Fast becoming one of the favorite traditions for many families on Christmas morning is breakfast or brunch. It can be served before or after the presents are opened and much of the food can be prepared ahead of time to take the stress off whoever is manning the kitchen.
Christmas breakfast is my favorite meal of the year and whether you keep it simple or prepare for several days, there is absolutely nothing more peaceful or joyous than celebrating around the table — something I always find that makes a family stronger.
There are two schools of thought and they depend on when you are having your next meal. If your big meal is later, say in the evening around 6 or after, then there is a need for a bigger breakfast.
But if your next meal is being prepared by you and falls somewhere within the lunch hours, you may want to think continental breakfast for those gathered; keeping it simple for busy you and somewhat lighter for those who will be eating a bigger meal within a shorter time frame.
A tray of bagels with flavored cream cheeses, juices, coffee and milk and blueberry, cranberry or banana muffins or breads can be set out along with paper plates and napkins to keep cleanup at a minimum.
Make your own flavored cream cheese or butter. It’s simple. Soften butter or cream cheese to room temperature, add spoonfuls of strawberry jam or apple or pumpkin butter and incorporate. Either place in a bowl or roll up as a log in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator.
Even if your preference is just butter or cream cheese, make sure they are room temperature because they will spread better, and as a calorie saving measure, softened requires less.
These two recipes for simple appetizers will take care of the hungry. Have some fresh fruit cut up to serve alongside.
The key to a good sausage ball is less flour or Bisquick. Also, I think freshly grated cheddar cheese is better — you can do it quickly by hand on a grater if it is at room temperature or in the food processor if you forget to sit it out. Here’s my recipe. It should make 36-40 sausage balls.
- 2 cups Bisquick
- 1 pound good, flavorful sausage
- 3 cups sharp grated cheddar cheese
- Cayenne pepper
In a mixing bowl, put Bisquick, sausage that you have pulled apart, grated cheese and dashes of cayenne depending on if you want them to have a little zing.
Using your clean hands, work all the ingredients together until there is absolutely no sign of the flour.
Roll into mouth-size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
You can make these a day ahead and hold in the refrigerator or you can freeze on the tray and then remove the balls to a plastic bag. I make mine several weeks ahead and freeze.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place frozen or freshly made balls on a baking sheet that is lined with parchment; put in hot oven for about 15 minutes.
I make these the day before to have them ready to go into a hot oven.
- 2 boxes of Jimmy Dean pre-cooked sausage links
- 2 cans Grand’s butterflake biscuits
Separate biscuits into halves. Place one sausage on a half biscuit and roll up; place about a half-inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You can drizzle a bit of apple butter or even grape jelly on them and return to the oven for a minute.
Note: If you have more biscuits than sausage, spread butter on the half and either sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on the butter and roll up or put a dollop of your favorite jam or jelly and cook alongside the sausage roll-ups.
Country ham and biscuits
These have been a long-time favorite for me whether as an appetizer or served as part of the main breakfast. If you are looking for a much less salty country ham, try the Bluegrass Country Ham at Sach’s Market on U.S. 127.
If you call ahead — 502-875-1156 — and order three pounds or more, it is a best buy at $6.99 a pound.
Pancakes have been on our family’s breakfast menu on several Christmas mornings.
It is fun to watch the kids choose items to go into their particular pancakes – blueberries, strawberries, thinly sliced bananas, chocolate chips.
Here’s a pancake recipe that would be wonderful anytime.
Sweet potato pancakes
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
- Place in a medium saucepan of boiling water and cook until the sweet potatoes are firm, but tender. Drain, run cool water over and return to pan and mash.
- This could be done the day before and put in a plastic container to be ready to add the next morning.
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- 3½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons chopped pecans
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1½ cups milk
- ¼ cup butter melted
In a medium bowl, sift together wheat flour. Baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar. Stir and add pecans.
In another bowl, mix eggs, milk, sweet potatoes and mashed sweet potato. Stir together and add to dry ingredients to make a batter.
Preheat lightly greased griddle to medium heat. Drop ¼ cup of batter for each pancake. When bubbles begin to surface, flip pancakes and cook until other side is golden brown.
Whipped Topping (optional)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
Place all in large mixing bowl. Beat with mixer until soft peaks form. Top pancakes with cream and some more chopped pecans.
These are also great with warm maple syrup.
You can find recipes for these in cookbooks or any online cooking/recipe site. The basic ingredients of cubed bread, eggs, cheese, milk and dry mustard are pretty much the same. What you add can be up to you, cooked, crumbled sausage, bacon, country ham, mushrooms, spinach and onions. Don’t be afraid to add extra ingredients your family may enjoy.
The joy of these casseroles is they are made the day before, sit overnight in the fridge and are ready to go into the oven to be hot and delicious.
Quiche is another option. It can even be baked the night before and warmed by the slice in a microwave or covered and placed in a warm oven.
Lastly, what is Christmas morning without cheese grits? Make your cheese grits the night before and put them in the oven with your casserole.
Many others prefer hash brown casserole or even a potato frittata. Both of these can also be made a day ahead, held in the refrigerator and cooked when you are ready.
If you need help with recipes for any of these, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.