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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Brunch

For Christmas Brunch, Leigh Ann and I were determined to do something other than the usual bread, meat and egg casserole. However, after an exhaustive search and deliberation process, we settled on a new twist of the old casserole because (a) it easily feeds a crowd (b) it's easy to transport on Christmas morning (c) it can be made in advance (d) everybody likes it.

We were pretty delighted with what we had, a cheesy apple bacon strata. The recipe came from my friend DeAnna, who scanned it from Celebration of Seasons from the Dallas Jr. League. The apple and bacon made it just a bit different from the ham or sausage varieties we've had before, but it was easy to assemble on Christmas Eve and bake on Christmas morning.
Cheesy Apple Bacon Strata
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and coarsely chopped (3 cups)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4 cups cubed firm bread (7 slices)
1 pound bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 1/2 cups milk
5 eggs
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Melt the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender-crisp, stirring occasionally. Stir in the brown sugar. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally.
Layer the bread, bacon, apple mixture and cheese 1/2 at a time in a greased 2-quart baking dish. Combine the milk, eggs, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Pour over the layers.
Chill, tightly covered for 2 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 12.
I seeded two pomegranates, and Mom cut up a bunch of oranges for a spinach salad with pecans and walnut oil vinaigrette.
Roasted asparagus and some amazing cheese grits (recipe to come soon, I hope!) joined my sister's homemade scones (three different flavors) to make a lovely plate and a wonderful meal.  
With my aunt and uncle here from Tallahassee, Mom in from Quincy, and some church friends who feel like family, it was a very merry Christmas indeed.

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