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Best brunch for the holidays

The Christmas season is in full swing and for many of us. That means friends and family from afar are visiting.

Breakfast and brunches don’t have to be stressful meals as long as you have a few do ahead recipes up your sleeve.

Make these overnight casseroles and assemble a fruit salad the night before you need them — in the morning, just let the casseroles sit out half an hour or so before popping them in the oven. Use paper plates to keep cleanup a snap.

To make things really festive, serve mimosas and/or bloody Mary’s. Everybody will be ready to head out to finish Christmas shopping before next weekend.

Overnight coffee cake
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cinnamon/nut crumble:
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

With electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add to butter/egg mixture alternating with buttermilk, beating well. Add vanilla. Pour into buttered and floured 13- by 9-inch dish.

In a small bowl, combine cinnamon/nut crumble ingredients. Sprinkle casserole with cinnamon nut crumble. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

• • •

Sausage egg casserole
1 pound sausage
1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced
1 green onion, minced
8 slices bread, cubed
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
8 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika

Cook sausage until done and drain. In the same skillet, heat butter and cook red bell pepper until softened, about 10 minutes.

Add green onions and cook another minute. Butter a casserole dish and add the bread cubes. Sprinkle on the sausage and bell pepper mixture. Sprinkle on the cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, dry mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Pour over bread.

Cover and refrigerate overnight or for several hours. When ready to bake, remove from refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 55 minutes.

• • •

Fruit salad
8 cups fresh fruit, such as pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, melons, etc, cut into bite sized pieces
2 cups vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 orange, juiced
1/4 cup mint, minced

Toss fruit with orange juice. Stir together yogurt, honey and vanilla extract. Pour dressing over fruit or serve on the side. Sprinkle with mint.

• • •

4 oranges, juiced
Champagne or Proscecco

Fill champagne glass with some orange juice and add Champagne or Prosecco.

• • •

Bloody Mary bars are popular at trendy brunch establishments. You can easily create one at home. Just mix up a pitcher of bloody Mary’s and then set out various add-ins and let guests make their own.

Some favorites include green olives, pickled okra, celery, crispy bacon/country ham, celery salt, jalapenos, and cherry tomatoes. Provide small skewers and/or toothpicks.

Favorite bloody Mary base
1 bottle good quality tomato juice
1 to 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, more to taste
2 to 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, more to taste
Tobasco sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1 lime

Combine all ingredients.