While the weather for Easter might not be predictable, what you put on the table Sunday for brunch certainly can be. It’s an interesting meal because it typically straddles breakfast and lunch, which offers a lot of leeway in the menu. Brunch has a pretty loose time translation, usually from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Here are some surprises you can add to your menu if you’re looking to spruce things up a bit: the Key Lime Cheesecake Bars has just 147 calories and 3 grams of fat in a serving. The Bacon-Egg Breakfast Bites each hide a Tater Tot, the quiche has a hashbrown crust and the french toast is made in the slow cooker.
Key Lime Cheesecake Bars
6 squares low-fat honey graham crackers, finely crushed (1/2 cup)
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2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1 teaspoon sugar
1 4 ounce package sugar-free low-calorie lime-flavored gelatin
3/4cup boiling water
1 16 ounce container fat-free cottage cheese (1-3/4 cups)
1 8 ounce container fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 8 ounce container frozen fat-free whipped dessert topping, thawed
Key limes or limes, cut in wedges (optional)
In small bowl combine graham crackers, margarine, and sugar. Press crumb mixture in the bottom of a 2-quart square baking dish. Refrigerate while preparing filling.
In large bowl combine gelatin and water. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Set aside.
In blender or food processor combine cottage cheese and cream cheese. Cover and blend or process until smooth, stopping several times to scrape down sides. Whisk 1/2 cup of the cottage cheese mixture into the gelatin mixture. Whisk in remaining cottage cheese mixture until smooth. Fold in whipped dessert topping. Spoon filling over chilled crumb mixture.
Cover and refrigerate 8 to 24 hours or until filling is firm. To serve, cut in squares. Top with lime wedges.
Makes 9 servings, each with 147 calories, 3 grams fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 410 mg sodium, 17 g rams carbohydrates, 4 grams sugar, 10 grams protein.
Bacon-Egg Breakfast Bites
12 slices precooked bacon (from 2.1-ounce package)
1 can Pillsbury Place ‘n Bake refrigerated crescent rounds*
24 frozen potato nuggets (from 2-pound bag), such as Tater Tots
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley, if desired
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.
Cut each bacon slice in half crosswise. Unroll one crescent round; cut into thirds, forming strips of dough. Place half slice of bacon on 1 dough strip; top with potato nugget and roll up, stretching dough and pinching ends to seal. Place in mini muffin cup, spiral side up. Repeat with remaining crescent rounds, bacon and potato nuggets.
In medium bowl, beat eggs, salt and pepper until well blended. Very carefully spoon scant tablespoon egg mixture around each dough-wrapped potato nugget.
Bake 13 to 20 minutes, or until light brown on top and egg mixture is set. Remove from muffin cups to serving platter. Garnish with parsley. Serve warm.
Makes 24, each serving of 2 with 180 calories, 11 grams fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 440 mg sodium, 12grams carbohydrates, 2 grams sugar, 7 grams protein.
*You can also use regular crescent rolls and cut the 4 rectangles into 4 strips each, so you’ll have 16 instead of 24.
Slow-Cooker Cinnamon Roll French Toast
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cans (12.4 ounces each) refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup real maple syrup
Spray 5-quart oval slow cooker with cooking spray. Pour melted butter into slow cooker. Separate each can of dough into 8 rolls; set icing aside. Cut each roll into 8 pieces; place pieces over butter in slow cooker.
In medium bowl, beat eggs. Add whipping cream, cinnamon and vanilla; beat until well blended. Gently pour mixture over roll pieces. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the syrup.
Cover; cook on Low heat setting 3 hours, or until set and temperature in center is 160°F. Drizzle with reserved icing and remaining 1/2 cup syrup.
Makes 10 servings, each with 440 calories, 20 grams fat, 135 mg cholesterol, 590 mg sodium, 59 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams sugar.
Note: You can cut this recipe in half and make it in a small slow cooker; it will be done in 2 1/2 hours.
Hash Brown Quiche
1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 slices bacon
1 1/4 cups coarsely shredded zucchini (1 medium)
1/2 cup chopped red onion (1 medium)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (4 ounces)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Peel and coarsely shred potatoes. Place potatoes in a large bowl; add enough water to cover potatoes. Stir well. Drain in a colander set over the sink. Repeat rinsing and draining two or three times until water runs clear. Drain again, pressing out as much water as you can with a rubber spatula. Line a salad spinner with paper towels; add potatoes and spin. Repeat, if necessary, until potatoes are dry. (Or, pat shredded potatoes dry with paper towels.) Transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Sprinkle potatoes with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper, tossing to combine.
In a 12-inch nonstick skillet (one with sloping sides works best), heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and the butter over medium-high heat until butter foams. Add potatoes to the skillet, spreading into an even layer. Gently press with the back of a spatula to form a cake. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, without stirring, about 12 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown and crisp.
Place a baking sheet or cutting board over the top of the skillet. Carefully invert the skillet to transfer the potatoes to the baking sheet. If needed, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Using the baking sheet, slide the potatoes back into the skillet, uncooked side down. Cook about 8 minutes more or until the bottom is golden brown.
Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan or plate. Use the baking sheet to transfer hash browns to pie pan, pressing hash browns into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan.
In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Crumble bacon; set aside. Cook zucchini and onion in the reserved drippings over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender but not brown.
In a large bowl combine eggs, half-and-half, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the crushed red pepper. Stir in bacon and zucchini mixture. In a small bowl combine shredded cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture; mix well.
Pour egg mixture into the hash-brown lined pie pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 8, each with 324 calories, 22 grams fat, 133 mg cholesterol, 412 mg sodium, 20 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 12 grams protein.
1/2 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese spread
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 kiwifruits, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 medium ripe, yet firm, banana, sliced
1 medium orange, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced
1 1/2 cups frozen lightly sweetened red raspberries, thawed and drained
1 cup low-fat granola
In a small bowl combine yogurt, cream cheese spread, honey, and cinnamon. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Chill for 1 to 4 hours.
In a small bowl stir together kiwifruits, banana, orange, and raspberries. Divide the fruit mixture among four parfait glasses or wine goblets. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over fruit. Sprinkle with granola. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings, each with 326 calories, 2 grams fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 188 mg sodium, 73 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber, 48 grams sugar, 8 grams protein.