Weeks of anticipation, scheming and dreaming come to fruition today and I am so excited to share this with you!
Several weeks back, I asked you all on everyone’s favorite social hub - Instagram - what you needed this holiday season. The requests were overwhelmingly breakfast-centered, and I aim to please. This is my Christmas gift to you - a brunch that feels homey and festive, and does not entirely destroy your kitchen. AND, be sure to read to the end of this post for a very exciting giveaway!
A perfect brunch begins with a beautiful table. That is the way my mama taught me. She has always set the most beautiful tables for our Christmas morning brunches - a long-cherished family tradition.
My dining room features one of my favorite statements in our new home - my mandarin wallpaper, and I decided to center my holiday decor around that very wall. Dried oranges are surprisingly easy to make, and look beyond gorgeous suspended from the corners of the room.
I also used them to add a bit of color to each of my place settings. Each setting also received a shiny, foil-wrapped chocolate orange as a favor and a nod to the traditional gift of a Christmas orange.
As a host, I find that setting the table a day a or two in advance relieves a lot of stress from the morning itself, giving leave to focus all attention on the menu. And this menu deserves all the attention we can offer.
This Christmas brunch has all of my favorite components. A savory dish, an indulgent pastry, and a very special bubbly beverage.
These Christmas morning grits are whipped up in minutes. Coarsely ground grits are simmered in milk and chicken stock until thick, and then whipped together with a heavy spoonful of whole milk ricotta. The grits are topped with caramelized brussels sprouts and crisp bacon, coated in maple syrup, and topped with pomegranate arils for texture and acidity. I cannot even begin to describe how incredible this dish is - just the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
While the grits have so many flavors, this is really one of the quickest dishes, and is sure to please everyone around the table. While not exactly traditional, all of those well-loved Christmas flavors are here.
Now, for the bubbly. Mama always served us sparkling cider, but I wanted to take things up another notch this Christmas.
This spiced orange punch takes traditional morning cup of orange juice to an entirely new level. It takes all of ten minutes to stir together, and then sits in the refrigerator for thirty minutes so that the flavors can meld. Fresh orange juice, a spicy simple syrup, a heavy splash of Grand Marnier, and a bottle of my favorite sparkling grape juice for fizz all come together to create the most delicious medley.
This punch can easily be tailored to accommodate everyone at the table.
Now, for the spiced pecan rolls. Do not be intimidated by the bread! This quick bread comes together in one bowl. Start the dough when you wake up Christmas morning and by the time the presents have been unwrapped, the rising will be over!
These tender rolls are filled with toasted pecans, cinnamon, and brown sugar for a toffee-like filling. While the rolls are still warm, they are brushed with my grandmother’s holiday speciality - rum butter.
No Christmas meal is completely without a bit of rum butter.
The butter creates a sweet glaze over the rolls, which are shaped into a festive wreath and dotted with cranberries.
Your kitchen will smell amazing at this point.
Festive, simple, hearty, and sure to please every member of the family!
*UPDATE* - AND…The winner is Regan McDonald!! Regan, your Christmas Day plans sound so heavenly and I hope these knives will make it even dreamier! Congratulations!
As we prepare for Christmas, I am reminded how incredibly thankful I am for those of you who continue to visit this space of mine, making my dreams a reality. Thank you for allowing my recipes to come into your homes and holidays. To express my appreciation, I would love to help you in making your holidays extra special by gifting one lucky reader a set of my very favorite knives. These knives are two of my most-used kitchen utensils and are sure to make your hours in the kitchen a dream.
To enter, simply comment below telling me what your family does on Christmas morning. That’s it! Just be sure to comment using your email address, rather than commenting as a guest so I can be sure to contact the winner!!
This contest will run from Monday morning, December 10th through Wednesday night, December 12th EST.
Eligible to US residents 16 years & up only.
Photography done in partnership with Elijah Ickes.
A PERFECT CHRISTMAS MORNING BRUNCH
meal serves 4-6
SPICED PECAN ROLLS WITH RUM BUTTER
Cook’s Note: For a seamless Christmas morning, prepare the dough first thing, and allow it to rise while you open presents. After the paper has flown and the thank-yous have been offered, it’s back to the kitchen for filling!
8 ounces warm milk (100 degrees F)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
15 ounces all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces unsalted butter (room temperature)
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine milk, sugar, yeast, egg yolks, flour, and salt. Use the paddle attachment and combine on low speed for 1 minute. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
Fit your stand mixer with dough hook and add butter. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form a large ball. Place in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
While the dough rises, prepare the filling.
for the filling
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
handful of fresh cranberries
Place pecans in a small frying pan and set over medium heat. Keep a close eye on the nuts as they can burn quickly.
Toast, shaking the pan every few seconds, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, but not browned.
Pour the toasted pecans into the work bowl of your food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add in granulated sugar and ground cinnamon and pulse until well combined.
Dust a clean, flat surface with a bit of flour and roll the risen dough out into a 15x12-inch rectangle.
Rub the surface of the dough with the room temperature butter, working the butter out to the very edges of the rectangle.
Sprinkle the pecan mixture over the buttered surface of the dough and gently press the filling into the dough. Roll the dough lengthwise, tucking the dough under itself so that the roll is tight. Pinch to seal the edges. Cut the roll into 2 even pieces, and then cut each of those rolls into 6 equal pieces.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray. Lay the rolls out onto the baking sheet, forming a large circle. Press a cranberry in between each roll.
Cover the sheet pan with a layer of plastic wrap and allow the rolls to proof for 40 minutes.
Cook’s Note: This is a great time to assemble your punch and prep your brussels sprouts and bacon!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes or until deep golden brown.
While the rolls bake, prepare the rum butter.
Cook’s Note: Begin cooking your brussels sprouts and bacon!
for the rum butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
Place unsalted butter in a small mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, beat in confectioner’s sugar and rum extract. Mix on low speed until smooth.
Use a pastry brush to brush the rum butter over the warm rolls. Allow to cool just slightly before serving. Enjoy!
RICOTTA GRITS WITH BRUSSELS SPROUTS, BACON, AND MAPLE
8 rashers applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb brussels sprouts, stems removed and sprouts halved
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup Amber Grade B maple syrup
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups coarsely ground yellow grits
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
Place bacon in a large, nonstick frying pan and cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until crisp. Pour the bacon, along with the pan drippings, into a small bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to the stove top and set over medium heat. Add butter and melt, once the butter has melted, add garlic, brussels sprouts, and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the sprouts are browned, crisp, and have softened just a bit.
Add the bacon back to the pan, along with the maple syrup, and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool just slightly will you prepare the grits.
Combine chicken stock and whole milk in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Once the liquid is simmering, add grits and reduce heat to medium low. Stirring constantly, cook the grits until thick and smooth; approximately five minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in salt and ricotta. Pour the grits into a large serving dish and top with brussels sprouts. Just before serving, sprinkle with pomegranate arils. Enjoy!
SPICED ORANGE PUNCH
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 4-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
2 anise stars
3 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (juice of about 9 oranges)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
2 medium oranges, sliced very thin
1 750ml bottle Trader Joe’s Sparkling White Grape Juice
Combine granulated sugar, water, and spices in a 2-quart saucepan and set over medium high heat. Stir, until the sugar, has melted and then bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool until just warm.
In a large pitcher, whisk together orange juice and Grand Marnier. Strain the spices from the prepared syrup and stir the syrup into the pitcher. Add orange slices and cover the pitcher with plastic wrap.
Chill for 30 minutes.
Just before serving, pour in sparkling white grape juice. Stir gently and pour immediately. Cheers!