On Veterans Day, we honor the brave men and women who have given so much to our country. To celebrate their service, Jen Lutz invited three veteran families for brunch and surprised them with a special gift. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how Jen prepared her home for the day.
Dressing the Table
To set the scene for a casual gathering, Jen combined elegant ceramic tableware with rustic woven chargers and cloth napkins. She brought hints of fall to the table with apples, pumpkins, and greens, and lit some candles to add warmth. As a nice finishing touch, she tied a small card around each napkin with the word “thankful.”
Preparing the Food
Jen enjoys mixing sweet and savory dishes, and tries to include fruits and vegetables in each meal. To minimize preparations on the day itself, she chose some recipes that could be cooked ahead. Here’s the menu she came up with for our Veterans Day brunch:
- Monkey Bread: Monkey bread is always a crowd pleaser, and this recipe did not disappoint. Jen made the dough the night before, refrigerated it, and finished baking in the morning. Her guests ate every bite!
- Spinach Quiche: Here’s another dish you can make ahead and warm up before serving. For her version of this spinach quiche, Jen doubled the recipe and baked it in a half sheet pan without the crust to save time. You can even add bacon if you want.
- Eggs Benedict Casserole: Jen followed a delicious recipe from Magnolia Table Cookbook, but there’s a similar one on Taste of Home. When cooking for a special gathering, choose tried-and-tested recipes to avoid trouble. Jen had to make the hollandaise sauce twice!
- Apple Cake: Dense and full of apple goodness, this dessert is perfect for fall. It’s just as good—if not better—when eaten on the second day, so you can definitely bake this ahead of time.
- Fresh Fruits: For a refreshing counterpart to the meal, Jen served cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, and raspberries on a platter.
Welcoming the Guests of Honor
Once the table was set and the food ready to be eaten, Jen greeted couples Joel and Alana, Jeff and Roma, and Rick and Caitlin. Each of the men served with different branches of the military, and have since built families of their own. Learn more about their stories below:
Joel and Alana
Joel served 4 years with the Army Airborne Infantry and retired to start a family with Alana. His time with the army brought him to Italy and Afghanistan. Joel now majors in Economics and has two kids, including a month-old baby boy.
Jeff and Roma
Jeff is a retired Navy Hospital Corpsman who spent 26 years serving all over the world. Affectionately known as “the Chief,” he currently works as the Associate Dean of Men at Hillsdale College. He and his wife Roma have two adult children, with their oldest son serving as an Army Ranger.
Rick and Caitlin
Like Jeff, Rick served with the Navy Hospital Corpsmen for 8 years. He was last deployed to Iraq with the Marines in 2009. Now a pre-med student, Rick and his wife Caitlin have two kids and one more on the way.
After plenty of food, conversation, and laughter, Jen gifted each family with their own artificial Christmas tree as our token of thanks. We hope this adds joy to their holiday gatherings.
Together, let’s make this Veterans Day extra special. Show some love to a veteran you know, and consider creating a military care package for those who are still in service. Happy Veterans Day!