Have an eggs-cellent Easter brunch with these recipes

The egg: Both nutritious and delicious. PHOTO: Commons

The egg is a wonderful nutrient package, almost a complete food, complete in its own special shell. It is a high-quality protein at bargain basement prices.

Used in countless recipes, it is versatile and, in fact, essential in baking. Simple to cook from basic scrambled eggs to a more elaborate soufflé, it is equally easy to digest and enjoy from infancy to old age. Could you ask for anything more?

Of course, the egg stars at Easter season as a symbol of new life befitting the spring season. Here are just two tantalizing recipes from Foodland Ontario to showcase their versatility and are ideal to sample on Easter morning but good any time.

French Toast Breakfast Muffins

Try this innovative recipe. It’s a great way to start the day, quick and simple to prepare and ever so tasty! Be sure to cut the bread in small cubes to absorb all the liquid.

When buying maple syrup, choose dark syrup rather than light for a fuller, more maple flavour. Once opened, be sure to store maple syrup in the refrigerator.

Any leftover, cooled muffins can be placed in freezer bags or container and frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, just pop into the microwave on High for 30 seconds.

8 cups (2 L) cubed cinnamon raisin bread (cut bread into 1/2 inch/ 1 cm cubes)

2 – 3 apples, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups/ 500 mL)

5 eggs

1 cup (250 mL) milk

1 cup (250 mL) maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Line muffin pan with paper liners and spray with baking spray.

In large bowl, combine bread cubes and apples. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk and 1/4 cup (50 mL) maple syrup. Pour egg mixture gently over bread and gently combine.

Spoon 1/2 cup (125 mL) bread mixture into 12 prepared muffin cups.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until set and knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

To serve: Let muffins cool on wire rack in muffin pans then gently remove muffins from paper and serve warm with remaining maple syrup.

Make Ahead Savoury Brunch Casserole

Easter brunch is easy on the host with this make-ahead casserole (sometimes called baked fondue).

You can experiment with this recipe by using white or cremini mushrooms and different types of bread: brioche, challah, whole wheat or Italian.

For a vegetarian version, simply, delete the sausages and add one red pepper, chopped and sautéed.

6 eggs

12 cups (3 L) cubed (inch /2.5 cm) French loaf (about 1 loaf)

1 lb (500 g) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed

1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

1 onion, diced

1 leek, sliced in half lengthwise and carefully washed then thinly sliced

8 oz (250 g/ 1 pkg) cremini mushrooms or white mushrooms, sliced

2 cups (500 mL) milk

1 tsp (5 mL) dry mustard

1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, leaf thyme and salt

1/4 tsp (1 ml) fresh black pepper

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) shredded Swiss cheese or old cheddar

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh parsley

Bread cubes in this recipe need to be dried: To dry, divide cubes between 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake in 200 F (100 C) oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir. Switch and rotate baking sheets; bake until dry, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook sausage, chopped over medium-high heat, stirring often, until browned, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In same skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onion, leek and mushroom and red pepper if using; cook, stirring occasionally until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper until well blended.

Add bread cubes, 3/4 cup (175 mL) of the cheese, parsley, reserved sausage and mushroom mixture; gently combine. Transfer into 13 x 9 inch (3 L) baking dish sprayed with baking spray. Cover with foil. Refrigerate 4 hours or up to 12 hours.

Bake covered in 350 F (180 C) oven for 30 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 8 equal portions.

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