home’s Healthy Cooking

Servings: 4

Ingedients:

8 oz. whole wheat orzo

3 oz. fresh spinach

¼ c. reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

¼ red onion, chopped

¼ c. reduced fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing

¼ tsp. dried basil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp. pine nuts, toasted

Preparation:

  1. Cook orzo according to directions. Drain in cold water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine spinach, cheese, onion and orzo.
  3. In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinigarette, basil and pepper. Pour over orzo mixture to coat.
  4. Chill salad until ready to serve.
  5. Top with toasted pine nuts before serving. (I toasted pine nuts in my toaster oven using the light setting)

Hello! How’s your week going? Mine is flying by and I’m looking forward to the warm weather we’re expecting in Boston this weekend! We’re due for some nice weather after all the rain we’ve had.

As you know, I’m part of the Craving Ellie in My Belly cooking club and this week’s pick was Miso Glazed Cod. I’ve actually made this dish a while back and posted it here. In place of cod, I used another white fish, tilapia. The dish turned out pretty tasty and I also made a side of Ellie’s Sesame Stir-fried Chinese Greens which were delicious too! I really like bok choy because it has a different taste and texture than spinach or another common green.

I’ll have a new recipe in a few days so stay tuned. I’m trying to cook as often as I can before my work travel begins again in a few weeks.

Have a great Thursday!

I’m back! I have been traveling a bit for work which means little time for cooking. I don’t know about you but I never eat as healthy when I’m traveling vs. cooking at home. The meeting I was at had endless amounts of chips, candy, and cookies. Luckily, there was fruit available too but of course I had a few treats. ;)

During the week, I did have a chance to make Chicken Parmesan Burgers.

I love chicken parm but since it’s not the healthiest meal, I decided to recreate it into a burger. It turned out great and I didn’t even miss the fried chicken. For me, it’s all about the marinara sauce and cheese anyway!

This is a great meal for a weeknight because it’s quick to prepare. I served the burger with a garden salad and the meal was filing and flavorful! (I had a burger leftover from the recipe so I froze it for another easy dinner.)

 

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. ground chicken breast

1 egg

1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese

1 tsp. ground oregano

1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil

1 tsp. butter

1/2 c. marinara sauce

1/2 c. low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

2 whole grain burger buns

Preparation:

1. Combine ground chicken, egg, parmesan cheese, oregano and basil.

2. Create two burgers and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a grill pan over medium heat.

4. When butter is melted, add burgers to pan. Using a spatula, flip the burgers after about 5 minutes.

5. Continue cooking burgers until they are browned and no longer pink.

6. Preheat the oven at 350*. 

7. Transfer burgers to a piece of foil set on a baking sheet. Top each burger with a 1/4 c. marinara sauce and a 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella.

8. Heat the burgers for 5 minutes. Next, set the oven to the broil function and broil until cheese is lightly browned.

9. Add burgers to bun bottoms and top with bun tops. Serve immediately!

It’s Tuesday and the first day we’ve seen sun in Boston in about four days. The rain over the weekend was unbelievable! The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on Sunday in South Boston. The weather really put a damper on the day but my friends and I still managed to have fun!

As you know, St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. While I am about 75% Irish, I have not cooked a lot of Irish dishes in my time. Growing up, we only ate corned beef and cabbage once or twice a year. But, one dish that I am very familiar with (and enjoyed more often in my childhood) is shepherd’s pie.

Depending on the recipe, shepherd’s pie can contain bacon, lamb and a variety of spices but my family keeps in pretty simple. I didn’t have my mom’s exact recipe on hand but I developed a similar dish fit for my lifestyle…mini shepherd’s pies.

Mini Shepherd’s Pies

Serves: 2                                                                                     

Ingredients:

2 baking potatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

½ white onion, chopped

1 c. mixed vegetables, fresh or frozen (I used frozen peas, carrots and corn)

½ lb. lean ground beef (I used 95% lean)

½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. light sour cream

2 Tbsp. skim milk

1 Tbsp. butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook for about five minutes.
  2. While the onions are cooking, cook the potatoes in the microwave. (First, stab potatoes several times with a knife. Lightly wrap the potatoes in a paper towel and heat in microwave for 6-10 minutes, until soft.)
  3. Once onions are soft, add mixed vegetables to saute pan to heat through and soften.
  4. At the same time, in another saute pan, heat another Tbsp. of olive oil and add the ground beef. Break beef up in pan and cook until no longer pink. Add Worcestershire sauce and a bit of salt and pepper to beef.
  5. Once the potatoes are done, mash them in a medium bowl. First, cut the potatoes open and scoop out the potatoes. Add sour cream, milk and butter to the potatoes and mix well. I used a hand mixer to make the potatoes creamy.
  6. In two mini casserole dishes, add equal amounts of beef. On top of the beef, add a layer of of the onion/veggie mixture. Top with a layer of mashed potatoes.
  7. Cook mini casseroles at 400* F for 15 minutes then broil for another five minutes until the potato topping is lightly browned.
  8. Enjoy!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year?

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