Breakfast recipes for out-of-town guests

When I started to put this column together, I was thinking about breakfast foods for overnight guests that might be visiting over the Thanksgiving holiday.

So much of the Thanksgiving holiday focuses on the big feast of the day, so I thought a few treats might be in order for breakfast. But, then I came across an interesting turkey brine recipe that I just had to share with you. Later I came across a cranberry gooey butter cake recipe that I plan to make and again, I wanted to pass along to you.

Although I intended for this to be all breakfast foods, I have also included a few bonus recipes that you may choose to add to your Thanksgiving menu.

Pumpkin French Toast

Bread slices are soaked in a simple pumpkin and spice egg mixture then cooked on a griddle until perfectly golden brown.

* 3/4 cup milk

* 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

* 4 eggs

* 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

* 9 slices Texas toast (or other white bread such as Challah or French bread)

* Butter, for griddle

Preheat an electric griddle to 350 degrees (a non-stick skillet set over medium heat also works fine). In a mixing bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger until well combined. Pour into a shallow dish.

Butter griddle and dip bread into egg mixture (allowing a few seconds for it to absorb mixture. I also squeeze gently to soak the mixture to center), then rotate and coat opposite side. Transfer to griddle and cook until golden brown on bottom, then lift, butter griddle once more and flip French toast to opposite side and cook until golden brown. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup.

Overnight Breakfast Casserole

For the casserole:

* 1 pound ground breakfast sausage

* 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

* 12 eggs

* 1 large onion, chopped

* 1 red bell pepper, chopped

* 1 cup heavy whipping cream

* 1/4 to 1/2 cup green onion, chopped

* 8 ounces sliced mushrooms

* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

For the gravy:

* 2 cups milk

* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

* 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or oil

* Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. When meat has begun to brown, add onions, mushrooms, and bell pepper to the skillet and cook until vegetables have softened and meat is cooked through, six to seven minutes. Stir in green onion and remove meat and vegetables from skillet and set aside to cool. (Do not drain skillet.)

While meat and vegetables cool, make the gravy:

Add butter or oil to undrained skillet. Once melted, whisk in flour and allow to cook for two minutes.

Gradually whisk milk in and cook until gravy thickens. Simmer two to three more minutes and season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside (or put in a container to chill overnight).

In the prepared baking dish, crack eggs evenly across the bottom of the dish, keeping yolks intact. Poke a hole in each yolk with the toothpick and pour cream over the top of the eggs. Top with 1/2 of the cheese.

Spoon sausage mixture over the eggs and cream in the baking dish and then top with remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil and chill overnight.

Bake covered in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 30 minutes more. Serve with country gravy, and enjoy.

To reheat gravy: Put gravy into a microwave-safe container. Add a little bit of milk to loosen the gravy and heat in 45 second intervals, stirring in between, until gravy is hot. You can also heat over medium heat on the stovetop, thinned with a little bit of milk.

Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread

* 2 (16 ounce) cans prepared biscuit dough

* 1/2 cup white sugar

* 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice blend

* 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

* 1 cup brown sugar

* 4 ounces cream cheese

* 1 teaspoon vanilla

* 1/4 cup butter

For the Glaze:

* 3/4 cup powdered sugar

* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 3 teaspoons milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a Bundt pan. Set aside

In a small saucepan, add butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, cream cheese, and vanilla. Cook on medium-low heat until all ingredients are blended and smooth.

Mix white sugar and pumpkin spice blend in a large plastic zip top bag. Cut biscuits into fourths. Add dough pieces to bag and shake to coat. Place half of the dough pieces in the bottom of the Bundt pan. Pour over half pumpkin mixture. Layer remaining dough. Pour over the rest of the pumpkin mixture. Place in oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the dough is done.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for five minutes. Turn out onto a plate and continue to cool for 10 minutes.

Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk until smooth. Pour over monkey bread.

Baked French Toast

* 1/2 cup melted butter

* 1 cup brown sugar

* 1 loaf Texas sliced white bread

* 4 eggs

* 1 1/2 cup whole milk

* 1 tablespoon vanilla

* 2 tablespoons brown sugar

* 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Combine melted butter and 1 cup brown sugar in a small bowl and then spread into the bottom of your prepared 9Ă—13 pan.

Beat together eggs, milk, and vanilla. Set aside. Mix together 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in another bowl and set aside.

Put one layer of bread on top of butter and brown sugar mixture. Make sure the whole bottom of the pan is covered. Then pour half of your egg mixture on top of bread layer and sprinkle with half of the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Add another layer of bread. Pour the rest of the egg mixture on top and sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake French toast covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for 10-15 more minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving if desired.

French Toast Bake with Eggnog and Cranberry Pecan Topping

An easy make-ahead French toast casserole with all of the flavors of the holiday season.

* 1 loaf French or Italian bread (16-20 ounces)

* 8 large eggs

* 2 cups eggnog

* 1 cup half and half

* Dash of salt

Praline Topping:

* 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (14-15 ounces)

* 1 cup light brown sugar

* 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

* 1 heaping tablespoon orange zest

* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* A handful of fresh cranberries

* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly butter or oil 9x13 baking dish.

Slice bread (if not pre-sliced) into 24 or so slices. Place the sliced bread into baking dish cut end down, crust side up in 2 rows to fill the dish.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, eggnog, half and half, and salt. Pour over the bread, covering each piece of bread with egg mixture and making sure the mixture gets between the bread as well.

Cover with foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes up to overnight.

Praline Topping: Combine brown sugar, chopped pecans and cinnamon. Stir in whole berry cranberry sauce until mixed well. Spoon evenly over the bread. Spread to evenly cover.

Sprinkle orange zest over cranberry pecan topping. Add a few fresh cranberries for color.

Bake 50 minutes or until egg mixture is puffed and topping is bubbling.

Holiday Brined Turkey

* 1 cup coarse sea salt

* 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

* 1 tablespoon sweetened dried cranberries, finely chopped

* 1 tablespoon orange zest

* 1 tablespoon dried apples, chopped

* 2 teaspoons peppercorns

* 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

* 1/2 teaspoon dried sage

* 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

* 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

* 3 shakes red pepper flakes

* 1 gallon boiling water

* 18 to 20-pound turkey, thawed

* 1 gallon ice cold water

To prepare Turkey Brine Mix, combine all ingredients, except boiling water, turkey and cold water.

To prepare brined turkey, add Mix to boiling water. Cool thoroughly; chill. Place turkey and brining liquid in a very large container. Add enough cold water to cover turkey. Keep refrigerated or on ice for 12 to 24 hours. Before roasting turkey, rinse well with cold water and pat dry. Discard brine. Roast as desired. Makes enough brine mix for an 18 to 20-pound turkey.

Glazed Orange Muffins

* 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

* 1 tablespoon baking powder

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* 2/3 cup sugar

* 1 stick butter, melted

* 1 large egg, beaten

* 2 tablespoons orange zest

* 1/4 cup orange juice

* 1 cup sour cream

Glaze:

* 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

* 1/2 cup orange juice

* 1 tablespoon orange zest

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add 12 muffin/cupcake liners to a muffin pan. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a small bowl, whisk together butter, egg, orange juice, sour cream and zest. Add wet mixture into dry and stir to blend. Do not over mix or muffins will be tough. Spoon into 12 muffins cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until a tooth pick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool.

For glaze, mix together confectioners sugar, orange juice and zest. Drizzle over muffins. Let set and drizzle a second time if desired.

Oatmeal Brown Sugar Banana Bread

Bananas, oatmeal and brown sugar come together to make an outstanding bread. Toast it for breakfast and add a smear of cream cheese or just slice for a yummy treat with your coffee.

* 1 1/2 cups brown sugar

* 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

* 2 eggs, room temperature

* 4 tablespoon buttermilk or sour milk (make by adding 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar to 4 tablespoons of milk)

* 1 1/2 cups of very ripe bananas mashed (about 3)

* 2 cups flour

* 3/4 cup oats

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

Streusel Topping:

* 2 tablespoons flout

* 3 tablespoons butter

* 1/2 cup oats

* 1/2 cup brown sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 1 large loaf pan and cover bottom with waxed paper.

Cream sugar and butter with a whisk or hand mixer. Add eggs and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well with wooden spoon. Pour into prepared pan.

Mix streusel topping together with a fork and crumble over batter.

Place pan in oven bake for 50 to 60 minutes. Test for doneness and remove from oven to cool for 15 minutes.

Gently remove from pan. Slice to serve.

Cranberry Gooey Butter Bars

Cake Base:

* 1 box yellow cake mix

* 1/2 cup butter, melted, cooled slightly

* 1 egg

* 2 teaspoons orange zest

Filling:

* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

* 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

* 1/2 cup butter, melted, cooled slightly

* 3 eggs

* 2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

Topping:

* 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

* Sweetened whipped cream, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom only of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, stir Cake Base ingredients until well blended. Press evenly in pan.

In another large bowl, beat cream cheese and 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Beat in 1/2 cup melted butter and the eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in cranberries. Pour and evenly spread batter into pan over cake base.

Bake 38 to 43 minutes or until golden brown and center is set. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

When ready to serve, sprinkle 1 tablespoon powdered sugar over top. Using sharp knife, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows, cleaning knife blade after each cut. Serve with whipped cream. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

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