Holiday Drop By Brunch for Family and Friends

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One of the Holiday traditions I share with my very best friends each year is to host a “Drop by Brunch” on one of the last shopping days before Christmas. It’s a fun way to share recipes and the Holiday with friends as they head out to do last minute shopping. My challenge each year is to lay out some new recipes, so they can try before repeating on their own families! Here are
some I have tried and were very popular, and some new ones too!

Make Ahead Baked French Toast Casserole

(This is a Paula Deen recipe from way back, it’s easy to cook and can be made ahead!)

For the Toast

  • 1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash salt
  • Praline Topping, recipe follows
  • Maple syrup

For the Topping

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

The night before: Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or breadcrumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too
bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The Next Morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all topping ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.
Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Tomato Grits and Green Chili’s

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup diced green onions
  • 4 ounces processed cheddar cheese, cubed (suggested: Velveeta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chilies (suggested: Ro-Tel)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil. Add the salt and slowly add the grits and return to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. While stirring the grits add the 1/2 cup of butter and stir until butter is melted. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the grits are thick and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.
Using a skillet, sauté the onions in the remaining tablespoon of butter for 1 minute. Add the processed cheese, garlic powder, 1 1/2 cups cheddar, and onions to grits, and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the tomatoes and mix well. Pour the grits into a greased 8 by 11 by 2-inch casserole and bake for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese over the casserole for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

Winter Fruit in Lime Syrup

  • 6 oranges
  • 4 grapefruit
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sliced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 lime slices
  • 1 cup sliced peeled pear
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Peel and section oranges and grapefruit over a bowl, reserving ¾ cup of juice. Set sections aside.
(If you want to save some time, you can purchase the grapefruit and orange sections in a jar in the produce section of your grocery).
In a small saucepan, combine reserved ¾ cup juice, sugar, ginger, honey and lime slices; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, cool lime mixture. Strain mixture through a sieve over bowl and discard the solids. In a medium bowl, combine fruit sections, pear, and raspberries. Poor cooled lime syrup over fruit, cover and chill for 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with mint.

Almost Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole

(This is an old traditional favorite)
1 (10 1/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup butter, melted

1 (8 oz.) block of Colby cheese, shredded
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 30 ounce bag frozen hash browns (shredded variety)
1 cup shredded Colby cheese
Preheat oven to 375°F and spray an 11 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Combine first 6 ingredients stirring until well blended. Add 10 ½ cups frozen shredded potatoes to bowl. Spoon mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup Colby cheese, if desired. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or
until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Hearty Breakfast Casserole

1 lb. your favorite sausage
21/2 cups seasoned croutons
4 eggs
21/4 cups milk
1 can (101/2 oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 can (4 oz.) mushrooms, drained and chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
Fresh herb sprigs and carrot strips (optional)
Picante sauce or salsa (optional)
Spread croutons on bottom of greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Crumble and cook sausage in medium skillet over medium heat until browned. Drain. Spread over croutons. Whisk eggs and milk in bowl until blended. Stir in soup, spinach, mushrooms, cheeses and mustard. Pour egg mixture over sausage and croutons. Refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 325F. Bake egg
mixture 50-55 minutes or until set and lightly browned on top. Garnish with herb sprigs and carrot, if desired. Serve hot with picante sauce, if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

(This is an Ed Emory recipe)
2 cups all-purpose flour (southern light flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup baked, mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium potato)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), frozen
Heavy cream, for brushing the tops
Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a separate large bowl, mix together milk and mashed sweet potato
until evenly combined.

Grate frozen butter through the large holes of a box grater and toss with dry ingredients until butter is coated. Add milk mixture and mix lightly until dough forms a shaggy mass.
Turn out mixture onto a floured surface and knead just until it comes together, about 30 seconds
(the dough will not be smooth). Use the same minimal touch you reserve for pie pastry.
Pat into a circle and use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cookie cutter, or glass, cut the dough into rounds. Gather leftover dough into a circle, reroll, and cut until you have 8 large biscuits.
Place biscuits on a baking sheet, brush tops with heavy cream, and bake until the bottoms are golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes