Friday, April 17, 2009

A bit (ok, a lot) more about Easter

Each year, my husband and I have friends over for an Easter brunch. I'm not sure how Easter became "our holiday" to host, but I'm so glad it worked out that way.

Easter is awesome. It's an excuse to drink mimosas at 11 a.m., and practically all the food can be made ahead of time.
I bake a couple things the day before, then get up on Sunday morning to cut up a fruit salad and throw an egg dish in the oven, while Mike takes care of the potatoes and bacon. You don’t get much more low-maintenance than that.

On the menu this year:
* Green chili egg puff
* Bacon
* Potatoes (cut up and cooked in a frying pan with some onions – one of Mike’s specialties)
* Fruit salad (grapes, cantaloupe and FRESH pineapple = yum)
* Blueberry cake
* Zucchini bread
* Peach French toast, courtesy of my friend Kelly

Blueberry Ripple Cake
The blueberry cake is one of my go-to recipes (see recipe below). It has a cake-mix base with a simple homemade crumb mixture (and blueberries, of course) added in for texture. It tastes like it took longer to concoct than it actually did, and it’s a great dessert for the spring/summer, when you don’t want anything chocolaty or heavy.
Here's how it looks pre-oven:

And post-oven:

My tip: After it has cooled, store it in the fridge. It’s good at room temp, but it’s really good cold. I discovered this once when I made it for a visit from my mom, who lives in Ohio. We ate it at room temperature the first day, and since it gets hot in the desert, I stuck it in the refrigerator so it would stay fresh.
My mom still raves about it and calls it “that blueberry cake that tastes better when it’s cold.” She says the cold makes it “crisp,” which I think is a pretty good way to describe it.

Zucchini Bread
I started making the zucchini bread years ago, when I wanted to emulate my Grandma’s bread-making skills. The woman makes a mean pumpkin bread. I haven’t even bothered to attempt my own pumpkin bread because I know it won’t be better than hers. So I opted for zucchini instead (see recipe below).
I keep making it not just because it is moist and really good, but also because I love the color of the freshly grated zucchini the recipe calls for. See:

It’s a color you rarely see in baking. That’s just cool to me.
Here’s the finished product:

I put one out on the table for Easter, and sent the other to Mike’s Nana, who likes to have a piece with her morning coffee.
Some blueberry cake and zucchini bread remnants:

Green Chili Egg Puff
I don’t know how I forgot to take a picture of the Green Chili Egg Puff, but it’s a crowd favorite. One person from the group told me he looks forward to Easter specifically because of this dish.
I had the same reaction the first time I tasted it, which is why I snagged the recipe.
I was in Los Angeles with some friends, staying at the house of one of the friend’s parents. We got up one morning, and Mrs. Newton pulled the puff out of the oven.
It’s creamy, it’s cheesy, and it has a little southwestern flair. I asked her, hesitantly, how difficult it was to make.
Oh, she said, it's not hard at all! You just mix everything together and stick it in the oven!
She passed the recipe to me, and I scribbled it down, knowing it was a gem that I’d get a lot of use out of.

Blueberry Ripple Cake
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn salt
1/4 cup cold butter
1/2 c chopped pecans
1 package (18-1/4 ounces) white cake mix
1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle half the mixture into a greased 13 X 9 X 2 baking dish.
Prepare the cake mix batter according to package directions; spread over pecan mixture. Top with the blueberries and remaining pecan mixture; swirl with a knife.
Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm or cool on wire rack. Yields: 12-15 servings.
(If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw before adding to the batter.)
Source: Taste of Home Cake Mix Creations

Zucchini Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tspn salt
1 tspn baking soda
1 tspn baking powder
3 tspns ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (for a healthier version, substitute 1/2 c of the oil for 1/2 c applesauce)
2 cups white sugar
3 tspns vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour two 8X4 pans. Preheat oven to 325.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well-combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 40-6- minutes, or until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cool completely.
Note: This yields two breads, so I often give the other one away or freeze it for another day. It freezes very well, although isn't quite as moist after it has been frozen.

Green Chili Egg Puff
5 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tspn baking powder
1/4 tspn salt
1 cup cottage cheese
2 cups shredded jack cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 (4-oz) can diced chilies

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl; stir in chilies. Pour into a well-buttered 8X8 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.
Serve alone or with salsa.
Yields: 4-6 servings
Source: Mrs. Newton.


Still Single

Just so you know, I absolutely LOVE zucchini bread. My mom used to make it all the time, but I haven't had it in years. I miss it!


Was that another hint? :-)


Thank you, thank you for the green chili egg puff recipe. I didn't even know what it was called, but I knew that it was so good. I'm going to make it myself this weekend. It's amazing.

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