My younger daughter is getting married the week before Christmas. It's always a busy time of year. This year, even more so. These next few weeks there will be lots of houseguests, and I'm preparing now to welcome them and stay sane.
See also: More cooking tips and recipes from Pam
That means developing a strategy. One of mine is to offer just two meals — a filling late-morning brunch followed by dinner at dusk. For early risers we set up the coffee and put out a loaf of good bread, but brunch is our first official meal of the day.
One of my go-to brunch recipes is strata. It's easy to prepare and can be (but doesn't have to be) made a day or two ahead. Strata also has another selling point. Kids generally love it — after all, it's just cheese and milk and bread — making it ideal for intergenerational gatherings.
Of course, you can add ham or sausage to strata, but I prefer to keep mine plain cheese or veggie, which means it works for everyone. This time of year I've chosen roasted red peppers and canned green chiles. Not only do they offer great seasonal color, they don't need to be sautéed. Just dice and you're done.
Another holiday strategy — bake a festive spiral-cut ham to round out the meal. Leftovers are great for sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres and snacks throughout the holiday. And don't forget: save the bone for bean, lentil, or split pea soup.
Chocolate muffins with white chocolate and cherries make another festive addition to the brunch. Measure ingredients the night before so that all you have to do is mix and bake in the morning.
If you're ever going to serve sparkling wine, 'tis the season. This year instead of the usual mimosas, make it pomosas — pomegranate juice and sparkling wine. I like pomegranate juice because it's good for you, it makes a pretty drink and it's not too sweet, so it doesn't mask the bracing quality of a good Brut. If you don't want to serve wine, set out bottles of sparkling water and let everyone make pomegranate spritzers or simply buy a larger bottle of juice and serve it straight up.
Make a simple salad — green, fruit or, better yet, a mix of both — and you've got a beautiful satisfying meal that should keep everyone happy until the next meal — and that would be dinner!