Merry Christmas!

Can you believe that Christmas is tomorrow? Wow, this month...no, this YEAR has just flown by!

Last Christmas, Ben and I were living down in California. We had our own Christmas, just the two of us (well, four of us actually...Gunner was there, and little James was there too, although he was about the size of a raspberry!). It was such a special Christmas, getting to have it all to ourselves. We missed our families, of course. But, I sure am glad that we got to have one Christmas where it was just us.

We had a framed ultrasound picture under our tree, and we were so so excited because we had only known I was pregnant for about a month, and we had just had our first ultrasound a week or so earlier. We had so much to celebrate and it made having Christmas to ourselves even more beautiful since it would be our last before having a kid.

This Christmas is going to be even better than last year's! James is here with us and I am SO looking forward to sharing the magic of Christmas with him. He turned five months old yesterday, can sit up all on his own, loves banana and avocado, loves chatting, reading, and blowing bubbles, is still sleeping through the night, and he is just the most fun, sweetest, smiley-est little guy! I can't wait for him to open his presents tomorrow morning, even though he'll probably enjoy the wrapping paper more than the gifts themselves at this point!

We're spending today (Christmas Eve) at home, just the four of us, all cozy. I'm making a batch of my cinnamon rolls (you can find the recipe here) so that they will be ready to pop in the oven tomorrow morning. Tomorrow afternoon we're heading to a big family dinner at my parents' house.

Isn't Christmas just the BEST?? What are your Christmas plans? Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy yourself and that your day is filled with love and happiness!

Wild Eats: Cozy Cinnamon Rolls

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to get photos (let alone A photo) of these bad boys once they were baked and iced because, well, they were TOO GOOD! ;) So, here is a picture of these tasty, homemade cinnamon rolls that I made for Ben and I Christmas morning. I had never made cinnamon rolls from scratch before and I was a little intimidated. But honestly, these were super easy to make, and BOY WERE THEY YUMMY!! These are a perfect treat for a cold, wintery morning. And they are JUST as good reheated as they were fresh out of the oven. 

Here's what you'll need:

Rolls

3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour 

1/3 cup granulated sugar 

1 teaspoon salt 

2 packages dry yeast

1 cup milk 

1/4 cup butter or margarine (room temperature)

1 large egg 

Cooking spray to grease bowl and pan 

Filling

1/2 cup granulated sugar 

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 

1/4 cup butter or margarine (room temperature)

Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar 

1 tablespoon butter or margarine (room temperature) 

1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

1to 2 tablespoons milk

Here's What You Do:

 -First, add 2 cups of the flour, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, the salt and yeast into a large bowl, and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed. 

-Then, in a 1-quart saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it is very warm. You want an instant-read thermometer to read about 120°F to 130°F. Add the warm milk, 1/4 cup butter and egg to the flour mixture. Mix quickly with a spatula for 1 minute, until flour mixture is moistened. Then beat a bit faster for another minute1 minute, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is soft, leaves side of bowl, and is easy to handle (dough may be slightly sticky and that’s fine).

-Next, sprinkle a bit of flour on a large cutting board. Place your dough on thefloured cutting board. Knead the dough. You do this by folding the dough toward you, and then using the heels of your hands, pushing the dough away from you. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Knead the dough in this manner for about 5 minutes, being sure to sprinkle the surface of your cutting board with more flour if the dough starts to stick. You want to do this until the dough is smooth and springy. 

-Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough in the bowl, rolling the dough around a bit in order to make sure that every surface of the dough has grease on it. This will ensure it doesn't stick to the bowl at all. Then, cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise by placing the bowl in a warm place for about 1.5 hours or until dough has about doubled in size. You’ll know that the dough is ready when you can press your finger into the dough and an indentation remains.

-In a small bowl, mix 1/2 of the sugar with the cinnamon and then set it aside. Spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch pan with the cooking spray. Next, lightly sprinkle flour on a large cutting board. Take the bowl with the dough in it and gently press the dough to deflate it. Then, pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl, and set it on the floured cutting board.

-Flatten out the dough so that it becomes a 15x10-inch rectangle.  You can use your hands or a rolling pin for this. Then, spread 1/4 cup butter over the dough, being sure to leave about 1/2 inch of edges unbuttered. Sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture over the butter. Starting at one of the 15inch sides, begin to roll the dough up, tightly. Next, using a sharp, serrated knife (such as a bread knife) cut the roll into slices that are about 1 inch wide. You should get about 14 or 15 rolls. 

-Place the slices on the pan, leaving a little bit of room between each slice. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the slices rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until the dough has about doubled in size. Then, remove plastic wrap.

-Move the rack of your oven to the middle. Heat the oven to 350°F. Pop the tray with the sliced rolls in and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes (or until the rolls are golden brown). Remove from the oven and place the baked rolls on a cooling rack.

-While the rolls are cooling, stir all of the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth, adding just enough milk so that the glaze is thin enough to drizzle over the rolls. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls and serve warm! Enjoy!