Back to school is on everyone’s mind, whether your kids are 8 or 18. The whirlwind that comes along with a more formal schedule, necessary supplies, and accountability can be incredibly stressful for kids as well as parents. After a summer of loose living (later bedtimes, ice cream for breakfast….wait, that’s just my family?), getting a bit more regimented can be a welcome change. Time to celebrate the end of summer and beginning of some structure with your friends! I threw a back to school brunch with a few moms in my kids’ grade, and I’m sharing my back to school brunch ideas with you on how to make it a hit without adding more stress.
When I invite friends over, especially those with children (because they always add chaos to getting out of the house), I make it an open house-style timeline. Come when you can, stay how long you can, and leave whenever. This takes a lot of pressure of me as the hostess to have everything ready right when people arrive, and takes pressure off my guests so they don’t have to worry about being right on time or exiting of needed.
I design a simple invite in Canva and send it out via group text. It feels informal yet special. I also note that dishes/items are welcome, but not necessary. I provide the main dish, a few sides and beverages, and we just eat what we have! Friends can bring a box of store-bought donuts they picked up on the way, or their grandmother’s tried and true cinnamon rolls that they spent hours making. Whatever works. Less stress, more social!
The Main Dish
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with quiche. It can be served piping hot, lukewarm, or even cold, and can contain a multitude of ingredients to suit different tastes. I adore dishes that are lovely enough to go from oven to table, no plating required. I know you can buy pie crust in a tin foil pan…but putting that on a table just makes me sad.
Peugeot ceramic bakeware has been the highlight of my kitchen this summer. I received their Appolia Ceramic Tart Dish in Red for review, and I tossed my glass pie dish in the trash after using it. Seriously.
Their ceramic bakeware keeps the heat in the dish for 30 minutes after you remove from the oven. This allows the quiche to set while still staying warm, and gives you a buffer for serving. You can also take the dish from the freezer to a preheated oven without risk of cracking or shock. AND they wash up beautifully, big bonus in my book.
I only made one quiche for brunch because we had a small number of guests, but it is so simple to customize multiple different mini quiche as well for dietary or taste preferences. I made a Sun-Dried Tomato, Goat Cheese and Spinach Quiche, the perfect blend of slightly sweet tomatoes plus the salty goat cheese and garlicy spinach. Feel free to make this the night before and re-heat! This is one of my back to school brunch ideas that I use for breakfast and dinner for my kids as well 😉
Sun-Dried Tomato, Goat Cheese and Spinach Quiche (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction; I doubled the amount of eggs and milk and increased some fillings to accommodate the larger pie dish)
- Pie Crust (homemade or store-bought, I don’t judge)
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 3 cups fresh packed spinach (or 10 oz. frozen, thawed and drained)
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil (drained and chopped)
- 6-8 oz. goat cheese, crumbled or chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
I used to ready made Pillsbury pie crusts and combined them to fill this dish since it is larger than the traditional 9 inches. It isn’t that tough- I smooshed the seams together. If you want to get all homemade and make your own, that’s lovely. But ain’t nobody got time for that in my house.
Now, once you have the crust in your pie dish, you need to blind bake it. Yeah, that’s a bit of an intimidating phrase, but it just means you bake it with some weights first before you bake it again with the filling. It’s hard to mess up. Just don’t burn it.
After the crust is set (chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator if you didn’t just plop premade, refrigerated pie crust in like I did) and put aluminum foil or parchment paper on top of the crust. Add pie weights or dried beans to the top, making sure they don’t spill onto the crust (I made this mistake and took 20 minutes to pick out beans from the dough, ugh).
Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the edge of the crust just starts to brown. Take the weights and foil/parchment out, and prick the bottom of the pie with a fork a few times to let the hot air escape. Pop it back in the oven for 7-8 minutes so the bottom crust browns and take out of the oven.
Saute garlic in olive oil, add spinach and wilt. Whisk the eggs and milk together, then add tomatoes, goat cheese, sauteed spinach, salt and pepper to taste. Pour into pie crust.
Bake until the center is set, 45-60 minutes. You will need to add a pie crust shield or foil to cover the edges of the crust so it doesn’t burn. Remove and let cool for a bit before serving.
Everyone loves fruit. Wash it and put it on a fancy platter or wood board. You’re done.
My go-to kid-friendly brunch dish is chicken and waffle bites. They take almost no time to prepare and every child I know loves them, and most adults do as well.
Buy chicken strips and pop them in the oven. Make or toast waffles, cut into quarters. Add chunks of chicken strips on top of waffle quarters, secure with toothpick if you have them. Serve with a jug of syrup. DONE.
I make sure to have something kid-friendly and something sparkling and alcoholic. And I buy two orange juices- one for the kids who seem to always want to drink my mixers (is nothing sacred?), and one for the mimosas, as well as a bottle of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. I always head to the Bottle Shop in Wilmette for any wine- Amy the owner always has price-conscious recommendations that are low in sugar and delicious. And she is a hilarious, no bullshit type of woman. We became very good friends during the pandemic.
If you are at the grocery store, pick your head up. That bottom shelf stuff will make you feel like garbage the rest of the day. I enjoy LaMarca Prosecco for an under $20 bottle, and I have heard that Ménage à Trois Prosecco is a good budget pick as well.
I absolutely adore a footed bowl for serving wine or champagne. I purchased mine from Share in my hometown of Wilmette, but you can find them at stores like Williams Sonoma or Crate and Barrel. Look for “footed wine/champagne bowl” or even silver punch bowl.
Now, coffee is a special beverage because it simply needs to be excellent. I have a high sensitivity to caffeine (if you have seen me with more than one cup of coffee, you know to steer clear), so I only drink one cup a day.
I think there is an elegance and art to making coffee, and while I do love the ease of Keurigs and such, a French Press is such a loving way to make this brew. Freshly ground beans DO make a difference IMHO. One thing I despise, though, is the grating, high-pitched screech of an electric grinder. That just ruins my morning. I already hear the screechy sound of the adolescent YouTubers that my kids listen to (Mr. Beast? Flamingo? I’m looking at YOU), so don’t need any more annoying sounds as I am waking up.
Peugeot designed possibly the most perfect and romantic coffee making apparatus known to man. Yeah, you might snigger at the fact that I used romantic to describe a coffee maker. BUT HAVE YOU EVER HAD PRINCESS COFFEE?*
Their Paris Press Two-in-One Coffee Mill and Cafetiere is simple, elegant and quiet. They combined a manual coffee mill with plunger that fits atop the cafetiere for brewing. Simply add whole beans, grind, remove the mill, add hot water, let steep for 5 minutes and press. I am buying this for ALL of my coffee-crazed friends- any true coffee aficionado will swoon. Guaranteed.
Add a pot of cream and a small bowl of sugar and you are all set! And yes, I do make oat milk creamer available as well. It’s better than almond milk creamer in my opinion.
Set the Scene
I pull out my art deco bar cart from my living room and park it in the lawn for summer entertaining, adding the stunning footed bowl and glasses atop. Food is displayed on a separate table, and I use crisp, white tablecloths.
Napkins are such a fun way to add color and design as well! These napkins from Hudsonest are my favorite, and I set out a coordinating stack of them in the bathroom as well. Yes, I’m a little extra that way. These napkins are so color-saturated and make a statement with incredibly high-quality heavy-duty weight.
I also use my china and silverware because…let’s face it, when the hell else am I going to use it? Might as well enjoy it now, and my friends love seeing it! I do put out Corelle plates or paper plates for small kiddos because let’s not tempt fate here. Buying a stack of white Corelle dinner plates is pretty much the best investment for entertaining you can make. I have frisbee’d them across the room without breakage.
As for flowers, I either cut what I have in the yard or grab an inexpensive bunch at Trader Joe’s, adding greenery from whatever grows in and around my place to fill in. I do always have a vase on hand in case someone brings me flowers so I can quickly plop them in and display right away. This was from an earlier party, just showing the flower arrangements!
I cover my tatty lawn furniture with different colored Turkish Towels, lending a colorful boho vibe to the second hand furniture set that I purchased. I use Turkish Towels for everything- from tablecloths, to literal beach towels, to sarongs.
Relax and Enjoy
One of the worst things you can do as a hostess is be busy. Too busy to enjoy your actual party and guests. If you are cleaning the entire time, people feel uncomfortable, like they have to help. I go as far to literally leave everything to the next day for cleanup if I can. Also, brunch doesn’t require you to shower. Dry shampoo, tinted moisturizer, mascara and a dress. That’s just my style.
Cheers to celebrating the start of a new school year with these back to school brunch ideas! Cheers to those who join you in front row seats at the shitshow that is back to school!
*Princess Coffee: When your partner brings you coffee in bed. Possibly one of the best things you can do for brownie points. Or just because you love them!
Disclosure: I was provided with Peugeot pieces for review. All opinions are honest and my own as always. This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission if you purchase but doesn’t affect your price. Merci.