Do Ahead Brunch Dishes

My son has a December birthday so for many years I invited a large crowd to celebrate with a big holiday open house and brunch.  I would make about ten hot dishes that looked pretty extravagant when, in actuality, they were very easy to prepare and, more importantly, made well ahead; most I prepared the day before and refrigerated overnight making for an easy morning set-up and stress free time with my guests.   While ten dishes might be overkill for Mother’s Day, I thought this was a good week to share some of my favorite recipes so maybe one or two of these will provide a special morning for some moms this Sunday.

Credit for many of these dishes goes to the Queen Victoria Bed & Breakfast in Cape May, NJ.   A friend of mine stayed there many years ago and brought home their fabulous cookbook with over 80 recipes.  For more information about the Inn and to order a copy of the cookbook click HERE

Bacon & Egg Strata
This is a great dish to make with youngsters since there are so few ingredients and nothing needs to be cooked on the stove.   The bacon can be cooked up quickly in a microwave too.

6 large eggs
1¾ cups milk
3 croissants, sliced and torn into 1-inch pieces
8 to 12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
10 to 15 sliced grape tomatoes or 2 small tomatoes, diced
1½  cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.  Whisk eggs with milk in a bowl; set aside.

Arrange torn croissants over the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the bacon pieces and tomato slices. Top with Cheddar cheese then pour the egg mixture evenly over the top.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned.

This can be assembled the night before and baked the next morning. Just increase the baking time by 5-10 minutes if chilled.

Stuffed Baked French Toast
This dish is a sure winner as long as you aren’t counting the calories!   When it comes out of the oven it makes a great puffed-up impression but don’t be disappointed when it collapses – the flavor stays amazing!

20-24 slices bread, any variety (white, raisin, cinnamon or egg)
6 eggs
4 cups half & half
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sugar
dash nutmeg


16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup sugar

Trim crusts from bread and discard.  Spray a 3 quart baking dish with non-stick pan coating.

Arrange half bread in pan so that entire bottom is covered.

In separate bowl, mix eggs, half & half, vanilla and sugar.  Pour half of this liquid over bread.

In separate bowl, combine filling ingredients together until creamy.  Pour filling over moistened bread.  Arrange the remaining half of bread over top of filling and pour rest of egg mixture over the top.  Sprinkle top with dash of nutmeg.

Cover and let rest for a half hour or refrigerate overnight.  Bake in preheated 350˚oven for 60 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into 12 rectangles to serve.

Serve with warmed maple syrup, fresh fruits or a fruit compote.

Warm Berry Compote
1 16-ounce package frozen mixed berries
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp sugar

Place all ingredients in saucepan. Stir gently over medium heat until slightly thickened. Gently simmer for 5 minutes. Serve warm over pancakes or waffles.

Hash Brown Casserole
This one is better if it’s put together in the morning so that the potatoes do not defrost and make the dish soggy.  I usually prep the rest of the ingredients the night before so that it can be tossed together quickly.

1 bag of Oreida (or any brand) frozen hash browns
½ cup chopped onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ pint (1 cup) sour cream
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 sleeve of townhouse crackers
1 stick of butter (to mix with crackers)

Mix sour cream and soup together.  Layer potatoes, onion, then soup mixture in the bottom of a 13x9x2inch pan.  Top with cheese.

Crush crackers. Place crackers in a gallon plastic bag and roll with a rolling pin to crush. Melt butter and stir into the crumbs. Sprinkle cracker/butter mixture on top.

Cover with foil and bake at 350° F for 1 hour or 400° F for 45 minutes.  For the last 15 minutes, remove foil so the casserole can brown.

Blueberry Huckle Buckle
This dish is like a giant blueberry muffin that is best served warm out of the oven.  It’s a great way to feed a crowd without having to make individual muffins and it can be made the night before and baked in the morning.

¾ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream ¼ cup butter and ¾ cup sugar together.  Add egg and mix.  Add milk and blend well.  Add flour, baking powder and sat and mix well.  Fold in blueberries.

Spray an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray.  Spread dough in pan.

Combine remaining sugar, four, cinnamon and butter to form coarse crumbs and sprinkle on top of dough.  Bake for 25 to 35 minutes.

May be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, overnight.  Bring to room temperature before baking, add 5 to 10 minutes to baking time if dough is chilled.

Cut into squares to serve.  Serve warm.


Sausage Pecan Morning
This is another version of a French toast with the addition of sausage to make it a great one dish breakfast for a crowd.

1 Package Jones Golden Brown Sausage patties – cooked and chopped
1 loaf (16 slices) raisin bread, cubed
6 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 ½ cups half & half
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup butter, soft
2 Tb. maple syrup

Spray a 13 x 9 Pyrex baking dish.  Mix together bread and sausage and place in baking dish.

Beat eggs, milk, half and half, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Pour over bread and sausage.  Pour over bread and sausage.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Combine topping ingredients and spoon by teaspoonfuls over casserole.  Bake uncovered at 350°F for 35-40 minutes.

Makes 10 servings.

Broccoli Pie
This sizable dish is similar to quiche without the crust.  To make it even heartier you can add a few cups of cooked cubed or shredded chicken.

20oz. frozen broccoli pieces, thawed and drained
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped onion
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs
3 cups milk
1½ cups biscuit baking mix
dash Tabasco

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Coat a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick spray.  Sprinkle broccoli, mushrooms, onion and cheese evenly to cover bottom of dish.

Beat eggs, milk, biscuit baking mix and Tabasco until smooth in a blender or food processor, and pour over ingredients in dish.

Bake until golden brown and knife inserted comes out clean, 45-60 minutes.  Let stand before cutting into squares to serve.  Serves 12.

Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight.  Bake the longer time if refrigerated.

If you have kids that enjoy making breakfast consider signing them up for one of the few remaining spots in our in our Breakfast for Dinner class on May 18th.  Click HERE for the details.   We also have a Better for Breakfast camp coming up this summer from August 20th-22nd.  Click HERE for more information.