Holiday/Seasonal

Lussebullar- Swedish Saffron Rolls

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Most Swedish food I don’t like. All the fish stuff? No thank you! But I have some Swedish foods that I absolutely love, including Swedish Meatballs and these Saffron Rolls, or Lussebullar in Swedish. I have been begging my mom to make these for me for years and she never has (they do take quite a bit of time to make). This year my littlest sister was having a Christmas party and my mom decided that she would make these. That’s right- she made them for my little sister but not for me! But there were a lot left over so I have been enjoying them for the past few days :)

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These Lussebullar are so good! They remind me of my childhood. If you like the taste of saffron, you will love these rolls. They’re soft, flavorful, and a little bit sweet. I love the raisins on top because they add a bit of sweetness. These rolls aren’t sweet like cinnamon rolls, but they’re definitely sweeter than just plain rolls and like I said before, the saffron adds a great flavor!

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I definitely recommend that you make these! They are one of my all-time favorite foods. I will admit that I have never made these by myself before, but I certainly have eaten them! I love them for breakfast or a snack!

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Lussebullar (Swedish Saffron Rolls) Recipe

Note: This recipe is a European recipe, but I’ve tried to convert the measurements

Ingredients:
2 cups milk
1  gram saffron strands
50 g fresh yeast (I used 2 packets of dry, powdered yeast)
170 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fine salt
about 1 kg plain flour (I weighed it out on the scale, but I believe it’s about 7 cups)
250 g (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 and ¼ sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, divided
raisins or dried cranberries

*extra sugar and softened butter* (We added some extra butter and sugar to make them sweeter- see directions, Option 2, below)

Directions:

  1. Heat milk in a small saucepan until steaming. Remove from the heat, add saffron threads and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. You’ll need to cool the milk to about 37-38 C (about 100 degrees F). When the milk is lukewarm, then crumble in the yeast and stir, until dissolved. (The dry yeast doesn’t need to dissolve, really. Just mix it in.)
  2. Add salt, sugar and about half of the flour. Stir until combined, then add the cream cheese, butter, ONE egg (lightly whisked), and then gradually knead in the rest of the flour. The final yeast dough should be soft and supple.
  3. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm room for 30-60 minutes, until doubled in size.
  4. Knead the dough gently and turn onto a lightly floured work surface.
  5. OPTION 1- Twist small amounts of dough (about the size of a large egg or a tennis ball, depending on whether you’re making small or larger buns). Roll each piece of dough into a long “sausage”, then twist it from both ends to form a letter S.
    OPTION 2, Sweeter Rolls- Roll the dough out pretty flat and cover it with extra butter and sugar. Then cut the dough into strips, twist the dough, and then create the S-shape rolls.
  6. Place the shaped buns onto a baking sheet that’s been covered with a parchment paper. Leave to rise for another 10-15 minutes, then press a raisin or a craisin into each end.
  7. Brush with an egg wash (an egg whisked with a spoonful of water).
  8. Bake in a pre-heated 425 F oven for 12-15 minutes, until light golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven, transfer onto a metal rack to cool a little. If you want softer buns, then cover them with a clean tea towel when they’re cooling.
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Appetizer Round-Up: New Year’s Ideas

I can’t believe New Years Eve is one day away! 2012 has been a really great year for me, especially the last half of the year with the start of college. I am happy to celebrate this past year and look forward to the year to come :)

My family usually does a bunch of appetizers on New Year’s eve and then we movies until midnight. This year we are going to a friend’s house for a party, so we are doing our appetizers and movies tonight. In this post I’m rounding up some of my all-time favorite appetizers!

Tonight we are making Jalapeno Popper Dip. This is one of my family’s favorite dips- it’s spicy, creamy, and crunch!

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We are also having Mini Corn Dog Muffins which are super tasty and easy to make.

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Even easier than the Mini Corn Dog Muffins is this Easy Peasy Ranch Dip. You just mix a few things together and you have a delicious dip for veggies!

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This Christmas I made Hot Spinach Dip and was reminded of how much I love it. So tasty!

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And every Thanksgiving I make this Pumpkin Pie Dip. It’s sweet which is a nice change from all the savory dips.

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These Cheeseburger Pockets are also super tasty! The filling for the rolls is so good, you could even just eat that as a dip! (Don’t judge these by the pictures, they really are yummy!)

hamburger pocketsSo there we have it! Some of my favorite appetizers. Do you have any New Year’s traditions? Do you stay in or go out?

 

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Lofthouse Sugar Cookies

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Ahhh Lofthouse cookies…how I love them. They’re those cookies that they sell in grocery stores with the holiday-themed frosting. Whenever someone brings those to parties, I definitely eat my share! There’s a recipe going around that claims to be a copy-cat of the Lofthouse Sugar Cookies so I knew I had to try it and see if they lived up to their grocery store counterparts!

lofthouse cookies blog-3So what did I think? These cookies were definitely really tasty. I decided to add some maple flavoring to the frosting and I think it was a delicious contribution. I brought these cookies to a get together at a friends’ house and they were devoured! They’re easy to make and decorate and were definitely a hit. But do they taste like the Lofthouse cookies??? Well…I’m afraid not. I was a little disappointed because these don’t taste like the ones from the store. The flavor is a little different and they’re a little bit softer (which isn’t a bad thing).

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However, I definitely don’t regret making these cookies (and I don’t think my friends do either!) but I will say if you’re expecting cookies that taste exactly like Lofthouse, you might just have to go buy some from the store ;) These cookies are very delicious and easily customized for whatever holiday- you can even change up the shapes if you want.

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So, I hope you enjoy these cookies and try making them, even though they aren’t identical to the grocery store ones. They’re still very good :)

Tip: These cookies do spread out so if you’re trying to make them into different shapes, I wouldn’t try anything that has a lot of detail.

Lofthouse Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

3 cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1.5 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream

Buttercream Frosting

½ cup unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract (or maple flavoring)
2 cups powdered sugar
Small pinch of salt
3 tbs. heavy cream
Sprinkles

Directions: 

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, either with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla extract extract and sour cream, and beat at low speed until combined.
  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat at a low speed until just combined.
  4. Once the dough has come together, divide it into two parts. Flatten the dough into rectangles about an inch thick, then wrap it with plastic wrap. Put the wrapped dough into the refrigerator overnight, or for at least two hours.
  5. After the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
  6. Lightly flour the countertop and the top of the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and place on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes, until cookies are slightly golden around the edges. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Cook cookies completely before frosting.
  7.  To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and vanilla extract (or maple flavoring). Slowly beat in powdered sugar and the pinch of salt. Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired, and beat until combined.
  8. Once cookies have cooled completely, frost and add sprinkles, if desired. Allow frosting to set, then store in an air-tight container.

Recipe from Two Peas and their Pod

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How to Take Christmas Photos- Bokeh Tutorial

I love Christmas lights- they’re so pretty! And I also love taking photos with Christmas lights in the background when it creates beautiful bokeh (the circles that form behind the subject).

Here are some tips of how to take photos with gorgeous bokeh using Christmas lights!

1. Use a small aperture- to get really nice bokeh, you need a lens with an aperture (or f stop) that can go down to 1.8 or 2. For these photos I was using my Canon 50mm 1.4 lens. The aperture of your lens is how big the opening is to let in light- so when you have a low aperture like 1.8, the opening is really large and lets in a lot of light, and your background gets blurry. Because your aperture is letting in a lot of light, your shutter speed will have to be higher to compensate.

bokeh web12. Put your subject several feet away from the lights. For these photos I used our Christmas tree and my dog was a good 8ish feet away from the tree. Varying the distance between your subject and the lights will give you different looks- the closer you are to the lights the smaller they will be. If you get really close, they will just look like lights, not circles. The farther away you are, the bigger the circles, but if you get too far away, all the circles will start blurring together.

bokeh web43. Put your camera close to the subject- My dog was far away from the tree, but I was close to him. That made the frame tighter and made for better bokeh.

bokeh web34. Adjust your ISO- My ISO was at 400 for these photos- that’s in the middle as far as ISO goes. ISO is how sensitive to light your camera is- if your ISO is low (100 or 200) your camera is not as sensitive to light meaning that your aperture and shutter speed have to be lower to let in enough light. Low ISO is good for when you’re shooting in bright light and gives you the highest quality photos. Middle ISO from 400-800 will make your camera more sensitive to light which is good for when you’re shooting in a well-let room inside. ISO in this range will allow your camera to take in more light and won’t take down the quality of your photos too much. High ISO (800+ depending on your camera) will allow you to shoot in low-light situations, but will also produce granier photos. I always try to shoot at as low an ISO as possible so my photos will be of better quality. Your ISO in these photos is going to depend on how dark your environment is- my living room has windows so it was letting in quite a bit of light.

bokeh web25. Have fun and don’t hesitate to ask me questions in the comment section! I know Christmas is over, but keep your lights up and experiment with some bokeh holiday photos :)

And for those of you who are curious, my settings for these photos were: ISO- 400, Shutter Speed- 1/100, Aperture- f/1.8

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Christmas Cookie Ideas

Are you guys baking for Christmas yet? I love baking cookies around Christmas-time. Cookies are fun to make and also easy to give away! This post is filled with some of my favorite cookie (and bar) recipes that you can enjoy this holiday season!

First Up- I’ve made three different bars this year that are all quite possibly the best things that I have ever made. I am so excited to make these tasty bars again!

Gooey Nutella Bars!

I brought these to a Fourth of July Party and everyone loved them! I loved them too- they were sooo gooey and delicious.

 Gooey Peanut Butter Reece’s Bars

Another Gooey Bar! Oh it’s so good. I absolutely love Recces!

 S’mores Bars

While I know I sound like a broken record, these bars were amazing!

I honestly cannot choose my favorite between these three bars- and blogging about them now is making me excited to go home and do some baking! I’m thinking I’m going to make at least one of these bars, some zucchini or pumpkin bread, and a new cookie recipe (I already have one in mind :).

Speaking of cookies…. :) Here are a few of my favorite cookie recipes:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I absolutely loved these cookies! They’re big, soft, and fluffy, and I love the sweet and salty combination. Make them! :)

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I will confess that I will always choose chocolate over oatmeal raisin, but maybe not with these cookies! I made these for a teacher who really likes oatmeal raisin cookies, and I couldn’t believe how much I loved these! They’re so soft and have a great texture. Love them!

There are so many recipes I could post on this post, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you too much! Check out my Recipe Page to see all my bars, cookies, cupcakes, cakes, and other desserts!

Do you have any desserts that you have to make every year around Christmas time?

 

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