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‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

Christmas morning tends to pass in a blur when you have little ones at home. Within minutes your living room is transformed into a mass of ripped wrapping paper, scattered bows and torn boxes — and everyone is hungry.

Even if you don’t have little ones at home, Christmas morning is one of those occasions that calls out for both taking it easy and a little something special.

The same old cereal, oatmeal or bacon and eggs don’t seem celebratory enough, but who wants to spend hours in the kitchen?

Enter the Make-ahead Christmas Breakfast. Make some (or all, if you plan to feed a crowd) of these dishes the night before, slice up some fresh fruit and store it in a bowl in the fridge, and then, as soon as you wake up on Christmas morning, preheat the oven and pop in the casseroles. Voila! Your once-a-year breakfast feast will be ready before the last bow hits the floor.

Breakfast Sausage Casserole


Cooking Spray 1—16 oz package of country sausage, thawed 8—1 1/2 oz slices of white or sourdough bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 8 cups) 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 3 cups milk, divided 1 cup of egg substitute 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 (10.75 oz) can of cream of mushroom soup

Directions: Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat and brown the sausage, stirring well to crumble. Arrange the bread cubes in a 13x9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top evenly with cooked sausage and cheddar cheese. Combine 2 1/2 cups milk, egg substitute and Dijon mustard, stirring with a whisk. Pour over bread mixture in the dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Christmas morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the casserole. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup milk and the cream of mushroom soup with a whisk, then pour over the bread mixture. Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Hash Brown Casserole


6 slices of bacon 1 cup chopped onion 2 garlic cloves, minced 1—32 oz package frozen hash browns 1 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese blend 1/2 cup chopped green onions 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1—10.75 oz cream of mushroom soup Cooking Spray

Directions: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and crumble it. Discard the pan drippings. Add 1 cup green onions and garlic to the pan, cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the hash browns. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine crumbled bacon, 1/4 cup cheese, green onions, sour cream, salt, pepper and soup in a large bowl. Add potato mixture; toss gently to combine. Spoon mixture into an 11x7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate overnight.

Christmas morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from the refrigerator, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Bake casserole, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until bubbly around the edges and cheese begins to brown. Serves 6.

Overnight Caramel French Toast


1 cup packed light brown sugar 1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup 1/4 cup butter Cooking spray 10 slices white or soft French bread 2 1/2 cups of milk 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions: Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan to make the syrup. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly, stirring constantly. Pour mixture evenly into a 13x9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange bread slices in a single layer over syrup in the dish. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through the eggs) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over the bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Christmas morning: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar with the cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the bread. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 10.

And if it just doesn’t seem like breakfast without a big pile of eggs, try this recipe:

Make Ahead Scrambled Eggs


12 eggs 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons butter 1 cup sour cream 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 1/8 teaspoon white or black pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions: Beat eggs with cream in a large bowl. Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Pour eggs into skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until eggs are scrambled and just set, but still moist. Remove pan from heat and stir in sour cream. Spread eggs into a greased 12x7-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Christmas morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the baking dish and sprinkle eggs with pepper and salt. Stir gently, then bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and eggs are hot. Garnish as desired. Serves 6.