Hello Thursday Morning News Corner

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m doing something a little different this week, ’cause it’s the holidays!

Stating the obvious, we are just a couple weeks from Christmas. Are you ready? Have you bought all your gifts yet? I’m well on my way. Just need a few more of those “perfect things” to finish it off.

A few days ago, I sent out the holiday edition of my newsletter and offered up a couple of gift cards in a random drawing. Since the holidays are right around the corner, I decided to choose my winners early and announce them here.

I was surprised and pleased by the number of entries. Even more amazing was the fact that not one name was repeated. How cool is that? I logged into my random name picker and took a few spins. I love doing that! I’ve already notified the winners by email.

Katherine L won a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

Paula S won a $5 Starbucks Card!

Thanks, all of you who took the time to enter. I’d love for everyone to win, but my funds are limited. 🙂  Not to worry, I’ll come up with another fun giveaway for the next mailing, so be sure and try again.

My email subscribers receive newsletters once a quarter, and also to announce a release or other big news. I often include a drawing for free prizes on the newsletter. If you’d like to become a subscriber, click the fancy black entry box on the right side of this blog. It’s so easy! All I ask for is your email address. You do have to confirm the subscription and then it will come to you each quarter. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Are you aware that I am also a co-founder of the Inspired Prompt blog? It’s a teaching blog of sorts. A wonderful group of writers, both published and unpublished, discuss ways to improve your writing, among other things. We love to inspire our readers and also give them a place to publicize their upcoming releases. Here’s a link to that blog: Inspired Prompt

If you’re a writer, check out the Guest post guidelines to see what’s offered. Our guest posts and 3 Questions interviews fill up fast! You can reach us via the contact tab.

More big news

At our local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Christmas gathering, I arrived as Vice President/Secretary and left as President. It’s funny to me, because I completely missed the meeting the day I was elected VP/Secretary. At least I was present on this day (though I’m not in this picture). But my big news also means that Ralene Burke (second from left, back row), the woman who started it all here in our hometown, is stepping down.

Thank you, Ralene, for all you’ve done!

As we approach the holiday, I pray God’s blessing over each one of you, my readers. May you find His peace among the hurried, harried moments that lead up to the celebration of the birth of Christ. From my home to yours—Merry Christmas!

 

 

Holiday Breakfasts and Brunches

Welcome to a special edition of my blog – I’ve joined a holiday blog tour with my good friend, Tracy Ruckman, and a few of her wonderful friends, to help celebrate the season with memories and favorite recipes. Christmas is a lovely time to celebrate friendship. Here’s my offering—

Breakfast is always a great idea around our house. We love breakfast. On Christmas morning, it’s extra special. When our breakfast table was filled with growing boys, it took a couple of days for this momma to prepare the special foods for the Christmas breakfast. Homemade cinnamon rolls, bacon, a large breakfast casserole, a big bowl of fruit salad, freshly-squeezed orange juice. We feasted!

Over the years, our crowd has dwindled. We have the big family celebration on Christmas Eve. My guys are at home on Christmas morning with their families. Our day is peaceful. Mom is usually camped out in our guest room. My husband sleeps late. Mom and I linger over our morning coffee, enjoying the day and the company. Breakfast has become brunch.

Late morning, I start the meal. I still have a menu, but it’s a lot less work-intensive these days. Sometimes, it’s orange-cranberry muffins (made ahead), and sometimes it’s easy-peasy cinnamon rolls. I have a friend who grinds her own flour, makes the yeast dough, and creates some truly wonderful breads that are quite good for her family. My easy-peasy rolls are not like that. I pop open a can of crescent rolls. It takes about ten minutes from start to oven.

While the breakfast casserole has morphed into an omelet, a couple things have remained the same. Bacon has always been present at our Christmas breakfast/brunch, and the table setting. I’m not fancy. At all. But here, nostalgia holds a place. I serve up the food on my blue English ironstone plates. It’s not my best china, but I love it. I bought those, one place setting at a time, when I was a teenager. For my “hope” chest, later dubbed my “hopeless” chest (by me), but not for long.

I’m glad I held onto them, because they help make the meal special. But Christmas morning brunch is special anyway. It’s a time to remember all the blessings over the years. Though our table is smaller, I can still hear a distant echo of children’s laughter. Now, I treasure the moments spent with Mom. This is her 85th Christmas. I thank God for every holiday spent with her. Maybe this year, I’ll make her favorite mixed berry scones for brunch. She’ll like that.

Orange-Cranberry Muffins

½ cup softened, unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
¼ cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
½ cup plain yogurt (I use Greek)
2 tsp vanilla
Orange zest from 2 oranges
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 Tablespoons milk
1-1/2 cups fresh cranberries (rinsed & drained)

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray a twelve-count muffin pan (or use cupcake liners).
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on high until creamed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Then, beat in the orange zest until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk. Add the orange juice and milk, gently whisking until combined and little lumps remain. Fold in the cranberries with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling them all the way to the top. Top the batter with an additional cranberry or two, for looks if desired. (I like the pop of color on top of the muffins in doing this.) Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees and bake for 18-20 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total baking time will be about 23-25 minutes.
  5. While the muffins are cooling for a few minutes, make a glaze by whisking together a cup of confectioner’s sugar and 3 tablespoons of orange juice. Drizzle over warm muffins. Allow to briefly cool before serving.

*Recipe adapted from https://sallysbakingaddiction.com

Easy-Peasy Cinnamon Rolls

1 can Pillsbury crescent rolls
¼ cup softened, unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg (if desired)
1/8 tsp ginger (if desired)
2 Tablespoons chopped pecans (or English walnuts)
1/4 cup of dried cranberries or raisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8- or 9-inch cake pan (you can also use a cookie sheet). In a small bowl, whisk the spices into the sugar and set aside. Chop the nuts and set aside.
  2. I carefully unwrap the crescent roll dough. Don’t break it into sections. It will look a little like a rectangle. Lay it flat on a sheet of parchment paper, or you can use the countertop dusted with flour. You may need to pinch the sections together so they don’t pull apart when you roll the dough.
  3. Carefully spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with the sugar and spice mixture, followed by the nuts and fruit.
  4. Roll up lengthwise (starting on the long side) and cut into 1-inch sections. Set the rolls in the prepared cake pan or on a cookie sheet, close together to keep their shape.
  5. Bake for approximately 10 – 15 minutes (ovens vary) until they’re evenly brown and fragrant.

You can top these with a quick glaze of your choice, or dust with confectioner’s sugar.

It’s Christmas morning at your house—what foods will you enjoy? Do you have traditional favorites, something besides pop tarts with red sprinkles? 🙂

Next stop on the blog tour is: Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes

FRI, Nov 30: Holiday Appetizers – Tracy Ruckman
SAT, Dec 2: Holiday Beverages – Rachel Hartsfield
MON, Dec 3: International Holiday Foods – Peggy Cunningham
TUES, Dec 4: Holiday Breakfasts & Brunches – Betty Thomason Owens
WED, Dec 5: Holiday Main Courses – Sheryl Holmes
THURS, Dec 6: Holiday Sides / Potluck / Buffets – Tracy Ruckman
FRI, Dec 7: Holiday Sweets – Rachel Hartsfield
SAT, Dec 8: Holiday Recipes Master List – Tracy Ruckman