Building A Menu: Mother’s Day Brunch

mother's day brunch menu ideas

South Florida is REALLY into brunch- okay, a lot of places are really into brunch. I guess the correct way to start this post is to say that I’m only recently getting into brunch. I’ve always loved breakfast (specifically waffles and whipped creme a la Leslie Knope) but getting dressed and heading out for a few hours on my precious Sunday just never felt like the right thing to do. South Florida brunches have really changed the game for me, though. The sun is shining, DJ’s are spinning tunes, people keep offering me bottomless mimosas and the waffles pretty much ALWAYS come with whipped cream. You win, brunch.

So with Mother’s Day less than 2 weeks away, I thought it might be fun to round up some cute and simple recipes that may help you put together your own little brunch in honor of your favorite lady next weekend. Just pick one thing from each category to have a more personal meal or go crazy and make a little of everything!

 

The Basics: Iced Coffee  | Flavored Coffee Creamer  |  Cucumber Water

The Sweet: Pancakes  |  Waffles  | Mason Jar Whipped Cream

The Salty: Eggs Benedict  |  Breakfast Potatoes

The Necessary: Mimosas  | Bloody Mary  |  Bellini

PS- Don’t let her leave empty handed! Shop from our Mother’s Day Gift Gide

original picture via

Guest Post: Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

Happy Friday, friends!! Today is the final day of my B&N / Guest Post extravaganza! While I’ve been packing for my plane ride home, my friend Sarah has been busy whipping up a dinner for you all in her kitchen. She’s a newbie blogger (just one month in!) but she’s been keeping me laughing at work for the last few years. When Sarah isn’t telling jokes, she’s teaching me about things like making my own homemade cleaner, running in the cold and cooking things that don’t moo.

I’m super excited that she started a blog because she’s full of information that’s just begging to be pinned. It’s easy to see that that anythingbetween is a blog you’ll want to have bookmarked. Take it away, girl!

Hi! I’m Sarah over at anythingbetween and I am brand new to the blogging world. I am very excited to be doing a guest post for Jenn while she is in Texas. Not only do I read Jenn’s blog, but also work with her and get to chat and laugh with her daily (be jealous).

My blog is all about things I enjoy most in life, mainly, cooking, baking, household tips and trying to stay active, fit and healthy. I wanted to share a delicious recipe that isn’t a usual, healthy dish but also incorporates some of my favorite things in a meal: comfort, vegetables, warmth….. and cheese.

I love cheese.

butternut squash mac and cheese

This butternut squash mac n cheese delivers. Don’t be nervous about the butternut squash. It adds a creaminess to the dish instead of having to add heavy cream, butter, egg and large quantities of cheese, making the dish a lot healthier and a lot more nutritious. Also, isn’t butternut squash just one of the cutest vegetables out there. Look at these guys…

 

Creamy butternut squash

For this recipe, you will only need one small butternut squash (~1lb). I picked up the two for only $1 and used the leftovers to make a roasted vegetable soup that I will be sharing the recipe for later this week over at anythingbeween. Everything else you probably already have on hand and, overall, it’s a simple, easy, healthy dinner to put together.

 

Butternut Squash Mac N Cheese

Ingredients

  • Butternut squash, about 3c cubed
  • 1c vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you prefer)
  • 1.5c low-fat or non-fat milk
  • 1lb pasta, cooked
  • 2c shredded low-fat cheese, divided (I used a mixture of sharp cheddar, monterey jack and muenster cheeses)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 1/8c breadcrumbs

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Start by peeling the butternut squash and cutting into cubes, about 3 cups.
  3. Combine broth, milk and butternut squash in a pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Simmer on medium-low heat until squash is fork tender.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water (don't forget to add salt!) and cook pasta according to package instructions. Cook the pasta to right before al dente as the pasta will cook a bit more in the oven, about 7 minutes. When finished, drain and set aside.
  5. When squash is fork tender you can either mash the squash in the pan or transfer to a food processor (like I did) and puree mixture until smooth. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  6. Return puree back to pan (if needed) and add cheese, reserving 1/4c, mixing until cheese has melted. Mix pasta into mixture and transfer to an oven safe dish. If your dish is not non-stick, spray with non-stick spray.
  7. Combine remaining 1/4c cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of pasta.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, until top is browned.

Notes

Nutritional Information (per serving): 343 calories, 4g fat, 3.5g fiber, 19g protein, 55g carbs

Serves 6

http://withluckblog.com/gp-butternutsquashmacncheese/

My husband loves baked macaroni and cheese and I’m glad I can provide him with a healthy alternative. Of course, we had to finish the meal with something sweet so I baked up a batch of our favorite chocolate chip cookies.

What’s a dish you love that you try to tweak to make a bit healthier? Or what’s a splurge dish you prepare?

Enjoy!

Woohoo! Thanks Sarah! I’m still unsure of how you think of your creative & healthy dishes, but I hope you’ll share another on the blog soon! We’ve been trying to be healthy over here, but my “cooking skills” are actually closer to “burning dinner skills” so Dean is also requesting all of your leftovers. For all of you looking to live and enjoy a healthy life, you really have no choice but to go give anythingbetween a read.

And that concludes my week in Texas and your week of getting to know some of my friends! I have a few more days of travel coming up over the spring, so if YOU are interested in being a guest poster on With Luck, just shoot me an email!

Have a good weekend!

With Luck

Linked up with Sugar and Dots Fancy ThisSugar Bee Crafts & Transformation Thursday

Panko?!

Good morning folks. Hope the past few days were pleasant for you. We have been addicted to The Walking Dead the past week… Trying desperately to catch up before this Sunday for the mid-season finale. If you haven’t watched it or heard of it, we highly recommend it. It is a fantastic show. Enough with this tangent- on to more important things…

Panko. What? is? that? Well, Japanese Panko is an alternative to breadcrumbs. It gives the illusion of frying your fish and chicken without actually frying. It does not have a smell or taste of any kind. It’s kinda bland on its own. This gives you the opportunity to get creative with the spices. We purchased the Panko from BJ’s Wholesale Club. It was a big box with two bags of Panko.. oh man!

This is a healthier option to get your chicken and fish crispy without having to fry anything. You just season the Panko and rub it on your meat. Then, throw that baby into your oven. It’s an alternative to making chicken fingers for your little ones too. We’ll post about that later… 😉 after all, we have two bags of Panko to spare.

In our home, we like the dark meat of a chicken. Why? Don’t know. So, our recipe calls for chicken thighs. YUMM! The thighs tend not to dry out like chicken breast, but in the end, its all about preference. You are welcome to use white meat instead of dark.

Ah, here’s a breakdown of what we used:

  • 4 pieces of chicken thighs, washed and dried.
  • 1 cup of Panko crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of Mrs. Dash, Original 😉
  • 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. You need two bowls, one for the eggs and another for the dry ingredients. This is similar to breading chicken. In the dry bowl, mix the Panko with Mrs. Dash, garlic powder and the cheese. In the other, whisk the eggs together.

Take your washed chicken, dip it into the eggs, then into the dry mixture. Place the chicken onto your baking sheet or pan. We don’t recommend greasing the pan because then the Panko underneath the chicken will be soft and not crispy. -_- don’t want that.

Once you have done this with all the chicken, put foil over the dish and throw it in the oven. Make sure the foil is not tight around the pan. This way, the steam can leave the pan or you can poke some holes on the top. Our chicken cooked in about an hour. We would recommend keeping an eye on it based on how your oven works.

When cooked and out of the oven, enjoy it with a nice side. We chose to make a salad. The chicken will be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. This is an easy, healthier way to cook your chicken and with the Panko, you’ll get the crispy-ness of a fried meal without the oil and grease.

You do not have to use Mrs. Dash’s original if you aren’t a fan. If you are bold, you can go spicy with some cayenne pepper. That’s the beauty of Panko, you can flavor it any way you like, and cannot go wrong. Everyone will think you are a genius cook 😉 Who doesn’t like that??

If you have experimented with Panko crumbs before, what did you think? Do you prefer Panko or traditional breadcrumbs?

We’d love to hear how you enjoyed this recipe! <3

 

Friday Friends: Chicken Cutlets

Everyone has that one meal that reminds them of home.  Mine would have to be my mom’s homemade chicken cutlets. Luckily my travel this week happened to bring me close to home which allowed me to take some pictures and post about them for today’s Friday Friends!

Seriously. I don’t know how they are so perfect every time!

I’ve tried to make these a million times before. All you need are are: chicken breasts (we prefer them thin so my mom actually buys the thin sliced cutlets), eggs (and/or milk if you choose), breadcrumbs, and some oil.

That’s a chicken in the egg, not something weird.
It’s hard taking picture of other people cooking!

My mom does this all so fast you would think that it requires no thought. She beat a few eggs (3 this time if you’re wondering) and set up a second bowl (or plate) of breadcrumbs about two seconds after getting home from work.  Before getting changed out of her work clothes she was ready to take out her chicken and get going. Now this can be a much longer process if you choose to make your own breadcrumbs of course… but I come from a long line of lazy  people who like to utilize what we already have, so we don’t do that. I really wanted to throw in those French’s French Fried Onions that you see in the corner but I got shot down. Boo on you, Mom. (Just kidding. Please make me these again soon!)

You dip your chicken right into your eggs,  followed by a good coating of breadcrumbs and fry them in the oil. Tada! You just finished your first chicken cutlet! I really don’t understand why my chicken cutlets never turn out as good as my moms.
Yum!

After watching my mom work her magic in the kitchen once again, the only thing I really noticed that we do differently is our oil. Maybe I need to buy some nicer olive oil.

This giant thing is actually bigger than it looks here.
If it will make my chicken taste like my mom’s I may have to
cave in and make the purchase.

Of course we didn’t only eat chicken, so here’s a few snapshots of some other foods we enjoyed tonight. Sorry I didn’t get to take a picture of everything, I was just too busy eating it. Bad blogger!

A little appetizer action.
Fresh corn straight from a farmer in upstate NY. Thanks Marie!
A little eggplant never hurts. Unless your allergic I guess. Then you should skip it.
And after all that work, here we are enjoying our drinks for the night.
Yes I look tired. Taking pictures and eating make for a really long evening.
Don’t judge me.


What foods remind you of home? Are they just as good when you recreate them for yourself?

 

Friday Friends-Homemade Sauce

Happy, happy Friday blogging friends! I’m happy to introduce Recreate and Repin’s second Friday Friends post.  Last week Nese taught us how to make some salsa.  This one comes from my friend, Danielle. She made her first sauce from scratch yesterday and lived to post about it. She chose to follow Rachael Ray’s vodka cream pasta recipe appropriately titled “You Won’t Be Single For Long“. This could be you, too!

Yum!
Here’s what she started with:
Ingredients:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
Coarse salt and pepper
16 oz pasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Crusty bread, for passing
*Note: Danielle chose to use onions instead of the shallots and added some mozzarella cheese to the end

Danielle followed the instructions straight from Rachael, but we’ve also listed them here.  You’re welcome. =)

*simmering the onions and garlic in the oil mixture.

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil, butter, garlic and onions. Gently sauté the onions for 3-5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add the vodka to the pan (three turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup). Reduce the vodka by half, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and the tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
with chicken stock and crushed tomatoes
Let the sauce simmer and take some time to cook the pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (She like it with a bite to it). While the pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

When you get back to your sauce, stir the cream in. When the sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from the heat. Drain the pasta. Toss the hot pasta with the sauce and the basil leaves and you’re done! All that’s left is to pass the pasta with crusty bread around your table!

With some mozzarella cheese melted on top-how perfect!
Danielle’s notes:  To make my “crusty bread” I heated up some french bread and put some seasoning in olive oil to dip the bread in as a side dish. All in all, it was a great meal!  Next time, I think I would cook the sauce a bit longer than the recipe suggests to make it a bit thicker. Also know that on the website, there is a healthier option for the ingredients…I of course went the fattier route but it’s your choice!

I’m loving all of these recipes. I’m not much of a cook (thankfully Dean takes over this duty in our home).  But it’s probably time I try it out, right? Danielle make this look so easy maybe I’ll have to make dinner on Sunday. Bon appetit!

What’s’ your favorite homemade food?


*Have you  made something that you want featured on Recreate and Repin? Email me to become a Friday Friend!