Thursday, November 29, 2012

Orange Spiced French Toast

As my own family grows, we are making a tradition of  holiday breakfasts.  No one wants to cook on Christmas morning so I have found organizing a delicious meal and just throwing it in the oven works for us (much better than eating leftover cookies).

I loved the recipe found in Gooseberry Patch's The Christmas Table for Orange Spiced French Toast.  At first glance, I was a bit disappointed with having to transfer the bread after soaking onto a jelly roll pan.  My disappointment disappeared with the first bite!  Baking the French toast on the pan really gives it a great crisp finish, nothing soggy about this French toast.  My family loved it!  The accompanying syrup was great too!


French Toast

  • 1 loaf French bread, sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
Orange Syrup
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Orange Spiced French Toast
  1. Arrange bread in a single layer in an ungreased 13 x 9 baking pan.  
  2. In a bowl with an electric mixer on low speed, beat remaining ingredients except butter.
  3. Pour egg mixture over bread, turning slices to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.
  4. Spread melted butter in a 15 x 10 jelly roll pan (I used a large lipped cookie tray). Arrange bread slices in a single layer on top of butter.  Bake uncovered at 400 degrees Farenheit for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden, turning slices once halfway.  
Orange Syrup
  1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine butter, sugar, and orange juice concentrate.
  2. Stir until butter is melted; do not boil.
  3. Cool for 10 minutes; beat with an electric mixer on low speed until thickened.  Stir in pecans.

Difficulty: Medium
Time: Prep time is 20 minutes, plus overnight; baking time is 25 minutes
Source: Gooseberry Patch's The Christmas Table, Copyright 2012

We are sorry, but the giveaway for this post is over.  Congrats to our winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Kelly:  Joyce and I have enjoyed Gooseberry Patch cookbooks for quite a while; In fact, I got her one for Christmas last year.  We have found some excellent easy crock pot meals like Pepper Steak.  Now, we are proud to have the opportunity to review and give away a copy of their newest book, The Christmas Table.

As I am planning my first old-fashioned family Christmas for twenty relatives, this book arrived at the perfect time.  The Christmas Table is filled with delicious recipes for the holiday season as well as ideas for adding tradition to your family get-togethers. I loved some of the time saving suggestions. (I almost always forget to soften butter; Gooseberry Patch recommends using a cheese grater on the cold butter and letting it soften in a few minutes.)  I plan on incorporating some of their sweet memory ideas like making all my guests give a Christmas wish and providing ornament place cards.  Some of my early favorites from the plethora of recipes - the Cozy Christmas Brunch chapter's "Orange Spiced French Toast", Chill-Chasing Soup's "Southwest Butternut Squash Soup", and Caroling Party Supper's "Barbecups".

Joyce: There were so many delicious sounding options in this cookbook that it was hard to decide what to make for this review.  At first, I had a hard time taking my eyes off of the "Sweet Treats to Share" chapter, but when I saw this recipe, I just knew that it would be a hit with my family.  Basically, if it is in the shape of a cupcake, my kids love it.  I couldn't wait to try these Barbecups, and they did not disappoint.  My three-year-old said, "Yummy in my tummy!"  and the rest of us felt the same.  These will definitely be entered into the regular rotation; besides being delicious, they are also so quick and easy!  I am looking forward to making many more recipes from The Christmas Table.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 12 oz tube refrigerated biscuits
  • 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Grease 10 muffin cups. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, brown beef with onion; drain.  Stir in barbecue sauce and sugar; cook one minute.
  3. Separate biscuits; firmly press one into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup.  Spoon 1/4 cup beef mixture into each biscuit; sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until biscuits are golden.  Cool; remove from tin.  Makes 10.

Difficulty: Very easy
Time: 10-15 minutes hands on time, 10-12 minutes in the oven
Source: Gooseberry Patch's The Christmas Table, copyright 2012

We are sorry, but the giveaway for this post is over.  Congrats to our winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Apples

My mother-in-law made these for Christmas Eve last year, and my son made sure we got to keep all of the leftovers.  He asked for them every day until they were gone.  They were SO good!  They are sure to be a hit for Thanksgiving when I bring them to my parent's house this year, and I even plan to make them when my son gets his tonsils out in a few weeks - they are a great, healthy, soft food that he will be able to eat and that the rest of the family will enjoy as well.

  • 4 lg sweet potatoes (3 1/2 to 4 lb) - I use yams when they are cheaper and it is just as good (note: yams are actually sweeter; though they are not as calorie dense, they don't provide as many vitamins and minerals as sweet potatoes)
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3 medium apples, peeled, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheet with foil.  Pierce sweet potatoes with fork; place on cookie sheet.  Bake 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min or until tender when pierced with a fork.  Let stand 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, in 10 inch nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.  Cook apples, cinnamon and sugar in butter 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are tender.
  3. Spray 13 x 9 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Slip off sweet potato skins; place potatoes in large bowl.  Add salt, pepper, and remaining 6 tablespoons butter; mash until no lumps remain.  Add apple mixture; mix well.  Spread in baking dish.
  4. Cover with foil; bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot. 

Difficulty: pretty easy, though there is a bit of chopping and mashing (the mashing takes less than 30 seconds, though, if the potatoes are done enough)
Time: total of 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours from start to finish, much of which is hands-off
Source: I believe that my mother-in-law got this recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook

Monday, November 12, 2012

Libby's Pumpkin Roll

One of our favorite desserts has always been pumpkin rolls.  I would always find some organization fundraising and buy one.  There was no way I was tackling making my own; it seemed complicated.  I also don't own a jelly roll pan or sifter (I know you are gasping).

A few years ago, my friend Jennifer suggested we make our pumpkin rolls together.  She bakes a lot and has a fully stocked kitchen; Jenn can even produce a 2/3 measuring cup. We didn't even bother looking for recipes; we cut the label off the can of Libby's Pure Pumpkin and followed the instructions.  It is much less difficult when you have someone to measure while you mix or prep the pans.  The whole rolling the cake was new to both of us, but it gets much easier with practice.  Jenn and I love getting together to bake, plus, we plan our Black Friday shopping extravaganza. We make the rolls in early November and freeze them; they hold up wonderfully.   


  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup Libby's Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 6 T butter, softened
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan; line with wax paper (I suggest allowing about 1/2 inch paper extra to help lift the cake and tear the paper off).  Grease and flour the paper liberally.  Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick.  Beat in pumpkin.  Stir in flour mixture.  Spread evenly into prepared pan.  
  4. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched.  Immediatly loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel.  Carefully peel off paper.  Roll up cake and towel together starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
  5. For filling, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in a small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully, unroll cake; remove towel.  Spread cream cheese mixture over cake.  Reroll cake.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerated at least 1 hour.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving if desired.
Sorry for not having a pumpkin rolls are tightly covered in plastic wrap and aluminum foil in the freezer.

Difficulty: Medium
Time: 20 minutes prep time, 15 minutes baking time, cooling time varies
Source: Libby's Pure Pumpkin recipe found inside

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Turkey Day Casserole

During my first pregnancy, I fell in love with The Food Network.  While on bed rest, I watched episode after episode.  Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee stood out to me as food I might be able to make.  She had tons of shortcuts for busy people.  My dad and I take turns talking up her recipes.  Recently, he found a new discount store near his home; they had an entire section of Sandra Lee stuff.  He bought me two new cookbooks.

I chose to try this recipe because many of the ingredients are on sale as Thanksgiving approaches.  My favorite local grocery store had a special on ground turkey for $1 a pound.  This was super easy to put together and tasted wonderful.  I plan to make it with my Thanksgiving leftovers in a few weeks, substituting turkey leftovers and homemade mashed potatoes. I can't wait!

  • 1 container (24 oz) mashed potatoes
  • 1 pound uncooked ground turkey
  • 1 box stuffing for turkey
  • 1 can (16 oz) whole cranberry sauce
  • 2 jars home-style turkey gravy
  • 2 T butter, cut into small pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit   Microwave mashed potatoes, uncovered in container on high for 1 minute.  Stir to break up potatoes.
  2. In a medium pan, brown ground turkey; drain.
  3. Spread dry stuffing mix in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Top with cranberry sauce.  Layer turkey and 1 jar of gravy.  Spread mashed potatoes over layers in dish.  Dot with butter pieces.
  4. Bake in oven for 30 to 40 minutes
  5. Serve; heat remaining gravy (I suggest trying the dish before opening the second jar; we didn't need one).  Serve with casserole.
This version is made from leftovers, so the turkey is not ground.  Not a totally photogenic meal, but delicious!

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 15 minute prep; 40 minutes baking time
Source: Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Slow Cooker Recipes

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Joyce's Menu Plan 11/4 - 11/9

The upcoming weeks are the busiest of the year for me.  As assistant director for our fall play, which opens on November 13th, I will be spending a great number of hours at rehearsal in the evenings after work and on Saturdays.  I am already feeling the effects of not planning well this past week.  Fortunately, we had leftovers two nights, but we did end up eating hot dogs one night and pizza another - definitely not one of our better weeks.  So, I am determined to make a meal plan this week and get to the grocery store ASAP.

Sunday - Chicken Divan
It has been a while since I made this delicious casserole.  It always serves me well when I need leftovers later in the week.  Plus, it has broccoli in it and my kids still love it.
Monday - Sausage, Tomato, and Spinach pasta
This is one of my family's all-time favorites.  I love how easy it is and how quickly it comes together; it literally takes the time to boil water and cook pasta.  And with such healthy ingredients (and so few of them), it is definitely a winner.
Tuesday - Hearty Taco Stew
You can't go wrong with a slow cooker meal that is guaranteed to have leftovers.  I will serve this with cornbread and salad.
Wednesday - Leftover Chicken Divan
It will just be me and the kids for dinner this night, so the leftover chicken divan should be plenty for the three of us.
Thursday - Leftover Hearty Taco Stew
As I said, this needs to be a low-maintenance, quick prep kind of week.  I am maximizing the leftovers.
Friday - Zesty Pork Chops
It is time for me to use the pork chops in my freezer and the apple left in my fruit bowl!  This is a tasty recipe that brings a little variety to the table.