Christmas Morning: Cranberry, Orange Cinnamon Breakfast Rolls


MerryChristmas_2013Christmas is a special time of year where making memories, celebrating traditions, spending time with friends and family , and enjoying delicious meals all come together.  Every year we take the time to celebrate together, just us ( our little growing family) in our own way.  It’s our way to take the time to make our own traditions, and making food is a big part of it.  We pick recipes that include our favorite things, that you wouldn’t ( or couldn’t) make regularly.  Mostly, we enjoy the precious time together and reminisce on all the years past and look forward to the next ahead.  These rolls are the perfect way to start your Christmas morning, and are part of the tradition to bake something decadent for breakfast to eat while opening gifts with coffee, and this year a little snow falling and a few baby kicks made it that much more perfect.

Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns, adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Dough adapted (mostly in technique) from Alton Brown

Tart cranberries muddle with just enough brown sugar that they sweeten, but are miles from toothache-level sweetness. Orange zest blooms inside a buttery, tender, rich dough. And there’s just enough orange icing to cap the buns, not drench them in candy. I’d call them grown-up cinnamon buns.

This is an overnight recipe; the dough will rise for the first time when you make it, and the second time in the fridge overnight. I thought this would be annoying, but it’s actually perfect. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to make breakfast buns, and the slow rise in the fridge overnight makes for a very well developed flavor.

Yield: 12 buns. This recipe could be halved and baked in a 9-inch round or 8×8-inch baking pan.

4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted, plus additional to grease pan
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated (to be used in dough and filling, below)
3 3/4 cups (470 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon oil for bowl

1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) butter

1 cup (190 grams) packed light brown sugar

1 cup (115 grams) fresh cranberries

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Orange zest leftover from above

3 1/2 tablespoons (55 ml) orange juice

2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons vanilla greek yogurt

Make the dough: In the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, buttermilk and 3/4 of the orange zest together (saving the rest for the filling). Add 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; stir until evenly moistened. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and let the dough hook knead the mixture on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and moist, but not overly sticky. Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl (I usually scrape my dough briefly onto the counter, oil the mixing bowl, and scrape the dough back into it) and cover it with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, which will take between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

[Don’t have a stand mixer? Stir the mixture together with a wooden spoon, then continue stirring and beating it about in a large bowl for several minutes, until it comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead it for another 5 minutes. It will stick; don’t sweat it. Just scrape everything up and into the oiled bowl when it’s time to let it rise. Try to resist adding extra flour when it sticks; it will only toughen the dough. That would be sad.]

Prepare the filling: Melt the butter and set it aside. In a food processor, pulse the whole cranberries until they’re ground to a coarse rubble, but not fully pureed. You’ll need to scrape the machine down once or twice. Set them aside.

[Don’t have a food processor? Just hand chop them very well, as if to coarsely mince them.]

Assemble the buns: Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish, a heavier ceramic or glass dish is ideal here. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is 18 inches wide (the side nearest to you) and 12 or so inches long. (It’s okay if it goes longer/thinner.) Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle it with the brown sugar. Scatter the ground cranberries over it, then the remaining orange zest.

Roll the dough into a tight, 18-inch long spiral. Using a sharp serrated knife, very, very gently saw the log into 1 1/2-inch sections; you should get 12. Arrange the buns evenly spread out in your baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 16 hours.

The next morning, bake the buns: Take your buns out of the fridge 30 minutes before you’d like to bake them, to allow them to warm up slightly. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake your buns until they’re puffed and golden (the internal temperature should read 190 degrees F), approximately 30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let cool slightly. Make the icing by whisking the orange juice and powdered sugar together. Spread a little on each bun, or drizzle it over the whole pan. Serve immediately.


Braised Short Ribs with Bok Choy


Winter, snow, holidays, more snow, it’s already half way through December and Christmas is only 8 days away!  This recipe is a great dish to make on a cold Sunday night, but we forgot the ginger at the store, so ended up making this on a Monday night, after work, and ate dinner around 8:25pm.  I’ve added in the general cooking time and prep time below so you don’t make the same mistake; we didn’t read enough forward to see the additional cooking time was 2 hours, but if you like late dinner, go for it, it wasn’t so bad!  Anyhow, this is a great pot roast substitute since the meat is in small chunks it has it’s very own tenderizing flavor infusing bone.  The carrots and baby bok choy added beautiful brightness, freshness and color to the dish.  Even though the ingredients suggest an Asian flavor, this really tasted very all American.  The long cooking time really melts down the fat, so we recommend trimming the short ribs of most of it so you don’t end up with an inch of fat floating at the top of your bowl.  We served this with bread but brown rice would be a great side as well.  Enjoy!


Adapted from: William Sonoma’s the Best of Taste, serves 4

Cook Time 2 hours and 30 minutes

Prep Time: 10 minutes


8 beef short ribs (about 4lbs), trimmed of excess fat

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large yellow onion halved and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon of finely chopped ginger

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons ketchup

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

4 heads baby bok choy, leafy tops and hearts quartered and sliced lengthwise

2 carrots peeled and sliced


Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place ribs in a Dutch oven and sprinkle with salt. Top with onion slices. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

In a bowl, mix garlic, ginger, soy sauce, ketchup, vinegar, pepper and red pepper flakes . Remove pot from oven and pour sauce over ribs. Add 1.5 cups of water and stir. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cover pot and cook until beef is fork tender about 1.5-2 hours.

Add diced bok choy and carrots and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread or over brown rice.

Dark Broth Braised Sweet Potato Soup

Step One:  Rough chop your normal stock veggies like carrots, onion, garlic and celery and add to a heated stock pot with EVOO .  Add peppercorns, 2-3 bay leaves, some fresh sage and a few pinches of salt and let simmer for 8-10 min.   Deglaze the pan with about 1 cup of red wine and let it reduce by half.  This method of deglazing your stock veggies creates a really rich flavor and adds a nice dark color to the broth.


Step 2:  Add your left over chicken carcass and cover with about 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer.  Let the stock cook uncovered for 1-3 hours (the longer the better).



Step 3:  After a bit of cooling, place a strainer in your dutch oven and pour the contents of the stock pot though the strainer to separate out your homemade broth.  Give 8 medium sized sweet potatoes a rough chop and add to your broth in the dutch oven.  Feel free to add a handful or two of chopped fresh carrots and celery as well.  Place the dutch oven into your 400 degree oven for 45 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork soft.


Step 4:  Remove from oven and puree with an immersion blender.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve!  Nice and easy, healthy and warm.  Mmmmmm!



Peanut Butter Brown Rice Crispie Treats with Chocolate Frosting


A little square of heaven, not a single one of these EVER goes to waste.  This recipe is made from memory of a similar treat my friend’s mom used to make when I was in high school.  I have no clue what her proportions were but recreating it was pretty simple, these are semi- homemade and SO delicious.  I like to think they are a healthier version of cookies/ cakes/ brownies, especially after finding the Rice Crispies brand makes Whole Grain Brown Rice Cripies.  They work perfectly all topped with frosting and a hint of peanut butter, mmmm I wish I made more.


  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
  • 2/3 cup Peanut Butter
  • 6 cups Kellogg’s® Brown Rice Krispies® Gluten Free cereal
  • 1 jar Chocolate Frosting


1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Add in peanut butter to combine, then remove from heat.2. Add Rice Crispies cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered hands evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool.

4. Spread chocolate frosting on top
5. Cut into 2-inch squares ( or large 3″ squares!).  Best if served the same day or cover well for up to 4 days

Braised Chicken with Shallots, Dates and Apricots



Although this recipe has to cook for an hour, it is such an easy meal to prepare.  Not much chopping, not a lot of stirring, just let the chicken cook down freeing up time for you to enjoy elsewhere.  This recipe reheats really well the next day.  The chicken fell right off the bone and had nice flavors from the wine and shallots; the contrast with sweet dates and apricots was really nice but maybe needed a bit of something salty to really bring this home- capers maybe…   Overall very nice meal, great way to cook chicken for a change, and a perfect way to eat brown rice.  Enjoy

Recipe serves 4

Adapted from Williams and Sonoma “Taste” cookbook



8 Chicken Thighs, bone in

salt and fresh ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

10 bay leaves

4 large shallots, cut in 1/4″ rounds or half moons

2/3 cup dry red wine

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

8 dried dates, pitted and halved

8 dried apricots, quartered

2 cups cooked brown rice


1.  If preferred, trim the fat and skin from the chicken. Rinse, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper.

2.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid (to be used later) over medium-high heat.

3.  Add chicken and bay leaves and cook until browned, about 7-10 minutes on each side. Add a 1/2 cup water, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 35-40 minutes.

4.  Pour off pan juices and reserve. Pile chicken on one side of the pan, raise the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cook until the soften, about 2 minutes.

5.   Add wine and vinegar, and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add dates and apricots, then redistribute the chicken in the pot.

6.   Add the reserved liquid and simmer until chicken is heated through and tender, about 12-15 minutes.

7 Remove and discard bay leaves. Serve immediately over brown rice