Holiday Brunch from A to Z

Hashbrown casserole
Growing up, I lived in a neighborhood where all the families were very close. One family’s kids babysat for the younger families’ kids, cups of sugar and milk were always being lent out, and when it came to Christmas time, all the families gathered in one house on Christmas Eve to enjoy brunch and the holidays together. Those brunches are some of my favorite memories, and it was never about the food (of which there was always tons). I decided to host my own little brunch this weekend in the spirit of the holidays… and of day drinking. Now that I’m older, I realize everything is more festive with champagne.

This week I’ll provide you with recipes and tips to host your own holiday brunch that allows you to truly enjoy the company of friends and family without spending the entire party in the kitchen slaving over the stove. First on the week’s menu list is a delicious, decadent, cheesy potato casserole that you can make the night before and pop into the oven the morning of brunch. Little work plus even less time? Hey favorite new recipe. Hey.

On the menu:
Cheesy hashbrown casserole
Serves 8 – 10

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup sundried tomatoes, whole and oil packed
6 cloves of garlic, minced
9 large eggs
3 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup milk (preferably whole or 2%)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 cups (roughly 1 1/2 pounds) shredded or cubed frozen hashbrown potatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium heat just until the butter starts to brown. Add diced onions, garlic, and sundried tomatoes and cook until the onions are translucent. Pick out the sundried tomatoes with tongs and discard. Turn off the heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and mustard. Add the milk, salt, and pepper and whisk thoroughly. Fold in the cheddar cheese, frozen potatoes, and vegetables from the skillet. Mix until combined. Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan. At this point, you can refrigerate the casserole for up to 24 hours.

Bake for 35 – 45 minutes or until the top and sides are a golden brown. Serve hot.

NOTE: the original recipe from The Kitchn calls for thinly sliced sundried tomatoes that you do not pick out of the onions. I like the flavor they bring to the dish, but I’m not a fan of chewy sundried tomatoes… and neither are most people I know. The flavor is still there if you pick them out, but it’s not overwhelming. Done and done.

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Bacon, Spinach and Chicken Stew


One of the (many) pitfalls of being unemployed is that now the weather is cold and gloomy and I have even less motivation to leave the apartment than I did before (which is truly frightening). One of the fantastic things about being unemployed is the colossal amount of time I have on my hands to dream up and cook delicious things. I’m like Jerry Seinfeld. It all evens out.

I’ve been dying to make soup lately and this was easy and used up lots of things I already had in my house. You could use this recipe if you still have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, or bookmark it for Christmas leftovers.

On the menu:
Bacon, Spinach and Chicken Stew
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe from The Kitchn

1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 strips of bacon, diced into thin slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. baby spinach
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 – 5 cups chicken stock
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat and add bacon. Cook until most of the fat is rendered and the bacon is almost crisp. Add garlic and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add baby spinach and stir until completely coated in bacon fat. Sprinkle spinach with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes or until spinach is wilted down. Add cooked chicken and stir to coat in fat. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture is completely heated through. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes at a simmer.

Serve in big soup bowl and sprinkle grated cheese over the top.

Note: The sandwich in that picture is a delectable prosciutto with melted mozzarella and balsamic marinated cherry tomatoes on challah rolls. And yes… it was as good as it looks.

Last Note (promise): I don’t know why this is a stew and not a soup, but to me it’s a stew because there’s more stuff than broth. You feel me? Ok good.

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Snickerdoodles

These cookies are hands down one of my favorites, and I pretty much crave them every day of my life. They turn out thin, with crispy edges and chewy middles. Is there a better kind of cookie? These are fantastic to have around the holidays since they make your house smell like butter and cinnamon, and also they are not healthy by any means so they’ll help you gain that much desired winter weight.

You… wait… what? You DON’T like winter weight? Then what the heck are you doing here?!

On the menu:
Snickerdoodles
Makes 36 cookies
Recipe from Joy of Cooking

2 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs

For rolling dough balls in:
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in eggs one by one. Add flour to butter and sugar mixture and stir until combined.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake for 12 – 14 minutes or until brown around the edges. Let cool. Devour. I mean… serve to friends.

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Happy Turkey Week!

I’m off for the week, kids! I’m holing up in the Adirondacks with nothing but booze and family. What else could I ask for?

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Wedding Weekend

Excuse the interruption for this non-food related post but my very best and oldest friend is getting married this weekend and I had to commemorate it with a photo. Congratulations, Chrissy! You’ve been an amazing friend from Barbies to Fredonia and everything in between, and I’m so glad I get to celebrate with you this weekend.

Lauren and Chrissy, the coolest kids on the block

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Thanksgiving Recipes

Pumpkin Ginger Soup topped with Pepitas

My family is ridiculously traditional, and suggesting an innovative take on a Thanksgiving classic usually warrants more eye rolls than anything else. But little by little, year by year, I’ve introduced a few dishes to the traditional Turkey Day menu that have gone over very well. Below is a list of dishes and recipes that you can try this year to give an untraditional spin to a very traditional meal. My family approves, so yours will, too.

STARTERS
Pumpkin Ginger Soup topped with Pepitas

SIDES
Roasted Kabocha Squash (just leave out the chicken to make this a nice compliment to the Thanksgiving turkey)
Butternut Squash, Leek, and Apple Gratin
Easy Biscuits
Jalapeno Goat Cheese Corn Bread
Green Bean Casserole (from The Pioneer Woman)

DESSERTS
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sugar Crusted Apple Pie

BEVERAGES
Hard Cider

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Apple Nachos


I posted this picture on Instagram a couple weeks ago and was shocked at the huge response it got. I guess I shouldn’t have been, I was equally intrigued when I saw it on Pinterest. Which means alas, I cannot take credit for this genius idea. It’s so basic but so adorable and I find myself making it all the time as a late night snack. I can convince myself that because it’s mostly fruit, it must be healthy!

On the menu:
Apple nachos
Serves 1 – 2

1 large apple
3 Tbsp peanut butter
3 Tbsp craisins
2 Tbsp chocolate chips

Quarter the apple and cut out the core. Slice each quarter into 1/4 inch thick slices and fan out on a plate. Melt the peanut butter in the microwave for one minute until liquified. Sprinkle craisins and chocolate chips over the apple slices and then drizzle the peanut butter. Eat your face off.

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