I think I’m a latecomer to the “brunch” movement. I’ve only brunched for a couple years now, but I know for some people, brunch is a serious event. It’s a weekend activity where day drinking is always socially acceptable and it’s time to leave the kids, spouses, and cares at home. Don’t get me wrong, I love brunching with my girlfriends! We get to gossip, eat awesome food, and indulge in bottomless mimosas (the blood orange ones were lethal and amazing at a restaurant we may or may not be able to show our faces in again, haha). Brunch is a wonderful occasion to relax and indulge, but now that I am a mom and part of a single-income family, it’s an infrequent occasion because of childcare needs and the expense. So in an effort to take it easy on my pocketbook but still experience the fun of good food, drinks, and friends, I’ll share a couple of recipes and ideas for hosting a fun brunch at home – kids are (mostly) welcome too! And trust me – I’m very green at entertaining, so if I can do it, so can you!
You can find a million hash brown casserole recipes online, but this is one I’ve tweaked and it is always a hit. My one-year-old gobbles it like it’s the greatest thing in the world. The baked oatmeal recipe is from a time when I wasn’t able to consume dairy or soy. This recipe doesn’t use eggs, dairy, soy, or nuts (if you use something other than almond milk), and is still a crowd-pleaser. Friendly for almost any eater at a brunch!
Hash Brown Casserole
30 oz bag of frozen hash browns, thawed
1/2 C melted unsalted butter
1 (10.5 oz) can of cream of chicken soup
8 oz container of sour cream
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 C crushed corn flakes cereal
1/4 C melted unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine hash browns, 1/2 C melted butter, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, salt, pepper, and cheese and pour into a 3 quart casserole dish. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the corn flakes and 1/4 C melted butter and toss until slightly browned. Spread the cornflakes on top of the casserole, cover with tin foil and bake for 45-60 minutes. I have added chopped onions before, but I found the onion flavor a bit overpowering, especially for kids, but feel free to switch it up! You can also use cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken for a vegetarian option.
Allergy-Friendly Baked Oatmeal
1 1/2 C quick-cooking oatmeal
1/4 C sugar
1/2 C milk or milk substitute (I usually use almond milk, but rice, coconut, soy, etc. should be fine)
1/4 C applesauce
1 T chia seeds
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
1 heaping cup of berries (or really any kind of fruit!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover the bottom of a 9in. square pan with the berries. Mix the other ingredients together in a bowl and top the berries evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve as-is or with extra milk or yogurt on top. This would be great with vanilla ice cream, as well.
Mimosas are quintessential brunch drinks: champagne in a big wine glass with a splash of pulp-free orange juice! But if you’re looking for something different from the usual Mimosa or Bloody Mary, the Colorado Bulldog is for you! It’s a variation of a White Russian and, in my opinion, totally acceptable for day drinking because coffee (liqueur) = morning. Right? Why not? Don’t forget a variety of juice and coffee – all the coffee – because: kids. Right?
1 oz vodka
1 oz coffee liqueur
Combine vodka and coffee liqueur over ice in a pint glass and fill with vanilla cola. Add 1 oz or more (depending on preference) of heavy cream and stir. If you have vanilla vodka, just use regular cola. This drink is also good with root beer instead of cola.
For the Kids and Kids at Heart
Who doesn’t remember making “tornados” at the soda machine in restaurants when we were kids? Why I thought Sprite + Coke + Lemonade + Hi-C + Mountain Dew = delicious, I will never know, but I think the choice aspect was the big thing. That’s why I think having a “cereal bar” is a great way to entertain kids. It’s so easy – get a bunch of different types of cereal, and let the kids mix up their own “tornado” bowls. If you don’t want to have a bunch of big boxes, just buy the single-serve multi packs! I also recommend serving different milks – white, chocolate, and strawberry. Just get the syrups to mix up three pitchers and let the kids go nuts. The adults are indulging, so why can’t the kids?
Take advantage of the beautiful weather and host your brunch outside! A kiddie pool, a sprinkler, and some fun lawn games for the kids and adults alike will make for a great atmosphere. Cheers to the end of summer, and happy brunching!