I was talking to some friends this past weekend about the order of events in their home on Christmas morning. I’m not going to name them here (they know I love them), but here’s what they do: first, they open their stockings. But before they open any presents, they proceed in an orderly fashion to a formal, hot breakfast of bacon and eggs, the whole nine yards. After dining, they take turns opening one present at a time. Gift opening comes to a complete halt when someone unwraps an item of clothing and (wait for it) the recipient must try on and model said apparel for the rest of the family, receive compliments and admiration, and offer up effusive thanks. Then the civil, one-at-a-time gift opening can resume. Well, I was kind of snickering (they weren’t) because – first of all, this must take hours. And, not to make it sound like I can’t manage to maintain some small modicum of decorum in my house, their order of events is in sharp contrast to what happens at our home on Christmas morning.
In recent years, Christmas Day chaos has calmed a little here. The punks are excited of course, but they can be
threatened, persuaded, bribed, and cajoled into ‘sleeping in’ until the grand old hour of 7:30 or so. We too begin with stockings and Santa gifts (and a lot of coffee). We open a couple of presents, then break for a smallish snack of smoked salmon on mini bagels with cream cheese, monkey bread, fresh orange juice, tons more coffee, and possibly a Bloody Mary or two.
No Thank You Boy will be dragged out of bed, then it’s back to the living room where presents are passed and paper and ribbon and tissue start flying. It would not be uncommon to hear an earpiercing shriek or two. Someone will get up to grab scissors and maybe a sharp knife (packaging, ugh), return, and then be sent on a battery and screwdriver finding mission. Instructions will be read. Instructions will accidently be confused with trash. The DamDog will ultimately plow through the room and spill someone’s coffee. Curses might be uttered. And eventually, the living room will look exactly like the scene of some horrible explosion at the Hallmark gift wrap factory.
Up until this past weekend, I considered this to be pretty tame and somewhat civilized. Maybe I need to button things up around here – y’know, whip the Dam’Fam Christmas morning into a more respectable affair.
I’ll let you know how that goes.
Anyway, after the last present is open, we eat brunch. The menu always includes some sort of breakfast casserole – for the past three years, this has been my go-to recipe. It has the flavors of eggs Benedict without the stress of the toasting and poaching and holding and waiting and stirring and no one eats together because everything is getting cold. It’s also kid friendly. I’ll serve it with thick homefries and bright green asparagus, and maybe some berries or melon, too.
I’ll clean up the kitchen and the living room and we’ll all spend the day in our PJs. We’ll figure out how new electronics work. Someone will go dumpster diving for those aforementioned instructions that got ‘misplaced.’ Most of us will sneak away for a nap at some point.
However you spend your Christmas morning, I hope you enjoy the traditions your families hold dear, and I sincerely thank you for visiting my little blog throughout the past year. Merry Christmas everyone.
EGGS BENEDICT CASSEROLE WITH EASY HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
6 English muffins, 1″ dice
10 -12 ounces Canadian bacon (2 packages, or use diced ham), medium dice
8 large eggs
2 c. whole milk
1 t. onion powder
1 t. dried mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Easy Hollandaise Sauce, recipe follows (or, use a Hollandaise mix such as Knorr)
Spray a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking oil spray. Scatter half the Canadian bacon evenly in bottom of dish. Scatter muffin cubes on top of Canadian bacon. Top with the remaining Canadian bacon, scattering it evenly over the bread. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, onion powder, and mustard powder. Pour egg mixture over the casserole. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours, to let bread absorb egg mixture.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove casserole from refrigerator and uncover it. Lightly sprinkle the paprika evenly over the top. Cover the casserole with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove dish from the oven, remove foil, return dish to the oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until the eggs are set and the bacon on top begins to crisp, about 20 minutes more. Remove the casserole from oven and let it stand 5 minutes before serving.
While casserole bakes, make Easy Hollandaise Sauce. To serve, cut casserole into squares and divide among plates. Spoon about 2 tablespoons (or to taste) warm Hollandaise Sauce over each serving just before serving.
EASY HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
MAKES: 1 1/2 cups
1/2 c. butter (Land O Lakes is on sale)
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c. heavy cream** (Dean’s Whipping Cream is on sale)
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. Dijon mustard
Cut the butter into chunks. Place in a 1-quart glass measuring cup or bowl, and microwave, covered with a paper towel, on high until nearly melted, about 45 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir until completely melted. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and beat them well with a whisk or fork. Add to the butter and stir well. Add the cream and lemon juice to the egg mixture and stir well. Microwave mixture, uncovered, on high until just slightly thick (1 to 2 minutes depending on your microwave), stopping every 20 seconds to stir with a whisk. Remove sauce from microwave and stir in the mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately over hot egg casserole.
**NOTE** Don’t even think about substituting milk. It won’t work, and honestly - who cares about calories at this point?
Posted by Leah DamronLeah Damron is an avid home cook who believes in using the freshest ingredients available, and she challenges herself weekly to create meals out of (mostly!) sale items. If Sendik's ever gave a title for "Biggest Fan", she believes she would win, hands down. Leah lives in greater Milwaukee with her husband, three children, and her big black lab, Daisy."
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