Christmas morning: Special starts for a special day

December 19, 2012 12:35:04 PM

Jan Swoope - jswoope@cdispatch.com

 

An indelible memory I carry from childhood is of Christmas morning breakfasts. In our home, there was no charging from the bedrooms to see what Santa brought, no race between siblings to be the first to the tree. Oh no, if there was one thing we were good at, it was stretching out the Christmas experience.  

 

The order of events was faithfully followed -- family breakfast, then stockings and then "Santa" in the morning. Later, a full-bore silver and china dinner would be followed by happy, chaotic hours of "Tree," the ritual by which the youngest children, as elves, took every single gift-wrapped present under the tree to my daddy (in Santa hat) so he could read aloud the tag.  

 

Elves would then deliver each gift to its intended recipient. There was plenty of communal oohing and aahing as opening commenced -- and never a shortage of laughter. You could always count on a little elf to goof a delivery; then you get something like Uncle Stanley opening lacy unmentionables intended for one of my sisters. Good stuff. 

 

But back to those breakfasts. Mother would be up very early in the kitchen. I recall delicious aromas that just added to the pleasure of those mornings, when excitement and anticipation ran high for what was to come. Only later in life did I come to truly appreciate the value of that comparatively quiet family time, sharing the day's beginning, before the house filled with relatives and guests. 

 

If your Christmas morning calls for breakfast or brunch, recipes in today's food pages may offer a fresh idea or two. All You magazine suggests your favorite breakfast casserole paired with a gingerbread granola-yogurt parfait, winter fruit salad, peaches-and-cream French toast and sweet, peppery bacon. Cap it off with a festive, sparkling breakfast punch.  

 

All these can be made ahead of time, so there's no last-minute fussing. The parfait even keeps up to two weeks in an airtight container and delivers seasonal flavor all through the holidays. You can find even more recipes at allyou.com/food/celebrations/christmas-breakfast. 

 

My Christmas mornings, no doubt like yours, have changed greatly since childhood. My beloved parents are gone, as is one of my siblings. I eventually got to be the one up early in the kitchen, making a special breakfast for my husband and son. Then we would have stockings, and then "Santa," keeping the time-honored order of things intact. There aren't as many of us now, but we still do "Tree" on Christmas night. Thank goodness my niece has kept us supplied with little elves. We still ooh and aah and laugh, cherishing the little rituals of family. And we remember. I wish the same for you. 

 

 

 

WINTER FRUIT SALAD 

 

Makes 8 servings 

 

 

 

8 oranges 

 

4 grapefruit, preferably pink 

 

1 pineapple 

 

6 kiwis 

 

1 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds, optional 

 

 

 

  • On a cutting board, using a sharp knife, cut off top and bottom of an orange. Moving the orange around and cutting top to bottom, slice off the peel and white pith. Working over a large bowl, cut in between membranes to remove orange segments, catching juice in bowl as you go. Repeat with remaining oranges and grapefruit. 

     

  • Cut off top and bottom of pineapple. Remove rough outside of pineapple by slicing it off from top to bottom. Cut pineapple in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again, also lengthwise. Slice out core. Cut pineapple into chunks; add to bowl. Peel kiwis and cut in half lengthwise. Slice kiwis into bowl with other fruit. Gently toss fruit to mix. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. 

     

  • Sprinkle fruit salad with pomegranate seeds just before serving, if desired. 

     

    (Source: All You, December 2010) 

     

     

     

    GINGERBREAD GRANOLA-YOGURT PARFAIT 

     

    Makes 8 servings 

     

     

     

    3 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant) 

     

    1 cup sliced almonds 

     

    1 cup finely chopped walnuts 

     

    1/2 cup wheat germ 

     

    1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 

     

    1/3 cup molasses 

     

    1/3 cup vegetable oil 

     

    1 tablespoon vanilla extract 

     

    3/4 teaspoon salt 

     

    2 teaspoons cinnamon 

     

    1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 

     

    3/4 teaspoon nutmeg 

     

    1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 

     

    1 cup golden raisins, optional 

     

    1 cups plain or vanilla yogurt 

     

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with foil. 

     

  • In a large bowl, mix oats, nuts and wheat germ. In another bowl, whisk brown sugar, molasses, oil, vanilla, salt and spices. Stir molasses mixture into oat mixture. Divide between two baking sheets, spreading evenly. 

     

  • Bake granola until browned, 50 to 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Halfway through baking time, switch baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. (Granola will turn very dark brown from the molasses.) Remove baking sheets and transfer granola to a large bowl; let cool, stirring occasionally. Toss in raisins, if desired. 

     

  • Just before serving, assemble parfaits: Spoon about 3 tablespoons granola into each of eight small bowls or parfait glasses. Top each with 2 to 3 tablespoons yogurt. Repeat layers once. Serve immediately. Store extra granola in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. 

     

    (Source: All You, December 2010) 

     

     

     

    OVERNIGHT PEACHES-AND-CREAM FRENCH TOAST 

     

    Makes 6 servings 

     

     

     

    1 8-ounce loaf French bread, sliced 

     

    8 large eggs 

     

    2 cups whole milk 

     

    1/4 cup sugar 

     

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

     

    2 15-ounce cans sliced peaches packed in juice, drained 

     

    1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar 

     

    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

     

    1/2 cup heavy cream 

     

     

     

  • Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange bread in a tight, flat layer in dish. 

     

  • In a large bowl, whisk eggs with milk, sugar and vanilla until blended; pour over bread. Arrange peaches on top and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. 

     

  • Remove baking dish from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour cream into a small pan; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Drizzle over peaches and bake, uncovered, until casserole is lightly browned on top and just cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

     

    (Source: All You, October 2011) 

     

     

     

    SPARKLING BREAKFAST PUNCH 

     

    Makes 8 servings 

     

     

     

    3 cups orange juice, chilled 

     

    2 cups pineapple juice, chilled 

     

    3 cups pomegranate juice, chilled 

     

    1 liter ginger ale, chilled 

     

    1 liter club soda, chilled 

     

     

     

  • In a large bowl, combine orange juice, pineapple juice and pomegranate juice. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  

     

  • Just before serving, stir in ginger ale and club soda. Serve over ice. 

     

    (Source: All You, December 2010) 

     

     

     

    SWEET AND PEPPERY BACON 

     

     

     

    24 slices bacon 

     

    2-3 tablespoons pepper 

     

    2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar 

     

     

     

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil; place a baking rack on top. Mist rack with cooking spray. Arrange 12 slices of bacon on rack. n Sprinkle on 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons pepper and dark brown sugar. Roast until bacon begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove sheet from oven. Place bacon on a paper towel-lined plate.  

     

  • Pour grease out of tray into a bowl. Repeat with 12 more slices of bacon, pepper and brown sugar. When bacon is cool, wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight. Reheat in batches in microwave. 

     

    (Source: All You, December 2010)

    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.