Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrations With Food

I cook all the time and definitely don't need a special occasion to make special food. I love the creative process and the billions of tastes and flavor combinations that happen in the kitchen no matter what the celebration, holiday or occasion.

It's Easter time and of course that means another holiday event that has it's traditional menu of family favorites and traditions. Why deviate? I've tried the deviation route and it failed miserably - why do it? To me and my family, the food served on Easter Sunday must resemble brunch served sometime around 11:00 and then a Ham dinner. Easy enough right? Nobody has any other expectations than that so as long as I stick to those simple rules everybody will be happy and I can create to my hearts content!

Brunch - big or small? This year - small and late! We had a wonderful evening with friends the night before which required a return trip to bed after sunrise service! Late or not, the family raved over our small brunch and we'll definitely be repeating it.

Healthified Monkey Bread

1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cans Pillsbury reduced-fat biscuits
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup fat-free caramel topping
2 tsp vanilla

Heat the oven to 350. Spray a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan with cooking spray. In a 1-gallon resealable food storage plastic bag, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Separate both cans of dough into 16 biscuits. Cut each biscuit into quarters. Add biscuit pieces to sugar mixture. Seal the bag and shake to coat. Layer biscuit pieces and pecans in the prepared pan. In a small bowl, mix the caramel topping and vanilla. Pour over the biscuit pieces. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in the center. Invert onto a serving platter and serve warm. (Serves 16)

This yummy treat is 6 points-plus for four pieces (a full biscuit). Although that's quite a few points for only one part of brunch, it's substantially less than the "real stuff" and yet has all the flavor and warmth. Can't wait to make this one in the Dutch oven while camping!

And now for the main event!!

Maple Sausage & Waffle Casserole

6 homemade waffles, using fat free mix
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
8 links turkey breakfast sausage
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, 2%
6 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup, sugar free
2 cups milk, 2%
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the sausage from casings and brown in a skillet until no longer pink, drain on paper towels. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. In the same skillet, saute the onions, peppers and celery until softened. Transfer to the bowl with the sausage. Coat an 11x8 inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Cut the waffles in half and arrange 6 halves to cover the bottom. There will be some space between the halves. Sprinkle the waffles with half the sausage mixture and half the cheese. Repeat the layer with the remaining waffles, sausage and cheese. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl with the syrup, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the waffle layers. Bake 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are puffy. Cool 5 minutes and serve. (Serves 10)

At only 5 points-plus per serving this sweet and savory breakfast casserole will please everybodys palate!

And that's it! Believe it or not, that's all we had for brunch this year and everybody was very satisfied! Nope - no eggs Benedict, no fruit with the chocolate fountain and no seafood selection. Plain and simple - perfectly delicious!

Hurry and clean up - almost time to start dinner!

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