Six Make-Ahead Recipes for Christmas Morning

The Last Bread Pudding Recipe You'll Ever Need

Christmas is work for cooks. As much as I love Christmas (SLASH my birthday) I haven’t made it through one since I hit my twenties without being heavily involved in the washing of dishes and preparation of large meals. It’s kind of a drag but I will not have it any other way. Christmas without a festive breakfast and dinner is sad, which means someone has to cook. But because I also want to enjoy my birthday I will plan ahead and do as much prep beforehand as possible. To you I submit: make-ahead breakfasts for Christmas morning. Pop them in the oven, set a timer, and go rifle through your stocking for chocolates.

1. The Last Bread Pudding Recipe You’ll Ever Need. Did you know that most breakfast casseroles are just bread pudding in disguise (frequently named strata)? I love strata and bread pudding because you can make them savory or sweet, they are festive and filling, and they really benefit from an overnight rest in the fridge. I made a sausage and spinach version with gruyere using this method and it turned out pretty great.

Overnight Blueberry Almond Oatmeal

2. Overnight oatmeal. This recipe I wrote for lazy and rushed college kids, but who doesn’t want to sleep in on Christmas morning and do as little work as humanly possible? This version is healthy (so you can save your sins for dinner) and makes use of frozen blueberries, but you can use the oat to milk ratio as a guide and customize it with roasted apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, etc. And as good as this oatmeal is cold, a quick spin in the microwave makes it a lot more like traditional oatmeal.

freshly baked scones

3. The Last Scone Recipe You’ll Ever Need. These scones are bananas and completely customizable too, so you can take them savory or sweet, cheesy or fruity, and it’s all the same process. Make the dough the night before, stash it in the fridge over night, and bake them in the morning.

4. Cinnamon Rolls. Yeasted breads require a bit more baking confidence than I can typically muster, but these rolls from The Candid Appetite are so gorgeous I might leave my comfort zone for them. Bake them the day before, reheat the morning of, and bathe them in cream cheese frosting.

5. Classic Quiche. I have already signed up to bring quiches to my grandma’s house this Christmas. I’ll bake them the day before and reheat them in the oven before we eat. This version with leeks, bacon, and spinach by Foodiecrush is gorgeous and looks just different enough from my typical quiche lorraine to be inspiring.

6. Australian Sausage Roll. So I’ve never had a sausage roll, but I’m imagining that some spicy breakfast sausage would be just as at home in a blanket of puff pastry as the lamb and Italian sausage in this version from Spoon Fork Bacon. I would assemble the rolls, keep them in the fridge over night, then egg wash and bake them in the morning.

Do you have a Christmas morning food strategy? Spill. We all need ideas!

  1. Thanks for the ideas. Think I'm going with the Quiche. Although the scones looks delicious. Merry Christmas!

    Lisa — December 23, 2015
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Steak Salad with Creamy Sesame Dressing

Steak Salad With Creamy Sesame Dressing

Sesame and steak! What could possibly be wrong with that? I’ll tell you what’s wrong: I forgot to add the sliced avocado, and it’s making me furious! This is a really good salad even without the avocado, and honestly I didn’t notice the lack of it until I saw the lonely avocado sitting on my kitchen counter the next day, but I MEANT for there to be avocado because it just makes so much sense! A good blogger probably would have re-shot the whole thing but, to be honest, photography is not my favorite part of this whole blog process. Cooking I love, writing is fine, but photos stress me out. So you get avocado-free photos and a really snarky post intro.

Steak Salad With Creamy Sesame Dressing

But this is a delicious dish. A healthy and satisfying meal in a bowl that works perfectly with that sesame dressing. I am proud of it. I will make it again. And next time I will not forget the avocado.

If you have chopsticks in your house, you should use them. Salad is somehow easier to eat with chopsticks than with a fork.

Steak Salad With Creamy Sesame Dressing


Steak Salad With Creamy Sesame Dressing
makes 2 servings

-4-6 raw wonton wrappers (or you can use store bought crispy wonton strips)
-2 Tbsp neutral flavored oil, divided (like sunflower or canola)
-1 steak of your choice
-about 4 cups shredded romaine
-about 2 cups shredded lacinato kale
-about 1 cup shredded cabbage (green or red)
-1 carrot
-about half a small cucumber
-1 tomato
-3-4 scallions
-1 avocado (do not forget)
-1/4 to 1/3 cup sesame dressing


1. Prep your dressing if necessary using this recipe (don’t worry it’s super easy).

2. Start by preheating your oven to 350F. On a baking sheet lay out your wonton wrappers and brush each side with oil (you’ll use about 1 Tbsp total). When the oven is preheated, bake the wonton wrappers for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown and crispy. Drain the baked wonton wrappers on paper towels, crush them up, and set aside.

3. Prep your steak for cooking by setting it on a plate a room temperature, adding generous salt and pepper to both sides, and coating the surface in the second tablespoon of neutral oil. Set the plate aside until you are ready to assemble your salads.

4. Slice and wash the kale, romaine, and cabbage and set aside (if you have a salad spinner, use it to dry the greens).

5. Peel the carrot and grate it or use peeler to create thin strips of carrot and cut them to the desired length. Slice cucumber, tomato, and scallions and set aside.

6. Lay romaine, kale and cabbage in your serving bowls. Pile cucumber, carrot, and tomato on top.

7. Preheat a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes. When the pan is hot, lay your seasoned and oiled steak in the pan and let it sear until it’s brown and crusty on one side (about 3-4 minutes). Flip the steak and let it cook until you reach your desired doneness (read this here for more information about pan seared steak and here about temperatures). Remove the steak from the pan and let it rest on a cutting board.

8. While the steak rests, slice your very important avocado and divide it between the salads.

9. After the steak has rested for 5 minutes, slice it, divide it, and lay it on the salads. Top the salad with the sesame dressing, crushed wonton wrappers, and scallions. Serve immediately.

  1. After eating a dozen cookies today this salad is exactly what I should have for dinner tonight, but where's the avocado?? just kidding ;)

    April @ Girl Gone Gourmet — December 17, 2015
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  2. Bahaha! But what are the holidays for if not playing cookie monster? Also, DON'T FORGET THE AVOCADO.

    courtney — December 23, 2015
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Creamy Sesame Dressing

Creamy Sesame Dressing

AKA the best salad dressing you’ve never had. Or at least I had never had it, until Cody and I went to Japan for that NASA thing we did, and then I had it all the time. The little hotel that hosted us for our four-month Tanegashima stay gave us these crazy “western” breakfasts that translated to a veritable grab-bag of western foods often including an egg, some kind of breakfast-y meat, a little orange or chunk of banana, a slab of toasted Japanese white bread with margarine and jelly, and a green salad or a few pieces of steamed broccoli, over which we poured this dressing. Salad and broccoli for breakfast!? With this dressing, it was totally acceptable.

Creamy Sesame Dressing

I kind of fell in love with sesame everything while I was in Japan, so I bought myself one of these little sesame grinding bowls for 300 yen (that’s about three bucks US) and I have an inordinate amount of fun listening to the little seeds pop and huffing that sesame scent while I make sesame foods. It’s intoxicating. If you are at my house while I’m grinding sesame seeds I will shove the bowl in your face and make you share this joy with me. And you will appreciate it, or else. For people who are less freaky about sesame things, a spice grinder or food processor will do the job (though you’ll need to use a slightly different method with a processor…I’ll explain later).

Creamy Sesame Dressing

The best thing about this dressing is that it tastes amazing with and on everything. We were served it with 90% of the salads we ate in Japan, along with most of the steamed and stewed vegetables, shabu shabu meats, stir fry, etc. Lots of restaurants just had little bottles of it sitting on the table next to the soy sauce and togarashi. As awesome as the bottled stuff is, homemade is better (surprise, surprise). It’s also really easy to make, so I recommend that you do.

Creamy Sesame Dressing


Creamy Sesame Dressing
makes almost 1 cup of dressing

-3 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
-1/2 cup mayo
-2 Tbsp rice vinegar
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
-2 tsp sugar
-1/4 tsp white pepper (optional and non-traditional, but I like it)


1. Toast your sesame seeds in a glass bowl in the microwave. Start by microwaving for one minute, then stop and stir, another minute, then stop and stir. After the initial two minutes, microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring between, until the seeds are slightly darkened in color and very awesomely fragrant (mine took about 4 30 second intervals)

2. In a bowl (or the bowl of your food processor) add mayo, rice vinegar, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, sugar, and pepper if using. Whisk or pulse just to combine.

3. If you are using a spice grinder or sesame grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the toasted sesame seeds until they are mostly powdered with just a few whole seeds left, then mix into the dressing by hand. If you are using a food processor just add the whole seeds to the dressing and pulse until the sesame seeds are chopped and incorporated.

4. Serve over a green salad, with broccoli, on a sandwich…use your imagination.


Later this week I’ll post a really tasty steak salad that features this dressing, so stay tuned!

  1. […] Ingredients: -4-6 raw wonton wrappers (or you can use store bought crispy wonton strips) -2 Tbsp neutral flavored oil, divided (like sunflower or canola) -1 steak of your choice -about 4 cups shredded romaine -about 2 cups shredded lacinato kale -about 1 cup shredded cabbage (green or red) -1 carrot -about half a small cucumber -1 tomato -3-4 scallions -1 avocado (do not forget) -1/4 to 1/3 cup sesame dressing […]

    Steak Salad with Creamy Sesame Dressing | Sweet Salty Tart — December 17, 2015
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My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give

My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give - Bacon Jam

I love food gifts. I love the festive mood I’m in when I make them, I love giving them, and I especially love getting them. They are affordable, thoughtful, low-waste, low-pressure, and delicious. These are the very best ones I’ve made and documented over the years.

First up, (pictured above) bacon jam! It’s not cookies! It’s savory, snacky and, paired with a tree shaped wedge of herby cheese and some homemade crostini, kinda fancy.

My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give - Hot Fudge Sauce

My family’s famous hot fudge sauce. A little jar of this with a pint of really good ice cream and maybe a candy cane and you’re just the best little elf ever.

My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give - Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Millionaire shortbread bars. This one is slightly more labor intensive, but it makes a huge batch and they’re so rich, a few go a long way.

My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give - Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Crispy Treats

I stuff an entire batch of these salted brown butter and vanilla bean crispy treats into a 9×9 pan for impressively tall treats.

My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give - Naked Roasted Almonds

Naked roasted almonds. I know you can go buy fancy olive-oiled marcona almonds, but these are cheaper and they taste soo amazing when you roast them yourself. Add your favorite spices or roll them in cinnamon sugar, and gift them in a pretty jar.

My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give - Maryland Style Hot and Spicy Crab Dip

I’d pick up a few mini casserole dishes and fill them with this Maryland style hot and spicy crab dip. Along with a good baguette, this is an incredible holiday snack.

My Favorite Food Gifts to Make and Give - Ultimate Party Mix

Ultimate party mix. Customize your pretzel to cereal ratio, make it as spicy as you want, and (if you’re me) throw in a can of french fried onions. Bag it up, tie it with some stripey baking string, and you’re set!

  1. i'm reading this post past the holiday-giving season, so I think I am just going to make all these and keep 'em for myself! yum!

    emily — January 4, 2016
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Egg In A Grilled Cheese Purgatory Hole

Egg In A Grilled Cheese Purgatory Hole

One of my favorite restaurants does an awesome “eggs in purgatory” for brunch, which is normally just eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce with some toast. Rather than trying to poach eggs to order in pans of tomato sauce, they speed up the cooking by serving it with the egg grilled into a slab of buttered bread and a puddle of very, very spicy tomato sauce on top. It is an improvement on the original, I think.

Egg In A Grilled Cheese Purgatory Hole

The fact that everyone is into putting eggs on top of and inside of everything lately made it easy for me to stumble on “grilled cheese egg in a hole” somewhere on the interweb and, naturally, I was inspired to “purgatory” it.

Egg In A Grilled Cheese Purgatory Hole

Crispy grilled cheese with a runny egg inside and spicy tomato sauce underneath sort of defies categorization. You can eat it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or midnight snack, and nobody will judge you. Not for the timing anyway.

I tried not to eat this entire thing for lunch after I finished taking photos of it, but I did not succeed. At not eating it. All.

Egg In A Grilled Cheese Purgatory Hole


Egg In A Grilled Cheese Purgatory Hole
makes 2 servings

-about 2 cups very simple tomato sauce (I recommend Marcella’s recipe, but any simple tomato sauce you like to put on pasta works )
-1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper (depending on how spicy you like it)
-1 clove garlic, minced or grated
-4 slices of white or sourdough bread
-butter, for the outsides of the bread
-about 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
-a few tablespoons of parmesan cheese
-2 eggs
-salt, to taste


1. Heat your sauce in a saucepan over medium low heat. I like to use a very simple recipe for this, with not much more than tomatoes, butter or olive oil, and some onion. You can use a store bought tomato pasta sauce if you want, but choose something simple, without any weird meat added and minimal herbs (I think a little basil is fine). Add crushed red pepper and garlic to the saucepan, taste it and add salt if needed (it should be spicy! and well seasoned), and lower the heat to keep the sauce warm while you make the sandwiches.

2. Preheat a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Grate your cheddar and butter the outsides of the slices of bread. After buttering, lay the buttered sides of the bread down and pile as much cheddar as you can fit with a sprinkle of parmesan on one side of each sandwich. Lay the second slice on top, butter side out.

3. With a round biscuit cutter or knife, punch holes in the center of each sandwich, keeping the punched circles in tact.

4. Carefully place your sandwiches in the pan (and the circles too!), buttered sides out. Cook the sandwiches on one side until the bread is nicely golden brown. Carefully flip the sandwiches to cook on the other side.

5. While the second side of the sandwich is browning, crack an egg into the center of each sandwich and top it with a little sprinkle of salt.

6. When the egg is well set on one side and the sandwich is nicely browned, very (very) carefully flip the sandwich over to finish cooking the egg on the other side. It helps to shake the pan a bit to make sure the egg isn’t stuck before you flip. Use a wide spatula for the flip and be as quick as you can to avoid breaking the yolk.

7. While the egg is finishing cooking, prepare two plates with a scoop of tomato sauce. Once the egg is set on both sides but runny in the middle, transfer it from the pan to your pre-sauced plate.

8. Garnish with more parmesan and an extra sprinkle of crushed red pepper. Eat with abandon.

  1. mouth is watering...Ty would love this too

    courtneyh — December 9, 2015
    1. It's bangin' if I do say so myself :)

      courtney — December 15, 2015
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