Brunch always feels luxurious. You can sleep in a little, get an impressive meal on the table and have a plausible excuse to relax on the couch the rest of the day. Especially if Bloody Marys or mimosas are included in the menu.

So why don't we do it more often? At my house, brunch is almost always reserved for a holiday. Mother's Day, Father's Day, New Year's Day and Easter seem to be the only days the idea of brunch is even on the table. And this past year, those days didn't seem to merit the effort, either, as it would have only been my husband and I taking a seat.

There will be a few others joining us this year and I am more than ready for the chance to enjoy a lovely, sunny, midday get-together where no one is wearing pajamas. Although I'm willing to put in some extra effort for a memorable meal, I still don't want to be stressed. So, I've chosen a menu that is sure to "wow" but doesn't have a ton of last-minute elements that would keep me from enjoying my guests.

Chocolate Hazelnut Sticky Buns

Start off with what may be a game changer in the sticky buns department.

Chocolate and hazelnuts are a classic combination (think Nutella), so for these rolls, dark chocolate replaces the standard cinnamon-sugar filling for the buns and a copious amount of hazelnuts stand in for the more traditional pecans in the sticky topping.

Here's what to know before you get started:

• While you can get up early and make these rolls the day of your brunch, making them the night before not only means that all you need to do in the morning is take them out of the refrigerator and bake them off, but that overnight slow rise also develops more flavor.

• The hazelnuts in the sticky caramel topping should be toasted ahead of time, and the skins of the nuts should also be removed. If you don't have the time for that step, hazelnuts are often sold toasted, with their skins already removed.

• The chocolate filling is made with cocoa powder, butter and dark chocolate. Not a lot of ingredients, so make sure they're of top quality. I use a deep, dark Dutch cocoa powder for this recipe, as it delivers a more bittersweet experience that backs up the melted dark chocolate and helps balance out the caramel-like topping.

• Once you've made the dough, filled it and rolled it up, you'll need to cut it up into rolls. You can do this with a sharp serrated knife, but dental floss is the best and neatest way to slice the rolls. Just slide a long piece of unflavored dental floss under the dough, wrap it around the top and pull tightly in opposite directions to pull the floss through the roll. It slides cleanly through the dough, cutting it into slices without mashing it down or tearing.

Baked Eggs With Parmesan Creamed Spinach and Crispy Prosciutto

No brunch menu is complete without eggs, and this Easter, we're taking them to the next level.

Here's what to know before you get started:

• Paper-thin prosciutto is chopped up and sautéed in butter until it's crispy, before being removed from the skillet and reserved for the ultimate garnish. It only takes a minute or less to do, so don't walk away.

• Baby spinach is then added to the skillet and wilted. You'll want to add about half of the spinach first, and let it wilt before adding the rest. Adding it all at once doesn't save time, but it will have baby spinach falling out of the skillet and onto your stove. Cream is then added to the spinach and the two are cooked together for several minutes to thicken the cream a bit and evaporate excess liquid from the spinach, which you won't want in your baked eggs.

• This recipe has a few different steps, but they're all quick and easy, and much can be done at least a little ahead of time. The prosciutto and creamed spinach can be done up to an hour ahead and kept at room temperature. Just reheat the spinach before proceeding with the recipe.

• Keep in mind that the eggs will keep cooking in the ramekins after they are removed from the oven. Make sure you take them out just before you think they're perfect, especially if, like me, you enjoy your eggs on the runny side.

Ultra-Crispy Sheet-Pan Breakfast Potatoes

Breakfast potatoes are a welcome addition to any brunch, especially when they bring a serious amount of crunch.

Here's what to know before you get started:

• These breakfast potatoes also include roasted onion and peppers, which don't cook in the same time as the potatoes. The solution? They are cooked separately and combined with the potatoes as they finish roasting in the oven.

• What makes these potatoes "ultra-crispy" is the quick bath they get in boiling salted water that has a touch of baking soda. The baking soda helps to break down the outside of the potato, allowing them to be roughed up slightly, creating an instant mashed potato coating that gets extra crunchy in a hot oven.

• I've made these with both Yukon Gold and russet potatoes, and both will work and result in delicious potatoes. But the Yukon Golds don't get quite as crunchy, so I recommend the drier, more floury russets.

• You can make this recipe up to the point where you combine the roasted potatoes with the roasted onions and peppers, up to one hour ahead of time. Just before serving, combine them on the sheet pan and place in a hot oven for a few minutes, until hot.

All this brunch needs now is a platter of fresh fruit, a special beverage or two and a list of binge-worthy programming. After all, you've had a busy morning and the couch is calling.

Chocolate Hazelnut Sticky Buns

Makes 12 buns.

Note: Make these decadent, ultra-chocolatey sticky buns the night before and bake in the morning for an indulgent and memorable breakfast treat. From Meredith Deeds.


• 3 1/2 to 4 c. flour

• 1/4 c. granulated sugar

• 1 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1 pkg. instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

• 1 c. lukewarm whole or low-fat milk

• 1/4 c. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for preparing bowl

• 1 egg

Caramel Hazelnut Topping:

• 1 c. packed light brown sugar

• 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

• 1/4 c. light corn syrup

• 1/4 tsp. salt

• 1 1/2 c. roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts


• 1/3 c. unsalted butter

• 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

• 1/3 c. powdered sugar

• 1/4 c. cocoa powder


To prepare rolls: In large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm milk, 1/4 cup butter and egg. Mix with wooden spoon or on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Stir in just enough remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to make a soft dough that's slightly sticky, but easy to handle.

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead about 5 minutes or until dough is soft and silky (or knead in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook). Grease a large bowl with butter. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place about 90 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

To prepare topping: Spray a 9- by 13-inch pan with cooking spray or grease with butter.

In a 2-quart saucepan, heat brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter to boiling, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in corn syrup and salt. Pour into the pan. Sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

To prepare filling: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine 1/3 cup butter and chopped chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until the chocolate is just melted. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Stir until it forms a paste.

To assemble: Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gently press down on dough to deflate. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 15- by 12-inch rectangle. Spread with the filling. Roll rectangle up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side. With plain dental floss or a serrated knife, cut roll into 12 slices.

Place slices in prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

To bake: Let the buns sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, rotating pan halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly, until buns are golden brown, filling is bubbling and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of buns registers 195 degrees, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Place heatproof tray or serving plate upside down onto pan; immediately turn tray and pan over. Remove pan and let rolls sit for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Baked Eggs With Parmesan Creamed Spinach and Crispy Prosciutto

Serves 6.

Note: Elegant and easy, serve these creamy baked eggs with buttered, toasted baguette slices. From Meredith Deeds.

• 2 tbsp. butter, divided, plus more for preparing ramekins

• 4 paper-thin slices prosciutto, chopped

• 1 medium shallot, finely chopped

• 10 oz. baby spinach

• 1/2 c. plus 6 tsp. heavy cream, divided

• 1/2 tsp. salt, divided

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

• 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

• 1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

• 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

• 6 large eggs

• Chopped chives for garnish, optional


Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and butter six (8-ounce) ramekins or ovenproof custard cups. Place the ramekins or cups on a rimmed baking sheet.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring, until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer prosciutto to a plate.

To the same skillet over medium heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and shallot and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach in batches, carefully stirring as it wilts. Keep adding more spinach when there is room in the skillet. Cook the spinach until it is all completely wilted. Add 1/2 cup cream, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the cream is slightly thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese and cook for 1 minute more, until the cheese has melted into the cream. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and divide among prepared ramekins.

Crack 1 egg into each ramekin. Spoon a teaspoon of cream over each yolk and season with a little of the remaining salt. Bake until the eggs are bubbly around the edges but not quite set in the middle, 10 to 13 minutes. (For firmer eggs, bake an additional 1 minute.) Remove from the oven immediately — the eggs will continue to set. Garnish with crispy prosciutto and chives, if desired, and serve warm.

Ultra-Crispy Sheet-Pan Breakfast Potatoes

Serves 6.

Note: Precooking the potatoes briefly in baking soda water and roughing them up a bit helps to ensure a super-crisp texture. Separately roasting the onion and peppers allows each ingredient to cook perfectly. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 large red onion, cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces

• 2 large red or yellow (or both) bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces

• 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1/4 tsp. salt, plus 1 tbsp. for boiling potatoes

• 1/2 tsp. baking soda

• 4 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-in. cubes

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the onion, peppers, 1 tablespoon oil and salt. Toss to coat and arrange in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until vegetables are just tender. Transfer to a large plate.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt, baking soda and potatoes and stir. Return to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain and return to the hot pot for a minute or two to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Toss the potatoes around in the pot to rough up their outside layer. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and ground pepper and toss again to coat.

Transfer potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring twice as they cook, until the potatoes are browned and crisp all over. Add the roasted onion and peppers to the pan and continue to bake for another 2 to 3 minutes, until hot.

Transfer to a serving bowl and add chopped parsley. Toss to coat and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.