Christmas breakfast should be, without a doubt, nearly carefree. That being said, it must also be delectable, desirable, and delightful all the while taking care of itself while you open gifts, listen to A CHRISTMAS CAROL, or zoom with the family or friends. Egg breakfast or brunch casseroles — also known as stratas — fit the bill perfectly and are endlessly adaptable to ingredients on hand. This bacon (ham? sausage? veggie crumbles? chorizo?) version topped with brightly colored chopped peppers (mushrooms? tomatoes? jalapeños? zucchini? fennel?) provides six or eight servings but is also perfect for a smaller group who also might enjoy leftovers. That would be us. Though we are rarely at home alone for Christmas, we are this year as are many people all over the world. We’ll make our brunch dish a day ahead, of course, bake it on Christmas morning, and enjoy it over the whole weekend. We might even freeze a couple of pieces for an easy weekend brunch in January.
Serving one? Halve the recipe, which works perfect in an 8 or 9-inch square casserole dish. Relish for a couple of days, share, or freeze.
When you invite someone to go to “The Nutcracker,” it goes without saying it’ll be one of the events of the season complete with everyone dressed in their best holiday duds and ready for a yummy tea or fancy dinner before or after. It’s a special occasion and worth every bit of the extra effort it takes to get little girls’ hair tied up with ribbons or talking the teenager into some shoes besides banged up sneakers or clunker boots — even if you’re watching from the comfort of your own couch this year:
Bright, briny, and brilliantly bolstered with happy heat, Pasta Puttanesca is a favorite amongst cooks short on time and big on hunger. Garlicky tomatoes, onions, salty anchovies, olives and capers, along with herbs and a little wine for good measure, all come together quickly in a hot pot and are typically ladled on top of a bowl of steaming pasta topped with grated cheese and fresh parsley or basil. If you’ve made the sauce and had a little leftover in the fridge, you know it’s also good next morning on grilled bread or scrambled eggs or even just cold in your spoon.
While Christmas seems so very far away now, it’s definitely not if you’re a traditional observer. Today is the 6th day of Christmas — as in 6 Geese A-Laying, right?
The 12 days of Christmas is the period that in Christian theology marks the span between the birth of Christ and the coming of the Magi, the three wise men. It begins on December 25 (Christmas) and runs through January 6 (the Epiphany, sometimes also called Three Kings’ Day). The four weeks preceding Christmas are collectively known as Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on December 24.
Crud. I’ve had the crud. Dave, too. Days and days of nasty, head cold life–luckily not much else like sore throats or tummy troubles. Unable to navigate further than the kitchen, we summoned up pots of my easiest chicken soups, ordered pizza when the soup was gone, and watched as many Christmas movies as two people could handle in what ended up to be more than a week. In between, there was a snow storm that left us with several inches in the drive and on the walkways but with luckily no power outages. That meant a few gorgeous fires in the fireplace to cheer us up.
When Thanksgiving is over and Advent has begun within a few days…
Advent, (from Latin adventus, “coming”), in the Christian churchcalendar, the period of preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas and also of preparation for the Second Coming of Christ. In Western churches, Advent begins on the Sunday nearest to November 30 (St. Andrew’s Day) and is the beginning of the liturgical year. In many Eastern churches, the Nativity Fast is a similar period of penance and preparation that occurs during the 40 days before Christmas. The date when the season was first observed is uncertain. Bishop Perpetuus of Tours (461–490) established a fast before Christmas that began on November 11 (St. Martin’s Day), and the Council of Tours (567) mentioned an Advent season.
(below: Next-door neighbor Mike carving the charcoal grilled turkey at his house. He cooked the bird in a disposable pan, collected the juices, and I made yummy gravy from it. I whisked a 1/4 cup or so flour into a cup of water and added that slurry to the pan- right on the stove- along with salt, pepper, and a drop or two of hot sauce.)
This luxurious bread is filling enough for breakfast, light enough for an afternoon snack, and is also perfect for the neighborhood potluck–especially during December when you hopefully have some cranberries left in your freezer. (If not, run to the store now and see if there are any left.) While it begins as a simple pan of down-home banana bread, the festive additions –cranberries, white chocolate, and walnuts– make sure it ends up anything but.