Brunch = Heaven: Brunch Menus and Recipes

Menus and Recipes for Planning a Brunch

Okay, I like to write a little intro for all my pages to talk about how monumentally important the subject is.  But I don’t think I even need to do that here, because anybody with a mouth that eats knows that brunch is important. Because brunch is HEAVEN.

Mimosas, bloody marys, eggs, bacon, roasted meats, cinnamon rolls, luscious fruit salads, beautiful breads…  You can serve sandwiches alongside muffins and coffee cake. You get to make all your favorite breakfast and lunch treats in one meal. And you get to serve booze without anybody looking at you funny for drinking champagne at eleven o’clock in the morning. Come on.  Why do other meals even bother to exist? Seriously.

Why Brunch at Home is a Problem

The only down side to planning a brunch at home? Because anything goes, you kind of want to do everything. Your poor brain gets overrun deciding between different brunch menus. Do you want to go light and simple or rich and decadent? Do you want a sophisticated brunch menu or something fun and easy? If you’re like me, you want it ALL.

You get the best of both worlds with my balanced and sophisticated brunch menu– ideas like a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar make this menu fun, chic, and easy. It combines wonderful savory foods with lots of sweets, light fruit salads, and tasty traditional brunch cocktails.

Looking for some brunch buffet table setting ideas? Everything you need to create a buffet table is here. 

Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar Recipe

Creating a Bloody Mary Bar for a BrunchNo holiday brunch menu is complete without Bloody Marys. Sure, the name is a little violent. And sure, they can be strong. But this sharp, spicy cocktail tastes great with all the sweet, rich brunch food you’ll be making– and will get everybody loosened up enough to tell you how much they really love your cooking. This is a drink Mary would be proud of!

One pitcher serves about eight people.

The instructions for setting up a self-serve Bloody Mary bar are below– this is one of the most amazingly fun things to add to a brunch menu. And your guests will go nuts for it, guaranteed.

Ingredients:
84 oz. tomato juice
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 oz. lemon juice
10 oz. vodka
23 tsp. Tabasco
2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
salt and pepper, to taste
Garnishes (see below)

Traditional Instructions: Combine ingredients in a pitcher. Serve over ice. Garnish with a celery stick.

Bloody Mary Bar Instructions: Set out glasses with ice, the pitcher of Bloody Marys, and let guests pour and garnish however they like. The more garnish options you give them, the more fun they’ll have. Some creative Bloody Mary garnish ideas are:

  • Celery sticks
  • Stuffed Spanish olives
  • Cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges
  • Lime and lemon wedges
  • Pickled peppers, garlic cloves, and cocktail onions
  • Cooked and peeled shrimp
  • Avocado slices (sprinkle with lemon to prevent browning)
  • Picked asparagus spears
  • Crispy Bacon
  • Cubes of mozzarella or smoked gouda

Mimosas with Cointreau Recipe

One of the most traditional brunch cocktails? The fresh and delicous mimosa. Oh, how I wish I had one right now.

I think we all owe a kiss to whoever came up with the wonderful combo of morning meals and Mimosas! In this recipe, the addition of Cointreau orange liqueur to the traditional Mimosa recipe gives them something extra special. Don’t have any Cointreau and don’t want to go out and buy it? Don’t worry– they’re great without it too. Or sub triple sec… it’s cheaper.

Don’t leave the kids out of the fun! Make virgin Mimosas for the kiddos by replacing the champagne with Sprite or 7-up.

Ingredients:
1 part fresh orange juice, chilled
1 part dry champagne or cava, chilled
Splash of Cointreau
1 raspberry, to garnish (optional)
Toothpick (optional)

Instructions: Be sure all ingredients are very cold.

Fill a champagne flute about halfway with orange juice. Fill it the rest of the way with champagne or cava. Add a small splash of Cointreau.

Spear a raspberry with a toothpick and lay over the mouth of the champagne flute for a garnish.

Crustless Ham and Egg Tarts Brunch Recipe

Crustless ham and egg tart recipe

These are one of the yummiest, easiest brunch recipes to make. Just assemble and pop these little suckers in the oven– then spend time with your guests. Each one is it’s own perfect little serving… no need to worry about egg-dirty serving spoons and bits of scrambled egg tumbling onto the carpet.

They’re also pretty, impressive, and re-heat well. And are tasty as could be, of course. Recipe make 12 single servings or 6 double servings– scale up or down depending on the potential pigginess of your guests.

Ingredients:
2 tsp. olive oil
12 thin slices ham
12 lg. eggs
12 med. cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp. chives, finely chopped
3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil all cups in a 12-cup muffin pan with olive oil (cooking spray also works well).

Line each muffin cup with a slice of ham. Leave the ends of the ham sticking out over the top slightly.

Break one egg into each ham-lined muffin cup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with one cherry tomato, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a sprinkle of chives.

Bake 18-20 minutes until egg has set.

Let cool 5 minutes before removing tarts from muffin tins. To remove, run a knife around each muffin cup to loosen. Serve.

Note: Another way to do this easy brunch recipe is using scrambled egg in place of the whole egg. Simple mix eggs as normal and pour into ham cups. You might want to make half of each please all your guests.

Cracked Pepper & Brown Sugar Oven-Roasted Bacon Recipe

brown sugar black pepper roasted bacon

This is the star dish of any brunch: the bacon. A brunch without bacon is just… not right. You can make this sweet, spicy, crisp bacon recipe in the upper rack of the oven while your ham and egg tarts bake on the lower. If you’ve never tried a recipe for oven-cooked bacon, now’s the time to start. It comes out crisp, cleanly-shaped (no rolling-folding-flipping bacon “balls”), and absolutely delicious.

Be sure to use a rimmed jelly roll pan unless you want bacon fat to drip and fill your whole house with nasty fat-smoke. Serves 6-8 people.

Ingredients:
1 lb. lean bacon, sliced
1 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp. brown sugar

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Arrange bacon slices on parchment paper. Sprinkle with pepper and brown sugar.

Bake about 10 minutes. Lots of fat will collect during this time– drain that now.

Return bacon to oven and bake a few minutes more, until it has reached your desired level of crispness.

Remove from oven and immediate transfer bacon slices onto paper towels.

Note: This is also wonderful made without the sugar and pepper– when I want to make plain bacon, I always do it this way. It comes out perfect every time!

Vanilla Challah French Toast Recipe

Vanilla Challah French toast RecipeWhen making brunch for a group, one of the first brunch menu ideas that will come to mind is classic French toast. Does that mean it’s boring? Heck no! The reason it’s so popular is that everybody loves it. It’s sweet and just tastes like a celebration (I know that sounds cheesy, but… it’s true. French toast is an occasion all on it’s own.)

This recipe for Vanilla Challah French Toast will blow your current reciperight outta the water, I promise. The buttery toasts are bursting with vanilla and cinnamon– to die for. Serves 10 one-slice portions or 5 two-sliers.

 

Ingredients:
6 lg. eggs
1 1/2 C. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 large loaf of challah bread
Butter or butter-flavored cooking spray

For serving:
Pure maple syrup
Powdered sugar

Instructions: Slice challah bread into thick slices (approximately 1″ thick).

Beat eggs in a large but shallow bowl. Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Mix well.

Soak challah in egg mixture for about five minutes, turning once. (It can be easier to use two shallow pans for soaking challah.)

Heat a small amount of butter (the more you use the tastier it will be– but fattier, too, of course. This is your call.) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add egg-soaked challahs and cook 2-3 minutes per side, til nice and brown.

Remove from pan and keep warm until ready to serve. (Or simply serve as you go.)

Serve with butter, warm maple syrup, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Note: To make this brunch menu idea a little easier to organize, slice the challah and make up the egg mixture the night before. Then all that will be left is the cooking!

Pretty Layered Fruit Salad Recipe

Layered fruit salad with strawberries, kiwis, and grapesWith all the bacon and eggs and rich buttery French toast we’ve included in this special brunch menu, your guests are going to be crying out for something fresh. This pretty fruit salad is just the ticket. It’s fresh, light, and delicious.

Plus, it’s a great presentation piece layered in its pretty trifle bowl. Feel free to exchange any type of fruit below for one of your favorites– this is a very adaptable brunch fruit salad.

 

 

Ingredients:
1/2 C. fresh orange juice
1/4 C. fresh lemon juice
1/4 C. honey
1/2 tsp. orange zest
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 C. apples, chunked
1 C. seedless red grapes
2 bananas, sliced
2 oranges, fully peeled & sectioned
1 grapefruit, fully peeled & sectioned
2 c. ripe strawberries, sliced
3 kiwis, peeled & sliced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint (dried will NOT do here)
1 sprig mint, for garnish (optional)

Instructions: In a small mixing bowl, combine orange juice, lemon juice, honey, and zests. Mix well. Stir in mint.

Prepare fruit and layer into a glass trifle bowl in the order listed. (A glass serving bowl works fine, too.)

Pour juice mix over fruit.

Refrigerate several hours. Garnish with mint sprig before serving.

Note: If you don’t like a strong mint flavor, I suggest leaving out the mint, or cutting it down slightly.