Weekend Brunch Party

Easy entertaining ideas from food bloggers and mixologists around the state.

(Photography by Tyler Darden)

Winter and brunch go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows. And there’s nothing like good food and drinks to bring family and friends together on a chilly morning. We found food bloggers across the state—from the Eastern Shore to NOVA and all points in between—offering creative recipes perfect for a winter weekend brunch. So we rustled up spectacular brunch-worthy cocktails and put together an easy weekend entertaining game plan.

Which weekend day is ideal for serving brunch? Brittany Mullins unequivocally prefers Saturdays, and her popular blog, Eating Bird Food, offers a wealth of menu ideas. “There’s no wrong day to host brunch, but Saturdays tend to be more open and allow for a leisurely brunch,” she says and points out that most people like to spend Sunday preparing for the week ahead. A mom, holistic nutritionist, and recipe developer, Mullins shares healthy, wholesome ideas that appeal to any guest list.

Brunch doesn’t have to be 20 people crowded into your house,” notes Laura Davis, who cooks and blogs from her Chincoteague Island kitchen. “Start small, invite six or eight people,” she advises. “I personally prefer smaller gatherings,” she admits. “They can be just as special.” Davis’s Tide & Thyme highlights fresh and locally available ingredients from the Eastern Shore.

Center the meal around a hearty breakfast casserole like this Polenta Breakfast Bake from Brittany Graham, a Navy wife who started her blog, The Anchored Kitchen, from her family’s home in Virginia Beach. With grits, bacon, and poached eggs, it will serve a small crowd.

Tyler Darden

(Photography by Tyler Darden)

For beauty in a bowl, add a Fig, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad to your menu from Eating Bird Food. Toss in candied or spiced nuts and dried cranberries and mix with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette for a guaranteed hit. Pair it with Beer Candied Bacon from Tide & Thyme. Laura Davis bastes strips of good quality, thick-cut bacon in a sweet-savory mix of stout beer (1/2 cup) and brown sugar (1/4 cup) as it cooks in a 400-degree oven; then serves the strips upright in small glasses—like breadsticks.

Roasted asparagus is elevated to new heights by dredging the spears in flour spiked with garlic powder, salt, and pepper; then eggs before coating them in a panko crust. A Panko-Crusted Asparagus recipe, from Liz Thomson’s I Heart Vegetables, calls for roasting the dredged spears in a 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes and turning them halfway through. Serve them plated or parceled out in mugs along with dipping sauces like marinara or an aioli.

For more easy pick-up ideas, consider adding Cucumber Cups from ButterYum to your menu. Northern Virginia blogger Patricia Reitz combines cottage cheese, dill, scallions, salt, and pepper and stuffs the mixture into almost hollowed-out cucumber wheels. The result is an ideal pick-up food, easy to pop in your mouth, but hard to stop at just one.

A Waffle Biscuit Monte Cristo from Christie Smith’s Manassas Park-based blog, A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures, calls for stuffing uncooked jumbo buttermilk biscuits (yep, from a twistable can) with ham and cheese. Christie separates each biscuit into halves, adds cheese and ham, a little mustard, and slides the stack into a waffle maker for several minutes. The result is a prettified and gooey biscuit, imprinted with a waffle pattern.

Sweets can be just the right bookend to a weekend brunch. The Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins on ButterYum bring seasonal deliciousness while Carol Lou’s Mini Cinnamon Toast Scones—topped with cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter—from her A Passion for Entertaining blog are downright irresistible.

Polenta Breakfast Bake

Grits and eggs star in this delicious breakfast bake from Brittany Graham’s, The Anchored Kitchen. With a supporting cast of cheese and bacon, it gets a mild kick from a dash of hot sauce.

  • 3  cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp kosher salt  
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes  
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 cup polenta (aka grits, not instant)
  • 6-8 large eggs  
  • 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheese such as cheddar or Gruyere
  • 2 strips bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Dash hot sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In an 8×11 casserole dish add the chicken stock, melted butter, salt, crushed red pepper, half and half, and polenta. Whisk, incorporating ingredients, then carefully place on the middle rack of a preheated oven. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Using the back of a spoon, make 6-8 indentations in the polenta and crack an egg into each one. Return to the oven and cook 10 more minutes for a runny yolk—15 if you prefer the eggs a bit more set. Top with the shredded cheese then place back in the oven for 2 more minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the bacon bits and green onion. Top with a dash of hot sauce if you like. Serves 6-8

Tyler Darden

(Photography by Tyler Darden)

Beyond Bloodies

A fresh take on brunch cocktails.

Who doesn’t love the spicy zing of a Bloody Mary or the sparkling tingle of a mimosa? But there are more ways to fill the glasses accompanying the brunch menus here. This winter, taste the innovative brunch cocktails— from boozy to honey-sweet, classic to caffeinated—turning up at restaurants around the Commonwealth.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

ButterYum’s delectable brunch muffins have a decidedly winter dessert vibe thanks to chocolate, pumpkin, and spices. Make them the day before, and warm up before serving.

  • Baker’s Joy baking spray or muffin cups
  • 28 ounces canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3  cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine table salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place rack in center position and prepare muffin pan with liners or Baker’s Joy spray. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and oil; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; pour flour mixture into pumpkin mixture and combine well. Stir in chocolate chips and fill muffin cups about 4/5 full. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow muffins to rest for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Makes 1 dozen

The Lita Grey


  • 3/4 ounce gin  
  • 3/4 ounce sloe gin (we prefer Plymouth)  
  • 3/4 ounce Giffard Apricot Liqueur  
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice

Build in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini or coupe glass. Top with sparkling wine, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Honey Breeze

THE BEE & THE BISCUIT, Virginia Beach

  • 2 ounces Jim Beam Honey  
  • 3/4 ounce raspberry syrup
  • pineapple juice
  • cranberry juice

Pour Jim Beam Honey and raspberry syrup into a shaker. Add a 4-count splash each of the juices. Vigorously shake, and then pour into an ice-filled glass (we prefer nugget ice). Top it off with a honey drizzle on top.

All The Way Up

FOUNDING FARMERS, Reston and Tysons

  • 1 egg white  
  • 1./2 ounce coffee syrup  
  • 1/2 ounce cognac  
  • 3/4 ounce coconut milk
  • 1 ounce cold brew coffee
  • 1 ounce Founding Spirits Vodka

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake vigorously. Fine strain all contents into a cocktail glass, and garnish with crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Brandy Milk Punch


  • 2 ounces E&J Brandy
  • 3 ounces half & half
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon egg white  
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients with ice and shake. Pour into a highball glass, and top off with a dust of nutmeg.

Small Bites, Happy Guests

Your guests will feel extra welcome if you set out bowls of nibbles—like cocktail nuts or crunchy air-fryer chickpeas—around your space. For a delicious take on cocktail nuts, Carol Lou combines curry, brown sugar, and butter with dry roasted peanuts, which she shares on her A Passion for Entertaining blog. The lowly but nutrient-packed chickpea is transformed—with help from an air fryer and inventive spice mixes—in an I Heart Vegetables recipe. Blogger Liz Thomson suggests a trifecta of garlic powder, salt, and pepper; or taco-seasoning; or a combination of chili powder, cumin, and black pepper combo, which imparts a decisive kick.

This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue.

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