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I can’t believe I am saying this, but it’s that time again. The holiday season is underway, and we all know the holidays require thought and planning. The W’s of journalism – who, what, when, where and why – apply to entertaining during the holiday season as well. The why W is pretty simple – it’s the holidays. And figuring out who is coming over to your house and on what date knocks three more of the Ws out of the way. That leaves you with the fifth, and most challenging, W of them all – what. What dishes to serve, what recipes to use, and what products to use to make them are all factors that contribute to your meal and whether or not people enjoy it. This is what really stresses some people out, because they want things to go well and just aren’t sure of how to make that happen.
Baking is something that always comes up during the holidays. Baking makes so many people happy, because baked dishes can be delicious. But baking also makes some people a bit hesitant. I am one of these people. While I love to cook, I admit that baking is definitely not my strong suit, in fact it’s probably my weakest. When it comes to baking, if I’m not 100% sure of something I look for help. ACME Executive Chef Jeff Anderson recently shared some tips on holiday entertaining and some recipes with me. They made so much sense I thought I would share them with you.
First of all, who is Chef Jeff?
Chef Jeff Anderson is responsible for developing new product ideas and recipes for ACME stores. He draws on his 35+ years of experience to provide a gold standard of food excellence at affordable prices for his customers. A graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, Chef Jeff attributes his culinary style to his work at the luxury hotel Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, his passion for innovation in the kitchen, and his experience owning two restaurants. He is passionate about sharing cooking tips and easy recipes, teaching home cooks to create better meals, and helping customers stretch their cooking dollar, which is at the heart of his role as an Executive Chef. As a father of two, Chef Jeff is passionate about creating recipes that are not only delicious but also affordable and simple to prepare for today’s busy families.
Besides your regular dishes and holiday meals, there are also fun national food holidays like National Cookie Day on Dec. 4 or National Eggnog Day on Dec. 24. That provides you with a lot of opportunities to bake. What item is so frequently used in baking? Eggs. You may be surprised to learn that more than 7.9 billion eggs are consumed during the holiday season between November and December! Many of those eggs are cooked and baked into holiday dishes and treats.
Chef Jeff uses quality, affordable products from Lucerne® Dairy Farms to create the perfect holiday dish, such as a cream cheese topped French toast with pumpkin spiced cream cheese (recipe below). Available exclusively in this area in ACME stores, Lucerne® Dairy Farms has been a trusted dairy brand since 1904. Offering many items across the line including eggs, butter, milk, ice cream and more, Lucerne® can help with making your holiday recipes easy, affordable and memorable.
Before you begin preparing your dishes, here are some tips and tricks from Chef Jeff to simplify prep work and making cooking easier for you.
Take inventory: Before diving into cooking and baking this holiday season, check your pantry, refrigerator and freezer to make sure you have all the essentials.
PRO TIP: Put extra flour and sugar in the pantry, stock up on an 18 count of Lucerne® Eggs, and store Lucerne® Butter in the freezer so you have it on hand for those last minute parties you’ll be attending or hosting!
Gather, Measure, Ready: (Or in fancier terms, “Mise en Place”) Before you begin baking your scrumptious treats, organize all of your ingredients, utensils, and baking materials. Keeping these simple steps to help you prepare and not waste any time in the kitchen:
1. Gather: Pull together all of your ingredients.
2. Measure: Before you get your hands dirty, pre-measure your dry ingredients such as flour, salt, dairy, spices, etc.
3. Ready: Get your oven pre-heated before you start, so there is no waiting around
Get ahead of the game: Have an early morning start? Prepare items that can be made ahead of time and freeze until it’s go time! As an example, freeze your Pumpkin Chocolate Rolls made with Lucerne® Pumpkin Flavored Cream Cheese and then pop into the oven before guests arrive and smell the aroma when they walk through the door!
PRO TIP: Take the extra step, and prepare whipped cream to top off your desserts! Try out this recipe using just four ingredients including Lucerne® Heavy Whipping Cream. This is great for coffee drinks, kids’ treats, adult beverages and more!
Dry run: Read over your recipe a few days in advance. When menu planning, make notes, check your inventory, and think through potential questions that could arise while preparing the recipe.
By using helpful tips like this and tried and true recipes you’ll be well on your way to serving up an amazing meal.
Speaking of recipes, this one from Chef Jeff sounds delicious.
Cream Cheese Topped French Toast with Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese
Suggested Cooking Method: Bake
- 8 slices sourdough bread, sliced 1-inch think
- 4 Lucerne® eggs
- 2 cups Lucerne® milk
- 2 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 4 tablespoons Lucerne® unsalted butter
- 1 cup Lucerne® pumpkin cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Create custard, mix egg, milk, sugar, salt and pumpkin spice.
Dredge bread in custard.
Warm medium to large size skillet over medium heat, brush with butter.
Place bread onto skillet, allow custard to set up.
Turn toast over and place in oven for 3-4 minutes.
Remove French toast from oven and transfer to serving platter.
Prepare topping, in mixing bowl combine cream cheese, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, spices and nutmeg.
Whip for 1-2 minutes either by hand or machine.
Dollop Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese on top of the French toast.
You’ll find this delicious recipe and others like Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Savory Croissant Strata at ACMEmarkets.com/Lucernedairy, and shop for all the necessary Lucerne® products at your local ACME stores.