After preparing all those lavish meals during the holiday season, about the last thing most of us want to do now is spend hours in the kitchen. It's time for recipes that look like they take all day to prepare, but actually go together in minutes.
One sure-fire way to save time is to begin with convenience ingredients--products that are partially prepared, but still allow for individual creativity. Mini doughnuts and holes can be made from a tube of refrigerated biscuits. They take practically no time to prepare and are at their best when still warm from frying. We suggest dusting them with sugar and cinnamon, but an orange or maple glaze might also be used. They make a fun addition to a simple breakfast of an orange and hot or cold cereal with milk.
Ham and Cheese Biscuit-Wiches, cooked in a waffle iron, are another quick idea using refrigerated biscuits. The recipe calls for cutting rounds of sliced ham and cheese the same size as the biscuits, but this is also a good way to use any small scraps of these ingredients you happen to have on hand. Be certain the cheese doesn't extend beyond the biscuit edges, or it will melt onto the waffle iron and be difficult to remove. Green chiles give a spark of Southwestern flavor to the mini sandwiches. Coat the waffle iron with vegetable spray and keep it on the lowest setting so the biscuit-wiches cook through before becoming too brown. A cup of coffee or glass of milk makes a good accompaniment.
Remember old-fashioned funnel cakes? The batter for this recipe can be quickly processed in a blender, then poured through a funnel into hot oil. Move the funnel to form a spiral or lacy pattern. Size of the frying vessel will help determine the shape--we tested the recipe with a six-inch diameter deep-fat fryer. These crispy, still warm cakes are usually enjoyed sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with syrup, but for an interesting change, try our recipe for Papaya Sauce. Serve with bacon or sausage, coffee or milk.
A tube of refrigerated dinner rolls and an easy filling add up to today's recipe for an eye-appealing Apricot-Cheese Braid. It takes only minutes to form the dough into a rectangle, then cut the edges and overlap to encase the filling and give the braid appearance. If baked ahead and refrigerated, bring the coffeecake to room temperature before serving. The braid makes an excellent addition to a breakfast or brunch of scrambled eggs and sausage or bacon.
Even those on the run won't miss the morning meal when a Meal in a Muffin is ready to grab on the way out the door. Frozen puff pastry is used used for the pastry shells, filled with sausage, green onions, eggs and cheese. Bake them on the weekend, then individually wrap any extras and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Rewarm the muffins in a microwave oven at home, school or the office.
Pineapple-Macadamia Coffeecake takes a little longer than the other recipes to prepare, but frozen bread dough saves time compared to making the dough from scratch. For even more speed or convenience, the frozen dough may be thawed in a microwave oven or overnight in the refrigerator.
Because you'll probably need to thaw two loaves of bread for the recipe, we've included directions for using the remaining half loaf to make six cloverleaf dinner rolls. The other loaf and a half get sliced and dipped in cardamom-flavored melted butter. Layer the slices in a tube pan with brown sugar, crushed pineapple and macadamia nuts, let rise and bake until golden brown. Leaving the pan inverted over the cake for a few minutes after baking allows all the upside-down-style topping to release. The result is an impressive looking, flavorful coffeecake to round out a brunch buffet.
1 1/2 (1-pound) loaves frozen bread dough
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Thaw bread dough until pliable. Butter tube pan. Sprinkle 1/3 cup brown sugar, pineapple and 3 tablespoons chopped nuts in bottom of pan. Drizzle with corn syrup.
Melt 1 cup butter and stir in cardamom. Slice bread dough 1/4-inch thick. Dip half bread slices in butter and arrange overlapping in pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup brown sugar and 3 tablespoons nuts.
Dip remaining bread slices in butter and arrange overlapping in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar and 2 tablespoons nuts. Drizzle with any remaining butter. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled.
Bake at 375 degrees about 30 minutes or until browned. Invert coffeecake on wire rack and allow to stand several minutes before removing pan. Makes about 10 servings.