SOURCE: McCormick Gourmet Collection

May 09, 2011 05:00 ET

Brunch, the New At-Home Happening From McCormick

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - May 9, 2011) - (Family Features) Brunch is the ultimate way to gather friends and celebrate special occasions. Instead of going out, host your brunch at home where you can relax and make everything delicious with your favorite flavors from McCormick.

"An at-home brunch is the perfect opportunity to express the flavors of the season with herbs and spices -- sweet and warm cinnamon brightens Stuffed French Toast, while lively ginger, savory thyme and unmistakable vanilla all contribute to an unforgettable occasion your guests will enjoy," said Mary Beth Harrington of the McCormick Kitchens.

Harrington shares ideas for successful brunch entertaining, including adding fresh twists to popular dishes, like the distinct taste of a vanilla vinaigrette on a field green salad. She suggests heightening the flavor of favorite dishes with a mix of herbs and spices. Try picking brunch recipes that can be prepared the day before, like Lemon Cheesecake Bars, or welcome guests with a Be Your Own Flavor-ista coffee station that can be set up in just a few minutes. Need help getting started? From sweet to savory, McCormick has recipes to inspire your table; check out www.McCormick.com for tips and tricks to hosting the ultimate weekend celebration.

Be Your Own Flavor-ista Coffee Bar
Create an at-home coffee bar where guests can customize their drinks by adding their own toppings, like shaved chocolate spiked with cinnamon or whipped cream brightened with almond extract. For a splash of spring color, make your own homemade colored sugar with McCormick Food Colors to add a special sparkle to your favorite desserts.

Stuffed French Toast
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes 8 servings
1tub (8 ounces) whipped cream cheese
1tablespoon brown sugar
3teaspoons McCormick Ground Cinnamon, divided
1 1/2teaspoons McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract, divided
16slices Italian bread (1/2 inch thick)
1/2cup apricot preserves or jam
5eggs
1cup milk
2tablespoons butter, divided

1. Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla in small bowl until well blended. Spread 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture on each of 8 slices bread. Spread 1 tablespoon preserves on remaining 8 slices of bread. Press one each of the bread slices together to form 8 sandwiches.

2. Beat eggs with wire whisk in 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Stir in milk, remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until well blended. Dip sandwiches in egg mixture, soaking for 2 minutes on each side.

3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet or griddle on medium-low heat. Place 4 sandwiches in skillet. Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining sandwiches, melting remaining tablespoon butter in skillet. Serve French toast with maple syrup, if desired.

Nutritional Information per Serving: 398 Calories, Fat 18g, Carbohydrates 47g, Cholesterol 173mg, Sodium 496mg, Fiber 2g, Protein 12g

Lemon Cheesecake Bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Refrigerate Time: 4 hours
Makes 24 servings
1 1/2cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3cup butter, melted
1/2teaspoon McCormick Ground Ginger
3packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1cup sugar
1/4cup milk
2tablespoons flour
1 1/2teaspoons McCormick Pure Lemon Extract
1teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
3eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and ginger. Press firmly onto bottom of foil-lined 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add milk, flour and extracts; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust.

3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool completely on wire rack.

4. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Lift out of pan onto cutting board. Cut into bars. Garnish as desired. Store leftover bars in refrigerator.

Berry Topping: Garnish top of cheesecake with 4 cups assorted berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries and raspberries. Brush berries with 3 tablespoons currant or apple jelly, melted and cooled slightly.

Flavor Variations: Prepare as directed. Use 1 1/2 teaspoons McCormick Pure Orange Extract or 2 teaspoons McCormick Raspberry Extract in place of the Lemon Extract.

Nutritional Information per Serving: 198 Calories, Fat 14g, Carbohydrates 15g, Cholesterol 63mg, Sodium 159mg, Fiber 0g, Protein 3g

Field Greens with Oranges, Strawberries and Vanilla Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Makes 6 servings
Vinaigrette:
1/3cup olive oil
3tablespoons white wine vinegar
1teaspoon McCormick Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon sugar
1/4teaspoon McCormick Black Pepper, Ground
Salad:
1package (6 ounces) field greens or baby spinach leaves
2seedless oranges, peeled and sectioned
2cups strawberry halves or slices
1/2cup toasted pecan pieces

1. For the vinaigrette, mix all ingredients in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended.

2. Toss greens with oranges, strawberries and pecans in large bowl. (Or divide among individual serving plates.) Serve with vinaigrette.

Nutritional Information per Serving: 231 calories, Fat 19g, Carbohydrates 13g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 208mg, Fiber 3g, Protein 2g

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