Easy Entertaining with Brunch

For Easter I decided to do a brunch, something different than the norm, it turned out to be a very relaxed form of entertaining, I can’t wait to do it again! Food was served buffet style and we all ended up eating in my sun room with all the windows open, it was a beautiful spring day.

The menu consisted of mini pasta and cheese frittatas, artichoke frittata, pea and edamame crostini, fig stuffed french toast and Belgium waffles made to order. There was fresh fruit, strawberry and yogurt parfaits, orange juice, coffee and champagne punch.

One of the highlights of our brunch was this Italian Sausage Bread that I got over at
Food Blogga, it’s actually Susan’s mother-in-laws famous recipe. My family makes something very similar to this but we call it bastone, and always used a special cheese called tuma, ( which isn’t always easy to find) and our dough was way more complicated. This appealed to me because she used pizza dough and fresh mozzarella for the cheese.

All the ingredients, which consist of hot Italian sausage, pepperoni, eggs, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese and parsley are precooked stove top in one pan and then it all gets folded into the dough. It was so quick and easy to do and such a hit! I will be making this throughout the year.

Don’t be afraid to use hot Italian sausage, the dough and the egg soak up a lot of the heat and what you’re left with is the perfect amount of spicyness. The only thing different I did was that I used thin sliced pepperoni instead of chunks, which I didn’t have. I just snipped mine with a scissor and it was just fine. The flavors blended together are out of this world!

Go on over to Susan’s blog to get the famous recipe and all the step by step instructions.

A word of advice: Cut a slice of this and pop it in the toaster for your morning breakfast!

For “something sweet” I made a glazed lemon pound cake, cinnamon rolls and a fresh strawberry quick bread.
If you haven’t ever hosted a brunch in your home I would highly recommend it, I’m looking forward to doing it again!
Buon Appetito!

Stuffed French Toast with Fig and Cream Cheese

Stuffed french toast, what can I say, if you haven’t had it your missing out, so simple to make at home, it takes common french toast and elevates it to a much higher level, worthy of being the star on your brunch or breakfast table, it could feed a crowd, be made ahead of time and kept warm in your oven.

Think of your favorite jam’s or marmalade’s, apricot, orange, peach, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry or plum, or if you prefer any fresh berries will do.

I recently purchased a huge jar of fig paste that was out of this world from a middle eastern store in the city, I couldn’t believe it was only $5.00! Loaded with figs and much thicker than a jam, it worked perfectly, I’m going back for more.

I like to use a good hearty Italian bread or a country loaf, artisan style that you can cut yourself.
Make 1 1/2 inch slices and then with your paring knife make a slit to form a pocket, be careful not to cut all the way through.

For each individual serving I used a mixture of 2 tablespoons of fig paste along with 2 tablespoons of reduced fat cream cheese, so just figure out how many servings you’re going to make and you’ll be able to figure out the amounts. If you’re using fresh berries you might want to add a little powdered sugar in the cream cheese for added sweetness.

Your egg mixture for dipping your french toast will consist of eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla. I always sprinkle more cinnamon on top while it’s cooking, the more the better!
Recipe adapted from Everyday Food

Buon Appetito


Frittata? or Strata

Either one you choose would be a great option for breakfast, brunch or even a dinner. I love frittatas because the variations are endless and they’re cooked up and on the table in no time.

A simple zucchini and onion frittata has graced our table many times. Mix your eggs with a little bit of milk, grated romano cheese, fresh basil, parsley salt and pepper. Pour over your sauteed zucchini and onions, when your egg mixture starts to set, place the whole pan under the broiler until cooked through and golden in color. Invert onto a platter, garnish with fresh basil. Served along side a nice green salad and a bowl of fresh fruit, it’s a wonderful light brunch or dinner!

The thing I like about stratas is you can assemble all the ingredients the night before, then in the morning all you have to do is pull it out of your frig and pop it in the oven! This is a savory egg dish that easily adapts to many different vegetables and cheeses.

Portobello and Asparagus Strata
Adapted from the Whole Foods website
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion, 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, 1 (8-ounce) package Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced.
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths, 1 teaspoon salt, 8 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, Black pepper to taste, 5 cups (1-inch) cubes sourdough bread, 4 ounces herb or plain goat cheese crumbled, feta, or in my case I used fontina.
Here’s what you do:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and thyme and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, mushrooms, asparagus and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and cook 5 more minutes longer. Set aside. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, grated cheese, milk, mustard, parsley, pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Spread half of the bread over the bottom of a lightly greased 9-x13-inch baking dish. Top with half of the mushroom mixture and a third of the goat cheese. Layer with remaining bread and mushroom mixture, and pour egg mixture evenly over the top. Cover strata and chill overnight. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove strata from refrigerator and bring to room temperature while the oven heats. Sprinkle remaining two-thirds cheese over the top and bake until firm in the center and golden brown on top, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Buon Appetito!

Holding On To Summer with A Tomato Bread Pudding, and an Opened Faced Tomato and Egg Sandwich

Looking for more ways to use up your summer tomatoes? Here’s 2 recipes you have to try! Tomato Bread Pudding. The minute I saw this flipping through the pages of Amy Goldman’s book ,The Heirloom Tomato, I was inspired to make it. I loved the idea of a savory tomato bread pudding. Think toasted ciabatta cubes tossed in a tomato and herb cheesy custard! What a great side dish this is, we loved it! and I know I’ll be making this again!

Although I do remember all the ingredients, I don’t own Amy’s book, so I can’t give you the true recipe, but I will give you my version of what I did. I cut up and cubed half of a ciabatta loaf, put it in a 400F oven till crispy. In a large bowl I diced 4 tomatoes, added fresh parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Next I added in the same bowl 1/2 cup of half and half, and 1/2 cup of milk, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup of grated asiago, and 1/4 cup of grated romano cheese, salt and pepper.

In a small pan saute 1/2 onion and 2 garlic cloves.Toss this into the bowl with the tomatoes. Place your bread cubes in a buttered baking dish and pour the custard mixture all over covering the cubes, let it all absorb. Place grated romano all over the top and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 350F in a larger baking dish filled halfway up with water, 25 minutes. Brown under broiler.

Opened Faced Tomato and Sunny Side Up Egg Sandwich

This is great for a weekend morning breakfast. The picture pretty much explains the recipe.

Crunchy toasted bread, slathered with pesto, topped with a hefty slice of your favorite tomato, then topped with a fried egg. Simple concept, extrordinary taste!
I hope you get a chance to try these! Have a great Labor Day weekend and Buon Appetito!


Savory Vegetable Ricotta Pie’s

I’ve made many things using ricotta on this blog, obviously we love it here, and I always have some in my frig! Ricotta is such a versatile cheese that works very well in sweet, and savory dishes alike! It bakes wonderful with any kind of veggie or herb that you put with it. I often make these pies for a light dinner, lunch, or brunch.

You can bake them with a crust, or without. Below I used a 10″ pie pan, and above I used a 10″ spring form pan. Basically the ingredients are the same. About 1lb. of ricotta, 1/2 lb or less, of your favorite shredded cheese, here I used a mixture of provolone, asiago, and mozzerella. 1 cup of grated parm or romano, 3 beaten eggs, garlic and onion. After that, you can add in whatever veggies you want!

You can use shredded zucchini which has been squeezed of its moisture, frozen spinach that has been thawed and squeezed of all water, chopped artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, various pesto’s and herbs for flavorings. You can get very creative with all your favorite flavors!

Just start out sauteing your onion and garlic in olive oil, then add your veggies. Have your eggs and all your cheese whipped up together in a separate bowl, and then combine it all together. I bake them at 350F, till golden and firm in the middle, not wet. It could take 30 to 50 min’s. It depends how good you get the moisture out of everything, the ricotta included. Cool them down a bit before you cut into them, so everything stays together.
Serve them with a salad or some fruit, for a complete meal thats light, satisfying and full of flavor! You’ll find that the leftovers are just as good as the day you made it!!
Buon Appetito!!!


Artichoke Frittata

If you’re having a busy week, no need to drive threw those tasteless burger places for dinner, you know which ones I’m talking about! Why not go home and whip up a frittata?

Frittata’s are quick and easy to make, you can put just about anything you want in them, and it’s a great way to use up some leftover veggies or meats.

Great for a light dinner or a fancy brunch, frittata’s are pure comfort food for me and the Hubby!

In this recipe all I used was 1 bag of frozen artichokes, ( I’m putting in another plug for Trader Joes, they have the best frozen artichokes, I can’t live without them!) which I quickly defrosted in my microwave. While it was defrosting I turned my broiler on, took out my saute pan quickly drizzled it with olive oil, sauteed some green onion, diced red pepper, and thinly shaved garlic. I also tossed in the artichokes (which were gently squeezed of any water) just to flavor them up.
After they were sauteed in the olive oil a little, I took them them back out of the pan, and set aside.
In the meantime beat some eggs with a little milk, add a generous amount of grated romano cheese, salt, pepper and whatever herbs you want, if any.
Pour egg mixture into the pan, now arrange your artichokes cut side up around the frittata, and slowly let the eggs set, about 10 min’s. When set, sprinkle top with more grated cheese and stick the whole thing under the broiler till golden brown. Garnish with fresh parsley and more cheese if you want.

After it cools off a little I think the flavors really come out, with every bite you’ll taste the cheese, and that hint of the shaved garlic, and lets not forget the star of this dish, the artichokes!
Have a good weekend and Buon Appetito!!