Holiday Traditions With Food

Holiday Foods

Thank you to Safeway for sponsoring this post and asking me to share
my thoughts on holiday traditions.

Mention any holiday and pretty soon we’re talking about food. Food comes into the conversation as memories from childhood, treats for teachers or co-workers, desserts we’ve always wanted to make, or all the delicious delights for a cookie exchange. Food is a universal connector, even when it’s not your holiday.

Growing up, Hanukkah was spent either at my grandparent’s house or at the Jewish Chapel on base. There were latke parties, games of dreidle, and lots of laughter. But, ultimately, we all came for the latkes. Holiday traditions for Hanukkah almost always feature latkes. And while latkes are really very simple to make, for some reason they’re almost always reserved for Hanukkah. The debate around how latkes should be made and eaten can lead to heated conversations and great divides among friends. It’s hard to understand how two simple toppings – applesauce and sour cream – can cause grownups to argue.

These holiday traditions, some new and some passed down for generations, keep us connected. Maybe it’s to a more simple past or fond memories. Or maybe it’s new traditions to take the place of those we don’t feel connected to. Either way, as holidays come around we strive to create some meaning in what we do, what we serve, and how we observe.

As I walked up and down the aisles at the store, I hear people talking about the meal or appetizers they’re going to make. It’s fun to hear kids talk about making cookies or helping in the kitchen. Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, one of my fond memories of childhood is making Christmas cookies with my mom. We’d make 10 or so different kinds and she’d package them up for her coworkers, the postman, the ladies in the office at school, neighbors and friends. Lots of cookies for lots of people. It’s something I really miss and just haven’t been able to recreate.

One thing I have been able to recreate is making sure others have food for the holiday. Even though we didn’t have a lot, my mom always made sure we gave food baskets to others who were in need. Some years it was adding to the canned food drive. Other years it was an “adopt a family” type program. This year, Safeway provided me with a gift card to share. I was able to ensure that several Jewish families would be able to have kosher food for Hanukkah. Often overlooked, it’s important to me that religious Jewish families are able to maintain their observance even though times are tough. Luckily, the Safeway stores have excellent kosher-food sections and the prices are very good. Doing good deeds, especially around the holidays are a wonderful way to multiply joy.

If you’re thinking of new food traditions – maybe it’s cinnamon rolls to greet the kids, fluffy biscuits for breakfast, or delicious hummus for snacking – now is always a great time to start. Sharing food is a wonderful way to show your love. What are your favorite holiday foods and traditions?

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays!

 

Photo Credit: Coffee and festive Xmas doughnuts by freefoodphotos.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Image edited.

Sara

90 Minute Cinnamon Rolls

 Easy Cinnamon Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls. My family loves them too. Maybe you can relate? The sweet dough and the gooey, cinnamon-y filling and the creamy icing…. My mouth is watering!

But here’s the problem with traditional cinnamon rolls – they take FOR. EV. ER. to make. They take so much planning and time calculations that, frankly, I know no busy mom has time for. So we don’t make them, except on special occasions. Well, I’m here to tell you, no more!

Over the past 6 or so months I’ve experimented with various recipes, all based off my previous go-to overnight cinnamon roll recipe. While I loved the texture of those rolls, it’s a pain to make these in the hour before heading off to bed. By then I’ve already cleaned up the kitchen and it was such a chore to prep and clean so late at night. Sure, the fresh, hot cinnamon rolls in the morning were great. But, I would tend to think about making these at like 11pm, and that’s no time to be mixing and measuring.

So, after several trials (and a few icky fails), I’ve come up with what I think is a recipe you’ll love. If you’ve got 90-minutes, you’ve got hot, fresh cinnamon rolls! It’s the same basic ingredients, so you likely have all this on hand. And I have the recipe down to a manageable size because I know not everyone wants to make 24 large cinnamon rolls.

90 Minute Cinnamon Rolls

Difficulty: Moderate
Prep Time: About 35 minutes (plus rising time)
Cook Time:  13-17 minutes

 

DoughCinnamon Roll ingredients

1 3/4 cups Warm Water (aprox. 110° F)

1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

1/4 cup Canola Oil (any neutral oil will work)

3 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast (if you’re using the packets it’s aprox 4)

______

1 1/2 teaspoons Salt

2 Eggs

5 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour

Cinnamon Filling

1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar (packed)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Cinnamon

pinch of salt

3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted

Frosting/Icing

4oz Cream Cheese, softened

1 teaspoon Vanilla (or more to taste)

2-3 Tablespoons Milk

3-3.5 cups Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar

 

I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for these. I’ve never made them any other way. I use the dough hook only, instead of switching out from the paddle to the hook.

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Step 1: Bloom the yeast

Add the warm water to your mixing bowl. Temperature is important because you don’t want it too hot or you’ll kill the yeast or too cold because the yeast won’t bloom. If you don’t have a thermometer, the water should be warm to the touch but not hot.

Pour in your Canola Oil (or other neutral oil) and add the sugar, then stir gently to help the sugar start to dissolve. Once it’s mixed, sprinkle in your Active Dry Yeast. I know it’s a lot of yeast, but we’re on the clock and need these bad boys to work fast. I do a quick stir at this point to get the yeast into the sugar/oil/water mixture. Now, let it sit for 15 minutes! It will “bloom”, which means it will get all foamy and bubbly.

Step 2: Add the Eggs

Once the yeast is all, well, yeasty, add the eggs one at a time. If you’re using a stand mixer, turn it to “Stir” or “2” and incorporate your eggs.

Step 3: Add the flour mixture

It’s really important NOT to add the salt first. Salt will kill your yeast and that won’t make for tasty cinnamon rolls. I usually dump in about 1/2 the flour and get that mixing for a minute or two. Then I’ll add the salt to the last 1/2 of the flour, give it a quick mix and dump the rest of the flour in and let the mixer run for about 10 minutes.

Step 3: Rest the dough

Allow the dough to rest in the mixer for about 10 minutes. This is a critical step to allow the dough to let the gluten relax so you don’t end up with a gummy mess.

Step 4: Prepare the Filling (if you haven’t already done so)

While the dough is resting, get the ingredients ready for the filling. Melt the butter, and let it cool. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. It doesn’t matter if you use dark or light brown sugar it will still taste great!

Step 5: Roll out the dough

Oil your countertop first! I just pour a little oil (about a teaspoon or two) onto the countertop and wipe it like I’m wiping up a spill. Only my goal is to leave it there for now. Once your countertop is oiled (don’t use flour and don’t skip that step or you’ll end up with dough stuck to the countertop), dump the dough onto the counter and shape into a rectangle. You’re looking for about an 18 x 12 rectangle, or thereabouts. I use my hands to flatten out the dough but you can use a rolling pin.

Step 6: Add the filling and roll

Now that you’ve got your dough rectangle, brush the entire thing with the melted butter but leave about 1/2-inch at the top (the long side away from you) so the dough will close up when you roll it. Once the dough is glistening with the melted butter, dump the cinnamon-sugar mixture  and spread it from edge to edge, again avoiding that top 1/2-inch where you didn’t put any butter. I use my hands to spread the mixture (clean hands are one of the best kitchen tools!) but you can use a spatula if you prefer.

Once your dough is nice and cinnamon-y it’s time to roll it up into a log. Start at the long side closest to you and begin rolling toward the opposite side. This takes a bit of patience because you don’t want to get askew if you can help it. Once you have it all rolled up, pinch the seam to seal that edge. This will help to keep it from opening up when it’s baking.

Step 7:  Cutting into rolls

You want to cut these into 12 uniform cinnamon rolls. Often I will cut a little off each end to make them prettier, but I usually just put the non-cut side down for the two end pieces. These will be 12 large rolls. I think it’s best to cut the roll in half and then cut each into 6 pieces rather than trying to figure out the spacing to get 12 rolls. You can also use a knife and make small indentations on the roll to help you keep them even. I actually use dental floss to cut cinnamon rolls. I learned to that about 20 years ago because back then I had laminate countertops that would get damaged if I used a knife and so it’s just how I do it. Of course, you can use a knife to cut your cinnamon rolls, but be careful with your countertop. It’s best to use a sharp bread (serrated) knife and not put a lot of pressure as you cut because you don’t want to squish the rolls.

Step 8: Short Rise then Bake

Place your cinnamon rolls in a sheet pan lined with parchment (or a silicone mat). I don’t use a high sided pan because I don’t think the edges get cooked very well. You have to use a pan with sides or you’ll end up with sticky cinnamon-sugar in your oven. Space the rolls evenly with an inch or so between them and place them so the seam-end is facing inward. I do this so as they rise and bake the ends, if they come undone, don’t get all crispy and dried out. Allow the rolls to rest and rise about 15 minutes.

Place the pan of cinnamon rolls in the pre-heated oven for 13 – 17 minutes. The time to bake them will vary based on your oven. I watch them at about 10 minutes to make sure one area isn’t browning more than others. If that happens, turn the pan. To goal is for them to be a nice golden brown without being too well done.

Step 9: Prepare Icing while they bake

Some call it icing, others frosting. I call it delicious! The measurements aren’t as exact for this because it will depend on how soft your cream cheese is or if you sift or don’t sift your powdered sugar. I don’t add salt because the cream cheese has enough to bring out the sweetness of the icing.

With your hand mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until it’s smooth. Add about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and mix until combined. I do this step to keep the sugar from getting on everything. Then add about 2 Tablespoons of milk and the vanilla and mix to combine. Add more sugar, a little at a time until it’s all combined. Add the last Tablespoon of milk a little at a time to thin the frosting until you’re happy with the consistency. Some people like to pour it, while others like to spread it over the cinnamon rolls right when they come out of the oven. If you spread the icing on when the rolls are hot you’ll want the icing to be stiffer because the heat from the rolls will melt the icing (which is a good thing!). If your icing is too thin it will melt into a mess.

If you’re using a stand mixer add the cream cheese, 2 T of milk and vanilla and mix to combine. Add in about 3 cups of powdered sugar and combine. If you need to thin it out add the last Tablespoon of milk a little at a time to thin the frosting until you’re happy with the consistency. Some people like to pour it, while others like to spread it over the cinnamon rolls right when they come out of the oven. If you spread the icing on when the rolls are hot you’ll want the icing to be stiffer because the heat from the rolls will melt the icing (which is a good thing!). If your icing is too thin it will melt into a mess.

Step 10: Frost the Cinnamon Rolls and Enjoy!

It’s up to you at this point whether you’re going to frost the entire pan then serve or serve then frost. I’ve done it both ways and it’s good either way. If I know we’re not going to eat them all before refrigerating them, I won’t frost them. I’ve found that reheating them with the frosting melts the frosting too much to my liking.

Reheating Directions: If you do need to reheat them, use the “defrost” setting or set your microwave to 50% power. I start with 1-minute then check to see if it’s OK for me. The temperature on the reheat is different for everyone but you don’t want to nuke it too hot or it’ll dry out and be a non-tasty ball of ick. Don’t reheat on full power or you risk the cinnamon roll getting gummy.

 Cinnamon Rolls in just 90 minutes

Go forth and bake! I hope you enjoy these. Feel free to share this with your friends, add it to your Pinterest or just make a whole bunch and love that you can make fresh homemade cinnamon rolls in 90 minutes or less! And when you’ve made these 86 times and decide your family might like some variety in the cinnamon rolls you make, check out my friend Christi at Love From The Oven who can pretty much cinnamon rolls suitable for any meal.

Sara

12-Minute Cinnamon Rolls or The Cutest Cinnamon Rolls Ever

Mini Cinnamon Rolls

I know, how is that possible? Homemade cinnamon rolls, fresh from the oven in about 12 minutes? You bet! And they’re delicious and just too adorable not to share. You’ll love ’em, your family will love ’em and your friends will join you in adoring their absolute cuteness!

So how are these possible? With Refrigerated Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough. And imagine how excited I was to see this new product – Crescent Roll Sheets! An uncut rectangle of crescent flakiness just waiting for me to make these little gems. And, not they’re not paying me to write this. I just saw this product and had an a-ha! moment. And now we make!

12-minute Cinnamon RollsPillsbury Crescent Roll Dough Sheet

Difficulty: Easy
Makes: 24 of the most adorable mini cinnamon rolls

Ingredients:

1 can Pillsbury Crescent Roll Sheets (or 1 can of regular crescent rolls but you’ll have to pinch all the seams together)

1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch kosher salt

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Glaze:

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 Tablespoon milk

 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Using non-stick spray, spray a mini muffin pan. You’ll need 2 or you’ll have to bake these in 2 batches.

In a small bowl, melt 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter in the microwave. Don’t let it boil or it gets funky. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt and mix it together so it’s all incorporated together. Set aside the cinnamon/brown sugar mixture.

Remove the Crescent Roll sheet from the canister and unroll it flat on a cutting board or counter top. If you’re using regular crescent roll dough you’ll need to pinch all the seams together on both sides and pat it flat. Try not to work with it too much or roll it out with a rolling pin because it makes it tough and flattens the crescent layers and then it’s not very flaky.

Once you have the dough flat, brush the melted butter over the dough making sure you get all the way to the edges. Liberally sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture over the entire dough rectangle. Once all the cinnamon and brown sugar in on the dough, lightly pat it down. You want to make sure none of it escapes, because it tastes so good you’ll want it all!

Now, cut the rectangle in half so you have 2 squares. Since it’s a square (or closely resembling one, this isn’t geometry class!) you can start rolling at any edge. Roll, Roll, Roll! And when you’ve got it into the log shape pinch to seal it.

Mini Cinnamon Roll How To

To create the mini marvels, cut the cinnamon-brown sugar log into 12 pieces. Yes, they are going to be small. You have 2 rolls so you’ll end up with 24 mini cinnamon rolls so you can share (at least 12 of them). My approach to cutting these is to cut the roll in half. Then cut each half in half again so you have 4 pieces. Now cut each section into 3 piece. Math time: 3 x 4 = 12! Place the weensy cinnamon rolls in the greased mini muffin tins and bake in 375F oven for about 8 minutes. Depending on your oven it may take a few more minutes. You’re looking for lightly brown cinnamon rolls. The same color as the standard ones, really. And don’t try and tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. Everyone’s had a cinnamon roll before. But, if you haven’t, they’re a light brown color a bit lighter than a latte.

While the cinnamon rolls are baking, mix up the glaze. I don’t sift the confectioners sugar. Dump the confectioners sugar in a medium bowl and mix with 1 Tablespoon of milk. Again, depending on humidity and elevation you may need a bit more milk. You want it to be think enough to drizzle but still think enough not to soupy.

Remove from oven when done. Allow to cool for 2 or 3 minutes and remove cinnamon rolls from the pan to a serving plate and drizzle glaze over each cinnamon roll. I use about 1 teaspoon each, but it varies. This is not an exact science. If you don’t want the glaze to melt then cool your rolls a bit longer. If you’re using 2 separate mini muffin tins you don’t have to remove them right away, just be aware that if they fully cool the caramely-cinnaminy goodness will harden and make it difficult to remove from the pan.

Hope you enjoy making these! They’re easy, fun and certainly better for your figure than those giant ones from the mall.

And I think because they’re so small there aren’t but a few calories in it. But I’m not a nutritionist, so don’t take my word for it.

Disclosure: Although I probably don’t need one, I’ll put it here. This is NOT a sponsored post. I saw these cool Crescent Roll dough sheets in the store, bought them with my own money and came home to make these. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sara