Sissy: After reading about the adventures of wildlife agent Bonnie Tuttle in Christmas Tree Valley, Tennessee (in Murder Fir Christmas by Joyce and Jim Lavene), we found a wonderful bonus. At the end of the book there are three recipes: a traditional German stollen (we’re assuming our protagonist has German roots), a sausage and potato casserole like the one made by Bonnie’s mother, and almond crescent cookies, a Christmas favorite from the Sweet Pepper café. So in the spirit of Christmas yumminess, Bubby and I made two of these recipes and will now share them with you!
Bubby: Let’s start with the sausage and potato casserole. We are big sausage and bacon lovers over here at the house of Bubby, so this was a perfect fit for us. It’s also quick and easy to put together and has ingredients that I always have on hand. I did make a few substitutions – first off, I swapped the sausage in casings for bulk loose Italian sausage because that’s what was in the fridge. I also omitted the can of diced tomatoes – my dear hubby has a thing about tomatoes and potatoes together, especially in a casserole. I don’t know what his problem is but if I want him to eat it, then the tomatoes must go.
little extra basil and some dried thyme because I like lots of herby flavor.
Sausage and Potato Casserole with Cheese
1 pound Italian-style sausage, cut into 1/2”slices
1 medium onion, diced into 1/2”pieces
1 green pepper, diced into 1/2”pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch chunks
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
Salt and pepper,to taste
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
Optional: 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, sliced into thin rounds
In a large skillet, brown sausage slices lightly on both sides. Drain excess grease. Preheat oven to 350°f. Add potatoes, onions, and peppers. Sautée until potatoes are fork-tender, 15-20 minutes. Add garlic about halfway through. Drain excess grease. Transfer sautéed ingredients to a 9”x16”baking dish. Top with diced tomatoes, then basil, then mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is well-melted. Serve with your choice of bread. Serves 4
Sissy: I made the traditional German Stollen. When I started to make it, I suddenly had my menfolk sniffing around the kitchen, asking me what I was making. When I told them and described what it was they were all excited, wondering if they got to eat it. Surprising how the happiness factor in our house is directly correlated to the amount of delicious food produced in the kitchen. I, too, made a few substitutions. I didn’t put any nuts inside the bread on request from my boys and I was going to put the chopped nuts on top but I forgot. One of my sons looked up Stollen on the internet and he saw that some varieties had some sort of filling put inside before rolling and he wondered why I wasn’t going to do that too. So I made a butter, cinnamon and sugar paste and put that inside just for extra oomph. The Stollen was made Saturday and both loaves were gone by Sunday evening.
This was so easy. After dissolving the yeast in warm water, you basically just mix in all the wet and then all the dry ingredients.
You get a nice soft dough full of delicious candied fruit.
Before I folded the dough over like this, I spread the inside with a mixture of softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.
It came out golden and smelling luscious.
When the Stollen was completely cooled, I glazed it with a thinned-out buttercream with some added almond extract for flavor, topped with extra candied fruit. It’s so pretty and the yummy goodness goes clear through the bread.
Traditional Stollen (German Sweet Bread)
For the dough:
1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105° F)
1 cup warm milk (105° F)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup mixed candied fruit (cherries and pineapple)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, butter, sugar, eggs, lemon and orange zest, salt and 3 cups flour. Add the raisins, candied fruit and almonds. Add 1/2 cup remaining flour at a time, to form a soft, loose dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Use more flour if necessary. Place in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and divide in half; cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll or press each half into a 12”x 7”oval. Fold long-wise to 1”of opposite side; press edge lightly to seal. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375°f. Bake loaves for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. Combine confectioners’ sugar and enough milk to form a thin glaze; spread over stollen. Yield: 2 loaves, 12-14 slices per loaf