photo: Michelle Norris, via BrownEyedBaker.com
Mother’s Day brunch at the local bistro or restaurant can be pricey. With a little creativity, you can create a stay-at-home celebration that’s just as wow-worthy — for a fraction of the cost.
But, you ask, what if Mom is usually the whiz in the kitchen? No sweat. We give you recipes that require minimal effort and few special ingredients beyond what’s already likely in your pantry and fridge. Young kids can even help with mixing and assembly — just make sure an adult or teen handles the chopping and oven or stovetop work.
(And if you’d really rather go out, check back on Friday for weekend Mother’s Day brunch specials in addition to the usual roundup of upcoming dine-out deals.)
Polenta is usually a savory dish, but with a few tweaks the Italian corn meal becomes a sweet morning dish. “Polenta is a neat twist on an oatmeal or porridge,” says Michelle Norris, the blogger behind BrownEyedBaker.com. “It’s a warm, cozy and satisfying breakfast.” Vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar add flavor in her recipe.
Frugal Foodie’s husband makes a yummy breakfast-in-bed-friendly baked egg. Sprinkle enough grated Parmesan into a ramekin to cover the bottom. Crack an egg on top. Repeat process with additional ramekins as desired. Place ramekin(s) on cookie tray and then bake at 300 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until egg white is opaque. Top with a small dollop sour cream and sliced green onions. (Experiment with the cheese and toppings. Frugal Foodie’s second favorite combo: a tomato slice and Swiss beneath the egg.)
Whop ‘Em Biscuits
This breakfast food is as fun to make as it is to eat. “My first memory of cooking with my grandmother is making Whop ‘Em Biscuits,” says Amy Miller of HungryHappyHealthy. So what’s with the name? “You have to ‘whop’ the canned biscuits on the counter to make them open,” she says. To make them: Preheat oven to 375 and grease a Bundt pan. Melt one and a half sticks unsalted butter in a bowl. In another, mix a cup and a half sugar and a tablespoon and a half of cinnamon. Cut 16 jumbo-sized biscuits into quarters. Dredge each in the butter and then the cinnamon-sugar mixture before placing in the pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until the biscuits are set. Invert to serve and let guests pull apart the bread. (That fun-food aspect gives the dish its other name, Monkey Bread.)
To add extra oomph, Miller says, you can add spread a quarter-cup apricot jam on the bottom of the pan before adding the biscuit pieces, or add in chopped pecans for a sticky-bun-like flavor. She also makes a cream-cheese stuffed version that sandwiches a pat of cream cheese between two whole biscuits, which are then dredged in butter and brown sugar instead of the usual cinnamon-sugar mix.
“Not only can [granola] be made several days in advance, but it looks great when served with a colorful fruit plate and yogurt,” says Maureen Smithe Brusznicki of Homemade Mothering. It’s simple to make, too. Brusznicki’s recipe calls for a simple mix and bake of your choice of ingredients, which can include coconut, dried fruit and sliced almonds.
“Really all you need is a bowl and a spoon and your kids can mix these up,” Norris says. Her favorite recipe is a take on Quiche Lorraine, wrapping the Swiss, bacon and green onions in scone batter instead of an egg mixture.
Try a twist on standard French toast by baking it into a breakfast casserole, suggest Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, authors of “Cooking With All Things Trader Joe’s“. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9″ by 12” pan. Tear a 16oz. challah or brioche loaf into bite-sized pieces and place in pan. Whisk together two cups whole milk, a teaspoon of cinnamon, two teaspoons vanilla extract, and quarter cup brown sugar. Pour the mixture over the bread and toss gently. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar (Turbindo preferred) on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes uncovered.
Frugal Foodie’s mom makes a savory version of this breakfast casserole. Just omit the cinnamon, vanilla and sugar, soaking the bread with a mixture of eggs and milk. Top with shredded cheddar and crumbled cooked bacon. You can also use any type of hearty Italian bread in place of the brioche.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner.