Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Eve Breakfast Menu:

Granny Jones' Sausage-Egg Casserole:
(hand-written on an index card in my grandma's beautiful script)

Brown 1 lb. sausage and drain. (I use turkey sausage)
Beat 6 eggs
Mix: 2 cups milk, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 slices bread (diced....I use whole wheat and it's still good). Mix with eggs and sausage. Refrigerate over night. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Make-ahead Ooey-Gooey Sticky Buns
From (which is awesome!)

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated skim milk, divided
1/4 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar, divided
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
2 tablespoons stick margarine or butter
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1. Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place 3 3/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until blended. Combine 2/3 cup milk, 1/4 cup water, and egg.

2. With processor on, slowly add milk mixture and yeast mixture through food chute; process until dough forms a ball. Process for an additional minute. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Combine 1/3 cup milk, 1 cup brown sugar, corn syrup, and margarine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Divide pecans evenly between 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Top each with half of brown sugar mixture.

4. Punch dough down; let rest 5 minutes. Roll into a 24 x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface; coat entire surface of dough with cooking spray. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon in a smallbowl; sprinkle evenly over dough. Beginning with a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 24 (1-inch) slices, using string or dental floss. Arrange 12 slices, cut sides up, in each pan. Cover with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray, and let rise in refrigerator 8 to 24 hours or until doubled in size.

4. Bake rolls at 375° for 23 minutes. Run a knife around outside edges of pans. Place a plate upside down on top of pan; invert onto plate.

Pictures to come! Also, I promise to post pictures of our beautiful Griswald-esque tree and house.

Merry Christmas!

Love, The Herndons

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Traditions and Passing the Torch

School is officially out and I have 2 glorious weeks of celebrating, resting, and recooperating to do! I'm trying hard not to think about the HUGE folder of papers that have to be graded, the laundry that has been piling up and needs putting away, or the dust that has been accumulating around this house that I have subtly turned a blind eye to over the last month or so (yes, it's been a month since I've dusted...I'm busy, what I can I say?). This year is the first in a long time that actually feels Christmasy and festive. I have been enjoying Christmas music more and have really enjoyed the anticipation leading up to this time! I attribute this to this being my first year back in school after taking a 2-year break from teaching to run an after school program and daycare. This year I'm going to sleep in the day after Christmas instead of having to drag myself to work to watch a thousand sugared-up kids still hyped up from all the toys and excitement from the day before. Not that I don't love children. Or sugar and toys. I will just enjoy being off and free to do my own thing.

As the anticipation builds, I've really been reflecting on our Christmas traditions. My Christmases have changed dramatically over the last few years as I've graduated from college, moved out, and gotten married. As a person of staunch tradition, these changes have been hard, but I'm trying to talk myself through it by embracing the new and looking to create traditions of our own with my husband to make Christmastime something we look forward to together, while still enjoying the things we've always done with both of our families.

That being said, this is the first year that I will hosting our annual Christmas eve breakfast! I have taken this over from my grandma, who does such a fabulous job, but is just overwhelmed by doing breakfast and dinner for our family (she is quite the hostess!). I'm excited to take this long-standing Zimmerman family tradition and make it my own, keeping the best of what my grandma has always done, but also adding my own two cents worth. I'll post pictures and let you know how it goes. Our menu has varied over the years, but I'm planning to serve sausage-egg casserole, some sort of sticky buns, fruit, coffee, and juice. I'm also looking forward to breaking out our china (passed down from my great aunt, Osie). Hopefully this will be the start of a great old/new tradition in the Herndon family.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Herndon Family Christmas Tree

So Patrick has decided to use Clark Griswald as his personal role model for our yearly Christmas celebration. Complete with lights on the roof and finding the perfect tree (hopefully, minus the crazy family members, house fires, and squirrel in the tree parts). Today we went to the tree farm in Floyd County to cut down our own tree. I was SO EXCITED for this activity. We always had an artificial tree growing up, and I was always jealous of my friends who had what I considered to be "the real deal." It really put me in the Christmas spirit and was a great kick-off to the holiday!

The one Patrick wanted...

The one we got :)


Patrick and I had a WONDERFUL restful Thanksgiving break. I'm so thankful to be a teacher and get 2 glorious days off! It was a much needed break. We slept in (fabulous) and went to my parent's house at 2:30. We also went to his parents house that same evening at 6:30. Needless to say, we were STUFFED despite trying hard to pace ourselves. Here are the pictures from my parents. We got carried away and forgot to break out the camera for part deux.

My brother Big Dave and his baby, Roxanne.

Mother and Daughter (beauitful)

Lovely, happy cousins: Scott and his wife, Mandy :)

Granny and Granddaddy Jones

Neva and Granddaddy Zimmerman

My cousin Evan and his wife Michelle got to come! Here's Michelle with Maya, the cutie :)