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Make it an easy morning with make ahead meals

Overview

Published: 07/24/2012

by ROSLYN RALPH

The holidays are a busy time for everyone and no one is busier than the family cook. This make-ahead morning menu can take a little of the pressure off and lets the chef put up her - or his - feet up and relax. Make it an easy morning with make a head meals.

We start with a cheese and ham strata and add delicious cranberry orange muffins. Accompany that with a fresh fruit salad made the night before and you've got a feast.

Easy Cheesy Strata

A strata is a great holiday morning dish. You prepare it the night before, refrigerate and then pop it into the oven to bake while you get to celebrate.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp  butter
1 Tbsp  oil
1 medium  red pepper, diced
1 cup  green onion, chopped
1 cup  diced lean cooked ham (omit if you prefer vegetarian)
5 slices  bread, cut into 1/2" pieces
1-1/2 cups  sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3  large eggs
2 cups  milk
1 Tbsp  Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp  dry mustard
salt and pepper  to taste

Directions

In a frying pan, melt butter and oil and sauté peppers for 4 minutes. Add onions and ham and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Lightly spray oil on an 8 x 8 x 2" casserole dish. Layer half the bread on the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover with half of the cheese and half the cooled pepper/ham/onion mixture. Repeat the layers.

Beat the eggs, milk, mustard, dry mustard, salt and pepper together in a bowl and pour over the strata. Cover and refrigerate. In the morning, preheat oven to 350ºF, remove cover from casserole and bake strata until the top is brown and the centre is set, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes and serve. Serves 4-6.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

The secret here is to prepare the muffin mixture the night before. Mix all the dry ingredients together and store in a covered container. Do the same with the wet ingredients. In the morning, prepare the muffin cups, preheat the oven and mix the dry ingredients into the wet, fill the cups and bake. What could be easier?

Ingredients
1 cup  all purpose flour
1 cup  whole wheat flour (or 2 cups all purpose)
1 cup  sugar
1-1/2 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp  baking soda
1 tsp  salt
2 Tbsp  vegetable oil
3/4 cup  orange juice
zest  of 1 orange
1  egg, beaten
3/4 cup  chopped fresh cranberries
1/2 cup  chopped walnuts

Directions

Sift together dry ingredients and place in covered container. Combine oil, juice, egg and zest and place in separate covered container. Refrigerate the wet ingredients overnight. Prepare cranberries and nuts, if using, and store separately till morning.

In the morning, pre-heat the oven to 350ºF and prepare muffin cups by greasing lightly. Pour wet ingredients into a large bowl and beat lightly to recombine. Add dry ingredients and mix together just to combine. Stir in cranberries and nuts and fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then turn out of cups. (Note the temperature is the same as the Strata, so they could be baked at the same time.) Serve warm. Makes a dozen muffins.

Hint: Top the fruit salad with gingered yoghurt for a real treat. Simply add 2/3 cup of minced, crystallized ginger to 2 cups of plain yoghurt, cover and refrigerate overnight.

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