Christmas Favorites: Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath

Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath CollageChristmas Brunch is one of our family’s favorite holiday traditions, and this Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath is always a crowd pleaser. It’s beautifully festive, easy to make, and delicious… and today it’s also our featured Christmas Favorite.

We first shared this recipe in our weekly newspaper column in The Forum back in December, 2013, and I’m reposting that article to share with you today. The Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath has become a popular holiday dish among our readers, and we hope you enjoy it, too.

Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath sliced

Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath, featured in The Forum on December 18, 2013

One of Giovanni’s favorite holiday traditions is our Christmas morning brunch, which we host for my parents, siblings and their families. A few years ago I decided to try a recipe for an apple sausage breakfast ring that my mom has made many times to great reviews. Apple and sausage work so well together, and I thought this would be a great addition to our breakfast feast. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find her recipe, so I looked online until I found one that she thought was almost the same.

Sadly, “almost” just didn’t cut it. The sausage ring tasted good, but after waiting two hours for it to bake (twice the time stated in the recipe), our crowd was hungry enough to eat styrofoam and be happy. Not to mention that our attempts to remove the sausage from its ring-shaped mold left Tony and me with a broken ring, and broken spirits. We had no desire to make this dish ever again.

But this season I decided that we should give it one more chance. I tracked down the original recipe, which was first used in our family by my grandmother, Sunny Mathison, and came to me last week through my Aunt Margie.

I compared my family’s version to the one I’d used three years ago and found that, although the ingredients were the same, there were significant enough differences in measurements and directions to warrant another attempt.

The recipe I’d first used called for grated or shredded apple, which ended up producing quite a bit of extra moisture in the mixture. But my family’s version calls for “finely chopped apple,” which was much drier than when grated, as well as different amounts of milk and crackers. This version also directed me to remove the sausage ring from the mold before baking, whereas the former recipe had us baking the sausage directly in the ring.

For this attempt, I used one Pink Lady apple, peeled and finely chopped, and two pounds of Hornbacher’s own ground pork sausage. My mom uses saltines, but I chose instead to use Keebler Club crackers, which have a nice, buttery flavor.

Aside from being delicious and easy to make, I love that this dish can be prepared one to two days in advance and baked just before serving.

I used cooking spray to grease the mold before filling it with sausage, which worked great, but you could also use plastic wrap or wax paper. To remove the sausage ring from the mold, I gently inserted a rubber spatula between the sausage and the mold in three or four places along the side before (successfully) turning it out onto a baking sheet.

This time it took just a little over an hour to cook, and as it was baking Tony said, “This kitchen smells like I’m about to have the best breakfast ever.” We heaved a collective sigh of relief and did a little happy dance as we pulled the sausage ring from the oven, golden brown, intact, and looking delicious.

Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath straight from the oven

Our recipe recommends filling the center of the ring with scrambled eggs, but since neither Giovanni nor I care for them, I created a breakfast wreath by filling ours with fresh raspberries and lining the plate around it with sliced kiwi. This dish was a hit with both of my men, and will be featured once again on our Christmas brunch buffet. We hope you enjoy it, too.

Apple Sausage Breakfast Ring

Apple Sausage Breakfast Wreath

Ingredients:
2 lbs. bulk sausage
1 ½ cups cracker crumbs
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup milk
¼ cup minced onion
1 cup finely chopped apple, peeled (equal to about one apple)

Directions:
Combine ingredients and mix thoroughly with a fork. Press lightly into a six-cup greased mold. Turn out in a shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour, until golden brown. Drain off excess fat. Cool for 5 minutes, slice and serve.

Tips:

  • The ring may be partially cooked the day before for 30 minutes.
  • Fill the center with fresh fruit or scrambled eggs. The original recipe said to add a little grated cheese to the eggs and sprinkle with paprika.
  • Garnish the plate with sliced kiwi or fresh fruit. The original recipe suggested broiled apricot halves and parsley to garnish.
  • Once cooked, the sausage ring can be frozen for up to 2 months. To serve, reheat in 300 degree oven or microwave until warmed through.

Nasello Family Summer Food Favorites

We love summer fun with family, and celebrating with food is at the heart of our festivities. Here are some of our favorite summertime recipes – Sarah’s favorites are the Walleye Cakes, Bacon Pancakes, and Easy Potato Salad, Gio loves the Flourless Chocolate Torte Bars, the Bruschetta, and the Roasted Red Peppers, and Tony is big on the Grilled Sirloin Roast, Grilled Bison, and Edamame Salad – to name a few. 🙂

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true feast without a little homemade Limoncello to finish the meal, would it? Not only does this Italian liqueur aid in digestion, but it will leave you feeling relaxed and mellow – in other words, you’ll feel like summer.

We hope you enjoy our list of favorites, and invite you to share your summer food memories with us in the Comments section below. Here’s to great food, good friends, and summer!

Nasello Family Summer Food Favorites:

Drinks
Homemade Limoncello
Sangria

Appetizers
Corn Fritters
Tomato Anchovy topping for Bruschetta
Zack’s Rough Cut Guac
Bruschetta
Tony’s Marinated Olives
Corn Hummus

Fish
Parmesan Pepper Walleye
Grilled Salmon with Honey Soy Butter Sauce
Baja Fish Tacos
Walleye Cakes
Tom’s Crusted Macadamia Nut Mahi Mahi

Meat
Grilled Bison with Chimichurri Sauce & Salmoriglio Sauce
Grilled Top Sirloin Roast with Horseradish Sauce
Indonesian Pork Satay
Mojito Chicken with Grilled Corn Salsa

Salads & Side Dishes
Tony’s Edamame Salad
Honey Gorgonzola Hearts and Spears
Tuscan Bean Salad
Insalata Caprese
Easy Potato Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad
Watermelon Feta Salad
Roasted Red Peppers
Green Beans Nasello
Grilled Vegetables and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Insalata Italiana -Tomatoes, Avocado & Fresh Mozzarella
Peach Summer Salad

Dessert & Sweets
Honey Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Strawberry Shortcake
North Dakota Sun Brittle
Coconut Cream Pie
Grand Marnier Zabaglione
Fresh Berry Galettes
Patriotic Flourless Chocolate Torte Bars
Cherries Jubilee
Red Wine Peaches
Rhubarb or Lemon Granita

Breakfast
Cherry Vanilla Scones
Fresh Berry Galettes
Egg Strata
Homemade Bacon Pancakes
Raspberry Friands (Australian Almond tea cakes)
Easy Fresh Fruit Salad
Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Apple Sausage Breakfast Ring

Cherry Vanilla Scones Make a Great Breakfast (or anytime) Treat

Cherry Vanilla Scones

Tony and Gio are big fans of American coffee house scones, and a recent purchase of some lovely dried Bing cherries from Trader Joe’s has inspired me to play around with my recipe to make these gorgeous Cherry Vanilla Scones.

American scones are usually sweeter than their British counterpart and are often enjoyed as a morning pastry, while British scones are typically served at tea time. And, while the Brits enjoy slathering their tea scones with heaps of butter and cream, over here we put those ingredients right inside our scones.

American scones are essentially a type of quick bread, like their other cousin, the southern biscuit, but they benefit from the addition of sugar and often an extra ingredient, or two, like dried fruits or chocolate chips. For practical purposes, (and in no disrespect to any British readers), I will refer to them from this point on simply as scones.

I confess that, until recently, I never quite understood the big attraction to scones, but, since I love baking and my guys love scones, I set out a couple years ago to find the perfect scone recipe. After trying out several versions, I’ve learned a few things along the way and have come to regard the scone with new respect.

First, (and best, in my opinion), scones are really easy to make, requiring basic pantry staples and very little skill. In fact, they are just another incarnation of flour, butter, sugar and cream, with a little bit of salt and baking powder thrown in for good measure. If you’ve ever found scones difficult to make, I urge you to try this recipe.

Next, scones are incredibly versatile. You can make them plain, or enhance them with a variety of add-ins like dried fruits, fresh fruits, chocolate chips, and nuts. Currants, raisins and cranberries are common add-ins, but we’ve also used dried strawberries and today’s special feature, dried cherries. I also like to throw in half a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest, just enough to brighten up the flavor without taking over.

Fresh berries can also be heavenly in a warm scone, and Gio loves to pick raspberries straight from our garden when they are in season. The extra moisture from fresh berries may alter the texture of the scone just a bit, so be careful when adding them to the dough and gently fold them in. Don’t worry, they may look slightly different but they will still taste amazing. You could even reduce the amount of sugar to just one tablespoon and make a savory scone, with add-ins like aged cheddar cheese and chives.

There are a few key factors to know when making scones, and I cannot stress enough the importance of using cold butter, which creates wonderful steam pockets while baking. This enhances the overall texture of these scones, which are crispy-crumbly on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside.

To ensure this result, I cut the butter into ¼-inch cubes and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before using, and once the scones are ready to bake I’ll place them in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes before putting them in the oven.

Cut scones into wedges

Another tip for success is to handle the scones as little as possible, which is why I prefer to cut them into wedges versus other shapes. I’ve found that shaping the dough in a round cake pan first allows me to get consistent portions with minimal handling, but you can shape it by hand, too.

Tony likes his scones plain, while Gio prefers his with a simple glaze over the top. I love that I can fill my freezer with them, baked or unbaked, and have a favorite treat on hand for breakfast or an after-school and work snack.

CLICK HERE for the Cherry Vanilla Scones RECIPE

Drizzle with glaze

Breakfast Favorite Video: Homemade Bacon Pancakes

One of our absolute favorite breakfast specialties is homemade pancakes, and cooking them in a bit of bacon grease takes them to a whole new level!

This week on North Dakota Today, Tony demonstrates how to make homemade bacon pancakes using one of our favorite kitchen appliances – the griddle. This recipe is easy to follow, and the pancakes are beyond delcious. We hope you give them a try! Just click on the photo above to watch Tony’s demonstration.

We serve our homemade bacon pancakes with real maple syrup, our easy fresh fruit salad, and of course, bacon.

We prefer to use Dakota Maid all-purpose flour, which we find has a lighter texture to it than other flour brands. Plus, it’s nice to support our locally-produced products!

Do you make pancakes from scratch, and if so, what is your favorite way to prepare them? Do you use a box mix? Which one?have a favorite way to prepare pancakes?