Let’s do brunch Egg-cellent Easter recipes

By Jennifer Ruple

Spring is peeking around the corner, and the Easter Bunny’s on his way. Whether you are planning a big family event or an intimate gathering, why not celebrate the holiday by hosting a no-fuss midday brunch? Formal or informal, brunch gives us a fun and flexible way to share a relaxing meal with friends and family.

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Brunch can include sweet and savory items like freshly baked cinnamon rolls, salads, or build-your-own oatmeal bowls. But don’t forget the quintessential brunch food – the glorious egg! Here are three very different types of egg dishes, two can be prepared ahead of time, to help make your holiday egg-stra special.

Tomato and Basil Scramble with Fresh Mozzarella
Servings: 4-6
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon shallot, minced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
12 eggs
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
Toasted French bread slices for serving

In a large frying pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer tomatoes to a bowl and cover to keep warm. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, 1 tablespoon of basil, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

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Melt butter in same pan over med-low heat. Add eggs and cook until they are barely cooked into moist curds. Add tomato mixture and mozzarella and stir to distribute throughout the eggs. Remove from heat and allow eggs to stand about 1 minute. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Serve over French bread slices.
(Recipe adapted from williams-sonoma.com)

Hash Brown Egg Nests
Servings: 8
15 ounces frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
Chives or parsley for garnish
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Heat oven to 425 F. In a bowl, mix hash browns, salt, pepper, olive oil and 1 cup cheddar cheese. Grease muffin pan and spoon ½ cup of mixture into each section. Using your fingers, pack them tightly and shape into nests. Bake approximately 15 minutes until edges have browned and the cheese has melted. Reduce oven to 350 F. Crack an egg into each nest and season with salt and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon, remaining cheddar and chives or parsley. Bake until egg whites set, about 13-16 minutes.

Brunch Casserole
Servings: 9
5 or 6 thick slices crusty white bread cut into 1-inch cubes
1 ½ cups fully cooked sausage or turkey sausage crumbles
½ cup onion, diced
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup diced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Place bread cubes evenly in pan. Sprinkle with sausage crumbles, onions, peppers and cheese. Combine flour and dry mustard, and sprinkle evenly over cheese. In a medium bowl, combine milk and eggs and whisk well. Pour over casserole. Sprinkle with paprika.
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Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Heat oven to 350 F. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until browned. Allow casserole to rest for 15 minutes before serving.