Holiday Feast: Christmas Breakfast

Who doesn’t love breakfast food?! Especially on Christmas! Here’s what our families do for breakfast on Christmas morning:

HeatherChristmas breakfast is eaten around the tree as the children open their presents. The first year we were married I discovered the recipe for Swedish Tea Rings and have made one for Christmas breakfast ever since. The rest of the menu may vary some, but it always includes fruit. In recent years we’ve enjoyed bacon-wrapped sausages sprinkled with brown sugar and then baked and I often buy some thick, Greek yogurt to serve alongside the fruit. Drinks consist of juice and plenty of hot tea.

CITRUS FRUIT SALAD WITH LIME
(Heather)

1 pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small cans mandarin oranges or 3 large navel oranges peeled and sectioned
1 can apricots
zest and juice of 2 limes

Cut pineapple into pieces and place in a serving bowl. Add the mandarin or navel oranges and the can of apricots. Sprinkle over the zest of lime and stir in the lime juice. Best made the same day as eaten.

For variety I sometimes add dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds. For those who like ginger, one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger adds a wonderful zing or try a few tablespoons of finely sliced candied ginger.

Serves 8.

SWEDISH TEA RING
(originally from Fleishmann’s New Treasury of Yeast Baking)

3 ½ — 4 ½ c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 c. milk
¼ c. water
½ c. butter
1 egg (at room temp.)
½ c. flour
½ c. nuts
½ c. brown sugar
1-2 c. fruit (canned cherries, apricot, etc. well-drained)

Mix 1 ¼ c. flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl.

Combine milk, water and butter in saucepan. Heat to warm liquids and melt butter. Cool until warm. Add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes. Add egg and ¾ c. flour, to make a thick batter. Beat 2 more minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff batter (but not as thick as bread dough). Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2 hours. (Can be kept in fridge 3 days.)

Combine nuts, ½ c. flour, and brown sugar. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and divide in half. Roll ½ of the dough into a 14×7-inch rectangle.

Spread with ½ of the fruit. Sprinkle with ½ the brown sugar mixture. Roll up from long side as for jelly roll. Seal edges. Place sealed edge down in a circle on a greased cookie sheet. Seal ends firmly.

Cut slits 2/3 through ring at 1-inch intervals; turn each section outward, on its side.

(Note: This picture shows only one-half of the ring slices turned out — be sure to turn out every ring)

Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled – about 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack. Frost while warm with confectioners’ sugar glaze.

Often I don’t have the canned filling I want so I make an apple filling by chopping about 3 large, peeled apples and mixing them with 1/4 c. flour, 1/2 c. brown sugar, juice of one lemon and a few dried cranberries. Bring this mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.

Glaze: mix 3 tablespoons soft butter into about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar. Add enough milk to make a drizzling consistency. Add more sugar if needed to thicken.

Makes 2 rings.

Alaina – We traditionally enjoy an egg casserole, fruit, some kind of bread or coffee cake, and a few special drinks. The coffee pot is kept going for those of us who were awakened early by eager children. We have breakfast after stockings and gifts are opened or in between the stockings and gifts depending on the time. It’s a leisurely affair and one that I find makes me incredibly content and reflective.

I use the same base recipe for my egg casserole and just switch out the meats and cheese and sometimes add vegetables to make it different. We love it and I’ve been making it year-round for years. One of my favorite combinations is bacon, spinach, and swiss and we also love the traditional classic of sausage and sharp cheddar (onions & peppers add great color and flavor). You could easily make this vegetarian by omitting the meat. This egg casserole also re-heats very well if you have leftovers. I’m sharing one of my favorite versions.

SPINACH-MUSHROOM-BACON-SWISS EGG CASSEROLE

6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb. bacon, cooked and finely cut up (I often use less than a pound)
3 c. milk
8 oz. swiss cheese
1 1/3 c. crushed crackers (I use a butter cracker like ritz)

1 tsp. dry mustard
1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 lb. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed w/liquid thoroughly squeezed out
pepper & salt*

Combine all ingredients. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour until golden brown.

*May not need much salt.
**May be made the night before and refrigerated.

These muffins are delicious! You could make them even more special by drizzling a little glaze over them.

LEMON-CRANBERRY ALMOND MUFFINS
(adapted from Taste of Home)

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zest and cranberries.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full; sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Makes 1 1/2 – 3 dozen muffins.

This icy drink always reminds me of my childhood. My mom used to surprise us with it and now I love to share it with my children.


ORANGE JULIUS

6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
6 oz. water
1 c. milk
1/8-1/4 c. sugar (opt.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 ice cubes

Chill glasses in freezer.

Combine all ingredients in blender or smoothie machine and blend until ingredients are mixed and ice is pulverized. Makes 4 servings.

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Gluten-free Goodness: Holiday Treats

There are some really great options for gluten-free desserts that don’t compromise flavor at all! I made this macaroon cheesecake and it got rave reviews from everyone. It’s creamy and delicious – the flavor profile is wonderful!

COCONUT MACAROON CHEESECAKE
(Taste of Home)

CRUST:
1 c. flaked coconut, toasted
1/2 c. ground pecans
2 Tb. butter, melted

FILLING:
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract

TOPPING:
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. flaked coconut, toasted

In a small bowl, combine the coconut and pecans; stir in butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Beat in extracts just until blended. Pour over crust. Place pan on a baking sheet.

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. In a small bowl, beat egg white and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form. Fold in coconut. Carefully spread over top of cheesecake.

Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 12 servings.

We called theses peppermint chocolate meringues “Martian Eggs” when we were kids and they were an annual tradition – especially at our family gathering. The green-tinted egg like cookies are crispy on the outside and a little softer on the inside with delicious chocolate chips.

PEPPERMINT CHOCOLATE MERINGUES

2 egg whites
dash salt
2/3 c. sugar
green or red food coloring (opt.)
6 oz. mint chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat egg whites and salt until frothy. Slowly add sugar and beat until stiff. Add food coloring if desired. Fold in mint chocolate chips.

Drop on ungreased cookie sheet. Turn off oven and put cookie sheet in oven and leave in oven for 2-6 hours or until crisp on outside and chewy on inside. (Mine took 2 hours 15 minutes but it depends on the humidity.) Makes about 3 dozen.


ALMOND MACAROONS
(adapted from Christmas Cookies, by: Lisa Zwirn)

2 c. almond meal
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 lg. egg whites
1/2 tsp. almond extract
6 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (opt. – but you really should…)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 1 or 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine almond meal, sugar, egg white, and extract in lg. bowl. Beat with mixer until thoroughly combined and dough is a thick, sticky paste.

Drop the dough by level tablespoonfuls, arranging about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Using a pastry brush lightly moistened with water, brush the tops and sides of the macaroons, gently pressing down on them to form smooth rounds about 1/2 in. thick and 1 3/4 in. in diameter.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until the macaroons are lightly golden. They should feel crisp on the outside but soft inside.  (Rotate cookie sheets halfway through if using two).  Cool for 5 minute, then use a thin metal spatula to remove the macaroons from the paper. Place on rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE: Melt chocolate and dip, drizzle or ice the cooled macaroons.

Store layered between wax paper for up to 5 days. Without chocolate, the macaroons can be frozen up to two months.  Makes about 32 cookies.

Fall Seasonal Recipes

IMG_7440

This is the perfect punch to serve in the Fall or around Thanksgiving.

SPICED CIDER PUNCH

1 gallon fresh apple cider, divided
2 c. orange juice
2 liters sparkling water

At least 8 hours before serving, mull half the cider by placing it in a saucepan and adding mulling spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-3 hours. Strain out the mulling spices and chill.

When ready to serve, combine mulled cider, plain cider, orange juice and sparkling water.

I made an ice ring using apple juice and fresh cranberries.

Serves 24.

ROMAN APPLE CAKE
(from More With Less)

IMG_7199

1 c. sugar
2 ¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. oil
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
3 c. raw apples, peeled and chopped

 Crumb topping:
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. flour
½ c. chopped nuts (optional)
¼ c. rolled oats

 Combine dry ingredients. Mix together oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Add chopped apples. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan or 9×13 pan or muffin tins. Cover with crumb topping. Bake 35-40 minutes (or until done) at 350.

ROASTED SQUASH AND SAUSAGE PASTA
Heather

IMG_3619

1 butternut squash
1 lb. fresh sausage (sweet Italian or Polish)
1 red onion
1 box whole wheat pasta
1 tsp. thyme
salt & pepper
oil
1 cup grated cheese
Peel and dice squash. Cut sausages into pieces (about 1.5 inches long). Chop onion. Combine onion, squash and sausage on a baking tray. Coat with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Roast at 375F until squash is tender (about 1 hour.).
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to box directions. Keep warm. When squash is cooked, add to pasta and throw in a few handfuls of grated cheese.
Serves 4-6.
 
PEAR-ALMOND CAKE with CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
(from Everyday with Rachael Ray, September 2009)
Alaina
IMG_7705
1 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. granulated sugar, divided
2 lg. eggs plus 1 egg white, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 lg. pears, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced*
1/2 c. chocolate chunks (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/2 c. blanched almonds, sliced (I used whole, raw and chopped them myself)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, line with parchment paper, grease the paper, then flour the pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 c. granulated sugar and the 2 eggs until pale yellow, 1 t0 2 minutes, whisk in the butter. Stir into the flour mixture until just combine. Pour half of the batter into the prepare pan and top with half of the pear slices and half of the chocolate; repeat with the remaining batter, pears, and chocolate.

Using the food processor (or a blender), finely grind 1/4 almonds with the remaining 1/4 c. sugar. Add the egg white and process until smooth. Drizzle over the cake and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c. almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Serves 8 – Enjoy! It’s delicious!

*Bananas were suggested as a substitute.