Start the new year in style with these tasty meal ideas

Make the first meal of the year a tasty one and make it a family affair. Each person can be in charge of one item. Fresh, dried and home-canned fruits add a bright note to the meal. Coffee is a must but perhaps try the rich, hot chocolate recipe for a change.

After a lazy brunch go skating or cross country skiing so those calories are guilt-free. Plan a day-long binge on movies like the Twilight Zone or Dr Who. Check out what is available. Or just watch one movie, like perhaps, When Harry Met Sally.

Write your new year’s resolutions. Sign up for a virtual run. The virtual runs are a new thing. Go online to find one that suits your style.

In the evening, go for a drive and take in the last of the Christmas lights.

Panettone french toast

  • 1 lb. loaf panettone, sliced 1-inch thick
  • unsalted butter, room temperature, for baking dish
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 c. heavy cream 500 mL
  • 2 c. whole milk 500 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 c. pecans 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar 30 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt 1 mL

Spread out panettone on a rimmed baking sheet and let stand overnight.

Butter a 9 x 13-inch (22 cm x 33 cm) baking dish. Cut panettone so the slices are similar in size. Arrange, overlapping, in rows in prepared dish.

Whisk eggs, egg yolks, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Pour over bread, pressing bread to help it soak up custard. Cover and chill for at least two hours or overnight.

To make the pecan crumble, preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Pulse pecans, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor until nuts are coarsely chopped.

Scatter pecan crumble over soaked bread. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet and cover tightly with foil. Bake until warmed through. A knife inserted into the centre should feel warm to the touch, 25-30 minutes.

Remove foil and bake until deeply browned, 35-40 minutes longer. Let cool slightly before serving.

Croque monsieur

  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. all purpose flour 60 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk 375 mL
  • 2 tbsp. whole grainmustard 30 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 1 mL
  • kosher salt
  • 8 slices country-style bread
  • 8 slices Black Forest ham
  • 1 1/2 c. Gruyère, grated 375 mL
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence 5 mL

Make the bechamel sauce first by melting butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture is pale and foamy, about three minutes.

Gradually add milk, stirring with a fork until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring, until sauce is thick and somewhat elastic, about four minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and nutmeg. Season with salt.

Béchamel can be made one day ahead. Let cool, press plastic wrap directly onto surface and chill.

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Spread bread slices with béchamel, dividing evenly and extending all the way to the edges. Place four slices of bread, béchamel side up, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with ham and half of cheese. Top with remaining slices of bread, béchamel side up, then top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with herbes de Provence.

Bake until cheese is brown and bubbling, 10-15 minutes.

Sandwiches can be made, but not baked, one day ahead. Cover and chill.

Belgian hot chocolate

  • 4 c. half-and-half or whole milk 1 L
  • 8 oz. bittersweet orsemisweet chocolate, chopped 230 g
  • 4 oz. milk chocolate,chopped 115 g
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 mL

In a medium saucepan, warm about one-third of the half-and-half or milk with the chopped dark and milk chocolates, stirring until the chocolate is melted.

Whisk in the remaining half-and-half or milk as well as the salt and cinnamon, heating until the mixture is warmed through.

Use a hand-held blender, or a whisk, to mix the hot chocolate until it’s completely smooth.

Do not use a standard blender because blending hot liquid can result in the lid coming off while blending.

While the chocolate is ready to serve now, if you let it sit for a few hours, it will get richer and thicker the longer it sits. Makes four to six servings. Serve with whipped cream and chocolate curls. Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate.

Morning glory muffins

  • 1 c. large flakerolled oats 250 mL
  • 1 c. buttermilk 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5 mL
  • 1 tbsp. grated orange zest 15 mL
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 c. sweetened, shredded coconut 75 mL
  • 3/4 c. all purpose flour 175 mL
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat red fife flour or other whole wheat flour 125 mL
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder 15 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. mace or nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 c. packed lightbrown sugar 175 mL
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil 60 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely choppeddried apricots 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. unsaltedsunflower seeds 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds 30 mL

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Grease muffin tins or use paper liners.

Combine oatmeal with buttermilk, coconut, juice, vanilla, zest and banana in a bowl. Beat in the egg, brown sugar and oil.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace. Stir into oatmeal mixture and stir in apricots.

Spoon the mixture into nine large or 15 regular-sized muffin tins or papers. Top with a sprinkle of sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Bake 15 to18 minutes or until muffins are browned, raised and firm to the touch.

Cool muffins in the pan five minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. Makes nine large or 15 regular sized muffins.

Cheesy sausage andsage stuffing strata

Feel free to substitute leftover bread stuffing from the turkey for the bread, onion, celery and herbs in this recipe. Serve this maple syrup.

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter,plus more 30 mL
  • 1 medium loaf sourdough, cut into 1-inch pieces, dried out overnight
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
  • 1 lb. sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed 500 g
  • 2 large onions,finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 c. finely choppedsage 60 mL
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth, divided 500 mL
  • 2 c. half-and-half 500 mL
  • 1 lb. aged cheddar, grated, divided 500 g

Preheat oven to 300 F (150 C). Butter a shallow 9 x 13-inch (22 cm x 33 cm) baking dish and a large piece of foil. Place nine cups (2.25 L) bread cubes in a large bowl.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, seven to 10 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bread.

Place onions, celery, sage and two tablespoons (30 mL) butter in same skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and soft, 10-12 minutes. Add one cup (250 mL) chicken stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost completely evaporated, about five minutes. Add to bowl with bread and sausage.

Whisk eggs, stock and cream in a medium bowl until smooth, then pour over bread mixture. Add three cups (750 mL) cheese. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to prepared baking dish and cover with foil, buttered side down. Bake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, and clean, about 40-50 minutes.

Heat broiler. Uncover and top with remaining cheese. Broil until top is golden and bubbling, about four minutes. Let sit at least 10 minutes and up to 30 before serving. Serves 12.

Do ahead: Stuffing can be assembled one day ahead. Cover with foil and chill. Stuffing can be baked, but not broiled, three hours ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature until ready to broil.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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