Beat winter blues with brunch get togethers featuring recipes from southern inns

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By Ann Cipperly

If one of your New Year resolutions is to offer more hospitality to family and friends in the coming year, consider serving brunch for winter get togethers. Brunch is one of the most economical and easiest ways to offer hospitality. You can have all of the dishes prepared ahead and invite friends over for brunch after church.
Over the years, I have collected a wide range of brunch recipes. I have found some special dishes served at bed and breakfast inns. Generally, the innkeepers are willing to share. If the innkeepers have a cook or chef preparing breakfast or brunch, I find they are also kind to provide recipes. A time or two I have found a handwritten recipe slipped under our door.
On a trip last fall to Stockbridge Lakes Bed and Breakfast Inn we enjoyed a hearty breakfast prepared by Chef Connie Baptiste. For a first course, she served fresh fruit followed by Gouda Grits, Shirred Eggs and Honey Glazed Bacon.
A blueberry muffin was crumbled into a small bowl and topped with whipped cream to complete the meal.
Chef Connie shared her story of learning to cook from her grandmother. While she was in the military, Connie cooked for fellow soldiers who loved her cooking. It sparked an interest in becoming a chef. Later, Connie graduated from culinary school at the Atlanta Technical College.
She cooks every morning for the inn and serves her wonderful recipes. Located in Stockbridge, Ga., the inn serves cheese and their special Raspberry Passion Fruit Mint Tea in the afternoon.

Many in our area enjoy going to Highlands, N.C., in the summer, where the mountaintop town is cooler, or in the fall to view leaves. The Inn at Half-Mile Farm, part of the Old Edwards Inn Hospitality Group, is a great place to stay. The inn has been renovated with rooms decorated in antiques and high-end fabrics.

A gourmet breakfast/brunch is served in the dining room each morning, including delectable dishes such as breakfast pot pie prepared with scrambled eggs and sausage in cream cheese topped with puff pastry. In the afternoons, appetizers are served with wine for relaxing in the parlor or on the spacious porch overlooking the lake.

At the historic Ashton’s Inn in New Orleans, innkeeper Patrick Ashton is up early preparing a delectable breakfast/brunch for guests, including his specialty Banana Foster Waffles or Italian Sausage and Egg Casserole embellished with sun-dried tomatoes. It is served with toast and fresh fruit.

I have fond memories of being at Ashton’s Inn as Nancy Parker Boyd came over to see us. I will never forget seeing Nancy’s sweet smiling face as she was running up the steps of the inn. We had a wonderful visit and took photos.

The innkeeper was excited to see Nancy as well, saying she never missed her television show.

Nancy was such an important part of New Orleans that I don’t think I can go back. It would not be the same.

We are still making trips to Houston and often stay in Baton Rouge, La. Once we opted to stay at the Stockade Bed and Breakfast. The owner had been a caterer before becoming an innkeeper. The Upside Down Banana Coffee Cake was yummy.

Look over the following recipes from southern inns and assemble a menu. In order to spend more time with guests and keep the kitchen free of clutter, prepare brunch dishes ahead and store in the refrigerator or freeze. This keeps the mornings stress-free when most of the dishes are prepared.

With many of these recipes prepared in advance, it saves time in the morning, making hospitality easier to offer. Treat your family and friends to a brunch on a Saturday morning before heading to activities or for a relaxing leisurely brunch after church on Sundays.

Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Breakfast Enchiladas
Inn at Half Mile Farm
Highlands, N.C.
Cheese Sauce
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 can Rotel, drained
½ tsp. Kosher salt
Melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue cooking and whisking until the sauce thickens.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until the cheese has melted. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap, placing the wrap directly on the surface and reserve.
Enchiladas
1 lb. hot ground pork sausage
2 Tbsp. butter
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, finely chopped
14 eggs, beaten
¾ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
8 eight inch flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring until it is crumbly and fully cooked. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain well. Melt the butter in the skillet and add the green onions and cilantro and sauté for one minute. Add the eggs, salt and pepper arid cook without stirring for a few minutes. Using a spatula, stir the eggs until they are very soft scrambled. Remove from the heat and stir in the sausage and 1½ cups of the cheese sauce. Spoon about ½ cup of the egg mixture down the side of each tortilla and roll up. Place them, seam side down in the baking dish and pour the rest of the cheese sauce evenly over the tortillas. Sprinkle the top with the Monterey Jack cheese and bake for 30 minutes.
Toppings
¼ cup very thinly sliced jalapeno peppers
½ cup halved cherry tomatoes
¼ cup chopped parsley
¼ cup finely sliced green onions – white and green parts
1 cup sour cream
Prepare the toppings and place in individual bowls and allow the guests to top their own enchiladas.

Smoked Gouda Grits
Chef Connie Baptiste
Stockbridge Lakes Bed and Breakfast
1/2 lb. Delia’s Chicken Sausage or your favorite chicken or pork sausage
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
½ cup of onion, red, yellow and green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/2 cup shredded Smoked Gouda cheese
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add salt to taste and a tsp. of butter (more if you like). Once your water is boiling, gradually stir in grits, (remember to stir/whisk for the first couple minutes to get all the lumps out).
Add the shredded smoked Gouda cheese. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened.
While grits are cooking, in a medium frying pan over high heat add the 3 Tbsp. oil and sausage to brown. Once the sausage is browned remove from pan and place on a paper towel to drain.
Pour off half of the oil and sausage drippings. In same pan add onion and peppers; sauté 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. While the peppers are cooking crumble the sausage and add half the sausage back to the peppers and onion mixture.
Stir in the pepper, onion and sausage into the grits. Let the grits simmer for 5 minutes. Serve grits topped with the remaining sausages.

Spinach Quiche Bites
Inn at Half Mile Farm
Highlands, N.C.
10 eggs
½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
¼ cup butter, melted
2 (4 oz.) cans green chilies, drained, seeded and chopped
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 3 quart rectangular baking dish.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Make sure the spinach is very dry with all moisture removed. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. Stir in the spinach, melted butter, green chilies, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese.
Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until the center is set. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Cut into bite size squares and serve.

Shirred Eggs
Chef Connie Baptiste
Stockbridge Lakes Bed and Breakfast Inn
This is close to a soufflé, so it will rise during cooking, but will slowly deflate as it cools. These eggs go perfectly with our Smoked Gouda Grits.
6 eggs
1 tsp. salt and pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
This is a no fuss alternative to scrambled eggs. You’ll need four 4oz. individual dishes to bake the eggs in. Butter the inside of the baking dish. Set oven on 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, crack the eggs, add salt, pepper and garlic. Slowly whip in the heavy cream into the eggs, whisk for 3 more minutes. Pour the mixture into the dishes. Place on the bottom rack and bake for 20 minutes. If you want softer eggs remove at 15 minutes. This recipe is very versatile; you can add sautéed vegetables and cheese to the mixture.

Bananas Foster Waffles
Ashton’s Bed and Breakfast Inn
New Orleans, La.
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup banana liqueur
2 bananas, quartered
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup rum
Belgian waffles
Heat and stir butter, sugar and liqueur in a pan until melted. Add banana quarters and sprinkle cinnamon over top; cook until bananas are softened.
Turn off heat: carefully add rum. Ignite rum to flame (optional).
Serve over hot Belgian waffles.

Italian Sausage and Egg Casserole
Ashton’s Bed and Breakfast Inn
New Orleans, La.
1 lb. Italian sweet sausage, casing removed
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped bell peppers
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (reserve oil)
5 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups grated mozzarella or Swiss cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Sauté sausage over medium heat until brown and cooked through, breaking up with the back of a fork into small pieces, about 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes and reserved oil, onions, peppers, celery, parsley and garlic. Sauté another 3-5 minutes.
Remove sausage mixture from heat; drain off oil. Spread sausage mixture in bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over sausage; then sprinkle mozzarella or Swiss cheese over top (can be made to this point one day ahead, cover and refrigerate).
Whisk eggs, half and half, cream and salt in large bowl; blend well. Pour mixture over sausage mixture in dish.
Bake until top of casserole is golden brown and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 9.

Apricot French Toast
Inn at Half Mile Farm
Highlands, N.C.
Filling
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup chopped almonds
In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and vanilla and whip until fluffy. Stir in the nuts.
French Toast
1 loaf unsliced French bread
5 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat a griddle to medium. Cut the bread into thick slices, ½ inch thick or more, then slice again halfway through to make a pocket in each slice. Fill the pocket with a rounded tablespoon of the cheese filling. Beat the eggs, cream, vanilla and nutmeg in a bowl and pour into pie plate. Dip each bread slice into the egg mixture and lay on a lightly greased griddle. Cook until golden brown on each side. Serve with maple syrup or apricot sauce.
Apricot Sauce
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 (16 oz.) jar apricot preserves and chopped
1 (16 oz.) can apricots, drained
Add all ingredients to a saucepan. Stir and heat until bubbling. Drizzle over the cooked toast. Makes 10 to 12 pieces of French Toast.

Banana Upside-Down Coffee Cake
The Stockade Bed and Breakfast Inn
Baton Rouge, La.
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter, softened and divided
2 ripe bananas, chopped
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
3/4 granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose baking mix (Bisquick)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350. Bake pecans in a single layer 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring once.
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a lightly greased 10-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat. Remove from heat; pour maple syrup in. Do not stir.
Cut bananas diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices; arrange in concentric circles over maple syrup. Sprinkle pecans over bananas.
Beat granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add milk and next 2 ingredients; beat just until blended. Beat in baking mix and cinnamon until blended. (Batter will be slightly lumpy.) Pour batter over mixture in skillet. Place skillet on a foil-lined jelly-roll pan.
Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in skillet on a wire rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen. Invert onto a serving plate, spooning any topping in skillet over cake.
Serve with maple syrup.

Apple Cheese Sausage Balls
From Flint Street Inn in Asheville, N.C.
2 lb. bulk sausage
8 oz. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 egg
1 pkg. unseasoned breadcrumbs (or make your own using 4 slices of toasted bread)
4 small apples, cored and cut into bite sized pieces
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Using an ice cream scoop as a measure, form into 2-inch balls. Place on greased baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees until done, about 30 to 45 minutes. Makes about 24 balls.
Note: This recipe can be prepared ahead and frozen, baked or unbaked. Place the baked sausage balls on a pan and partially freeze. Place in a freezer bag & use as needed. To heat, wrap in foil and heat slowly in the oven (about 30 minutes on 250).

Raspberry Passion Fruit Mint Tea
Chef Connie Baptiste
Stockbridge Lakes Bed and Breakfast Inn
When life doesn’t give you time to make traditional sweet tea here’s a quick and easy recipe, but don’t tell your friends you didn’t brew it.
½ gallon of your favorite Raspberry Sweet Tea
½ gallon Welch’s Passion Fruit Juice
Handful of fresh mint leaves
In your favorite container muddle the mint leaves; add equal parts of the Raspberry Tea and the Passion Fruit Juice.
Serve over ice and garnish with mint leaves and lemon wedges.

Farmhouse Biscuits
Inn at Serenbe
Palmetto, Ga.
2 cups Lily White Self-rising Flour
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks melted butter
¼ cup chopped chives, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter. In a bowl, combine flour, sour cream, chives and melted butter. Stir gently until combined.
Put ¼ cup mixture into greased muffin tins. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Makes approximately 12 biscuits.

Easy Baked Eggs with Salsa
From the former 4 ½ Street Inn
Highlands, N.C.
1½ cups salsa
8 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Coat 2 quart casserole dish with nonstick spray. Pour salsa into dish. Break eggs into large bowl; beat until yolks are blended. Add milk, flour and salt; beat until fluffy. Add cheese and blend. Pour over salsa.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden and firm. Change the recipe by using different salsas and types of cheese.

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