I expected the first Christmas I was married to be peaceful, romantic, and special. I had visions of my honey and I quietly sipping cocoa and exchanging gifts in our cozy little apartment, enjoying just being together, and then taking a leisurely evening trip across town to visit our loved ones and revel in the Christmas of various nieces and nephews (we were in a blissful state of kid-less-ness that I can no longer recall- no matter how hard I try). Much to my chagrin, these newly-wed, Norman Rockwell images were far from our reality. With two sets of divorced parents we found ourselves traveling to no less than 4 different Christmas celebrations. All of which were hosted by well-meaning family members whose sole goal was to out-host our next stop. I will spare you the details of the evening- rest assured it is the stuff movies are made of. Let’s just say by the end of the night we were tired, grumpy, and FULL (seriously- how many servings of glazed ham and au-gratin potatoes can one couple be expected to eat?) We vowed that the next year would be different.
So when November rolled around and hubby gently reminded me that we needed a plan, I set to work. After much negotiation among the families (that included a few offenses, followed by forgiveness and make-up hugs) we worked out a schedule for the big day. Our plan worked and we had a full but joyous day of celebrations. In fact, one of our most loved traditions came out of the plan- the family Christmas Eve breakfast.
What started as a desperate attempt to space out familial obligations, has become a festive holiday tradition that the whole clan enjoys. We eat breakfast, exchange gifts, play a board game, and those who can spare the time head out to the movies. Of course the key to a successful holiday party is the food and I am sure most of you will agree it’s pretty hard to go wrong with breakfast foods. We mix things up a bit each year but have some key dishes that have probably crossed the line from tradition to requirement…it just wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without them. I will warn you- most of these favorites are not healthy or figure-friendly. They are fun, delicious, and comforting. Just the thing a holiday celebration should be.
Dutch Oven Breakfast Casserole is one of those “must-haves”. We like making it in our cast iron Dutch oven (this makes yummy, crispy edges) but really any oven-safe, deep casserole dish will work fine. The great thing about this recipe is it can be made the night before and so all you have to do is pop it in the oven an hour or so before you are ready to serve it up. While using fresh diced potatoes is usually my first choice I have been known to sub frozen, shredded potatoes and even Tator Tots. This Casserole tastes great on its own but is really wonderful topped with homemade salsa.
- 1 lb spicy chicken sausage (or any sausage you choose)
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 2-4 lbs of potatoes diced or shredded
- 12 beaten eggs
- 1 16 oz package of cheese (we like sharp cheddar but any variety will work)
- Sliced Green onions (optional)
- Salt, Pepper, and chili powder (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375
- Cook the sausage in the dutch oven on the stove top.
- When the sausage is brown add in the onion, garlic, and peppers and stir until tender
- Stir in the potatoes and cook until browned. Season as desired.
- Pour the beaten eggs over the potatoes and let them sink down into the potatoes
- Bake until the eggs are firm (about 40 mins)
- At this point you could cover the casserole and put it in the fridge overnight and just finish it off on the morning of your event.
- Sprinkle with cheese and green onions and cook until heated through and cheese is melted. (About 5 mins if still hot. Longer, and with the lid on to keep the cheese from burning, if it has been cooled in the refrigerator.)
Orange Glazed Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting are a decadent but completely necessary indulgence for Christmas Eve. The recipe I am sharing here takes a bit of work but is TOTALLY worth it. If you are not an experienced bread maker (and are a little intimidated to try for a big holiday) I would recommend using Rhodes frozen bread dough loaves. (Shhh it will be our little secret. Believe me the filling, glaze, and frosting I am sharing are so good no one will complain.)
- 3 1/2 cups. warm water
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cups oil
- 6 T. yeast (I don't use rapid rise)
- 1 T. salt
- 3 eggs
- 10 1/2 cups. flour
- 1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
- 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Tbls Orange Zest (more if you really like this flavor)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Gently mix the warm water, sugar, oil, and yeast and let that sit for 15 minutes until nice and foamy.
- Use a dough hook attachment to add the yeast mixture to the salt, eggs, and flour. Mix this well for about 10 minutes, then let it sit covered with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.
- While you are waiting mix the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a separate bowl.
- Dump out dough onto a well-floured board. Divide in half. Shape one half out into a rectangle. Spread with ¼ c. melted butter and then sprinkle on the sugar mixture- be sure to go close to all the edges.
- Roll up tight, but not too tight. Divide into 12 rolls using a pastry cutter or kitchen floss and place on greased cookie sheet. Repeat with other half of dough.
- Let rise (about one hour).
- Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400.
While the rolls are cooling top them with the orange glaze of your choice. I always seem to have my favorite Orange Vanilla Jam on hand thanks to my great BB citrus add-ons. I thin some of that out with a little water and then brush it on. If you do not want to go to the work of making the jam just mix some orange juice with a little bit of powdered sugar and some vanilla until you get a glazey consistency and brush that on. Then, while the rolls are still warm add dollops of the cream cheese frosting. If you are like me you will need a little extra container of the frosting- like that famous food court favorite but WAY, WAY better!
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 5 Tbls butter, softened
- 1 Tbls Orange Juice
- 1 Tbls grated orange zest
- 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- Combine the sugar and the zest and set aside.
- Beat the cream cheese, butter, and orange juice until smooth.
- Add the confectioners' sugar a bit at a time beating after each addition.
- Scrape the bowl as needed and keep beating until the frosting is desired consistency.
Virginia’s Festive Fruit Salad is one of those dishes that you will either love or loathe. The family is split on this one but those in the “Love” camp will not let a holiday pass by without it. (I will not sway you in one direction or another by telling you my position on the fruit salad- you’ll just have to try it for yourself)
- 2 cans mandarin oranges
- 1 cans pineapple tidbits
- 1 jar maraschino cherries
- 3-4 bananas sliced
- 2-3 apples diced
- Chopped Nuts
- Sour Cream (8oz)
- Shredded coconut
- mini marshmallows
- Drain the canned oranges and pineapple.
- Save the juice in a big bowl and add in the diced apples and the bananas.
- After that has sat for a few minutes, drain it and reserve 2-3 tbls of the juice.
- Gently mix all of the fruit together.
- Whip the sour cream and the reserved juice and then fold into the fruit mixture.
- Gently fold in shredded coconut (we like lots), nuts, and mini marshmallows.
- Top with more nuts and coconut
Rudolph’s Red Smoothies are a fun way to get some fruit into the morning menu and the kiddos absolutely love them. The key to making these really special is to top them with a nice dollop of whipped cream, sprinkle that with cinnamon to get a brown reindeer tint, and then place a halved cherry or red berry in the middle so Rudolph’s nose will shine away. Top it off with two little chocolate or pretzel stick antlers and mini chocolate chip eyes. It’s generally warm enough in Las Vegas to enjoy these smoothies throughout the holidays. If you live in a colder climate this could easily be done with Hot Cocoa.
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup cherries
- (or 1 1/2 cups of the red fruits of your choice)
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup yogurt of your choice
- 1 cup milk or milk alternative
- (you can also use 1 1/2 cups kefir in place of the yogurt and milk)
- 1/2 cup ice cubes (unless this is made using frozen fruits in which case I don't find much need for the ice)
- 2 small pretzel sticks
- Blend together the fruits, yogurt, milk, and ice.
- Top with whipped cream.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and set a "red nose" (cherry, or raspberry) in the middle.
- Set two pretzel sticks at the top for Rudolph's antlers
The family Christmas Eve breakfast is a tradition that we happened to stumble upon but I am so glad that we did. It is one of our most treasured moments each year. I hope that this holiday season will find you making room for the moments that count. Scramble up a casserole, snuggle up to a Rudolph smoothie, and gather the family for a breakfast tradition you will never forget.
Can you tell me exactly how you enter (and what) to get Google to give you recipies for the items in the baskets??? I love the idea.