from left, clockwise:
Holly McSpadden, Josie Mai, Ree Wells-Lewis, AmyKay Cole, Christine Bentley, Ruth Stamper

I was raised in the church, so brunch was not a part of my culture. Mom would have a great pot roast, carrots, and potatoes in the oven cooking all morning while we were away. We’d come home, pour ketchup all over the steaming meal, and stuff ourselves silly. When I was a grad student in New York City, I discovered brunch, a whole new world! It started late morning, giving you time to sleep off the party the night before. It combined my two favorite meals, breakfast and lunch, into one! A cocktail was usually involved. Why not? And it was casual and very low key. 

table set with Grandma's china and hand-sewn napkins

Brunch originated in England in the late 19th century and became popular in the United States in the 1930s.In writer Guy Beringer's article "Brunch: A Plea in Hunter's Weekly, he writes:

Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week."
These days I have brunch regularly with several friends. We used to go out to one of the very few restaurants in town that serve brunch, but quickly they wanted to come to my kitchen and pay me to cook it! I love having them in my home. We cover too many topics to count, sometimes passionately such as work gossip or national politics. It can get intense, but we leave inspired, with a full belly, full heart, and important friendships deepened after a crazy week of work and life in general. 

grazing platter; out while guests arrived and drinks were poured

Gather some friends and try the following recipes. There is an egg dish, and a slightly sweet dish, typical of brunch. I added a seasonal cranberry relish, my favorite. Throw in some coffee, a bloody mary or mimosa, and you’re set. Enjoy!

Easy brunch casserole

Serves 4


1 pound Italian sausage (optional)
1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
 3 cloves garlic, minced
 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced (or 1 jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced)
 1 small container mushrooms, chopped
 1 crown broccoli, chopped
 6 eggs
 1/3 cup milk
 1 (20 ounce) bag frozen hash browns, or grate 1 large russet potato
 2 cups shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese
 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper


 Heat oven to 375.
If using, add the sausage to a medium saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat until browned, crumbling the sausage with a spoon as it cooks. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Reserve about 1 tablespoon of sausage grease in the saute pan, discarding the rest. Add the onion and red pepper to the saute pan, and saute for 5 minutes until cooked. Add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes until fragrant. (If using the jarred roasted red peppers, wait to stir them until after the garlic.) Add mushrooms and broccoli. Saute 5 more minutes. Pour the vegetable mixture into the mixing bowl with the sausage. Add the potatoes and 1 1/2 cups cheese to the mixing bowl with the sausage and veggies. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and black pepper until combined. Then add them to the veggie mixture, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a 11×7-inch or a 9×9-inch baking dish (a 9×13-inch dish will also work), and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the potatoes in the center are cooked through. Remove and let the casserole rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven


Pomegranate lemon ricotta crepes

Serves 4


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (seeds), divided
Drizzle pomegranate molasses
Powdered sugar, for serving


In a large mixing bowl, create a well with flour then add eggs, slowly whisking them into flour. Add sugar and salt and stir until combined. Gradually add the milk, whisking to combine. Let batter stand at room temperature until bubbly on top, 15 to 20 minutes. Whip ricotta, lemon juice, lemon zest, and powdered sugar with a whisk in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a small skillet over medium heat, melt butter. About 1/4 cup at a time, drop batter evenly onto pan, swirling it to evenly coat. Cook 2 minutes, then flip and cook 1 minute more; repeat with remaining batter. Serve crêpes warm ricotta and arils rolled inside. Top with drizzle of pomegranate molasses, more arils, and powdered sugar.

Cranberry orange relish with mint

Serves 4-6


2 bags (12 ounces) whole fresh cranberries, well washed and patted dry
3 navel oranges, peeled with knife, sectioned between membranes, chopped
1 cup sugar
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
1/4 cup packed mint, chopped
Zest of two oranges


Chop cranberries in a food processor. Put in medium bowl. Add oranges, sugar, onion, ginger, mint, and zest. Stir to combine. Cover and chill overnight. Mix leftovers with mayonnaise and use as a sandwich spread.