What is it about making brunch at home that feels extravagant and comfy all at the same time? We’re all over planning changeable, healthy dinner meals complete with menus, shopping lists, and Sunday prep, but morning fare is relegated to nearly the same dish over and over again. Folks literally eat oatmeal for breakfast every single day. Or peanut butter toast. Yogurt and granola. Whatever. But take us to a swank brunch buffet at a fancy hotel and we’re putting soft poached eggs on smoked salmon dill biscuits and snarfing down raspberries in Grand Marnier with dark chocolate waffles as if there were no tomorrow. And then there’s the bottomless mimosa, isn’t there? When we finally decide to put on an at-home morning spread–for Mother’s Day, say?– that takes more thoughtful preparation than slamming down bread in the toaster and manage some actual day-before cooking or baking, it’s amazing how pampered-rich, how homey and cosseted we feel. Kinda like, “Well, isn’t this nice?!” And it is.Jump to Recipe
It needn’t be individually prepared lobster omelets or 4-inch tall airy cinnamon rolls with frosting, but could just include an overnight egg casserole or strata, a big bowl of berries decorated with fresh mint, a sweet (in the very good sense) coffeecake, and don’t forget the d$$ned good coffee with real cream. And maybe you do remember to get sparkler and oj for those mimosas — why not? The guts of the thing seems to be in how special it feels to come together over food served in a place filled with bright early light with the smell of freshly brewed coffee permeating the air. What it’s like to have flowers on the table at 10am and begin the day together with hours and hours before dark. It’s how you feel with dishes done by early afternoon with still time for a walk, a good book, or ballgame on tv and a nap in the long afternoon. It’s turning life upside down a little because instead of working (like most mornings), you’re enjoying life with people you love. It may be about approaching the day as if there were all the time in the world. You’re not in a hurry. That this doesn’t break the bank like the hotel brunch gives you a light heart, too. And we all need a light heart. …
By this time, I hope you’re seriously considering brunch at home for Mother’s or even Father’s Day. Wondering where the tablecloth or mats might be. Cleaning a candlestick. Dreaming about breakfast tacos or a veggie frittata. A big pan full of scrambled eggs would be wonderful and quick. What about fried potatoes or sangria? Crustless quiche with shrimp and green chiles? (See photo above. Can be made with cooked salmon, too.) A bowl of cuties for a centerpiece –or even a pot of flowers mom can plant outside later on. An easy coffeecake is the perfect homemade make-ahead sweet for such a meal. My Apple-Pecan Coffeecake is simple enough for kids to make (with a bit of help chopping if they aren’t knife-savvy yet, though I’m fond of the food processor for this chore) and even adults will like making it because it’s just that good without much effort. That there are 12 servings makes everyone happy as this cake is better leftover than fresh. There’s no butter to cream as the cake is made with oil. Electric mixer? Fine. Wooden spoon or whisk? Just as good. The ingredients are basics you probably have on hand anyway. Flour, sugar, eggs, milk, nuts, spices, and two cups of finely chopped apples (any will do and you needn’t peel them.) There’s some streusel that is tucked into the center of the cake along with the apples so that when you bite into it, the goodies are not all on top but also all the way through. Coffee cake. It’s not just for coffee any more.
It’s nearly embarrassing to include photos of something so fast and easy, but here they are just in case they help:
No mom around? Make brunch anyway for a friend or two and call it good when you try this:
KIDS BAKE MOTHER’S DAY: Apple-Pecan Coffeecake
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ¾ cup finely chopped pecans
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon EACH: ground cardamom and ground cloves
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup canola or other flavorless oil
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups white unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups finely chopped unpeeled apples-about 3 medium. I do this in the food processor.
- PREPARATION: Grease a 9×13 baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack at center.
- MAKE THE STREUSEL: In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves. Set aside.
- MIX THE WET INGREDIENTS: In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, oil, milk, and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- MIX THE DRY INGREDIENTS/ADD THEM TO THE WET INGREDIENTS: In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just well combined.
- ADD HALF OF THE CAKE BATTER TO THE PREPARED PAN/ADD APPLES/ADD ½ OF THE STREUSEL. Smooth with an offset or rubber spatula until even. Sprinkle the chopped apples evenly over the batter. Sprinkle HALF the reserved streusel mixture evenly on top of the apples.
- ADD THE OTHER HALF OF THE CAKE BATTER on top of the apples by dolloping and spreading it with a spoon or an offset spatula. Sprinkle with the other half of the streusel topping. A little messy is fine.
- BAKE for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick placed in center comes out clean or nearly clean. Remove to a rack. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve right from the pan warm or at room temperature. Wrap tightly and store on the counter for 3-4 days. Freeze for longer storage.
Change it up: Swap in pears for apples. Skip apples and use only nuts. Add a handful of raisins. Leave out nuts or replace the pecans with walnuts or hazelnuts. Make with only cinnamon (2 teaspoons) as mentioned in recipe.
Saving Food $$: You’re already saving money by cooking and baking at home. Skipping Mother’s Day Brunch in a restaurant saves lots of money, is healthier, and increases your cooking/baking skills. Buying apples or other fruit in a bag is often less expensive than choosing them one by one. Purchase nuts when they’re on sale at holiday time and keep them in the freezer for longer storage.
One of the best methods for saving food $$ is to store food and leftovers well — and remember to use them! Date them and put first-to-eat items up front in the fridge or freezer. I use lots of deli containers labeled with blue painter’s tape and a thick black sharpie just like in restaurants. Put a few bucks into easy-to-use and store containers and make yourself and your budget happier. Get rid of the containers that drive you crazy when you open the cupboard. Read up here. Plastic deli containers come in several sizes and often use the same size lids for easy storage. They are dishwasher and microwave safe. Interested in why we waste so much food and what we can do about it? Read up here. Sneak peak: There’s an app for that!
In heaven, there is no Tupperware. ~Alyce Morgan
Making a strata or quiche? Eggs are a wonderful protein value, but have gone up in price recently due to avian flu and supply issues. Try Costco or Sam’s for smaller price tags, though you will need to buy at least 2 dozen eggs at a time. Luckily eggs keep quite a while–4-5 weeks according to still tasty dot com. Cheese costs are simply both a necessary evil and a good investment in my world, but try Trader Joe’s or Costco for best buys. Don’t buy cheap cheese; it’s artificially colored and sometimes even artificially- flavored–not good for you. Keep an eye out for store brand grocery store cheese buys such as Kroger’s Private Selection Vermont Extra-Sharp Cheddar, which comes in a 2-pound loaf for $14.99. Not too long ago, it was often on sale for under $10. And therein lies the rub, friends.
What else to serve? I’d make an egg strata or casserole, frittata, quiche, or a simple pan of scrambled eggs with bacon or sausage for a main dish–something full of protein; a bowl of fresh fruit or berries with fresh mint as a side; and a pitcher of mimosas, sangria, or Bloody Marys to keep mom happy. A big pot of hot coffee or tea is a necessity and should come first.
Reasonably-priced American sparkling wine (can’t call it Champagne as it’s not made in France) worth buying: Gruet, made in NM. Ask for it at your local wine shop.
Need more brunch ideas? Read up here: Our Best Mother’s Day Brunch Ideas/FOOD&WINE
Need Cinco de Mayo? Lots on the blog, but I adore my Easy Chicken Enchiladas with Instant Pot Bacon Pintos, Abuelita’s Rice, and Avocado Salad.
LIFE GOES ON:
IN MEMORIAM: Our dear friends Sue and Audie’s goldendoodle Newman (yes, named for Paul Newman) crossed the Rainbow Bridge today. Husband Dave and I are so very sad, but our friends are heartbroken. Here’s Newman as a young pup in 2011–the happy first day Sue brought him home. Well done, good and faithful servant. You made such a difference in so many lives. We won’t forget you.
Thanks for spending time today with me in my kitchen. I appreciate you and the moments we share.
Happy spring, friends,