In my quest to spend some quality time with both of my boys, I’ve been taking them (separately, because I’m not a crazy person) to brunch on Saturdays. Mama time for them and a mimosa for me – everybody wins! My no-fail brunch look includes this adorable ruffle top (also comes in black!), my trusty Spanx denim leggings (which always fit no matter how many crepes I eat!) and my favorite Madewell denim jacket, because the temps have been varying wildly down here…and what’s the point of brunch if you can’t sit outside? We also like to do a little walking around downtown afterwards, so I always wear wedges. These Toms watercolor wedges are my current favorite.
It’s quail season! Down in here in Statesboro, that means bird suppers: quail, grits and coleslaw or greens. I can’t take responsibility for roasting the quail, but I can handle making a side dish. This recipe for Baked Cheese Grits is so old that I can’t remember where I got it – I wrote it on an index card and stuck it in my recipe binder (how’s that for analog?) probably ten years ago. I always get compliments on this. The grits keep their creamy consistency and don’t turn into hardened grits cakes. Best part? You can make this ahead of time, which I do for Christmas morning brunch.
Baked Cheese Grits
What You Need
2 cups quick grits, uncooked
salt & pepper to taste
4 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
4 eggs beaten
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
What You Do
Spray 3-quart casserole dish liberally with cooking spray.
Prepare the 2 cups grits according to package directions. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix in 3 cups of cheddar cheese, the beaten eggs and cayenne pepper. *I do this right in the grits pot!
Pour into greased casserole dish. *Can be covered in foil and left overnight at this point. Just take out of the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it.
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with additional cup of grated cheese.
Bake 15 minutes more, until grits are bubbling hot. Remove from oven and cool for five minutes before serving.
PS – No matter how many recipes I pin on Pinterest, I always look to my recipe binder when I’m serious about cooking. Joe gave me this Williams Sonoma Entertaining Journal when we first got married, and over the years I have filled it with recipes torn from magazines, recipes printed out from Pinterest (yes, I know that defeats the purpose) and recipes handwritten from my mom on little recipe cards. I know there are a ton of apps to find new recipes and organize existing recipes…but I’m a paper person and don’t think I’ll ever give up doing it the old-fashioned way.
J: Jay and I are lucky to have one of the best brunch spots in ATL right across the street from our home… Buttermilk Kitchen! We trotted over recently for a little french toast and chilaquiles you have to see to believe:
J: I’m always looking for a solid brunch item to throw together on the weekends. When I came across this baked french toast recipe from our fave food blogger, Damn Delicious… game changer. My sweet husband, Jay, said it would be perfect for Christmas morning and I totally agree. Here’s the skinny:
3 small French baguettes, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2 cups milk
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I skipped this)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
For the maple glaze:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons maple syrup, or more, to taste
Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place bread slices evenly into the baking dish.
In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla bean paste, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour mixture evenly over the bread slices. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the bread mixture into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and maple syrup until well combined and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour mixture evenly over the bread slices.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. It’s desired.
L made this delicious Spinach and Cheese Strata for Mother’s Day brunch – it was a hit! Yall know we love anything we can make ahead…means more time to work on our tablescape. Add a fresh fruit salad (L chose Watermelon Feta Salad) and muffins, and you’ve got an easy, elegant brunch. We adapted this from an Annie’s Eats post; here’s our version (with notes).
Make-Ahead Spinach and Cheese Strata
What You Need:
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups onion, finely chopped (basically, one large yellow onion)
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (we used bagged, organic frozen spinach)
1 tsp. salt, divided
½ tsp. pepper, divided
Dash ground nutmeg (the original recipe called for freshly grated…but ground works just fine)
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (basically one large loaf)
6 oz. coarsely grated Swiss or Gruyere cheese (about 2 cups)
2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 2/3 cup)
9 large eggs
2¾ cup milk (we used Horizon Organic 1% low-fat milk)
What You Do:
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and the nutmeg, and continue to cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and set aside.
Liberally coat the inside of a 2½-3 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Layer the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread cubes. Top with one third of the spinach mixture and one third of each of the cheeses. Repeat these layers twice more with the bread, spinach and cheese. It’s important to grate your cheeses ahead of time, so that you can distribute them evenly in your layers.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Whisk together until blended. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and spinach layered in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, 45-55 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.
**This is our version of a well-loved, well-published recipe. Annie’s Eats adapted this from Smitten Kitchen. Originally appeared in Gourmet, February 2003.
Today we’re flashing back to J’s bachelorette party in New York City to bring you a restaurant review. On the recommendation of our girls at BCBGeneration, we booked a Sunday brunch reservation at Beauty + Essex, a bi-level, chandelier-lit restaurant and bar on the Lower East Side.
B+E has a retro vibe and features a pawn shop entrance (cool but also a little confusing).
After cocktails at the bar, we moved into the main restaurant for brunch. The real scene at B+E is the champagne brunch upstairs (which was just getting cranked up by the time we left)…but we were in the mood for something more chill after our flights the day before. If you’re looking for great people watching, definitely request to go upstairs!
We enjoyed brunch at a large round table (great for conversation) under a pretty skylight.
What We Drank + Ate:
Platinum Peacock [virgin] Cocktail – cucumber, granny smith apple, pineapple, mint
These Hawaiian Ham and Swiss Sliders are THE BEST SANDWICHES YOU WILL EVER EAT, swear. L made these for her fifth annual egg hunt on Saturday, and all 96 were snapped up by party-goers (kids included!). Whip some up for a Masters viewing party this weekend and add a round of Azalea Cocktails. You’re good to go.
Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sliders (makes 24 sandwiches, plan on 2-3 per person)
What You Need:
24 slices deli honey ham (L used Sara Lee Maple Ham)
6 slices swiss cheese, cut into quarters
1/3 cup mayonnaise (L used Kraft mayo)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard (L used French’s Dijon)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 packages (12 count)King’s Hawaiian Original or Honey Wheat Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls
What You Do:
Split rolls in half and spread mayo onto 1 side of the rolls. Place a slice or two of ham and a (quarter) slice of swiss cheese in roll. Replace the top of the rolls and bunch them closely together into a baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together poppy seeds, dijon mustard, melted butter, onion powder and worcestershire sauce.
Pour sauce over the rolls, just covering the tops. Cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for additional 2 minutes until tops are slightly browned and crisp. Serve warm.
These sandwiches are also great at room temperature – don’t stress about serving them right out of the oven. You can assemble the sandwiches the night before baking – just cover TIGHTLY with plastic wrap to prevent them drying out. When you’re ready, pour on the sauce and pop them in the oven!
We’ve been terrible about posting lately, but we’ve had a lot going on! To whit: we just returned from J’s whirlwind bachelorette weekend in the Big Apple. We’re hoping things will calm down soon – in the meantime, we wanted to share our pics (and some restaurant recs!) with you.
Our homebase for the weekend was Hotel Hugo in SOHO. J’s friend Mary chose this place, and it was perfect for our group. We loved the decor (modern but warm) – we were immediately obsessed with the greenery wall behind the check-in desk. One drawback: the rooms are SMALL, so you have to leap around like a fairy to avoid cracking your shinbones on the bed platforms.
After our group caught up over a quick lingerie shower for J, we headed to dinner at Revel in the Meatpacking District. The food was great (Annie ordered a pork chop that came on a lava rock – fancy!), but the place was so dark we couldn’t get any pics of it.
After dinner, we walked down to Brass Monkey on the recommendation of the hostess at Revel. It was pretty chill when we got there but got a little more intense as the night wore on. We were forced to order a random apple pie dessert to hold our table (worth it – having a table was clutch), and it was NOT BAD.
In search of an early morning coffee / Breakfast at Tiffany’s moment, L explored a few blocks and stumbled on the new Hudson Square outpost of coffee roaster/bakery La Colombe. This place was calm and quiet…a nice change from the usual Starbucks.
No NYC weekend is complete without Sunday brunch. Our girls at BCBGeneration (New Yorkers through and through) recommended Beauty & Essex to us, and it didn’t disappoint. This place deserves its own post – so stay tuned for the details!
Mo, our group’s fearless navigator (she really is good at it) found a precious place for after-brunch cocktails. Hotel Chantelle is a Parisian-style cocktail lounge with $.92 mimosas (you heard us) and disco tunes. We sat in the bar (presumably the old hotel lobby). Our only complaint? Really intense heater action. We were sweating by the time we left. We didn’t make it up to the rooftop (place was PACKED)…but we will definitely try again next time we’re in NYC. This would be a great spot for brunch!
After wandering the streets of the LES and SOHO (no noteworthy purchases), we regrouped for a sweet treat at the famed tea salon Laduree. This place ALSO deserves its own post – coming soon!
We headed to celebrity favorite Catch for dinner Sunday night. The food was unreal; we’re going to be dreaming about the lobster rolls (J) and the tartare (L) for weeks. The service left a little to be desired, and we had a strange elevator experience on the way down, and we didn’t see any celebrities…but other than that, we loved. Stay tuned for details!
We grabbed a quick brunchy-breakfast at Jack’s Wife Freda before heading to the airport. The food at this Mediterrenean-style diner was amazing…but it was packed (hey, at least we knew it would be good!), and we were a little cramped. We both highly recommend the fresh-squeezed cantaloupe juice.
Share your NYC go-tos with us on Insta @glitter_blog_xo.