By Published On: December 12, 2023Categories: Food and Entertainment, Holidays

Story By Ann Cipperly


As dawn breaks on Christmas morning, little children scamper down the stairs with wide opened eyes. After the shrills of joy and laughter as children open gifts, thoughts turn to a holiday festive breakfast or brunch to celebrate.

Plan a make-ahead menu, and bake the dishes while gifts are being opened. Serve hot chocolate with a candy cane, peppermint stick or whipped cream to children, and assemble a quick mocha cappuccino for adults to savor as new toys are being admired. 

The Conecuh Sausage Wreath can be baked and served as an appetizer while other dishes are cooking. The sausage can be cooked the day before and rolled in the pastry. The next morning, shape as a wreath on a baking sheet. Garnish the baked wreath with parsley and cherry tomatoes for a festive presentation. 

Select a hearty main dish, such as Breakfast Casserole with Bacon and Sausage. It is a holiday staple for Joy and Bobby Samford. Assemble it the night before and bake on Christmas morning. You can use turkey bacon and sausage or just use one meat instead of two. 

Prepare Laura McKay’s Sausage Stroganoff the day ahead, but wait until reheating to add the sour cream. You can use frozen biscuits, such as tea biscuits from the freezer section at the grocery store. You simply place them in the oven to bake while the stroganoff is being reheated. 

Kay Harris’ Sausage Balls and Rice in a Creamy Sauce makes a tasty brunch dish. Instead of making sausage balls, you can brown the sausage and crumble it. The dish can be prepared a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it. It can also be frozen ahead. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator for quick baking the following morning. It looks attractive garnished with toasted almonds, fresh parsley and slices of candied apples you can find in a jar or canned. 

The Oven Baked Eggs Benedict from Connie Wood is not prepared ahead, but it goes together quickly. It can be served as is, or eggs can be placed on English muffin halves and topped with hollandaise sauce for an elegant dish. 

Helen Whatley’s Ambrosia and Margaret Tatum’s Date Nut Bread with Orange Cream Cheese Filling are recipes to honor two gracious ladies who lived in Opelika and were wonderful cooks. Preparing others’ recipes is a good way to remember them. 

Christmas morning calls for a yummy, sweet treat, such as French toast or a special coffee cake. Easy Traditional Overnight French Toast is simple for young children. The other two French toast recipes have rich flavors, one with a brown sugar sauce on bottom and the other filled with cream cheese and topped with bananas and caramel sauce. 

Another option is Dawn Smith’s recipe for Grandmother’s Coconut Pecan Coffee Cake. The cake can be baked ahead and will be ready to slice and enjoy. The sour cream coffee cake has a delectable crumb topping with pecans and coconut. 

Look over the recipes and assemble a menu of scrumptious dishes your family will enjoy.

Set the table the night before with your good dishes. Linger at the table being thankful for the reason of gift giving and celebrating, as you create happy memories of Christmas with your family. 


Hot Chocolate 

Prepare Hot Chocolate and serve with candy canes, peppermint sticks, mini marshmallows or whipped cream. 

½ cup sugar

¼ cup cocoa (Hershey’s)

Pinch of salt, optional

1/3 cup hot water 

4 cups milk

1 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa and salt (if using); stir in water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly and boil for two minutes.

Stir in milk and heat until hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 


Mocha Cappuccino

8 cups hot, strong coffee, divided

½ cup sugar

¼ cup cocoa

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. vanilla

4 cups half and half

Whisk together 1 cup coffee and next 4 ingredients in a saucepan; heat while whisking about 5 minutes. Gradually add half and half; continue to whisk five minutes longer. Do not boil. Pour half of mixture into a blender; mix until frothy; repeat with remaining mixture.

Pour remaining coffee into serving container. Top with frothy cream mixture. Makes about 12 cups. Can half recipe. Refrigerator leftovers. 


Festive Conecuh Sausage Wreath

Holly Muncie 

Brown sausage ahead of time and wrap in pastry. On Christmas morning, place sausage on a cookie sheet in a wreath shape to bake. 

2 packs Conecuh sausage

2 cans crescent rolls

1 egg

Grill or cook sausage on low heat on stove top. Cut sausage in to bite size 1-inch pieces; drain on paper towels and cool completely.

On a large cutting board, cut crescent rolls down the middle making two long, skinny triangles out of each. Put sausage on larger end and roll up. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t worry about wreath shape yet. Continue until all crescent rolls are used. 

Refrigerate rolls for 15-30 minutes or overnight.

Whisk egg in a small bowl. Arrange sausage on baking sheet in wreath shape so they are basically touching and pointing the same direction.

Brush egg over top and sides so they will get glossy and golden. Bake according to directions on crescent roll until golden.

Slide off parchment paper onto serving dish.


Breakfast Casserole with Bacon and Sausage

Bobby Samford

This is a staple around our house during the holidays. Making this the night before allows the egg and milk mixture to soak into the bread. Turkey bacon and sausage would be easy substitute.

10 pieces white bread (broken into pieces), divided

10 eggs (beaten)

1 quart milk

3 cups shredded/grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 lb. bacon (cooked and crumbled)

1 lb. sausage (cooked, drained)

2 tsp. yellow (or stone-ground) mustard

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. dry mustard

Coat a 9 x 13 casserole dish with nonstick spray (foil/disposable is easier). Break up 5 pieces of bread in bottom of the dish. Spread 1½ cup of cheddar cheese, bacon and sausage to the top of  bread.

Beat eggs, milk, mustard, Worcestershire and salt/pepper and pour half of mixture over bread, cheese and meat. Add remaining bread and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture on top.

Cover and refrigerate overnight, if possible. Bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until browned.


Sausage Balls and Rice in Creamy Sauce

Kay Harris

Can prepare ahead and store in refrigerator or freezer. Instead of making sausage balls, can crumble sausage and brown. 

1 lb. sausage made into small meatballs

1 medium onion, chopped

6 oz. pkg. Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice,

cooked as directed

2 small cans mushrooms or fresh mushrooms, sauteed

¼ cup flour

14 oz. can chicken broth

½ cup whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish, toasted slivered almonds, fresh parsley and candied apples slices, optional

Brown sausage balls in skillet and drain. Cook onions in drippings. 

Prepare rice according to instructions (do not overcook) and set aside.

Combine sausage balls, onions, cooked rice and mushrooms in a large bowl. 

In saucepan, combine flour and whipping cream until smooth. Add chicken broth and cook until thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste and combine with sausage and rice.

Pour in greased casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serves 8-10. Easily doubles. May be prepared ahead and refrigerated or frozen. Thaw frozen casserole in refrigerator the night before baking.

Garnish if desired. 


Oven Baked Eggs Benedict

Connie Wood

While this dish is not prepared ahead, it can be assembled quickly. Be sure eggs are completely cooked for children or anyone with health issues. Dish can be served as baked without the English muffins or hollandaise sauce. It is also good served with grits. 

12 thin slices Canadian bacon

12 oz. shredded Swiss cheese

12 eggs

1 cup whipping cream

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

½ cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. paprika

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, optional

English muffins, optional

Hollandaise sauce, optional

Place Canadian bacon in single layer in a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch or larger pan; sprinkle Swiss cheese on top, creating small nests for eggs. Can cover and chill until ready to bake.

Break eggs over cheese. Pour whipping cream over eggs; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan and paprika. Bake 5 or more minutes until desired doneness.

Let sit 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

Can serve as is or cut into 12 portions and serve on English muffins with hollandaise sauce. Can use packaged hollandaise sauce to save time. 


Sausage Stroganoff over Biscuits  for Christmas Morning

Laura McKay

Can prepare a day ahead and reheat Christmas morning. If making ahead, wait to add the sour cream just before serving. Can use frozen biscuits. Can also serve over grits. 

1 clove garlic, minced

2 lbs. sausage

3 Tbsp. flour

2 cups milk 

2 large onions, chopped

1 pack fresh mushrooms

2 Tbsp. butter

2 tsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pint sour cream

Brown sausage well with garlic. Drain sausage well and dredge with flour. Pour off grease in pan. Return sausage and milk to pan and simmer until slightly thickened. Set aside. 

Sauté onions and mushrooms in butter. Add soy sauce and Worcestershire, onions, mushrooms and seasonings to the sausage cream mixture. When mixture bubbles, add sour cream.

I make the mixture the day before and reheat. Once the mixture bubbles I then add the sour cream. Serve over biscuits or grits. 


Southern Creamy Grits

For cheese grits, stir in 1 to 2 cups grated Gouda or cheddar cheese to cooked grits. Recipe is easy to double, and can be prepared ahead and refrigerated or frozen. 

2 cups chicken stock or water

2 cups milk 

1 cup stone ground grits

1 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. butter

¼ cup heavy cream to taste, optional

Combine first four ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer about 20 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add butter and cream. Can cover and keep warm in oven until ready to serve.


Margaret Tatum’s Date Nut Bread with Orange Cream Cheese Filling

Can be baked ahead and frozen

8 oz. chopped dates

1 ½ cup boiling water

Pour water over dates and let sit for 15 minutes.

1 stick butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 ¾ cups plain flour

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

¾ cup chopped pecans

Orange Cream Cheese Filling:

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

½ to 1 tsp. grated orange rind (dried or fresh)

1 Tbsp. orange juice

1 Tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

To make bread, cream butter and sugar until creamy. Add beaten eggs and remaining bread ingredients until smooth. Add chopped pecans and stir well.

Grease loaf pans and line with wax paper. Bake at 325 for 1 hour or until done.

Remove from pans.

Combine ingredients for Orange Cream Cheese Filling. Slice bread in half; spread with filling. Wrap with wax paper and store in refrigerator until needed.

Bread may be baked ahead of time and frozen. A few days before needed, slice in half and add cream cheese filling. Rewrap with wax paper and store in refrigerator.

Makes one 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan or three 7 x 3 x 2-nch loaf pans.


Crème Brulee French Toast

Assemble the night before and bake the next morning.

1 stick butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. corn syrup

French bread

5 eggs

1 ½ cups half and half

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. salt

In a small saucepan, melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into a 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Slice center part of bread into 1-inch slices. Arrange bread slices in one layer over brown sugar mixture.

Whisk eggs, half and half, vanilla and salt until blended. Pour over bread. Cover and chill overnight. 

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffy and lightly brown. 

Invert onto a serving tray with caramel topping, drizzling over sides or cut into squares and invert onto a plate. Can be prepared in two small pans or served without inverting.


Banana Foster French Toast with Caramel Sauce

Prepare night before.

Adapted from Two Meeting Street Inn, Charleston, S.C.

1 loaf French bread

2 ripe bananas

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 cup whipping cream, divided

6 eggs, beaten

1¼ cups milk

Dash of nutmeg

½ tsp. vanilla

½ cup pecan pieces, chopped 


Brown sugar

Sliced bananas

Grease 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Slice bread ½ inch thick. Layer bottom of dish with half of the bread.  Fill in empty spaces with sections of bread. 

Beat cream cheese in food processor or mixer; add bananas and brown sugar; beat again. Add ¾ cup cream while blending. Spread filling over bread.

Beat eggs, remaining ¼ cup whipping cream, milk, vanilla and nutmeg.

Place another layer of bread; then pour egg mixture over dish. 

Sprinkle with pecans pieces, cinnamon and brown sugar.

Refrigerate overnight.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until set. Serve with Caramel Sauce.

Caramel Sauce:

1 stick butter

1¾ cups brown sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup heavy cream

Combine ingredients in saucepan and bring to rolling boil, stirring constantly about 1½ to 2 minutes until thickened. If sauce becomes too thick when cool, warm a few seconds in the microwave to thin. 

Top French toast with sliced
bananas and Caramel Sauce.


Grandmother’s Coconut Pecan Coffee Cake

Dawn Smith

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter, room temperature

2 eggs

8 oz. sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

Cream sugar and butter; add remaining ingredients. Then add the following:

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup flaked coconut 

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine ingredients.

Put half of dough mixture in a greased tube pan. Add half of crumb mixture and add remaining dough. Top with rest of crumb topping mix.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until tests done. 


Traditional Overnight French Toast

1 loaf French bread or regular sliced bread

8 eggs

2 cups milk

1 cup half and half

1 ½ Tbsp. sugar

¾ tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. vanilla


2 Tbsp. butter, softened

Confectioner’s sugar or syrup for serving

Slice French bread and place in a greased 9 by 13 inch pan. Mix eggs, milk, cream, sugar, salt, vanilla and two dashes of cinnamon. Pour over bread; cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake, spread softened butter over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Dust top with confectioner’s sugar or serve with syrup. 


Helen Whatley’s Ambrosia

20 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

2 cups shredded coconut

1 ½ cup fresh pineapple chunks

3 oz. Maraschino cherries with juice

1 cup sugar or to taste

Combine and serve in crystal bowl.

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