One of the problems when you’re hosting a holiday dinner is the holiday breakfast and holiday lunch. Isn’t it enough you have to plan and prepare the dinner PLUS clean the house AND set the table?  And, if it’s Christmas, there are presents to open! Who has time to cook extra meals???

Fear not, I have the perfect solution:  BREAD & CHEESE OMELETTE CASSEROLE!

You put it together the day before, then just pop it in the oven in the morning and let it bake for an hour. While it cooks, you can open presents or tackle any of the hundred tasks needed to be done before company arrives.

NOTE:  I use this casserole as an opportunity to finish up odd bits of leftover cheeses. (I hate waste! Aka, I’m cheap.)


  • 3 cups French bread pieces (about 1″ squares)
  • 12 oz cheese, shredded (your choice – mix it up, if you like)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1½ cups + 2 T milk (I use nonfat)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup scallions, sliced thinly

Butter a 9½” x 13″ casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle on bread followed by cheese.

In a bowl, put the dried mustard, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Pour in a little of the milk and blend, smashing out any lumps. Add the eggs and beat well with an egg beater or whisk. Add in the remaining milk and the scallions. Beat well. Pour over bread and cheese. Cover with foil and refrigerate.

If possible, remove from fridge about half an hour before cooking. Bake covered at 325º fahrenheit for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes to allow it to firm up.



Leftover Cranberry Sauce? Try APPLE CRAN CRUMBLE!



It happens every year. I cook a big bowl of homemade Cranberry Sauce for Thanksgiving and, at least, half is leftover. Of course, I’ve considered just making less, but I worry that a small bowl will look skimpy. Then people might take even less thinking there’s not enough to go around, and I’d still find myself with leftovers.

Fueled by my hatred of waste, I decided to find a use for unwanted Cranberry Sauce. I focused my mind on cranberries, and apples crept into the picture. Then a streusel topping. Then a graham cracker crust. Then a caramel sauce drizzle. Mmmmm! I got to work and made APPLE CRAN CRUMBLE.



It turned out SO GOOD!!! So good, in fact, that I made a fresh batch of Cranberry Sauce just so I could make this dessert again.

NOTE: I made the caramel sauce from scratch – it was surprisingly easy. You can buy caramel sauce, if you like.

ADDITIONAL NOTE: If you don’t have leftover cranberry sauce, you can easily make it. Click on CRANBERRY SAUCE for my easy and fast recipe.

APPLE CRAN CRUMBLE – made in 3½ cup baking dish (about 6 servings)


  • 10 graham crackers (about 6 oz total), crushed
  • 5 T butter, melted

Combine crushed graham crackers and melted butter. Reserve 1/2 cup. Pour the remainder into a casserole dish – I used a 9.5″ oval – and pat firmly to cover bottom.  Bake at 350º fahrenheit for 7 minutes. Cool before filling.

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup crust mixture that was set aside
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 3 T dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Mix all together in a bowl.


  • about 1½ – 2 cups cranberry sauce – drained
  • 3 small red delicious apples – peeled & chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine apples, sugar, and cinnamon.  Keep cranberry sauce separate.

Salted Caramel – makes about 1 cup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

In a saucepan (don’t use a skillet – the sides are too short), combine the sugar and water. Turn on burner to medium high. Don’t stir, but you can gently swirl the pan now and then. What will happen is the water will boil and the liquid will turn clear. Stay nearby because things can change fast!

As the water boils off, the sugar will start to darken. When it gets to dark amber, you’ll see a puff of steam. REMOVE FROM HEAT or it will burn. Add in the butter and stir until it’s melted. Pour in cream and stir. Be careful when you add the butter and cream – they may splatter. Finally, stir in salt.

Assembly and baking:

Spread apples over crust. Spoon on cranberry sauce. Sprinkle streusel topping on top. Lightly cover with foil so the topping doesn’t burn. Bake at 375º fahrenheit for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake another 5 minutes.

Let APPLE CRAN CRUMBLE cool about 15 minutes before drizzling caramel sauce on top. Serve warm. Vanilla ice cream can make it even better!





YAM-CRAN SALAD – Pretty, Fast, & Easy!



Sometimes I want just one more side dish for my holiday meal. The problem is time management. Everything needs to be done at the same time, but there is only so much time and oven availability to get things prepped and cooked.

That’s why I often turn to YAM-CRAN SALAD. It’s fast to prepare, no oven is involved, and, with the exception of tossing in the walnuts, can be prepared the day before. Bonus:  it’s very festive looking!

BTW, I make this salad throughout the year – often as a last minute thought when I have a bag of yams I need to use up. I always have walnuts, dried cranberries, and dressing on hand.

YAM-CRAN SALAD – makes 2½ cups

  • 1 lb yam or sweet potato, cubed (I use garnet yams)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted
  • 3 T dried cranberries
  • Ginger Mandarin dressing



Boil yam cubes until you can pierce them with a fork.  Be careful not to overcook! It takes about 5 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. You want them bite-able (is that a word?), but not crunchy nor mushy.

Mix together the yams, cranberries, and dressing. Refrigerate at least an hour.

At serving time, stir in the walnuts.




We’re getting into serious holiday indulgence time. It’s hard to resist that luscious piece of fudge, cheesy hors d’oeurves, and cups of eggnog. But those calories add up, producing unwanted pounds and New Year’s resolutions.

Since I don’t like to deprive myself at social gatherings, I try to make low calorie meals at home to keep things balanced. Soup is always a winner. It’s filling, warms you up, and often is low in calories.

WILD RICE & MUSHROOM SOUP is such a soup. It does take some time to make since wild rice needs about 45 minutes to soften, but is well worth it. I, actually, find this soup addictive – often going back for seconds and sneaking in a third later in the evening. But at about 170 calories per cupful, why not?

NOTE: In scanning the ingredients list below, you may be leery about the butter and cream involved. Don’t be! This recipe makes a LOT of soup, so the fat is diluted per cupful. The butter and cream add richness.

WILD RICE & MUSHROOM SOUP – makes 11 cups

  • 8 oz (about 1 cup) wild rice, raw
  • 8¼ cups water, divided
  • 2¼ tsp salt, divided  (I use kosher)
  • 1 clove garlic, whole & peeled
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 T butter, salted
  • 1 lb crimini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup sherry
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest, packed
  • 1/4 cup chives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Into an ovenproof saucepan or tall sided casserole bowl, stir together 4 cups of the water (you can boil it first to speed things along), rice, 3/4 tsp of the salt, the whole garlic clove, baking soda, and thyme. Cover and cook in the oven at 375º F for about 40-45 minutes. Taste test the rice after 40 minutes to see if it’s done. Remember, it’s not like soft white rice – there’s a chew to wild rice.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the mushrooms. In a skillet, melt butter. Turn flame up to medium high and add the mushrooms, pressed garlic, tomato paste, pepper, and the remaining 1½ tsp of salt.  Uncovered, bring to low boil, and cook off all the liquid. This takes about 15 minutes.

When rice is done, pour through a strainer that’s placed over a container. You want to save the water. Add enough additional water to equal 3 cups total. Remove and discard the garlic.

When mushrooms are done, pour in the sherry and cook for 2 minutes.

Put the dried shiitake mushrooms into a blender and grind them into a powder on high.

Into a large saucepan (this could be the saucepan you used to cook the rice), combine the mushroom/sherry mixture, ground shiitakes, soy sauce, 4 cups water, and the 3 cups rice water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Make a slurry by stirring together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water to make a paste. (Don’t do this ahead of time – it becomes hard). Slowly whisk slurry into the soup. Add in drained rice, lemon zest, chives, and cream. Correct seasoning, if needed. Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes.

Heat and serve.