Tag Archives: Brunch

Broccoli, Tomato and Cheese Strata

In the past, we’ve made several variations of quiches and frittatas for breakfast and brunch get-togethers but Erin thought we should try something different this past weekend. Similar to a frittata or a quiche, this casserole has an egg base with several other ingredients to make an all-in-one meal.

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups French Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
1 cup Broccoli Florets
1 1/2 tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped
8 Eggs
3 cups Milk
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/8 tsp. Pepper
4 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1 tsp. Basil, chopped

Directions:
Place cubed bread in a buttered 9×13 inch baking dish. Top bread with 1 cup cheddar cheese, tomatoes, broccoli and 1 tbsp. parsley.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour egg mixture over break and gently press to soak every cube. Add dollops of ricotta over top of dish. Sprinkle strata with basil and remaining cheddar cheese. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove strata from refrigerator and bring to room temperature (about 1 hour).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Bake until strata is puffed and lightly golden brown, about 1 hour. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes before serving and garnish with remaining parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Review:
Think of this as a breakfast bread pudding; warm, rich, filling, and delicious! This was a huge hit at this past weekend’s brunch and was the first dish that was gone. There’s always room for a hot casserole-type dish whether your hosting or going to someone’s house; this recipe was very good and will definitely be used again for our breakfast/brunch outings.

This variation had several kinds of vegetables but it would be very easy to mix it up – you could make the same recipe with spinach and feta, or with onions, peppers, and mushrooms, or really any other variation that your family likes. In this variation, we didn’t add meat to keep the dish kosher, but it would be very easy to add breakfast sausage or chicken to really make this a one dish breakfast.

For the cuts that can be made, you can always use Egg Beaters or Egg Whites (the kind that come in the pre-made container) that contain almost no calories, fat or carbs but still have protein, you can use fat-free milk or fat-free half and half, you can always use reduced fat cheeses, and you can even find whole grain French bread at grocery stores like Balducci’s or Whole Foods.

Regardless whether or not you make a couple calorie cuts, this dish is an easy way to prepare for a meal if you’re having company or even if you’d like to sleep in a little longer since all the prep work is done the night before. Enjoy the idea and share your family’s variations!


Brunch Kugel

One of my favorite brunch dishes is the Kugel that Erin’s Grandma makes on special occasions and for family gatherings. Since we were hosting brunch this weekend, I thought it would only be appropriate to make a variation of this delicious dish so everyone could experience this delicacy. For those of you who didn’t have this variation of Kugel at brunch over the weekend or don’t know what Kugel is, the easiest way to explain it is a sweet, creamy, egg noodle dish that is typically found at meals during Jewish holidays or Shabbat. This recipe wasn’t as good as Grandma’s, but it was definitely a good start…

Ingredients:
For Noodles-
16 oz. Egg Noodles
1/4 cup Unsalted Butter, but into 1/4 inch cubes
1 cup Lowfat Milk
5 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
20 oz. Crushed Pineapple
16. oz. Sour Cream
16 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese

For Topping-
2 cups Cornflakes, coarsley crushed
2 tbsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

Directions:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Cook noodles in a 6-8 quart pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain well in a colander, then return to warm pot and add butter, tossing until noodles are coated.

Whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until combined, then whisk in sour cream. Stir in cottage cheese and pineapple and add to noodles, stirring to coat well. Spoon entire noodle mixture into baking dish.

In a seperate bowl, stir together cornflakes, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over noodles.

Dot with butter and bake until dish is set and edges are golden brown, about 1 hour. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

Review:
Well, there’s no nice way to say this… do not even think about making this if you’re worried about the calories. There are many dishes where you can cut out the fat, calories and sugar, but Kugel isn’t one of them. You have to treat yourself every once in a while through, right? This is truly a treat to save for a special occasion.

This recipe is pretty easy to make and tastes delicious. One of the modifications I would make would be to add about a half cup more milk to make the dish a little more moist and creamy; if you follow the directions and use the amount that it originally calls for, the dish will be fine but I think it’s always better to be a little moist. Also, for the topping, be sure that it gets pressed into the top layer of noodles so it isn’t just sitting on the top; you want this to be a crunchy topping but you don’t want it to seem like it’s just loose cereal on top of the noodles, it needs to be incorporated.

Erin says that she would add about a half cup more sugar to give it a little bit of a sweeter taste and would also add raisins. Many Kugel recipes call for raisins so add them to your liking.

Overall, this recipe is a good way to perfect your own variation of Kugel. You can add items that you and your family like and you can also take away some items that you may not like in this version. Experiment a little and let me know what your perfect ingredient list!


Dutch’s Daugher – Frederick

If you live in Frederick or have talked to anyone from Frederick, you’ve probably heard of Dutch’s Daughter. This is my all-time favorite restaurant in Frederick, hands down! A winner in nearly every category of restaurant rating in Frederick (and sometimes DC), everything about Dutch’s Daughter is done right.

I haven’t been for dinner in years, but their brunch buffet is something not many places can compete with. Buffets are not typically my cup of tea, but this is a much more upscale restaurant than the everyday buffet so please don’t let that scare you away. Erin and I went about two weeks ago for brunch with my parents and, as always, it was delicious. When we pulled into the parking lot, we were greeted by a kilted man playing the bagpipes; I’d never seen this before and it was awesome (I really wanted to take a picture with him but he was gone when we left… darn it!). The inside of the restaurant is very grand and reminds me of an old country home – lots of natural wood, large rooms, fireplaces in every room, and tables set with china. The staff is very nice and always seats parties within a couple of minutes.

Brunch is served on the top floor of the restaurant; as soon as you start walking up the stairs (there’s an elevator available as well) you can smell all the delicious food that’s waiting! When seated, the server comes over and explains the items on the buffet, offers tea, coffee or soda (included in the price) and also offers a mimosa or bloody mary which are complimentary. I know what you’re thinking, complimentary drinks are never as good as drinks you buy. That’s not the case here – the bloody mary was in a nice sized glass and tasted great (and it had a good kick to it!), and the mimosa was served in a big wine glass and you could taste the champagne.

Typically, the buffet has similar items every weekend – French toast, scrambled eggs, crab and cheese omlette, bacon, chipped beef gravy, blackened salmon, Dutch’s chicken, prime rib along with a soup and salad bar that has cream of crab soup, Maryland crab soup and hot crab dip that are to die for (I could literally make a meal just off the soup and salad bar). After brunch, chocolate covered strawberries, homemade cream puffs, and endless homemade pies await you. Really, you need to save room for the dessert and make sure you taste a little of everything!

Overall, Dutch’s Daughter is a great place to have brunch and is always such a treat. It’s always good to make a reservation here because it’s one of the nicer places in Frederick and there’s always a wait. If you’re in the Frederick area or want to take a nice drive from the DC suburbs on a Sunday morning or early afternoon, this place will surely not disappoint.


Spinach Ricotta Frittata

This recipe is not only fun to say, it’s yummy (and healthy) too!

Ingredients:
1 10 ounce package frozen, chopped spinach
1 can sliced mushrooms
½ cup red peppers, diced
½ cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon butter
6 eggs (or egg substitute equivalent to 6 eggs)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a non-stick 9 or 10 inch pie plate with cooking spray. Place skillet over medium high heat, add butter. When butter is melted add spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, onions and basil. Cook stirring often just until spinach is wilted and the mixture is warm. Whisk together the eggs and ricotta cheese. Transfer spinach mixture into pie plate. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and place in the oven for 30 – 35 minutes or until eggs are set. Once finished, top with grated cheddar cheese and serve.

Review:
If you’re looking for something to take to a brunch or just a good alternative to mainstream breakfast foods, then this is your recipe. The Spinach Ricotta Frittata is a quick fix – just mix everything up and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes while you are getting ready. If you see something in the recipe that you don’t necessarily care for, just switch it out with something you like or remove it all together – that’s the best part about frittatas, you can pretty much do whatever you want with the ingredients you have. One change that we’ve made with this recipe is to use Feta cheese instead of the ricotta. Of course, depending on what other dishes you are having, if you’re having meat you can always leave the cheese out and it will still taste delicious! To cut down on calories, we always use Egg Beaters or another brand of egg substitute; I promise you will not be able to tell the difference! Enjoy.