brunch

Easy Apricot Cream Cheese Danishes

cheese danish with apricot

Ahh the cheese danish… my favorite pastry. I could write poems about it, but I’ll spare you. Anyway, there’s something about Spring that makes me want to have brunch, and in my mind no brunch is complete without some sweet pastries!

If you’re hosting a brunch or just craving some of these bad boys for yourself, fear not,  you don’t have to get up at 5am and slave away with your rolling pin to make these fresh mini danishes. Thanks to some convenient frozen puff pastry dough, they are a cinch to whip up!

easy cream cheese danish recipe

Ingredients:
(makes 32 small danishes)
– 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed
– 1 jar apricot dessert filling
– 8 oz cream cheese, softened
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 tbsp of milk
– 1 egg yolk
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– splash of milk
– 1/4 tsp almond extract
– sliced almonds

fruit filling for danishes

I am partial to Baker Brand fruit fillings for these, in part because this is what we always use when making my family’s traditional Slovak cookies! I chose apricot just because it’s my favorite, but any fruit filling would be delicious. I recently discovered that they make a pineapple version which I would love to try!

cream cheese filling for danishes

For the cheese filling, mix up the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and 1 tbsp of milk. Beat until smooth. You will probably have some leftover when you’re done, so keep in mind that it makes an excellent fruit dip! Waste not, want not, right?

scoring puff pastry for square danishes

Next, open up each puff pastry sheet and cut into sixteen squares. Then, using a knife, score a smaller square into each one, making sure not to cut all the way through. The scoring helps the pastry to puff up on the edges and keep the filling in its place while in the oven.

fill danishes with cream cheese and apricot

On each square, place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture and a dollop of the apricot filling, then swirl together a bit.

Make a simple egg wash by mixing one egg yolk with 1 tbsp of water. Brush this around the outside edge of each pastry. *Note* – You might want to transfer the squares over to parchment paper before doing this step. They are a little harder to pick up after the egg wash. Clearly I forgot, but everything turned out just fine!

Egg wash the edges of pastries

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. They will look really puffy and rounded when you first pull them out, but they will quickly deflate a bit.

While they are baking, mix up the almond icing. Place one cup of powdered sugar into a small bowl, and add small splashes of milk until you reach a smooth glaze-like consistency. You won’t need much milk, so add in small increments! Stir in 1/4 tsp of almond extract.

Apricot Cream Cheese Danishes

Once the danishes are cooled, drizzle on the glaze and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Perfection.
Happy Brunching!

Roasted Strawberry Sangria with Basil and Cucumbers

Strawberry Basil White Wine Sangria

Sangrias are like the ice cream sunday of cocktails.  You can throw basically anything you have, like, or want into the mix, and it (almost) always tastes really good.  Take roasted strawberries, lime juice, basil, and cucumbers for example, and mix them with rum and wine.  Off the bat, it doesn’t sound like it would be too appealing – basil wine? – but oh was I pleasantly surprised – yes.

I wanted to try a new cocktail for mother’s day, and combine a few of my mom’s favorite flavors into a drink that she would like. Spiked strawberry lemonades and white wine spritzers have been her celebratory drinks for quite some time now, so I decided to put my own spin on things and make a sangria!

Traditionally, Chardonnay is used in white sangria, but I don’t like Chardonnay so I used Pino Grigio.  Feel free to use the wine that you like.  I also added more rum than normal, partially because I knew I wanted to cut the drink with the bubbly seltzer, but also because I really wanted that sharp bite of liquor to pair with the basil.  I’ve also seen a lot of recipes with added sugars or syrups, but I also don’t like that.  We’re already combining two alcohols here, people…no need to add sugar to the hangover.  I mean mix.

Strawberry Recipes

Ingredients:

Makes about 1.5 gallons of sangria…2 if you include the fruit mixture

-2 pints strawberries

-6 limes

-1 large english cucumber

-1 bunch fresh basil

-2 1.5L bottles of white wine – I used Pino Grigio

-2 (or 3) cups light rum

-2 liters seltzer

-ice to serve

Strawberry Cucumber Lime Cocktail

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees…we’re going to cook us up some Sangria!  While the oven is heating, wash your strawberries, cut off all stems, and slice them into threes.  There’s no real thickness you’re looking for – just try to keep them all about the same size.  Spread the strawberries out on a cookie sheet, so that none are overlapping, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  You’re looking for the berries to create their own, juicy syrup. Sort of like what you would get if you added sugar to the berries and let them sit a while, but much thicker, and with a REALLY enhanced strawberry flavor.

Confession…the first time I tried roasting strawberries, I ate the entire 2 pints in about one day via a large serving spoon.  They’re good.

Roasted Strawberry Syrup

While the berries are roasting, de-stem and chop your basil, and slice the cucumber.  Again, no rhyme or reason to the thickness, just try and keep everything about the same size. I’d say my strawberries and cucumbers were about a quarter of an inch, or slightly bigger, in thickness.

Oven Roasted Strawberries

When the strawberries are done, use a rubber spatula to immediately spoon them from the pan, along with the syrup they made, into a glass/ceramic bowl.  Be warned, if you don’t do this while the berries are still hot, you’re going to be scraping them from the bottom and won’t be able to harvest any of the syrup, and you’re really going to miss out on that flavor.

Strawberry White Wine Sangria

When the berries are cool, squeeze the fresh lime juice over top, and stir.  Add this mixture to your pitcher, pour over the wine and rum, mix, and let sit in the refrigerator for anywhere from an hour to overnight.  About an hour before serving, add the basil and cucumbers – we want them to be an added brightness with a hint of earthiness, and to not be too overwhelming. Serve over ice.

Strawberry Basil Cucumber Drink

To be honest, it was REALLY hard to photograph this drink for a ton of reasons – time of day, glassware, party commencing without me – and also because the beautiful red roasted berries begin to turn transparent after soaking in the liquor, which does’t look super cute on camera.  But trust me, it was gone in a flash, and it was delicious. Next time, I’m thinking I might have guests strain their sangria into their glasses, and use basil, cucumber, strawberry infused ice cubes instead – fancy fancy.  I’ll have to make this next time Hayley and I get together – have you seen her beverage posts?  Check out our Mixology section, because they are awesome.

Basil Cucumner Sangria

How are you treating your mom, or special lady in your life? Let us know, and tag us @whattodowithlemons on Instagram with your creations!

 

 

 

Lighter Brunch Quiche

Vegetable Pie Recipe

Breakfast post alert!!! (Surprised?)

The weather is warming up, and restaurant patios are opening.  We all know what that means…brunch season is here!  I love a good breakfast/brunch outing, but I also love eating healthier and that can be tough when you’re out with friends.  Thankfully, cooking healthy is easy, affordable, and contrary to popular belief, FLAVORFUL.  Bring the BYOB to your place for a change, and serve up this lighter spin on a brunch staple.  Throw whatever vegetables you have on hand into this lower-fat version of a classic quiche, and enjoy an extra mimosa (or two three) instead!

Egg White Quiche Recipe

Ingredients:

– 1 Wholly Wholesome Organic Whole Wheat Pie Shell

– 1 16 oz. carton of egg whites

-10 oz package of mushrooms

-4 cups raw spinach

-1 bell pepper

-1T minced garlic

-½ T olive oil

-reduced fat feta, asiago, or other cheese to top

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your pie shell out of the freezer, and let thaw.  I placed mine on my preheating oven, to help speed up the process.  Next, chop up your vegetables – including the spinach – and heat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat.  Add olive oil, minced garlic, and vegetables – sautee until the peppers are soft and the spinach has wilted.  Remove the sautéed veggies from the heat, and let cool until at room temperature – be sure not to mix anything that is too hot with raw eggs, or else you might start cooking them!

Whole Wheat Breakfast Quiche

When cooled, add the veggies to the thawed pie shell and place on a baking tray. Carefully pour the egg whites over the veggie mix – it will look like you won’t be able to fit all of the egg whites, but you will!  Cook for 30 minutes, then shut the oven off and keep the quiche in the cooling oven for another 15 minutes.

Low Calorie Brunch Recipe

You can enjoy this quiche warm, room temperature, or my favorite, cold!  It’s a great make-ahead dish, and can even be frozen after it’s cooked! I know that you can freeze casseroles and other dishes with cream and cheese, but I prefer not to when it comes to egg based recipes.  I did, however add some crumbled feta to my serving…because you just can’t have a quiche without cheese.  I picture this quiche on a brunch table with fruit, some grilled/roasted asparagus, and a strong cocktail.

Low Calorie Vegetable Quiche

Now, if you’re NOT looking for a lighter recipe, substitute the egg whites for 4 eggs and about half a cup of cream or a cup of crumbled/shredded cheese.

Roasted Portobello Mushroom Florentine

IMG_9056

This quick brunch side was inspired by a Saturday cafe date I had with two of my best friends – Portobello Eggs Benedict.  The original dish had artichokes, poached eggs, and creamy holandaise.  It was delicious, but with the sauce and runny yolk I found it a little too soupy.  I loved the idea of using portobellos in place of English muffins in a brunch dish, and took a stab at my own.  These roasted portobellos are layered with flavor and come together in no time at all – I ate the one pictured as a mid-morning snack!

Ingredients:

-4 portobello mushroom caps

-10oz bag of baby spinach

-2T olive oil

-1t minced garlic

-riccotta cheese, or whipped cottage cheese

-2t total of dried Italian spices (parsley, basil, oregano)

-salt and pepper to taste

-your favorite jarred bruschetta – here, I used my go-to Trader Giotti’s, but don’t be afraid to use your own!

-eggs (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350.  Rinse and dry your portobello mushrooms, and remove the inner stem.  With the top side of each mushroom down, brush the bottom with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  Next, heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat the pan with about 1T of olive oil.  Add the minced garlic, and stir – cook about 3 minutes or until the garlic is slightly toasted.  Add in the entire bag of spinach, and toss to coat.  I like to use tongs when sauteeing greens – it’s easier to move them around.  The spinach should wilt down in about 5 minutes.  By this time, your mushrooms are probably roasted and can be removed from the oven to cool.

 

Roasted Portabello Mushroom Caps

Now, for the topping.  I know it seems odd, but low-fat whipped cottage cheese is an identical replacement to part-skim ricotta.  It is salty and creamy with a slightly lumped texture, and in my opinion, is much more flavorful than ricotta when eaten raw, especially when you add in the spices.  I put this cottage cheese – spice mixture over eggs, in pasta, and even eat it by itself.  It’s really good, is normally cheaper, and it even has more protein!  I wouldn’t recommend substituting cottage cheese for ricotta in baked recipes, however, as it will release much more moisture when cooked.

Italian Seasoned Whipped Cottage Cheese

For the assembly, layer the spinach on the roasted portobello, and top with the spiced cottage cheese and bruschetta.  So simple, and so good.  I had a ton of leftovers, so I cooked up some eggs and ate it as breakfast for a few days – didn’t mind my early morning desk routine this week!

Portabello Florentine Eggs