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Everybody loves Sunday brunch: You can have breakfast or lunch (or both!), it's low-key and casual, and Mimosas and Bloody Marys are involved! But while the beauty of brunch is its informality, it can still be a little nerve-wracking to host your in-laws or freshly minted sister in law and her husband for the fun weekend meal. To help make your first newlywed brunch go as smooth as possible, we rounded up a few tips to keep in mind as you plan, as well as few no-fail dishes to serve!
1. Craft your menu around a theme. We looked to the season—Fall—but you could get inspired by a wedding gift, like a waffle iron, or your hometown.
2. Serve no more than 10 dishes—and that includes coffee and drinks.
3. Make no more than two dishes on the morning of the event. Everything else should be cooked ahead and reheated. If you want to look like the master chef that you are, toss the salad, mix drinks, and ice pastries as guests arrive. You'll have them fooled.
4. Divvy up dishes to attending friends and family. Short on fridge space or time? Let Jack and Sally bring a platter, just to be sure to give them enough notice (not a text at midnight once you've burned the quiche).
5. Serve family style. Place settings and seat assignments are too fussy for a weekend breakfast with friends. Let everyone seat—and serve—himself or herself. Stock the table with extra utensils and divide dishes between two platters – one for each end of the table.
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Pumpkin, and Spice, and Everything Nice
Nothing marks the start of fall quite like pumpkin spice lattes. Don't make guests stand in line for their seasonal buzz. Instead, moonlight as a barista, and serve them up fresh from your kitchen with oureasy DIY. Conversation is bound to get livelier (and hangovers to dissipate) with a tasty jolt of caffeine.
1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole nutmeg
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced
1 cup espresso or very strong coffee
Whipped cream for serving
Cinnamon for garnish
1/4 cup granulated sugar
In a small saucepan, bring the milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to a boil. Turn off heat and cover. Let mixture steep for 30 minutes.
Divide espresso between 4 cups. Strain milk and divide between the 4 cups. Top each with dollop of whipped cream and dusting of cinnamon.
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If we could bottle eau de brunch, the aroma of these pumpkin-cinnamon rolls would be the dominant scent, trust us. Beyond its sweet smell, the treat can be eaten one-handed, making it a wise way to kick off brunch when chances are, diners will show up hungry—and friends don't let friends get hangry.
1/2 cup whole milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for brushing
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk
Lightly brush a large bowl with butter; set aside. Heat milk and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted and mixture is warm to the touch. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Immediately sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until a bit foamy, about 5 minutes. Add flour, granulated sugar, egg, pumpkin, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix on medium-low speed, scraping sides and bottom of bowl once, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. Transfer to bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours.
Brush a 9-by-13 baking dish with butter; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together remaining stick melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a large pinch of salt until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 15- by-12-inch rectangle. Spread butter mixture over dough, leaving 1/4-inch border. Starting at a long edge, roll up dough like a jelly roll, then cut crosswise into 15 pieces. Place pieces in pan cut-side up, spaced evenly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until buns are almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake buns until golden brown and topping is bubbling around sides of pan, about 17-20 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add confectioners' sugar, a pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons milk and beat until combined, about 1 minute. If glaze is too thick to drizzle, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. Spread half the glaze over slightly cooled rolls. Serve warm or room temperature with additional glaze if desired.
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While orange juice has long been breakfast's partner in crime, there's a new brunch sip in town: pear nectar. Prep this pear-ginger Bellini base (all but the bubbly) ahead of time in one big pitcher, multiplying the recipe by the number of servings you will need (at least two per guest), and chill until ready to serve.
1 1/2 ounces pear nectar, chilled
1/2 ounce Poire William, chilled
1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, chilled
3/4 cup dry Prosecco, chilled
Rosemary sprig, for garnish
Candied ginger, for garnish
Combine pear nectar, Poire William, and ginger liqueur in a pitcher.
Fill flutes 1/3 full with pear-ginger mixture, top with Prosecco, and garnish with rosemary and ginger.
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After toasting your first brunch as Mister and Missus, serve up this cider-bourbon cocktail, which friends can sip for the remainder of the meal. Use your husband's favorite bourbon or one you were gifted and have been meaning to open.
3/4 cup apple cider
1/3 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 (2 1/2-inch-long) thin slices fresh peeled ginger
2 thin slices lady apple, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add cider, bourbon, lemon juice, and ginger; shake to combine. Strain cocktail into 2 coupes. Garnish with apple slices.
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Pastries Full of Fall Produce
More wholesome than a biscuit, savory than a pastry, and tasty than toast, these zucchini cornbread muffins are bound to launch a baked good revolution. Serve with preserves, herb butter, or honey.
2 medium zucchini
2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more, room temperature, for baking pan
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (for a fluffier cornbread, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda)
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
Shred zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. (You should have about 4 cups.) Toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a colander set over a bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Squeeze out excess moisture with your hands.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush a standard 12-cup muffin tin with softened unsalted butter. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda (if using), and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, and eggs (mixture might appear curdled). Add to flour mixture and stir just until combined (do not overmix). Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes before serving.
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As tasty and impressive as a gingerbread house but a breeze to make, these gingerbread pancakes will make guests feel like a kid again. And though you might have a memory of your mom flipping and serving made-to-order pancakes, you can actually cook them ahead. Heat in the oven before serving.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 large beaten eggs
1/3 cup molasses
3 cups buttermilk
For the batter, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Add eggs, molasses, and buttermilk and stir until just combined. Cook pancakes on a hot griddle.
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A frittata is good served straight from the pan or at room temperature, so this frittata with sausage and pecorino is no fuss, and brings plenty of bite.
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 ounces sweet fennel sausage, casing removed
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 cups mizuna or watercress leaves (4 ounces)
3 ounces grated pecorino or Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Heat olive oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet with an ovenproof handle over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until well browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl; set aside. Discard the fat and wipe out skillet.
Return skillet to medium heat; melt butter in it. Add eggs, sprinkle with salt, and cook until eggs begin to set on the bottom, about 10 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, pull edges into the center, tilting skillet so eggs fill the gaps. Sprinkle 1 cup mizuna or watercress, sausage, pecorino or Gruyere, and ricotta over eggs. Continue pulling the edges toward center. Cook until nearly set, about 4 minutes.
Transfer skillet to oven; bake until top is set and edges are golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and serve immediately or at room temperature with remaining mizuna or watercress.
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Better than Bacon
To keep this butternut squash and bacon quiche from getting soggy, prebake the tart shell using our recipe for flaky pie dough, or buy a store-bought dough and make this recipe in a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate. Hosting vegetarians? Substitute bacon for veggie bacon without losing any warmth or heartiness.
All-purpose flour, for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie Dough or store-bought
8 slices bacon
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11-by-15-inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press a sheet of parchment paper or foil on dough, draping over rim of pan. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Remove parchment and weights; bake until bottom is dry and light golden, 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt and pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.
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So Fresh and So Green
This fall salad with maple vinaigrette is the ideal accompaniment for any brunch dish, from frittatas to pancakes. Celery, endive, and apple provide crunch, while blue cheese, cider vinegar, and watercress bring some tang.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 heads Belgian endive, halved, cored, and sliced
1 bunch watercress, thick stems removed
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 apple, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
3 ounces crumbled blue cheese (such as Stilton)
Whisk together olive oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine Belgian endive, watercress, celery, and apple. Toss with dressing. Serve salad sprinkled with blue cheese.
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One last nibble before guests head home for errands (and catnaps), this frozen fruit salad is like a simple sorbet. Top it with a dollop of whipped cream or chocolate shavings if you simply can't resist.
2 cups red grapes, seedless
2 cups green grapes, seedless
Peel bananas; cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place banana slices and grapes on a small rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Freeze until fruit is frozen throughout, at least 1 hour.
Divide fruit among four bowls, and serve.