Food=love in my books.
So, I’ve decided to share recipes that have some connection/significance in my books and/or my life. Since today is New Year’s Eve, I decided not bug my writer pals and instead share a family favorite you prepare tonight to bake and serve in the morning–when you really need it. 😉
Recipe Type: main dish
This recipe has been adapted from many and passed down to me from my mother-in-law, Mae Salonen. She liked to use Texas Toast type of bread, but my husband prefers sour dough. The original recipe advised uncut white sandwich bread.
- 3T unsalted butter, softened
- 8 slices white bread
- 12 ounces shredded cheddar cheese (we use a marbled yellow and white mixed with a little pepper jack)
- 8 eggs
- 3 C milk
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 t pepper
- 1 t dry mustard
- 1/2 t hot sauce (or to taste)
- Butter the bottoms and sides of a baking dish.
- Spread softened butter over one side of the bread slices then cut into 1″ pieces. Spread the bread pieces evenly in prepared pan. Top with one half of the cheese. Repeat with second layer.
- Whisk eggs in large bowl with milk, onion and spices.
- Pour mixture over bread. Press lightly to submerge.
- Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- To cook, place on middle rack of pre-heated oven (350-degrees). Bake uncovered until puffed and golden brown (about one hour).
- Variations we enjoy: add browned sausage, green chilies, sun-dried tomatoes
So…after a busy night of ringing in the new year, what better than to start the new year out right with a hot, healthy breakfast/brunch?
And as you start the new year, you might want to catch up on some reading. Here’s a snippet from My Christmas Angel–my sweet love story about second chances.
Before she could speak, Dickie went on.
“Although it took years to understand and articulate what happened that night, I came to realize children possess an inherit generosity of spirit that most adults lack. Adults make business decisions about which charities to support. We might volunteer at a neighborhood soup kitchen during the holidays or buy gifts for needy kids, but we rarely get to see–to feel–how our gift touches another person.”
She looked at her hand–the one Dickie had held so tightly that night–and pressed it to her chest. At the time, she’d lacked the words to explain their connection. She still wasn’t completely sure if what she felt was real or an elaborately embellished memory. But, even at eight, she’d known something special–something transcendent–took place at that moment.
“You asked what I do,” he said, breaking into her thoughts. “After college, I got into the stock market. My goal was to make enough money to effect change so people like my mother didn’t have to die because they couldn’t afford medicine. Now, I run a non-profit called Angel Outreach.”
She sucked in a small gasp. ” My book club pooled our donations this year and sent you a check.”
“That’s great. Thank you. It’s always tough competing for money at this time of year.”
There was an awkward pause.
Abby had so much she wanted to ask, but, really, did she have any right? They weren’t exactly old friends. They shared one childhood memory, which she’d capitalized on.
“It’s Abby, now. I go by Abby.”
“Abby and Richard.” She heard a slight wistfulness in his tone. “We’re different people. Grown-ups. We missed all those formative years when we could have been establishing and building a friendship. Do you think it’s too late to pick up where we almost started?”
“For most people? Yes,” she said, making what for her was a rash decision. “But nothing’s impossible for a Christmas angel.”
His laugh was as perfect, as real, as she remembered.
“So, catch me up on your life. Are your parents still alive? Are you married?”
She told him about her parents divorcing. “And wouldn’t you know? I did the same thing when my son was two. We didn’t have what it takes to make a marriage last, but we get along pretty well where our son is concerned. We share custody. This is my year to have Ben for Christmas.”
“Y…your son’s name is Ben?”
Something in his tone gave her pause. “Yes. Why?”
“Hum…well, this is very strange. My bear–the one you gave me–is named Ben.”
Abby felt a shiver run down her spine. “Hmm…that is an odd coincidence. Did you tell me his name that night and I squirreled it away in my memory?”
“I don’t think so. I’m almost positive I didn’t come up with his name until the next afternoon when my sisters tried to convince me to name him Smokey. Even at six I knew that was a lame name. He’s been Ben ever since. Any chance your son is named after his father?”
“None. I always loved the name and knew if I ever had a son he’d be Ben.”
Neither spoke for a moment. Did they accept this connection as a sign from the Universe? Or chalk it up to one of life’s inexplicable coincidences? Her mother believed that things happened for a reason, and for whatever reason Dickie had returned to her.
“I promised Ben we’d go ice skating tomorrow. I have to work in the morning then we have a quick office party. Mom’s bringing him to Rockefeller Center about three. Would you be interested in meeting us there?”
He didn’t hesitate. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Great. But there is one condition.”
“You have to bring Ben the Bear.”
“To prove I’m me?”
“No. Because I need to know if he’s as soft and wonderful as I’ve built him up to be in my memory.”
His chuckle was low and…well, um, sexy. It made her heart do a funny little dance step she didn’t recognize. “I’ll bring him, but just like me, he’s thirty years older.”
Her cellphone began blasting her sister-in-law’s ring tone. She told Dickie…Richard…she had another call, but she remembered to give him her mobile number before she hung up. She let Janine’s call go to voice mail. She’d call her back in a few minutes and make up some excuse for missing the party.
Abby wasn’t going anywhere. She needed time to digest what just happened.
Her Christmas angel had returned.
She tried to tamp down the giddy buzz of childlike joy that clambered up her throat and made her squeal with delight. Was it foolish to get her hopes up where human relationships were concerned? Yes. But when she closed her eyes to replay their conversation she felt a sense of peace–as irrefutable as an angel’s hug–telling her this was as it should be.