Category: Holidays

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

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

Nothing like the fragrance of rosemary for remembrance filling the house in December.

 I’m not a cheap cook, but I have always looked for inexpensive ways to provide our daily bread.  Raising a house full of kids, I often had no choice.  Even today, when we’re empty nesters with a bit more funds than when the kids were home, I look for ways to save a bit here and there because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s often healthy, too.   I buy the best I can find for the least amount of money.  If you’ve ever cooked for a soup kitchen, or worked in a food pantry, you’ll know that beans go a long way, are low in calories, and high in fiber.  They’re filling and versatile.  They can also be yummy.  Hence this pot of smokey-fragrant “French” beans with lots of

  • smoked ham (or pork chop)
  • vegetables,
  • big flavors of rosemary, thyme, and bay, 
  • browned chicken thighs, legs, (I like Kadejan chicken from Glenwood, MN) and…
  • sausage pieces.

What makes the beans French?  Probably the herbs and the nod toward a très simple and abbreviated version of cassoulet, which takes three days to make using the traditional method.  I use regular navy or white beans; the French often use  tiny white beans called flageolets.  (For my easier, but still two-day version of cassoulet, click here.  I’ll freely admit it needs better photos…phewee.) If you don’t know what cassoulet is, it’s a holiday or large-group gathering winter French meal that includes beans, vegetables, sausage, duck confit, pork, and more.  There are layers of cooking involved and a final, huge deep oven-baked pan of oh-my-cook goodness to feed the masses.  Lots of lusty red Rhone wine is required, as are copious amounts of baguette to soak up the never-should-be dry bowlful.  Cassoulet is a celebration I occasionally do for Christmas Eve.  This year, I’m trying not to conquer the world in just one day; I have no idea what we’re having, though a great big bowl of Bolognese is in my freezer.  (What riches!)

While this is not a fast recipe (nor is it the three-day marathon), it’s one to enjoy making when  you need to be at home anyway.  I think it truly is a one-dish meal.  You could add a salad if you want, but I’m not sure you need bother.  A little cheese afterward perhaps.

Maybe make this when snow flies or folks are on the way and a nice pot of anything will be the relaxed ticket for the evening.  I’m convinced the reason many people don’t cook (or say they don’t have time to cook) is because they just don’t stay at home.  Our running, crazy world keeps us distracted and sometimes isolated despite all of our “connectivity.”  There’s a lot of feeling good to be done around a bit slower life that includes some cooking and sharing of meals.   Invite someone over to play cards for the afternoon while this is in the oven (and everyone oo’s and ah’s over the great smells) or serve for a post-holiday meal to use up some of the ham you made for Christmas or New Year’s.

Here’s the “recipe” in photo form…   It’s really a method and precise amounts aren’t truly necessary.  Use your inner creative cook!

french  beans with smoked sausage and chicken
  serves 6        
 Cooks note:   You’ll need to soak a pound of  dry white beans overnight just covered with water or
                       quick-soak them by covering with water, bringing to a boil, and covering for one 
                       hour before beginning this recipe. 

Simmer over medium heat a minute or two in an 6-8 quart heavy pot*: 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of crushed red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper...until fragrant.  (Flavor the oil.)  Do not add salt until beans are at least half-way cooked.

Chop 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 3 stalks celery, and 3 carrots.

Add vegetables to pot with 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 teaspoon dried Thyme and 1 bay leaf. Stir. (The rosemary will come apart during the cooking.  You’ll remove the leftover twig at the end.)

While the vegetables cook for five minutes, or so, chop 1/2 cup smoked ham, ham hock, or smoked pork chop.  (I just cut some off a ham hock and froze the rest of the ham hock.  Cook another five minutes, stirring.
To bring up the browned bits on the bottom (deglaze) the pot, add 1/2 cup white wine.  Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring.

 

Pour in 5 cups chicken stock and 2 tablespoons tomato paste.   Bring to a boil.  Add one pound rinsed and soaked dry white beans.*   Reduce heat to simmer.

Cover and let cook an hour or so until beans have just begun to soften.  Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; taste and re-season if necessary.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meantime, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet heated over medium flame.  Salt and pepper well 6 chicken legs and thighs** and cook them about ten minutes on each side until nicely browned, but not done all the way through.  

Slice about 8 ounces of smoked sausage  into 1/2″ thick slices   (I used Aidell’s smoked Italian Sausage with Mozzerella; Kielbasa would be fine) and..

add to the pan of browned chicken.  Let cook about two minute or until hot.  Add chicken and sausage to the pot of beans, gently pressing chicken down into the bean mixture not necessarily to cover, but to moisten.
Bring to a boil, cover, and place pot in preheated oven.  Let bake until beans are tender and chicken is cooked through, about an hour.  Taste and re-season as needed.  Remove rosemary “branches,” but leave bay leaf in. Whoever gets it has good luck!
Serve hot in large, shallow bowls with sturdy bread and a big glass of red Rhone.

*If you use a 6 quart pot instead of a 8 quart pot, you may not be able to fit all of the chicken in it. Put four pieces of chicken and all of the sausage in the pot before baking and continue cooking additional two pieces of chicken stove top until they are done.  Cool and reserve to add to the pot when the beans are tender and  you take it out of  the oven.  I used the Le Creuset 26, which translates to close to 6 quarts.  Make sure you check your pot’s manufacturer’s directions for the safest oven temperature.  Some pots are 350 degrees Fahrenheit; some are 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

**I like dark meat for slow cooking.  If you like breasts (white meat), go ahead and use them, but I think they will get over done here unless you almost totally cook the beans stove top first and only
put the entire pot into the oven for the time it takes to finish the breasts.

about dried beans (from livestrong.com)

Pinto beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are some commonly-eaten dried beans. The recommended serving size for pinto beans is 1 cup. This serving contains 120 calories, no fat, 10 g of dietary fiber and 9 g of protein. Black-eyed peas should be eaten in 1/2 c serving sizes, which each yield 130 calories, 0.5 g of fat, 5 g of dietary fiber and 10 g of protein. Lentils should be eaten in 1/2 cup servings, each of which contains 115 calories. A serving of lentils contains 0.4 g of fat, 7.8 g of dietary fiber and 8.9 g of protein.  (White beans are a bit more calorie-wise)

about our blogging group
We’re just getting ready to take a break from group  blogging for the rest of December….We’ll be back cooking in cahoots come January:
 
 I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty beans at these sites:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

 If you liked this, you might also like:
Sing a new song; cook some beans,
Alyce 
Thanksgiving, 2012

Thanksgiving, 2012

                     “It’s not what’s on the table that’s important.  It’s who’s in the chairs.”

                       
This post includes:

  • Guide to cooking and baking hotlines
  • Links to great Thanksgiving sites for tips, food, decoration, kids’ activities
  • My own favorite Thanksgiving photos, recipes, music, wine, and even a blessing or two   

Enjoy!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  I can’t preach about giving thanks.  I’ll just say I think it’s healthy.  It’s lovely in that it’s a discipline folks of any religion or country can take part.  But of course, our fair “Rabbie” had it best:

Some Hae Meat

 Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

~Robert Burns

 Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  You could have guessed.
My worlds all come together on that day.
Giving thanks– being grateful–is a practice or discipline of many religions and cultures, including mine.
I need it.  I need that discipline. And:
Creating a meal to honor that…is my idea of a great day!
I wish you a day of totally beautiful, grateful life.


A grace could be very simply giving thanks for the hands that made the meal, for the workers in the stores, on the trucks, in the gardens and  the vineyards Even a toast to all who made it possible would work.  Mark the moment.

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.  
                                                    ~W.J. Cameron
.                          
Awareness.   Awakeness. Appreciation.  Peaceful breath.
A table that includes something you love.
Someone you love.

Some of the best new scripture these days is found on paper napkins.
I have some that say, “It’s not what’s on the table that’s important.  It’s who’s in the chairs.”
Ah, that we have to print that somewhere.

Deep breaths and a sense of warm wonder to you as you prepare to give thanks this year.

          If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice. 

                                                                                                              ~Meister Eckhart
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Before the fun begins,  thanks for reading and responding:

           Bloggers Without Borders Post on Helping Victims of Sandy 

 

In case you need help with the meal….
 

 Two Mushroom-Red Onion Soup from my upcoming book.

Thanksgiving HOTLINES:

*Splendid Table (Radio)  from 11am-1pm  CT on Thanksgiving Day:  800-537-5252
*Reynolds’ Turkey Tips:  800-745-4000 Open through December 31, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*Butterball Hotline: 1-800-BUTTERBALL Weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central Time
*Crisco Pie Hotline:

(877) 367-7438 toll-free. Provides answers the most common questions about baking pies for novice bakers as well as offering tips that will benefit the most seasoned baker. The hotline also offers the option for callers to connect to a live pie expert for pie baking guidance. Hours: 9 – 7 EST except for: Nov. 12 – 21 (8am – 8pm EST) and Dec. 12 – 22 (8am – 8pm EST)

*USDA Meat and Poultry Line:

  (888) 674-6854 from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Closed weekends and holidays, except Thanksgiving. Special hours of operation on Thanksgiving are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time. 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

                              It is of course possible to dance a prayer. 
                                                                         ~Terri Guillemets
 
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Thanksgiving Listening and Watching + Kids’ Stuff:


                      Garrison Keillor’s “Over the River and Through the Woods”

Download Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Thanksgiving Song here.

Watch Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on youtube.

Thanksgiving Day Parades

Thanksgiving Day Football Games–Networks, Kickoff, etc.  

Thanksgiving Day Kids’ Activities 

Martha’s Thanksgiving for Kids 

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, – a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
                                                                              
~George Herbert 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
            Minneapolis Turkey Day 5K Run  8am Nov 22, 2012  
            Walk to End Hunger Mall of America Nov 22, 2012: 7am Registration; 7:30-10:30

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

Really Good Websites with Thanksgiving Tips, Recipes, and Ideas 

I could reinvent the wheel here and give you step-by-step, day by day, but here’s a list of places that have already done all that work.  Have at it.  Below that, I’ve listed some of my own favorite recipes or menus from this blog or Dinner Place, Cooking for One.  I include an Intimate Thanksgiving, which is a Thankgiving for two (with leftovers) or for four (not too many leftovers.)  It was created for those who really don’t have much time to spend on Thanksgiving, but want a special meal nevertheless.  

America’s Test Kitchen:  Turkey and Gravy
James Peterson’s Gravy Guide
Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving Planner
Non-Turkey Thanksgiving 
Vegetarian Thanksgiving 
Vegan Thanksgiving: 12 Recipes
LA Times: Great Thanksgiving Photos
Glazed Turkey from the Chicago Trib
Free:  Martha Stewart Thanksgiving (2011) Ebook with 40 Recipes
Smitten Kitten’s Thanksgiving
Taste Test:  Store-Bought Stuffing 
Perfect Pantry Sugar-Free Slow-Cooker Cranberry Sauce 
Serious Eats: 16 Salads for Thanksgiving
Kalyn’s Kitchen:  11 Green Bean Recipes
Mark Bittman:  101 Starts on the Day
Giada’s Butternut Squash Lasagne
Melissa Clark:  What Can I Actually Prepare Before Thanksgiving?
Gourmet Live:  Thanksgiving 2012
Chowhound’s 10 Thanksgiving Cooking Essentials
The Bitten Word’s 2012 Thanksgiving Recipe Index:
Thanksgiving Videos:  Mark Bittman
King Arthur Flour Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls
Perfect Pantry’s Squash Muffins
Download Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Baking App
Pie Perfected by Carole Bloom
David Lebovitz’ Pumpkin Ice Cream 
Thanksgiving Wine: NYTimeswine:  
HGTV’s Stylish Thanksgiving Table Settings
Thanksgiving Decoration from Epicurious
                    

Maybe it’s a good time to pull out the bread machine?

  More Time at the Table/Dinner Place Thanksgiving Posts:

Kathy’s Apple Pie (More Time at the Table)

Alyce’s Thanksgiving: An Intimate ViewVery Simple and Quick Thanksgiving  for 2-4 people who don’t want to cook much:

  • Starters: Olives and Nuts–set out in small bowls served with sparkler/wine
  • First course: Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Soup (purchased)
  • Main course: Turkey Roulade, stuffed W/ Proscuitto/Sage/Onions/Garlic
  • Sides: Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
  • Brussel Sprouts (pan-roasted) w/ Parmesan & Pumpkin Seeds
  • Home-made Spicy Cranberry Sauce w/ Apples and Lemon
  • Bread: Corn Muffins or Rolls from the bakery
  • Dessert: Pumpkin Ice Cream, purchased from grocery OR Pumpkin Custards baked the day before and refrigerated (Use any pumpkin pie filling recipe and bake custards in pammed ramekins about 30 min. at 350—No crust)
  • Drinks: Wine: A to Z Riesling and Sineann Pinot Noir- Have both! Coffee: French Roast, laced with Cognac and Whipped Cream

Pears Poached in Port

 
Other recipes of mine you might enjoy at Thanksgiving:

Alyce’s Bacon Roasted Chicken or I Don’t Want Turkey
Alyce’s Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash
Alyce’s Roasted Pork Loin, Hot and Spicy Cranberry Sauce
Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust 
Alyce’s Butternut and Other Squash Soup
Alyce’s Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Parmesan New Potatoes 
Alyce’s Green Beans Sauteed with Onions and Garlic
Alyce’s Turkey Pot Pie from Thanksgiving Leftovers 
Alyce’s Pumpkin Soup or Making Up for Thanksgiving
Alyce’s Spicy Cream of Pumpkin Soup+Wendy’s Sage and Thyme
Alyce’s Pear-Grilled Fig Salad with Goat Cheese
Alyce’s Israeli Couscous-Butternut Squash Salad with Fall Fruit and Cheese 
Alyce’s Pumpkin Bread

Wendy’s Sage

Alyce’s Quick Prune Bread
Alyce’s No-Knead Bread Post on Dinner Place
Alyce’s Whole Wheat Yeast Rolls (from Bill Kalbus)
Poached Pears in Port               
Alyce Morgan’s Pie 101
Alyce’s Derby Pie (Pecan-Chocolate with Bourbon)
Alyce’s Kathy’s Apple Pie
Alyce’s Almond-Scented Pear Crostata
Alyce’s Ask Me About Dessert Post
Alyce’s Pumpkin Custard with Cinnamon Creme Fraiche (One Minute Pumpkin “Pie”–no crust) 

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bread.  Thanksgiving morning breakfast.

Anne Lamott’s Parade Magazine Article on Counting our Blessings  

my quick take on the (american) wine and other drinks

Need extra wine glasses?  Borrow them!   If you’d like a large inexpensive set to keep from year to year, and can’t spend much:  go to the dollar store or a discount place like Marshall’s.  You can store a couple of boxes in the closet or basement and have them available for loan or a February Sangria party.

Drink what you like:
 
 Wine is for your enjoyment and the enhancement of food.  So, do not fret and fuss about the wine (or anything.)  First and foremost, you should drink exactly what you like with Thanksgiving dinner.  If you have no idea what you like, go to the wine shop or liquor store, and find a salesperson who’s willing to talk to you.  Do not do this on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving unless you’re a glutton for punishment.  Everyone else in the city will be there and the clerks will be infinitely hassled while wondering what they’re having for Thanksgiving and who’s going to cook it all.  Tell the salesperson what kinds of wine you (and your guests if you know) like, what your price is (don’t be shy), how many people you’ve having, and what your menu is.  Believe it or not, everyone is not having turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie.  This person has paired vegetarian lasagne, pumpkin ravioli, goose, steak, and an all-raw menu before you arrived.

Don’t know what you like:

If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of shopper and want to go to the liquor superstore or simply have NO idea of what to buy, then I go with my tried and true recommendations, which are: 

A.  One bottle of wine per person (total) is the rule.  Yes. You’ll be there for hours.  I like American wine for Thanksgiving, so my recommendations are based on no wine from outside the United States. 

B.   Overall:  Provide a sparkler for before dinner or apertif, then one white and one red  to make everyone at least closer to happy.   Some sort of after-dinner drink or digestif is needed as well, though a walk will help, too.

I don’t like a cocktail before this kind of a meal…too many calories and too much alcohol, but then again, I’m a wine person.

Have beer on hand.   Get your brother-in-law’s favorite so he’ll be quiet or choose a saison, which would pair admirably with the meal if he won’t drink wine even with food.

Have lots of non-alcoholic choices. Sparkling water is pretty in a wine glass and is good for digestion for everyone, actually.  Non-alcoholic beer (Kaliber is about the best), iced Ceylon tea, and plenty of plain water are good choices.   Coffee is necessary; have the pot ready and start it when you sit down to dinner so people can help themselves.  Some will want it immediately after the meal even if they’re happy to wait hours for dessert.  If you don’t drink coffee, borrow a pot.  You can’t skip it.

C.  For the sparkler, buy a New Mexican sparkling wine like Gruet.

I suggest  Riesling for the white  (Washington state, Oregon, or New York). The lower the alcohol content, the sweeter the wine.  The alcohol content is printed on the label.  So if you like sweet, get an 8 or 9% alcohol Riesling.  11?  Much drier.  Don’t know?  I’d go with the sweeter for a group; you’re bound to have people in who want sweeter wine and your red will definitely be dry.

The red:  Oregon Pinot Noir.  It’s a splurge and it’s worth it.  If you need a lower-price Pinot Noir, choose A-Z or Angeline.  If you simply don’t like Pinot Noir (why?), buy a good California Merlot.  By the way, if you decide you like the Oregon Pinot Noir (and I’m a Pinot girl), buy a couple of extra bottles and squirrel them away in a cool, dry place for next year.  This wine doesn’t have to age terribly long to be scrumptious, but it’s usually better with a few years under its belt.  The older vintages are sometimes available, but not always.  If they are, they’re a lot more expensive.  Buy them young.

D.  If you’d like a dessert wine,  American sherry–or port– is lovely with pumpkin pie.
 A little nip of Jack in the coffee would do no one from below (or even above) the Mason-Dixon line any harm.  Save the Irish coffee for St. Patrick’s Day.

some pics of blog favorites for the holiday:

Almond-Scented Pear Crostata from More Time at the Table. 

On Thanksgiving Day, all over America, families sit down to dinner at the same moment – halftime.
                                                          ~Author Unknown

Hot and spicy Cranberry Sauce cooking in the pot. It’s done quickly and can be done a day or two ahead.
My pumpkin soup topped with Parmesan and chopped peanuts. A nutritious soup for a first course is elegant and will help keep folks from overeating. 
Pecan or Derby Pie is a great Thanksgiving choice.  When else would you make it?
Spicy Cream of Pumpkin with Wendy’s Sage and Thyme
Pear-Grilled Fig Salad with Goat Cheese (dried figs are fine, too)
Don’t bake?  One-Minute Pumpkin Custard with Creme Fraiche.
Butternut and Other Squash Soup
Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables  (Leftovers make great soup.)

Potato Gratin with Rosemary Crust.  No mashed potatoes or gravy needed.  Or anything else really.

Whatever menu you choose, have fun with it.  Make things you like.  Let people bring their favorites so everyone is happy.  Don’t worry if the gravy has lumps or the turkey is cold.  No one cares if your plates match, but they do care that they’re invited.

   If your heart is warm in welcome, everyone will have a great time.
 


Heap high the board with plenteous cheer and gather to the feast,
And toast the sturdy Pilgrim band whose courage never ceased.

~Alice W. Brotherton

Sing a new song…be grateful all day long and enjoy every minute,
Alyce
Czech Easter Bread or It Tastes Like Spring

Czech Easter Bread or It Tastes Like Spring

   

Travel creates opportunities for brief blogs, my friends.   So here are the pics/recipe for the Czech Easter bread, which was huge, crusty,  and tender with a bit of a lemon feel.  Studded with golden and black raisins, as well as apricots (my additions-no citron to be found), it was only a tish sweet.  Fine with Easter dinner.  Also lovely for any holiday at all.  Sorry it didn’t get posted until AFTER Easter, but here it is in its glory.

Czech Easter Bread

Makes 1 large loaf Czech Easter Cake or Velikonoční Bochánek

Mixing in the fruit
Before the addition of the last 2 cups of flour

 

Get all the flour in

Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 1 hour Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup scalded milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar (or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 large room-temperature eggs, beaten
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup golden or dark raisins
  • 1/2 cup blanched sliced almonds
  • 1/3 cup chopped citron (I subbed 2t grated Meyer lemon rind and 1/3 c chopped dried apricots)
  • Topping:
  • 1 large room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons blanched sliced almonds
  • Confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Add butter, sugar and salt to scalded milk. Stir to combine and let cool to lukewarm.
  • Place yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the paddle attachment, stir until dissolved. Add lukewarm milk mixture and 2 eggs and combine.
  • Add 3 cups flour and beat with the paddle until smooth. Add the raisins, almonds, citron, and remaining flour and mix, 3 to 5 minutes until smooth. Dough will be sticky.
  • Place dough in greased bowl. Turn over and cover with plastic wrap and let rise until double, about 1 hour. See this Quick Tip for faster rising.
  • Punch down dough and turn out onto lightly floured board. Knead a few minutes and shape into a large round loaf. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
Use bread flour
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush bread with 1 beaten egg. Cut a cross in top of loaf with scissors and sprinkle entire surface with almonds. Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake 30-45 minutes or until instant-read temperature registers 190 degrees. Let cool completely before slicing. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting, if desired.

Recipe courtesy About.com

 

 

 

 

 

Two-Dog or Two-Cardinal Kitchen

Ok, we’re out of the kitchen.  For now.

 

How long are you going to bake bread, Mom?

 

My kissin’ Cardinals feeding one another outside the kitchen window.

 

 

 

Front yard.  Ah, Spring!