Category: Holiday Entertaining

Cinnamon Rolls (Old-Fashioned) and Egg-Cheese-Sausage Casserole for Brunch

Cinnamon Rolls (Old-Fashioned) and Egg-Cheese-Sausage Casserole for Brunch


My children (and the rest of my family) know that if they come for Christmas, and only at Christmas, they’ll get old-fashioned cinnamon rolls baked fresh for Christmas breakfast.  Not the big sprawling gooey caramel-laden gobsters they sell at the mall; my rolls are white, light, and purely cinnamon in flavor.  A tiny drizzle of  light,  powdered sugar-milk glaze is all the topping they need.  My family also gets the standard egg-cheese-sausage casserole or strata–the same recipe my mother-in-law made (and still makes) for years.  I sometimes dream up a small variation (peppers or mushrooms on top) and one wild and wooly Christmas I made a different egg casserole all together.  Wow.  Outside the box for sure.  But what are holidays for if not for some sort of tradition (whatever kind) that seems to wear well from year to year?

To the side might be a fresh fruit salad, or even a big bowl of cuties to peel yourself.  To drink will be a gorgeous glass pitcher of kid-style–everyone likes it, though– cranberry punch (cranberry juice and 7-up with a splash orange juice and fresh oranges, lemons, and limes.) Adults can doctor their glass as they see fit. 

Before that, however, a big pot of coffee is ready and stockings are looked into.  Some cocoa with peppermint schnapps or brandy are possible additions or substitutions for non-coffee drinkers.  Gifts are for later, though children might be allowed to open one or two while the rolls rise.  Basically, sustenance first.

If you’re a food blogger, eventually (or even right away) your family and/or holiday traditions find their way onto the blog.  I’ve been meaning to get this up for years.  I’ve taken the pictures once or twice, but have never done the deed.  Despite this being way into January,  I’m posting it so it’ll be done.   If you’d like to make an easy (not really fast) brunch this winter, here you are!    Pictures first. Recipes last.  Enjoy…
Do we get any?

The Brunch:

  • Egg-Cheese-Sausage Casserole

  • Cinnamon Rolls (Old-Fashioned)

  • Cut-up Fruit or a Bowl of Cuties

  • Cranberry Punch (Leaded/Unleaded)

  • Coffee and/or Hot Cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps or Brandy

The Day Ahead:

Start both the roll dough and the egg casserole the day before you need them unless you eat a very late brunch indeed.  The dough rises twice, so you need 3 hours plus mixing and rolling time.  I often make the dough, let it rise the first time, divide it in half (half for cinnamon rolls and half for dinner rolls or two batches of cinnamon rolls if you need them), put it in plastic bags and refrigerate it overnight.  (In fact, it could be done two days ahead, but no more.) Then I only need roll it out, cut it, and let the rolls rise (second rise) in the pan and bake them.  While the rolls rise, I bake the egg casserole.  It needs to rest a little before cutting, and the rolls don’t bake too long, so things do sort of come out around the same time.

Cinnamon Rolls: 

See recipe and instructions below photographs. 

I make the dough now in a standing mixer (KitchenAid) and put it into a greased bread bowl to rise. But for many years I just did the whole thing by hand and so can you if you’ve got good strong hands.  (No big bowl?  Use a large pot and wrap it up in a bunch of towels.)  If it’s cold, and the house is cool, I heat the oven to 200 and place the covered bowl on or near the stove for the dough to rise.  You want no drafts around this dough or it will rise too slowly:

Let the dough rise and double in size after you’ve first mixed it.

 After the dough’s risen, I punch it down, divide it in half and place each half in a gallon plasic bag.
It goes in the refrigerator until the next day.  Leave a corner of the bag open to make sure the bag doesn’t burst.  The dough will rise more in the bag (even in the refrigerator.)

Next morning, when  you’re ready to bake the rolls, grease a 9x12x2 baking pan.

Take the dough out, punch it down to get the air out,  and firmly pat or roll it out into a rectangular shape using a rolling pin or wine bottle or can of PAM if you’re really desperate.

 It needn’t be perfect, but an approximate 11-inch by 15-inch rectangle is the goal.
Using your warm hands, spread about a tablespoon of soft butter over the dough.

 Sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mixture. (1/4 cup white sugar to 2 teaspoon sugar)

 Using your thumbs, begin to tightly roll up the dough at the long side.  Your goal is a tight roll.

 Once the entire rectangle is rolled, pinch the end of the roll into the rest of the dough so that the entire roll is sealed except for the ends.

 Cut the roll in half, then in half again, repeating until you have 15-16 slices–

An end might be too small to cut again.

 Places the rolls, cut side down as possible, in the prepared pan, spreading them out as evenly as possible as they’ll expand when they rise.

These needn’t look perfect; they’ll all rise together and make a beautiful pan of rolls.

Let the rolls rise to fill the pan–30-60 minutes, depending on how warm your room is.  You can put them in a hot oven for a minute or two to “push” the rise, pull them out,  and then cover them while they sit on the stove.  That’ll save a bit of time.  However you do it, you want the rolls to rise in a warm spot, not a cold one.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the rolls about 15 minutes until just beginning to brown nicely.

See?

 While the rolls bake, mix up a glaze (see icing recipe below)…and…….

 Drizzle the rolls with a tiny bit of glaze while hot.

Serve with the Egg-Cheese-Sausage Casserole, of course.

Cinnamon Rolls–Courtesy early ’70’s Betty Crocker Sweet Roll Dough:
     use half of this dough for 1 pan of cinnamon rolls …  or all of it for two pansor 1/2 for cinnamon rolls (15)
                    and 1/2 for 12-16 dinner rolls, depending on the style and size 

1/2 cup water warm to the touch (test it on your wrist–you want it warm like a baby’s bottle–any
           warmer and it’ll kill the yeast.)
2 packages dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons
1/2 cup just barely warm milk
1/2 cup white, granulated sugar
1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons butter, soft
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour, divided

original directions:
Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, and eggs.  Mix well.  Beat in 2 1/2 cups flour and beat until smooth.  Mix in enough additional flour to make the dough easy to handle.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up.  (At this point, dough can be refrigerated 3-4 days.)  Cover; let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 1/2 hours.  (Dough is ready if impression remains when touched.)

Punch down dough.  Shape dough into desired rolls or coffee cakes.  Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.   Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake as directed.

This dough could the be made into cinnamon rolls, frosted orange rolls, chocolate cinnamon rolls, butterfly rolls, cheese diamonds,  balloon buns, or various coffee cakes.

For cinnamon rolls:

  • 1/2 recipe dough
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1/4 cup (white granulated) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Icing:

Mix 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla together until smooth. 

Directions:

  1. Roll out dough into rectangle, 15×9 inches, spread with butter.  Mix sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over rectangle.  Roll up, beginning at wide side.  Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal well.  Stretch roll to make even.
  2. Cut roll into 15 slices.  Place slightly apart in greased baking pan, 13x9x2 inches or in greased muffin cups.  Let rise until double.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  (I find this is too long; I like my rolls less crispy.) While warm, frost rolls with icing.

For crescent dinner rolls, using the other half of the dough:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Take the other half of the dough and roll it into a large circle, about 12″ in diameter.  Spread with soft butter.  Cut into 16 wedges.  Roll up, beginning at rounded edge.  Place rolls, with point underneath (or pinch points into body of roll), on greased baking sheet.  Brush with butter.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden.

eggcheese-sausage casserole
6-8 servings

  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 slices bread, cubed
  • 1 pound bulk pork breakfast sausage cooked and drained
  • 2 cups grated cheddar (or other) cheese   

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Beat together milk, eggs, mustard, and salt.  Stir in bread, sausage and cheese.  Pour into 2 quart rectangular casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight if possible.  Remove from refrigerator.   Bake 45 minutes or until firm, golden, and crispy at the edges.  Remove and let sit 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Variation:  After preparing casserole and before baking, top with 1/4 cup each chopped onions, mushrooms, and red bell peppers.  Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper.
You can also use ham or cooked, chopped bacon instead of sausage.  Other options are to stir in 2-3 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a clove or two of chopped garlic that you have lightly sauteed beforehand.  I have also added chopped green chiles once or twice!

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Afternoon Open House

Afternoon Open House

Hot Spiced Cider with or without Rum (Pum Pum Pum)

An afternoon open house is the perfect party …  No main course.  Everyone’s gone by dinner time…  And folks show up because  other commitments are for evening.  Few dishes to wash.  Food that’s easy to prepare ahead. Your goal:  everything out and ready for guests to help themselves.  Your reward:  To be able to enter your own party!

Ginger cookies, Chocolate Snowballs, Date bars–Made ahead and frozen

A couple of perfect festive drinks (Sparkler and Hot Cider), as well as a pot of strong coffee and some thick cream (for those who must dunk cookies or are heading to a serious evening party), make set-up much easier than a cocktail  or dinner party.  People come dressed comfortably.  Yes.

A festive few dishes and a candle or two.  Not much more needed.

Your best cookies,  a couple of great nibbles…Always vegetables…A bit of cheese-

Lots of vegetables–some fresh, some grilled. Herb Garlic Cheese Dip with Pine Nuts

Something they’ll remember later…like my taste-like-jelly-filled-donut shortbread sandwiches:

Raspberry Shortbread Sandwiches

 

Crowded is ok. They’ll come and go.

All set up ahead leaves time for visiting and listening to the great Christmas playlist you put together for the party.  Everything from Revels to Tony Bennett to Harry Connick, Jr. to Cambridge Singers.

Something  filling for those who skipped lunch.  Here, a great tapenade.  Don’t skimp on the olives; buy the best you can find.  Grill your sliced baguette on the stove if it’s too cold outside.

Spicy Tapenade with Crostini

Spanish Cava is a lovely, inexpensive sparkler.  Whatever’s leftover can be used for New Year’s or for
mimosas for brunch.  There’s usually a discount if you buy a case.  Think ahead.

Cava and Cranberries.  Back-up bottles  all chilled in the frig.

 

Leave flutes set up with cranberries and folks will pour the sparkler over them.

 

David Lebovitz famous Pretzel and Nut Mix.  No Chex Mix needed.

Something crunchy is a must.  Nuts, pretzels, chips…for the salty people.

My take on  Eli Zabar’s shortbread recipe..Bittersweet chocolate and sea salt..  I like Valrhona chocolate for dipping, but could only find Callebaut locally this year.  Makes excellent hot chocolate, too, by the way if you’ve any leftover from dipping.  Valrhona is French chocolate; Callebaut is made in many places, but is basically Belgian-French in origin.

Menu:

*Hot Cider with or without Rum (I leave the rum plainly marked in a pitcher on counter.)
*Pot of strong coffee and Hot Water for tea.  The best cream you can find.  Lemon, sugar.
*Cava (or your favorite bubbly)–Add a couple of  fresh cranberries to the $1. glasses
*Cookies–4 of your favorites.  Homemade or beg from friends-even buy at great bakery.
*Garlicky Rosemary Cheese Dip with Pine Nuts and  Lots of Veggies (Recipe below)
*Spicy Tapenade and Crostini (Grilled Bread) – Recipe Below
*Cranberry Almond Bars with Tangerine You must have chocolate. Make it yourself.
*Alyce’s Go Nuts!   Salty, hot, and sweet pecans.  Great protein.
*David Lebovitz Pretzel and Nut Mix–gotta have something that crunches.

                                  Other Recipes

 Herb Garlic Cheese Dip with Pine Nuts 
12 oz goat’s cheese (chevre), softened
32 oz (4 c) ricotta cheese
Zest of one lemon
Hot sauce- a few drops
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
2T fresh dill, minced  (Can choose just one herb if you like.)
2T fresh basil chiffonade
2T fresh chives, minced
1T fresh thyme, chopped (plus a few sprigs for garnish)
1T fresh Rosemary, finely minced
1/2 t coarsely ground black pepper (or more to taste)
Pinch of kosher salt
Garnishes:
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1/4 cup sweet red pepper, diced
Rosemary sprigs 


Place all ingredients except garnishes in the food processor and pulse until well-blended.  Taste and readjust seasoning.  If making the day before, the garlic will settle down a lot overnight in the frig. Store in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Spoon into serving bowl and garnish with pine nuts, peppers, and sprigs of rosemary  Serve with fresh vegetables or crackers.  If too thick, add a few drops of milk and stir well before serving.

Spicy Tapenade  (Basic recipe courtesy Tyler Florence)

2 cups pitted mixed olives
3 anchovy fillets
2 small garlic cloves
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper
Big handful of flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Tiny pinch  ea kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Process all ingredients in food processor using steel blade.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Serve with crostini (Many people make this in the oven, but I am fond of grilling the bread on a large, stovetop grill if the weather is inclement.  Grilled crostini is luscious with salt and pepper, but none is needed here when serving with tapenade.)

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

This week, we’re buying a few small gifts, making a vat of barbequed brisket,  going to a choir party, taking some friends out to dinner and to a Rose Ensemble concert, baking a manger scene (yes!) and stollen, watching every Christmas movie we can, and picking up my sister at the airport.    Emily and I are getting our hair done together tomorrow, so we’ll be all cleaned up for the whole deal.  Work is slowing down, though I still have a couple of pieces to rehearse and direct.  Probably need to get that Rutter out and practice!  Dave’s week will be intense and then crawl, alternately….as co-workers world-wide try to get ready for Dell’s week-long break, but still make time for Christmas parties.

We’ll be at church on Christmas Eve, of course…it’s my favorite service.  If there’s time, we’ll stop by a couple of open houses, but we’ll come home to cookies and eggnog in the wee early hours of Christmas morning and fall into bed to listen for the sleigh bells.

Christmas Day is a different story:

For years, I never even made Christmas dinner and I’m an avid cook.  By the time Christmas Eve services were done, I was done, too.  No one’s happier to see Christmas day arrive than a church musician.  A great meat tray and the perfect basket of croissants sounded good to me.  Maybe a big bowl of shrimp and sauce and fresh veggies.  But one year Dave began cooking on Christmas Day and that continues.  I do a mean pan of cinnamon rolls and stollen and and an egg casserole for brunch after presents and he’s in the kitchen the rest of the day often cooking up something out of Tyler Florence’s books. It’s a hoot for him to get me out of that kitchen and to just putter on his own.  No timetable.  I stay in my jammies and watch movies.
 
 
   
Last year’s Christmas Day rolled flank steak with roasted tomatoes.
Christmas Day.  Toys, movies, the pups.
Gabby and Tuck have been good all year, but they’re still worried there’ll be  nothing in their stockings.

Maybe there are others with the same fears….

                                                                courtesy Share Our Strength

 

Want to feed some kids before the end of 2011?

 

No Kid Hungry this Holiday Season

With your help this holiday season, we can connect hungry children with nutritious meals all year long! Every $1 you donate to Share Our Strength helps connect a child with up to 10 meals. Through December 31, our No Kid Hungry Partners are matching the first $500,000 donated during the holiday season.   Click here to donate.

John O’Donohue is fond of talking about “entering your own life,” but I love the idea of entering your own Christmas.  It’s time.

Merry Days to you!   Do the fun things.
Alyce