Easy Winter Holiday Brunch


Hello everyone, Jess here, wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever seasonal holidays may speak to you today!  Whether one celebrates with family, friends or both, one universal thing that brings us together during these special times is food!  

 

Every year I host a few holidays, and every year I try not to fall into the trap of making the menu so complicated that I spend the day running around instead of enjoying my company.  I think that our family Christmas brunch is the holiday that I have the most organized in terms of cooking and serving.  I prepare everything the night before, and then in the morning, it’s all just timing of putting dishes in and taking them out of the oven. Instead of parsing out the four dishes that I prepare for the brunch, I decided that I’d write up all of the items as I make them together.  I’ve linked to the recipes directly in case you’d like to parse them out as well.  This meal comfortably serves 12 hungry folks, and if you have less people, it makes great leftovers! I must warn you, this meal is not short on gluten or fat, but it is a delicious holiday splurge consisting of:

Bacon

Sausage casserole

Sweet Potato Hash

Blueberry French Toast Bake

Here’s what you’ll need to make the entire brunch, most of which you can grab directly from the farm stand or your chest freezer.

Shopping List

  • 2 pounds ground breakfast sausage, casings removed
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 loaf of stale white bread
  • Amish roll butter 
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen works too, I bust into my stash from August)
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese
  • Corn starch, (2 tablespoons)
  • 16 eggs
  • 8 ounces of mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • vanilla extract
  • mustard powder
  • salt
  • cinnamon & lemon juice (optional)

Additions

Cider or Wassail are great beverages to accompany this breakfast, and a fruit salad helps to balance all of the richness.  (I usually leave that part to the folks that want to bring something to the brunch).

The night before serving-

  • Set the table, placing out trivets and serving spoons to accompany your casserole dishes.
  • Place out glasses and a punchbowl or pitcher (depending on what you’ll be serving for beverages)
  • Toast 6 slices of bread and lay out the other 10 slices to dry out for a bit as needed.
  • Brown all your sausage on the stovetop and set aside (remember to remove the casings before browning!)
  • Preheat your oven to 400 and lay your bacon onto a rimmed cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.  Place into the oven and turn occasionally until the desired crispness is achieved. Carefully flip bacon after about 10 minutes and drain off excess fat as desired. Once your bacon is done, drain it on paper towels and place in a parchment lined and oven safe serving dish (I use a loaf pan sized dish and layer the bacon).  Cover and refrigerate.  Bring the oven temp up to 425 for your Sweet Potato Hash.
  • Prepare your Sweet Potato Hash as directed using half of your browned sausage (1 pound, the other half will be going into your Sausage Casserole).  (You do cook this dish start to finish, but you’ll have time to move onto the other dishes while this one is sizzling in the oven). Place the completed hash into a casserole dish (I used another 9X11 casserole dish because that’s what I had on-hand, but really, whatever it fits into for reheating tomorrow will work.)  Cool before covering and refrigerating.
  • Prepare your Sausage Casserole as directed (right up until the part where it goes in the fridge) then cover with foil and refrigerate. I recommend using a 9X11 casserole dish rather than a 10X13 as you won’t be reducing the temp to 325 as directed, so it can afford to be a little thicker. 
  • Prepare your Blueberry French Toast Bake as directed, (including the blueberry sauce which you’ll reheat in the morning). A couple of adaptations I use with this recipe:
    • I use a little extra cornstarch because I work with frozen local blueberries instead of fresh.  It helps to thicken things a bit more.  
    • I sprinkle cinnamon on the finished casserole, and in the blueberry sauce.  
    • I also use a bit of lemon juice in the sauce as well.
  • You’re all set, get a good night’s sleep and dream of sugar plums.

2 hours before serving-

  • Preheat the oven to 350

90 minutes before serving-

  • Place the Sausage Casserole in the oven (covered with foil)
  • Remove the french toast casserole from the fridge (needs to be at room temp for about 30 minutes before going in the oven)

60 minutes before serving-

  • Place the French Toast Casserole in the oven (covered with foil)

30 minutes before serving-

  • Uncover the Sausage Casserole, return to the oven
  • Uncover the French Toast Casserole, return to the oven
  • Place the Sweet Potato Hash in the oven, uncovered

15 minutes before serving-

  • Toss the bacon into the oven (uncovered) 
  • Warm your blueberry sauce on the stovetop
  • Put out your pitcher of cider, maple syrup, ketchup or other beverages and condiments
  • Put out your fruit salad 

Mealtime!

  • Remove everything from the oven, carefully placing on trivets with their serving spoons.
  • Replace the parchment paper under the bacon, carefully draining any excess fat that may have accumulated in the dish
  • Pour warm blueberry sauce over your French Toast Casserole
  • Call your company to the table, then sit and enjoy!


About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food. She is involved with the Westford Community Garden Working Group, Friends of Fat Moon, and is the current chair of the Westford Strawberries 'N Arts Festival.