Brunch in a Breeze

From cranberry cocktails to simple baked French toast, this make-ahead holiday menu will have you sailing out of the kitchen in no time.

Brunch menu

Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner

The Menu

A great brunch includes a variety of sweet and savory dishes. Round out the meal with good coffee, tea, and fruit juices.


Sparkling Sea Breeze recipe

Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner

Sparkling Sea Breeze

Don’t go overboard on beverage choices. Make one light, fruity drink with and without alcohol so everyone can enjoy.

Recipe:  Sparkling Sea Breeze

Opt for recipes that require different cooking techniques. If you’re baking your main dish in the oven, plan for sides that can be stirred on the stovetop, or vice versa.

Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner

Red Pepper Jelly

Serve with Chive Biscuits.

Prep: 12 minutes
Cook: 19 minutes

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ sweet onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 medium jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced
1 (1.75-ounce) package powdered pectin
1 cup apple cider vinegar
5 cups sugar

1. Process bell pepper and onion in a food processor 1 minute or until pureed.

2. Combine red pepper puree, jalapeno chile, pectin, and vinegar in a large Dutch oven; bring to a rolling boil. Quickly stir in sugar, and boil 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

3. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot sterilized jars, filling to ¼ inch from top; wipe jar rims. Cover at once with metal lids, and screw on bands. Process in boiling-water bath 10 minutes. Makes 6 half-pints.

Recipe adapted from DamGood Sweet (Tauton, 2009) by David Suas and Raquel Pelzel.

Salmon and Brie Breakfast Strata recipe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Salmon and Brie Breakfast Strata

You’ll find smoked salmon two ways: cold- and hot-smoked. Cold-smoked salmon is thin, translucent, and presliced, while hot-smoked versions are opaque, thick, and have skin attached. Hot-smoked salmon is cooked completely, and it’s best for this recipe.

This recipe, with layers of roasted vegetables and a ricotta cheese mixture is a great option when you’re tired of heavy side dishes and want a low-fat healthy option. Try grilling the vegetables for a flavor boost.

Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner

Roasted Vegetable and Ricotta Terrine

Prep: 32 minutes
Cook: 27 minutes
Stand: 10 minutes
Chill: 8 hours

1 eggplant
Olive oil cooking spray
½ teaspoon sea salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and halved
1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and halved
1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1½ cups ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chile pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons bottled balsamic glaze
Garnish: fresh basil

1. Remove both ends of eggplant; slice eggplant lengthwise into 8 slices. Place eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat eggplant with cooking spray; sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven; brush with balsamic vinegar, and set aside to cool.

2. Place bell peppers, cut side down, and zucchini on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until peppers begin to blister. Place peppers in a large zip-top bag; seal. Let stand 10 minutes. Remove peel from peppers; cut pepper pieces in half lengthwise.

3. Combine ricotta and next 5 ingredients in a bowl. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

4. Line an 8- x 4-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing edges to overhang. Gently press 3 eggplant slices crosswise into loaf pan, balsamic side up, allowing top of slices to be even with pan. Press 1 slice up against sides of each end of loaf pan, allowing top of slice to be even with pan.

5. Spread one-fourth ricotta mixture over eggplant; top with yellow pepper slices. Spread one-fourth ricotta mixture over yellow peppers. Repeat procedure with red bell pepper, one-fourth ricotta mixture, zucchini slices, and remaining ricotta mixture. Top with remaining 2 slices eggplant, balsamic side down. Cover with plastic wrap, and place a weight on plastic wrap. (We used 3 small soup cans.) Chill 8 hours or overnight.

6. Uncover and invert loaf onto a cutting board; carefully remove plastic wrap. Use paper towels to blot liquid, if necessary. Cut into 8 slices, and place on serving plates. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, and garnish, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Reprinted with permission from Lazy Days and Beach Blankets (Ryland Peters & Small, 2009).

Honey-Mint Syrup recipe

Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner

Honey-Mint Syrup

Try this syrup over fresh fruit or in iced tea, lemonade, or a bourbon cocktail. It’s not cheating to pick up some prepared food to add to your menu―just put it in a pretty bowl and garnish with fresh herbs or sliced fruit.

Recipe:  Honey-Mint Syrup

Baked French Toast with Pecan Streusel recipe

Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner

Baked French Toast with Pecan Streusel  

Casseroles are great, because they can be made ahead and don’t require a lot of babysitting―just an occasional peek in the oven. Save this Pecan Streusel recipe and use as a topping for quick breads, such as banana break or muffins.

Recipe:  Baked French Toast with Pecan Streusel

Wrap a cooled pound cake in clear wrap or foil, then cover in a pretty dish towel and secure with ribbon for a homemade gift.

Photographer Becky Luigart-Stayner

Almond Pound Cake with Kumquat Syrup

Prep: 6 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Cool: 30 minutes

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup whole milk
Kumquat Syrup

1. Beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in sugar 1 minute or until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition to make a thick, creamy batter. Beat in almond extract.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Add about one-third flour mixture to butter mixture, and beat until incorporated. Add a little milk, and beat again. Repeat until all of the flour mixture and milk have been added.

3. Pour batter into a greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan, tapping pan to settle batter and smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove pan to a wire rack, and let cool at least 30 minutes. Run a knife along inside of pan; gently turn cake out into 1 hand, and place on a cake plate. Serve with Kumquat Syrup. Makes 8 servings.

Kumquat Syrup
Bring 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until a light syrup forms. Reduce heat to medium, and add ¾ pound fresh kumquats, sliced and seeds removed. Simmer 10 minutes or until skins are translucent. Remove pan from heat, and let cool. Cover and chill until ready to use; bring to room temperature before serving. Makes 2 cups.

Reprinted with permission from Gather: Memorable Menus for Entertaining Throughout the Seasons (Sasquatch Books, 2009)

Printed from: