Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hey, Hey, Hey! Who Wants To Play?

Because this is the season for giving and for sharing, I want to give you something.   I want to give you the opportunity to share in my experience of packing on the pounds.  I know the big push now is for everybody to be healthy and fit.  We’re told to regularly exercise more than just the part of our bodies we use to text, push remote controls or type at a keyboard.  We’re told to eat lots of green weeds (I said eat, not smoke) and we’re told to drink a lot (I assume they mean water).  I’ve pretty much decided that if I feel guilty eating, drinking or doing something, it’s probably not healthy and I shouldn’t be eating, drinking, or doing it.

But this is the season of giving and sharing … FOOD!  It should not be the season of food guilt.  I have enough to feel guilty about without feeling guilty that Dean’s going to find out I quickly ate a piece of pumpkin pie while he was brushing his teeth after breakfast.  It’s stressful too because it’s so hard to scoop out a half gallon of whipped cream without him hearing the clinking sound the spoon makes against the bowl.

So I say we all dig our heels in.  We rise up.  We make a stand.  Let’s join the protestors from around the world.  But instead of occupying London, or Wall Street, or Edinburgh or wherever, let’s allow food to occupy our bellies.  Yeah, man.  Let’s do it.  I say this from Thanksgiving through New Year’s we all fill our bellies.  Fill ‘em full.  Fill ‘em with fudge and toffee and cookies and trifle and wine and eggnog.  And let’s do it without hanging our heads in shame.  Let’s do it without guilt.  Who’s with me?  Shout it out!   Occupy the Belly!

My membership in Occupy the Belly! has already paid off.  When I was standing in the tree lot this morning, big fluffy flakes of snow falling all around me, my added layer of adipose tissue helped keep me warm as I watched Dean hoist this year’s Christmas tree up onto his shoulder and carry it over to the Subaru.  And I’m pretty sure, when he had to take off his gloves to tie it onto the roof, his fingers were a lot warmer than they would have been if he hadn’t also joined the movement.

In order to help with your transition into Occupy the Belly!, I would like to give you a recipe.  Don’t let the word “cranberry” scare you.  They don’t count as healthy when they’re in combination with fat and sugar.  And with the addition of the cream cheese frosting there is no doubt this sweet roll recipe meets the standards of an Occupy the Belly! food item.

I don’t normally frost my cinnamon rolls because, well, I feel even more guilty eating one if it’s slathered in frosting.   So, when I was compelled to eat one of these rolls (I had to be sure I wanted to serve them Christmas morning, after all), out of habit, I ate it without frosting.  However, I think the frosting will be complementary to the tartness of the cranberries so I recommend serving them frosted.  Also, the recipe doesn’t call for nuts, but I am genetically programmed to add nuts, cinnamon and raisins to pretty much everything I bake.  I added sliced almonds to these rolls but I think pecans or walnuts would be a better choice if you want to add nuts.  Don’t ask how I managed to refrain from adding raisins.  I’m still trying to figure it out myself.

Without further ado, women pull out those fat pants, and men feel free to unbutton your pants (but please, for the sake of all of us and our appetites, wear a long, long shirt).  Are you ready?  Let’s Occupy the Belly! and bake!

Cranberry Sweet Rolls*

¾ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
½ cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
½ cup milk
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ½ to 5 cups all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ of a 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon milk

In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil.  Add cranberries; return to a boil.  Boil, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in orange peel; cover and refrigerate.

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add ½ cup butter, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and 3 cups flour; beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl; turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 20 by 10-inch rectangle.  Melt the remaining butter; brush over dough.  Spread with cranberry filling to within 1 inch of edges.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal.  Cut into 15 slices.  Place cut side down in a greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  In a small mixing bowl, combine frosting ingredients; beat until smooth.  Spread over warm rolls.  Store in the refrigerator.

*Taste of Home’s Baking Book via our newspaper



Abby said...

Those look good! I'm SO glad you left out the raisins. Are you going to add the frosting later, like for Christmas, like when I get to join the "Occupy the Belly" movement?

Art Elser said...

I agree with Abby that these look really good. I wonder if you could improve the recipe by replacing the butter with LARD. That might help with the occupy movement if the Dean police caught you sneaking one in the middle of the night.

Al, wants to know if you could replace the cranberries with haggis. Or maybe add haggis instead of the raisins?

Would shipping these across state lines make them contraband and subject to search and seizure?

Art Elser said...

I only mentioned haggis because you mentioned Edinburgh, and Al's mind on reading that will immediately go to haggis. I'm sure he's having serious withdrawal from it as I write this.

Leslie said...

Movement here I come, I'm already ahead with two batches of cookies in the freezer!