Celebrate The Turning Season With A Special Spring Brunch

IN THE KITCHEN

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Trees are beginning to blossom in the Rim country and warm spring days beckon us outside for fun in the sun -- playing, gardening, golfing, or just enjoying life.

No matter what the occasion, get the family together to share in the joy of this tender time of year. And there's no better way to get everyone together than for a hearty, springtime brunch.

The warm smell of cinnamon and apples will get everyone rushing to the table for a serving of the Maple Sausage Waffles. The Hearty Sausage Mini Quiches not only add color to the table, but taste delicious. The Sausage Pesto Torte and Breakfast Casserole complete this brunch that will make your springtime special occasions even more memorable.

Maple Sausage Waffles with Cinnamon Apples

1 package maple flavor pork sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained

2 cups pancake mix

1 1/3 cups milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 can (20 ounces) cinnamon apple fruit filling

Preheat waffle iron; grease with vegetable oil or shortening. In large mixing bowl, combine pancake mix, milk, egg, vegetable oil and sausage, stirring until well blended. For each waffle, pour 1/2 cup mixture onto center of waffle iron and close lid. Bake 5 minutes. Top with fruit filling. Makes 12 waffles

Hearty Sausage Mini Quiches

1 package regular flavor pork sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained

8 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk or water

1/2 to 1 cup shredded Cheddar, mozzarella or provolone cheese

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil or butter

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper (optional)

1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms or yellow squash (optional)

1 cup frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes or diced, prebaked red potatoes (optional)

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk or water, cheese, salt and pepper; set aside. Heat olive oil or butter in large skillet; sauté onions and any optional vegetables desired until vegetables are tender. Add vegetables and sausage to egg mixture; stir well. Place 12 foil baking cups into cupcake pan. Distribute sausage and egg mixture evenly into baking cups. Bake 22 minutes or until eggs are set. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.

Makes 12 cupcake-size servings

Breakfast Casserole

1 package regular flavor pork sausage

10 eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups milk

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

6 cups cubed bread

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces (2 cups) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped (optional)

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until thoroughly cooked and no longer pink.

In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, mustard and salt; stir well. Distribute half the bread evenly in buttered 9- x 13- x 2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with half the pepper, half the cheese, half the sausage and half of each optional ingredient. Repeat layering, using remaining bread, pepper, cheese, sausage and optional ingredients. Pour egg mixture evenly over casserole. Bake uncovered 55 to 60 minutes, or until eggs are set. Tent with foil if top begins to brown too quickly. Makes 6 servings

Note: May be assembled ahead and refrigerated up to 12 hours before baking.

Sausage Pesto Torte

1 package regular pork sausage, cooked, crumbled and drained

1 refrigerated pie crust

24 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained well and finely chopped

1/2 cup prepared basil pesto

Thin tomato wedges or roasted red pepper strips (optional)

Fresh basil or Italian parsley leaves (optional)

Lightly grease bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan. If using a silver pan, preheat oven to 325 degrees. If using a dark, nonstick pan, preheat to 300 degrees. Insert rim of pan; press crust gently onto bottom of pan and trim edges to fit. Bake crust 5 minutes; set aside to cool.

Mix cream cheese, sour cream and salt with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until just blended. In separate bowl, combine cooked sausage and sun-dried tomatoes with 2 cups of cheese mixture; stir well. Spread sausage mixture evenly over crust; top with remaining cheese mixture. Spoon rounded teaspoons of pesto randomly over batter. Cut through pesto and surface of batter with a knife, using a swirling motion for a marbled effect.

Bake on middle oven rack at 400 degrees for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 200 degrees and bake 55 to 60 minutes longer, or until center is just set. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing rim of pan from cake; run knife or metal spatula between cake and rim of pan to loosen. Cool another 30 minutes before slicing or refrigerate immediately up to one day in advance of serving time. (To reheat torte, cover loosely with foil; bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 25 minutes.) Garnish with tomato wedges or roasted red pepper strips and fresh herbs if desired. Serve warm within two hours.

Makes 16 servings

Cook's Tip: To substitute dried sun-dried tomatoes for the oil-packed variety, pour boiling water over 3/4 cup.

Recipes from Family Features

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