EAT | Hosting a Spring Brunch

Spring is right around the corner! Most of us are pretty tired of this winter weather (though honestly, I couldn’t handle a life without cold and snow), so planning a bright brunch might be just what you need to get you out of these doldrums. Yes, I just said doldrums.

One of my favorite holidays is Easter. It’s probably pretty sacrilegious, because for me, it’s absolutely all about the food. And by food, I generally mean the candy.

Case in point: One year, my grandmother asked me what I wanted for Easter. All I wanted was jelly beans. She bought me a hurricane-style vase filled to the brim with jelly beans. I had those for weeks! It was amazing. One year I think I might do the same thing to our bathtub.

Last year, I hosted an “orphan’s brunch” at our home for our friends who don’t have family in town. It was a major success! Here is what I did to set up this event:

Table Settings

I do my best to set a nice table for my guests even though I don’t have what I’d consider a huge set of table-topper items.  I like when I see a table filled with decorations, but for some reason when I’m doing it myself I don’t have an interest in setting all of those things out. So I try to keep it simple and pretty.

I set out my most colorful tablecloth that I love to use in the Spring and Summer months. It’s covered in huge, bright flowers and is perfect for so many types of warm events.

I toned the tablecloth down a bit with some beautiful steel blue grasscloth placemats from Crate & Barrel (though they don’t seem to sell that color any longer). Because we had 8 guests, and I *ohsosmartly* only registered for 6 of everything when we got married and thus only had 6 blue placemats, I used some (admittedly cheap) yellow round placemats between the blue ones. I did register for enough cloth napkins, however, so we were ok there.

Because I didn’t set out candles (little hands like touching things that are on fire), I added flair to the table with three small square vases of wildflowers. I took some of the thin greenery leaves and wrapped them around the inside of the vase (trying to do like the florists do) and cut the blossoms down low so we’d be able to see each other across the table.

I hand cut name cards and drew a little “Easter-ish” item on each of them (different eggs and baskets, and on my husband’s I drew our dog with rabbit ears!). I utilized our placetag holders (which, if you get your own, get some that actually hold the card in place – these just have slots and the name cards fall out easily) and voila! Table is set.

2013 Easter 002

Giveaway

You may be wondering what that jar of awesomeness is behind Shannon’s placecard. Oh and it is awesome. It combines my love of spray paint with my love of hoarding things for future craft projects. Pinterest (surprise!) gave me the inspiration for this idea, and I know my husband just loves the boxes of jars I keep in our basement for when I get around to making more of these.

See how to make these here!

It was a beautiful addition to the table, and my guests absolutely loved them!

Menu

I cook and bake like I play the piano. I first learn the correct recipe, and then I improvise. Since I don’t have a ton of experience doing breakfasts for groups (other than a basic spread that requires little cooking), I refer to the experts for these sorts of things. And by experts, I mean Pinterest and Ree Drummond. She is a genius and I love her. But that’s a whole other story.

I also try to make things a bit easier on myself (on occasion) by asking guests to bring things. It not only gets them involved, but also gives me other ideas on what to make for future gatherings. Last year, I asked my friends to bring

Homemade Biscuits (I provided butter and honey) and a

Vegetable Quiche. This saved my oven for a few other things I was baking myself, such as the

Baked French Toast – I took Ree’s suggestion and made this the night before. It helps the egg mixture soak into the bread, and it makes it so much nicer in the morning to just pop this in the oven and have one less thing to have to assemble. The first time I made this I forgot to put the crumble on top, but we all liked it so much I didn’t notice it wasn’t there until after we were done eating. Fresh blueberries make a nice addition to the flavor and texture of this item.

Bacon and Sausage Links – Easy peasy. I make both of these in the oven (saves the kitchen and innocent bystanders from being covered in grease splatter).

Berry Muffins – I lived at sea-level for 30 years of my life and then I moved to high altitude. Even though I’d been warned, and had seen “for high altitude, do this” on recipes, I didn’t really think any of it made a difference because psh, what do professionals know? Then I started baking. I used my tried and true recipes and they’d be great straight out of the oven, but a few hours later it would get this weird metallic taste, become dense and no longer be appetizing. What saved these muffins was the amazing sauce – kept them moist and tasted great! I now have two high-altitude books which I use on occasion, but am still trying to make my sea-level recipes work. What, me stubborn?

Fruit Skewers – I used strawberries, cantelope, pineapple, honeydew, blueberries, and red grapes. They looked pretty but I wouldn’t bother making these again. The beauty of the rainbow assortment of fruit was overshadowed by the amount of effort that went into putting them on the skewers, and the amount of effort it took people to get the fruit off. Being civilized adults, we used our forks and knives on these, and several pieces were accidentally tossed across the table. Also, I realized after clearing off plates that some people don’t like certain fruits, so those bits were wasted. Next time, I’ll do a fruit salad.

Beverages: We are not coffee drinkers. My parents are, however, and when they came to visit the previous Thanksgiving, they did not find it suitable that we didn’t have a coffee maker. I suggested they run to the local coffee shop, but it was apparently not an option for them not to have coffee immediately upon waking. Therefore, they bought us a Keurig. They’re not necessary at all, but are really great for making everyone just what they want to drink. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cider, etc. I use it mainly for quick hot water, but our guests enjoy it.

We also provided ice water, orange juice, hot tea, mimosas, and bloody marys. Maries? Marys.

I had salt, pepper, butter, and honey out on the table as well. I did a buffet-style serve-yourself on the stove for the large, hot items, and brought the smaller things to the table.

It was colorful, tasted great, and I have little to improve upon for this year!

What’s your favorite item to add to a Spring Brunch menu?

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