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    Make your holiday breakfast or brunch special with these easy, festive recipes.

    There are so many things that make the holiday season special, but one thing is the food -- am I right? For many of us, this is the only time of year we enjoy certain dishes, some of which have cultural significance. So now is the perfect time for a few festive (but healthy) breakfast and brunch recipes!

    More than perhaps any other time of year, people are likely to be making special breakfasts and sitting down to eat with visiting friends and family. The way I see it, there are four ways to celebrate the season with breakfast or brunch before, during, and after Christmas Day:

    • Enjoy favorite holiday foods. This is the time of year to make gingerbread cake, pumpkin spice muffins, or cranberry nut bread.
    • Give your regular breakfast foods a holiday twist. Whipped butter for your biscuits becomes orange butter when you blend in orange marmalade. Or, make holiday cream cheese by blending light cream cheese with cranberry-orange or cranberry-raspberry sauce. French toast is festive when made with slices of pannetone -- an Italian bread baked in a round, tall-sided pan and made with pieces of dried or candied fruit. Turn scones into a holiday treat by making cranberry-orange scones.
    • Celebrate your heritage (or someone else's). This might be the only time of year you think to make a breakfast from your heritage, like strata (an Italian dish made by layering bread, eggs, and other ingredients in a casserole dish), German apple pancakes, Swedish pancakes, pannetone, or -- my own favorite -- stollen. Since my parents were Dutch immigrants, December in our house always meant a Christmas stollen -- a loaf whose shape resembles a swaddled baby Jesus. I loved this dried-fruit-studded and almond-paste-filled treat, and after a couple of slices, I was perfectly content to wait until the next Christmas to have it again. To this day, I always buy one stollen around the first of December.
    • Create a new holiday breakfast tradition. When you start a household, each partner brings holiday traditions from his or her youth to the kitchen table. But there's always room to create your own. For example, one Christmas eve when my daughters were very young, we made cinnamon rolls and let them rise overnight in the refrigerator. Then, on Christmas morning, while my husband started the coffee and my girls raided their stockings, we popped the pan into the oven -- and 15 minutes later we had piping hot, cream-cheese-glazed cinnamon rolls. We've made these cinnamon rolls on Christmas eve every year since.

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