Archive for Melissa Bryson

Catered Brunch for 20

Catered brunch for 20

Catered brunch for baby showerAfter request upon request to cater, Denise and I have given in several times in the last few months. It has been fun and a learning experience on what it takes to be a true caterer. As of now, we still don’t think catering, in the technical sense of the word, is for us. HOWEVER, providing a home-cooked, delicious spread at a fair cost for friends is definitely something we enjoy!

Catered brunch for 20

This past Saturday, we provided a brunch for about 20 people hosting a baby shower. It was so much fun! Melissa knew a lot of the guests which made it extra special to see friends and the appreciation for the food was enough to lift our spirits through the week.

catered brunch


We worked with the ‘to be Mom’s’ sister on the menu which needed to include enough vegetarian items to suit the guest list. Here is what we ended up with:

  • Frittata with mushrooms, leeks and fontina
  • Frittata with sausage and cheddar
  • Shrimp grits with toast points
  • Baked French toast
  • Greek yogurt, mixed berries and granola
  • Caprese salad
  • Prosciutto cups with spinach and ricotta
  • Mimosas, OJ, and iced tea

Do you have a book club, Bible study, regular friend get together that you don’t want to cook for…let us know if we can help!

Vegetarian Frittata


Brunch Salad


Baked French Toast with Pecan topping

Baked French Toast with Pecan topping

White Chocolate Naan with Blackberry Sauce

blackberry naan with white chocoloate

After a yummy dinner of grilled chicken wings, my eldest daughter asked me to whip up something for dessert. Now, to understand the craziness of this request you have to understand that (a) I don’t make dessert and (b) I don’t have a sweet tooth.

I laughed it off and said I’d do something if she washes the dishes. Unfortunately, she agreed!

Now, one of our favorite ‘mother-daughter’ things to do is to watch the television show, Chopped. We love the creativity of the awkward ingredients and what the contestants do to put them together into something edible. Well, here goes…off to the freezer.

I had some blackberries I had frozen because they were going bad faster than we could eat them, some vanilla ice cream, white chocolate chips and Naan all in the freezer. That’s about it.
white chocolate naan with blackberry sauce

My daughter told me I had 20 minutes to pull it together….here goes…I don’t think I ‘transformed’ the ingredients very much but this is all I had on a tired Friday night.

White chocolate Naan with Blackberry Sauce


1 piece of Naan cut into quarters

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

3 T milk/cream

1 cup blackberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 lemon juice

1 T vanilla

Vanilla ice cream

How to make white chocolate naan with blackberry sauce

Warm the naan either in a low temperature oven or warming drawer.

Place the blackberries with the sugar and lemon and vanilla into a sauce pan. Heat on medium high until the berries break apart and sugar melts. The longer you cook them, the more the berries will break up. Your choice. I did about 7 minutes.

While the berries are cooking, place the white chocolate chips and milk in a double boiler and heat until the chocolate is melted.

Once everything is ready, spread some white chocolate on a piece of Naan, top with the berries and ice cream and maybe a bit more white chocolate. Serve.

It tasted great. When I brought it to my daughter, she started acting like a judge and asked me, ‘what have you prepared for us today?’ Oh my!

Melon with Thyme and Parmesan

In my household, hardly anyone likes melon. It doesn’t matter if it is watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew or some other kind of melon, they just don’t like it. I, for the life of me, don’t get it. Certainly I can understand why people say they don’t like honey dew because you so often get served the hard, tasteless, unripen version. But good, cold, ripe, sweet, and juicy melon is delicious!

This is an elegant way to serve it and make it taste even better. There is something about the nutty parmesan cheese that makes this a dish you’ll go back to for seconds and thirds!

Level of Difficulty:Easy (only thing ‘hard’ is getting a ripe melon)

Time Required:Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 1 hour

Ingredients for about 6 servings:

1/2 honey dew, canary or cantaloupe melon

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T fresh thyme leaves (lemon thyme if you have it)

Fresh cracked black pepper

4 oz Parmigiano Regianno Cheese

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Vegetable Peeler

How to make melon with thyme and parmesan:

Pick a good, ripe melon. Wash your melon. Slice it in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Remove the peel. The links here will provide more detail on picking, washing and peeling a melon if you need it.

Slice the melon thinly into about 3 inch strips. The thinner the better really. I’ve had versions of this at a restaurant where they called this a melon carpaccio.

Place on a  platter.

Drizzle lightly with the olive oil. Crack some fresh pepper on top. Add your fresh thyme leaves.

Using your vegetable peeler, shave thin but long strips of the parmesan and add on top.

Oh my is this a fresh summer treat!!

melon with thyme and parmesan

Important Tips:

Get a fresh melon and serve cold.

Use the real deal for the parmesan. Powdered or already shredded is not going to cut it for this dish!


Change out the melon variety or dry small amount of rosemary instead of the thyme.

My kids absolutely love melon. This is something they would eat for sure!! ~Denise

Smoked Salmon Appetizer

After making the Smoked Wild Salmon on the Big Green Egg the other day, I had some leftovers. I decided to make a little appetizer with the smoked salmon. Yum!

I actually ate this for a snack lunch but it would be great to serve to guests too.

smoked salmon appetizer with cream cheese and horseradish

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 10min (smoked salmon already prepared); Chill time – 15min+


2 cups smoked salmon, chopped

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened

2T mayonnaise

2T Greek yogurt

2T prepared horseradish

salt and pepper to taste

parsley or chives for color (optional)

Quality cracker like the 34 degrees savory crisps (whole wheat shown)

Preparing Smoked Salmon Appetizer

Take your leftover smoked wild salmon and flake it apart.

Mix the softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, yogurt and horseradish until well mixed. Add the salmon and stir until just combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a great cracker and add some parsley or chives for color.



Add some capers to the mix and you’ll love the pop of vinegary saltiness!

Smoked Wild Salmon on the Big Green Egg

I recently got a Big Green Egg and am learning to use it and love it more and more each day. The first thing I officially smoked on the egg was a nice piece of wild sockeye salmon. I figured it would be a short smoke and a bit on the forgiving side since I would not have to maintain a low temperature for hours and hours and hours.

salmon smoked on big green egg

Not bad for a first attempt! Flaky, slightly smoky and delicious.

Level of Difficulty:Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 10min; Cook Time – 25-35 min


1 large wild salmon filet (don’t use the farm raised stuff for a good smoked salmon)

2 T brown sugar

4 T ponzu

1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, finely diced

1/2 T fresh cracked black pepper

1t ginger powder

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Big Green Egg or smoker of your choice

Basting brush

Preparing Smoked Wild Salmon on the Big Green Egg:

Get your egg started and at about 275 degrees with the smoke plate on (notice how brand new and pretty mine was in this picture).

smoked salmon

Choose some wood for the smoke. I had apple wood on hand and used it and I liked it. A friend told me that alder wood is the best with salmon so I’ll try that next time. Soak those and get them smoking on the Egg.

When the smoker is ready, add the salmon. Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and baste them on the salmon. I basted a few times during the cooking process.

After about 20 minutes, check for your desired level of doneness. Even on a smoked salmon, I like mine a bit on the just done side. I pulled mine off at about 25 minutes. When it flakes just slightly, you’ll know it is at least ‘done’. Then you can just cook until you like it.

smoked wild salmon on big green egg


When I make this again, I might add some more heat in the form of some red pepper flakes or a second pepper.

I’m sure this is fantastic if you like salmon. I’m just wondering at what point you will make something on the egg I will eat….AND invite me over! ~Denise

Farro and Brussels Sprout Salad

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Farro

With all the rage being to eat as many super foods at one sitting as you can, I constantly feel the pressure of not eating enough of them! Well, I saw this salad in a recent Food Network magazine and adapted it a bit for me. It was hearty but still light. A bit refreshing but more substantive than a traditional salad and it had a whole grain and Brussles sprouts together! Add my variation of adding blueberries and chalk up another super food! Yay me! Try this Farro and Brussels Sprout Salad next time you are looking to be healthy and impressive.

Level of Difficulty: Easy
Time Required:Prep Time – 40min


14oz of Farro (I used a bag of Earthly Choice,  Italian Pearled Farro – it was also organic)

3 cups Brussels sprouts, sliced thinly

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 2 lemons

1/2 red onion

1 cup chopped and toasted walnuts

olive oil

salt and pepper

Preparing Farro and Brussels Sprout Salad:

Slice the Brussels sprouts into thin strips. Place on a baking sheet. Add salt and pepper and toss with a bit of olive oil. Cook for about 7 minutes in a 450 degree oven just to help them soften up.

Cook the farro according to the package directions. In general it takes a lot of water and about 30-40 minutes.

While that cooks, chop your remaining vegetables and the walnuts, juice your fruit and combine everything together as it becomes ready. Stir together and chill.

Brussels Sprouts Salad with Farro


I think this would be great to add blueberries to as well. I also think it would be great to substitute the citrus and olive oil with the Girard’s Champagne Vinaigrette dressing too! Next time!

Crispy Fried Shrimp

Fried Shrimp with Panko

I love fried shrimp! Probably one of my top 5 foods. I have a real problem knowing when I’ve had enough to the point where I just don’t stop until all the shrimp are gone. As a kid, I thought it was hilarious that I’d eat the tails too and laugh with my parents that I had not eaten any shrimp. Yea. I know. Lame. But that’s what kids do!

I cook fried shrimp so many different ways but this is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy.

Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Time Required:Prep Time – 30min; Cook Time – 20 min

Ingredients for 4:

2 dozen large shrimp

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/2 cup water

Vegetable oil

Lemon to serve with

You’ll need sauces. I made cocktail sauce with ketchup, horseradish, lemon and Worcestershire. Sriracha mayo would be good too. Tartar sauce is clearly a staple too.

Special Equipment and Other Items Needed:

Cast Iron Skillet. If you don’t have one of these, you need one!


Peel and devein the shrimp. We’ve talked about this before if you need to know how. Place the bread crumbs (both kinds) in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and whatever other spices you like. I usually add some cayenne and chili powder.

In a second bowl, add the eggs and water and beat to make an egg wash. Add spices to this bowl too!

Dip the prepared shrimp in the bread crumbs then the egg wash and then back in the bread crumbs. Repeat for all shrimp. Place back in the fridge for a couple of minutes to help the breading adhere to the shrimp.

Place about 2 inches of vegetable/canola oil in your cast iron skillet and place over medium high- heat until the oil is hot. You’ll know it is ready to fry when you place a bit of bread crumbs in it and it bubbles quickly.

Add the shrimp, but don’t overcrowd, and cook until lightly brown on one side. Then flip and cook until lightly brown on the other side. Remove from oil and let drain on some paper towels. Repeat for remaining batches. Serve with some yummy sides and a great sauce. Yummm!

Fried Shrimp with Panko


Important Tips:

Don’t overcook the shrimp. Remember the ‘C’ shape means done. If it closes to an ‘O’ shape, it is overcooked.


So many ways to cook fried shrimp. This is just one of my favorites.

Meal Ideas:

Served here with macaroni and cheese and sugar snap peas

Don’t faint, but now that I have a cast iron skillet, I would actually make this. Of course, I’m not peeling and deveining anything. I bet I could use tongs to make sure I don’t touch them either!!! I’ll keep you posted! ~Denise