The month of May brings many occasions to celebrate with open houses and/or brunches or other parties or festivities. May 1, many children will take May Baskets door to door to share with their little friends. Or do they even still do that? Am I out of the loop? I remember WAY BACK when I was in school we would work on homemade May baskets the whole week before unless we were procrastinators – then we buckled down the night before and got them made and filled. Because I lived in the country, my mother would have to take us around to different places to let us deliver the May baskets on May Day after we got home from school. And of course living in a small town area, we didn’t have a huge number to make or deliver – just to our classmates, which wasn’t a lot. Right after May Day comes Cinco de Mayo, which is celebrated by many but I have never actually celebrated that so I can’t say much about that. Of course Mother’s Day has always been an important day for all of us. When we are fortunate enough to still have our mother’s around we make it an extra special day. After our mothers have passed many of us find others to share time with who might not have their own children so near. Graduation parties are still another activity making May a busy month for parties, brunches and food. I guess today I’m just going over some favorite recipes of mine that can be used for brunches you are entertaining. We all have our favorites and if a really big crowd is invited, many decide catering is the way to go. These recipes are not for huge crowds – they would be for smaller, more intimate social gatherings.French Toast Loaf(Makes 1 Loaf)12 thick slices day-old, white bread4 eggs2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pats and chilled1-1/4 cup heavy cream1 cup brown sugar1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon divided1 teaspoon vanilla1/4 teaspoon nutmegpowdered sugar (for garnish) Prepare a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well. Cut bread slices into 1-1/2 inch strips and lay down a layer of bread strips in loaf pan. Sprinkle a third of brown sugar mixture over the layer of bread, then add a layer of butter pats over the sugar, using a third of the butter. Repeat with another 2 layers of bread, sugar and butter. Press down on bread with your hand to make sure it’s compacted. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, heavy cream, vanilla and remaining cinnamon. Pour batter slowly over the loaf, making sure to allow time for the bread to absorb all the liquid. Make sure the corners of the pan get soaked also. Cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and keeping covered, bake (on a rimmed baking sheet) for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then place serving plate face down on top of loaf pan and invert loaf. Slice and serve, garnished with powdered sugar.Cream Cheese Danish2 cans ready to use refrigerated crescent rolls(2) 8 ounce packages cream cheese1 cup sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract1 egg1 egg whiteGlaze:1/2 cup powdered sugar2 tablespoons milk1/2 teaspoon vanilla Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Lay a pack of crescent rolls in the pan and pinch the openings together. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and egg together until smooth. Spread the mixture over the crescent rolls evenly and then lay the second pack of crescent rolls on top of the cheese mixture and brush with egg white. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Top with glaze after cooling for 20 minutes. Notes: You can use low fat cream cheese and Splenda (sugar substitute). Also, the amount of filling in the recipe makes a very heavily filled Danish. You can halve the filling using 1 package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 whole egg and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and it will be very good. If you use the half filling method, bake for closer to 30 to 35 minutes. Either way, it will be DELICIOUS!French Toast Kabobs11 ounce can Pillsbury refrigerated crusty French loaf4 whole eggs1/2 cup milk1/4 teaspoon vanilla1/4 teaspoon cinnamon1 cup raspberries1/2 cup blueberries6-inch bamboo skewers4 tablespoons buttermaple syruppowdered sugar Bake French loaf according to package directions. Slice the French loaf into 1-inch cubes. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. In a medium bowl, slightly beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add half of the bread cubes to the bowl and stir to coat. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Using a slotted spoon remove the soaked bread cubes and add them to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes over medium high heat flipping frequently to brown on all sides. When done, place on a cookie sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Pour the remaining bread cubes into the egg mixture and stir to coat. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the pan and using the slotted spoon remove bread cubes and add them to the pan. Cook second batch of bread cubes in the same methods as the first. Thread fruit and bread on skewers. Serve immediately with maple syrup and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. YUMMY! Kids will love these too!Sweet and Salty Breakfast Casserolevegetable oil spray 8 ounces reduced-fat smoked link sausage 2 tablespoons maple syrup 2 pounds frozen country-style hash browns (no oil added) 2 cups fat-free milk 6 eggs 2 slices American cheese – diced (2 ounces) 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 tablespoons finely snipped green onion (green part only) - optional Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté sausage for 3 to 4 minutes, or until browned, turning occasionally. Pour off any excess fat from the pan. Add maple syrup and cook for one minute, stirring to coat sausage. Arrange in a single layer in baking pan, then top with hash browns. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients except green onion. Pour over hash browns. Bake for one hour, or until center is set. Sprinkle with green onion and let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.Spicy Baked Eggs andHash Brown Casserole(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)3 eggs3 cups hash browns1-1/2 cups spinach, still frozen3 tablespoons olive oil, drizzled (or melted butter or margarine, drizzled)salt and pepper, to tastepinch each of chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion powder, Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blend, Tabasco Sauce droplets, hot pepper jelly, optional and to taste1/2 cup each of carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, green beans, onions, corn, or any vegetable that needs to be used or you have on hand, optional1/2 cup shredded cheese, optionalketchup drizzle, optional Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a medium-sized baking dish with cooking spray. Crack eggs into the baking dish and lightly beat them with a fork. Add all remaining ingredients and any optional ingredients and swirl them into the eggs, dispersing them evenly. Place baking dish on top of a cookie sheet if needed for stability, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, covered. If your baking dish does not have a lid, you may wish to cover it with foil so the top doesn’t burn before the rest is cooked through. Remove the lid and bake for 20 additional minutes, uncovered, to brown the top very slightly (25 minutes covered + 20 minutes uncovered = 45 minutes total baking time). Optionally, top with cheese in the last 5 minutes of baking. Cooking times will vary based on size of baking dish and amount of vegetables used. Remove from oven when edges are just beginning to brown and pull away slightly from the sides of the dish. Slice and serve immediately, with ketchup drizzled over the top if desired. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator and serve them either cold or reheated, for up to two days, using common sense.Spinach Quiche1 tablespoon butter or olive oil1 onion chopped10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well1 cup grated Swiss cheese9 inch piecrust4 eggs1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon pepper In a medium heavy skillet, heat butter or olive oil and sauté onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Sprinkle cheese onto crust and add spinach and onion mixture. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, cottage cheese, salt and pepper, and pour over the spinach. Bake until set, in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Note: This can be made “crust-less” (for gluten free friends). Just spray pan with olive oil and then add ingredients. Oven Omelet8 eggs, slightly beaten4 ounces dried beef, cut fine1 cup milk2 tablespoons onion, chopped fine1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese1/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon pepper1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash seasoningpaprika for top Combine eggs, dried beef, milk, onion, cheese, salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash seasoning. Pour into buttered 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake at 325 degrees approximately 45 minutes.Breakfast Omelet12 eggs2 cups milk2 cups chopped ham2 cups shredded cheddar cheese1 package hash brownssalt and pepper to taste Beat eggs. Stir in milk, ham and cheese. Add salt and pepper. Put hash browns on bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan (sprayed with Pam or other spray oil). Pour egg mixture over hash browns. Refrigerate overnight. Bake 60 to 80 minutes at 350 degrees.Caramel Apple French Toast1 cup brown sugar3 teaspoon white syrup6 tablespoons butter3 Granny Smith apples18 slices day old white bread6 eggs2 cups milk1/2 teaspoon vanilla Combine sugar, syrup and butter in skillet. Boil for one minute. Pour into greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Place sliced apples on top of caramel. Place bread 3 layers deep in pan. Mix eggs, milk and vanilla together. Pour over bread. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until brown and puffy. If you are reading this, then you probably enjoy new recipes. If you would like to share some of your recipes with the community YOU could be Cook of the Week. Please contact me, Sally Cuthbertson, if you would like to be in this column some week. I can be reached by phone at 515-373-6346 or email me at I will be happy to email or send you my short questionnaire and set up a time to come and visit you at your convenience. I’m always looking for NEW Cook’s of the Week. Also, if you are new in town, this is a good way to introduce yourself to the Humboldt community and surrounding communities. I look forward to visiting with you. The COOK OF THE WEEK 3rd Edition Cookbook is available. Cost per copy is $10.70, plus $4.80 shipping/handling. Order a copy today by sending a check or money order, along with name and shipping address, to: Humboldt Independent, 512 Sumner Ave., Humboldt, IA 50548.

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