A Jolly and Easy Morning Breakfast


EDITOR’S NOTE: The holidays continue for most well past Christmas Day, as friends and family visit the coast. Here are some wonderful breakfast/brunch recipes that are great for any holiday or Sunday breakfast for a group.

By Dana Zia
“Christmas itself may be called into question, if carried so far it creates indigestion.” Ralph Bergengren
Christmas morning. Those two words conjure visions of colorful wisps of wrapping paper and lost instructions to the latest digital family member. There is also the vision of the Christmas breakfast that starts off this celebrated day. Usually the harried cook is running around trying to fix breakfast, while the hungry family members are getting strung out on sugar and madly looking for those lost instructions.

To alleviate this scenario, there is a delicious but healthy breakfast that you can prepare the night before, bread pudding. I know it sounds wrong, but bread pudding can actually be crazy delicious when done right. This super easy solution is also an elegant breakfast that is worthy of a special occasion. On Christmas Eve, while the kids are dancing around the Christmas tree, just whip it up and stick it into the fridge. The next morning, take it out and put it into the oven to bake while you open presents or go for your walk. When you are ready, it is. Easy peasy, one, two, threesy.
I have included two recipes, one savory and one sweet, for both Santa and the Grinch. These recipes are also excellent New Year’s Day or any special day. This first bread pudding is only limited by your imagination. I listed what I added to my experiment, but don’t stop there. Add whatever stirs your Christmas dreams, like artichoke hearts, feta cheese, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach…. the fridge is the limit! Use gluten free bread if you want to make it gluten free. (Bread and Ocean’s is the BEST!) Merry Christmas and a joy filled new year for you and yours!

Sunday Bread Pudding

½ pound of pork breakfast sausage
Or vegetarian sausage, such as Gimme Lean
1 large shallot finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 large potato, grated
One small bunch of asparagus, broken into pieces
12 eggs
4 cups of milk
1 teaspoon of salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cups or so, of cubed day old bread, crusts removed
1 cup of grated pepper jack cheese or smoked Gouda

Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish (or use any special baking dish of similar size) with some butter. Cook up your sausage in a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, making sure to crumble it up into small pieces. When it is lightly browned and cooked through, transfer the sausage to a plate to wait. Add the onion, shallots, bell pepper, and potato to the pan and sauté with a touch of cooking spray, till just getting fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Add the asparagus tips and sausage to the pan and take off the heat and set aside. Next, whisk your eggs, milk, salt and pepper into a froth.

Layer half the bread in the baking dish and scatter half the veggie-sausage mix over the bread and sprinkle with half the cheese, then repeat with the remaining bread, cheese and veggies. Pour the egg mixture over the whole jolly mix and cover. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

In the morning, when your house is filled with happy chaos, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake, uncovered, until puffed, the center is set and lightly brown, about 55 to 65 minutes. Let it set for 5- 10 minutes before serving. I recommend serving with a fruit or green salad for a calm, holiday breakfast.

Cheese Sauce
2 tablespoons of butter
¼ cup of flour
2 cups of milk
½ – 1 cup of grated cheese of your choice
A pinch of nutmeg

Melt the butter, over medium heat, in a small sauce pan. Sprinkle in the flour over the butter while whisking enthusiastically. Then add the milk in a steady stream while continuing to stir till everything is well blended. Continue to cook and stir till the sauce begins to thicken, about 6- 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add your cheese of choice, then continue to stir till the cheese has melted into the sauce creating heaven. Stir in the nutmeg and serve with Sunday Morning bread pudding. Yum!

Eggnog Bread Pudding
I LOVE eggnog and this recipe brings together those flavors brilliantly. This recipe also doubles as a lovely holiday dessert. The Apricot Rum Sauce brings this already divine dish to transcendental.

8 cups or so, of day old, cubed bread, crust removed
4 cups of milk
1 cup of eggnog
6 eggs
½ cup plus 6 tablespoons of organic sugar
3/4 cup of raisins
½ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla
¼ cup of spiced or dark rum

Arrange 1/3 of bread cubes in the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish that you have greased. Sprinkle the bread with two tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 cup of raisins. Repeat the layering till done. Make sure and sprinkled the top layer with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Whip up the eggs, milk and eggnog till frothy and add the ½ cup of sugar, spices, vanilla and rum. Whip some more till you want to dive right in. Pour over the bread mixture and cover. Tuck it in the fridge for a long winter’s nap. The next morning, grate some nutmeg on top for beauty and bake it at 350 degrees for 60 to 70 minutes, till set and lightly brown. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving it.

Apricot Rum Sauce

2 cups of apricot jam or preserves
½ cup water
1/3 cup of rum
Freshly grated nutmeg, As much as you like

Toss everything in a medium sauce pan and heat up over medium heat stirring all the time till it just begins to boil. Cook for a few more minutes then serve warm over the bread pudding. Hummmmm.