Easter Brunch by Maggie McCleland


Spring is in the air! In Florida that means cool breezes and warm sunshine – perfect weather for brunch outside. Easter is just around the corner and listed below are some fantastic recipes to try after church, before an egg hunt, or just as a reason to get together with good friends on a Sunday afternoon (my usual reason to make fabulous food)!

When planning my menu, I wanted to include a little something for everyone – so  I decided I wanted to go with something sweet, something savory, a fun morning cocktail and a drink with the perky caffeine boost that I know I need in the mornings! Almost all recipes below are from the Life of the Party, my go-to Junior League of Tampa cookbook when planning a get-together. It has everything you need to plan a spectacular brunch. One recipe is from Savor the Seasons cookbook, another favorite Junior League of Tampa cookbook full of yummy recipes!

My party included 8-10 guests, so I doubled the good morning pastry recipe, which was so very simple! What I love about the recipes below is that so many things can be made a day in advance (French toast, good morning pastry, mochaccino punch) that the day-of preparation isn’t as daunting and still allows you time to socialize and laugh with your guests! I love pastels, and keeping with the theme, I decided to use a sparking rose for the Champagne cocktail. To complete my spring-time/Easter brunch, I just filled the table and sideboard with vases full of fresh spring flowers and cuts of greenery. I hope you enjoy this menu as much as my guests and I did – it was a lovely brunch on the patio!

The entire Junior League of Tampa Cookbook Collection can be found at: http://www.jltampa.org/cookbooks

Peach Champagne Cocktail

(Life of the Party, page 46)

1 tablespoon peach schnapps

1 teaspoon amaretto

Champagne, chilled

Pour the peach schnapps and amaretto into a Champagne flute. Top with chilled Champagne. Serve immediately

Yield: 1 serving


Mochaccino Punch

(Life of the Party, page 49)

¼ cup instant coffee granules

1 cup sugar

6 cups hot water

1 quart whole milk

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup chocolate syrup

½ gallon vanilla ice cream, softened

Combine the coffee granules, sugar and hot water in a punch bowl. Stir until the granules and sugar are dissolved; let cool. Add the milk, vanilla and chocolate syrup; mix well. Chill for 2 hours or until ready to serve. Add the ice cream immediately before serving. Ladle into punch cups to serve.

Yield: 14 to 16 generous servings



Praline Brunch Toast

(Life of the Party, Page 72)

8 eggs

1 ½ cups half-and-half

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 thick slices sourdough bread

½ cup (1 stick) butter

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup maple syrup

¾ cup chopped pecans

Beat the eggs and half-and-half in a small bowl. Whisk in 1 tablespoon brown sugar and vanilla. Pour ½ of the egg mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in te dish, trimming crusts to fit if necessary. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread. Chill, covered, for several hours or overnight.

Melt the butter in another 9×13-inch baking dish. Stir in ¾ cup brown sugar and the syrup. Sprinkle the pecans over the bottom. Place the egg-soaked bread slices carefully on top of the pecans with a spatula. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until the bread is light brown and puffed.

To serve, invert the toast onto plates and spoon pecans from the bottom of the dish over the toast.

Yield: 8 servings


Bacon Leek Quiche

(Savor the Seasons, page 86)

1 (9-inch) pie pastry

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

½ pound bacon (about 8 pieces), chopped

2 cups chopped leeks (white and some green parts)

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 eggs

1 ½ cups milk

1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded Gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fit the pie pastry in a 9-inch dish pan leaving some overhang on the side. Prick the bottom of the pastry several times with a fork. Line the pastry with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, rice, or beans.  Bake for 20 minutes or just until the edge begins to brown. Remove the pie weights and foil. Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Spread the mustard over the baked crust.

Cook the bacon in a skillet over low heat just until it begins to brown. Add the leeks, salt and pepper and cook for 8 minutes or until the leeks are tender and the bacon is crisp, stirring frequently; drain.  Combine he eggs and milk in a bowl and beat until blended. Add the leek mixture and cheese and mix well. Pour into the crust. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the center is set. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Good Morning Pastry Pocket

(Life of the Party, page 97)

½ roll hot bulk pork sausage

½ medium onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons butter

6 eggs, beaten

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Brown the sausage in a skillet, stirring until crumbly; drain. Spoon the cooked sausage into a large bowl. Add the onion to the skillet and sauté until tender. Spoon the onion into the bowl with the sausage. Melt the butter in the skillet and add the eggs. Scramble he eggs until cooked through and spoon into the bowl. Mix well and let cool. The egg mixture may be prepared 1day in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to prepare the pastry.

Roll the thawed pastry out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Add the Cheddar cheese to the egg mixture and mix well. Spoon the filling lengthwise down the center of the pastry. Fold in the sides to cover the filling and seal the ends with a middle seam. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Cut into slices to serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings



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