Sweet and Savory Cheesecakes for Brunch

I never tire of singing the praises of brunch – it’s a great way to entertain all the way around. It comes at a convenient time of the day, offers the opportunity to serve a variety of favorite foods and exudes a fun and festive aura. My brunches tend to lean more toward breakfast, simply because I love breakfast foods. But brunch menus also often include typical lunch foods, too.

Here are two cheesecake recipes sure to add a festive twist to a holiday brunch.  Both were past recipe contest winners and feature an easy-to-make crust made with a Martha White® muffin mix. Savory Apple Cinnamon Bacon Breakfast Cheesecake features savory cheesecake seasoned with bacon and sautéed onion. The crust has a slightly sweet twist from using the Martha White® Apple Cinnamon Flavored Muffin Mix. You could substitute with other muffin mix flavors like Blueberry, if you prefer.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Cheesecake is a dessert cheesecake that requires only six ingredients. The crust can be made with a Martha White® Apple Cider Flavored Muffin Mix or a Martha White® Cinnamon Sugar Flavored Muffin Mix and butter. The filling consists of Neufchatel or cream cheese, sugar and eggs, swirled with caramel topping.

Either recipe will add a festive touch to you holiday brunch whether it’s breakfast or lunch inspired.

What are your favorite brunch dishes?

Holiday Brunch Cakes

I’ve tried to figure out exactly what it is about brunch that makes it so appealing. Is it the time of day, the casual atmosphere or is it the food? Well, maybe a combination of all three. Holiday brunches are especially nice because a get-together mid to late morning leaves time for shopping or baking in the afternoon. You don’t have to dress up and everyone seems to like the menu!

Sometimes brunch is a spontaneous holiday meal. If your family is gathered home or you have holiday guests, early morning may be devoted to coffee, conversation and a bite of banana bread around the breakfast table. When everyone drifts in, it’s brunch time! The menu can be whatever you planned for breakfast or lunch – the menu is up to you. It can be anything from a country breakfast complete with biscuits and gravy to a festive buffet with a lot of easy-to-eat choices.

Whatever your style, it’s always nice to have a little something sweet. At this time of day, a coffee cake is the perfect choice. An added bonus to making coffee cakes is that most freeze well. Whether your brunch is spontaneous or planned, having a coffee cake on hand will be a blessing.

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake and Cranberry Almond Buckle are two cakes that everyone will love. One is an old-fashioned pound cake version and the other a shortcut version made with a convenient Martha White® muffin mix. Whichever you choose to make, it’s sure to be a hit at brunch!

Celebrate National Egg Month

The entire month of May is dedicated to the Wonders of the Egg – an incredible food. I cannot imagine life without eggs, especially for breakfast – scrambled, fried, poached, boiled or made into an omelet. Egg salad is a favorite at our house and we love to use eggs as an ingredient in lots of different recipes, but we often overlook the role that eggs play in cooking and baking.

Besides adding protein and other nutrients, eggs add golden color and the protein helps with browning. As a natural emulsifier, eggs hold fat and water together in many foods. An egg wash adds rich shiny glaze to baked goods. For example, eggs hold baked goods and meat loaf together and they aerate baked goods and meringues.

Baking is, of course, one of the area where eggs shine. Can you imagine life without a beautiful pound cake? This traditional favorite was originally made with a pound each of butter, sugar, flour and eggs!  Eggs are also a key ingredient in muffins and pancakes.

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Lemon Ricotta Brunch Cakes are an egg laden recipe similar to crepes. In this recipe, eggs combined with ricotta cheese and lemon provide rich flavor and make the brunch cakes thin and pliable. The eggs are separated and the egg whites are beaten and folded into the batter. The brunch cakes cook in a few minutes and are delicious topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, lemon peel and fresh berries.

What are your favorite egg recipes?  I’d love to hear from you.

Savory Breakfast Cobblers Perfect for Holiday Brunch

What is it about a brunch that always sounds so appealing? Is it that it falls at a convenient time of the day, our love for breakfast foods or the camaraderie of family and friends? Whatever the reason, brunch is a great way to celebrate the holiday season.

The menu is easy to plan if you start with hearty main dish cobbler. Dessert cobblers are certainly a Southern favorite, but the same concept will work for savory dishes, too. Breakfast cobblers are made with an easy pour-batter crust. Combine self-rising flour, butter, milk and eggs and then pour over a filling. As it bakes, the crust becomes crisp on the top and the eggs in the batter create a quiche-like texture on the inside.

It’s hard to beat the taste of a traditional country breakfast consisting of ham, eggs and hash browns. Country Breakfast Cobbler combines all these favorites with cheddar cheese in one easy dish with a tender crust.

Country Breakfast Cobbler

A more sophisticated version is the Italian Breakfast Cobbler which is also delicious. This cobbler combines savory Italian sausage, spinach, sweet red pepper, onion, mushrooms and provolone cheese with a Parmesan cheese topping.

Italian Breakfast Cobbler

Either of the above cobblers could be considered a meal in itself, but with the addition of seasonal fruit, a crisp green salad and something sweet – you have created the perfect brunch menu.

Mother’s Day Brunch

Planning something special that’s out of the ordinary and truly expresses the gratitude we feel for our mothers is almost impossible. It’s a good thing mothers tend to appreciate whatever we do.  When I was growing up, it was simple. Since my mother cooked every day, even on Sunday, going out to eat on Mother’s Day was a real pleasure for her.

Times have changed, and we often eat out on Sundays, so your mother might enjoy a family party instead. I love the idea of a spring brunch. It sounds festive, but casual – the perfect way to have a leisurely visit with family, friends and enjoy good food, of course.

Décor for your brunch can be simple and beautiful by using pastel linens, pots of spring flowers or a vase with a few branches from a flowering tree.

Brunch gives you an opportunity to showcase a variety of your favorite breakfast recipes. Select recipes you feel comfortable cooking and are easy to serve your mother and guests – anything from a big country breakfast to something simple like waffles, fruit and bacon. If you don’t have a favorite brunch recipe of your own or are merely looking for something new, the below recipes would all be good options and they begin with a Martha White® cornbread or muffin mix. No matter what you serve, your mother will love her special Mother’s Day Brunch and you.

Roasted Tomato and Bacon Cobbler
Roasted Tomato and Bacon Cobbler
Bananas Foster Waffles with Ginger Whipped Cream
Bananas Foster Waffles with Ginger Whipped Cream
Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins
Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

Wonderful Waffles for a Casual Summer Brunch

What better way to spend time with family and friends than a casual summer brunch? Almost everyone loves breakfast foods, but we don’t often have time to sit down for a relaxed meal early in the morning. Brunch gives you the chance to show off your breakfast favorites at a time when you can relax and enjoy yourself. Whether your specialty is perfect scrambled eggs, light-as-air pancakes or the world’s best biscuits, summer brunch can be whatever you make of it.

In the summer we spend a lot of time in our houseboat on the Cumberland River. When we have guests aboard, the mornings usually begin with coffee and relaxed conversation. Then, when everyone is sufficiently hungry, I often serve brunch.

My “go-to” summer brunch menu is Belgian waffles with an assortment of toppings and bacon. Of course, there is always plenty of butter and maple syrup. And since summer is such a wonderful time for fruit and berries, I usually offer a choice of whatever looked good at the market that week. My favorite combination is bananas, berries and toasted pecans – perfect.

The waffles are easy to make with ingredients I usually have on hand like Martha White® Self-Rising Flour, eggs, butter, milk, vanilla and a little sugar. I like to use a Belgian waffle iron because it has those deeper indentions to hold butter and syrup, but any kind of waffle iron will work. After baking, I place the waffle directly on the rack in a warm oven so they will stay crisp. This wonderful waffle recipe includes a delicious lemon sauce but feel free to serve it with your favorite toppings. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the conversation.