Whether it’s for out-of-town holiday guests or a get together with friends, cooking for a crowd can seem like a daunting idea. A simple holiday brunch with menu items that you make ahead can minimize the hustle and bustle of the season while maximizing the time you get to spend with loved ones.
First, plan a menu that offers a mix of hot and cold dishes. Start with a one-dish main course that’s served hot, such as a breakfast strata. This Bacon Strata recipe, featuring high quality, flavorful Hormel Black Label bacon, is assembled the night before and cooked right before serving. This way, you’re spending less time preparing when your guests are about to arrive.
Then pick one or two items from each of these categories to round out the menu.
• Sweet Breads: Make a quick bread or some muffins up to a week before the event, and then freeze them. Take them out of the freezer the night before to thaw, and then serve warm the next morning. Cinnamon rolls can be made the night before and frosted in the morning. Or just visit your grocer’s bakery section the day before the brunch and pick up your favorites. If you get bagels, don’t forget a variety of spreads for guests.
• Fresh Sides: Keep it simple. A plate of different cheeses and some fresh fruit is an easy and elegant addition to a buffet. If you want to make a fruit salad, consider tossing the fruit with a splash of vanilla extract or some crushed mint for an added flavor dimension.
• Meats: Deli meats, fully cooked ham and turkey are great slice and serve additions you can prepare ahead of time. Hormel microwave ready bacon cooks in the microwave in just three minutes on an innovative pad, which soaks up grease. It’s a quick and easy way to make your bacon-loving guests happy and makes clean up a snap for you.
• Beverages: Offer a mix of beverages, such as orange juice, pineapple juice or tomato juice for cold options, and coffee, tea or mulled cider for hot ones.
Dress up your buffet table with a few candles, pretty holiday linens and some greenery for a festive atmosphere.
An easy, elegant holiday brunch like this is a great way to enjoy good food and good company without adding to your holiday stress.
Bacon and Cheese Strata
Preparation Time: under 30 minutes; total time: more than 1 hour; serves 12
12 slices white bread, crust removed
1, 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1, 16-ounce package Hormel Black Label bacon, cooked and chopped (or similar)
2 cups finely shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
6 eggs, beaten
2-1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Cut bread into small cubes. Layer one-half of the bread cubes, broccoli, bacon and 1 cup of the cheese in buttered 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish. Top with remaining bread cubes and cheese. Beat together eggs, milk, onion, and dry mustard. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake 55 to 60 minutes or until eggs are set.
Here is another a fun, festive brunch to try for the coming holidays. Trim the table with sprigs of evergreen, pinecones and a festive gingerbread house decked out in candy, icing and sprinkle splendor.
The main dish, Snowflake Breakfast Bake, doubles as a delicious centerpiece. Simply layer frozen potatoes, ham and cheese in the snowflake-shaped pan, pour in a mixture of egg, milk and biscuit mix, and bake.
Round out the merry menu with tasty, homemade fruit muffins and a mixed green salad. Naturally sweet, nutrient rich dried California figs add flavor and flair to the homemade Fig-Cranberry-Orange Muffins and the Holiday Fig and Feta Salad.
Snowflake Breakfast Bake
3 cups frozen diced O’Brien potatoes
2 cups diced fully cooked ham
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups milk
1 cup biscuit mix
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray “Dimensions Snowflake” pan (by Wilton) with vegetable pan spray.
Layer potatoes, ham and cheese in prepared pan. In large bowl, beat together milk, eggs, biscuit mix, salt, pepper and basil until blended. Pour into pan.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until center is set and edges are lightly browned. Let stand 20 minutes before removing from pan.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Fig Cranberry Orange Muffins
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 cup chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid figs (stems removed)
3/4 cup fresh, frozen or dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin pan with baking cups.
In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; make well in center. In separate bowl, combine milk, oil, eggs and orange zest; add to flour mixture all at once. Stir just until combined. Gently fold in figs and cranberries. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups.
Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs attached. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on cooling grid. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 24 muffins.
Holiday Fig and Feta Salad
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces mixed baby lettuces
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
24 Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid figs, quartered (stems removed)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (Mediterranean flavor or plain)
2/3 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
Chopped fresh basil, as desired
For dressing, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, honey, garlic and black pepper in small bowl to blend. Set aside.
In large bowl, combine lettuce and onion; toss gently. Add figs, cheese and olives. Add dressing and toss gently. Garnish with basil.
Makes 12 servings.
Visit www.valleyfig.com for additional recipes, cooking and nutrition tips, and the growers’ store for holiday baking supplies and gifts.
At www.wilton.com order pans, gingerbread house kits, cookie cutters, Candy Melts and decorating supplies, plus see more entertaining ideas and recipes.
Materials courtesy of: Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® and Sun-Maid® Figs / Wilton Industries, Inc.
From Family Features Syndicate