From Z to A: 3 Recipes for Christmas Morning

Are you ready for the holidays? This time, I really do think I am. I’ve done a great job of making my lists, picking up gifts along the way instead of leaving it all to the last minute, making time to see friends and I think I’ve got decor and food planned out right, too. 

This is a first, isn’t it? For years, I’ve been so busy around the holidays that I’ve loathed it. It was too much actual work. Instead of enjoying time with my kids and family, I was the one always gone physically and/or mentally, trying to get it all done.

Because I love hosting so much, I almost always find myself with too much to do and never enough time. There are the school holiday parties, the gift exchange parties, the cookie exchange parties, then work events and so much more. There’s barely time left to seriously plan for the food on the day of present opening. But not this year. This year, I will be more present, I will be composed and I will thoroughly enjoy myself. I’m going to do a good enough job for all of us that you too can enjoy some sanity around the holidays.

So for this article, I want to focus on Christmas morning and that day. We always have ideas on what to do for parties and gifts, but sometimes the day-of gets left far behind in all the planning. Are you going to have a sit-down breakfast? Have it catered? Have it buffet-style? Whatever you choose, it needs a bit of planning. 

Although I love a good table setup for a sit-down meal, I like to save that for dinner. I know the kids will vanish as soon as the gifts are opened so they can play with their new wares, while the adults will be exhausted from making magic happen and others will simply be too hungry to wait for you to finish cooking. This is why I’m a huge proponent of having it all ready the night before and having others bring a dish or two.

This is what I’m planning this year: I want an easy casserole that everyone can enjoy, a fun drink for those who want more than coffee and a savory snack to keep our sugar levels in check. These dishes are fun enough for the whole crowd, but also versatile enough to bring to your next gift or cookie exchange. Hope you enjoy them and have a very stress-free holiday season this year! (And don’t go broke trying to overdo anything!)


French Toast Bake

I really love this dish because it feels like a hug to me. It’s nostalgic and warm and comforting. It also comes together quickly so you’ll be doing less work on Christmas morning instead of manning the stove while others are having fun. I also like something savory for breakfast. That’s where you ask another family member/friend to bring a tray of bacon/sausages or eggs. Voila! Complete breakfast and hardly any of the work.


  • 8-12 slices cinnamon bread (this adds another layer of flavor)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar or brown sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of salt


  1. Spray or butter a baking dish.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients except bread and 1 cup of the milk and mix.

  3. Cut your bread into large cubes. (Chef’s note: I prefer the bread dried out so the final product doesn’t come out soggy. You can either let it get stale uncovered on the counter the night before, or you can use a shortcut I’ve used plenty of times before and dry it out in the oven. Set the temperature to 280 degrees, add the bread and toast for about 4-5 minutes. Check to see if there’s still moisture. If so, return to oven for another few minutes, then allow to cool so all the steam escapes.)

  4. Add in dried bread cubes to the egg mixture and stir to coat the bread completely. Pour into the baking dish. If it looks too dry or you’re not baking until the next day, add in the remaining milk.

  5. If baking right away, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45-60 minutes or until a knife comes out semi-clean.

  6. Allow to cool slightly and serve with any of the following: whipped cream, fresh fruit/berries, maple syrup, powdered sugar or go wild for the kids and add sprinkles.


Snowman Punch

I’ve realized that adding a little magic to our days does not have to be costly or a long-winded task. Sometimes, all we have to do is come up with a good backstory. I’ve made this darling punch for our kiddos before and told them it was a popular drink for snowmen. They drink it to stay nice and chilly all season long. It was enough of a story to get the kids to smile, and that’s all I’m ever after anyway. If your kids or family don’t care for the coconut in this punch, you can easily leave it out. It’s also great with peppermint extract and mint ice cream, if that’s more your style.


  • 1 can coconut milk (replace with evaporated milk if you desire)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (or another flavor of your choosing)
  • 2 liters ginger ale
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream syrup (usually found in the cocktail mix aisle, but it’s non-alcoholic)*
  • whipped cream and sprinkles for top
  • coconut flakes for rim (optional)

*Chef’s note: If you’re not using the coconut syrup, which adds sweetness to this punch, then you may need to add a little simple syrup. It’s simple to make. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/2 cup boiling water. Let sugar dissolve and cool. Then add as much as you need to reach the desired sweetness.


  1. Mix all ingredients (except toppings) and taste for sweetness and flavor. Add more of whatever you need to suit your needs. 

  2. Use a potato masher or stiff whisk to mash down the ice cream into your punch. It’s ok if there are a few lumps.

  3. Top with whipped cream and sprinkles.


Cheddar Cheese Crackers

This is a great snack to keep around because we love to munch on things throughout the day. Personally, sweet things in excess give me a headache. I know there’ll always be sweet things aplenty during the holidays, so I try to make at least one savory snack so we can stay a little balanced. This is not only an easy recipe, but I also like it because you can take this to your next cookie exchange. (Not all cookies need to be sweet.) Plus, these are so festive when cut out into stars or other holiday shapes. I like to add a few herbs to give them another dimension of flavor, but they can easily be left out if not to your liking.


  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 tbsp. fresh herbs, chopped (I like thyme and rosemary; just remove from stems and do a rough chop together)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp. cold water


  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Add all ingredients into food processor and pulse until all ingredients come together.

  3. Knead dough a few times until it is pliable and comes together. Do not overwork.

  4. Flour your rolling surface and roll out half the dough until about 1/4 inch thick. Flour your cookie cutters, if using. 

  5. Cut out shapes and place on baking sheets, then freeze for about 10-15 minutes.

  6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake for about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your shapes. Let cool and enjoy.


From Z to A with Zara Abbasi

Zara Abbasi is the pastry chef and recipe developer behind Zara Made It. Follow her food adventures on Instagram at @zaramadeit and on Tiktok at @happiestfoodonearth.

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