We always enjoy a buffet brunch after our Christmas morning church service. It's so nice to have the family gathered around the table to celebrate this most beautiful of religious holidays.

Our simple but tasty menu has become an anticipated tradition. It includes Christmas Breakfast Casserole, Triple-Cheese Broccoli Puff, Hot Curried Fruit, Apple-Raisin Bundt Cake and Cider Wassail. This meal works so well for our schedule because much of the food can be prepared ahead of time.

Our celebration actually begins on Christmas Eve, when husband Ron and I host a family gathering with gift exchange and potluck dinner at our home on Big Long Lake, about 45 miles north of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The property has been in my family since 1927, and my grandfather built our house.

We're joined by our daughters, Robin and Heather, and their families, including grandchildren Anthony, Samantha and Colton and great-granddaughter Gabi. After brunch on Christmas Day, they all move on to celebrate with the other side of their families.

Merry Morning Meal

My Christmas Breakfast Casserole is a great choice for busy mornings because it's assembled the day before. Light-textured and cheesy, this dish looks and tastes delicious. The bacon in it balances nicely with the other flavors.

Puffy and golden, Triple-Cheese Broccoli Puff is a lovely side-dish souffle. If you add some diced ham or poultry, it easily becomes an entree.

Hot Curried Fruit is a comforting warm accompaniment that's so enjoyable in chilly weather. The recipe came from a cookbook I've had since our college days at Indiana State University.

The same year I graduated, Ron received his master's degree from ISU. We were married before I was out of high school and will celebrate our 54th wedding anniversary on December 9.

Ron retired from a 34-year teaching career in 1994, and I recently retired from my job with an insurance company.

Cake Has Festive Flavor

An old-fashioned holiday treat, Apple-Raisin Bundt Cake is very moist, pleasantly spicy and chock-full of raisins and nuts. This cake truly tastes better if you bake it several days ahead of time and let the flavors mellow.

The Cider Wassail recipe came from a dear friend in Fort Wayne, where we lived for many years. Since it's warm, wonderful and nonalcoholic, we've even served it at church.

It's also perfect for a holiday open house, which we host every other year. Ron and I love to entertain, whether it be for a few friends, the family or our congregation after church service.

I like to cook just about everything, but baking is my specialty. I've often said, "I'm a dump-and-pour cook. If you can't dump and pour it, I can't cook it." What I mean is that I'm not a gourmet cook at all. Plain old home cooking is my style.

I use lots of fresh garden produce in season. On almost any road around here, you'll find a fresh-produce stand.

My earliest memories of cooking are from when I was around 4. My grandmother Fern Shannon got me on the stool Grandpa made and guided me in making pancakes with her at the lake on Sunday morning.

Ron is the expert on the grill. He likes to do salmon and steaks as well as hamburgers and hot dogs. Now that we spend 2 months each winter in Green Valley, Arizona, he devotes more time to cooking outdoors.

The two of us also volunteer at a local county hospital, serve as house managers for the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre and are active in our church.

TOH Reader Network

Sharing my favorite recipes as a Taste of Home field editor is a lot of fun. I was also thrilled when another Taste of Home cook contacted me after I wrote about a Mardi Gras party we gave (Feb/Mar '99). It was fun to guide her through planning one of her own-from ordering the beads to planning the menu.

This Christmas, when I'm fixing our brunch, I'll be wondering if some of you readers might be preparing one or more of my recipes for your own celebration. I hope they please your family as much as they do mine.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

More Christmas Breakfast Recipes »