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Commentary: Deciding on the Type of Party – Part 1

Sunday or Holiday Brunch

When deciding the type of party you want, many factors will be important. Foremost will be when your guests will be able to attend. If the timing of a brunch works well for the guests on your list, it might be a perfect choice.

Sunday or holiday brunches have become extremely popular. Hosting a brunch is nice because many recipes are easy and they tend to be less expensive than the foods typically served at an evening open house or party.

Beverages are also more economical, brunches typically include juices, coffees, teas, and if alcohol beverages are included you can easily limit them to one or two types, such as Bloody Marys, Mimosas or possibly a fruit punch.

You can carefully craft a brunch menu to keep you at minimum in the kitchen so you have plenty of time to tend to your guests.


I have some no-fail things I like to include when deciding on a brunch menu and they are….

Fresh Fruit

I like to include fresh fruit, either as a mixed bowl of fruit or platters made up of sections of fruit. Typically I include, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, honeydew and banana… these are my staples. If I use the platter method… I will include apples slices and/or pear slices. If I go the mixed fruit bowl route, I like to include blueberries and kiwi. Whether I choose the bowl or platter method… I like to have my yogurt sauce (recipe to follow) in a bowl with it, so people can ladle some on their plate.

Muffins and Flavored Butters

I like to make mini muffins, several different types and serve them in a napkin lined basket. These can easily be made the day before and warmed just prior to serving. A nice touch is an assortment of flavored butters that can be made ahead of time, to accompany the muffins.

Mini Bagels and Flavored Cream Cheeses

Another nice addition to the buffet, if available in your area, are mini bagels. It’s best to order them ahead of time… and pick them up the morning of the brunch. I pre-slice them to make it easier for your guests and serve them on a tray with an assortment of flavored cream cheeses. Where we have a house in New York, we have the most wonderful bagel place that has pre-made cream cheeses, but you can easily make them a day ahead with your processor and they are cheaper than buying them pre-made(recipes to follow).

Something Sweet - Baked French Toast Casserole

I have the most wonderful Baked French Toast Casserole that is a perfect addition to your brunch buffet. To find the recipe, click on “Brunch” on the labels and scroll down to it. It truly is always a hit. Serve it with thawed frozen strawberries in syrup and whipped cream… and I always put out maple syrup too… but trust me … once you taste it with strawberries and whipped cream… you’ll never go back to maple syrup.

Potatoes and Eggs

I try to include a dish that has potato and egg in it…. and possibly a meat….I published a Cheesy O’Brien Ham and Potato Bake yesterday… that fits the bill nicely and is another winner for a brunch…. You can find it under the label “Brunch”.

Or Just Potatoes

If you decide not to go with a potato casserole… serving hash browns is usually a good choice and goes nicely with eggs. I use the cubed variety and add a little onion … I always toss paprika on them, thoroughly mixing the paprika on them before serving. You can make it ahead and keep them warm in the oven.

Something Cheesy

Cheese Strata is a nice item for the brunch table… I published the recipe and you can find it under “Brunch”… it’s like a cheesy bread pudding/custard…. Very tasty… cheese lovers will adore it.

Meats

If you are considering meat for the brunch… I would recommend a pre-sliced honey ham. It’s virtually no work… all you have to do is heat it through, and it goes well with all the potential foods for the brunch…. especially the Cheese Strata. I try to stay away from bacon and sausage… people can have that at home… the idea of a brunch, especially a holiday brunch, is to make it special.

Side Dishes

If you do decide to go with the ham…. my Chunky Applesauce is wonderful with it also. It too, can be made ahead and you can find the recipe under “Side Dish” Make sure you serve it warm.

Eggs

Eggs… you can scramble them… but … then you’re in the kitchen making them… and people can make them at home… why not try something a little different. How about making frittatas. I use pie plates or quiche dishes for them. If making it for a crowd… you can make it in a square or rectangular baking pan and cut it into squares….and serve the squares on a serving plate...(recipes to follow).

In case you haven’t had a fritata… frittatas are a type of Italian omelette that have a variety of ingredients in them such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables. It is made with beaten eggs and just about any combination of ingredients you can think of. It’s baked in baking dishes and comes out of the oven puffy… be aware it does fall which is what it normally does… your cut it into squares or wedges.

Miscellaneous Foods - Bite size additions

Bite size snacks… baked hor’dourves… bread dips are also things to consider.

Finishing Touches - Desserts

An array of baked cookies… bar cookies… bread pudding…mini cheesecakes…jello mold…are examples of nice finishes to serve with coffee or tea.

These are just some of the suggestions to help you find the right mix of foods for your brunch. Always consider your guests and what food habits they seem to have. As the month progresses I will be adding more suggestions… but these are enough to get you started thinking. Remember start making lists of possible things... you can edit the list later.

Recipes will be included in the coming days… so keep us on your favorites list and stop back often!

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