Tag Archives: Christmas

Last-Minute Gift for Bakers… Plus, A Cookie Decorating Party!

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Christmas is approaching fast. Really fast.

That may not be news to any of you, but the fact that Christmas is only about a week away is hitting me pretty hard at the moment. Let’s just say that I have a friend (just a friend, definitely not me) who has barely started getting ready for Christmas yet. This crazy lady hasn’t finished buying gifts, hasn’t wrapped a thing, and hasn’t even thought about baking yet. Yup, what is she thinking?

Anyway, enough about my friend.

Today, I wanted to share a fun idea for any bakers on your list. It’s perfect if you are still looking for something at the last minute like me… Errr…. Like my friend! It will all arrive from Amazon.com via Prime shipping. Is free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime not the best thing ever? That friend I was telling you about? Sometimes she orders shampoo from Amazon so she doesn’t have to run to the store. True story.

(Legal stuff… No, they aren’t paying me to say that… I pay for my own Prime membership. But, my links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Back to the gift idea… Continue Reading

Merry Christmas!

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It’s amazing to think that another year has come and gone. This year has flown by for me, faster than any year I can remember. It’s been an amazing and wonderful year, but it’s also been a tough year. There have been many milestones and even more sleepless nights. There have been smiles and laughter and plenty of tears.

This has been my first full year of blogging with a baby. I was determined to stay true to my food blog roots and avoid becoming a “mommy blog.”  I’d be lying if I said it’s been easy.  Keeping up with the blog (even with the limited posted I’ve been doing) has been tough.  More times than not, I have just wanted to hang it all up and walk away from it.  But, here I am.

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Since last Christmas, Madison has gone from a little baby to a toddler. It’s amazing to me to think of how much she has changed in the past year. She is taking in the world at a rapid pace, and I am so blessed to be able to be there by her side every step of the way.

A lot of things have to change when you have a baby… That’s not news to anyone. I knew our sleep schedules would change (though, I’m not sure I expected to still be getting up 2 – 3 times every night after 14 months!), and I knew that we wouldn’t be going out to eat, going to movies, and doing all of the things we used to do.  In many ways, those were the easy things to let go of.

For me, letting go of things that I “always do” has been the bigger challenge.  I’ve barely made any cookies this year for Christmas.  I haven’t had a lot of time, and baking with a toddler who just wants to play with the oven isn’t really an option. While I have mourned the fact that I didn’t have countless hours to decorate elaborate cookies, I have also enjoyed watching Madison laugh and smile, learn to walk, and hug Yellowdog after they share a morning snack.  Sure, I have my setbacks (and, most recently, not having time to decorate my annual Yellowdog cookies was one of them), but I am learning to let go of things a bit and just enjoy the time I have with my family.

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Compared to previous years, my cookies aren’t very elaborate this year. I stuck to two colors of icing – white and red. I only did about a dozen cookies with flood icing.  You see, I have never really enjoyed the flood icing part of cookie decorating. I much prefer to pipe. So, when I knew I had to cut back on my decorating this year, I decided to do what I enjoy. I made a single batch of gingerbread cookies, and I spent one afternoon piping away and listening to Christmas music (during naptime).

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I debated whether or not to even take the time to share these cookies and write a Christmas blog post this year.  After all, I haven’t exactly kept up with all of the gift lists, recipe roundups, and other Christmas-related blogger “obligations” this year. But, I think this year’s Christmas cookies are a pretty good reflection of my life in 2013. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to keep up with everything, but I’ve learned that I can’t do it all. So, I’ve scaled back and focused on the things that I love, the things that are important to me.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a “goodbye” post, though it may read a bit like one. I’ll still be here in 2014. But, I think you’ll see a bit of a change… I hope you’ll notice a change. Instead of writing because I feel like I should, I plan to write when I want to. I am going to be focusing on making the food that I want to make, not what I “should” be posting for a particular holiday. I’ll be sharing photos that I love and not worrying about how they measure up to other bloggers’ photos (no matter how many sites reject them).  Starting in January, I am giving myself permission to do what inspires me.

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Until then, I am going to take a short break… Last Christmas, Maddie was only 2 months old. She fell asleep while we were opening her gifts. So, for all intents and purposes, this is her first Christmas. I want to enjoy every moment of it. It may take her 3 hours to tear every little piece of paper off of her gifts, but it will be a blast. She probably won’t remember it, but I know we will. And, I want to remember that we had a great time together as a family.

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From my family to yours, have a very merry Christmas and a blessed year in 2014!

Cranberry Sticky Buns

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Red Star Yeast.  As always, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Sticky buns on Christmas morning are a tradition in my family.  When I was growing up, there was a sweet woman in our church who would deliver freshly baked sticky buns each Christmas Eve for us to enjoy on Christmas morning.  After my family moved, my mom kept the tradition going, baking sticky buns herself and dropping them off for us to enjoy.

Over the last few years, I’ve started doing the baking myself.  After one taste of the famous sticky buns at Flour Bakery in Boston, I started making the brioche buns from the cookbook each year. They are always a hit. They’re super rich, so I only make them once a year for Christmas.  But, oh, they are worth it!

This year, I decided to mix it up a bit and work on a new recipe of my own.  I stuck to brioche for the rolls, but I scaled back another recipe that I’ve made in the past. The original recipe made enough brioche to feed an army, so I cut back the recipe to make just enough to fit in a 9 by 13-inch pan.  To make the buns just a bit more festive, I decided to fill them with cranberries and pecans and make a sticky cranberry topping (instead of the usual pecans).

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It took a few tries to get it right (too much dark sugar, not enough cranberries, you get the picture), and I’ve eaten far too many brioche rolls in the past few weeks, but the resulting recipe is definitely a new favorite. The brioche has just a bit of orange zest to compliment the cranberries. And, the cranberry topping is the right balance of sweet and tart.  My family (who quickly became my taste testers when they were visiting a few weeks ago) loved the rolls, and I’m rather smitten myself.

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In addition to developing a new recipe for our annual Christmas sticky buns, this recipe will also be featured on the Red Star Yeast website. Instead of baking one of their recipes this month, they asked me to create one of my own!

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As always, I’ve included step-by-step photos of the recipe to guide you while you are baking. It’s not often that I will tell you that you need a stand mixer to bake bread, but I’d highly recommend it when you are baking brioche.  A hand mixer won’t cut it, and doing it by hand requires a lot of elbow grease. Of course, I’m always happy to answer your questions, and you can always reach out to Red Star Yeast on Facebook and Twitter, as well!

So, tell me… What are your family’s traditions? Do you have a favorite recipe that you make each year? Or, are you looking for something new this year?

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Cranberry Sticky Buns
Makes one 9 by 13-inch pan, 12 rolls
(Loosely adapted from the Flour Bakery + Cafe cookbook and Baking & Pastry)

For the dough:

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) Red Star Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

For the topping:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup eggnog (or cream)
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

For the filling:

  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, and orange zest in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Whisk to combine.  Add the milk and eggs. Attach the dough hook to the mixer, and mix on low speed for 3 – 4 minutes, until the dough starts to come together.

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Continuing to mix on low speed, gradually add the softened butter, a tablespoon at a time, mixing until the butter is incorporated into the dough before adding more. Once all of the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium (I use the 3rd setting on my stand mixer) and mix for 15 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and shiny.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

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The next day, prepare the topping for the rolls. Combine the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally, cooking until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce starts to bubble slightly.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggnog (or cream). Let cool for 30 minutes.  Then, pour the topping into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan and sprinkle the cranberries over the topping. Set aside.

To prepare the filling, combine the cranberries, pecans, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor.  Pulse until the cranberries and pecans are well chopped and all of the ingredients are combined. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

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Remove the dough from the refrigerator and transfer to a lightly floured surface.  The dough will feel a bit like cold play dough. Roll the dough out into an 18-inch by 10-inch rectangle. Spread the cranberry filling over the dough and roll up starting with the long edge.

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Cut the roll into 12 even slices, and place the slices cut-side up in the baking pan, nestling them down into the cranberries and topping. Cover the pan with a damp towel, and let the rolls rise until slightly puffy, about two hours.

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As the rolls finish rising, preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake the rolls for 40 – 45 minutes, until the tops are a deep golden brown. Let the rolls cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before inverting each roll individually to serve.

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My Kitchen Addiction Disclosure – This post was sponsored by Red Star Yeast.  Though I have been compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

Please Note – The links to the Flour Bakery + Cafe and Baking & Pastry cookbooks provided in this post are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase the cookbook (or another item) after purchasing on my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale price, which helps to keep My Kitchen Addiction up and running. Thanks!

A Few of My Favorite Things (2013)

It’s Cyber Monday! Can you believe that we are already well into the holiday season?

I am still in denial of the fact that Thanksgiving is over already. It seems that I spent weeks and weeks trying to decide what to make and then it was over in a flash.  I suppose that’s the way it always goes. But, this year it seems that time is flying by faster than ever. I think having kids will do that to you.

Just the other night, my husband and I were sitting down, after the kiddo was in bed, just enjoying the peace and quiet in the house.  With a yellow lab running around chasing the toddler (and vice versa), there are very few peaceful moments in our house these days. As we sat there, we realized how different our life is now… A year ago, we were just trying to get our bearing and figure out what it meant to have a baby in the family.  Two years ago, we were hoping and praying that someday we might be blessed with a sweet baby of our own… And, we watched TV. Yes, two years ago, we had time to watch TV. We also went out to dinner, cooked fancy meals at home, and had plenty of time to relax. I also fit into slightly smaller pants.

But, I digress… This post isn’t about the things that we did before we had our sweet little girl.  We couldn’t be happier to have her in our lives, and we welcome the change. I think I just find that the holidays are a great time to reflect on years past.

In the past, I have often shared my favorite foodie-appropriate gifts for the year on Cyber Monday. To keep with tradition, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites today… This year’s favorites are definitely a reflection of the “new normal” at my house. My picks aren’t necessarily glamorous… Instead, they are the things that I have been using day in and day out. They are the things that I have purchased with my own money (no freebies or sponsored items here) that are a part of my everyday life. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen them pop up in my feed here and there (in between some silly selfies, baby photos, and miscellaneous shots of food). Continue Reading

Maple Nut Coffee Ring

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Red Star Yeast.  As always, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

I already confessed to the fact that I have started doing some holiday baking… And, I’m back again today with another great holiday recipe from Red Star Yeast.

When it comes to planning food for the holidays, I love to mix it up and try new things.  While I don’t suggest trying a new recipe when you have 12 people joining you for Thanksgiving dinner later in the day (of course, I have never done this… I’m just saying!), I think that a combination of new recipes with some traditional favorites is perfect for entertaining.

I came across this Maple Nut Coffee Ring in the amazing recipe archives on the Red Star Yeast site. (Side note – If you haven’t checked out the recipe section on their site, you are missing some fabulous recipes!) I knew that it would be perfect for my holiday entertaining this year.  The recipe is pretty simple (even if you’re not a seasoned baker), and it yields not one, but two beautiful coffee rings. It’s not overly sweet (you can skip the glaze for more of a “bread” recipe or go with a thicker cream cheese frosting for something a bit more decadent), so it is pretty versatile.  You could serve it for breakfast or brunch with some fresh fruit and eggs.  You could serve it as a mid-afternoon snack with some coffee or tea for hungry guests. It could also be dessert after your holiday meal.  And, if you dress it up on a platter with some fruit or candy (I chose to dress mine up with some fresh cranberries), it makes a lovely homemade gift!

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Because the recipe makes two coffee rings, you can make one for now and save one for later.  Simply shape the coffee ring on the baking sheet and wrap it securely with plastic wrap (before the second rise).  Pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to bake.  Then, simply let the coffee ring come to room temperature and rise before baking as directed.

Looking for more ideas for holiday baking? Be sure to check out some of the bread recipes from my archives (don’t miss these pumpkin sticky buns!), as well as Red Star Yeast on Facebook and Twitter.  You’ll also find lots of great ideas on Pinterest… I’ll be sharing my favorites on my Pinterest boards, and I know Red Star Yeast is always on the lookout and sharing fantastic recipes on their boards, as well!

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Maple Nut Coffee Ring
Makes 2 large coffee rings, serves 20 – 24
(Recipe from Red Star Yeast, used with permission)

For the bread:

  • 5 – 5 1/2 cups bread flour, divided
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons Red Star Active Dry Yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup shortening
    (Jen’s Note – I used softened butter)
  • 2 eggs

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

In a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), combine 2 1/2 cups of bread flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Mix well.

Meanwhile, heat the water, milk, and shortening/butter to 120-130°F.  You can do this in a saucepan or just pop it in the microwave for about one minute (my personal preference). The butter or shortening does not need to melt.

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Pour the liquid mixture into the large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs.  Blend on a low speed until the flour is moistened.  Then beat for 3 minutes at medium speed.

By hand, gradually stir in the remaining flour to make a firm dough.  Knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place the dough in a lightly greased/oiled bowl, turning to grease the top.  Cover and let the dough rise until it tests ripe.

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While the dough finishes rising, prepare the filling.  Combine the brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and maple flavoring (if you’re using it) in a small bowl.

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Punch down the dough and divide it into two equal pieces.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half to an 18 by 12-inch rectangle.  Spread with half of the maple syrup and sprinkle with half of the filling.  Starting with the longer side, roll up each half of the dough(similar to cinnamon rolls or a jelly roll).  Pinch the edges and ends to seal.  Place each half of the dough in a ring shape, seam-side down, on a greased cookie sheet. (A cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicone liner will work, too.)

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With scissors, make cuts 1 inch apart through the top of the rings to approximately 1 inch from the bottom.  Alternate cut slices, bringing one into the center and toward the outside of the ring.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until an indentation remains after lightly touching.

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While the bread rises, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the bread for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve warm or cold. If desired, glaze with your favorite powdered sugar glaze (or even this maple cream cheese frosting!).

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For a quick glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon softened butter
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons warm milk or water

Blend until smooth and pour over cooled coffee ring. Enjoy!

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My Kitchen Addiction Disclosure – This post was sponsored by Red Star Yeast.  Though I have been compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are my own.