On Christmas morning we pretty much follow what has become a family tradition: coffee, juice and miniature muffins to assuage growling tummys, then we move (with the former in hand) to the living room and take down the stockings, which Santa hopefully filled with goodies and not coal. Often, depending on the age and impatience of the kids, we let them go and peak at their stockings right away. We're not Scrooges, after all.

Gifts under the tree come next. We adults leisurely take turns, keeping half an eye on the kids who are at this point madly ripping and tearing. Long about 10 or 10:30, someone suggests Bellinis. Ah yes. Good timing. Excellent thinking. I'm up for that. Mmmmmm. We follow with brunch around 11 or 11:30.

This year we're going to start with some Limoncello-drizzled fruit and a heavenly lemon curd/yogurt topping. I served it for the first time last year and it was a smash hit. You can find the recipe HERE. Then out comes our "souffle". Now my brunch dish is another tradition in our family... I have been making it since my kids were little. I must confess other than the egg to milk to bread proportion, I kind of fudge with the cheese and bacon amounts- sometimes using more than called for. And I often double or at least 1 1/2 the recipe. Everyone likes to pick at it in the kitchen all afternoon. You make it the night before and it bakes while we are opening gifts; the bacon and cheese aroma wafts through the house...can anything smell better in the morning? I think this year, just to add insult to injury, I may serve Ina's sticky buns. You will find Ina's recipe HERE. Do you think I've planned to serve enough fatty foods so far? On the 26th we're all going to need those wretched green drinks that (supposedly) cleanse our systems! And yet there is more to follow: we have our main Christmas meal in the evening!

Now I love to fuss over table settings. Do you? There were only six of us last year, but here's what our brunch table looked like.

Any traditions in your family? Please share.

My Christmas Brunch "Souffle"

7 big slices bread- I use challah

8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 strips bacon, cut in half
6 large eggs, beaten

Tear the bread in pieces and put them in a buttered baking dish. I use an oval one...see the photo. Beat eggs, add milk and then add the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the cheese over the bread and pour the milk/egg mixture over everything. Lay bacon on top. Seal and refrigerate overnight. Bake 350° for 50 to 55 minutes. I bake it on a foil-lined baking sheet in case there is any spill over. Serves 6-8.

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