Mother's Day Brunch

There's something lovely about the weather in May here in Wisconsin. It's so appropriate that Mother's Day falls in this beautiful month. I like to imagine the day beginning with a wonderful brunch spread that celebrates the beauty of the month and, of course, the guest of honor. So, here's my yearly attempt to put together a menu that's both special and practical. All of these recipes take less than an hour to prepare and they are all quite tasty. Happy Mother's Day!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches

This treat is a great way to use leftover ham from Easter. Think of it as French toast meeting ham sandwiches. I like to use slightly sweet Hawaiian bread for this recipe.
  • 16 slices firm-textured sliced bread
  • Dijon mustard
  • 12 ounces sliced smoked ham
  • 12 ounces sliced Swiss cheese
  • 12 ounces sliced roasted turkey breast
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Cayenne pepper

Spread one side of each slice of bread with some of the mustard. Top four of the slices of bread with some of the ham, cheese, and turkey. Top each with 1 slice of the remaining bread, pressing down to form 4 compact sandwiches.

In a shallow bowl, whisk 4 large eggs with the 1/2 cup milk and salt and cayenne pepper to taste.

Dip each sandwich on both sides into the batter, coating it well.

Spray a griddle with cooking spray, heat to a medium temperature, and add the sandwiches to each hot surface. Cook for 4 minutes, turn with a spatula, and cook 4 minutes more, or until golden brown. (Use the back of the spatula to press each sandwich down as a way of melting the cheese.)

Cut the sandwiches in half on the diagonal and serve warm.

  • Yields: 8 sandwiches
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Balsamic-Glazed Grilled Asparagus

Since asparagus is in season, take advantage of it and use some thick stalks of it for grilling. If the weather doesn't permit grilling, broil the asparagus instead.
  • 2 pounds asparagus
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar -- don't use the really expensive kind (save it for drizzling over fresh berries!)
  • 2 shallots -- minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Wash the asparagus. Hold each spear near the middle and at the cut end and gentle bend to break. Place the asparagus in a shallow dish and toss with the oil, vinegar, and shallots. Allow the asparagus to marinate for 10 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper. Drain the asparagus, reserving the marinade. Grill over a preheated grill until the asparagus is tender. Pour the reserved marinade over the asparagus and serve.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Honey-Champagne Fruit Salad

The simple glaze for this salad is one of my all-time favorite dressings for fruit salad of any kind. Choose any fruit you like -- this rendition includes some special treats for a special occasion.
  • 1 large mango, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, halved
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes
  • 2 nectarines, unpeeled and sliced
  • 1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup champagne
  • 1/2 cup honey

Prepare the fruit and place in a large bowl. Combine the champagne and honey in a small bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Pour the mixture over the fruit and toss to coat well. Serve slightly chilled.

  • Yields: 8-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Blueberry-Lemon Mini-Muffins

These little gems are a perfect way to offer something a little sweet that won't be too over-powering.
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon rind
  • 2 cups wild blueberries

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar and salt.

In another bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk, lemon juice, and melted butter. Mix well.

In a third bowl, mix the 2/3 cup sugar, oil, lemon rind and blueberries.

Add the wet ingredients and the fruit to the flour mixture and gently mix to combine. Spoon the batter into mini muffin tins and bake for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. (Bake regular muffins for 20 minutes.)

  • Yields: 48 mini muffins or 24 regular muffins
  • Preparation Time: 15-25 minutes

Baked Egg Nests

Brunch wouldn't be complete without eggs. This dish combines them with hash browns and a charming presentation.
  • 1 pound frozen hash brown potatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously spray a muffin tin with non-stick coating and set aside. Thaw the hash browns and evenly place into the muffin tin, making an indentation in the center of each tin. Mix the eggs, milk and flour and pour the mixture into the muffin tins just to slightly below the top of each tin. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the hash browns are slightly brown and the egg mixture is solid. Remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly. Remove them from the muffin tins with a fork, being careful not to break the nests apart. If desired, garnish them with fresh parsley, paprika, and crumbled bacon.

  • Yields: 12 nests
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Of course, with all of these yummy dishes, you'll want to offer something special to wash it all down with. I recommend mimosas (champagne and orange juice) along with a selection of fresh fruit juices, coffee, tea and the accompaniments. Then sit back and enjoy a leisurely brunch and the company of those you love. And ... remember to thank Mom for everything she's done for you over the years!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!