Every family or group of close friends has them: holiday traditions. The longer they are sustained from year to year, the more treasured they become. As a child, and well into my 20s until I left the nest, my mother would read “Twas the Night Before Christmas" to me before we settled down for our long winter’s nap. I’ll always recall that special time for just the two of us with great joy.
Over the years, I’ve learned of some great traditions enjoyed by others. A former co-worker of mine once shared a delightful tradition with me. Once her very small children were asleep, she would swiftly change them into Christmas pajamas for them to awaken in; how magical!
A dear friend, whose familial roots are from Norway, prepares a traditional bread called lefse with all of her cousins the weekend before Christmas. Her mother serves it with Swedish meatballs on Christmas Eve later in the week.
A more recently established favorite in our house is a smaller tree in our den, which we decorate with only Red Sox ornaments (admittedly, a little tough to manage this year).
To some these traditions are corny and perhaps some rolling eyes greet them when they surface each year. But somehow they signify so much more. Maybe it is the notion that despite the challenges that each year can inevitably bring, there is a place and time on which you can count. It is then that you pause and appreciate what is dear to you in a way you may not at other times throughout the year.
And if that does not resonate for you, perhaps this is the year to create a tradition of your own.
For many, Christmas morning is a time for sharing food, presents and memories. This week I’ve featured some options for a holiday breakfast. The goal is to minimize the work while making a special meal to share. The French toast casserole can be prepared the night before and cooked on Christmas morning. It features an orange sauce for a new twist on an old favorite, but pairs well with maple syrup as well, if that is your preference.
The scrambled egg casserole involves a bit more prep work but is a delicious option that will satisfy your family and guests.
Enjoy a wonderful and safe holiday week.
Scrambled Egg Casserole
- 1 bag (30 ounces) frozen hash browns thawed
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 to 3 tablespoons butter
- 12 ounces thinly sliced Canadian bacon
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large yellow or red bell pepper, chopped
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced, optional
- 12 large eggs
- 2 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Spread thawed hash browns in a deep 11x14-inch lasagna/roasting pan; season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the potato layer.
- In a large skillet, lightly brown the Canadian bacon slices in 2 tablespoons of butter; set aside. In the same skillet sauté the onion, peppers, and mushrooms until tender. Add a little more butter, as necessary.
- Spoon vegetable mixture over the cheese layer. Top with sliced tomatoes, if using. Arrange slices of Canadian bacon over the vegetables, overlapping if necessary. Top with remaining cheese.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the milk; pour over the casserole. Using a spatula, gently press all over to soak with egg mixture. Let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bake casserole for 35 to 45 minutes until set. Cool slightly before slicing.
Serves 10 to 12.
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup half-and-half or milk
- 1/3 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur or orange juice
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 slices French bread, each 3/4 inch thick
Glorious Orange Sauce ingredients
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, if desired
- In small bowl, beat eggs, half-and-half, orange juice, liqueur, 2 tablespoons sugar, the vanilla and salt with fork. Dip bread into egg mixture, soaking thoroughly; place in ungreased rectangular pan, 15x10x1 inches. Pour any remaining egg mixture over bread. Cover loosely and refrigerate at least 8 hours but no longer than 24 hours.
- In 1-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup sugar and the orange juice concentrate, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Beat with wire whisk until thick and shiny. Stir in pomegranate seeds. Keep warm.
- Heat griddle to 375 degrees or heat skillet over medium heat; grease with butter. Cook bread 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with sauce.