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Dining In: When weather is frightful, have brunch at home


With the holidays behind us and the long weeks of winter stretching ahead, this is the time of year when we most feel like hibernating.

Staying home whenever possible, warmly tucked in while waiting for spring is enticing when cold winds are blowing outside. But even then we need sustenance and a little something to look forward to.

Everyone loves going out for weekend brunch, which is one of the most popular local restaurant meals. But when the weather dissuades us from going out, it’s time for a satisfying brunch at home.

Brunch gives us the opportunity sleep late, then indulge in waffles, crepes, bagels or pancakes with bacon, eggs, fruit or muffins and maybe a champagne cocktail or Bloody Mary for the grownups.

Brunch has been around for a long time. The word “brunch,” which pushes breakfast and lunch together in a clever play on words, first appeared in print in 1895 in a magazine called Hunter’s Weekly. In the article British author Guy Beringer suggested combining breakfast and lunch to replace the traditional heavy meal of Sunday dinner, usually served right after church.

The suggestion was embraced and the British began brunching soon after. The idea of brunch made its way to the United States by the 1930s.

Brunch is great for family, for guests staying overnight, or for anyone you want to invite over to share. For this recipe from you prep the dish the night before, then pop it in the oven while you cook its sauce and whatever else you are going to serve, such as eggs, bacon or fruit.

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

12 slices day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup fresh blueberries

12 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon butter

1. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish, and top with cream cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese, and top with remaining bread cubes.

2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

4. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned.

5. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup blueberries. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the blueberries burst. Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked French toast.