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

Doing Nothing Well

I’m really good at nothing. Hello, Thursday Morning friends! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m thinking again. Uh-oh. Right?

You know when someone asks you, “What are you thinking about?” and you say, “Oh, nothing”?

Is it even possible to think of nothing? Or to be thinking of…nothing?

You might think I’m being negative when I say I’m good at nothing, but you’re wrong. I am really good at (doing) nothing. In fact, I excel at it. If not for ole guilt, I’d spend a lot more time doing nothing. Thinking of…nothing.

But guilt keeps me going. Doing everything but nothing. The problem is, I tend to take on too much. You know the feeling? It’s a problem for many of us, especially this time of year. If you’re a mom, it’s magnified. Everything has to be perfect. You want your life to be a Hallmark movie. Or at least a little bit like one.

The Hallmark movies are like reading the condensed version of a novel. You see only the high points and low points and they wrap up quickly into forever love. All the extra stuff that goes on gets cut out. Life is not that predictable.

Yes, there are moments when you get to relax and breathe and enjoy relaxing and breathing. But those moments are B-O-R-I-N-G to everyone except self. Personally, I love those moments of nothing. Maybe because I know they are only scattered here and there throughout my busy, busy days.

But I’ve noticed something very important. If you’re too busy, if you say yes too many times, you may become overwhelmed. And then you’re really good at the negative nothing. You don’t have the time or the patience to be really good at anything. Or, if you do manage to accomplish all those things on your list and/or calendar, you’re probably going to be too tired to enjoy your accomplishments.

Then you’re going to DREAD the holidays because they represent negative things like failure and disappointment.

My advice to you, right now, before it’s too late, is to take a breath. Pause between the question and the answer. “Can you volunteer to do the decorations for the dinner?” “Will you head the committee to spearhead donations for that?” “Oh, and by the way can you also (insert task here)?? You’re just so good at that!”

Take a breath. Pause. Think it through. What will you remove from your list to make room for whatever you’re being asked to do? Maybe the more important question is, what’s your immediate gut reaction to the request? Is it a cringe? Go with that. Don’t wimp out. Say the word. “NO.”

Yes, the holidays come once a year. With good advance planning, you will survive them. If you haven’t made a plan, it’s not too late. Almost, but there’s still time.

Make a list right now, of THE most important things you need to do in order to have the kind of Christmas you really want for your family. Now, include your church family, or those outside your family with whom you are connected.

Next, go back over the list and prioritize the most important things. Keep the little ones in mind (if you have them). What will make their Christmas memorable? Hint: it’s not things. It’s probably time with you. Time, and a smile on your face.

I’m not slapping hands here. I’m reminding myself. My calendar is full and I have regular work and tasks to deal with on top of those. I’m dealing with a sense of dread. It’s too tempting to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage, a blankey, and a holiday movie. I have to remind myself that’s okay once in a while, but not all the time.

Well, coffee’s ready. I’m going to spend a few moments sipping, breathing, and contemplating nothing.

My calendar is full today. And tomorrow. And the next day. But, I’m keeping my eye on the prize of a stellar Christmas celebration.

Have a splendiferous weekend. May you find time to breathe and kick back, if only for a moment.

Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.–Luke 6:35-36 MSG

The Year I Said I Do

coffee, cup, laptop, memeAnother Thursday Hello! This is the time of year when the days fly past so quickly, I struggle to keep up. Know what I mean?

We are just days away from Christmas, and many of you are rushed and harried, worried you won’t finish in time. Let go of some of the little things. The unimportant things no one will even notice aren’t done. Make room for the big things, like time with family. Hugs, kisses, and “I love you’s”.

Today is important to me for another reason. It’s my mother’s birthday. She’s barely twenty years older than me, so we kind of grew up together. When I was a kid in school, everyone thought she was my sister. So, happy birthday, Mom.

Another reason today is important, and probably the biggest reason–forty three years ago today, I said, “I do”. Or, maybe it was, “I will.” It’s been so long now, I can’t remember.

We definitely grew up together. I was so excited on that (long ago) day, as I anticipated what the future held for us. Two kids in love. We had a lot of fun over the years, and troubles, too. But add it all up, and the sum is still on the positive side. It still adds up to love.

When we left the church that day, my brand new husband told me he needed to stop by home to pick up something he’d forgotten. He’d forgotten underwear. I sat in the car, wondering how you could forget to pack underwear? He came back out to the car and said it was a good thing he stopped by, he’d also forgotten to pack his spare jeans.

I frowned, wondering–what had he packed in his suitcase, if he’d left out such important items? Turns out, he’d forgotten to pack. Anything. This was the first time, but definitely not the last. I would always help him pack for a trip. He tended to forget important things, like a toothbrush, or a razor.

December 21, 1974

And how many times, over the years, would we leave the house, only to return minutes later for important things like his wallet? And, just in case you’re thinking he only forgets material things–a short time after we married, he went to introduce me to someone, and forgot my name. He introduced me as, “my wife.”

We finally made it Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and spent a few pre-Christmas days in the mountains. The pass was closed because of snow, but we drove up there anyway, and joined in a huge snowball fight with other sightseers. I’m sure most of them were also on their honeymoon.

I’ve no doubt, many of you have similar funny stories you could share, and I hope you will! Leave me a comment, and join the conversation!

Now, since I won’t see you until after, I’d love to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

I hope all the rushing around and last-minute preparations add up to a wonderful, memorable event. Don’t forget to take lots of photos!

A Reason for the Season

coffee, cup, laptop, memeGood morning and happy Thursday! It’s a bit nippy outside my door, and right on time. Christmas is coming.

The movies have started, the malls are brimming with shoppers, Christmas music is in the air, along with a definite aroma of cinnamon. The sights and sounds of the season.

All the rushing around causes me to wonder, am I ready for this? Can I conjure up a Christmassy-feeling? Bake some gingery-spicey things for the aroma, decorate with pretty lights and holiday bows?

Anticipation of the shiny eyes and excited faces of the children on Christmas Eve, watching and waiting, spurs me onward. Put up the tree, hang the lights, bake the cookies.

But, am I really ready? Something’s most definitely missing.

So, I turn my shiny eyes and excited face inward, to remember the One who started it all. As He made a natural entry into the world to begin an unprecedented journey that would span the next thirty-three years.

Yesterday, I wondered what it was like for Him, looking out through brand-new infant eyes. The Creator now a creature, helpless and dependent. Experiencing one of the greatest of all natural miracles–a mother’s love.

My heart brims over with love as I prepare to make a difference.

So, in the midst of all the gift-giving and rushing about, remember what it really means. Let His love shine out of your eyes and into your little corner of the world. Give from the abundance of your heart–kind words, a smile, a hug–spread His love. Help others remember the true meaning of the season.

Jesus.

Click to Tweet: Give from the abundance of your heart–kind words, a smile, a hug–spread His #love. Help others remember the true meaning of the #season. #MerryChristmas

All I Want for Christmas Part 3

hot-chocolate-1875870_1280It’s Christmas week. Many of you are manically shopping and baking to get ready for the weekend. It’s one of the most stressful weeks of the entire year. To make matters worse, we have less daylight.

Amid all the wrapping of gifts and checking your list to make sure everyone has a present and everything will be perfect, we tend to neglect something very important. Our mental health. 🙂 And along with mental health, our physical health is at risk.

So here’s something to help you, and it only takes a few moments:

  1. Take a deep breath
  2. Hold it for a count of seven
  3. Release the breath
  4. Repeat steps 1-3, two or three times.

Did you try it? It works by supplying extra oxygen to the brain. They say it also helps you fall asleep. I haven’t really tried that. All I need to fall asleep is to sit still for about five minutes. Works every time. But if I lie down, I tend to wake up.

read-1631169_1280What helps you relax? A relaxing bath, a cup of hot tea or other hot beverage, an interesting book, a beloved pet–those are all good ways to take a break during this stressful season.

Take care of yourself. There are a lot of bugs being passed around right now, and when you’re tired and stressed, your immunity runs low.

Okay, enough grandma talk. What’s my final wish before Christmas? I’ve wished for time (to remember, to meditate on what’s happened this year), I’ve wished for togetherness with family and friends.

So my final Christmas wish is for you to have a wonderful holiday. May you be blessed with time to spend with family and friends. May you have time to remember, and be thankful for what you have. May you have moments of peace and relaxation to help you navigate the maze of the holiday season.

Give to others from your heart, not expecting anything in return. Love with all your heart, but don’t hide it–show it. Say the words, “I love you,” often, and with feeling. The Bible says you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). That’s a very practical proverb. It’s true, you know. If you plant a tomato seed, you won’t get an apple tree, you’ll get a tomato plant.

So when you do good to others, somewhere along the way, it’ll come back to you.

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