Overnight wine and cheese omelet

This brunch dish is a good choice for an Easter brunch since it is assembled the day before and left refrigerated overnight. All you have to do is pop it in the oven in the morning to bake and then finish any other brunch preparations.

Today, March 29, has been designated “Whole Day for Whole Grains.” This yearly celebration aims to encourage consumers to try new whole grains.

Maybe you could try some different grains such as rye, teff, spelt or barley today. They will give a richer flavor to your foods. Whole grains are not just found in breads but cereal, pasta, snacks, pancakes, muffins, etc. Whole grains pack a big nutritional punch, providing a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet, as well as adding flavor to the food.

Palm Sunday and Easter will soon be here and if you are planning a family meal together, try some of the following recipes to make it extra special.

Overnight wine and cheese omelet

This brunch dish is a good choice for an Easter brunch since it is assembled the day before and left refrigerated overnight. All you have to do is pop it in the oven in the morning to bake and then finish any other brunch preparations. If desired you can substitute other types of cheeses in the recipe. A good choice to serve with it would be some fresh fruit or fruit compote and perhaps hash browns.

(Serves: 8)

Ingredients:

½ large loaf French bread, rimmed and cubed

3 tablespoons butter, melted

½ cup shredded Swiss cheese

½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

½ pound bacon, pork sausage, or ham

8 eggs

1¾ cup milk

¼ cup dry white wine

3 green onions, chopped

½ tablespoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Dash cayenne pepper

2/3 cup sour cream

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup sliced black olives

Directions:

Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan. If using bacon, crisp the bacon and crumble it. If using the pork sausage, brown the sausage, breaking it up as it cooks. If using ham, cut it into small cubes. Spread the bread in the bottom of the pan. Drizzle with the butter. Sprinkle the Swiss cheese, Monterey Jack cheese and the cooked meat over the bread. Beat the eggs, milk, wine, green onions, dry mustard, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a bowl until foamy. Pour over the bread. Chill, covered with foil, for 8 to 10 hours. When ready to prepare, preheat the oven to 325 degrees; bake, covered, for 1 hour. Uncover, and spread with the sour cream; sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the tomatoes and olives. Cut into squares and serve. Source: “Living Well, More Than A Cookbook,” National Extension Association of Family & Consumer Sciences.

Strawberry angel squares

Another part of your menu you can prepare the day before is this refreshing strawberry and pineapple salad. It goes well with ham or pork. Using a purchased angel food cake saves time with the preparation.

(Servings: 9)

Ingredients:

1 loaf-style angel food cake or ½ angel food cake

1 cup boiling water

1 3-ounce package strawberry-flavored gelatin

1 15 1/4-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained (reserve ½ cup juice)

1 cup low-fat creamed cottage cheese (small curd)

1 10-ounce package frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed or 1 cup sweetened sliced strawberries

Directions:

Remove crust from angel food cake and cut into about 1-inch cubes. Pour boiling water unto gelatin in large bowl. Stir in reserved ½ cup pineapple juice. Place cottage cheese into blender container or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed, stopping frequently to scrape sides, until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add gelatin mixture. Cover and blend on medium speed until smooth, about 15 seconds. Return mixture to large bowl. Stir in pineapple, strawberries, and cake cubes. Pour into square baking dish, 8x8x2-inches. Refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours. Garnish with fresh strawberries. Cut into squares to serve. Source: “Baking to Your Heart’s Content,” Betty Crocker Flyer.

Lemon-lime cream tart

Bringing together lemon and lime is always a winning flavor combination and it certainly will please your guests when they try this special tart. It also helps that it is a lower calorie dessert option. It can be made up to three days in advance of your dinner.

(Servings: 10)

Ingredients:

44 reduced-fat vanilla wafers

3 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons stick margarine or butter, softened

1 large egg white

Cooking spray

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 large eggs

1 14-ounce can low-fat sweetened condensed milk

1 cup frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided

10 lemon rind strips (optional)

Mint leaves (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place wafers in a food processor; process until finely ground. Add sugar, margarine and egg white; pulse two times or just until combined. Press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch tart pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Combine grated lemon rind, juices, eggs and condensed milk in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until blended. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely; top with whipped topping before serving. Garnish with lemon strips and mint, if desired. Source: “Cooking Light,” June 1998.

Lemon icebox pie

Cool lemon desserts always bring thoughts of spring, and this frozen lemon pie is the perfect ending to a special spring meal.

(Makes 1 9-inch deep-dish pie)

Ingredients:

2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs

1 2/3 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

6 large eggs

1¼ cups fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch

10 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1 8-ounce container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Garnish lemon slices

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together cracker crumbs, 3 tablespoons sugar, and melted butter. Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press mixture onto bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, whisk together eggs, lemon juice, cornstarch and remaining 1 2/3 cups sugar until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat; whisk in cream cheese and lemon zest until melted and smooth. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours or up to overnight. Before serving, let pie stand at room temperature until it begins to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Spread whipped topping onto pie; garnish with lemon slices, if desired. Source: “Cooking with Paula Deen,” May/June 2021.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.