Fun with food and Fellowship

Not many of us associate going to church with fun whether we be Christian, Jew, Unitarian, Muslim or the many variations thereof. First of all, going to church means you have to get up on a day when what you really want to do is sleep. And yet, no matter what your faith, there is no denying that church is an important force in family life. I recently stumbled on a way to make going to church something that is more fun and encourages my kids to want to go. And guess what? It involves food.

Some friends of ours (Anthony, Julie and Lilly) joined our parish and since the children's liturgy was at 9:30 we decided to meet at the same Mass and sit together. When Mass was over, my husband leaned back and said , "Why don't you guys come over for breakfast?" We all trekked back to our house, and for an hour I turned out bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs with spinach, neufchatel and cheddar, and stacks of pancakes. There was conversation, laughter, teasing, discussion, but most of all... fun! My gosh (see I said gosh!), my kids (and Lilly) were making memories of church that are pleasant. Years from now, they won't remember how we rushed them out the door to avoid the "nosebleed" seats at 9:30 Mass. They will remember sitting around that table with family and friends, laughing and enjoying the food and great company after Mass.

I really wish I had stumbled upon this sooner. I know that attending church and doing right will reap eternal rewards, but I have to say that some shorter-term rewards don't hurt as a motivator to take time out and give thanks no matter what your age. In fact, as I looked around our kitchen this morning, at our family and friends sharing breakfast casserole, fruit salad, coffee and fellowship ( and some warm Krispy Kreme doughnuts), it gives us even more to be thankful for! (This morning's spread, sans Krispy Kremes at left)

Whatever your beliefs, I encourage you to use your Saturday or Sunday service to build a relationship not only with your God, but with your friends and family as well. Not a church person? Sunday mornings are still a great time to have people over, share food and good conversation in a relaxed atmosphere. Invite your friends and neighbors and start a Sunday tradition. Another advantage- it is an inexpensive way to entertain. A dozen eggs, some cheese and a little ham and bread and you're ready to go. Check out my favorite breakfast/brunch recipes:

Breakfast Casserole
A loaf (or the equivalent)of white or any other bread or rolls that you might have to get rid of (I've used white bread, French or Italian, even bagels or leftover sandwich rolls- whatever you have on hand) torn into pieces
6 eggs beaten (or 1/2 container of eggbeaters) with 2 cups of milk or half and half
1 /2- 3/4 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar (or any other type of cheese you like) plus 1 cup for the top of casserole dish
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked crumbled sausage

Mix eggs, milk, and salsa and salt together. Put torn bread in a large mixing bowl, add sausage and liquid ingredients and mix well. Stir in all but reserved cheese and pour into a casserole dish. top with reserved cheese and refrigerate overnight for best results. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until center is set and cheese is bubbly. Serve with salsa on the side. Serves 6 (regular people, not Dowds)

Note: You could make a sweet version of this by leaving out the meat and cheese, adding 1/2 block of neufchatel cheese cut up in chunks,1/2 stick butter melted, adding 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and even a dash or rum or bourbon or a handful of raisins. Bake as directed and serve with maple syrup or whipped cream.

Whatever you've got fruit salad
I serve this with a fruit salad that starts with a can of chunky mixed fruit and add whatever fruit you have on hand (In the version picture above I added fresh pineapple, bluberries and bananas). Mix in a little lime juice and honey (a tablespoon of each is great) or stir in a container of lemon yogurt.

Crazy mixed up scrambled eggs
1 cup breakfast meat (chopped up ham, loose cooked sausage, even leftover steak would be good)
6 eggs, beaten with 1/4 cup half and half
fresh or frozen chopped spinach cooked and drained
1/2 cup chopped onions or scallions
1/2 block of neufchatel cheese cut into hunks
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or whatever you have, even a couple of slices of american, torn up, will do
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt butter or put olive oil in pan, sautee onions and spinach. Once onions are translucent, pour in egg/half and half mixture and sprinkle meat over top. As eggs begin to set move the set part to the inside f the pan, add cheeses, and mix gently into light mounds until eggs are set and cheese is melted. Salt to taste and serve.(Serves 4-6)

Note:experiment, add mushrooms, use leftover asparagus, whatever combination tickles your fancy- you can't go wrong. And if you come up with something really good- let me know!


Lisa said…
Here's a twist on pancakes that my family has been enjoying recently:

Corn griddle cakes
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix (OK, I know it's cheating, but I tried several "from scratch" recipes and they haven't been as good)
1 egg
2 T. Crisco, melted (use the 0 trans fat kind!)
3/4 cup milk
Corn kernels (frozen, canned or leftover cooked and cut off the cob)
Maple syrup (the real kind) or sour cream and salasa, for serving

Mix together Jiffy mix, egg, Crisco and milk until combined but still a little lumpy. Heat griddle over low heat and coat with a very thin coating of butter (use a paper towel to mop up any extra). Using a small ladle, pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter on the skillet. Top with a small handful of corn spread over the pancake. Cook until pancake starts to turn golden on the edges and bubble on top. Flip and cook on the other side.

Cooks note 1: I like these simply topped with butter, but the kids like them with maple syrup. Another option is to top them with sour cream and a side of salsa.

Cooks note 2: These burn much faster than traditional pancakes, so cook them low and slow and watch them.