Happy Holiday Hosting

It’s true — the kitchen is the heart of the home. Ever notice how people always gather there? Whether baking treats, making dinner or spending time with family and friends, the kitchen is my favorite place to be. As the Owner/Innkeeper of the Avenue Hotel, a Colorado bed and breakfast, I spend a good portion of my time in the kitchen thoughtfully preparing a delicious breakfast for ever changing guests.I love to stir things up.

As my first year as an Innkeeper comes to a close I have been reflecting back on the memories of he past year. The time spent in the kitchen discovering that I was at a different altitude and making constant adjustments. Enjoying the challenge of preparing a scrumptious dish for vegan guests as well as providing different dishes for no dairy and gluten free guests all in one morning. Waiting for guests to gather and enter the dining room enjoying the aroma of breakfast being prepared and fresh ground coffee. I like my open kitchen allowing me to share the morning with my guests in the dining room. I had to create menus that were different everyday especially when you had the same guest for 10 days.I loved serving on the front porch in the warm morning summer sun. Most of all the year has brought many wonderful guests from all over the world to our tables in Manitou Springs. I have been so pleased to meet them all.

The holidays bring full hearts and, often, full homes. And that means extra seats around the table. But holiday hosting isn’t just about the big meal; it extends to all the get-togethers that call for a special dish.

A great make-ahead idea is a casserole that is welcome at any meal. This Sunrise Sausage Bake is full of family favorite flavors and can be made the night before. For an elegant yet easy breakfast or brunch dish, try a Pear Oven Pancake. With sweet pears and a hint of cinnamon, it’s a winner that can be ready in less than 30 minutes.

Sunrise Sausage Bake
(Makes 12 servings)

2 cans (12 fluid ounces each) evaporated milk
8 large eggs, beaten
1 pound precooked sausage links, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 cups (8-ounce package) shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped red and/or green bell pepper
2 green onions (green parts only), sliced
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 cups 1/2-inch cubed Italian or French bread (about 9 slices)

PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Grease 13 x 9-inch baking dish. I like a glass dish.

COMBINE milk, eggs, sausage, cheese, red pepper, green onions, onion powder and garlic powder in large bowl. Add bread cubes, stirring gently to moisten bread. Pour mixture into baking dish.

BAKE for 45 minutes or until set. Serve warm.

TIPS:

• This bake can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
• Substitute multi-grain bread for Italian or French bread.

Pear Oven Pancake
(Makes 6 servings)

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

PREHEAT oven to 450º F.

POUR melted butter into 9-inch deep-dish pie plate or cake pan. Swirl to coat bottom and sides of plate.

COMBINE flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in medium bowl. Whisk evaporated milk and eggs in another medium bowl until blended. Add to flour mixture; whisk for 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pie plate. Arrange pear slices on top of batter in pinwheel design, pushing down slightly. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle top with sugar mixture.Beautiful

BAKE for 15 to 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

Happy Holidays! Enjoy

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