Big Girl Pants

This has certainly been quite the year of firsts for me:This is my first time living in a major city, my first apartment, and the first time I’ve lived more than 4 hours away from home. I create my own schedule, shopping lists, and budget, sign up for things using my OWN address, credit card number, and contact info, and design my own apartment space. I get bills in the mail that have my name on the envelope, write rent checks, and deal with those annoying Comcast reps.Oh hey, welcome to Adulthood!

Several months have passed since I’ve started this whole “life sans parental units” thing (and no, I don’t think college counts as adult experience- it’s definitely a hyper-scheduled false reality of what the real World actually is, although I miss it so!). I’ve really just been going about my days, handling all of my new adult responsibilities, watching the days fly by, and then suddenly it hit me:What about the holidays???? Holiday responsibilities fall into that whole adult-life category too, don’t they? What about all of the things we usually do on Thanksgiving morning? How can I watch the Macy’s Day Parade, I don’t even have cable!!!!

Now truthfully, when you work in the food industry, you practically sign away all of your nights, weekends, vacations, sick days (yes, sick days!), and of course, major holidays, once you start working, so I’m no stranger to this unspoken rule. Talk about making a shift into adult life! However, my first two holidays seasons post-college, I lived worked at home in PA, close to all of my immediate family members. So, even if I worked on a holiday, I still had the ability to head to my Grandmother’s house after my shift to share in Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. This year, not so much.

Although I’m lucky enough to have the day off from work (due to the luxury of working in a bakery, instead of a restaurant), like most people, I do not have off the day before or after. It is kind of hard to fly from Boston to Philadelphia on Wednesday night, spend Thursday with my family, and then somehow miraculously end up back at work on 9am Friday morning! Nahhhh, probably not gonna happen!Not to mention that Brandon actually has to work too, so no “makeshift Thanksgiving” will be happening in our tiny Boston apartment. Instead, he will be busy serving the fine (and wealthy) people of Cambridge a 3-course Italian feast (and OMG does it look awesome- check out that dessert menu!).Part of me wants to be really upset, feel super lonely, and get all mopey and woe-is-me. Yes, it’s the first time in 24 years that I won’t be with my blood-related family on family gathering, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t be surrounded by my other family!

Brandon’s family, you say? Ahhhh, you may think you know where I’m headed with this, but you probably don’t 😉

When I met Brandon about 4 years ago, I was introduced to his 10 or so childhood friends that he’d known for as long as he could remember. These dudes are some of the most important people in his life, and no friend that he ever made at college, or even now, could ever rival how much his lifelong friends mean to him. Every time I would visit MA, these same people were always there, and they slowly became my good friends too. In fact, I consider them to be my only real friends, even family, up here in Boston.

I thought I came from a huge family until I met the families of these friends! You see, about half of the group was born (and some even raised) in the Philippines. When I met them, I also met their immediate and extended family members, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and friends. If there is any cause for celebration, the Filipinos do it right, and holidays are no exception!So on Thanksgiving, I’m swapping my ravioli for lumpia, and even though I’ll be missing my family in PA, I know I’ll be welcomed by my other family up here in MA 🙂 Maybe adult life isn’t so bad after all! Since this post is all about starting new traditions, but still paying homage to the old, I thought I’d jazz up a Miller tradition: the Holiday Morning Cinnamon Bun. Now let’s be honest here, even though my mother is a fabulous baker, and I happen to dabble in the pastry arts a bit (*wink*), neither of us ever had the time to bake these babies from scratch on Thanksgiving morning (honestly, we were too busy whipping up Thanksgiving sides and desserts to focus on breakfast!).So how did we conjure up delicious cinnamon buns so quickly? Yup, you guessed it. We totally cheated and used those addictive Pillsbury Grands (don’t judge, you know they are awesome), accompanied by fluffy eggs, bacon, and fruit.This year, I’ve decided to switch things up a little bit.Instead of those (delicious) canned cinnamon buns, how about something from scratch? Maybe throw in some quick marmalade made from one of the season’s most delicious fruits? Then let’s cut them up, brush them with butter, and toss them in orange sugar?Yup.Sounds good.  All of the above.

All of these things are the makings of a new type of Holiday morning, and I’m ok with it.
And who know’s? Maybe Brandon’s brother will even let me watch the Macy’s Day Parade this year! 😉 Makes 12 rollsRecipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks*This recipe is perfect to make in two parts. I made the cranberry orange marmalade and the dough the night before, and assembled and baked everything the morning I needed it. Be advised that if you are going to make everything the same day, you will need at least 2 hours to let the marmalade cool and the dough to rise.*

Cranberry Orange Marmalade

1  12 oz bag fresh Cranberries

1 cup granulated sugar*

1 orange, zested and juiced*Water

1. First, zest your orange. Half of the zest will be used for the marmalade, and half will be saved for the orange sugar.

2. Juice the zested orange into a 1 cup measure. After you have extracted all of the juice from the orange, fill the remaining space in the cup up with water.

3. Place your cranberries, sugar, orange zest and orange juice/water into a medium pot, and place over medium heat.

4. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring, to ensure nothing burns. Cook until the mixture has thickened slightly.

5. Pour the marmalade into a separate bowl to cool. Allow to come to room temperature before spreading onto your sweet roll dough. Be aware that the mixture might thicken significantly after sitting, depending on how much you cooked it (a bit like cranberry sauce). If this is the case, simply stir it and it will loosen up to a nice spreadable consistency.

Sweet Roll Dough

2 c Milk

1/2 c vegetable oil

1/2 c granulated sugar2

1/2 tsp Yeast (I used Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise, but Active Dry will do also)

4 cups (plus 1/2 additional cup, reserved) All Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt

1. Place milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a pot over medium heat. Cook until the mixture is warm the sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle your yeast over the top of the milk mixture, and let sit for a minute or so.

2. Place your 4 cups of AP flour in a large bowl.

3. Pour your milk and yeast mixture into the flour and stir to combine. This is the base for your dough. Place a kitchen towel over the dough and let rise for an hour in a sunny window or warm area.

4. After the dough has risen for an hour, remove the kitchen towel and add the remaining cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir to combine.

5. At this point, you can use the dough as-is and make your rolls right away. OR, you place the finished dough back in the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it overnight (or up to 3 days) until you are ready to assemble.

Sweet Roll Assembly:1 batch Cranberry Orange Marmalade

1 batch Sweet Roll Dough

Orange Sugar

1 stick unsalted butter

1. To make the orange sugar, place your reserved zest (from the Cranberry Orange Marmalade) and one cup of granulated sugar together in a bowl. Use your fingers to rub the sugar and the zest together until it is evenly distributed and combined. 2. Preheat the oven to 375F. On a floured surface, roll your dough out into a long rectangle (about 30×8 inches)3. Spread your cranberry orange marmalade over the entire surface of the dough. I used about 3/4 of the total recipe and my rolls were pretty full with cranberries. If you prefer less or more, adjust your filling amount accordingly.

4. Roll your dough up from the long end to long end. To get a tight spiral in your roll, pull the dough towards you each time before you roll forward, moving along the length of the rectangle. This tightens the spiral and makes for a more compact, beautiful roll in the end!

5. Cut off each end of the roll, and then slice into 12 pieces. Do so gently, as to not smush the spiral you just created!

6. This next step is up to you: As pictured, I placed the rolls together in a greased 9inch metal pie place and baked them like that. However, I had to cut the rolls apart when it came time to finish them. If you like the look of my finished product, then continue the way I have described. HOWEVER, if you prefer to have perfectly round rolls, I would suggest giving them a little more room to breathe, and to bake them in a 9×13 baking dish (I will do this next time). This way you won’t sacrifice that rounded final shape! Either way, they will bake up beautifully and taste delicious- the choice is yours. Bake the rolls for about 30-40 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top.

7. While you allow the rolls to cool enough for your to handle them without burning your fingers off, melt the stick of butter in a small bowl. I did this while the rolls were still warm, so that I could eat them warm as well! Remove the rolls from the pan and cut apart. Using a pastry brush, brush the top and sides of each roll with butter. Then, place one or two rolls at a time in the bowl of orange sugar, and coat evenly. If there are spots where sugar isn’t sticking, brush them with a little bit of butter and the sugar should adhere.

8. Serve rolls right away, or store in an airtight container or plastic bag until you are ready to enjoy! I hope this recipe encourages you to fuse your family traditions with something new this Thanksgiving, and that you all have a blessed holiday! Give thanks for what you have been given, for what you will receive, and for endless new possibilities 🙂

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