Holidays are on their way and this time of year also brings household guests, frivolities, fun traditions and food -- lots of it. For the host or hostess with a full house, preparing meals can be a challenge; there will be abundant holiday meals and raucous gluttony over traditional feasts, beverages and desserts.
Breakfast means breaking the nighttime fast. Ideally, it should provide you with enough energy from carbohydrates and proteins to get through the day. The hustle, bustle and merriment of the holidays may tempt some to miss breakfast. However, it breakfast is the most important meal of the day. People who commonly skip breakfast often overeat during the day and have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
For holidays, follow the lead of countries like France, Belgium and Canada, which tend to keep breakfast light. Serve hot beverages like coffee, hot chocolate or tea, and juices with croissants, brioche or bagel slices with cream cheese, hard cheeses, jelly, peanut butter or thinly sliced breakfast meats. Bagels can also be served with lox, egg salad, whitefish and tuna salad. Many hotel chains offer a continental breakfast consisting of coffee or tea, juice and small sweet Danishes. Serve a mixed fruit salad using bright holiday colors like kiwi, cherries, coconut, mixed berries and white grapes. Healthy and easy foods to start your day include fiber cereals, milk, cheese and yogurt, oatmeal and waffles with berries.
Festive meals that can be prepared in advance are ideal. Breakfast casseroles, which can be partially made ahead and finished in the oven, are easy, are hearty and let the host relax while it cooks. The day before, cook up your preference of bacon, sausage, mushrooms, cheeses, hash browns, onions, green peppers, spinach or ham. Line the bottom of an 11-by-17-inch ovenproof pan. Cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, beat six to eight eggs with seasoning and milk. Bake at 350 F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until eggs are firm.
Quiches and frittatas are egg dishes that can be mixed in advance and frozen several days before. To finish preparation, remove from the freezer about a half-hour before baking. Bake at 350 F for an hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Quiche is made with a baked pie crust, whereas frittata is crustless. Beat two to three eggs with 1 cup of half-and-half cream or cottage cheese. Combine with up to 2 cups of chopped vegetables or breakfast meat. Let cool for 20 minutes, and serve in wedges. Customize these dishes to your taste by choosing fillings you and your guests love.
Another hearty breakfast is fruit and streusel French toast. Butter a deep-dish pie pan, and line it with bread. (Crustless sourdough bread is recommended.) Boil cider with raisins and cranberries. Combine four large eggs (beaten) with milk, cinnamon and salt. Pour half the mix over the bread. Let it sit for a minute or two, and then cover with the boiled fruits. Put a second layer of bread over the fruit, and cover with the remaining egg mixture. Cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, blend softened butter with a half-cup of flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed walnuts (optional) and a half-cup of brown sugar, and sprinkle it over the top of the egg and bread mix. Bake at 350 F for an hour, and serve hot in pie-shaped wedges. It serves eight.
With these dishes, you've had time to open gifts with your family and lounge in your pj's and can now sit down to a fulfilling and hot breakfast to start the day.