22 November 2008

Holiday Help

The holidays are a time when even the most kitchen phobic get the urge to bake, baste or broil. The tough thing is that those of us who do spend time in the kitchen feel our go-to recipes are bit too routine for the most wonderful time of the year. And those who don't cook, well they resort to terrible recipes that they will follow religiously no matter how insane (I apologize, Janet) -- like the legendary casserole my mother-in-law served that called for Cheez Whiz. Luckily, a close friend made her give up this particular recipe card before I married into the fold. The story, however, is still served up each holiday.

To save us all from recipe rut, I asked several friends to fork over their favorite recipes for sweet treats or brunch. It seems those are the dishes that we are likely to give as gifts or be asked to bring along to a festive meal with family or friends.

And to redeem myself and put me back in good graces with my mother-in-law I will share a recipe I got from her called Cranberry Apple Bake. It's delicious, easy and the perfect answer to the canned cranberry blob.

Early A.M. French Toast
Kim shares this yummy warm dish with us. It's the perfect fit for a busy holiday morning, and let's take it from this three-time mommy that anything that can be done ahead of time is a winner!

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoon corn syrup
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 loaf french bread, cut into thick slices

In a medium saucepan over medium heat mix and melt butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Spray a baking dish with non-stick veggie oil and fill with the butter mix. Mix eggs, milk and vanilla. Arrange bread slices in dish and pour egg mixture over the bread. Don't miss any area and use all of the mixture. Any extra will get soaked up by the bread. Cover dish and refrigerate over night. In the morning, simply uncover and slip into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Cranberry Bread
A Thanksgiving tradition since I was in second grade: Cranberry Bread. My class made this recipe around Thanksgiving and we each got to take some home at the end of the day. My mom liked the recipe so much that she started taking it to our annual family T-day dinner in Philly. I don't actually remember making it in school that day - I just remember that we always have this on Thanksgiving! -- Liz Odar

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

Stir all dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add egg, orange peel, and juice, stir until evenly moist. Fold in berries. Spoon into greased 9x5x3 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 70 minutes or until done. Let bread stand in pan 5 to 10 minutes before removing to cool on wire rack.
Note: This recipe doubles easily. The loafs can also be made and baked ahead of time and frozen for a couple weeks.

Chili Cheese Egg Puff
As a kid, I vibrated from sugar overload all Christmas Day. We would wake up and eat the chocolate Santas from our Christmas stockings for breakfast, and lunch usually consisted of sweet holiday breads and cookies. That's probably why, as an adult, I have made it a tradition to prepare a savory, protein-packed breakfast. I often host a Christmas brunch for my family, and this egg casserole -- a recipe I found in the newspaper -- is usually on the menu. -- Erin Middlewood

10 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pint cottage cheese
1 pound (2 cups) shredded jack and cheddar cheese combined
1 stick butter, melted
1 7- to 8-ounce can diced green chilies
Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil 13x9x2-inch pan. Beat eggs; add all ingredients, except chilies. Mix well. Add chilies. Pour into pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Top should be lightly brown and center should be firm.

Aunt Joan’s Molasses Crinkles

We love to enjoy these cookies at holiday time—along with Russian Tea Cakes (what is it about sugared dough balls in December?)—dipped in hot chocolate, coffee, or peppermint tea (my favorite). Even though the cookies are named after Aunt Joan, I think the recipe belongs to Grandma Myrtle, who named them for the daughter who loved these cookies more than any of the other kids…though I suspect my dad would beg to differ. -- Bonnie Rough

¾ cup shortening or unsalted butter (shortening for softer cookies, butter for slightly chewier)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses

2 ¼ cup flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar to roll cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream shortening (or butter) and brown sugar. Add egg and molasses; mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together remaining ingredients. Blend dry with wet and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Once the dough is chilled, hand-roll it into nickel- or quarter-sized balls. Roll the balls in granulated sugar to coat, then place on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Mashed Potato Cinnamon Rolls
I make these cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. I usually serve it with sausage and fresh fruit. -- Dina Hovde

1 teaspoon sugar
1 package yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degreesish)
2 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, very soft
1 cup mashed potatoes (or substitute 1 cup of prepared instant potatoes)
1 egg, well beaten
5 cups flour (it usually takes more, for me)
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup cold margarine (not butter)
2 tablespoons cinnamon (or more)

Mix sugar and yeast together with warm water. Let sit 10 minutes. In large bowl, stir next four ingredients. Stir mashed potatos and egg into that. Then add yeast water to the large bowl. Add the flour after that. Knead 10 mins on a floured surface; adding flour as needed (up to 2 cups, sometimes) to keep it from sticking to you. Grease another large bowl and plop dough into it and turn it over and around once to coat the surface of dough with the fat. Cover and let rise (either at room temp for 2 hours or until double in bulk). My friend Hope says she has let it double in the refrigerator overnight, though I have never tried this. After dough has risen, place on floured surface again and roll into a large rectangle (about 1/4" thick). Cover the surface with the following mixed ingredients (use forks or pastry blender). Roll up dough like a jelly roll. Slice about 1" thick (this is easy to do using a string so you don't smoosh each little roll into awkward shape with too much force). Lay rolls on side in greased 9x13 and 9x9 pans. (Sometimes I use two 9x13s, depending on size of rolls). There should be a little space (not much) between rolls to allow for more rising. Cover with a cloth/dish towel and let rise about an hour or so. (About even with tops of pans.) Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until they look dry on top. Cool for 20 minutes (if at all possible), then add the icing. Recipe below. You should know that sometimes I skip the icing, opting for just butter.

1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup (or more) powdered sugar, to desired consistency
Whisk ingredients until they come together.

Butter Cookies and Jan Hagel
My grandmother's butter cookies. I LOVE THEM. They are around the entire season. They are a hit with kids because of the colored sugar rim. Then there's my mom's Jan Hagel recipe. We are Dutch, so they are a must during the holidays. Can never decide which of these cookies I love more.
-- Dina Hovde

Butter Cookies
2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sugar for rolling

Mix all together. Form into a log and then roll in colored or plain sugar. Slice with knife carefully to maintain a circular cookie. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until slightly golden.

Jan Hagel
1/2 pound butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, separated

Mix first four ingredients plus egg yolk together in bowl and press onto 9x13 cookie sheet. Brush with 1 unbeaten egg white (spread thin). Sprinkle top with slivered almonds or almond pieces. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Quiche Lorraine
My mom made this quiche for weeknight dinners occasionally when I was a kid. I always loved the recipe, and I found it even more endearing when she told me that a friend gave it to her in college. The friend, she said, was in a French class. Maybe that's why we can't learn a second language in this country! -- Amy Prince

1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 eggs, beaten
6 slices of bacon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pie dough in 9-inch pie plate and pierce bottom with fork or knife to prevent puffing. Blind bake pie crust for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Reduce oven to 375 degrees. Cook bacon; remove from pan an place on paper towels to drain. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of grease and saute onion in same pan with reserved bacon fat. Crumble cooled bacon. Spread bacon, onions and cheese evenly in pie shell. In a mixing bowl, combine milk, cream, eggs and seasoning. Pour liquid mixture into pie shell. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Quiche should be set in center, and slightly golden. Cool slightly before slicing.

Cranberry Apple Bake
Here is my mother-in-law, Janet's, Cranberry Apple Bake recipe. It's one I happily adopted to my own holiday table and with good reason. It's tasty, and, as Janet says, "If I can make it, anybody can." - Amy Prince

3 cups apples, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole, fresh cranberries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix apples, cranberries and sugar in a bowl and set aside. In a second bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, flour and nuts. Transfer fruit mixture to a 9-by-9-inch casserole or baking pan; spread evenly. Top with butter and brown sugar mixture. Bake for about 1 hour and cool slightly before serving.

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