A smaller celebration: The family holiday brunch

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Margie Gassman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Emily Stych PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Margie Gassman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Emily Stych PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Margie Gassman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Emily Stych PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Margie Gassman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Emily Stych PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Margie Gassman PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Emily Stych PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

The holiday brunch is a long-held tradition for many families. And while this year’s brunch might not include that big extended family gathering like it usually does, there is some warm and fuzzy feelings to be had at the table with immediate family.

So, break out the Christmas china and those special recipes that only see the light of day a few times per year, and revel in the fact that while we might have to celebrate via Zoom calls this year, at least that delicious quiche and unbelievable bacon doesn’t have to be virtual.

These recipes, from Margie Gassman, dietary manager at Shalom Retreat Center; and Emily Stych, manager and head chef at Aspire Café, are sure to be a hit with your family. Serve them with the oven baked bacon recipe (gathered along the way from my 10 years as a Bed & Breakfast innkeeper) and some fresh fruit (layer it with yogurt for a special treat), and you’ve got a conversation-worthy brunch for the holidays.

Easy Quiche

1 single crust pie crust

½ pound pork sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled

5 bacon strips, cooked and cut into small pieces

½ yellow onion, diced

½ red pepper, diced

1 cup cheddar cheese

5 large eggs

½ cup milk

Salt and pepper

Put all ingredients except eggs and milk into pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk eggs and milk together and pour over ingredients in pie shell. Bake 35-40 minutes until center is set. Cut and serve. Note: Use foil to cover the edges of the pie crust if it begins to brown too quickly.)

— Margie Gassman

Maple and Brown Sugar Oven Baked Bacon

1 pound thick-sliced bacon

Brown sugar

Maple syrup

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay individual strips on a foil-lined baking sheet. (If you have cookie racks to set inside the sheets to put the bacon on, use those, but it’s not a necessity.) Sprinkle the bacon liberally with brown sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, turning the bacon half-way through if you’re not using racks. Once out of the oven, drizzle with maple syrup and serve. Note: I guarantee once you try this, you will never want bacon any other way again.

— Michelle London

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

2/3 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon


1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

Frosting drizzle:

¼ cup butter, softened

¾ teaspoon vanilla

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon milk

In a small bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. In an electric mixer using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and add to creamed mixture, alternating with the sour cream.

Pour half of the batter into a well-greased 10-inch bundt pan. Sprinkle with half of the pecan mixture. Top with remaining batter and pecan mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate to cool.

Cream the room temperature butter with paddle attachment in mixer until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in vanilla. Pour in milk and beat until smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

— Margie Gassman

Vegan Breakfast Apple Crisp


7½ cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced (about eight apples)

2 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 lemon, juiced


¾ cups old-fashioned rolled oats

½ cup pecans, chopped

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside. In a large glass bowl, combine the apples, orange juice, maple syrup and lemon juice. Stir until every piece of fruit has been coated. Pour the fruit mixture into the baking dish and set aside.

In another glass bowl, combine the old-fashioned oats, chopped pecans, ground cinnamon and salt. Toss until combined. Pour in the maple syrup and coconut oil, stirring until every piece of oatmeal and nut has been coated (it should get pretty wet).

Sprinkle the topping over the prepared apple mixture. Top with additional cinnamon.

Bake uncovered on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Raise the temperature to 375 degrees, and back for an additional 15 minutes to crisp up the topping. Cool before serving.

— Emily Stych

Pecan Cups


¾ cups butter, softened

2 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

2 cups all-purpose flower


1 ½ cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

48 pecan halves

In an electric mixing bowl with a paddle attachment, cream butter and cream cheese. Gradually add flour, beating until mixture forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

For filling, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs and butter. Set aside.

Roll the dough into 48 balls. Press into the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups. Spoon a scant teaspoon of filling into each cup. Top each with a pecan half.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Makes 4 dozen.

— Margie Gassman

Michelle London writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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