Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Recipes: Brunch

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 10th. In honor of Mother's Day brunches everywhere, we'd like to share with you some delicious recipes we've been collecting over the years. 

Brunch is a popular meal for celebrating Mother's Day. It allows time for everyone to sleep in, enjoy some coffee or tea in the morning, get cleaned up and head out (or in) for a hearty buffet full of wonderful goodies. 

We hope you you have an enjoyable day with your mom or grandma (or with your kids) and make it is as memorable as possible!

Brunch Recipes from Old Fashioned LIving:

Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries

8 slices white or wheat bread, cut 1 inch thick
8 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons strawberry preserves
1 1/3 cups milk
4 eggs
2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
4 cups sliced strawberries

Cut each bread slice in half crosswise. With a sharp knife cut a horizontal slit in each half slice to make a pocket. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and preserves. Spead 1/16 (approximately) of the mixture inside each bread pocket. Pinch edges of bread together to hold filling. In a shallow bowl whisk together milk, egg, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Dip filled bread slices in egg mixture to coat. Cook about 6 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Top with strawberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Brunch Ideas: Serve these with scrambled eggs (add some chopped chives for a nice touch), and your choice of breakfast meat.

Ham and Potato Frittata

Note: this serves 4, so make two if you have more guests.

1 tablespoon oil
3 medium potatoes
1 1/2 cups chopped ham
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 tsp. each salt and pepper
6 large eggs, beaten

Peel potatoes, cut in half length wise and slice thin. Heat oil in medium size nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, cover and cook 12 minutes, stirring occastionally, until tender and browned. Stir in ham, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour in eggs. Cook 5 minutes, tilting skillet and lifting edges of frittata with a spatuala so uncooked eggs can run underneath. Heat broiler. If skillet handle is wood or plastic double-wrap with foil to prevent scorching. Broil 4-5 inches from broiler or heat source 3-4 minutes until eggs are set and top is golden. Brunch ideas: Serve frittata with fresh fruit, or a fruit salad, french bread or rolls and a light dessert.

Egg Fajitas

Note: This can be set up as a buffet type meal where each person makes their own plate.

8 flour tortillas
16 large eggs
1/2 cup scallions, or green onion tops
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 tsp. butter or margarine
Bacon, Ham, Canadian Bacon or crumbled breakfast sausage
12 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

Cook meat first by frying in a skillet or an electric frying pan. Choose at least two of the meats listed; about 1/2 pound each. Meanwhile whisk eggs, scallions, mustard, salt and pepper in a large bowl until blended. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add egg mixture and cook, stirring, until set. Heat tortillas as directed.

Place meat, eggs and tortillas on individual platters. Serve the cheddar cheese and extra green onions along side the platters to be used as toppings. Have guests place items on the tortilla and roll up to eat just as you do for fajitas. Brunch ideas: Set up this buffet as self serve. Also serve with fresh fruit and hash browns.

Golden Fruit Salad

1 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
2-3 tablespoons orange juice
dash nutmeg
1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and sliced
1 Red Delicious apple, cored and sliced
1 banana, sliced
1/2 cup red grapes, seeded and halved

Combine yogurt, orange juice, and nutmeg in bowl and mix. In another bowl, combine and mix fruit. Serve with dressing on salad plates lined with lettuce. Serves 3.

Apple Waffles

2 cups milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
2 cups pancake mix
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 cup finely chopped apples

Place milk, eggs, pancake mix and melted butter in bowl. Beat with mixer until batter is fairly smooth. Stir in apples. Bake in hot waffle iron until steaming stops. Place in warm oven until just before the brunch starts then place on platter with fresh butter, syrup and preserves nearby. Serves 6.

Sunrise Mimosa

Vary the cocktail with pineapple, mango, strawberry or passion fruit juices.

1 Tablespoon apricot nectar
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1/4 cup champagne or `mock' champagne

1. Pour the apricot nectar and orange juice into a champagne flute.

2. Slowly pour in the champagne.

3. Garnish, if desired, with an orange slice or two raspberries.

Banana Coconut Crunch Muffins

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons buttermilk
2 large bananas, mashed
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping ingredients:

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup coconut, shredded
1/4 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Line 16 muffin cups with paper liners (or grease and flour 16 muffin cups).

3. In a small bowl, sift or stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for one minute. Add sugar and mix for 30 seconds. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and bananas. Mix until combined.

5. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture. Mix until combined, making sure to scrape down sides of bowl.

6. Spoon the batter into 16 muffin cups.

7. Bake for 16 - 18 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle of a muffin.

8. While muffins are cooking, prepare topping. In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, coconut, pecans, butter and cream together. I mix the ingredients with my hands to make sure that the topping is an even consistency. A mixer works just as well.

9. Remove muffins. Keep oven on, and spread topping over hot muffins. Place muffins back in the oven for 3 minutes (to cook the topping).

10. Remove muffins, and with back of spoon, spread the topping to edges (if topping is not already at edges).

11. Let cool 30 minutes, giving the icing a chance to harden.

This recipe can be made ahead, and actually tastes just as good the third day as it did the first. But, sadly, it will never make it to day three - too yummy. Enjoy.

Serves 16

Cheddar Cheese Strata

Shred a little cheese, break a lotta eggs, make strata tonight. This egg-cellent dish is prepared the night before, so you can rise, shine and dine.

1 pound ground sausage OR 1 cup faux sausage
8 eggs
3 cups of whole milk
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
1 8-ounce package frozen asparagus spears, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
8 cups sourdough or italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

1. Meat: Cook sausage, drain and set aside to cool.


1. Vegetarian: Cut sausage into small pieces and set aside.

2. In large bowl, whisk together: eggs, milk, flour, butter, mustard, salt, thyme and pepper.

3. Stir in sausage, mushrooms, asparagus, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese and bread.

4. Pour ingredients into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan (preferably glass). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5. The following morning, preheat oven to 350°. Bake strata in middle of oven for one hour.

Serves 8

Below are some alternative strata suggestions. Be creative, combine ingredients that are in the fridge, or are at the peak of the produce season.

White cheddar, garlic and sun dried tomatoes
Spinach, red pepper and feta cheese
Bacon, swiss and onion

Apple Sausage Breakfast Bake

2 Cups pancake mix
1 1/4 cups milk
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons salad oil
1 14 oz jar spiced apple rings
1 8 oz package Brown and serve sausage links

Combine pancake mix, milk, eggs, and salad oil; Beat until nearly smooth. Turn into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Drain apple rings, reserving the syrup to use in the Apple-Maple Syrup. Halve each sausage link crosswise. Arrange the apple rings and the sausages atop batter in a pattern so the mixture can be cut into squares when baked. Bake at 350 degrees until done. About 30-35 minutes.

Serve with Apple-Maple Syrup

Apple-Maple Syrup

Spiced Apple Syrup (reserved from above)
1/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon butter
3/4 cup maple syrup

Add water to reserved spiced apple syrup to equal 2/3 cup. In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in spiced apple syrup. Cook, stirring until thick and bubbly; Cook and stir one minute more. Stir in butter and maple syrup Makes 1 1/2 cup syrup.

Serve over Sausage Breakfast Bake.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thrifty Thursday: Fun Ideas for Kids

This week I thought I would share with you some fun ideas for your kids or grandkids that cost very little or nothing (nothing is good!). There are quite a few fun activities and crafts here to keep them busy for hours. 

~ Amanda

Juice Carton Crayon Box
Wash and dry an empty cardboard juice carton and cut off the top. Using bits and pieces of masking tape, have the children tape up the entire carton, covering all sides, the more tape the better. Use crayons to color the masking tape box. The tape makes the box sturdier and will make a great crayon holder for their desk or dresser.

Coffee Can Stilts
Using two 1-pound coffee cans, turn each can upside down so that the plastic lid is on the bottom. Using a screwdriver, poke two holes, one on each side of the can. Using several strands of yarn braided or twisted together, or some rope, thread through holes in cans. Tie off inside the can. Cans can be decorated if you like.

Alphabet Catalog Collage
Using old toy, clothing, and plant catalogs, have the kids cut out colorful pictures that begin with a specific letter of the alphabet. Assign different letters to each child. Have them glue the pictures onto a piece of construction paper. Discuss the pictures afterward.

Paper Plate Holders
Using two paper plates, cut one plate in half and place on top of the other plate (turn the half plate to form a pocket over the whole plate). Use a paper punch to make holes going around the outside of the plate. Use scraps of yarn and "sew" through the holes of the plate. Start and end at the top of the plate so that it can be extended about six inches and tied. Have your children color, paint or decorate their plates. Now they have their very own place to put prized possessions, notes from Mom and dad, special pictures and more.

Cartoon Strip
make your very own cartoon adventure with crayons and a pad of paper. At the bottom of a pad, on each sheet, draw a figure (i.e., a dog). The first frame will be on the first page, second frame on the second page, and so on. Change the movement with each page. When you are finished, fan the pages with your thumb to see the show!

Animal Jumble
Using construction or white paper, ask each child to drawn a different body part of an animal, but to have their animal be a secret. For example, have one child draw the head, another draw the tail, another the legs and so on. let the children pick the animal they want to draw. When they are done have then put the animal together with tape or glue. Have fun coming up with a name for the animal (monk-dog-lion-potamus).

Go to 20 Fun Ideas That Won't Break the Bank to see even more ideas like this.

This post is part of Thrifty Thursday. Visit Thrifty Thursday to see more frugal tips!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reader's Questions: Tea & Gardening

Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate. ~Charlotte Gray

Today I have a couple of gardening questions answered and one on green tea. Before I get to that though, I wanted to wish all of the moms out there a wonderful Mother's Day this weekend. I hope you receive MANY hugs and love from your family:)

I just planted dwarf snapdragons. Why are they wilting? Before I planted them I noticed they were wilting as well. Could you please help me out on this one. ~Corrie

The simplest explanation could be they weren't watered properly at the garden center or nursery. If this is the case, and you watered them and planted them in good soil, they should spring back. The worst case scenario is they have a fungus known as wilt (Verticillium alboatrum). If this is the case you should remove the ones that are wilted and appear sick, plus the soil they were planted in. (Just what is around that plant). While this is all happening do not fertilize or overwater. Give them time to recover.

One note-- when buying plants buy only the ones that are perky, bright and without any defects, browned leaves etc. The only exception to this is if you are getting such a good bargain that you want to take a chance on them. Trim off bad spots, and get them into the ground as quickly as you can.

Reader Looking for Rose Planting Mixture:
One of our readers was looking for a mixture to plant with her roses. There are a lot of fertilizers you can buy specifically for roses, including organic mixtures. Ask at your garden center. You can also make up your own by combining 1 part soil, 1 part peat and 2-3 handfuls of bone meal to the hole before adding the rose plant. Water your rose plant BEFORE you remove it from the pot it came in, and be very gentle when removing it. Spread the roots out in the hole, so they touch the mixture you put in the bottom. Fill the hole gently and pat the ground to remove air pockets, but DON'T crush down the soil too much, and water gently afterwards.

Any recipes for green tea, hot or cold? There are so many listed that I do not know where to start. ~Karla

Green tea can be served just like herb teas. What have found is different brands have taste variations. Some I haven't liked at all, others are great. Green tea does take some getting used to. It doesn't have the same taste as black teas, so don't expect it to. Start simple by brewing with water that is just boiling. Brew 5 minutes, and sweeten lightly.

Honey-Mint Green Tea

2 cups water
1/4 cup firmly packed mint leaves
4 green tea bags
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. lime juice

Bring the water and mint to a boil. Add tea bags; steep 10 minutes. Strain. Add sugar and lime juice. Chill. Makes 2 servings. You can also use lemon balm or other types of mint.

Black tea, white tea, herb or green? A guide to tea and what the differences are:


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tuesday Tips: Ingredient Substitutions

If you are like me, and probably the rest of humanity, you have found yourself in the middle of making a recipe only to find that you are missing some key ingredient. There's nothing more frustrating, especially if the recipe calls for precise timing and running to the store just isn't an option. Now sometimes you can simply leave an ingredient out, especially if it's a small portion of flavoring or spice, but that's not always the case. 

I had this happen last week and instead of panicking, I did a quick search which yielded this fabulous list of ingredient substitutions from North Dakota's College of Agriculture, Food Systems, & Natural Resources. I won't list them all here, but have chosen some of the ones that I feel would be commonly used and most helpful. You can visit the link above for the full list:

~ Amanda

Ingredient Amount Substitutes

Baking powder 1 teaspoon * 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 cup sour milk or buttermilk or yogurt (decrease liquid called for in recipe by 1/2 cup)
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice used with sweet milk to make 1/2 cup (decrease liquid called for in recipe by 1/2 cup)
* 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/4 to 1/2 cup molasses (decrease liquid in recipe by 1 to 2 tablespoons)
* 1/3 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beef stock base, 2 teaspoons * 1 beef bouillon cube

Beef stock base, instant

4 teaspoons dissolved in 1 1/4 cups water * 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed, undiluted beef bouillon or consumme'

Bread crumbs, dry

1/3 cup * 1 slice of bread

Bread crumbs, soft

3/4 cup * 1 slice bread
Broth, beef or chicken 1 cup * 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
* 1 teaspoon powdered broth base dissolved in 1 cup boiling water
Butter 1 cup * 7/8 to 1 cup hydrogenated fat plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 7/8 cup oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 7/8 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup margarine
* 7/8 cup oil

1 cup * 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons vinegar (for use in cooking)

Chicken stock base, instant

1 1/2 teaspoons * 1 chicken bouillon cube
Chicken stock base, instant 1 tablespoon dissolved in 1 cup water

* 1 cup canned or homemade chicken broth or stock
Chili sauce 1 cup * 1 cup tomato sauce, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, dash of ground cloves and dash of allspice

Chives, finely chopped

2 teaspoons * 2 teaspoons finely chopped green onion tops
Chocolate chips, semisweet

1 ounce * 1 ounce sweet cooking chocolate
Chocolate, semisweet

1-2/3 ounces * 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 4 teaspoons sugar
Chocolate, semisweet pieces, melted

6 ounce package * 2 squares unsweetened chocolate plus 2 tablespoons shortening and 1/2 cup sugar
Chocolate, unsweetened 1 ounce or square * 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
* 3 tablespoons carob powder plus 2 tablespoons water

Cocoa 1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons * 1 ounce (square) chocolate (decrease fat called for in recipe by 1/2 tablespoon)

Corn Syrup 1 cup * 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid (use whatever liquid is called for in the recipe)
* 1 cup honey

Cornstarch 1 tablespoon * 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 4 to 6 teaspoons quick-cooking tapioca

Cream cheese * Part skim milk ricotta cheese or lowfat cottage cheese beaten until smooth

Cream, half-and-half 1 cup * 7/8 cup whole milk plus 1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine
* 3 tablespoons oil plus milk to equal 1 cup
* 1 cup evaporated milk

Cream, heavy 1 cup * 3/4 cup milk plus 1/3 cup butter or margarine (for use in cooking and baking)
* 2/3 cup buttermilk plus 1/3 cup oil
* Evaporated skim milk or equal parts of part-skim milk ricotta cheese and nonfat yogurt beaten until smooth (this mixture cannot be heated because of separation

Cream, sour 1 cup * 3 tablespoons butter plus 7/8 cup sour milk
* 7/8 cup buttermilk plus 3 tablespoons butter

Cream of tartar 1/2 teaspoon * 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar

Egg 1 whole (3 tablespoons) * 3 tablespoons slightly beaten egg
* 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon frozen egg, thawed
* 2 1/2 tablespoons sifted dry whole egg powder plus 2 1/2 tablespoons lukewarm water
* 1/4 cup egg substitute
* 1 egg white and 2 teaspoons oil
* 2 egg whites
* 2 yolks plus 1 tablespoon water (in cookies)
* 2 yolks (in custards, cream fillings and similar mixtures)

Flour, cake 1 cup sifted * 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour

Garlic 1 clove, small * 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or 1/4 teaspoon instant minced garlic

Garlic salt 3/4 teaspoon * 1 medium size clove or 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh

Herbs, dried 1 teaspoon * 1 tablespoon fresh, finely cut

Herbs, fresh 1 tablespoon, finely cut * 1 teaspoon dried herbs
* 1/2 teaspoon ground herbs

Honey 1 cup * 1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid (use liquid called for in recipe)

Lemon 1 teaspoon juice * 1/2 teaspoon vinegar

1 medium * 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 to 2 teaspoons rind

Milk, buttermilk 1 cup * 1 cup plain yogurt

Milk, buttermilk or sour 1 cup * 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon sweet milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice or  vinegar (allow to stand 5 to 10 minutes)
* 1 cup sweet milk and 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar

Milk, evaporated 1 can (12 oz) * Whip until smooth:
1 cup nonfat dry milk
1 3/4 cups warm water
Keep refrigerated

Milk, sweetened condensed 1 can (1 1/3 cups) * Heat the following ingredients until sugar and butter are dissolved:
1/3 cup and 2 tablespoons
evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup * Heat the following ingredients until sugar and butter are dissolved:
1/3 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
* Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dry milk powder to 1/2 cup warm water. Mix well. Add 3/4 cup sugar and stir until smooth.

Onion 1 small * 1/4 cup chopped, fresh onion
* 1-1/3 teaspoons onion salt
* 1 to 2 tablespoons minced onion
* 1 teaspoon onion powder

Orange 1 medium * 6 to 8 tablespoons juice

Sugar, brown 1 cup, firmly packed * 1 cup granular sugar
* 1 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses

Sugar, confectioners' 1 cup * 3/4 cup granulated sugar
or powdered

Tomatoes, fresh 2 cups, chopped * 16-ounce can

Tomato sauce 15-ounce can * 6-ounce can tomato paste plus 1 cup water

Tomato soup 10 3/4-ounce can * 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/4 cup water

Wine 1 cup * 13 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon sugar

Yeast, active dry 1 tablespoon * 1 cake (6/10 ounce), compressed (2/3 ounce)
* 1 packaged (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

Yogurt, plain 1 cup * 1 cup buttermilk
* 1 cup cottage cheese blended until smooth
* 1 cup sour cream

Monday, May 4, 2009

Garden Tips: Buying Annuals & Bulb Care

Queer things happen in the garden in May. Little faces forgotten appear, and plants thought to be dead suddenly wave a green hand to confound you.
~W. E . Johns

Today I have tips on buying annuals, and caring for your springs bulbs after they bloom.

When buying plants, especially flats of annuals, buy only the ones that are perky, bright and without any defects, browned leaves etc. The only exception to this is if you are getting such a good bargain that you want to take a chance on them. Trim off bad spots, and get them into the ground as quickly as you can.

There are annuals and perennials that are more tolerant of heat then other plants. These are great for hot climates or areas of your property that are dry and hot all day. This is a partial list to give you an idea of what to choose:

Celosia or cockscomb (Celosia argentea plumosa)
Spider flower (Cleome hasslerana)
Coreopsis (Coreopsis vericillata)
Globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)
Morning Glory (Ipomoea tricolor)
Moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora)
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)
Lamb's ears (Stachys byszantina)
Liatris (Liatris spicata)
Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum x superbum)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Reminder: Only remove the foliage from spring bulbs when it has died back naturally---after it has turned yellow and looks like it's drying out. You can cut it down to just above the soil, and plant annuals in front of the bulbs. Be sure to plant gently so you don't disturb the bulbs. This also applies to your iris foliage after they bloom. You can cut the flower stalk off, but leave the foliage.

How to grow snapdragons in your garden: