Blossoming Friendships: How to Plan the Perfect Summertime Brunch

“Above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another.” – 1 Peter 4:8-10 (NKJV)

I always look forward to summer! As spring unfolds into summer, new life begins to show herself in radiant, blossoming ways. I, too, feel it’s time to plant new seeds and watch them grow in the months to come. In the summer, the air smells different, and I get that extra skip in my step. I find myself exulting in the beauty of those colorful flowers and the flavors of fresh-from-the-market fruits and vegetables!

Best of all, I get the fever to “entertain”!

As I was praying and spending some time with my very best friend Jesus, I began to thank Him for all of the wonderful friends He’s given me. He placed in my spirit a desire to refresh and nourish those friendships. “He who has friends must show himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV).

In addition, He showed me the importance of  developing newfriendships. We need to allow new lifeto bloom in our busy world. When we are willing to open ourselves up to new relationships, we grow and are used for His glory. We must be sensitive to the ones around us. Instead of setting out to find someone who we think will be right for our lives, we should simply look for new opportunities to entertain among the women He chooses to put in our lives from day to day. “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2, NKJV).

Time for a Brunch!

There’s no better season than summer to get back into cooking and entertaining! Consider planning a day with your girlfriends to celebrate love, laughter, and a season to grow. Let them know how much you value them by putting together a not-so-ordinary brunch.

  • Two Weeks in Advance: Choose 12 ladies to invite, and make sure they RSVP!
  • One Week in Advance: Plan your menu. Here are some good brunch-friendly foods to consider: asparagus pasta salad*, shrimp cocktail, fruit kabobs, chicken and orzo frittata*, fried red potatoes with carmelized onions, scones with raspberry preserves, pancakes cut into shapes with cookie cutters (strawberries and sauce topping), cream puffs with vanilla pudding, and chocolate mousse. All these plates can be prepared one day ahead, except for the pancakes.
  • Three Days in Advance: Go shopping! Take all of your recipes, and write down the ingredients needed for each one. Try to organize your list according to your grocery store layout. When you arrive home, take the time to wash all of your fruits and vegetables before putting them away.
  • Two Days in Advance: Plan your table. I like to do this ahead of time because it gives me more time to be creative. This is a great time to bring out your beautiful china! Select your centerpiece, and dress up your table. Remember to keep it simple, but beautiful. Candles and roses always dress up a table with sophistication and style. Elevate your food dishes for an interesting display. Use fresh flowers on your food platters for color and that extra special touch.
  • One Day in Advance: Start cooking. Work on one recipe at a time. Remember to place all your foods on the platters on which you will be serving them. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. This is a great opportunity to call a friend for extra help!
  • On the Big Day: Put the dishes that need to be cooked in the oven (do not cook too far ahead of time; not only will this cause things to become cold, but they tend to dry out as well). If your brunch is starting at 10:00 and something needs 45 minutes in the oven, don’t put it in until 9:30. People don’t always arrive on time. Be prepared to offer a nice beverage (coffee, tea, or pomegranate juice with Sprite) while everyone gets settled in. 

Asparagus Pasta Salad

Estimated Prep Time: 30 min.            
Makes: 8-10 servings

 

8          oz. dried campanelle
1          lb. 1” cut asparagus
 ½        cup feta cheese
1          red pepper, chopped
½         red onion, chopped
1          can small, ripe, pitted black olives
4          garlic cloves, chopped
¼         cup chopped parsley
¼         cup chopped cilantro
¼         cup rough-chopped basil
½         lime zest and juice
1          container cherry tomatoes
½         cup frozen peas
2          cups fresh baby spinach
2          tsp. salt
1          tsp. pepper
1          large bottle Italian dressing (add more if needed)

Cook dried campanelle pasta as directed on box. Add asparagus to pasta water for the last two minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.

Combine other ingredients in large serving bowl. Add pasta and asparagus, and toss gently together. Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed. Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.

Optional ingredients: ¼ cup sliced almonds, ½ cup cubed salami, 1 cup small cooked shrimp.  Cheddar or Colby cheese can be substituted for feta.

Chicken and Orzo Frittata

Estimated Prep Time: 20 min.
Makes: 6-8 servings

1          cup orzo pasta
8         eggs
2/3       cup whole milk ricotta
¼        cup heavy cream
2         cooked chicken breasts, cubed
6         green onions, chopped
4         garlic cloves, chopped
¼        cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
½        cup diced roasted red peppers
1          tsp. salt
½        tsp. pepper
1         cup Colby cheese
¼        cup Parmesan cheese 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine Colby and Parmesan cheeses. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo, and cook until tender but still firm to the bite (about 8-10 minutes). Drain pasta.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, and heavy cream. Stir until the eggs are beaten and all ingredients are mixed together. Add the cooked orzo, chicken, green onions, garlic, parsley, roasted peppers, salt, and pepper. Combine together.

Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes. Turn on the broiler. Place the two cheeses on top and place under broiler for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let set for 5 minutes. Cut into squares; serve with fresh fruit for breakfast or with a salad for lunch.

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