Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cinnamon French Toast for a Crowd

I wasn’t going to post this weekend, but I just couldn’t pass on the opportunity to share one last dish for your Christmas brunch buffet. Think of it as a public service announcement – it’s so good. This Cinnamon French Toast Casserole is easy to prepare – make it the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning – and it’s always a hit with kids and adults alike. More importantly, I wish you and your family a very joyous, safe and the happiest of holidays. Enjoy!

Cinnamon French Toast Casserole
Serves 9

1 16 oz. loaf cinnamon swirl bread, cubed
6 eggs
1 ¾ cups milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup chopped pecans
Maple syrup

Coat a 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray, and add the bread cubes.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, nutmeg and salt.  Pour the mixture over the cubed bread, pressing the bread down gently so it absorbs the egg mixture.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and whisk in brown sugar until melted.  Add in pecans and pour over bread. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Journey Through the Holidays

Yesterday someone asked me if I had all my holiday stuff wrapped up. My first thought was to reply, “Huh? I have a million things to do over the next 10 days – wrapping, food preparation, straightening the house, holiday parties, never ending grocery runs – you name it.” But instead, I smiled and replied, “I look at this time of year as more of a journey.”

A journey that seems to begin earlier each year. 

From that first Christmas card written and mailed to the packing away of the tree and trimmings, it’s not over till it’s over.

Don’t misunderstand me. I love this season. Really. But it is tiring – I’m sure you can agree. 

It's just that some days I feel as if I need a giant organizational flow chart on the wall to pull it all off.

So why do we bother?

Because we are givers and love to see the joy these tasks bring to our friends and loved ones.

So, here’s to joyous pre-holiday preparations, a very Merry Christmas, a festive New Year’s Eve, and a well-deserved nap.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cranberry Muffins with Orange Crumble Topping

Whether you'll be hosting a holiday brunch buffet for a crowd or cooking up a Christmas breakfast for your family, make it easy on yourself and whip up a batch or several batches of these scrumptious sweet and tart muffins a week or so ahead of time. Freeze them now, thaw them the morning you need them, and then set them on the buffet. Easy. Peasy.

Cranberry Muffins with Orange Crumble Topping
Makes 1 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 large eggs
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ cup milk
½ cup sour cream

¼ cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Heat oven to 400 F. Grease and sugar a 12-cup muffin pan; set aside.

Prepare topping. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, orange zest and cinnamon. Add melted butter, stirring until crumbly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add cranberries, stirring to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, butter, milk and sour cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Batter will be lumpy; do not over mix.) Evenly divide batter among muffin cups. Evenly divide topping over the batter. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. (Recipe adapted from Christmas Cottage 2011)