It's a fact: I love holidays and celebrations of all kinds. I especially love the delicious, delectable, and decadent foods that go with holidays and celebrations, so it was no surprise that I devoured the new cookbook by Ree Drummond, "A Year of Holidays."
When Harper Collins Canada offered to send me this book to review, I jumped at the chance. I'm so glad I did; this book is absolutely gorgeous and chock-full of wonderful recipes and personal anecdotes.
One thing I love about any cookbook is a personal touch, and Drummond's personality comes through page after beautiful page. The book features twelve holidays throughout the year, starting with New Year's Day and ending with New Year's Eve. The step-by-step recipes are easy to follow and are illustrated by gorgeous photographs. I put this book on my coffee table to review and there it will stay; I cannot relegate it to my cookbook shelf lest it make the other cookbooks feel bad about themselves, it's THAT beautiful.
The recipes are absolutely drool-worthy; I'm already planning ahead for an Eight Layer Dip for the Super Bowl, Chocolate Covered Strawberries for Valentine's Day, Grilled Corn With Spicy Butter for a summer cookout, and Spinach Artichoke Dip for a New Year's Eve extravaganza! Not to mention Blackberry Margaritas for Cinco de Mayo - although I'm not sure I can wait that long.
The recipe I chose to share with you is this one for Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls. I made these rolls for the teachers at my son's school to have with their coffee one afternoon; one hour later they were all gone. Don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list—it's surprisingly easy to put together. It's also amazingly delicious; the rolls were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, and the topping was insanely rich. This would make a wonderful addition to any brunch around the holidays, or a treat to have with coffee and Bailey's.
Combine the milk and canola oil in a large pot. Add the sugar and stir it around. Scald it (heat it to almost a boil), then turn off the heat. Let the mixture cool until it’s warm but not too warm!
Add 4 cups of the flour along with the yeast and stir it around until all combined.
Cover the mixture with the lid of the pot or a dish towel and let it sit for an hour or so, until it’s risen.
Meanwhile, dice up the apples finely, then throw them in a skillet over medium-high heat and stir them around to cook, until golden brown. Place apples into a bowl.
Throw 1/2 cup butter and the 1 cup brown sugar into the same skillet over medium heat and stir it around until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Pour in the cream, then stir it around and let it bubble up and thicken for about a minute.
Turn the heat down to low, then add the apples back to the skillet and sprinkle on the cinnamon. Stir the mixture and let it thicken for another 1 to 2 minutes, then spoon it into a bowl to cool.
After the dough has had a chance to rise, sprinkle in the remaining 1/2 cup flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt, and stir gently to combine.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and roll out the dough in a rectangle about 10 x 30 inches. Spoon the caramel apples over the dough and use your fingers to spread them evenly over the surface.
Roll the dough toward you into a nice, tight roll and pinch the seam when you get to the end. Turn the seam over so that it’s facedown against the countertop. Slice the dough into rolls 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
Grease 3 round, disposable foil cake pans with butter. Place 7 to 8 rolls in each pan, being careful not to crowd them. Set aside to rise in a warm place for 20 to 25 minutes.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they’re nice and golden brown.
While the rolls are baking, make the caramel icing: Melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the brown sugar. Let it melt, then whisk in the cream. Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, then remove from the heat.
Sift in the powdered sugar and salt and stir until you have a smooth icing.
Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately spoon a good amount of icing over the top. Use a knife to spread it evenly and watch it slowly seep into the cracks and crevices.
Copyright Ree Drummond, 2013
Contest has now closed.
And we're giving away TWO (2) COPIES OF REE DRUMMOND'S "A YEAR OF HOLIDAYS" thanks to Harper Collins Canada, just in time for the holidays! To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me what is your favourite holiday dish. You have until December 2, 2013 to enter. You must be a YMC member and please be sure you've registered your email address in our commenting system so we can contact you if you win. Yummy Rules and Regs: You must be a YummyMummyClub.ca member to win. Click to sign up! It's free and filled with perks. One comment per member. Entries accepted until December 2, 2013. Contest open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec). Winners will be picked using www.random.org. See full contest rules.
The lead-up to the holidays is always hectic and busy, but when the kids are out of school and the snow is falling and there is nowhere I need to be, my favourite thing in the world is to curl up on the couch with a big mug of steaming coffee and Baileys. It's such a cozy, seasonal thing for me; reading a good book in my warm flannel pajamas, or maybe watching "The Price is Right" with the kids, curled up under a knitted afghan, but always, always with a coffee and Baileys.
It signals the real start of the holidays to me, suddenly being thrust into a lazy, nothing-to-do-and-nowhere-to-go state. It's a welcome change from the rush to school and activities and holiday parties and the grocery store. Baileys and coffee means that I can stay in for the day; I can look out the window at the beautiful frost and snow - beautiful because I don't have to go out in it.
The problem is this: I have a hard time digesting dairy and, sadly for me, Baileys is a CREAM recipe. Last year, after the lovely Maija posted her recipe for homemade Baileys Irish Cream, I wondered if I could make a non-dairy version. I experimented a little and came up with this recipe, which even my non-vegan, dairy-loving husband enjoyed. If that's not a high commendation, I don't know what is. So give it a try - so easy, so delicious, and so much like the Bailey's Irish Cream that we know and love, but without the cream.
In a large saucepan, combine the coconut milks, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until somewhat thickened, stirring frequently.
Remove from heat. Add coffee and whiskey and stir well. Allow to cool before serving.
This makes an impressive hostess gift; pour into a pretty jar and tie a ribbon on it; you will be the hit of the party!
This keeps in a glass jar in the refrigerator for one week; be sure to shake or stir before serving as the coffee and whiskey settle at the bottom.
NOTE: I made a lot of this, more than could be feasibly consumed in a week, and so I froze it in mason jars. It worked quite well; if you do this, after thawing give it a whirl in the blender to mix it all up. (Put the whiskey in the coconut and mix it all up...)
Serve with coffee, or on ice, or in hot chocolate - pajamas optional but recommended.
There's something lovely about seasonal change, isn't there? I admit that I am more of a Summer Girl than anything else; I love sunshine and warmth and fresh, local vegetables, and am loathe to say goodbye to it. However, there is something cozy and comforting about fall; the crisp air, the crunchy leaves, the glory of orange and red trees against the blue skies. It feels festive and happy, somehow, even if it's the harbinger for winter. Winter, with its cold and darkness and ability to hold on well into what the rest of the world calls spring, is not my favourite.
But, as they say in Game of Thrones, winter is coming and whether we like it or not we need to adapt. And adapt we do, changing our meals from big salads and grilled vegetables to warm, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. One of the greatest things about the arrival of fall is the plethora of butternut squash in the produce aisle - my favourite!
This recipe is a simple, deliciously warming meal; most of the prep work comes from peeling the butternut squash, and if anyone has any suggestions for easy ways to peel butternut squash, I am all ears. Alternately, you could purchase it pre-cut, which would save a lot of time (for me, anyway). There is not much hands-on time with this recipe, so while it cooks you can help with homework, soothe a tantrum, or do whatever else you need to do to get through the witching hour!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss butternut squash in olive oil. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes or until fork-tender, flipping halfway.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan bring coconut milk to almost a boil. Reduce heat and add curry paste, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and soy sauce, stirring until combined. Add peas and chickpeas and simmer on the stove, stirring occasionally, while the butternut squash roasts.
When the squash is finished, remove from oven and add to the coconut milk mixture.
Serve with naan or pita, or over basmati rice. Enjoy!
Want more butternut squash recipes? Try my Energy Triple Threat: Roasted Squash, Quinoa, and Kale Salad, Butternut Squash Soup, or my Maple Grilled Butternut Squash.