Overnight Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Amanda and I promise the new year will bring fresh and healthy recipes, but late December is when the sweet treat rules the day. With just a short time before Christmas Day, families are gathering to decorate the tree, gorgeous light displays illuminate the neighborhoods and there is a feeling of joy in the air. Like Thanksgiving, every family has its own traditions to make the holiday season extra special and mine is no different. For me, the Christmas season is when “tradition” truly makes an appearance, whether I decorate the house with my nutcracker collection, my mother *ahem* I mean Santa gifting me a new Holiday Barbie ornament to add to my growing collection, or blasting Christmas music throughout the house subjecting all inhabitants to my singing along.No tradition in my family though, is more iconic or more anticipated than the annual Christmas morning cinnamon rolls.

As we would excitedly rip through our bursting stockings each Christmas morning I remember the smell of those cinnamon rolls cooking and waiting for the timer to signal their completion; they are a once a year treat. Now, in our family, the canned cinnamon rolls are our tradition and certainly do not disappoint. However, that would not make for a very interesting post, for one, and I’m an adult now and ready to make my own way in traditional recipes. So, while I did not want to just copycat the original, I did want to share this gingerbready spin on our classic with the Distance Dishes family and I’m sure they will be appearing on our Christmas morning menu for years to come. They are more work than the canned option, but they can be made in advance and freeze extremely well. We recently celebrated an early Christmas since my family is spread across the county and these were served. They did not disappoint.


Gingerbread Rolls:

  • 4 large egg yolks at room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (may need up to 1/2 cup more)
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1/2 tsp star anise, ground
  • Cooking spray or vegetable oil

Cinnamon filling

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 sp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp melted butter for brushing


  • 1/3 cup cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk


  • Whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs, molasses, sugar and milk.
  • Transfer this mixture to a stand mixer with a dough hook and add flour, yeast, salt, yeast (not over the salt), butter, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and star anise. Mix on low to combine for 1-2 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer speed to medium and allow to knead for about 5-6 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be fairly wet but not sticky; add more flour if necessary and knead until this consistency.
  • Transfer dough to a large buttered or greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to sit and rise for 2.5 hours.
  • While you are waiting for your dough to rise, mix together the cinnamon filling by stirring together the brown sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to roll out the dough.
  • Once the dough has risen and rested, transfer to a large piece of greased parchment paper on a flat surface. Shape the dough into a general rectangle shape and roll out with a rolling-pin (or you can get creative with a wine bottle-life hack!). to a rectangle about 18″ by 14″.
  • Brush the rectangle with the 4 tbsp of the melted butter leaving about 1″ strip at the top unbuttered. Distribute the sugar mixture over the buttered portion of the dough evenly.
  • Starting opposite the unbuttered end, and using the parchment paper to assist, roll the cinnamon roll into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seams closed along the cylinder for a secure roll and turn to seam side down.
  • Using a serrated knife, cut the cylinder into 12 identical slices, about 1.5″ thickness.
  • Butter either  9″ by 13″ baking dish or two 8″ round baking dishes and place in the cinnamon rolls, cut side down, so that they are each just barely touching.
  • Place in the fridge to rest overnight or about 6-18 hours if you’re timing it.*
  • The next morning, place the rolls into a cool oven with a pan of boiling water to create steam and allow for one last rise for 30 minutes.
  • Then, remove both the water and the rolls while you pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
After their steam bath in the oven
  • Bake the cinnamon rolls for 30 minutes, and while they are baking make the icing (can also be made ahead of time).
  • Using a mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer, mix together the cream cheese, milk and powdered sugar until combined. Set aside or refrigerate until rolls are baked.
  • Once the rolls are out of the oven, spread the icing evenly over the rolls and serve warm. Enjoy!

*If you’re looking to make these ahead of time, this is an excellent time to freeze. Tightly wrap the dish and freeze until ready (will keep for about 6 weeks). Once ready, thaw overnight in a cool oven and then resume the steps above starting with adding the pan with boiling water to the oven for 30 minutes. I would not recommend freezing the icing though, but it is fairly easy to assemble. 

Wine Pairing: Since we typically have this for breakfast, I’d recommend your mimosa of choice to go with this one! Enjoy!

yummy yummy!

Roast Whole Chicken and Homemade Chicken Stock

Happy Holidays!! I hope you, like Merideth and I, are having a relaxing last week of the year after filling up on good food with friends and family!

Though I made this chicken as part of our quest for easy, special recipes for holidays, it’s something I’ll make for a hands-off weekend meal. That is, nights that I have the time, but not necessarily the energy or self-motivation, to make an involved recipe. The chicken came out juicy and with a deliciously crispy skin, looking much more difficult than a few minutes of prep before the oven!

If you have additional cooking time, I really loved this recipe because the leftover chicken carcass makes a seriously good chicken broth…three hours later. The time spent in these two recipes is well worth it though, and not just if you’re like me and think baking is a great way to keep warm in the winter! I used the chicken stock the next day for my lunch soup and really tasted the difference from store-bought stock. It made me feel good to use the “waste” from the roasted chicken, too!

For the photos below, I used Bavarian seasoning from The Spice House, a German blend good for roasting including rosemary, thyme, and mustard seeds. However, since this is more of a technique than a specific recipe, feel free to adjust to your taste! I also threw in some diced squash to roast with the chicken (a favorite kitchen shortcut of mine), but zucchini, potatoes, carrots, and onions can also work too- cut into bite-sized pieces, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread around the chicken.
Some seasoning suggestions:

Salt, pepper, garlic (either powder or minced and rubbed on skin)

Rosemary, salt, pepper, and/or oregano rubbed on skin, lemon slices inside cavity

Herbs De Provence

Italian seasoning mix

Make it your own, and enjoy!

Roasted Whole Chicken


Whole chicken  (2-4 lbs)

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

Optional seasonings, including (but not limited to) garlic cloves, garlic powder, onion wedges, lemon wedges, rosemary, sage, or thyme



  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare roasting pan for chicken.
  2. Remove giblets from the chicken’s internal cavity (they should be in a bag). Discard or save for the chicken stock.
  3. Pat chicken dry with paper towel, including inside the cavity, and rub the outer skin with olive oil. This will help crisp the skin while roasting.
  4. Season skin and/or fill cavity with desired seasonings.
  5. Place chicken, breast side down in the roasting pan or baking dish. If adding chopped potatoes or vegetables, add around the chicken now.
  6. Check the chicken after 50 minutes, using a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken thigh. Chicken is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees and juices run clear. Total roasting time should be between 50 minutes and and hour and a half, depending on chicken size.
  7. Carve the chicken, removing wings, legs, and breast meat. If making chicken stock, save carcass for use within up to 3 days.

Gigglewater Cocktail (Inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)

HA! Jacob in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was an inspiration to the rest of us No-Majs. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander and his creatures are delightful, even if you aren’t familiar with the original movies.

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Since I probably won’t get my hands on a friendly Bowtruckle or trouble-making Niffler any time soon, I thought I’d try and get some of the movie magic with some of the wizarding world’s 1920s cocktail, Gigglewater!

This recipe was fun for me not only because I love JK Rowling’s wizarding world (Go Ravenclaw!), but because the only information I had to go on was that it 1) had “Chuckle Extract” and 2) was popular in the 1920s. Not having Chuckle Extract on had, I set out to research common Prohibition-era drinks of the No-Maj world and figure out a way to make them a little more magical.

This recipe is based off the French 75, a popular drink in the 1920s with a champagne/gin base. Very Gatsby, right? In order to make it a little more like a potion, I swapped out the traditional lemon juice with rose-infused simple syrup. This also gave it a lovely pink color, reminiscent of one of Fantastic Beast‘s heriones, Queenie!

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Yields two beverages, served in a coupe glass (or approximately 1 in a champagne flute)

2 oz simple syrup

1 tbs food-grade rose petals (alternatively, 2-3 tsp rose water, though it will not yield the same pink hue)

1 1/2 oz (shots) gin

Champagne or Prosecco



Rose-Infused Simple Syrup 

  1. Add 1tbs rose petals per 2 oz simple syrup in microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Heat syrup mixture in microwave 45seconds-1minute, or until rose fragrance can be detected.
  3. Allow syrup to sit for 1 hour. Strain roses from simple syrup into mixing glass; syrup should be pink.
  4. If using rosewater, mix 1 tsp rosewater to 2-3 oz of simple syrup (depending on strength of rosewater).


  1. Add 1 1/2 shots gin to cocktail shaker with ice. Add 1 oz of rose-infused simple syrup.
  2. Shake gin and syrup until blended. Pour into coupe glass.
  3. Top gin mixture with champagne or prosecco.



Slowcooker Party Meatballs

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” as I’m sure your radios are crooning non-stop, but there are certainly quite a bit of stresses that comes with the joy of the holidays. Not only are we running around trying to decorate, purchase gifts for all of our friends and family, but there often are a deluge of holiday party invitations or hosting obligations this month (as I’m sure Amanda can attest). Whether it’s an office potluck or a family tree decorating party, an easy appetizer is always a hit with the other party guests and the host alike.

I wanted to share something that is easy, shows depth of flavor, and doesn’t take up too much kitchen space, just in case you also have an impressive entrée in the works. These sweet and tangy meatballs only take a few minutes of assembly and are low maintenance. However, they are sure to impress.

Full disclosure: I did attempt to not cut corners and make my own meatballs for the purpose of this post, but I don’t believe my meatball skills are quite up to snuff just yet. When I made these again the other night (they’re that good) with frozen meatballs, not only was if infinitely less stressful (which is the whole point) but also more delicious. If you’re the type who regularly makes meatballs and has a knack for it, by all means go for it. You probably wouldn’t need my recipe anyway. For the rest of us though, recipe is as follows:

  • 1 32oz. bag of frozen meatballs, or your favorite homemade recipe. Turkey is also good!
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 green onions, whites and greens separated (greens will be the garnish)
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • Sesame seeds for garnish

To make the Appetizer:

  • Add the frozen meatballs to your slow cooker.
  • Stir together all remaining ingredients except for the greens of the green onions and sesame seeds in a medium bowl until combined.
  • Pour sauce over meatballs and stir to ensure all are coated.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours if you’re pressed for time or on low for 4 hours and then enjoy at your leisure. Can be served with rice as a full meal or on toothpicks as yummy apps! Or you can always leave out the slow cooker with a serving spoon and let your guests fend for themselves. Happy partying!


Wine Pairing: Because these flavors are so bold with sweet and sour notes, I’d recommend an aromatic wine to accompany. I did try this with a Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve 2013 Riesling and I highly recommend. The fruity flavors of pear and peach complements the tangy sauce of the app in a delightful way. It’s definitely worth a try.