With all the merriment and cheer during this festive season, sometimes you need to get your “holiday on” early in the day to fit it all in! Brunch is a great way to get the party started in the early hours to make time to hit all the other relatives’ parties, do some caroling and have time to watch Christmas Vacation.
Save your calories for Aunt Rita’s Sea Foam, this brunch menu not only whips together in a jiffy, it is light too! Many of the items on the menu can be made ahead of time for less “day-of” stress for the host or hostess. This strategy leaves you with more time to open gifts and enjoy the true purpose of the holiday season—spending time with those that matter most.
Fruit & Oat Bake
3 cups quick cooking oats
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup applesauce
¾ cup apple peeled and chopped
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup frozen peaches, chopped
In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Combine the vanilla, egg whites, milk, butter and applesauce; add to the dry ingredients. Stir in the apple, peaches and blueberries.
Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares.
2 granny smith apples, chopped
¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
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¼ cup walnuts
½ cup gorgonzola cheese
mini phyllo dough cups
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine apples, cheese, cranberries, and walnuts. Fill each phyllo cup with a spoonful of the mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes or until cheese is melty and apples are crisp tender.
Ham & Cheese Breakfast Bake
3 cups shredded hash browns
2 cups reduced-fat cheddar
2 cups turkey ham, cubed
12 egg whites
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hash browns in a single layer in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese and ham. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt and mustard. Pour over ham. Cover and bake at 350'F for 1 hour. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer or until edges are golden brown and knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Menu Prep Tips:
Prep the Ham & Cheese Bake up to a day ahead of baking. Bake up to an hour before guests will be eating and keep warm in a 200 degree oven.
Round out the meal with cut fruit, chicken or veggie sausage, whole wheat cranberry bread, orange juice, and a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar!
The night before the party you can cut the fruit, cook the sausages (reheat in a crock pot in the morning about an hour before the party), slice the bread and arrange on a decorative plate.
The morning of the brunch, bake both the Fruit & Oat Bake and the Ham & Cheese Breakfast Bake together. It would be wise to set two timers because they do not have the same bake time. Just before guests arrive, take the baking dishes out of the oven crank the heat back up to 350 and bake the Apple Tartlets for 5-8 minutes while you set out the drinks.
Use these brunch ideas for a healthy start to your next special occasion or to entertain sleepover guests.
Healthy eating expert Janis Bowers provides a weekly menu plan for Dinner Spin members (www.thedinnerspin.com) and is author of a new cookbook, Simple, Everyday Favorites. Her nutritious recipes, clever tips and timesaving tricks are intended to motivate life-long healthy eating habits. She develops each creative yet simple recipe with her own wholesome spin. Janis has been featured on local and regional television news and lifestyle shows, regional and national print and is an expert contributor for many online sources including TodaysMama.