Monday, December 9, 2013

Polar Express Breakfast Menu

"The bell still rings for all who truly believe!"
 One of my favorite children's Christmas books is The Polar Express.  Written and Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg.  He is one of my favorite authors and illustrators.  He has written many other favorites like the Garden of Abdul Gazi, Jumanji and Just A Dream, which are some of my other favorites. These are beautifully illustrated and written books to share with your children all year long.   This "Mix and Match Menu" is meant to be shared along with this delightful story on Christmas morning!

Polar Express Breakfast Menu
Hot Chocolatella and French Hot Chocolate
Fresh Fruit Compote
Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Buns
Crunchy French Toast with Cranberry Compote
Poached Eggs with Sugared Bacon Twists
Roasted Potato and Onion Hashbrowns

Hot Chocolatella
2-3 cups milk ( depending on the richness you desire)
1/2 cup Nutella

Heat milk in a small pot on the stove top over low heat.  Whisk constantly to prevent scorching.  Whisk in Nutella and whisk until smooth and thoroughly combined.  That's a lot of whisking!  

French Hot Chocolate
You can't find a smoother, richer or creamier hot chocolate than this.  Well, maybe somewhere along the Champs-Elysees!  My friend Andrea Hamilton gave me this family recipe and we love it.  My husband likes to tease that it's really not how the French make their hot chocolate!

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
4 cups milk

 In medium bowl whip the cream with a hand mixer. As it begins to thicken, alternate adding chocolate syrup and sugar until all ingredients are combined. Chill chocolate cream in airtight container in refrigerator until ready to use.  Heat milk in a tea pot or crock pot and stir in all of the whipped chocolate cream.  Heat until hot and serve or fill mugs about 1/3 full of chocolate cream, add hot milk. Stir and serve.

 Peppermint Marshmallows

4 envelopes unflavored gelatin1 1/2 cups water, divided

3 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
drop of red food coloring
4 boxes full size candy canes, crushed in heavy zip lock bag or ground in food processor

Peppermint Marshmallows
Oil a 9x13 inch baking dish with vegetable oil.  Line the dish with aluminum foil and oil foil with vegetable oil.  In the bowl of electric mixer, add gelatin and 3/4 cup water.  In small pot stir together sugar, corn syrup, 3/4 cup water and salt.  Bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the syrup reaches 234 to 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Stir in vanilla and food coloring.  Using the whisk on the electric mixer at full speed, pour the hot syrup into gelatin mixture and whip for 15 minutes.  Pour out into prepared dish and smooth the top of marshmallow with an oiled spatula.  Let stand at room temperature for 10 hours uncovered.  Sprinkle crushed candy canes onto  countertop or large cutting board.  Turn out marshmallows onto crushed candy canes.  Sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top of marshmallow block and rub in with hands to prevent marshmallows from sticking.  Cut marshmallows with oiled cookie cutters or an oiled knife and roll in crushed candy canes.  Makes 64 large square marshmallows.    
Fruit Salad Compote

I love this beautiful salad because it's a really fast, easy and delicious way to add healthy fruits to your menu.  You can add any kind of fresh fruit you have on hand to make this salad even better.  I love to add any combination of pears, strawberries, blueberries, mango, pineapple, grapes, pomegranate seeds and fresh mint to this salad for variation! 

3 apples, sliced (you can peel these if you prefer)
3 oranges, peel, separate sections, and slice into bite sized pieces
3 bananas, sliced
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
a little sugar and orange juice

I like to use a knife to peel the oranges because it easily removes the white peel.  You can use a knife to separate the sections from their casings.  Place cut fruit in serving bowl.  Add poppy seeds, sugar and orange juice and gently toss. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. 

Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Buns

3 ½ c.  warm water
4 Tbsp. yeast
¾ c. oil
¾ c. sugar
1 c. powdered milk
1 ½ c. potato flakes
1 Tbsp. salt
3 eggs (room temp.)
10 to 12 c. flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in bowl of electric mixer.  Add oil and eggs.  Add remaining ingredients and mix for 10 minutes. Let rise to double, about an hour.  Meanwhile prepare 3 large rimmed baking sheets. Spray baking sheets with bakers spray or line each with parchment paper. Divide dough into three equal portions.  Roll a portion of dough into a large rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.  Spread 1/4 cup butter on each rectangle.  Mix chopped cranberries and orange zest together in a bowl. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cranberry and orange peel mixture over buttered dough.  Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Sprinkle a heaping 1/2 cup of cinnamon sugar mixture over cranberries.  Roll dough up tightly lengthwise, into a long jelly roll. Cut 1 inch slices with a piece of dental floss. Lay floss under dough and wrap it up around the dough, cutting it.  Arrange 12-15 rolls on each rimmed baking sheet. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with bakers spray and  let rise until doubled.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  While rolls are baking make the frosting.  Spread frosting on hot cinnamon buns.    

¾ cup butter, softened 

Cranberry Orange Mixture:
2 oranges, peel grated finely, juice reserved
2 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped ( using a food processor if needed)

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture:

2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Orange Frosting:
6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice 
zest from one orange

Beat ingredients with electric mixer until smooth.  Spread each hot cinnamon bun generously with a scoop of frosting.  OHHHH! Enjoy immediately.  Rolls are easily reheated to enjoy later! 


Crunchy French Toast with Cranberry Compote

1 large loaf Texas toast white bread, or thick sliced wheat bread

2 cups milk
5 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
18 ounce bag corn flake dry cereal
butter or margarine for cooking French Toast 

Remove inner bag from Corn Flake box.  Without opening bag, use a rolling pin and coarsely crush corn flakes.  Pour into large bowl or baking dish.  In large bowl whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.   Dip Texas toast in egg mixture and then dip in cornflakes.  Coat griddle or pan with butter or margarine and cook until cooked through and crispy.  Top with butter and Cranberry Syrup Compote and a dollop of whipped cream if desired or maple syrup.

                                     Cranberry Syrup Compote

14 ounces canned cranberry sauce
½ cup sugar
3/4  cup orange juice, or juice and zest of one orange
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash cinnamon

 In saucepan bring all ingredients to a simmer. Stir and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Puree mixture with a hand held mixer if desired, or mash cranberries slightly.  Serve over Crispy French Toast.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream and garnish with fresh chopped cranberries if desired.        
Roasted Potato and Onion Hashbrown

5 pounds potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil
pinch or two of red pepper flakes
handful of fresh chopped herbs or 1 teaspoon dried herbs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  On large 11x18 " rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes, onions and garlic with olive oil and season with plenty of salt, fresh ground pepper, red pepper flakes and fresh or dried herbs like thyme, rosemary and sage.  Roast for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with a metal spatula.  Bake another 5-10 minutes, until golden and tender.  Serve with eggs and Sugared Bacon Twists.
 Poached Eggs with Sugared Bacon Twists
My brother in law Doug Owens shared this easy method of cooking eggs for a crowd.  You can easily prepare up to 12 eggs for a breakfast gathering of family and friends in no time at all.  Serve Poached Eggs with the Bacon Twists and some delicious breakfast breads and fresh fruit.  Start the bacon first and try to both bacon and eggs in the oven, simultaneously.

1 lb. bacon
1 cup brown sugar
fresh ground pepper

Up to 12 eggs
12 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and fresh ground pepper
pinch fresh herbs or herb mix

Heat oven to 400.   Remove bacon from packaging and cut block of bacon in half crosswise, so you'll have short pieces of bacon when you separate them.  Separate bacon strips and coat each piece in brown sugar.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place a bakers rack on foil lined baking sheet.  Twist bacon and place on bakers rack.  Season with fresh ground pepper.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until bacon is crisp.  For quick clean up, discard foil off baking sheet immediately after bacon is ready.  Don't let the drippings and sugar cool and harden on the baking sheet.   Serve bacon alongside poached eggs. In bottom of muffin tin, drizzle about 1 tablespoon cream for each egg you'll be cooking in each cup.  Add a pinch of fresh or dried herbs. Crack one egg in each muffin tin cup and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 5-10 minutes or until egg is set.  With a large serving spoon, scoop egg out of tin and place on serving dish.   Serve with Roasted Potato and Onion Hashbrown. 




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