Entertaining with Ralph Vincent  

Ideas for relaxed gatherings your guests will love...and you will too!

 Start Your Holiday with a Special Breakfast or Brunch! 


Written by Ralph Vincent

0ur 2020 holiday gatherings will likely be smaller than in previous years due to the pandemic and related safety measures.  For many families holiday celebrations will be limited mainly to household members.  The number of invited guests will be reduced as well due to social distancing. Nevertheless, a smaller gathering can still make the day special!

A great way to start off a winter holiday is with a special breakfast or brunch.  I have assembled an easy to prepare menu that will work well for a smaller sized gathering. Even better, most of the preparation can be done in advance, allowing you more time to enjoy your holiday morning.

The menu features two casseroles, one sweet and one savory. Both casseroles can be assembled the evening before and popped in the oven the next morning.  My Apple and Cinnamon French Toast Casserole is filled with seasonal flavors, and the Broccoli and Roasted Red Pepper Strata is a colorful and satisfying dish. My Melon and Mint salad will provide a refreshing contrast to other menu flavors. Pomegranate Mimosas will add some additional cheer to your gathering!

Apple and Cinnamon
French Toast Casserole

1 cup of light brown sugar
3 to 4 medium size tart apples
½ cup of melted butter
¾ cup golden raisins
I loaf of French bread in 1 inch thick slices
1 cup of milk
½ cup of half and half
6 large eggs
4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons of vanilla

• The evening before your gathering, peel, core and thinly slice the apples, set aside.

• Prepare the apple mixture by combining the brown sugar, melted butter and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a 9 inch by 13 inch baking dish.

• Stir in the apples and raisins, and smooth the mixture out over the bottom of the baking dish.

•Place the bread slices over the apple mixture.

• Whisk the eggs, milk, half and half and vanilla until smooth and pour slowly and evenly over the bread slices.

• Cover with foil and refrigerate until the next morning. When you’re ready to bake, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

• Bake covered with foil for 40 to 45 minutes until the center is set.

• Remove the foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes until the bread slices are lightly browned.

• Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Cheddar, Broccoli and Roasted Red Pepper Strata

6 large eggs
1 cup of milk
½ cup of half and half
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground
black pepper
1 clove of garlic minced
1 loaf of French bread cut into
1 inch cube shaped pieces
2 cups of shredded sharp
cheddar cheese
1 and ½ half cups of chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup of jarred roasted red peppers chopped and drained
1 tablespoon of butter for the baking dish

• The evening before your gathering, butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch by 13 inch baking dish. 
• In a large mixing bowl combine the broccoli, roasted red peppers, 1 cup of cheddar cheese and the bread. 
• In a separate mixing bowl whisk the eggs, milk, half and half, garlic, salt, and pepper until well combined. 
• Pour the egg mixture into the bowl with the vegetables, bread and cheese and stir gently to combine. 
• Pour the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheddar cheese. 
• Cover with foil and place in the refrigerator overnight. When you are ready to bake remove the strata from the refrigerator and remove the foil. 
• Let the strata stand at room temperature while you preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until set. 
• Remove from the oven and cool for fifteen minutes before serving.



Mint and Melon Salad
2 cups of honeydew melon cut into bite size pieces

2 cups of cantaloupe cut into bite size pieces
2 cups of sliced strawberries
1/3 cup of chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons of lime juice

• The day before, cut up the melon and strawberries, and refrigerate each in separate covered containers.

• Just before serving, place the fruit and lime juice into a serving bowl and stir to combine. 

• Chop the mint, add to the bowl and stir once more.

Pomegranate Infused Mimosas

Ingredients per cocktail
1 ounce of pomegranate liqueur. I like Pama Pomegranate Liqueur.

3 ounces of orange juice
Chilled Prosecco


• For each Mimosa combine the pomegranate liqueur and orange juice in a champagne flute and top with enough prosecco to fill the glass.
• You can also measure into a pitcher enough pomegranate liqueur and orange juice for the number of drinks you need and chill.
• When it is time to make the Mimosas divide the mixture evenly among each flute and add the prosecco. Cheers!

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