Celebrate the Holidays with Brunch, the Best Meal of the Week!

The holidays are a time of year when family and friends get together usually over a prepared meal.  This year holiday celebrations may look totally different but however we celebrate one thing is clear: we can still sit down to a delicious brunch, be it brunch à deux, a brunch buffet, or a group of friends hanging out on the patio via Zoom eating frittatas and drinking Bellini’s, brunch is here to stay!

In LET’S BRUNCH: 100 Recipes for the Best Meal of the Week, Chef Belinda Smith-Sullivan brings all these flavors and feelings together and lends a little Southern hospitality to your holiday brunch menu with delicious, flavor-packed recipes for breakfast and brunch, including front porch-worthy libations.

“Brunch is a meal designed for leisure and good times spent with family and friends,” Chef Belinda says.  “In my opinion, brunch is the most creative meal because there are no rules— menus can range from a full array of breakfast items to steak and potatoes and everything in between.”

In LET’S BRUNCH Chef Belinda offers up some of her tastiest dishes yet. With 100 enjoyable recipes, LET’S BRUNCH provides full menu ideas, focusing on starters, soups, and salads; egg dishes; casseroles; meats; pastas; grits; sandwiches; breads; jams and syrups; desserts; and brunch cocktails. Some of the book’s recipes include:

–    Ramp Buttermilk Biscuits
–    Panettone Grand Marnier French Toast
–    Croque Madame
–    Smoked Salmon Blinis
–    Spinach and Goat Cheese Eggs Florentine with Hollandaise Sauce
–    Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Scallops
–    Southern-Style Succotash
–    Blackened Catfish on Herb Grits with Pineapple Relish
–    Red Velvet and Pecan Waffles with Fried Chicken
–    Black Walnut-Cardamom Pound Cake
–    Rum-Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie
–    Mint Julep
–    Chef Belinda’s Creole Mary

This year, as you plan your holiday stories, make room for brunch.  LET’S BRUNCH is the perfect cookbook to lift the spirit and delight the tastebuds. Brunch just might become the new dinner party!

BELINDA SMITH-SULLIVAN is a chef, author of Just Peachy, food writer, spice blends entrepreneur, and a commercially rated pilot. She has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and writes a monthly column for South Carolina Living. She also is featured on South Carolina Living’s website with monthly how-to videos. Smith-Sullivan is an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance, International Association of Culinary Professionals, American Culinary Federation, and Les Dames d’Escoffier. She lives in Trenton, South Carolina.

Nothing says Brunch like a breezy cocktail to accompany your meal.

Grapefruit, Champagne, and Vodka Spritz

A spritz is a cocktail made with Champagne or Prosecco, a bitter liqueur, and soda water. Aperol is an Italian bitter aperitif, though sweeter and fruitier than its elder sibling Campari. Aperol gets its name from the Italian slang word apero, which means aperitif. 

1 ounce Aperol
4 ounces Champagne
1 1 ⁄ 2 ounces grapefruit juice
1⁄2 ounce vodka
Club soda
1⁄2 grapefruit wheel, for garnish

Into a tall wine glass pour Aperol, Champagne, grapefruit juice, and vodka. Add ice and a splash of club soda. Stir gently, garnish with grapefruit   wheel.


Breakfast Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese is an “anytime of the day” meal or treat. But served for breakfast or brunch, on the same plate next to eggs, biscuits, and gravy, elevates this most beloved ‘side’ to center plate.

1 pound cavatappi or elbow pasta
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 cups whole milk
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1⁄2 onion, studded with 1 whole clove
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 pound thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and small diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Kosher salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups grated aged Gouda cheese
1 tablespoon chopped basil, divided
1⁄2 cup Parmesan cheese
1⁄4 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente, 5–7 minutes. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons butter. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, add milk, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, onion with clove, and mustard. Warm over medium-low heat until milk starts to steam, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside, and let the flavors infuse.

To a medium skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Sauté jalapeño and bell pepper until soft. Remove and transfer to another paper towel-lined plate.
Strain the milk, discarding the solids. To a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium heat, add remaining butter and flour. Whisk for 3–4 minutes. Do not let brown.

Whisk the milk into the roux to avoid lumps. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cheddar and Gouda and stir until melted then add the cooked pasta, peppers, half of the bacon, and half of the basil, stirring to thoroughly combine. You can bake this in the skillet, or transfer mixture to a casserole dish.

In a small bowl, combine Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and remaining basil and sprinkle over the top along with remaining bacon. Bake for 25–30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.