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Brunch, Entertaining Recession Style

Categories: Cooking, Entertaining, Food, Uncategorized


I have noticed a new trend– families doing Sunday brunch together instead of dinner parties or going out for cocktails.  It is more casual, low-cost, and definitely kid friendly.

We had another family over for brunch and one of my children said, “This is so awesome.  It is like when we stay at the Holiday Inn Express!”  I assume that was meant as the highest of compliments.  It made me think about why brunch is such a fun meal to host, the food choices are endless and varied. 

Personally, when my guests are over I don’t like to be cooking.  I like to enjoy the company and have as much done before  hand as possible.

You need to have eggs.  What would brunch be without eggs?  I think it is like a law or something that brunch must contain eggs. If you have a chafing dish you could scramble eggs and put them in there to stay warm.  Or you can go easy on yourself and whip up some quiche in advance. 

I put out single serving containers of yogurt in a large bowl of ice.  However, next time I think I will do yogurt parfait instead.  Put out a large container of vanilla yogurt, parfait glasses, and an assortment of yogurt toppings– fruits and granola.  Remember, everybody loves parfait.

If you have a large adult/big kid to little kid ratio you can make some waffle batter and let people make their own waffles.  Again, just like at the Holiday Inn Express.  The bar has been set so very high by my children.  If there are going to be only a few adults and mostly younger children, you might just want to skip this.  Unless you enjoy being tethered to the waffle maker.

Oatmeal can be set up to cook in your crockpot.  Put out some oatmeal toppings– dried fruit, mini chocolate chips, mini butterscotch chips, cream.  It makes oatmeal more fun.

This past weekend I made Baked Apple French Toast.

You will need:


1 (16oz) loaf French bread
8 eggs
3 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1T vanilla extract
5 (or so) granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2T butter


Ooooh, look it my attempt at an artsy photo!


Cut the french bread in 1 1/2 inch slices.


Arrange the bread slices in a single layer in a greased 9×11 baking dish. You may have to fiddle with this to get them all in.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla. Pour half of the mixture over the bread. I flip the bread slices around so that they are evenly coated with the egg mixture.

Next arrange the apple slices over the bread.


Pour the remaining egg mixture over the apples.
Mix together the 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the apples.


Dot the top with butter.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Do not be afraid if you look inside your oven and see this:


It will puff way, way up. Some of our apples even fell off! A fact I remembered the next day when I was preheating the oven for dinner and smelled something burning. Once you remove it from the oven the french toast will settle back down.


Great thing about this recipe is that it can be assembled the day before. Just cover it and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it. You will need to increase your cooking time by 15 minutes.

The verdict from my kids? This is way better than the Holiday Inn Express. Wow hefty praise, indeed.




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21 comments so far...

  • Oh my word, Chris. That looks AMAZING.

    Angella  |  January 22nd, 2010 at 7:36 pm

  • That looks terrific!

    Janssen  |  January 22nd, 2010 at 10:12 pm

  • That french toast looks so yummy! But I have to know, where did you get those beautiful bowls that the eggs and apples were in?

    Chris says: Believe it or not I bought them at WalMart about 10 years ago!

    Sagey  |  January 23rd, 2010 at 1:04 am

  • I’m afraid my husband and I may be able to eat the contents of that entire 13×9 pan ourselves.

    Brigitte  |  January 23rd, 2010 at 11:00 am

  • That looks delicious!!! I am going to add that to my Mother’s Day 2010 menu for sure!

    LizP  |  January 24th, 2010 at 8:37 pm

  • I cannot wait to make this! I heart breakfast, especially frenchtoast. Thanks for the recipe.

    Tasha  |  January 26th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

  • Don’t forget the Bloody Mary Bar! YUM.

    Melissa Summers  |  January 26th, 2010 at 7:35 pm

  • Question on prepping the day before: Would you pour the egg mixture in the day before or just right before you pop in the oven? I’d love to do everything in advance, but I’m concerned about the bread swelling overnight in the fridge.

    Chris says: Pour the egg mixture on the night before. You want the bread to soak it all up!

    Stephanie  |  January 27th, 2010 at 12:40 am

  • That looks yummy indeed! We make a frittata for dinner often (especially in the summer with fresh veggies), but it works for brunch with company or even for dinner (for those pesky vegetarian guests).

    Heather's Garden  |  January 27th, 2010 at 1:03 am

  • This looks very yummy! We need to get together with another couple (we have kids, they don’t) soon, and I was thinking dinner, but I think brunch might be more fun. Thanks for the idea!

    Navhelowife  |  January 27th, 2010 at 6:55 am

  • “Remember, everybody loves parfait.” LOL!

    The french toast recipe looks wonderful. Definitely have to give it a go. Do you eat as is or do you top with maple syrup?

    t in hd  |  January 27th, 2010 at 1:37 pm

  • I make something like this only it has peaches. I am excited to try it with apples. Yummy!

    Laura  |  January 27th, 2010 at 6:51 pm

  • I make a stuffed french toast - I use the same egg base but put a mixture of cream cheese, honey, apple chunks, and cinnamon in between slices of the bread. In the summer instead of apples I use berries. It’s so yummy!

    Mary Watkins  |  January 28th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

  • I made this with cinnamon bread instead of plain French bread, and reduced the sugar. It came out looking and tasting fabulous. Thanks!

    CDM  |  February 1st, 2010 at 4:54 pm

  • I am so ridiculously excited about this dish, it’s embarrassing. I just posted a bacon recipe on my site and with your Baked Apple French Toast, some Peet’s coffee and mimosas, it’s going to be breathtaking (and simple). Thanks.

    Daily Cup of Jo  |  February 3rd, 2010 at 1:41 am

  • This is very similar to a recipe my family makes for “night before french toast” … its best with very thick slices of day old “crusty bread” (3 cups milk, 10 eggs) … it is always left to soak in the fridge over night, and the first person up puts it in the oven.

    Have you tried serving yours with plain yogurt (and fruit and syrup) … it lets you enjoy right from the oven without burning up your mouth.

    I’m hosting brunch for far too many family members in about two weeks … I think that apples will be added to the french toast for sure.

    Sarah  |  February 10th, 2010 at 12:46 am

  • Chris, thanks so much for this recipe. I doubled it and served it at my sister’s wedding shower brunch. Everyone loved it! I came home with an extra dish, and served it for dinner. My toddlers gobbled it up, and the next day I ate the leftovers cold… while standing up. It was that good. I’ll be making it again!!

    Selena  |  March 14th, 2010 at 3:49 pm

  • I made two of them this morning … one for the women’s brunch I’m going to and one for the family. The kids loved it! And it was really easy. The only problem I had is that our Safeway makes very big french bread and at first glance I was only going to be able to fit 6 slices, but I cut them in half and was able to wedge a few more pieces in.

    LizP  |  March 27th, 2010 at 3:53 pm

  • Chris, I didn’t make this exact recipe, but after reading your post on the baked french toast, I made a version for my new boyfriend while we were dating–our wedding will be in December! And I really think the amazing baked french toast has a lot to do with it…hehehe….still make it at least once a week.

    Elena  |  July 15th, 2010 at 9:16 pm

  • I shared your beautiful French toast recipe on PBS Parents’ Kitchen Explorers today–thank you!

    Aviva Goldfarb  |  December 21st, 2010 at 2:42 pm

  • This is an outstanding dish! My new fav to make. I have found using both gala and green apples gives an excellent tart and sweet flavor. My family also loves the apples so I actually us 4 of each lining the side of the pan and in between the bread slices. I think because I put so many apples on top it weighs down so I cook it at least 40 minutes. Thanks again for sharing!

    Gina F  |  January 17th, 2013 at 12:15 pm