Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gospel Brunch and a Peep Diorama

Today is a beautiful spring day and I am ready to celebrate the change of seasons to warmer weather. Being enthused about the warmer weather I decided to celebrate with a simple brunch. I invited two dear friends who we hadn't seen for a while. They love to laugh and tease and it is always special to share some time with them. He is Mr. MW and she is his sweet dear one who always has a joke and a laugh.

Brunch is a fun meal to share. Lots of preparation can be done ahead and it's easy to put together. I wanted to do a brunch cassserole, fruit, sausage and a sweet. Lee adores Mexican fruit cup so I made the fruit plate with lime, salt and chili powder and cayenne if you're Lee. For the sausage I bought some turkey sausage links. I consulted Ina Garten's cookbooks and made her easy sticky buns using puff pastry. Brunch is pretty healthy so far and I opted for a vegetable strata. I adapted an Elie Krieger recipe using asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, thyme, cheese and cubes of multigrain bread. It was really delicious and the kind of meal that you sat and talked and ate and talked and ate.

Because we love to laugh and are a bit prone to the outrageous I decided to do a peeps diorama for the table. Annually I go to the Washington Post website to see the finalists and winner of the peep diorama contest. The entries are odes to popular culture with peeps as the stars. I determined the theme "give peeps a chance" would be great. I found a large plastic chicken that could be wound up and laid colored bubble gum eggs as she stalked across the table. In her path I placed bunny peeps and chicks who were demolished by Chickzilla. Facing her was a tank with two bunnies with licorice guns sticking out from the front of the tank. Beside the tank were two phalanxes of bunnies armed with tortilla chip shields and freeze dried green bean rifles. Peep protestors held signs that said "make love not war" and "all we are saying is give peeps a chance". It was my ode to the Beatles and the creature movies that were so popular in the 60's.

Having attended the Sweet Honey in the Rock concert with this great couple I had Sweet Honey playing in the background. I made Easter baskets for all. For the mister I had something very special. Given his love of MW I placed a small jar of the wonderful stuff in the center of the basket. I was ready to tease him and see his amazement when he saw his basket. At the appointed time, the doorbell rang and they entered bearing a tissue wrapped gift with grape hyacinth peeking out of the top. Tissue paper and flowers hid a large jar of MW!! I took them to the table to see the baskets. We laughed hilariously at our tricks. Too, too funny.

Vegetable Strata adapted from Elie Krieger

4 tsp. olive oil
1 larg onion chopped
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
10 oz. sliced mushrooms
12 oz. asparagus steamed until crisp tender and cut into fourths
1/2 C. sundried tomatoes cut in narrow strips (plumped in hot water)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 C. fat free half and half
8 eggs
8 egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
5 cups multigrain bread cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/3 C. parmigiano freshly grated
6 oz. vermont white cheddar grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. gr. pepper

In a skillet warm 2 tsp. olive oil and sute onions until tender. Remove to a large bowl. Add 2 more tsp oil to the pan and saute the mushrooms. Add those to the bowl. In a large casserole 9 x 13 spray the pan with PAM. Strew the bread over the bottom of the cassrole, evenly. On top of that layer the onions, mushrooms, asparagus and sun dried tomato. Place the cheeses on top of the vegetables. In the bowl used for the mushrooms combine thoroughly the eggs, mustard, half and half, thyme and salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the layered casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours of over night.

Preheat the oven to 350. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the casserole for 60-70 min. or until browned and bubbly. Serve.


  1. I am assuming that MW is MIRACLE WHIP. Do you rememember when we would get sugar eggs in the Easter basket with a paper or paper and sugar diorama inside the egg and you could peer in the plastic covered hole in the end of the egg to see what was inside? Years fact when we lived in Lakewood, which has been at least 20 years ago, a delightful store called Hixson's sold those same sugar eggs. Would you believe that I have one in my freezer from 20 years ago!!!

  2. yes, mr. mw is the miracle whip feller. and i am he! the brunch was delicious, the diorama was simply hilarious, and the conversation/laughing/joking was just what i needed.

    i never had fruit salad with lime, salt, and chipotle. it is fun trying new things, and anne is so good at that.