(Family Features) - Whether it's for out-of-town holiday guests or a get together with friends, cooking for a crowd can seem like a daunting idea. A simple holiday brunch with menu items that you make ahead can minimize the hustle and bustle of the season while maximizing the time you get to spend with loved ones.
First, plan a menu that offers a mix of hot and cold dishes. Start with a one-dish main course that's served hot, such as a breakfast strata. This Bacon Strata recipe, featuring high quality, flavorful Hormel Black Label bacon, is assembled the night before and cooked right before serving. This way, you're spending less time preparing when your guests are about to arrive.
Then pick a one or two items from each of these categories to round out the menu.
Sweet Breads: Make a quick bread or some muffins up to a week before the event, and then freeze them. Take them out of the freezer the night before to thaw, then serve warm the next morning. Cinnamon rolls can be made the night before and frosted in the morning. Or just visit your grocer's bakery section the day before the brunch and pick up your favorites. If you get bagels, don't forget a variety of spreads for guests.
Fresh Sides: Keep it simple. A plate of different cheeses and some fresh fruit is an easy and elegant addition to a buffet. If you want to make a fruit salad, consider tossing the fruit with a splash of vanilla extract or some crushed mint for an added flavor dimension.
Meats: Deli meats, fully cooked ham and turkey are great slice and serve additions you can prepare ahead of time. Hormel microwave ready bacon cooks in the microwave in just three minutes on an innovative pad which soaks up grease. It's a quick and easy way to make your bacon-loving guests happy and makes clean up a snap for you.
Beverages: Offer a mix of beverages. Orange juice, pineapple juice or tomato juice for cold options, and coffee, tea or mulled cider for hot ones.
Dress up your buffet table with a few candles, pretty holiday linens and some greenery for a festive atmosphere.
An easy, elegant holiday brunch like this is a great way to enjoy good food and good company without adding to your holiday stress.