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Christmas Unwrapped

Posted Dec 29 2008 5:59pm

Happy Friday, everyone! I am actually just waking up (it’s nearly 10:00 am) and am still a little drowsy. I guess it’s to be expected after a food day like yesterday. I’m still stuffed!

It was a lot of fun to read about everyone’s Christmas celebrations. Ours started early yesterday morning, when my brother forced me gently woke me up and pulled me into the room with all the presents. We read the “note from Santa” and then woke up my parents. Every year since I can remember, my dad has written a Santa letter. Of course, when I was little it was filled with advice such as, “always listen to your mom and dad.” Today, he likes to add a little humor and talk about topics such as my graduation. It’s very sweet :) One of my favorite parts of Christmas!

We spent the morning opening our gifts and listening to Christmas music. I got some really great things from extended family members and some “blog worthy” gifts from my parents. Those included oatmeal bowls galore (which I can’t wait to use!)…

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A super cool tripod that you can apparently attach to anything and get a good picture. I’ve never used a tripod on the blog before so I’m excited to see if it makes a difference!

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And, last but not least, my “New Year’s Resolution” for 2009. Has anybody ever heard of P90X? I’ve really wanted to try it because it’s one of those workout programs for people who already workout and are looking to take it to the next level. That’s one of my goals for next year, so I was really excited when I opened this present from my cousins:

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I’m planning on starting it as soon as I get back to school. I can’t wait!

After opening presents, my mom and I headed to the kitchen to make our traditional Christmas brunch. The star of the show is the Brunch Egg Casserole.

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This is my favorite “dish” on Christmas, so of course I want to share the recipe! Also, you must make sure you’re drinking a mimosa while cooking ;) It’s mandatory!

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Ingredients (serves 16):

  • 4 cups French bread, cubed (remove crust if desired)
  • 2 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 10 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 to 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

Directions:

Slice the crust off of the French bread. It’s optional, but we find that it makes it easier for the egg to soak into the bread if there isn’t any crust (I know, so sad)!

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Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange the crust-less bread in cubes (we just pull off small chunks by hand) in the baking dish until the entire bottom is covered.

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Sprinkle the bread crumbs with the cheese.

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In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, dry mustard, salt, onion powder, and pepper and mix until completely blended.

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Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread crumbs and cheese.

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Sprinkle everything with the bacon and mushrooms. We leave half of the mushrooms off because my little brother isn’t fond of them. You can then cover and chill the dish for up to 24 hours.

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When you’re ready to go, bake at 325* uncovered for 1 hour or until set (the sides are golden brown and clearly cooked). You can tent the dish with aluminum foil if it begins to overbrown.

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Once it has cooled and is easy to cut, divide it into 16 even slices and serve!

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The eggs are so fluffy (thanks to the bread) and the hot mushroom and bacon topping (which I like to think of as crust) really gives it added flavor. It’s amazing!

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Nutrition Information (per 1/16 slice):

  • 395 calories
  • 17g fat
  • 40g carbohydrates
  • 3g fiber
  • 20g protein

Hey, I never said it was super healthy ;) That’s what Christmas is for! I enjoyed my slice with a Christmas mug of Coffee Cocoa and a peppermint biscotti - YUM.

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After brunch, my dad and I ventured out to play our usual Christmas 9 Holes (of golf). Unfortunately, this is the first wet Christmas that Arizona has seen in a long time! It was lightly misting when we first got out, but after 5 holes we had to head back in because it started pouring:( At least we kept the tradition alive! When we got back, I snacked on many things, including my favorite candy, Sour Patch Watermelon.

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These were part of an adorable package that I received from Erica of Itzy’s Kitchen a few days ago. She is incredibly thoughtful and sweet to actually do the research on my favorite treat!

I also munched on some vegan fudge that was sent to me by none other than Miss VeggieGirl. I feel so blessed and lucky to know so many awesome people in the blogosphere. When I think back to last year, I realize that I have made so many new friends in such a short time - how great is that?!

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Before long, it was time for Christmas dinner! It’s a tradition for our family to buy a HoneyBaked Ham for the “roast beast”…

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And a small HoneyBaked Turkey for Papa Bender, who is not a fan of ham.

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Along with the ham, we enjoyed three delicious sides: sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, and au gratin potatoes. Here’s a look at the spread:

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As you can see, there was also a little vino involved ;) One of my favorites, in fact, called Chimney Rock. It has such an intense flavor and goes great with meat. My brother had the sparkling grape juice that I loved as a kid.

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After discussing what we were thankful for and a big “Cheers!” we settled down to eat. I grabbed a little of everything at first, and eventually went back for more au gratin potatoes and ham because I liked them the best.

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It was a yummy meal! And to end on a jolly note, I had a delicious chocolate covered strawberry. I’m going to miss these when they’re gone!

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We spent the rest of the evening watching a timeless Christmas classic: The Dark Knight. Don’t ask me why, but my mom had never seen it and my brother really wanted to watch it again, so that’s the one we chose! I really do like the movie, but I suppose it was a little “dark” for the holiday!

It was truly a great day and I feel so lucky. There is nothing better than family. I wish you all a very happy Friday - can you believe there are less than 6 days left in 2008? I will be back later with a recap of today and another random question - I loved reading about your text messages!

Payce :)

      
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