With recipes such as this morning cake, your brunch will be a proverbial piece of cake. Photo courtesy Patty Limatola-Tanenbaum
Let's face it, waking up and having to entertain after a long night of festivities can be draining. To simplify brunch, I came up with five suggestions that always help me make an amazing and memorable time for my guests.
- Do a timeline on the food preparation and the day's event. Writing it all out helps you stay on schedule and allows time for you to relax in between. Work the schedule backward in the timeline and be detailed so you know exactly when to place the items in the oven, when to start the coffee or what time to pour drinks.
- In planning a menu, try to include three items that are homemade. Plan on having a savory dish, a sweet dish and something easy that your guests can make on their own. By having options, you make sure there is something for everyone.
- Try to do as much in advance so you can participate in the brunch instead of rushing around to tend to the food.
- If you are serving a drink, like a Bloody Mary or mimosas, set up a an area so the guests can make their own drinks. If you are serving coffee, have the sugar and milk ready to go on the table so you are not hustling and can enjoy your company.
- Store-bought items are also key. For example, if you are having children over or you want an additional item, you can always add something such as donuts. To keep it simple and different, I would buy donut holes and place them on a platter for those who want a small bite of something sweet.
The Best Sausage and Egg Casserole
A neighbor gave this recipe to me over 10 years ago, and it's the only recipe I make when I entertain and I need something savory. If a guest is a vegetarian, you can substitute a can of artichoke hearts for the sausage. You can find the green chiles in the Mexican section of the grocery store, usually sold in four-ounce cans.
12 ounces premium pork sausage roll
1 tablespoon butter
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
16 ounces cottage cheese
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces green chiles, chopped in the can
10 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
The Day Before
Place sausage in a 10-inch frying pan and cook it over medium heat until it is evenly browned and cooked through. Then, drain the oil and place the cooked sausage in a large bowl.
In the same frying pan, melt the butter, add the mushrooms and cook for three minutes or until they are just beginning to become soft. Add the scallions and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the stove and place the cooked vegetables on top of the sausage. Set it aside.
In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs then add the cottage and Monterey Jack cheeses, and the green chiles, the cooked sausage, green onions and mushrooms and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the Morning
Remove the egg mixture from the refrigerator and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish by spraying it with a nonstick spray. Set aside.
Melt the butter and set aside. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the melted butter and mix well. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture and pour into the prepared baking dish. Then, place it into the oven.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until lightly brown. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving.
Morning Cake with Pecans and Coconut
While this recipe is perfect for a brunch, it is also a perfect recipe if you are in need of bringing something last minute to a friend's house. The batter uses pancake mix, which makes it super easy and fast. To keep it easy for entertaining, make just the cake the day before. Once the cake has cooled off, wrap it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. First thing in the morning, remove the cake from the refrigerator to bring it to room temperature. Fifteen minutes before you plan on eating it, add the topping and broil the cake for three to four minutes. Remove the cake and serve.
For the cake
1 1/2 cups pancake mix
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract, optional
1 large egg
For the topping
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons milk
Zest from one orange
Directions for the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray and lining it with parchment paper. In a large bowl place the pancake mix, sugar, milk, shortening, vanilla extract, orange extract and the egg, and mix on low for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for four minutes, making sure you scrape the sides. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes before applying the topping. Be sure to leave the cake in the pan when you add the topping.
Directions for the topping
Set the oven to broil. Mix the coconut, brown sugar, pecans, butter, milk and orange zest. Spread the topping on top of the cake. Place the cake in the oven and broil for two to three minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.