Christmas Unwrapped

by Jenn (eating bender) on December 26, 2008

Happy Friday, everyone! I am actually just waking up (it’s nearly 10:00 am) and am still a little drowsy. I guess it’s to be expected after a food day like yesterday. I’m still stuffed!

It was a lot of fun to read about everyone’s Christmas celebrations. Ours started early yesterday morning, when my brother forced me gently woke me up and pulled me into the room with all the presents. We read the “note from Santa” and then woke up my parents. Every year since I can remember, my dad has written a Santa letter. Of course, when I was little it was filled with advice such as, “always listen to your mom and dad.” Today, he likes to add a little humor and talk about topics such as my graduation. It’s very sweet :) One of my favorite parts of Christmas!

We spent the morning opening our gifts and listening to Christmas music. I got some really great things from extended family members and some “blog worthy” gifts from my parents. Those included oatmeal bowls galore (which I can’t wait to use!)…


A super cool tripod that you can apparently attach to anything and get a good picture. I’ve never used a tripod on the blog before so I’m excited to see if it makes a difference!


And, last but not least, my “New Year’s Resolution” for 2009. Has anybody ever heard of P90X? I’ve really wanted to try it because it’s one of those workout programs for people who already workout and are looking to take it to the next level. That’s one of my goals for next year, so I was really excited when I opened this present from my cousins:


I’m planning on starting it as soon as I get back to school. I can’t wait!

After opening presents, my mom and I headed to the kitchen to make our traditional Christmas brunch. The star of the show is the Brunch Egg Casserole.


This is my favorite “dish” on Christmas, so of course I want to share the recipe! Also, you must make sure you’re drinking a mimosa while cooking πŸ˜‰ It’s mandatory!


Ingredients (serves 16):

  • 4 cups French bread, cubed (remove crust if desired)
  • 2 cups Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • 10 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 to 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced


Slice the crust off of the French bread. It’s optional, but we find that it makes it easier for the egg to soak into the bread if there isn’t any crust (I know, so sad)!


Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange the crust-less bread in cubes (we just pull off small chunks by hand) in the baking dish until the entire bottom is covered.


Sprinkle the bread crumbs with the cheese.


In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, dry mustard, salt, onion powder, and pepper and mix until completely blended.


Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread crumbs and cheese.


Sprinkle everything with the bacon and mushrooms. We leave half of the mushrooms off because my little brother isn’t fond of them. You can then cover and chill the dish for up to 24 hours.


When you’re ready to go, bake at 325* uncovered for 1 hour or until set (the sides are golden brown and clearly cooked). You can tent the dish with aluminum foil if it begins to overbrown.


Once it has cooled and is easy to cut, divide it into 16 even slices and serve!


The eggs are so fluffy (thanks to the bread) and the hot mushroom and bacon topping (which I like to think of as crust) really gives it added flavor. It’s amazing!


Nutrition Information (per 1/16 slice):

  • 395 calories
  • 17g fat
  • 40g carbohydrates
  • 3g fiber
  • 20g protein

Hey, I never said it was super healthy πŸ˜‰ That’s what Christmas is for! I enjoyed my slice with a Christmas mug of Coffee Cocoa and a peppermint biscotti – YUM.


After brunch, my dad and I ventured out to play our usual Christmas 9 Holes (of golf). Unfortunately, this is the first wet Christmas that Arizona has seen in a long time! It was lightly misting when we first got out, but after 5 holes we had to head back in because it started pouring :( At least we kept the tradition alive! When we got back, I snacked on many things, including my favorite candy, Sour Patch Watermelon.


These were part of an adorable package that I received from Erica of Itzy’s Kitchen a few days ago. She is incredibly thoughtful and sweet to actually do the research on my favorite treat!

I also munched on some vegan fudge that was sent to me by none other than Miss VeggieGirl. I feel so blessed and lucky to know so many awesome people in the blogosphere. When I think back to last year, I realize that I have made so many new friends in such a short time – how great is that?!


Before long, it was time for Christmas dinner! It’s a tradition for our family to buy a HoneyBaked Ham for the “roast beast”…


And a small HoneyBaked Turkey for Papa Bender, who is not a fan of ham.


Along with the ham, we enjoyed three delicious sides: sweet potato souffle, green bean casserole, and au gratin potatoes. Here’s a look at the spread:


As you can see, there was also a little vino involved πŸ˜‰ One of my favorites, in fact, called Chimney Rock. It has such an intense flavor and goes great with meat. My brother had the sparkling grape juice that I loved as a kid.


After discussing what we were thankful for and a big “Cheers!” we settled down to eat. I grabbed a little of everything at first, and eventually went back for more au gratin potatoes and ham because I liked them the best.


It was a yummy meal! And to end on a jolly note, I had a delicious chocolate covered strawberry. I’m going to miss these when they’re gone!


We spent the rest of the evening watching a timeless Christmas classic: The Dark Knight. Don’t ask me why, but my mom had never seen it and my brother really wanted to watch it again, so that’s the one we chose! I really do like the movie, but I suppose it was a little “dark” for the holiday!

It was truly a great day and I feel so lucky. There is nothing better than family. I wish you all a very happy Friday can you believe there are less than 6 days left in 2008? I will be back later with a recap of today and another random question – I loved reading about your text messages!

Payce :)

1 carolinebee December 26, 2008 at 12:14 pm

JENN!! omg P90X is soooo sweet- the guy’s name is Tony- haha LOVE him..My friend has it and we’ve done the yoga and kenpo videos together, it’s FUn to do with a friend πŸ˜€ It’s such a great workout, and Tony is a really good “video” instructor- he’s not cheesy or annoying like a lot of video fitness people..I’m so excited to hear what you think! Have a funn day and I watched Dark Knight last night too, haha whoa intense voice Christian Bale…

2 eatingbender December 26, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Caroline ~ I’m so glad to hear that you’ve tried it and love it! I definitely can appreciate the fact that Tony is not just a cheesy instructor. And yes, Christian Bale’s voice in Dark Knight is hilarious…but I can overlook that, haha!

Sarah ~ Yay Sour Patch Watermelons!! They are addicting.

Sharon ~ Thanks, you too!

Mel ~ I will definitely keep you updated!

Shannon ~ Yay! I’m glad that others have heard of it!

marafaye ~ I am definitely digging the gorillapod :) We need to meet up soon!

bobbi ~ Definitely let me know if you try the casserole! And P90X is actually a workout plan more than an eating plan – so I’ll be sure to tell you more about it once I start!

CCV ~ Thanks, you too!

VeggieGirl ~ Thanks again, friend!

nicci ~ Cool! Let me know if you like the casserole (if you make it)!

jenngirl ~ Thanks, chica!

Sara ~
I will try to provide a thorough review!

Erin ~
Chocolate covered strawberries and fudge :) No worries – I had plenty of the good stuff yesterday! And I will definitely include the P90X in my workout tab, which reminds me…I need to make that!

Shelby ~ I’m starting to get a pretty big collection myself! It’s so much fun and addicting to buy new dishware!

3 Sarah December 26, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Merry Christmas Jenn! I’m so glad that you had such a great holiday and had so much fun with your family. You got some really great gifts, and “santa’s note” is so sweet. I can’t wait to hear more about the P90X, I’ve never heard of it before so definitely keep us updated on how you like it!

The food looks awesome, as always. And once again we are twins because those watermelons are one of my favorite candies too!

Have a great day!

4 Sharon December 26, 2008 at 12:41 pm

Wow, everything looks great! And I love the oatmeal bowls, that is awesome. Merry Christmas Jenn!

5 Mel December 26, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Ironically I watched the P90X show when I was at the gym, and I’ve been really interested in it. You definitely have to let us know how it is!

The brunch casserole looks a lot like what we had yesterday except it had potatoes instead of bread. Yours looks really good too!

6 ttfn300 December 26, 2008 at 1:06 pm

omg, i totally want to try P90X!!! can’t wait to hear how it is! :)

lovely day you had :) and what fun new bowls!

7 marafaye December 26, 2008 at 1:52 pm

You will LOVE that gorillapod thing! My mom got one for Hanukkah and I’m super jealous. I need one! GREAT oatmeal bowls btw :)

8 bobbi December 26, 2008 at 2:07 pm

ooo you sound like me sleeping in till10!!! lol..Love all the bowls hubby was so sweet to get me a bunch too! I have never heard of that food plan thing, will have to check it out. And I am sooo writing down that casserole recipe!

9 chocolatecoveredvegan December 26, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Merry Christmas, Jenn! I love the oatmeal bowls :o)

10 VeggieGirl December 26, 2008 at 2:28 pm

I’m BEYOND awestruck, girl – what a spread of food and presents!! Excellent!! And I’m glad that you liked the fudge, especially πŸ˜‰

11 nicci December 26, 2008 at 2:54 pm

WOW, that breakfast brunch casserole looked so good. I think I will be making this Sunday morning! I’ve been debating about ordering power90x, I hear great things about it.Good Luck chica.

12 jenngirl December 26, 2008 at 3:35 pm

AWESOME oatmeal bowls! You seriously racked up, girl!

I love your family’s Christmas traditions, from the Santa letter, to the casserole, it all sounds so great :)

Have a wonderful Friday, can’t wait for you next random question!

13 Sara December 26, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Sound like a great Christmas! That’s so cool that you got PX90! My husband wants to get it, but I’m not quite “sold” on it yet. Can’t wait to hear how you like it. Your breakfast casserole looks wonderful.

14 Erin December 26, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Wow that’s a totally awesome holiday! But where’s the dessert?! :/ I hope you had at least two more pieces of fudge after dinner! I love your family! I feel like ya’ll are so down to earth and cool!
I’ve not heard of that Ps76X4000…just kidding, I can’t remember what it’s called…are you going to include your use of it in your workout tab? :)

15 Shelby December 26, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Holy YUM!!! Awesome eats and great gifts. I collect oatmeal/cereal bowls, I think they are so cute =)

16 ksgoodeats December 26, 2008 at 6:14 pm


Love the mimosa – great way to start the day πŸ˜‰ Those watermelon slices are SO GOOD, I haven’t had them in forever! CUTE bowls!!

17 Megan December 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm

What a great Christmas! You received some awesome gifts!

18 Melissa S. December 26, 2008 at 7:26 pm

What a great Christmas!!! Your breakfast sounds wonderful and I love all the new bowls that you scored!!!

I’ve never heard of that other P…whatever thing…I’ll have to look into that! sounds interesting!

And of course, what a wonderful dinner! Everything looks scrumptious..esp the potatoes…yummy!

We’ll be talking more soooooon!!!

19 glidingcalm December 26, 2008 at 8:31 pm

wowie!! what amazing eats!!! the sour patch watermelon made me smile especially!!

im so jealous of your beautiful oatmeal bowls too! what fun!!

totally agree on making blogging friends…….it’s definitely been something that has changed my life!!

once again… i have loved loved loved reading about your family traditions and holiday!! Bender’s family definitely goes BIG!

take care Jenn!! :)

20 Krista December 26, 2008 at 8:35 pm

Fabulous bowls, fabulous recipe, fabulous gifts, fabulous treats! You are a lucky girl, Ms. Bender!

21 biz319 December 26, 2008 at 9:33 pm

Love the loot! Those bowls are so cute.

And I LOVE casseroles like that one! It’s once a year – no big!

My presents are still under the tree – we are hoping to celebrate Christmas on Sunday!


22 hopeinpeanutbutterandoats December 26, 2008 at 10:07 pm

gosh i LOOOVERRRR your mugs they are too cute!

23 Heather Eats Almond Butter December 26, 2008 at 11:04 pm

Mmm-love HoneyBaked ham. I must say that my favorite part of your breakfast casserole would be your side of peppermint biscotti. Although I love eggs and bacon, that chocolate peppermint combo looked divine :)

Glad you enjoyed the day with your family. Can’t wait to see pictures of your new bowls while using the tripod. Great gifts!

24 Caroline December 26, 2008 at 11:19 pm

It’s funny that you should mention that P90X–my roommate is in Navy ROTC, and she is considering using the program for the batallion next semester. Let me know how you like it!

25 Meghann December 27, 2008 at 6:24 am

Thanks for sharing your Christmas Celebration with us! Everything looks great! My parents got me some fun plates too :) I can’t believe its almost 2009 either! Its crazy how time is flying now :)

26 HangryPants December 27, 2008 at 7:22 am

My note from Santa always told me and my brother to share our new toys!

27 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) December 27, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Nice oatmeal bowls, cool tripod! The casserole looks delish! Glad you had such a good Christmas!

28 runningwithfood December 28, 2008 at 8:33 pm

Fabulous Christmas with the family!!!

YES, my hubby and I both love P90X!!!! Tony Horton is the king! You will love it, girl! I can’t wait to hear all about it. If you have any questions, just let me know …

We are just getting into his new P90X Plus program. I did the Total Body Plus yesterday for the first time and I can barely move today. Yep, I’ll say it works. :)

29 Marianne December 28, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Nice bowls! I wish I could find cute bowls – I’m always looking, but nothing ever jumps out at me. The tripod is awesome too – some of the people I was travelling with in Ecuador had one, and it worked great.

I think my boss does the P90X workouts, and I know she enjoys them. Can’t wait to hear more about how you like them.

30 lauren December 29, 2008 at 11:06 am

great christmas! My BF has P90x and we have tried to stick with it a few times and kept falling off the wagon. good luck! cant wait to hear how you like them. The guy on there kind of annoys me because he kept calling us “boys and girls”. ha.

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