Instead of throwing a big evening party, many people are choosing nowadays to have a holiday brunch instead.
Brunches are a little less formal, take a lot less work and can be just as much fun as a night time shindig.
Food is most important to any gathering, and even more so at Christmas. It seems like all we do is eat from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, so, you want to have a spread that will please everyone, but not break your bank.
Personally, I like having a central buffet area. That way, I can light holiday-scented candles around the house, but still have the smells of my scrumptious dishes wafting through.
Here are some of my favorite recipes to grace that lovingly decorated table.
If you’re like me, you probably get a couple bottles of champagne or sparkling wine over the holidays, but never get around to drinking them. Putting the bubbly on your ham tastes divine!
1 boneless ham
1 1-pound box light brown sugar
2 (4/5 quart) bottles extra dry champagne
3 tablespoons honey
1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
Score the ham by taking a knife and slicing one-inch squares into the fat, creating a diamond pattern. Poke holes in each slice. This will allow your glaze to seep in nicely.
Place the ham on a rack in the backing pan.
Cover the top with 1 cup of brown sugar and pour one bottle of champagne over the ham.
Place it in the oven at 325 degrees for two hours.
Combine the second bottle of champagne, the rest of the brown sugar, honey, ginger, and mustard and bring to rolling boil in saucepan. Lower heat and simmer while basting ham every 15 minutes until done. You can top it will spiced apples or pineapples when the ham is cooked.
A nine-pound ham should feed about 15 to 20 people.
Crème Brulee French Toast
Another fave is my aunt’s crème brulee French toast. This needs to be made the night before, so it is perfect for brunch.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 (1 inch thick) slices French bread (has to be hard enough inside to hold its shape)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (Grand Marnier®)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: Raisins, pecans
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
My aunt adds pecans and raisins here.
Pour into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Arrange bread in the baking dish in a single layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, orange brandy and salt.
Pour over the bread.
Cover, and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.
Next day: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the dish from the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature.
Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and lightly browned.
Crustless Latin Quiche
This is the name I gave it. I have no idea what it’s really called, if it is even a real recipe. But this is such a great dish and so easy to make, I had to tell you about it.
Chorizo (Mexican sausage)
1 large or 2 small potatoes
Garlic (I use jars of minced garlic in water)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Clean the potatoes and boil them until they become soft. While they are boiling, take out a large, oven-safe skillet. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil (or whatever oil you usually use) in the pan.
While that heats, chop up your chorizo. I am an “eyeball” chef, so use however much meat you think you and your family will want.
Slice up your Spanish onion (or whatever onion you like) use as much or as little as you would like
Put the chorizo and the onion in the now piping hot skillet. Add garlic to taste
When the potatoes are soft, chop them up and put them in the skillet.
In a big bowl, crack your eggs, toss in some chives, salt and pepper to taste and mix as normal.
Pour your egg mixture in the skillet and mix everything together. Now, place the skillet in the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes.
Add mushrooms or any other vegetable you have on hand
Perhaps some flaxseed meal for fiber
Maybe add some cheese to the mixture before baking, or on top toward the last few minutes.
Another yummy egg dish comes from my uncle.
It’s a ham and egg casserole.
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
8 ounce can of ham
1/4 cup water or milk
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup gouda cheese
sautee onions in olive or canola oil until done
add chopped tomatoes 7 cook briefly
add ham & break up into small pieces
beat in milk or water
spread ham mixture into a greased baking dish
mix eggs and cheese together
pour over ham
bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes
You can add salt and/or pepper to the eggs while mixing
My grandmother was an amazing cook and known for her peach bread.
Over the years, I have taken her recipe, which called for literally “just enough of this,” “plenty of that”, and “a touch of the other”, and made it into something anyone can make.
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups diced canned peaches, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour oaf pans.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Blend in the sugar, oil, and vanilla.
Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; mix just to combine. Stir in the peaches and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for about 1 hour or until done.
I like to use mangoes, or strawberries. I also use more than 2 cups of the fruit if I feel like it.
I also sometimes use raw sugar, because it changes the texture an actually makes the bread just a little lighter on calories.
I also don’t always use cinnamon, because I don’t like it much.
And to make things a little more festive, I put in a couple splashes of coconut rum if I am sure only adults will be eating this bread.
Of course, you will want to imbibe.
One favorite is a holiday take on the White Russian.
4 oz eggnog
1/2 oz white chocolate liqueur
1 oz Southern Comfort
Pour the eggnog into a snifter glass, and then pour the white chocolate liquor on top, then the SoCo.
To get really fancy … you can sprinkle some edible gold flakes or chocolate shavings on top.
Mimosas are classic
1 1/2 oz fresh orange juice
3 1/2 oz chilled Champagne
Pour into a champagne flute and let the good times roll.
My favorite restaurant in New York City, uses pomegranate juice or lychee puree instead of orange juice.
You can also make Bellinis by using peach juice instead of orange.
Those are some of my favorite recipes for brunch.
Please feel free to message me about variations you have come up, and make sure to check out other content editors for some superb decorating ideas.