the sunday brief | holiday gift guides

thanksgiving was my father’s favorite holiday. and christmas was my mother’s. oh, how she loved to flip through magazines to collect ideas – she would have loved pinterest – then transform our home into a winter wonderland. there was nothing she loved more than hauling her beloved christmas decorations from storage. her favorites? it would be a toss-up between byer carolers or department 56 snow village complete with skating pond. the minute that delicious thanksgiving turkey was carved into leftovers my mother’s holiday drum began to beat. because by golly she was determined to create a tradition or two.

one such tradition was an annual christmas brunch she hosted for friends and family. growing up, i watched my mother chop, slice, and dice her way to that yearly feast. there was no doubt she would give it her all to be the hostess with the mostess. when she opened the door to greet her guests the tree was trimmed, potpourri simmered on the stove, and gifts were wrapped sitting under the tree – even if that meant she stayed up until 3:00 am. can anyone relate?

a tried-and-true trick for a flawless bash was the timeless casserole. it’s the perfect dish as it can be prepared ahead of time, typically the night before, then popped into the oven an hour before brunch or dinner is served. this tactic freed my mother to enjoy her guests, freshen their drinks, and savor the festive atmosphere she worked hard to create. i’ve held on tight to a few recipes i thought i’d share today, considering the holidays are upon us.

one family tradition i’ve kept through the years is a christmas morning brunch in lieu of a lavish christmas dinner. it’s sooooo easy to prepare several casseroles that can easily feed a dozen, or more if your guest list changes at the last-minute.

if by chance you happen to be invited to brunch instead of hosting one don’t knock at the door empty-handed. let your hostess know she’s appreciated by showing up with a lovely gift. sometime it’s a bit challenging to select the perfect present so i’ve shared a few of my favorites. over the next few weeks, i’ll be sharing a gift guide or two in case you’re short on ideas. sometimes i’m short on time and ideas and find myself frantically flipping through catalogs looking for something, anything, that will fit the bill. but this is the year i’m on top of my game and yours. so if you find yourself in that frazzled state of gift-giving limbo take a peek at my gift guides located at the top navigation bar:

this week, i’m sharing a few gift ideas from one of my favorite online stores Mark and Graham. scroll through the widget and take a peek:

okay, gang, let’s take a look at a recipe or two.

Cranberry Baked Brie
A delicious way to use any leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  2. 1/4 cup of Homemade Cranberry Sauce
  3. 1 round Brie cheese
  4. 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk egg in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Gently tear apart the crescent dough so that 4 crescent rolls form a square. Press the perforations together so they don't tear apart and form one square of dough.
  3. Lay the dough out on a sheet of parchment paper. Put about 1/4 cup of cranberry sauce in the middle of the dough. Place the brie round on top of the cranberry sauce. Top the brie with more cranberries.
  4. Tear apart a rectangle of 2 crescent rolls and lay them over on top of the cranberries on top of the brie. Fold the rest of the dough up and around the brie so it is encased in the dough.
  5. Brush the tops and sides of the dough with the egg.
  6. Place the parchment paper and brie on a baking sheet. Bake for at least 30 minutes, watching closely to make sure that the dough cooks through but doesn't burn. It should be a nice dark brown once done.
  7. Allow the brie to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Style at a Certain Age https://www.styleatacertainage.com/
Sausage Hash Brown Casserole
Serves 12
A delicious casserole perfect for the holidays.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  2. 24 oz. frozen shredded hash brown potatoes (about 8 cups)
  3. 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  4. 12 large eggs
  5. 1 cup milk
  6. 1 tsp. salt
  7. 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Add the sausage to a large skillet and place over medium heat.
  4. Break the sausage apart with a wooden spoon.
  5. Cook until the sausage is completely brown, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain off the fat.
  6. Add the frozen potatoes, cooked and drained sausage, and cheese to a large bowl. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  7. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper.
  8. Pour the egg mixture over the hash brown mixture. Pat everything down with the back of a wooden spoon.
  9. Bake for one hour. The center should be set and the edges should be golden brown.
  10. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
Style at a Certain Age https://www.styleatacertainage.com/
Orange Cranberry Muffins
Serves 12
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
36 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
16 min
Total Time
36 min
Ingredients
  1. Topping
  2. 1/4 c. sugar
  3. grated zest of 1/2 an orange
  4. Muffins
  5. 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  6. 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  7. 1 tsp. salt
  8. 1 1/8 c. sugar
  9. 2 large eggs
  10. 4 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  11. 1/4 c. vegetable oil
  12. 1 c. buttermilk
  13. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  14. 1 tsp. almond extract
  15. grated zest of 1/2 an orange
  16. 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries, divided
Topping
  1. Stir the sugar and orange zest together in a small bowl until combined and fragrant; set aside.
Muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl; set aside.
  3. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs until thick and lemon colored. Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined.
  4. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, almond extract and orange zest.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry along with 1 1/4 cups of the cranberries.
  6. Fold together until just combined; do not over mix.
  7. Fill muffins cups full with batter, mounding slightly.
  8. Press the remaining 1/4 cup of cranberries into the top of the muffins and sprinkle with orange sugar topping.
  9. Bake for 16-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Style at a Certain Age https://www.styleatacertainage.com/
 

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