CARTHAGE, Mo. —
As a grown-up, I look forward to the holidays for food, family and friends, listed in order of importance. Bulky winter clothes and weeks of holiday food was a plan well made and certainly no coincidence.
Christmas morning is all about making magic for my daughter. And brunch. After she's sure Santa and his reindeer have visited and I've had at least two cups of coffee, we'll visit family. Stockings will be pilfered, more coffee will be consumed and then we will have brunch. Finally.
Make Christmas morning brunch special, whether you're feeding a crowd or having a cozy meal in your jammies. Make whatever you can ahead of time, then gather interested parties into the kitchen to help with the final preparations. Dunk homemade biscotti in coffee and hot chocolate while you wait for brunch. Think of it as a breakfast appetizer. It's a special occasion Ñ live a little.
Or maybe you've lived a little too much as the holiday season stretches into several weeks of gluttony. If that's the case, and you want to take excess down a notch on Christmas morning, have a festive parfait. Layer strawberries, homemade granola and plain yogurt sweetened with honey and vanilla. Serve them in pretty glasses topped with a sprig of mint or rosemary. Make a crustless quiche with eggs, veggies and a sprinkle of cheese. Have spiced orange tea served in a fancy cup with a cinnamon stick and vanilla biscotti. Healthier food can be fun and festive, too.
After stockings are hung with care, break out the slow cooker. There are so many things I want to make, I really need several. Because of a lack of cabinet space, I will have to settle on one slow cooker masterpiece. Loaded hash browns, breakfast casserole, cinnamon coffee cake and creme brulee French toast are all in the running for a spot in mine.
It's no coincidence that all of these recipes can be made ahead of time. Now you won't have to spend Christmas morning in the kitchen, unless you're hiding from your family.
Whole-wheat orange cranberry scones
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup milk
For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
4 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt and cranberries. Cut in butter until mixture resembles crumbs. Add egg, honey, orange juice concentrate and milk. Stir until you can form dough into a ball on a floured surface. Roll dough into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Place on a cookie sheet or baking stone. Cut circle into 8 equal pieces. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until scones are golden brown. While the scones are baking, mix up the glaze. Drizzle glaze over the scones right after you remove them from the oven.
Adapted from heavenlyhomemakers.com
Slow cooker breakfast casserole
30-ounce bag frozen hash browns
1 pound of sausage, browned and drained
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
6 green onions, sliced and divided in half
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Spray a large slow cooker with nonstick spray, then place half the hash browns into the bottom. Layer in half the cooked sausage, half the cheeses and half the green onions, then repeat hash brown, sausage and cheese layers. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper, then drizzle over top. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours, or until eggs are set. Serve with remaining green onions, salsa or guacamole.
Sparkling cider mimosa
1 (25.4-ounce) bottle sparkling apple cider
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup cranberry juice
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and pour into chilled champagne flutes.
Baked apple cinnamon French toast
3 cups nonfat milk
2 cups egg whites
3 tablespoons honey
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (1-pound) loaf sliced whole-wheat bread
1 cup chopped dried apples, (3 ounces)
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Whisk milk, egg whites, honey, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Trim crusts off 8 bread slices and set aside. Cut the crusts and the remaining bread into 1-inch pieces. Toss with dried apples, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg in another large bowl.
Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the bread mixture to the pan. Lay the reserved crustless slices evenly on top, trimming to fit. Whisk the milk mixture one more time, then pour evenly over the bread. Press the bread down with the back of a wooden spoon, making sure it's evenly moist. Cover with parchment paper, then foil, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed, set and lightly browned, about 20 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes; dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.
Adapted from eatingwell.com
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