Orange Blossom Punch

December 31, 2007
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A delicious and very potent punch! SAM

1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup water
2 quarts orange juice, chilled
2 cups vodka, chilled
1/2 cup orange liqueur, chilled
6 oranges, thinly sliced
2 quarts champagne, chilled

In the bottom of a ring mold, arrange the lemon slices, cover with water, and freeze. Just before serving, in a 5-quart punch bowl, combine the orange juice, vodka, orange liqueur, orange slices, and champagne. Float the ice ring on top and serve with a punch ladle.
Makes 25 servings.


Sherry Punch

December 30, 2007
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Tea-based punches are the best, in my opinion. This lemony concoction is like a fabulous glass of iced tea with the extra added attraction of sherry. It’s great for parties, big or small. You can even serve it at weddings. Hmmmmm … SAM

12 medium lemons
3 family-sized tea bags
1 cup sugar
1 quart water, boiling
1 750-ml bottle dry sherry

Juice the lemons, reserving the rind. Place the tea, lemon rind, and sugar in a large, non-reactive plastic or stainless steel container. Pour in the boiling water, cover, and brew for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and rind. Cool and add the lemon juice and sherry. Serve over ice.
Makes 12 servings.


Breadcrumb Pancakes

December 29, 2007
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A rich, chewy pancake with the extra nuttiness of whole wheat. SAM

1 cup soft breadcrumbs
2/3 cup milk, hot
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
Butter for serving
Hot maple syrup

Lightly grease a griddle or iron skillet and heat to medium high. In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, milk, and oil. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring just to blend. Pour the batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto the prepared griddle. When bubbles form on top, turn the pancakes and cook on the second side until lightly browned. Serve with butter and hot maple syrup.
Makes 10 (4-inch) pancakes.


COOKING TIP: Soft Breadcrumbs

December 29, 2007

To make soft breadcrumbs, cut the crusts from white or light wheat bread, tear the bread into 1-inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Drape a kitchen towel over the bowl and with an immersion blender pulse the bread into crumbs.


Jammy French Toast

December 28, 2007
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Use your favorite jam for this fun twist on traditional French toast. SAM

3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup fruit jam
16 slices thin-sliced bread
8 teaspoons softened butter, plus extra for serving
Confectioners’ sugar
Maple syrup, hot

In a shallow mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and half-and-half and pour into a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Make 8 butter-and-jam sandwiches and place them in the egg batter, turning twice to coat all sides. Lightly grease a griddle or skillet and heat to medium-high. Fry the sandwiches about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with extra butter and hot maple syrup.
Makes 8 servings.


Tex-Mex Grits

December 27, 2007
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The good news about this yummy grits casserole is you have to taste it along the way to make sure the seasonings are right. Leave out the chili powder entirely for a milder taste or go for the burn. You can make it with regular grits, but the stone-ground variety, found in most natural foods sections, are much richer and nuttier. Do not use instant grits. SAM

3 cups water or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 cup stone-ground or regular grits (not instant)
8 ounces white Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)
8 ounces hot or medium salsa
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium chef’s pan over high heat, bring the water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the grits, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until thick, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, half-and-half, and garlic, stirring until melted. Add the butter and eggs, stirring until melted. Add the salsa and chili powder. Taste a small amount to check the seasonings and add more salt and/or chili powder if necessary. Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole and bake for 50 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.
Makes 6 servings.


Beer Biscuits

December 26, 2007
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Pull out that emergency box of biscuit mix … we’re making Beer Biscuits! SAM

1 (20-ounce) package biscuit mix
1 (12-ounce) bottle beer, room temperature
2 tablespoons brown sugar

In a large bowl, combine the biscuit mix, beer, and sugar. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease twelve 2 1/2-inch muffins tins. Spoon the batter into the tins and bake for 20 minutes.
Makes 12 large biscuits.

Adapted from Emily’s cookbook: All-American Comfort Food.