It's wonderful to reunite with friends and family during the holiday season. It's not always so wonderful, however, when you have to feed them.
So we asked some of Lansing's most creative people to share their recipes for tasty, easy-to-make foods that will please your guests and won't keep you captive in the kitchen. My partner in culinary crime David McCarthy and I cooked up these dishes, and they were all terrific and required very little in terms of preparation time or skill.
Here's a very easy one from my own cookbook to get you started:
Holiday Bread Pudding
1 quart eggnog
4 large cinnamon rolls
cup melted butter
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
Thoroughly grease a medium-sized baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggnog, eggs and butter. Tear cinnamon rolls into pieces and stir them into the mixture. Add nutmeg, if desired. Let sit for 10 minutes, then pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle of the pudding comes out clean. If desired, dot the top of the pudding with thin slices of butter midway through the baking process. Serve warm with ice cream, custard sauce or by itself.
Artistic director of Peppermint Creek Theatre Co. and communications coordinator for the Arts Council of Greater Lansing
The holidays are a major deal in the Badgero family. Many people will tell you that we are a little bit like "Leave It To Beaver" when it comes to our holiday traditions: From my dads homemade apple cider press for making cider in the fall and making pumpkin soup from the insides of our carved jack-o-lanterns, to roasting chestnuts over our family fire during Christmas, we do it up! And were all about traditions during Christmas:
- Christmas Eve candlelight service
- Come home, eat a ton of appetizers (most important, shrimp)
- Christmas morning includes breakfast pizza (recipe included) and my aunts croissant orange Christmas tree
- My grandma makes homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove that cooks all day with dinner at 3 p.m.
- And more eating!
Im really fortunate to come from a family of cooks and eaters, so cooking is very much in my blood. Happy Holidays!
One can of croissants
Three cups of frozen diced hash browns
One package of breakfast sausage (ground or links)
Shredded cheese of choice
Cook the breakfast sausage and hash browns. Spread the croissant dough evenly over the bottom of a greased cookie sheet to form a thin crust. Evenly distribute the breakfast sausage and hash browns over the crust youve made. Top with cheese (as much as you like). Whisk the eggs and pour evenly over the entire dish. Bake in preheated over at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes (or until edges are brown).
Department of Theatre Chairman and Associate Professor of Scene Design at Michigan State University
Combine in a large punchbowl:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 gal. apple juice
3 qt. water
6 oz. frozen orange juice
6 oz. frozen juice concentrate of choice (editor's note: We used white grape and worked beautifully)
3/4 cup sugar
8 sticks cinnamon
8 allspice wholes
24 clove wholes
Mix thoroughly and serve. Decorate with floating lemon and orange slices, if desired (and whether you "spike" it or not is up to you).
Playwright, actress and founder and artistic director of Stormfield Theatre
I have a wonderful recipe for you, and I make it every year at Christmas. I believe Ina Garten first came up with it.
Mixed Nuts with Rosemary
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dried crumbled rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 cups mixed nuts (pecans, cashews, and hazelnuts - I stick with cashews only)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter with dried rosemary, salt and cayenne pepper. Pour this mixture over mixed nuts, tossing to coat them. Bake the nuts on a cookie sheet or roasting pan for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Enjoy!
Director (Riverwalk Theatre's "The Full Monty") and actress (Riverwalk Theatre's "The Farnsworth Invention" and "Enchanted April")
For the past several years, our Christmas-morning tradition has consisted of a pretty simple strata, crazy-delicious bacon from Goodrichs and consistently flowing mimosas. Food aside, the best part of this tradition is the evolution of who is around our table. This year, we look forward to having my mom, brother, boyfriend, ex-husband and my ex-husbands boyfriend. I love my funky mixed family!
The day before:
Grease 9x13 pan
Cut five slices of bread (of your preference) into cubes and spread in bottom of pan
3 eggs and 6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup green pepper
1 cup milk
Pour over bread and top with 3/4 of a cup of shredded cheese of your preference. Cover and let set in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, remove strata from refrigerator and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let stand, cut into squares and serve to your thoroughly mimosa-ed family! Also, feel free to add vegetables and meats to your particular taste: asparagus, pancetta, spinach or sausage. It all works and its what makes this recipe great!
(Editor's note: For our strata, we incorporated a generous handful of baby spinach leaves, a cup of sliced brie and eight thin slices of pancetta. The results were delicious.)
Performing arts coordinator at Lansing Community College
These are my all-time favorite holiday cookies: Theyve got good looks, good taste and good memories. They dont really have a holiday theme but my mom always made these this time of year when my sisters and I were little, and I make them almost every year. They are easy and fun for children, you can really use your creativity and they look beautiful all on a plate (though that wont last!).
1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour (may need an extra 1/4-1/2 c.)
Cream butter, sugar and almond extract. Stir in flour until thoroughly combined to make a stiff dough (add 1/4-1/2 c. extra if needed). Separate dough into 4-5 balls. Add a different food coloring to each (such as yellow, red, green, orange, purple). Form into shapes. My favorites are peas in a pod and three cherries, but you can make anything you like such as lemons, bananas, strawberries, carrots, oranges, eggplants, grape bunches or make up your own.
Some ideas: Use bits of green dough for stems; make a brown mix from several colors for lines in bananas; use whole cloves for apple stems whatever youd like.
Roll or sprinkle in colored sugar to match or enhance the cookie color.
Chill 30 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Cool on rack.
Owner of Saper Galleries in East Lansing
Roys Orange Zest Cranberry Sauce
12 oz. bag of fresh cranberries
3/4 to 1 cup of sugar (half brown, half white)
Fresh juice from a couple oranges (or a cup of orange juice from the fridge)
Zest from one orange (reserve half for garnish)
Dash of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon or less of cloves (optional)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, blend the sugars and orange juice and stir until the sugars are dissolved. Pour the fresh cranberries into the sugar solution and continue to stir as the cranberries "pop." (Watch out for popping cranberry liquid, as it is hot!) Add the orange zest (approximately 2 to 3 teaspoons) while stirring. Add the dash of cinnamon and cloves, if desired, and stir.
The sauce will thicken as it cooks and the cranberries will soften. I like the thicker berry texture but if it is desired smoother the cranberries can be mashed with the back of a large spoon or the mixture can be put in the blender.
After no more than 10 minutes of cooking the cranberry consistency should be perfect.
You can then pour the sauce into a serving dish and serve it warm, topped with the reserved orange zest. Or pour in a storage container and refrigerate for use later, remembering to save some orange zest for garnish.
Although the cranberry sauce will liven up turkey or about any other holiday main course, some around the table will eat it with a spoon as it tastes like the treat that it is!
Actress (Peppermint Creek Theatre Co.'s "Distracted" and Riverwalk Theatre's "Fortinbras")
Holidays and food are possibly my favorite things in the whole world besides free drinks.
(Can feed 10-plus, or one very self-deprecating, Grinch-like person)
2 pounds of frozen hash browns
1 10.75 oz. can of mushroom soup
16 oz. of sour cream (can be low-fat)
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
One stick of melted butter
Heat oven to 350. Mix potatoes, soup, sour cream, cheese and half of the butter in a large baking pan. Crumble cornflakes over mixture and drizzle the rest of the melted butter on top. Bake for 60 minutes.