Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French ToastToast of Christmas
Like a lot of families, we celebrate the holidays in multiple houses. Christmas Eve is generally at my place (though my sister is hosting this year). Christmas morning has been at my place the last couple of years and will be again this year. For Christmas dinner, we are all scattered. This might seem kinda strange to you to have all the celebrations with the same family at different locations. I mean what’s with musical houses? The answer is that it is not always the same faces at each celebration.

Christmas Eve is with my family, my sister’s family, and my sister’s in-laws. Christmas morning is my family and my sister’s family. Christmas Dinner is my family and my in-laws. By doing it this way we make sure that everybody gets to see each other to celebrate and exchange gifts. It also allows for some side celebrations. Let me explain…

While my family is enjoying our traditional Ebelskiver on Christmas morning, my in-laws are kinda left to their own devices. So, for the last 10 years or so, my brother-in-law hosts breakfast for their side of the family at his place. It is a much smaller and definitely quieter affair that always features a decadent French toast along with great coffee and fruit. It also means that by the time they get to my house, everyone is stuffed and thus begins the annual debate over when we should eat dinner…

French toast is a great option for a crazy holiday morning because it takes very little time and effort to put together and there are so many options out there for jazzing it up a bit. My brother-in-law has what is apparently a secret recipe that involves poppy seeds. For me, I like any version that includes fruit and/or nuts. Then, of course, you can get really wacky and stuff it for extra decadence…

And for those elves who have stayed up all night assembling a bike or a toddler-size kitchen, there is always the overnight version to make life a little easier…this Ina recipe is one of my favorites.

For those who want to go all out, here is a recipe to consider for some out of this world Stuffed French Toast….

Stuffed French Toast
Adapted from Morning Food by Margaret Fox
Yields 6 servings
Read more…

Roasted Sausage with Fennel and Blood Orange

Roasted Sausage with Fennel and Blood OrangeWhat to Cook After
If you are like me the thought of cooking anything after Thanksgiving sends you into two-year-old tantrum territory. Anything even remotely similar to turkey is a hard no go. During this time the less prep you have to do to get a meal on the table, the better. This is when I turn to sausages.

Sausages are more than breakfast or game day fare. They can be a fast and elegant weeknight meal. My go-to recipe is this one for Sausage and Applesbut sometimes you want to switch things up.

There are plenty of sausage recipes out there. A quick search can pull up hundreds of different ideas. This particular one intrigues me because of the fennel and orange. I like to use blood oranges when they are in season and roasted fennel is always a good idea.

The best part though is that all of this is prepared on one sheet pan, which after the deluge of turkey day dishes, is a great thing….

Roasted Sausage and Fennel with Blood Oranges 
Yields 4 servings  Read more…

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese FrostingSpice is Nice
The other day I was doing my grocery shopping, filling up my cart with the usual this and that, when I noticed something strange. I was purchasing the same general items…bagels, cereal, coffee creamer…but when I looked in the cart I froze. It had happened again….

As September turns in to October you notice that the air smells different—and it’s not just a change in the weather or the fog rolling back in. There is a hint of spicy sweetness in the air that tickles your nose and makes you long for cozy sweaters, falling leaves, and warm fires. For many, there are no adverse reactions to this autumnal aroma. But for others, like myself, you can find yourself making unexpected stops for a grande latte or worse, you notice that you have filled your shopping cart with multiple items with the same theme. You can try to fight it but resistance is futile.

My friends, it is the Revenge of the Pumpkin Spice. 😱

All kidding aside, I am one of those people who does like pumpkin spice (though I draw the line at candles and dog treats). My son’s love of The Spice is even worse.

If I have one complaint it is that some of the products’ flavor tastes way to fake. So, to combat the fake pumpkin spice, I load up on the organic canned pumpkin and make things like this recipe for Pumpkin Spice Scones or some straight up pumpkin bread. I have included the ingredients for my cream cheese frosting in case you wanna go crazy-decadent.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season!

Spiced Pumpkin Scones with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yields 12 scones Read more…

Morning Dash Muffins

Morning Dash MuffinsLet’s Grab Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, they say. This works for me because I am a lover of all things breakfast. I have no issue with eating foods that would normally be served between the hours of six and eleven at any other time of day. If I am at a diner that serves breakfast all day you bet your biscuits there will be hash browns and eggs in my future.

I would love to actually have what I consider to be a legit breakfast every morning but that’s just not feasible. The truth is I have become a grab and go breakfast eater. That means whatever I am eating can’t involve turning on the stove or oven. That also means that more often than not, my breakfast comes in handheld forms like a muffin, bread, roll, or bagel—most of which are not the best choices from a health standpoint. They say an apple a day…not a croissant a day!

Lately, I have been trying to make muffins that are more than just a sweet start to the morning. I made this recipe last Saturday to have on hand as a quick meal since we had an early start on Sunday morning. And, I am happy that I did. I sat in my folding chair, sipped coffee, and enjoyed my muffin while totally content watching soccer.

These are muffins that you can play with. The original version called for raisins which I switched out for dried cranberries as those are more acceptable to some in my household. Next time I make them I might swap out some of the flour for a little protein powder just to kick it up a notch.

Morning Dash Muffins
Adapted from NY Times
Yields 12 muffins Read more…

Granola

GranolaYell O!
My nephew is moving into his college dorm today…and the fact that I just typed those words is blowing my mind. It seems like yesterday that he was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. Now he is staring Psyche 101 in the face.

For all of my disbelief and other emotions, what I am most surprised about feeling is jealousy. Or maybe that’s too strong of a word.

See, my nephew is starting the same college that my sister and attended (he has good taste). And, the college years were some of the best years of my life. I would love to go back to those carefree days. I learned so much during those four years—mostly about life in general instead of academics. My parent’s advice to both my sister and I before we started college was “Don’t let your education interfere with your education” and I took that to heart. Sometimes to the extreme! I mean I did actually graduate, just not with a 4.0.

Of course the old adage You can’t go home again rings true especially in this instance. If I went back knowing what I know now, my experience would be totally different. However, that doesn’t stop me from reliving those good times (and the bad) and wanting just a little taste of that life again. So, I’m heading back for Homecoming in November. Save me a spot at Rennie’s!

In the meantime, I am looking forward to experiencing college life through my nephew’s eyes. I also plan to make sure he remembers us back here at home (I always had a problem remembering to call…) You should know that there will be regular care packages which will always include his favorite granola. I have posted it before because I make him a huge batch every Christmas. But, now it will serve as a reminder of home and of how proud we are of the man he has become. Good luck Noodle! And Go Ducks!

Granola
Adapted from Alton Brown and The Food Network
Yields 6 servings

I have found the best way to get nice, big chunks in my granola is to use 1/2 natural maple syrup, and 1/2 commercial syrup (such as Log Cabin). But, if you are a purist, go ahead and use only the pure maple syrup. You just won’t get the nice, big chunks in your granola.  Read more…