The Flavors of The South
Experiencing The Flavors at Home or On The Road
by STACY PIRTLE • www.asoutherndiscourse.com
Wrapped in the magic of curly ribbon and sparkly lights, the Christmas holiday just beckons to be enjoyed with brunch. More of an experience than a meal, a good Yuletide brunch exists in that in-between place that conjures up images of leisurely time spent taking in the world at your own pace.
Yes, a Christmas brunch calls for us to slow down. To savor a little. To relax. A portmanteau of breakfast and lunch, we enjoy brunch whenever we like. Without any hustle or bustle. No getting up and hurrying about. And because of that, brunch is like a little Christmas gift in and of itself.
Hosting a Christmas brunch should be as enjoyable as being invited to one. Your menu choices don’t have to be fussy or fancy. But they should always be indulgent. Serve both savory and sweet, casseroles and finger foods. Breads, muffins, eggs, sliced meats, fruits, and a vegetable or two probably should make an appearance. Try to pull classic choices from both the lunch and breakfast spectrums. Your menu should be made up of a variety of versatile dishes that your guests like best. One of the best things about brunch is that it has a little of something that everyone can pick and choose from.
While the brunch menu offers a lot of latitude, a Christmas brunch’s presentation does come with some expectations. Remember, brunch is an experience. So, take a minute to create the atmosphere. This is no place for Styrofoam plates and plastic forks. You are a southern gal, for Heaven sakes. Most brunches are served buffet style, but that shouldn’t keep you from pulling out your nice dinnerware, real napkins, and maybe a
stem or two. Even the humble pig in a blanket gets an extra dose of holiday spirit when served on real dishes with festive flare.
A proper Christmas brunch is time well spent in a busy season that will have most of us on the run more than we’d like to admit. Even a simple brunch has a way of becoming something remarkable when surrounded by family and friends, filled with laughter and ease, and served up with a full helping of generous hospitality. And thank goodness those are things we’re never in short supply of here in the South, especially during Christmas.
It’s Christmas, and I am thinking gingerbread. And guess what? Gingerbread isn’t just for cookies, muffins, or breads… With the right ingredients, gingerbread is perfect for a Christmas crock pot breakfast. Topped with pecans, gingersnaps, and drizzled with real cream, this overnight gingerbread baked oatmeal is completely indulgent, fills the air with all the warm, wonderful smells of the holiday while you are sleeping, and is completely ready when you get up! Could it get any better? I say no.
Since breakfast on Christmas morning is one of my favorite meals of the year- everyone in pjs, wrapping paper and ribbon strewn willy nilly all about the living room, “Hark the Herald” in the background, a fire crackling in the fireplace, and family gathered all in one room- a batch of dessert-like overnight gingerbread baked oatmeal is at the top of my Christmas wish list this year.
Overnight Gingerbread Baked Oatmeal
Next to holiday finger foods (fondly just called ‘snacks’ at my house), Christmas brunch is my absolute favorite! Christmas brunch is also my favorite kind of holiday get-together to host. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because you get to have a little breakfast, a little of those fabulous Christmas finger foods, and a little Christmas dessert. I mean, where else can you get so much of all the things you love all in the same meal?
This particular recipe is a sweet standard on our Christmas morning brunch menu every year- a French toast bake, or casserole that can be made the night before or the morning of. All depending how much time you find yourself with.
Not to mention, this French toast bake is packed with all the flavors of the holiday- soaked in egg nog and topped with loads of cranberries, pecans and orange zest.
Wonderfully festive, beautifully indulgent, French Toast Bake with Egg Nog & Cranberry Pecan Topping is a Christmas showstopper, for sure. But shhh… don’t tell anyone… it’s not hard to make at all!
French Toast Bake with Egg Nog & Cranberry Pecan Topping
EDITOR IN CHIEF