Planning a holiday brunch?

By Barry Beacom

December holidays are upon us. Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are closing out the 2019 year.

This time of year usually brings families together for one or more of these events. That means extra mouths to feed joyfully because it’s “family time” and there’s nothing better.

It’s also the time of year that we want to have special meals, foods, holiday treats and a few special beverages.

During these visits, we will have occasion for one or two brunches, a meal we don’t often have the rest of the calendar year.

So what is a brunch and what makes it different from breakfast or lunch? Brunch is a meal that usually starts later than normal breakfast time but earlier than usual lunch time. Many restaurants will have brunch hours starting around 10 am, give or take a half hour and continuing until around 2 pm, again give or take a half hour.

At home, it’s whenever you are ready to serve it up.

Let’s first look at how restaurants do it. Then we’ll talk about doing it at home. A typical brunch serves up foods you would have at a normal breakfast with some dishes from a normal lunchtime meal.

That means there are usually some type of egg dishes offered. There are breakfast meats like bacon and sausage, and usually either pancakes, French toast or waffles. Depending on location in this wonderful land of ours, you could also see biscuits and sausage gravy served.

For lunch items, you may see beef roasts or hams sliced at the brunch buffet line. You may see casserole type dishes as well. Many restaurants will also have some fish or seafood dishes offered. Some vegetables and breads will be served, too.

Don’t forget the desserts: a combination of breakfast treats like cinnamon rolls, donuts and sweet rolls along with cakes, pies and/or cookies.

Many of these brunch buffets will offer specialty drinks as well as your normal coffee and tea, etc. The two most popular ones are Mimosas and Bloody Marys. The first is a mixture of orange juice with champagne and is quite tasty. The other is vodka with spicy tomato juice. Some places even have a make-your-own drink station.

Many restaurants do these brunches very well. Some do just so-so and there are a few you should just miss. Remember to ask family, friends and reviews to see where there is one you should try.

Now for doing brunch in your home. Here brunch can be whatever you want it to be and doesn’t have to feature a dozen different dishes.

At home, brunch just means a special meal served mid- to late-morning. It may be all breakfast items or a mix of dishes from any time of day. But there is usually one special dish that elevates the event.

Today’s recipe is one such dish and it will complement whatever else you serve. Enjoy both this recipe and the holiday season.

For those interested, my cookbook, “More Than Your First Cookbook” is available in Maryville at the Nodaway News Leader office.

You can also find over 800 recipes and a lot of helpful information for functioning in your kitchen on my food blog at

Eggnog French Toast Bread Pudding

8-10 servings

9 C. Challah bread, 1-inch cubes

cooking spray

3 large fresh eggs, lightly beaten

3 C. eggnog

¼ C. sugar

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. salt

maple syrup

Spread cubes of bread on two baking sheets and place in a pre-heated 300-degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring twice. Cool. Spray the inside of a 4 qt. oval slow cooker with a removable crock. Place the bread cubes in the crock. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, eggnog, sugar, nutmeg and salt. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and press down on bread with a large spoon to moisten. Cover crock and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight. Put crock into slow cooker frame and set on low for 3 hours or until a knife comes out clean. Let set up to 30 minutes before serving with maple syrup. Use a spoon to serve.

Note: You could use a slow cooker liner. Then when done, remove it from slow cooker, cover with foil and let stand the 30 minutes. Then slice into desired pieces before serving with the maple syrup.