My mother is the reason why I cook. She is always in the kitchen, cooking. But she does so much more than that. She keeps the house. She has her own jewelry business. (Gratuitous plug: Her site is www.etsy.com/shop/BlingbyDonna.) She takes care of two four-legged children. She is a Mother.
When I was growing up, for the most part, it was just me and my mom. She worked a full-time job, but the laundry and grocery shopping and bill-paying were all taken care of. Of course, I had chores too. I am about to say the strangest thing you've ever heard. Seriously. When I was a kid, I liked doing chores. Now, pick yourself up off of the floor and stop laughing. I was that one-in-a-million kid that actually kept their room clean. I kept the whole house clean. I even cleaned my mother's room. I did these things because she worked hard for me and we survived on her paycheck alone.
Now that I'm an adult, my ethics towards the house haven't changed. My husband tells me all the time that I "school" the house, meaning that I handle everything quickly and efficiently. I work six days a week, cook almost every night, blog regularly, and still manage to keep a tight schedule around the house. And, yes, our children have chores too. But I wouldn't be this person if it weren't for my mom. She sacrificed a lot for me, and I learned great lessons on how to be a great mom. And a great cook, since she's a great cook. I used to hang around in the kitchen, cleaning up after her and taking her spatula or spoon or whatever she was using before she was done with it. But I was watching and learning.
My mother taught me to be strong. She taught me to be independent. She showed me how to be responsible and conscientious. She taught me to be proud, to stand on my own two feet, and not take crap from anyone. I learned respect, gratitude, perseverance. I learned to never quit, never give up. I learned that other people's negative opinions of you don't matter. I also learned to walk really fast, sing really loud in parking lots, talk like you're talking through a megaphone, and to laugh at myself. But the very most important thing I learned from my mother is how to be a mom. Now, I can't be with my mother this Mother's Day since we live in different states, but I want to say to my mother, Happy Mother's Day, and I love you. In honor of my mother, here is a very special brunch meal that's sure to please any mother. Enjoy.
I hope your mother is as wonderful as mine.
PUFF PASTRY BREAKFAST TART
1 package of puff pasty, thawed
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese, cubed
3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 Roma tomato, sliced
3/4 C chopped ham (or cooked bacon or cooked sausage)
4 mushrooms, sliced
1 green onion, sliced
2 T butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Press the shorter edges of the puff pastry together and roll out to the size of a large sheet pan. Place it on a sheet pan and roll the edges in to create a border. Put the cream cheese cubes randomly over the puff pastry. Sprinkle on the cheddar cheese. Sprinkle on the ham. Crack the eggs onto the top, being careful not to break the yolks. Lay on the mushrooms and tomatoes and sprinkle the green onions all over. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the eggs are set. Brush the edges with the melted butter and broil until the edges are browned, the pastry has puffed, and eggs are desired consistency.
The measurements of the ingredients of this salad depend upon the size of your bowl. I will give my measurements for a rather large bowl. If your see-through bowl is smaller, use your best judgment on the quantities.
One 10-ounce bag of spinach, stems removed
2 C shredded carrots
8 boiled eggs, sliced
2 C frozen peas
2 C frozen corn kernels
One 8-ounce package of mushrooms, sliced
2 heads fresh broccoli, stems removed and cut into florets
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 C shredded cheddar cheese (reserve some for garnish)
3 C dressing (I used my Jalapeno Ranch Sauce with a little extra mayo to thicken, but use any flavor)
2 green onions, sliced, for garnish
Salt & pepper
Layer each part of the salad in a clear bowl in the order given, seasoning each layer of vegetables with salt and pepper. Cover the top with the dressing, reserved cheese, and green onion, and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours before serving.
STUFFED ZUCCHINI & SQUASH
3 yellow squash
One 8-ounce package of mushrooms, chopped
2 T butter
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-ounce bag of spinach, stems removed
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/4 C shredded parmesan cheese
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
Trim one side of the squash and zucchini off. Scrape out the seeds. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in some olive oil. Cook the mushrooms until tender. Add in the garlic and all of the spinach and cook until it's reduced and tender. Remove from heat. Stir in the bacon and the parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the squash and zucchini with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Stuff each one with the bacon, spinach and mushroom mixture. Put the shredded mozzarella and the sliced tomatoes over the tops of the squash. Cook 25-30 minutes or until the squash and zucchini are tender, the tomatoes are browned and the cheese is melted.
STUFFED CHERRY PEPPERS
One 16-ounce jar of cherry peppers, stems and seeds removed
One 6.5-ounce container of Boursin cheese (any flavor...I used spinach & artichoke)
1/4 C chopped ham, salame, or proscuitto
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 T shredded parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Mix the Boursin, salame, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese together. Using a pastry bag or a zipper bag, fill each pepper and chill.
2 C heavy cream
7 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 C sugar
4 T sugar
In a pot, whisk together the egg yolks and the 3/4 C sugar. Whisk in the cream. Cook over medium heat until frothy but not boiling. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Pour the creme brulee mixture into four to six small ramekins, depending on how deep they are. Place them in a 9 x 13 pan. Put the pan on the oven rack. Pour hot water into the 9 x 13 pan at least halfway up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until set. Refrigerate at least two hours.
Sprinkle the 4 T sugar over the tops of the brulees. Brown with a kitchen torch or broil carefully until desired browness on top.