There’s a level of excitement in the air during the holidays that’s unlike any other time of year. But with that excitement comes an element of chaos that can get in the way of eating thoughtfully and healthfully.
That’s why, when it comes to holiday entertaining, I try to make as much food as possible ahead of time — and that includes the oft-forgotten Christmas breakfast. I make as much of the brunch as I can the night before so I can spend time with friends and family (not alone in the kitchen) that morning.
Here are a few favorites that always seem to be winners:
1. SLICE-AHEAD CITRUS SALAD
The night before: Cut the rind off a mix of citrus (tangerines, blood oranges and pink grapefruits are great together) and slice into circles. Lay in a wide bowl and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning: To serve, tear some mint leaves for the top and serve as is, or pour a bit of sparkling wine over the top as a fancy “dressing.” Nothing says happy holidays like a mimosa on a fork!
2. PRE-POACHED EGGS
The night before: Poach the eggs and set them on a plate lined with paper towels. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.
In the morning: Carefully drop the eggs into a pan of very hot water to rewarm. Voilà — easy poached eggs for a crowd without cracking one shell.
3. VEGGIE EGG SCRAMBLE
The night before: Cook greens with chopped onions and garlic until tender. Scatter into a greased baking dish. Crack, season and scramble the eggs, then chill in an airtight container.
In the morning: Pour the refrigerated scrambled eggs over the vegetables and pop into the oven. Within minutes, you’ll have a warm, healthy meal to share.
4. DIY BAGELS & LOX
The night before: Fill a large platter with all the toppings — capers, sliced red onions, tomato slices, dill fronds, etc. — add cream cheese and salmon. Include lettuce leaves on the platter in case anyone would rather have a salmon wrap. Cover and chill.
In the morning: Set out the platter with a basket of pre-sliced bagels and a toaster. Guests can customize their bagels and toppings while you can spend time chatting with them rather than taking their orders.
5. OVERNIGHT PARFAITS
The night before: Prepare overnight oats as you normally would, then layer spoonfuls into pretty glasses or jars with fresh fruit, granola, nuts or other delicious mix-ins. Sprinkle on seasonal flavors like cranberries and toasted macadamia nuts with coconut yogurt or combine ginger yogurt with diced pears and granola.
In the morning: All you’ll need to do to is set out spoons!
6. BAKED HASH BROWN CASSEROLE
The night before: Layer potatoes, veggies and other fixings in an ovenproof casserole dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning: Crack eggs straight onto the base and toss the whole thing in the oven.
7. SLOW COOKER PORRIDGE
The night before: Use a slow cooker to simmer congee, a traditional Chinese white rice and chicken combo or your favorite grain to bubble it to perfection while you sleep.
In the morning: Set a stack of bowls next to the pot. Put chopped scallions, soy sauce and toasted nuts in bowls. If you prefer something sweet but still want some early morning nutrition, make a brown rice porridge with dried cranberries, toasted almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup.