Saturday, December 20, 2008

Apparently No Longer Out-of-Character Food-Related Post

Alright, I can no longer act like it's weird for me to post a recipe here now and then. I admit it - I cook. And it's actually kind of fun to share a favorite recipe via the ol' blog, don't you think?

So, this week's EtsyBloggers blog carnival theme is holiday traditions. Over the last few years, our family has been developing a Christmas brunch tradition (as opposed to a Christmas dinner tradition). The logic is pretty simple. First thing, Christmas morning when you've got eight adults trying to wrangle kids, coordinate the present-opening, keep track of the stockings, keep the baby out of the tree and the dog out of the kitchen, and keep your own eyes open after staying up WAY too late playing wrapping gifts and playing Wii (just sayin'...), the last thing you want to do is start the preparations for a big giant Christmas dinner that will take all day to prepare. Right?

Enter the make-ahead brunch. All of these dishes feed a ton of people and can be made the night before (quickly, I might add, so you can get right back to the wine and Wii), popped in the fridge, left overnight, and then baked in the morning. So the order of business Christmas morning is:

1. Wake up
2. Get the coffee on
3. Preheat the oven
4. Start opening gifts
5. Pop the brunch stuff in the oven
6. Finish opening gifts
7. Take the brunch stuff out of the oven
8. Enjoy a delicious family brunch
9. Relax and play with all the new toys for the rest of the day!

Doesn't that sound lovely? You might even squeeze in a nap.

This year, due to travel schedules and such, we're having our big family brunch today. I can say with confidence that each and every one of these recipes are fantastic, having tried various versions of each over the years and settled on what you see here. NOTE: Should you try these recipes, your brunch will look absolutely nothing like the photo at the top of this post. The photo has been provided solely for illustrative purposes - you know, to illustrate the general fabulousness of brunch. Casseroles, while equally fabulous and delicious, are not equally photogenic. Take a look at what's on our menu this morning:

Baked French Toast

5 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk (for a more traditional "French toast" consistency - for more of a bread pudding effect, double the milk)
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 loaf French bread, cut in 1 inch slices

1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoon maple syrup

The night before:
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, half and half and vanilla. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture and place into a lightly greased baking pan (9 x 13 or larger). Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine butter, sugar and syrup and spoon/drizzle mixture over the bread.
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.


Sausage and Egg Casserole

3/4 pound ground sausage (any kind)
1 tablespoon butter
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
10 eggs, beaten
1 (16 ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 (4 ounce) cans diced green chile peppers, drained

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted

The night before:
Cook sausage and set aside. Melt butter in skillet and sautee onions and mushrooms until tender. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cottage cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and chiles. Stir in the sausage, green onions, and mushrooms. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning:
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the melted butter. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake 40 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.


Hash Brown Casserole

1 (2 lb) package frozen hash browns, thawed
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

The night before:
Combine hash browns, butter, salt, pepper, onion, soup and cheese in a large bowl. Pour into lightly greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Cover and refrigerate.

In the morning:
Preheat oven to 350. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.


Ambrosia Fruit Salad (my version)

1/2 container frozen whipped topping, thawed
8 oz. sour cream
1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (11 oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 lb. strawberries, sliced
blueberries (optional)
3 cups mini marshmallows

The night before:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix together well, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning:
Serve and enjoy!


There you have it! And with that, I'm off for my final pre-brunch preparations. Merry early Christmas!


GrayEyedScorpio said...

I like the way you think & plan! Sounds delicious.

Anonymous said...

Great ideas Kelly! I'll certainly be adding a few of these to our holidays!!

umlauf said...

Looks so tasty! I want to eat it now, even though I just had lunch. This is a great stress-reducing idea.

Annette Piper said...

What great recipes - thanks for that!

Merry christmas from me downunder :)

Rob said...

I haven't had Ambrosia Fruit Salad with blueberries before - I'll bet that's very good. I like to add some finely chopped pecans to ours.