what's for brunch?

Looking for something a bit “lighter”?

How about something a bit “brunchy” for dinner - if not for brunch?

Going to a big dinner at night and want to eat lighter?

How about these?

Italian Sausage Egg Bake

8 slices white bread, cubed
1 pound Italian sausage links, casings removed, sliced
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
9 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups 2% milk
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed



Place bread cubes in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish; set aside. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Spoon sausage over bread; sprinkle with cheeses.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and seasonings; pour over casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Yield: 12 servings.

Four-Fruit Compote

1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
3 to 4 medium apples, chopped
2 to 3 medium bananas, sliced



Drain pineapple, reserving 3/4 cup juice. In a large saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in the orange, lemon and pineapple juices until smooth. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the fruits. Pour warm sauce over the fruit; stir gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate. Yield: 12-16 servings.

Croissant French Toast

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 egg yolks, beaten
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
BERRY SAUCE:
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
FRENCH TOAST:
3 eggs
4 croissants, split
2 tablespoons butter


In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and flour. Stir in cream until smooth. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot filling into egg yolks; return all to the pan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture reaches 160°.
Remove from the heat. Gently stir in ice cream and vanilla until ice cream is melted. Place plastic wrap over the surface of the sauce; cool.
For berry sauce, combine raspberries and sugar in a saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.
In a shallow bowl, beat eggs. Dip both sides of croissants in egg. On a griddle, brown croissants on both sides in butter. Serve with vanilla and berry sauces. Yield: 4 servings.

Bacon and Eggs Casserole

4 Bacon strips
18 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper



In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towel to drain.
In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk, cheese, sour cream, onions, salt and pepper.
Pour into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Crumble bacon and sprinkle on top. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes. Yield: 10 servings.

Strawberry Banana Crepes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
FILLING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
TOPPING:
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
2 medium firm bananas, sliced
1/4 cup sugar, optional



In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, milk and eggs. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
In an 8-in. nonstick skillet, melt 1 teaspoon butter. Stir batter; pour about 2 tablespoons into the center of skillet. Lift and tilt pan to evenly coat bottom. Cook until top appears dry; turn and cook 15-20 seconds longer. Remove to a wire rack.
Repeat with remaining batter, add butter to a skillet as needed. When cool, stack crepes on paper towels with waxed paper in between.
In a large bowl, beat the filling ingredients until smooth. Spread 2 rounded tablespoonfuls on each crepe; roll up. In a large bowl, combine topping ingredients; spoon with crepes. Yield: 18 crepes.

Italian Brunch Torte

2 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
7 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced hard salami
1/2 pound sliced provolone cheese
2 jars (12 ounces each) roasted sweet red peppers, drained, sliced and patted dry


Preheat oven to 350°. Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan. Unroll one tube of crescent dough and separate into triangles. Press onto bottom of prepared pan to form a crust, sealing seams well. Bake 10-15 minutes or until set.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add spinach and mushrooms; cook and stir until mushrooms are tender. Drain on several layers of paper towels, blotting well. In a large bowl, whisk six eggs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and pepper.
Layer crust with half of each of the following: ham, salami, provolone cheese, red peppers and spinach mixture. Pour half of the egg mixture over top. Repeat layers; top with remaining egg mixture.
On a work surface, unroll and separate remaining crescent dough into triangles. Press together to form a circle and seal seams; place over filling. Whisk remaining egg; brush over dough.
Bake, uncovered, 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until a thermometer reads 160°, covering loosely with foil if needed to prevent overbrowning. Carefully loosen sides from pan with a knife; remove rim from pan. Let stand 20 minutes. Yield: 12 servings.

Asparagus Mushroom Quiche

1 sheet refrigerated pie pastry
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
1-1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper



Unroll pastry into a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate; flute edges.
Place asparagus in a steamer basket; place in a large saucepan over 1 in. of water. Bring to a boil; cover and steam for 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
In a large skillet, saute onion and mushrooms in butter until tender. Stir in asparagus. Transfer to crust. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, basil, salt and pepper; pour over top.
Bake at 375° for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.
Freeze option: Securely wrap and freeze cooled quiche in plastic wrap and foil. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 375°. Unwrap quiche; reheat in oven until heated through and a thermometer inserted in center reads 165°. Yield: 8 servings.

Calico Scrambled Eggs

8 large eggs
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dill weed
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato



In a bowl, whisk the first five ingredients until blended. In a 12-in. nonstick skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add green pepper and onion; cook and stir until tender. Remove from pan.
In same pan, pour in egg mixture; cook and stir over medium heat until eggs begin to thicken. Add tomato and pepper mixture; cook until heated through and no liquid egg remains, stirring gently. Yield: 4 servings.

Oven French Toast with Nut Topping

1 loaf (12 ounces) French bread, cut in 1-inch slices
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
TOPPING:
1-1/3 cups packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1-1/3 cups chopped pecans, walnuts or hickory nuts



Fill a well-greased 13x9-in. baking dish with bread slices to within 1/2 in. of top; set aside.
In blender, combine the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and mace; cover and process until blended. Pour over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients. Spread over top.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until puffed and golden. (Cover with foil if top browns too quickly.) Yield: 8-10 servings.

Slow Cooker Ham & Eggs

6 large eggs
1 cup biscuit/baking mix
2/3 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cubed fully cooked ham
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese



In a large bowl, whisk the first eight ingredients until blended; stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased 3- or 4-qt. slow cooker.
Cook, covered, on low 3-4 hours or until eggs are set. Cut into wedges. Yield: 6 servings.

Spring Greens Quiche

Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches), see below
6 center-cut bacon strips, chopped
5 cups julienned dandelion greens or Swiss chard
5 cups fresh baby spinach
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup shredded Jarlsberg cheese
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash pepper



Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/8-in. thick circle; transfer to a 9-in. pie plate. Trim pastry to 1/2 in. beyond rim of plate; flute edge. Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of foil. Fill with pie weights, dried beans or uncooked rice.
Bake 13 minutes. Remove foil and weights; bake 3 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Discard drippings, reserving 1 tablespoon. Cook and stir greens, spinach and green onions in drippings until wilted and liquid is evaporated.
Brush prepared crust with egg white; layer with wilted greens, cheese and cooked bacon. In a large bowl, whisk remaining ingredients; pour over top.
Bake 35-40 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Yield: 6 servings.

Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inces): Combine 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/4 tsp. salt; cut in 1/2 cup cold butter until crumbly. Gradually add 3-5 Tbsp. ice water, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour. Let pie weights cool before storing. Beans and rice may be reused for pie weights, but not for cooking.

Breakfast Bread Bowls
fill with what you want!

1/2 cup chopped pancetta
4 crusty hard rolls (4 inches wide)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms
4 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere or fontina cheese


Preheat oven to 350°. In a small skillet, cook pancetta over medium heat until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, cut a thin slice off top of each roll. Hollow out bottom of roll, leaving a 1/2-in.-thick shell (save removed bread for another use); place shells on an ungreased baking sheet.
Add mushrooms and pancetta to bread shells. Carefully break an egg into each; sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 18-22 minutes or until egg whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Yield: 4 servings.

Monte Cristo Casserole with Raspberry Sauce

1 loaf (1 pound) day-old Italian bread, cut into 1-inch slices
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 pound sliced deli ham
1/2 pound sliced Swiss cheese
1/2 pound sliced deli turkey
6 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
TOPPING:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
RASPBERRY SAUCE:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries



Line a greased 13x9-in. baking dish with half of the bread. Spread mustard over bread. Layer with ham, cheese, turkey and remaining bread (dish will be full).
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla; pour over top. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°. Remove casserole from refrigerator while oven heats. In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients; sprinkle over casserole. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water, lemon juice and maple syrup until smooth. Add raspberries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
Let casserole stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with sauce. Yield: 12 servings (1-3/4 cups sauce).

Brunch Hash & Egg Bake

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 large eggs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley



Preheat oven to 375°. Place potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, 5-7 minutes or until almost tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a 12-in. ovenproof skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink, breaking up sausage into crumbles. Remove with a slotted spoon. Discard drippings, wiping skillet clean.
In same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add drained potatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 10-15 minutes or until golden brown, turning potatoes occasionally. Stir in sausage mixture. Remove from heat.
With the back of a spoon, make eight wells in potato mixture. Break one egg into each well. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake 12-15 minutes or until egg whites are set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard. Sprinkle with parsley. Yield: 8 servings.