‘Tis the season for brunches! Everyone loves getting together around the holiday season for a delicious brunch, but not everyone’s menu requirements are the same. Are you starved for time and need quick recipe ideas? Or, will your house be packed with as many children as adults? We asked three of our Test Kitchen Experts how they would approach each type of menu, and here are their ideas:
The Time-Starved – Samantha
For those of us on a tighter time schedule, make-ahead recipes are life-savers. Whether a recipe is made a month in advance and frozen, or made the night before, prepping ahead is essential. Growing up, my sisters and I would help my mom make a variety of Italian sweet breads in the days leading up to Christmas morning, and we’d store them in the freezer until the big day. That morning, we’d eat all the breads along with fresh fruit and thin-sliced salami (a family tradition at all holidays). It was virtually “prep-free” for my mom, so she was able to enjoy all the chaos of present-opening instead of being confined to the kitchen.
Here are some great recipes to use as make-ahead options:
Petite White Chocolate Cranberry Scones – Follow the recipe to make these ahead; just do not drizzle with melted chocolate. Once completely cooled, wrap them tightly in plastic food wrap. Place in a resealable plastic freezer bag for up to two months. Thaw (wrapped) at room temperature the day before brunch. Before serving, combine ½ cup white baking chips and shortening in bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving and stirring every 30 seconds until chips are melted and smooth. Drizzle the scones with melted chocolate and serve.
Poppy Seed Almond Tea Bread – Since the recipe makes five mini-loaves, it gives you the perfect opportunity to freeze a few for brunch and give away the others for gifts! Making these ahead is just as easy as the scones. Prepare bread as directed, but skip the glazing step. Wrap them tightly in plastic food wrap, and put them in a plastic freezer bag, freezing for up to two months. Thaw at room temperature a day or two before brunch, and glaze the loaves that morning.
Puff Pastry Breakfast Bundle – If you’re looking for a savory make-ahead brunch item, this breakfast bundle is delicious. Prepare as directed, and after wrapping in plastic food wrap, add a layer of aluminum foil for even more protection in the freezer. The morning of brunch, unwrap the bundle and bake according to the recipe.
Hopefully these tips and recipes will make for a less hectic holiday morning brunch!
The Kid Pleaser – Mallory
Although my child isn’t old enough to be eating brunch with us, plenty of my friends have small children. So, when we have parties, a good share of the attendees are under the age of 10! Consequently, my menu usually consists of recipes that the children will love as much as the adults. Finding that perfect balance can be difficult, but I’ve found a few dishes that are a hit with everyone.
First, who doesn’t love scrambled eggs? You can easily customize them to suit anyone’s tastes. Put them in a biscuit cup and take scrambled eggs to the next level. Breakfast Biscuit Bakes are as delicious as they are cute.
Another kid favorite is Monkey Bread. (And although we may not admit it, it’s an adult favorite, too!) Plan on making at least two pans – it will go quickly!
In my experience, kids will eat fruit – especially if there is a dipping sauce to go along with it. Fresh Fruit with Lemon Crème has a tangy cream cheese dip that will have kids coming back for seconds.
Serve these with a variety of juices, and take delight in the fact that you have happy guests – both kids and their parents!
The Over-Achiever – Amber
I really love to spend time in the kitchen. However, being a single girl means that almost anything I cook or bake ends up getting eaten (by me) or thrown away. That said, I try to focus that creative cooking energy into times when I’m having guests over. Brunch is a perfect time to go all out with a number of tasty treats. I love how the brunch dining occasion so seamlessly blends sweet and savory into one meal experience (it’s like eating dessert with dinner!). Here is a rundown of the menu I am planning for my next brunch.
I like to start by choosing a main dish. I prefer savory, so I tend to go with some sort of egg dish. For this party I am making Mediterranean Baked Eggs. I love that each person gets their own little dish!
And what’s brunch without bacon? But why stop at bacon when you can make Caramelized Bacon?! Sweet, salty and bacon – it’s perfectly addictive. Plus. you can bake a full pan of bacon in the oven, leaving you more time to mingle with your guests.
I also like to make some sort of baked sweet – muffins, scones or cinnamon rolls. For this brunch I am making Grandma’s Cinnamon Teacake. It works great as a centerpiece for the table, and each guest can cut a piece as large or small as they like. Serve it warm with butter!
Finally, I like to round out the main entree - with some fresh fruit – whatever is in season. At this time of the year, I like to get a variety of citrus fruits: grapefruit, blood oranges or tangerines. I cut them into segments for easy eating. Sometimes I sprinkle them with pomegranate arils for a little extra sparkle.
Brunch also needs beverages: coffee with homemade coffee creamer, tea, fresh-squeezed juices (with optional sparkling wine for mimosas), and Bloody Mary mix are standards in my house.
Sure, it might take a little extra time to make these things, but it’s so worth it.
So, there you have it: three palate-pleasing brunch suggestions depending on the amount of time you have (whether it’s a lot or a little) and the guests you’ve invited. Please send us your favorite brunch ideas. We’d love to see them!