A brunch as easy as Sunday morning

    Photo by kim_scarborough on Flickr, licensed under the Creative Commons.

    My favorite meal is two meals in one. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I adore that luscious amalgamation of breakfast and lunch: brunch — especially when it’s served on Sunday. Now, while going out to brunch is a great way to usher in a Sunday morning, it gets expensive, especially when you’re fond of big-ticket items like eggs Benedict, French toast or crepes.

    Why not save some money by making it yourself? Invite a few friends over and make it a party! To please all palettes, prepare four dishes: one savory, one sweet, one lunch(ish) and one healthy. This way you’ll satisfy the hungover, the health-crazed and the ones who “skip” breakfast. And you won’t have to wake up at dawn to do so.

    Savory: Omelet scramble
    While omelets are delicious, making individual omelets consumes time and traps you in the kitchen, and they’re really easy to screw up. It’s not worth it to be everyone’s short-order cook. So unless you’ve perfected your egg-flipping, leave the job to trained professionals.

    My suggestion: the “omelet scramble.” Combine the components of both an omelet and scrambled eggs into one tasty dish of eggy goodness.

    Here’s how to do it:

    • In a large bowl, crack about two eggs for each hungry guest. Then add one tablespoon of either water or milk for each egg. Whisk the mixture, add some salt and pepper, and set aside.
    • Next, raid your fridge and gather every omelet mix-in you have: cheese, vegetables, salsa or fresh herbs. Grab a large skillet and melt a tablespoon or two of butter over medium heat.
    • When the butter has melted, add the egg mixture and stir just as if you were making scrambled eggs. Immediately after you’ve added the eggs, throw in the mix-ins and scramble the whole thing together until the eggs are fully cooked. Voila! An pseudo-omelet made in minutes!

    Sweet: French toast
    For me, brunch is an excuse for eating dessert in the middle of the day, so I like something sweet on the menu. While pancake parties are a fun way to get guests involved, I am a total sucker for French toast. It’s hard to beat the classic recipe, but here’s a lighter option that will still be a hit:

    • Pick up a big, crusty loaf of bread the day before. I suggest a sourdough or Tuscan loaf. Leave the bread out overnight so that it starts to get stale.
    • The morning of the party, find a traditional French toast recipe and substitute low-fat vanilla yogurt for all but one egg. Usually I add cinnamon to the batter as well, but you could add lemon or orange zest, vanilla or almond extract, honey or whatever tickles your taste buds. If you want to go crazy, add cocoa powder and wow your guests with chocolate French toast.

    Lunch(ish): Salad
    There’s always one friend who doesn’t “do” breakfast. To satisfy everyone, I make a simple lunch item too, like a salad. If you’re not a fan of vegetables, go with a potato or pasta salad.

    I like a variety of textures and flavors in my salad, especially when entertaining. I have some form of greens, fresh fruit, a soft cheese and either nuts or dried fruit. Also, I try to work in seasonal ingredients, like peaches in the summer and apples in the fall.

    Try this one: Place a few cups of mesclun greens in a bowl and add toasted chopped pecans, thinly sliced apples (try Honey Crisp), crumbled goat cheese and dried cranberries. Dress simply with a vinaigrette of honey, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar and olive oil. For a more filling entrée, add sliced grilled chicken.

    Healthy: Fruit
    For those who prefer to eat on the healthier side, I serve fruit at brunch. For a funky twist, why not skewer it? Think shish kebab-ed fruit! Add bite-sized fruit, like grapes or strawberries, to fruit that is easy to cut into cubes, like pineapple, melon, kiwi, apples and bananas. Serve the skewers with different dipping sauces. Try flavored yogurts or warm Nutella. Even your unhealthy friends will go for it!

    The next time you’re thinking about taking a trip to Clarke’s, why not switch it up and be your own chef? Your friends and your wallet will thank you. You can even stay in your pajamas longer!


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