How-To: Host a Winter Brunch (and still manage to sleep in)

Food, How-To, Menus
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It’s arguably old news that the holiday entertaining season is about over, but for some people, it never really ends. Earlier in the year, I hosted what turned out to be a wonderful pre-holiday brunch for some of my extended family.

Even though the intent was to celebrate the holidays, you could easily replicate this winter brunch menu anytime throughout the season. A fun, mid-winter brunch party will give your guests ones something fun to look forward to during the inevitable gray, gloomy days of January and February. 

A lot of my relatives live in New York, which like Chicago, is fun and festive prior to the holidays but after January 1, there isn’t much to look forward to, weather-wise, until Memorial Day.

You might be in New Year’s resolutions mode, so this simple brunch can be catered to just about any diet — such as low carb or even gluten-free — and is pretty easy to execute. Even decorating for your party can be stress-free and inexpensive.

The Decor

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Thanks to Pinterest, rustic chic is now a thing and what that means is that if you don’t have 6 or 8 or 12 plates that happen to match, you don’t need to. Set each place with alternating plates and placemats underneath. A good friend of mine always says, about decorating your home, that “if you buy what you like, everything will come together.” I find that true about table settings, too.

I did pick up a fun and festive table runner at Target and happened to have gold and silver placemats, but everything else was inexpensive and easy. We picked up some sparkly gold and silver tea light candles (you probably already have a bag of tea lights somewhere, because I think we all do, and you could use spray glue and glitter to make your own if you’re the crafty type).

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We also filled two vases with inexpensive ornaments and stars that we found at Sur La Table, along with a silver pine tree for a simple and minimalist centerpiece. All of these served perfectly as holiday decorations, but they also spell out winter, especially if you live in a climate that will have snow on the ground through March.

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The Menu

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What I love about hosting brunch is that pretty much everything can (and should) be made in advance. My brother’s girlfriend Eliese (whose apartment we hosted at) and my cousin Kristin, came over the night before to help me make the egg casserole, the savory French toast, and prep some of the other goodies.

Whenever I’m cooking or baking for a party, no matter how large or small, it helps to have a sous chef, even if for no reason other than the extra set of hands. Also, so there’s someone to pour the wine when your hands are covered in raw egg.

In the morning, the only thing you should realistically have to do is turn the oven on and maybe pour your guests drinks, if you’re that kind of hostess.

You might also enjoy some of these tasty libations:

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The other thing that’s paramount at brunch? If someone asks you, “can I bring anything?” Tell them honestly what you need. My cousin Kim loves to bake, so when she asked if she could bring scones, it worked out perfectly that I was planning on making some.

If you have guests who love to cook or bake and are probably even better at it than you, go ahead and delegate. We had raisin scones and my personal favorite, cranberry scones. Someday I’ll get her recipe but for now, you can always try the version I make here if you’re planning a trip to scone city.

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I firmly believe that a party isn’t a party if you don’t have a proper cheese plate. We have covered cheese plates a lot here: how to make the perfect cheese plate and of course, one of our most popular posts: how to make an Italian cheese and charcuterie board.

If you want to keep it simple, I like to pick one plain cracker and one flavored cracker (you get to choose!) and 3-4 different kinds of cheeses. Because we have a combination of both adventurous and stick-to-what-you palates, we did a combination of Colby and pepper jack, plus a Cranberry cheddar cheese plus triple creme brie.

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As the main dish, I made two delicious casseroles that you assemble the night before and literally, the only thing you have to do in the morning is pop them in the oven and, if you’d like, throw some garnishes on top. I’ll be sharing the recipes for savory French toast with gruyere cheese and extra-cheesy Portuguese baked eggs soon. As you can tell, I have a penchant for dosing everything I cook with cheese. I refuse to accept any complaints on this matter.

The yoghurt parfait bar

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No matter how many elaborate dishes you make, like savory french toast with gruyere cheese, people always tend to gravitate toward simple things: cheese, vegetable crudité and simple parfaits. I’ve teamed up with noosa yoghurt to share some some of my favorite thingsseasonal recipes and now, how to pull off a perfect yoghurt bar at a winter brunch party.

noosa yoghurt is made with a combination of sweet and tart ingredients to create a thick, velvety texture. The yoghurt is an authentic family recipe, all-natural, gluten-free and made with real whole milk, honey and fresh fruit puree. I love the variety of flavors that noosa offers, because it’s so creative and easy to cook and bake with, as well as enjoy on its own.

I love to create yoghurt parfaits because they’re nice and light — they can serve as a first course, a mid-meal treat or even as a dessert. Even though this is completely a DIY idea based on your flavor preferences, we have some guidelines for you.

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  • Choose your yoghurt flavors. Even if coconut yoghurt isn’t your bag, it might pair perfectly with ingredients that you hadn’t even though. That’s what makes a parfait bar fun! Flavors include salted caramel, blood orange (limited batch), key lime, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry, raspberry, lemon, pumpkin, cranberry apple (limited batch), pineapple, coconut, tart cherry, honey, vanilla, mango, peach and plain. I picked cranberry apple and pumpkin for the seasonal element, but go nuts! Some flavors are available in 4-ounce containers, which makes for easy serving, but you can easily buy the 8-ounce containers for larger (main course) parfaits or to share with a friend.
  • Choose your granola. If you opt to make your own granola, Morning Glory Farm’s almond crunch granola is my favorite recipe and one I’ve made (and doubled) many times. If you’re buying from the store, let seasonality guide you and look for locally made granola that will complement the yoghurt you serve.  We picked three simple flavors: oats & honey, maple brown sugar and French vanilla almond. People then can mix and match with their favorite noosa.
  • Add extra toppings. You know when you go to your neighborhood frozen yogurt joint and you can’t decide what toppings to pick, so you pick a little of everything? That’s kind of what happens here. Pick up some fresh fruit (I like chopped apple or blueberries), dried fruit (my favorites are dried mango, dried cherries or cranberries and dried apple), nuts (almonds and pecans are my preference) and some other sundries, like sweetened coconut flakes, chia seeds, jam, chocolate chips — the sky is the limit!
  • Pick your glassware. Again, there’s no need to match here. If you have sundae or cocktail glasses, use those. You can also go along with your winter theme and serve your parfaits in cute hot chocolate mugs or even small soup bowls!

My favorite yoghurt parfait was simple: pumpkin noosa yoghurt, slivered almonds and a handful of French vanilla almond granola.

What are your favorite brunch dishes? If you also love to make yoghurt parfaits, what is your favorite combination?  

This is a sponsored post written on behalf of noosa yoghurt. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    "Egg-centric" Brunch Menu [Ham & Cheddar Miniature Quiches] - In Good Taste
    March 18, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    […] that brunch parties are among my favorite occasions for entertaining. Whether it’s a last-minute winter brunch or you’re whipping up a batch of chai-spiced apple cinnamon pancakes for a special occasion […]

  • Reply
    Nutmeg Nanny
    February 10, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Love all these tips. plus I LOVE Noosa!

  • Reply
    CourtneyLynne
    February 9, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Omg all of this!!! Just fabulous:):) brunch is definitely my all time favorite meal!

  • Reply
    Deb @ Cooking on the Front Burner
    February 9, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    I love going to brunches and your ideas are great – especially the yogurt bar.

  • Reply
    Des @ Life's Ambrosia
    February 9, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Loving all of these tips! I’ve never hosted a brunch before, I should change that 🙂

  • Reply
    Carrie @Frugal Foodie Mama
    February 9, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I definitely do not host brunches enough during the winter. I need to change that ASAP. 😉 Thank you for all of the great tips!

  • Reply
    Allison Jones
    February 9, 2016 at 12:03 am

    These are great tips. I love brunch and would love to host one for my girls sometime soon. I think the yogurt parfait bar is a super cute idea.

    LiveLifeWell,
    Allison

  • Reply
    Ruthie
    February 8, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    I don’t even know where to begin!!! The decor was fabulous and that menu!!?!?? I really want to come!! You know how to throw a brunch, that’s for sure!!

  • Reply
    Amy Stafford
    February 8, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    What great tips!

  • Reply
    KatyRose
    February 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Love the menu and what a great idea to have a parfait bar! That way everyone gets what they want and it s saves you time needing to make one more thing. – Katy

  • Reply
    eat good 4 life
    February 8, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    So fun. I wish I could have attended. Great recipes!!

  • Reply
    Kacey @ The Cookie Writer
    February 8, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    You make it sound so easy!! I bet you my brunch would not look like this 🙂 Great tips!

  • Reply
    michelle
    February 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    now i want to host a winter brunch and of course i’ll be sleeping in since like you said so much of this can be prepped in advance. my girlfriends would love this

  • Reply
    Tina
    February 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    I never host brunch because it always looked like it was so much work. I love all your make ahead tips. I may have to try this!

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    February 8, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    I so wish I would have read this prior to my Christmas Brunch. Although it went well I was quite frazzled after preparing everything and didn’t get to enjoy the festivities. I could you used your tips! I love the yogurt bar. I would make a Vanilla yogurt, caramel granola and strawberry parfait, yum! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Robin G.
    February 8, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Oh my, I need to come your way for some brunch! This all looks fabulous! Plus that blood orange champagne cocktail sounds delicious!! || Robin

  • Reply
    Sola
    February 8, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I normally host dinner parties but after reading this, I think I have the brunch bug! Your menu is absolutely to die for. I doubt that there’s anyone who would try it and not leave full and happy. Thanks for the lovely inspiration!

  • Reply
    Chandra@The Plaid & Paisley Kitchen
    January 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Great tips to keep your sanity! I love the yogurt bar!

  • Reply
    Heather | Heather Likes Food
    January 1, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Love the organization and of course my sleep!

  • Reply
    Andi @ The Weary Chef
    January 1, 2016 at 3:02 am

    This is awesome! I love your tip about unmatching plates! And your menu sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ginny McMeans
    December 31, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Very nice and helpful directions for putting a brunch together. I want to come to your parties! Looks delicious too.

  • Reply
    Megan Keno
    December 31, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    This sounds like the perfect way to start your day!

  • Leave a Reply