For a busy Christmas Day, try a brunch buffet

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Christmas morning. What a magical and exciting time for children of all ages. We start our Christmas morning being awakened by our two children, with squeals of excitement of the overnight arrival of Santa Claus. As they quickly explore the names on each gift and scurry among them to find their own, it is so joyful for me to sit and watch them and share in their innocent thrilling excitement.

After that whirlwind we hurry up the street to Nana and Pop's house for Christmas morning brunch and family time with all the McClanahan family. Every year Nana has her tables set so beautifully and the buffet is aromatically filling the air as we exchange gifts. My brother-in-law Collin is always the first one finished with gifts and he is anxious to move right on to the food. I on the other hand am the very last one finished with gifts, as I always get so caught up in watching everyone else I forget to open mine. Oh well, I have just learned to hurry through them to get finished just as the brunch items are ready from the oven.

Last week we had a request for brunch ideas and recipes for your favorite Christmas morning brunch foods. We have several to share with you today, so let's get right to those.

My dear friend Amber Larson makes oranges soar to new heights when she makes her special sliced oranges. The zest of the lime and lemon gives them a little zip.

Special Sliced Oranges

10 navel oranges

Grated rind of 1 lime

Grated rind of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons sugar, or as desired

Peel 9 oranges as gently as possible and remove all the white pith, cutting or scraping it off with a knife blade. Grate the rind of both the lime and the lemon into small bowl, being careful not to get any white pith. Add the juice of the remaining orange, lime and lemon; blend in the sugar. Thinly slice the oranges and arrange on platter. Pour juice mixture over oranges. Cover and refrigerate, "basting" every so often with accumulated juice.

My cousin, Cindy Dude from Parker, Colo., comes to visit each July and they always stay with us. A few summers ago I made a sausage and apple breakfast bake that was different and very good. Her family enjoyed it and I hope you do, too. I used Granny Smith apples in the one I prepared, and I enjoyed the tartness of the apples.

Sausage and Apple Breakfast Bake

1 pound bulk sausage

1 large onion, chopped

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 large tart apples, peeled, cored and chopped

3/4 cup dried herb stuffing mix

2 eggs

1 (17 1/4 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a large baking sheet and set aside. Brown sausage and onion together; drain. In large bowl, combine sausage, cheese, apples and stuffing. Cover and refrigerate at this point if making ahead. Beat one of the eggs and add to bowled mixture. On a lightly floured board, roll out each of the two puff pastry sheets to a 14-by-18-inch rectangle. Spoon 1/2 of the filling down the center of each rectangle, starting 3 inches from the top and ending 3 inches from the bottom. Fold the top and bottom edges of the pastry over the filling. Then cut the pastry on either side of the filling into diagonal strips about 1/2-inch wide. Fold the strips alternately from each side, over the filling. Make a second roll following the same directions. Beat the egg and brush this wash over both. Bake 30 minutes until puffed and browned.

Cindy likes to cook and I have enjoyed many wonderful breakfasts around their table. She makes several good overnight casseroles, and I will share one recipe with you today.

Overnight Brunch Casserole

8 slices bread, crusts removed and cubed

1/2 sticks butter or margarine

2 cups milk

8 ounces grated cheddar cheese

1 can mushroom soup

5 eggs

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash pepper

1 pound sausage

Brown, drain and crumble sausage. Melt butter in a 9-by-13-inch pan and put in bread cubes. Beat eggs and 11 ounces milk. Add sausage, salt, pepper and dry mustard to egg mixture. Pour over bread cubes. Sprinkle cheese on top and refrigerate overnight. Before baking add 5 ounces milk to cream of mushroom soup and pour over top. Bake in uncovered pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Makes 10 servings.

Joan Weeks of Cape Girardeau has shared several of her favorite brunch recipes with you today.

Orange Upside Down French Toast

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2/3 cup fresh orange juice

8 slices firm white bread

Melt butter in a 10-by-15-inch jellyroll pan. Combine sugar, cinnamon and orange rind; sprinkle with melted butter. In a separate bowl mix eggs and juice. Dip bread, soaking well. Arrange bread on top of butter and sugar mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. Watch carefully not to overbrown. Lift out of pan onto a plate when serving.

Sunny Eggs

8 slices Canadian bacon

8 ounces Swiss cheese slices, or shredded

8 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

Grated Parmesan cheese

Line shallow 9-by-13-inch baking dish with bacon. Cover with Swiss cheese. Break eggs over all. Drizzle cream over white until just the yolks peek through. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Take out and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cut in squares and serve. Could be cooked in individual ramekins. Serve with broiled peach or grapefruit halves, if desired.

Broccoli and Ham Wrap-Arounds

1 pound fresh broccoli or 2 packages frozen broccoli spears

16 slices ham

3 cups cubed French or Italian bread

1 1/2 cups white wine

3/4 pound Swiss cheese, shredded

3 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/2 clove garlic, crushed

Cook broccoli in boiling salted water until tender-crisp. Drain. Wrap each spear with ham slice and arrange in a shallow 3-quart casserole. Toast bread cubes in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and sprinkle around sides of casserole. Heat wine, but do not boil. Mix cheese and flour and add to wine 1/2 cup at a time. Stir with wooden spoon until cheese melts. Add mustard and garlic. Drizzle sauce over entire surface of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

When the casserole is finished baking, arrange blanched broccoli florets around perimeter of casserole. Enjoyed served with fruit in cassis.

Fruit in Cassis

1 (10 ounce) package frozen red raspberries, thawed

2 ounces crème de cassis

3 peaches, peeled and sliced

1 cup green grapes

1 cup bing cherries, pitted or black grapes

1 banana, sliced

Any colorful fresh fruit that mixes well with above may be added.

Purée raspberries with cassis. Combine fruits and add raspberry purée. Mix gently. Chill.

I wish I had room for about a dozen more recipes today, but for now I will close with one last recipe for sausage bread.

Sausage Bread

1 cup raisins

1 pound bulk hot sausage

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup chopped pecans

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup cold coffee

1 teaspoon baking soda

Simmer the raisins in water to cover for 5 minutes and drain. Mix sausage, brown and white sugars and eggs. Stir in nuts and raisins. Mix flour, spices and baking powder. Stir baking soda into coffee. Blend coffee and flour mixture into sausage mixture. Pour into a greased, floured 9-inch tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

I hope each that as each of you plan your Christmas morning brunch, you enjoy the spirit of Christmas in your heart which is filled with love and gladness. May God bless you this holiday season and always. So, until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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