Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

We’re just on the cusp of December.

If you’ve been following this blog for at least a year, you know what that means. If you haven’t been following the blog for at least a year and have no idea what’s going on, you picked a great day to show up.

Annually straight after Thanksgiving, I kick off a special holiday series on the blog called the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s exactly what it sounds like:

12 days of holiday-themed baking and cooking recipes that I share from now and leading up to just before Christmas.

It’s always a lot of work, but it’s definitely a labor of love that I genuinely look forward to every year. When I was growing up, the holidays were a time when a lot of really delicious baking happened, and it gave the season a special feeling that I try and rekindle for nostalgia’s sake now that I’m old enough to do it for myself.

So let’s just get right into, shall we? Although the majority of the recipes I make for the 12 Days of Christmas are sweets, I do always try to throw at least one savory option in there, and this year, the savory dish is what we’re starting out with.

Sausage rolls aren’t huge here in the States, but from what I can tell, they’re huge across the pond in the UK, particularly at this time of year. British sausage rolls are typically made with sausage that’s been flavored with ‘wintery’ spices, then wrapped and baked in puff pastry. I knew going into the series this year that I wanted to do a Christmas sausage roll, but puff pastry isn’t my favorite.

So I made some adjustments.

The sausage filling of these rolls is flavored with pretty much all of the spices you’d associate with Christmas flavors, and if you’re a fan of Christmas meat pies like sausage rolls or French Canadian Tourtiere, you’ll recognize the flavor profile I was going for. However, for the casing part, I deviated from tradition, making neither puff pastry or pie crust; instead, these are wrapped/rolled/baked in a chewy/fluffy yeast dough. Additionally, the bottom of the pan is lined with a honey cinnamon glaze that makes the most delightful ‘goo’ to pair with the saltiness of the rolls themselves. In that sense, they’re kind of like Winter Spice Sticky Buns.

Pretty delicious start to this year’s 12 Days of Christmas I’d say.

Winter Spice Sausage Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Onion powder, salt and black pepper, to taste

For Bread Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs

For Glaze

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 1 orange)

Directions

For the Sausage Filling: Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Brown the sausage in the skillet in crumbles. Remove from heat and drain well. Move sausage into a medium size bowl and stir in the butter, honey, and spices. Set aside and allow to fully cool. (I prefer to let mine sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors develop, but you don’t have to if you’re short on time.)

For Glaze: Melt the butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the glaze ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For Buns: Heat milk in a 3-quart saucepan over medium until bubbles begin to form around the edge of pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine warm water and yeast in a 1-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top of the yeast mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbly.

Add yeast mixture, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar to warm milk; stir until relatively smooth. Place mixture in a warm place (85°F) until bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the shortening with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer) until fluffy. Add the 2/3 cup of sugar and beat together until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time. Gradually spoon in the yeast mixture to the shortening-sugar mixture, mixing on low in batches until combined. Add remaining 3 cups flour, in batches, beating just until blended after each addition.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook; beat dough on medium speed until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes. Turn the dough out onto floured surface and knead with your hands for an additional 2 minutes. Grease/oil a bowl and place dough inside, covering with plastic wrap and damp towel. Allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the honey glaze in the bottom of the dish, being sure to cover all corners (you can pour in more if you want a more gooey, sticky bottom on your buns). Set aside.

Punch dough down on a floured work surface to deflate air bubbles. Divide in half, place one half back in bowl and re-cover with plastic wrap. Roll out the other half to a rectangle, about 10- x 8-inches. Sprinkle one half of the sausage filling over the dough, leaving 1 inch border around. Starting from the long end, roll into a tight cylinder and pinch together to seal. Cut off & discard the two short ends to create smooth, even buns. Cut cylinder crosswise into 4 to 5 (1 1/2-inch-thick) rounds. Place each bun cut side down in the baking dish. Repeat with second dough half and sausage filling. When finished, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap & a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on middle oven rack until golden brown on top, 55 minutes to 1 hour. (If buns are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil after baking 30 minutes.) When finished, brush or drizzle some of the remaining honey glaze on top of buns.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #408.

Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Things have been all kinds of busy lately.

There’s a lot going on and that leaves less time than I would like to cook, much less set aside the time to take pictures and write up recipes for the blog. But since this is one of my outlets to rest/recharge from my day-job, I still make time in however best way I can.

One of those ways, in both a booking/blogging sense, is through making quick bread. I’ve mentioned before that we eat breakfast for dinner pretty frequently in my household, and quick bread of some sort usually makes an appearance as a part of that.

Quick bread is bread that’s made without yeast and, thus, doesn’t require a lot of preparation or rising time. It can literally made in more or less, an hour (thus the ‘quick’ part). Examples of quick breads would be gingerbread, pancakes, banana/zucchini bread; basically bread that’s made with baking powder and/or baking soda that acts as the leavening/rising agent in lieu of the yeast.

Whenever I’m in a hurry to make breakfast for dinner, I will usually default to making pancakes, or some kind of quick bread that we eat alongside eggs, sausage and bacon. This was one of those times.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of baking with sweet potatoes lately, which is evident not just in today’s post, but in a few more to come in the upcoming weeks. While I find them delicious all on their own, they’re also a great baking ingredient. Mashed potato is great for keeping bread doughs from drying out, and I find that sweet potato gives a warm and savory flavor that’s perfect for the tastebuds this time of year.

Like just about all quick breads, this loaf comes together very quickly (pun kinda intended). Apart from being very tasty, it’s also in the You Can’t Screw This Up recipe category–which is yet another reason for you to give it a try, whether it’s for keeps, or maybe even for a tasty holiday gift.

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Sweet Potato Spice Bread

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 chopped, toasted pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9 x 6 loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg cinnamon, ginger and sugar.

Add the eggs, oil, and milk; mix until well blended. Finally, stir in the mashed sweet potatoes, pecans, and dried cranberries. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow bread to cool in the pan at least 15 minutes before removing. For best flavor, store overnight before serving.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #407, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

We’re just about approaching the close of autumn (which is wild to me; time flies), but I knew I didn’t want it to get too late before I got around to making something with apple cider in it and sharing it here on the blog.

I’ll be honest with you all: what I really wanted was a fried apple cider doughnut. I’ve done/shared it before on the blog, but that was years ago when I was still very new to blogging and I think those pictures are terrible. So ideally speaking, I would’ve just done a do-over of that post.

However, any of you who have made scratch/fried doughnuts before knows that they are…a project, one that can take up a lot of time. And the way my life is set up right now, time is just something I have a lot less of than I did when I first began blogging.

But, I mean… I still wanted a donut.

So, I compromised with time and with myself. And, here we are.

Still Apple Cider Donuts…but also, muffins.

The most obvious difference here was the one that was most important for me: the cooking time. Depending on what kind of dough/batter you have, making doughnuts from scratch can be an hours long project.

I didn’t have hours to spare, and fortunately, this recipe doesn’t need them. In fact, if your cider is already boiled/reduced, you’ll probably be done in 1 hour, tops.

I was very pleased with how these turned out. Apart from the quicker and easier baking process, they still satisfied that craving I had for an apple cider donut without having to go to the extra trouble.

They’ve also been kid-approved by the resident taste tester in our house, so if that doesn’t sell em to you, I don’t know what else will.

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Apple Cider Donut Muffins

Recipe Adapted from New England Food Today

Ingredients

For Muffins

  • 2 cups sweet apple cider
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

For Sugar Topping

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Directions

For Muffins

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan either with butter or shortening and set aside.

Put the apple cider in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1 cup. Set aside to cool.

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Using a standing or handheld mixer, cream the butter with the sugar in a large bowl at medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each. Add the vanilla extract and blend.

Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just to combine. Add half the reduced cider and beat to combine.

Repeat with another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the cider, then the remaining flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until tops are firm and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5-7 minutes.

For Topping

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. As soon as the muffins are cool enough to handle, brush their tops and sides with the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #406, co hosted by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Pizza Strata

I don’t know what the weather is like in your area, but in mine, the temperatures are plummeting. It’s really really cold. I’ve spent the past few years living on the West coast, so these are temperatures I have not had to live with in a very long time; it’s been, and continues to be a (re)adjustment.

Apart of that readjustment is my leaning more towards cooking food that is hearty and stick-to-your-ribs. The kind that makes you want to burrow under a blanket and take a nap afterwards.

I spent most of my life in the Midwest, and in the Midwest, we love our pizza. We take it very seriously. I love to eat and also make it, and as I’ve shown on the blog before, that’s not necessarily always strictly in solely pizza ‘form.’ There are some pretty interesting ways to transfer the pizza ‘flavor’ to other dishes, which is what we’re doing here today.

This recipe happened for the reason that a lot of strata recipes happen; I had an excess of slightly stale bread in my fridge that I didn’t want to go to waste. I decided to make a strata, but rather than go the typical breakfast-y route with sausage/ham/bacon, I started thinking about other possibilities that could work.

This is where I ended up.

Right off the bat, I want to emphasize that this is NOT Chicago Style deep dish pizza, which is not a favorite of mine at all. A Chicago style pizza is a pie composed of mostly cheese, with some toppings and sauce thrown on top. This is a strata, where stale bread and veggies are baked and set in an eggy-milk mixture. Think a breakfast strata, but it’s pizza ‘flavored’.

Another thing I’ll say that this recipe is HUGELY customizable. I used pepperoni, bell peppers and onions as my ‘toppings’, but so long as you keep to the ratio of bread, eggs and milk, you can customize the rest of the recipe ingredients to whatever your personal tastes are for pizza.

One thing that surprised me about the finished product was that it wasn’t as ‘heavy’ as I expected it to be in eating it. The flavors were of course, still reminiscent of pizza, but my stomach didn’t feel as heavy as it does after I’ve eaten pizza. It was satisfying without bringing on the lethargy.

Plus, it’s pretty delicious, if I may say so myself.

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Pizza Strata

Recipe Adapted from Food52

Ingredients

  • 10-12 cups lightly packed garlic or herb flavored bread, slightly stale and cubed (I used leftover rolls from this recipe, but really any sturdy herb-y bread will work)
  • 16 large eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion
  • 6 oz. of sliced cooked pepperoni* (You can substitute mushrooms here to make this vegetarian, or even add 6 oz of mushrooms to the existing strata itself; feel free to use whatever are your favorite pizza toppings)
  • 14 oz. pizza sauce, plus more if desired
  • About 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (or more, if you prefer)

Directions

In a large skillet, heat a few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil to medium heat. Saute first the bell peppers, then the onions until they are softened and translucent. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings until well combined and yolks are broken.

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.

Layer a third of the cubed bread in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of the peppers and onions. Add a layer of the pepperoni. Repeat until you’ve layered all the bread, vegetables and pepperoni in the dish.

Pour the egg-milk mixture over the strata, using a rubber spatula to ensure that it gets into the corners and absorbs all of the ingredients.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. (If chilling for later, let the strata sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before baking.) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drop large dollops of about half (7 oz) of the pizza sauce on top of the strata, using a spoon to spread it out a little.

Cover with aluminum foil, and bake the strata until puffed, golden brown around the edges, and set in the center, about 55-60minutes. (Insert a knife in the center; if it comes out clean and without eggy residue, it’s ready.)

Remove the strata from the oven, remove the foil, and preheat broiler.

Dollop the rest of the pizza sauce on top and sprinkle the top with as much cheese as desired. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is browned and bubbling.

Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving with additional pizza sauce is desired.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #405.