Have yourself a merry little Christmas brunch


Lawrence Journal-World

Skip the stress of the traditional Christmas meal in favor of a lighter brunch consisting of coffee cake, veggie frittata, orange chocolate chip muffins, and ginger scones.

Christmas morning is often filled with presents and toys for good little girls and boys. But what about their rumbly tummies?

Here’s an idea: Forgo a big ol’ pain-in-the-butt Christmas dinner for Christmas brunch.

It’s easy to make ahead of time, low-key and sets the kids up with lots of energy to play with their new toys.

Need more motivation? Note that this year, exactly a month falls between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Who the heck wants to wrestle two turkeys into the oven in one 30-day span?

A lump of coal to that idea.

Instead, try friendlier items that are just perfect for noshing before present opening: scones, French toast, eggs, breakfast burritos and more.

Whether you celebrate the holiday or not, it’s a pretty good way to start a Saturday — and stay energized whether you’re chasing after Bobby on his new scooter or trying to avoid sleigh bells altogether.

Honey Almond Stuffed French Toast

1 loaf firm bread

12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese or neufchatel

1/2 cup chopped almonds

6 large eggs

2 cups half and half

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons butter, melted

Butter a 9-by-11-inch ceramic or glass baking dish. Remove crust from bread (use the crusts to feed the birds or dry them out for breadcrumbs). Tear bread into small pieces. Layer half of them in the baking dish.

Slice the cream cheese. Arrange cream cheese slices over bread; sprinkle with nuts. Cover with remaining bread.

Beat eggs, half-and-half or milk, honey and vanilla in bowl. Stir in the melted butter. Pour this mixture over the bread and press it gently all over to make sure the bread is soaked. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the dish and bake 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm.

— Recipe from www.organicvalley.coop

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

3 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 lemon, zested

3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries

1 orange, zested

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds in single layer on baking sheet, tossing once or twice, 5-10 minutes. Cool.

Grease a clean baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Using a second bowl, beat eggs with extracts and lemon and orange zests. Stir egg mixture into dry mixture until nearly incorporated; stir in almonds and dried cranberries until sticky dough forms.

Dump dough onto floured surface, divide it in half and shape it into two smooth 2-inch-thick logs. Place the logs four inches apart on baking sheet. Bake in top half of oven until golden, 30-35 minutes.

Remove from oven. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees. After logs have cooled 10 minutes, used a serrated knife to cut them on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices on the baking sheet and continue to bake them, turning each biscotti halfway through baking, until crisp but not darkened, about 20 minutes.

Transfer biscotti to racks; cool thoroughly. Store airtight.

— Recipe from www.organicvalley.com

Brunch Burritos

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 cup chopped onion

4 cups potatoes, cooked, cubed

1 pound Mexican chorizo, cooked and drained

6 large eggs, lightly beaten


flour tortillas, warm

tomato salsa (bottled or homemade)

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan (non-stick works well) over medium flame. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Raise heat and stir in potatoes and chorizo. Cook, tossing the mixture occasionally, until heated through and lightly browned.

Push the potato mixture to the sides of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining oil to the center of the pan. Stir in the eggs and let them scramble until barely cooked, then combine them with the potato mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For each burrito: Spread 1/2 cup or more of the mixture along the length of the center of the tortilla. Spoon on some salsa. Fold the two ends over the filling and roll the burrito up. Dig in.

— Recipe from www.organicvalley.coop

Bed & Breakfast Bake

12 ounces pork breakfast sausage

1 onion, chopped (medium-sized)

6 large eggs, beaten

2 cups cooked or partially cooked, shredded potatoes

2 cups shredded cheddar

1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the sausage in a hot skillet over medium flame, breaking up the meat as it cooks. Add the onions about half-way through the browning time, and let them cook with the sausage. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread sausage and onion mixture in dish.

Mix eggs, potatoes, cheeses and mustard. Spread over sausage mixture. Bake until set, about 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares or rectangles for serving.

— Recipe from www.organicvalley.coop

Cozy Ginger Scones

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel

11 tablespoons butter (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons), cut into bits

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream, divided

2/3 cup crystallized ginger

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spread butter over a baking sheet. Blend flour, sugar, baking powder and lemon peel in a food processor. Add butter and cut in (using “pulse” button) until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Make well in center; add 3/4 cup cream. Using fork, stir until just moist. Mix in ginger and cinnamon. Transfer dough to floured surface and gently knead until smooth, about 8 turns. Divide dough in half; pat each portion into 3/4-inch-thick round. Cut each round into 6 wedges and transfer to prepared baking sheet, spacing an inch apart. Brush tops with remaining 2 tablespoons cream.

Bake scones until light brown, about 18 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead.) Cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Rewarm in 350-degree oven before serving.

— Recipe from www.organicvalley.coop

Organic Mama Veggie Frittata

1 teaspoon butter

1 red onion, chopped (medium-sized)

1 red bell pepper, chopped (large)

2 cups spinach leaves, torn

9 large brown eggs

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and tear spinach; chop and shred all other veggies. Whisk eggs, sea salt, pepper and paprika in a medium bowl to blend.

Grease the inside of a 9-inch baking pan with butter. Add prepared vegetables and egg mixture, stir gently to combine.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until fluffy, golden and set in the middle.

Sprinkle with tomatoes, fresh basil, and feta.

— Recipe from www.organicvalley.coop

Apple Nut Coffee Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 medium (2 cups) cooking apples, peeled, chopped*


1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all cake ingredients except apples in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth. Gently stir in apples.

Spread batter into greased 13x9-inch baking pan. Combine all topping ingredients in small bowl; sprinkle over batter.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

*May substitute 1 (16-ounce) can peaches, drained, chopped.

— Recipe from www.landolakes.com


Lawrence Journal-World

Orange chocolate chip muffins are a great brunch alternative to the traditional Christmas spread.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks

1/2 cup mini real semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup orange juice

1 egg, slightly beaten


1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon orange juice

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottoms only of muffin pan cups; set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; mix well. Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips and orange zest.

Combine milk, 1/4 cup orange juice and egg in medium bowl until well mixed. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fill each prepared muffin cup 2/3 full.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes; remove from pan.

Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon orange juice in small bowl. Spread over warm muffins. Serve immediately.

— Recipe from www.landolakes.com

Apricot Cardamom Wreath


1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 cup butter

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

2 teaspoons salt

2 (1/4-ounce) packages active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sour cream

3 eggs


2 to 2 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup brandy or water

1 (6-ounce) package dried apricots, chopped

Egg Wash

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons milk

Large pearl sugar

Stir together 1 cup sugar and cardamom in 2-quart saucepan. Add butter, evaporated milk and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted (5 to 8 minutes). Cool to warm (105 to 115 degrees).

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in large bowl. Add warm milk mixture, 3 cups flour, sour cream and eggs. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour by hand to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Place in greased bowl; turn greased-side up. Cover; let rise in warm place until double in size (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Meanwhile, combine 2 cups water, brandy and apricots in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally and adding small amounts of additional water, if necessary, until apricots are tender and mixture is thickened (40 to 45 minutes). Set aside.

Punch down dough and divide in half. Let rest 10 minutes.

Roll half of dough on lightly floured surface to 20x9-inch rectangle; cut into three 3-inch strips. Spread each strip with about 3 tablespoons apricot mixture to within 1/2-inch of edge. Bring 20-inch sides together. Pinch sides and ends tightly to seal well. Gently braid filled strips together.

Place braid onto greased large baking sheet and form into wreath. Pinch ends to seal well. Repeat with remaining dough and apricot mixture. Cover. Let rise 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Stir together 1 egg and milk in small bowl. Brush breads with egg mixture; sprinkle with pearl sugar. Continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheets; cool on wire racks.

TIP: For best results, bake one wreath at a time.

— Recipe from www.landolakes.com

Christmas Egg Brunch

1 pound sausage, browned

10 large eggs

8 slices bread, cubed

2 cups skim milk

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1 teaspoon onion, grated

2 cups low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine eggs and milk and beat well.

Add mustard, onion, bread, sausage and 1 1/2 cups cheese to the egg/milk mixture.

Divide mixture into greased Christmas muffin tins.

Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese on top.

Bake for approx. 25 minutes until eggs are firm.

Note: These delicious egg “muffins” can be mixed the night before and put into the oven in the morning. It’s a great way to save time and what a wonderful smell while you are opening Christmas presents.

— Recipe from www.egglandsbest.com


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