Brunch – Celebrating Mother’s Day

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

In the food service industry, brunch on Mother’s Day is huge. What better way is there to celebrate your mom then by taking her out of the kitchen on her day. As is the case with many culinary traditions, the origin of brunch is a bit hazy.

There are numerous theories, such as the English tradition of feasting after a hunt, or from the Catholic tradition of fasting before church and having a large meal after services. By 1930, ‘brunch’, that blend of breakfast and lunch had caught on in the United States. From some of the classic dishes restaurants offered such as eggs benedict,  brunch evolved into decadent spreads that even included morning cocktails.

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 39 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us and I always will.

It is also with loving thoughts, I celebrate my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and for raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with. To my sisters, who give so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

In July 2016, I posted a blog entitled ‘Brunch in Thibery, France. It has some more brunch ideas for croissants, crepes and french toast you might like.

For today I have two brunch items in mind. One is BAKED EGGS IN PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM CAPS  and the other a SAVORY SALMON & DILL MUFFIN.  Enjoy your day!

Salmon/Dill Muffins & Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
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Salmon/Dill Muffins & Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
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Ingredients
Salmon/Dill Muffins
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
Servings:
Instructions
Salmon/Dill Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 8-cup large muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder; add grated cheese, salmon & fresh dill. In a small bowl, beat together egg, milk & oil. Make a well in center of flour mixture; add wet ingredients, mix only until combined.
  3. Fill muffin cups half full; divide cream cheese between the 8 cups. Top with remaining batter to evenly fill cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done.
Baked Eggs in Mushroom Caps
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Remove stalk from mushroom caps. Make sure mushrooms do not get cracked so the eggs & sauce leak out. Place mushrooms in a baking dish that will keep them from tipping. Divide pasta sauce between mushrooms & spread. Break an egg into each mushroom. Pour cream over the eggs, drizzling to try to cover the whole surface.
  2. Carefully place mushrooms in the oven for about 20 minutes. When eggs are almost set lay cheese slices on top & continue baking for another 5 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • Cooking times can vary between ovens; watch eggs closely.
  • If you prefer, you can scrape out the mushroom 'gills' to make more room for the filling.
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‘Retro’ Lemon Pudding Cheesecake Pie

Spring has finally arrived (at least that’s what the calendar says)!  It’s time to bring our taste buds out of hibernation and put our winter favorites on the back burner in favor of fresh spring flavors. Nothing says spring more than the taste of lemon. Fabulously versatile, lemons create a zesty, fresh flavor perfect for some spring zing.

I believe Lemon Meringue Pie  entered the mainstream culture in the 1940’s and remained popular through the 50′ and 60’s. It was definitely one of those desserts that most men of that time, including my dad, just loved. 

In doing a little research on the subject, it seems in 1951, the Sunkist lemon producers came up with a ‘new idea’. It was a Lemon Cheesecake pie in a graham wafer crust. It was advertised to be quick, easy, inexpensive as well as delicious! 

In March of 1959, the  Family Circle  magazine published a recipe for a Lemon ‘Pudding’ Cheesecake  pie. This version required no cooking  and basically had only about four ingredients. The idea appears to have been one from ‘General Foods’  using their Jell-o Instant Lemon Pudding  mix. It hardly seems it could be much easier than that.

In the spring of 2004, I saw a recipe on kraftcanada.com  for a more current remake of this recipe. Of course it takes longer to make and uses twice the amount of ingredients but sounded real good.

Just for fun, I decided to make the 1959 version with the addition of some lemon zest for a more vibrant lemon flavor.

'Retro' Lemon Pudding Cheesecake Pie
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
'Retro' Lemon Pudding Cheesecake Pie
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Servings
4-6
Servings
4-6
Instructions
Graham Crust
  1. In a bowl, combine graham crumbs, sugar & melted margarine. Mix well. Reserve 1/4 cup of mixture for topping. Press remainder on bottom & up sides of an 8-inch pie pan or spread evenly on the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, soften cream cheese, blend with 1/2 cup milk. Add remaining milk, lemon zest & pudding powder mix. Beat on low, just until well mixed, about 1 minute (do not overbeat). Pour filling into graham crust. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 of crumbs. Chill at least 1 hour.
Recipe Notes
  • Just a little side note -- On April 16, 2016 I had published a blog which featured a  No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake. It was one of the first cheesecakes my mother made.  It used lemon jell-o powder and was extremely light tasting. We loved it!
  • I tried making the filling with 1% milk & light cream cheese as well as adding some food color to brighten it up, all adjustments worked out real good. Definitely made it a guilt-free dessert!
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European Easter Bread

The aroma of Easter bread baking certainly brings back precious childhood memories. What I recall about my mother’s Easter bread, was that it was a dense, mildly sweet & a very egg rich bread. It was always baked in round ‘cans’ and the taste was unforgettable.

Nearly every country around the world has a traditional Easter bread. Each one is different in some way, a mix of symbolism and satisfying taste. They represent a continuity of traditions from centuries past, including much earlier pre-Christian times. Often these rich, yeasted breads are made in symbolic shapes and are elaborately decorated.

Germany and Austria make several shapes such as : Osterzopf – Easter braid, Osterkranz – Easter wreath or crown, Osternester – Easter nests, Eierimnest – Easter egg nest, Striezel – stacked braided bread.

That being said, I couldn’t resist doing a little ‘version’ of my own. I started with my favorite sweet yeast bread, added some anise flavor and a cream cheese filling. So now you have German osterkranz, Italian panettone and Romanian pasca all in one beautiful EUROPEAN EASTER BREAD.

European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
European Easter Bread
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A heavenly creation!
Servings
16
Servings
16
Ingredients
Bread Dough
Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk yeast & sugar into lukewarm water; let stand about 10 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat together 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, oil, anise extract, lemon zest, lemon extract, salt & anise seed. Combine egg mixture, melted butter & milk with yeast mixture.
  2. Add 4 CUPS flour, 1 cup at a time to wet mixture. Stir well after each addition. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth & elastic, about 5-6 minutes, adding remaining 1/2 cup flour if necessary.
  3. Coat a large bowl with oil. Place dough in bowl & turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise until it doubles in bulk. Meanwhile, cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the bottom & go up the sides of a 10" spring form pan. When dough has risen enough, cut into four pieces.
  4. On the parchment paper, press one piece of the dough into a circle measuring about 10" in diameter. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mixed peel, leaving a gap at the edge. Press out second piece of the dough on a lightly floured piece of wax paper, place it on top of the first layer & sprinkle with another 1/3 of mixed peel. Repeat with the third & fourth pieces of dough but do not sprinkle mixed peel on the final layer.
  5. Place a glass tumbler on top of the center of the dough circles. Cut dough into 16 segments, starting a the edge of the glass. Lift & twist them away from each other through 180 degrees. Lift & twist through 90 degrees so that the ends are vertical. Press the edges together firmly. Repeat this process with all pairs of segments. Leave glass sitting on top at the center of the circle to form an indentation for the cheese filling. Cover with plastic wrap & set in a warm place to rise for about 1/2 an hour.
  6. Preheat oven to to 325 F. In a bowl, place cream cheese, eggs, sugar & vanilla; mix well. When bread has risen, remove glass & fill indentation with cheese mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool. Brush with honey/water glaze. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
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Irish Cream Cheesecakes

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Although St. Patrick’s Day started out as a religious feast holiday celebrating the life of St. Patrick, it has become kind of a mixture of non-religious celebrations steeped in Irish culture, folklore and superstition.

Many St. Patrick’s Day traditions revolve around luck. Ironically, the Irish have been a very unlucky people as history tells. For instance, the rainbow you often see depicted in the St. Patrick’s Day themes, has seven easily distinguishable colors. Both the rainbow and the number seven are symbols of luck.

It is considered lucky to find a four leaf clover or ‘Shamrock’. It has been estimated that there are about 10,000 three leaf clovers to every four leaf clover. According to legend, each of the four leaves represents something: hope, faith, love and luck, respectively.

In the 19th century green became the symbol of Ireland ( also called ‘The Emerald Isle’). The wearing of green on St. Patrick’s Day is considered lucky. Pinching those not doing so began in Ireland many years ago. 

The legendary ‘Blarney Stone’, which is set in a wall of a castle in the Irish village of Blarney, is said to have magical powers. Whoever kisses the stone will have powers of persuasion.

Of course, we can’t forget some of the lucky charms associated with all this folklore.  If you hang a horseshoe over your doorway, make sure it has the open end up or your luck will pour out. The saying ‘see a penny pick it up and all day you will have good luck’. If you are lucky enough to see a falling star or a ‘shooting’ star, you get to make a secret wish.

With all the serious and concerning things happening in our world today, I thought it would keep things lighter just to acknowledge our Irish friends with some ‘fun facts’ on their St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

For the food tribute of the day, I chose to do IRISH CREAM CHEESECAKES .  How can you not love these little treasures!

 

 

Irish Cream Cheesecakes
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Like eating a fudge brownie topped with cheesecake.
Servings
18 cheesecake cups
Servings
18 cheesecake cups
Irish Cream Cheesecakes
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Like eating a fudge brownie topped with cheesecake.
Servings
18 cheesecake cups
Servings
18 cheesecake cups
Ingredients
Base
Servings: cheesecake cups
Instructions
Chocolate Shells
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar & cocoa; cut in margarine. Add water & mix only until combined. Shape into 1-inch balls; press onto the bottom & up sides of lightly greased miniature muffin pans (1 3/4-inch diameter size).
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth on medium speed. Add sugar, Baileys Irish Cream, & vanilla & egg; blend well. Fill chocolate cups. Bake 15-18 minutes. If desired top with whip cream.
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Pate’ Stuffed Chicken Breast with Apricot Glaze

Stuffing chicken breast with a pate is not a new idea but it’s not one I have made use of too often. Pate always seemed to me, it was kind of an upscale thing you would serve at cocktail parties. Over the years, I have probably made more than my share of liver, salmon or pesto pates for various catering events.

Although pate is believed to have originated in ancient Rome, it is essentially a French dish. The recipes are not always extravagant and widely vary from the humble appetizer to one of the world’s most expensive dishes. Traditionally, pate consisted of baked dishes served in a crust or molded into a ‘terrine’. Terrines are usually a coarser, denser texture, making them more satisfying to serve for a main course.

There are no fixed ingredients for preparing a pate — the choice is yours. Classic choices are chicken liver, oysters, bacon, fresh herbs with various cheeses, all ground into a paste-like consistency. Generally with pate, your ingredients are cooked and cooled then processed into a paste.  The mixture is then placed in a mold, covered and refrigerated overnight. In the case of terrines, after prepared, they are baked slowly and then refrigerated for at least 24 hours before slicing and serving.

In France, enjoying pate with a baguette, accompanied by wine and cheese for lunch in an outdoor setting would be most common. Pate and it’s variations are actually a very familiar and integral dish to many countries.

My inspiration for this meal today was the fact I had some Brie cheese that I wanted to use up. It actually tasted even better than I though it would which was probably due to the fresh basil used. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as well.

Pate' Stuffed Chicken Breast with Apricot Glaze
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Pate' Stuffed Chicken Breast with Apricot Glaze
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Pate Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Chicken Breast
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a baking dish well & set aside. Between two pieces of plastic wrap, place chicken breast, smooth side down; gently flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Place 2 breasts in baking dish.
Pate Filling
  1. In a food processor, place walnuts, basil & garlic, slowly adding the olive oil, pulsing until mixture becomes paste like. Add brie, cream cheese & egg; pulse to blend. Season with salt & pepper.
  2. Divide mixture between the 2 chicken breasts in baking dish; top with 2 remaining flattened breasts. Spread apricot preserves over each breast. Dot with 'Fig Balsamic' olive oil dressing. Lightly spread to cover apricot preserves. Sprinkle each breast with crushed red peppers.
  3. Bake, uncovered for about 40 minutes or until chicken & pate filling are cooked. Remove from oven, slice each breast in half to make 4 servings.
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Strawberry Cheesecake

CELEBRATING MOTHER’S DAY!

Mother’s Day is our time to reflect and show gratitude to the women and mother’s who have been mentors and caregivers; ultimately those who have helped to shape us into who we are.

When my mother passed away in 1978, a friend said to me, ‘she will always be with you’. At that time I hadn’t really understood that comment fully. As the years go by I realized that is so true but of course it is never the same.  Never a day goes by without something  triggering a special memory of her.

Beauty lives deep in the heart of a mother and all she does for her family. This blog is especially to celebrate:  the special memories of my mother for her endless giving of selfless love — my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and raising that ‘special’ man  I love sharing my life with — to my sisters, who have given so much of themselves to be such great moms.

My choice of recipe for today’s blog is one that I have always enjoyed to make for special occasions — No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake. 

Strawberry Cheesecake
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A showy, light cheesecake tasting almost like you were eating a strawberry mousse dessert.
Servings Prep Time
12 30 minutes
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 30 minutes
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Strawberry Cheesecake
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A showy, light cheesecake tasting almost like you were eating a strawberry mousse dessert.
Servings Prep Time
12 30 minutes
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 30 minutes
Cook Time
8-10 minutes
Ingredients
Crust
Cheesecake
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine crumbs, coconut & butter; press into bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven & cool. Line sides of pan with a strip of parchment paper wide enough to reach the top of pan.
  2. Reserve several strawberries for garnish. Cut two 1/4" slices from center part of enough strawberries to press in a single row of slices around base edge of pan. Cut up remaining strawberries to make 2 cups.
  3. Process strawberries in food processor slightly; add softened cream cheese, sugar, orange & lemon juice. Continue to process until very smooth.
  4. Soften gelatin in cold water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Beat into cheese mixture. Refrigerate until mixture just begins to mound. Fold in 1 cup whipped cream; pour into prepared crust & refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove cheesecake from pan; carefully remove parchment paper.
  5. Garnish with whipped cream, strawberry slices & fresh mint leaves.
Recipe Notes
  • In the picture for the blog I chose to dip some strawberries to use in the garnish. Other times, I have made a floret of whipped cream on top of each serving piece topped it with a slice of strawberry & a piece of fresh mint.
  • On occasion, I haven't baked the crust if time was of the essence & the cheesecake would be used right away.
  • If you prefer a stronger strawberry flavor the 1 cup of whipping cream can be omitted. The cheesecake seems to have no problem 'setting up' without it.
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Dutch Apple Pie

In 2015, my husband Brion and I spent three months in Ecuador. Other than a holiday, we were wanting to check out this country as a possible ‘winter haven’, away from the cold ‘Alberta’ winters. It didn’t quite make the list but it was another adventure in our travels that is valuable in the big picture.

Cuenca is Ecuador’s third-largest city and the economic center of the southern sierra. The city sits on a plateau surrounded by mountains which explains the name Cuenca which means ‘basin’ in Spanish. Four rivers are found in the Cuenca basin and one, the Tomebamba, runs right through the center of the city.

An artistic mecca of southern Ecuador, artisans produce fine leather goods, custom made guitars, filigree jewelry, ceramics as well as the famous Panama hats, which originated in Ecuador not Panama.

Although near the equator, Cuenca sits high in the southern Andes at an altitude of 8300 feet and its residents enjoy year round spring-like weather. Temperatures rarely go beyond highs in the 70’s F.(21 Celsius) and lows in the 50’s F.(10 Celsius), so a sweater or light jacket is sufficient all year long. Rainfall averages around three inches per month.

Cuenca’s two ‘seasons’ are rainy and dry. The rainy season, roughly from January through May, features warm sunny mornings and frequent afternoon showers. During the middle of the dry season (June through December), you can expect long periods of chilly weather and overcast skies.

The apartment we had rented was in central Cuenca where we discovered a nice little place called ‘Tutto Freddos’. It was a unique spot where you could enjoy having a variety of things to eat such as pizza, sandwiches, ice cream treats, cakes and pastries with your coffee. It was like a bistro in appearance with its small tables as well as a mezzanine floor. While you enjoyed your coffee and treats you could watch the activity in the streets. Of course being the nature of the country, it never failed to be interesting! One of the treats we had numerous times was what seemed to me like a version of ‘Dutch Apple Pie’. I tried to find out anything I could about it in hopes of duplicating the ‘Taste of a Memory’. Here is my interpretation of this special ‘pie’.

Dutch Apple Pie
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Apple-cream cheese filling with a wonderful blend of 'Dutch' spices, baked in a shortbread cookie crust.
Servings Prep Time
12-16 20 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12-16 20 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Dutch Apple Pie
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Apple-cream cheese filling with a wonderful blend of 'Dutch' spices, baked in a shortbread cookie crust.
Servings Prep Time
12-16 20 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12-16 20 minutes
Cook Time
50 minutes
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Filling
Streusel
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a food processor, combine flour, powdered sugar & cornstarch. Cover & process until combined; add butter. Pulse with on/off turns until mixture forms fine crumbs. Press mixture onto the bottom & 1 1/2" up the sides of a 9" spring form pan.
  2. Beat cream cheese & 1/4 cup sugar with mixer until well blended. Add egg & vanilla; mix well. Spread onto bottom of crust. Mix remaining sugar, 2 Tbsp flour, & spice blend. Add to apples in a large bowl; toss to coat. Spoon over cream cheese layer.
  3. Mix remaining flour, brown sugar & rolled oats in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over apple mixture. Lay a piece of foil loosely over pie to prevent over browning. Bake in bottom third of oven for 20 minutes, uncover & continue to bake for another 30 minutes or until apples are tender.
Recipe Notes

Spice Blend Mix:    4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cloves, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp anise seed, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp cardamom, 1/4 tsp mace

  • Grind the spices together in a coffee grinder or blender; place in a screw-top jar in the refrigerator.
  • Any extra spice mix can be used in recipes calling for 'apple or pumpkin pie spice'.
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No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake

I would like to thank all of you who downloaded my Ebook in the last week’s promo on Amazon.

Special appreciation to those of you who choose to take the time to write a review on Amazon as well as subscribing to my website. Although this was the third book I have written, it was my first Ebook to be published and good reviews definitely help me achieve better ratings in the ‘big picture’. To a ‘new’ author, this show of support is priceless and I    Thank you Sincerely.

Although I can’t make today’s blog recipe for you and share it over a coffee, I think you will enjoy making it.

This was likely one of the first ‘cheesecake’ recipes. It dates back to the sixties, and probably preceded most of the baked versions. Affordable, easy to make, showy and simply delicious.

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake
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A light textured dessert with a hint of lemon.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 15 minutes
Passive Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8 15 minutes
Passive Time
4 hours
No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake
Yum
Print Recipe
A light textured dessert with a hint of lemon.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 15 minutes
Passive Time
4 hours
Servings Prep Time
6-8 15 minutes
Passive Time
4 hours
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Dissolve jello powder in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl, combine wafer crumbs & sugar; add margarine & mix well. Reserve 1/2 cup for topping. Press remainder into an 8-inch spring form pan.
  3. Combine cream cheese, sugar & lemon extract in a mixer bowl; beat until combined. Stir in lemon jello mixture then fold in thawed whipped topping until well blended.
  4. Pour over crust; sprinkle with reserved crumbs & refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
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