30 Before 30, Breads, Recipes

St. Lucia Buns

Soft, buttery yeast rolls made with saffron and golden raisins. St. Lucia Buns are a Christmas treat you do not want to miss!

Soft, buttery yeast rolls made with saffron and golden raisins. St. Lucia Buns are a Christmas treat you do not want to miss!

I have wanted to celebrate St. Lucia’s Day for nearly 22 years, and last December, I finally did it. When I was eight years old, I received a Kirsten doll for my birthday. If you were a girl in the 80s and 90s [or have a little girl today!] you know how much of a Big Deal that was. I read every single one of Kirsten’s stories again and again, and all the other doll’s stories again.

With Kirsten

This photo isn’t from Christmas, but it was the best digital photo I could find with Kirsten, except for some embarrassing college photos of my friend and I with our Kirsten dolls. 😉 Yes, we were the kind who brought our dolls to college for a birthday party… wild and crazy, huh? Ha! Since Kirsten is from Sweden, her family always celebrated the Christmas season with a visit from St. Lucia… only their first Christmas in America, according to the wonderful book, Kirsten’s Surprise, all the necessary supplies for the day were stuck in town! You can imagine the drama, if you haven’t already read the book. 🙂 And you can probably predict the outcome too–Kirsten saves the day [along with some help from dear ‘ole Dad] and the family celebrates St. Lucia Day as usual. It was glorious!

Soft, buttery yeast rolls made with saffron and golden raisins. St. Lucia Buns are a Christmas treat you do not want to miss!

Traditionally, St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated on December 13th–this coming Sunday! Lucia, who died as a martyr for her faith, is the saint of light and as such, an important symbol throughout Scandinavia as a promise of light through the dark and wintry months. Typically, the eldest daughter in the family wakes the family with singing and the treat of these delicious buns. She wears a white gown with a red sash and a crown of berries, twigs, and candles. It always seemed like such a lovely tradition to me, but for some reason I never woke up earlier than my parents with a freshly baked batch of sweet, golden yeast buns! Funny! Ha.

Soft, buttery yeast rolls made with saffron and golden raisins. St. Lucia Buns are a Christmas treat you do not want to miss!

These rolls, though a bit labor-intensive, are worth every bit of the time and effort. They’re absolutely SO soft and buttery, and a beautiful shade of golden yellow from the saffron. Saffron can be expensive [ugh] but it’s pretty reasonably priced at Trader Joe’s. I’ve also seen it at World Market in the past, and found mine in the Latin section of my local Publix… a tiny amount for a few dollars. I’m sure it’s not the best quality, but c’est la vie… These buns taste amazing straight from the oven with some fresh butter, but they’re also enjoyable for breakfasts with coffee and fruit over the next few days. #perfection Hope you can try these this weekend to celebrate St. Lucia!

Soft, buttery yeast rolls made with saffron and golden raisins. St. Lucia Buns are a Christmas treat you do not want to miss!

one year ago: Art Smith’s Macaroni and Cheese
two years ago: Cranberry-Pistachio Citrus Butter Cookies
three years ago: Streuseled Cran-Apple Sweet Potato Casserole
four years ago: Cranberry Pineapple Sauce
five years ago: Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits

St. Lucia Buns

  • Servings: 12
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from King Arthur Flour


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup potato flour or 1/2 cup instant potato flakes [I used the flakes]
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs – 1 egg will be divided [see below]
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white, reserved from dough + 1 tablespoon cold water – for topping
  • coarse pearl sugar, optional – for topping
  • golden raisins, optional – for topping


Place milk and saffron in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Heat to just a simmer [so not long at all!] and remove from heat. Stir in butter, then set aside for the butter to melt and the mixture to cool to lukewarm. This will take about 35 minutes, but you can speed it up about 10 minutes by placing the entire saucepan in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast, potato flour, salt, and sugar. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, reserving the white for the topping later.

When the milk mixture has cooled sufficiently, pour over the dry ingredients. Add the eggs [2 whole eggs and 1 yolk] and vanilla. Mix to combine, then knead until the dough is smooth. In the mixer this should take about 7 minutes; by hand, 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl, then cover and let rise for an hour. The dough doesn’t have to be quite doubled, but should be puffy.

Gently tap to deflate the dough, then divide into 12 equal pieces. King Arthur Flour recommended a scale–each piece should weigh about 92 grams or 3.25 ounces. You can also do the ‘ole divide in half and half and half trick too.

Roll each piece into a short log, then cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Then roll into a thin 15-18 inch rope. It’ll shrink when you stop rolling, but that’s okay. Shape each roll into an “S,” then place a golden raisin in each of the coils if you would like.

Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat, or grease lightly. Place buns about an inch apart on the baking sheets, then cover and let rise for 30 minutes or until puffy. They shouldn’t double in size. At this time, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add 1 tablespoon cold water to reserved egg white, then brush mixture on each bun. Sprinkle with coarse pearl sugar if desired.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Check on the rolls after 15 minutes for doneness–especially if your oven runs hot or if you used raisins, as you’ll want to tent with foil for the last few minutes to prevent burning.

Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw

This easy red cabbage slaw is sweet and crunchy, bursting with raisins, apples, and carrots. It’s creamy and tangy so everyone will love it!

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw | thepajamachef.comI don’t really like the word “slaw.” Or the words “cole slaw.” It just sounds… unappetizing to me. But when you need a cold veggie side dish for summer picnics or barbecue pork, or just a normal weeknight dinner, it’s just really the best choice. You can make it ahead and it’s good in the fridge for up to a week too! And this slaw [shudder!] tastes really, really, really good. So that helps too. 🙂 I’m so picky about cole slaw, besides the name. The taste is super important to me. I don’t like it to be too creamy [like my dad prefers] or too vinegary… but rather, something in the middle. Like this recipe! The dressing for this red cabbage based slaw is creamy AND tangy. I used mayo, Greek yogurt, and sour cream for optimal creaminess along with a hint of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice for tang. Perfect!

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw | thepajamachef.comBesides the taste of the dressing, a great slaw to me has to have some sweet elements. The more the merrier, I think! This slaw also features raisins and apples and carrots for tons of sweetness. The perfect blend. 🙂 My slaw isn’t quite as pretty as traditional cole slaws because the holes of my circa-1980 food processor are kinda wonky, so if you take the time to slice a head of cabbage your slaw will look MUCH better than mine. Take a look at the original recipe and you’ll see what I mean. But looks aside, this slaw is fantastic and is sure to be a staple in my home for many summers to come. Enjoy! Happy Labor Day weekend!

one year ago: Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread
two years ago: Pumpkin Coconut Soup
three years ago: Chocolate Mousse

four years ago: Pumpkin Granola
five years ago: The BESTEST Pizza Sauce Ever + A Pizza How-To

Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw

  • Servings: 8
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slightly adapted from Budget Bytes


  • 1/3 cup mayonaise
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small head purple cabbage [about 1.5 pounds]
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored
  • 1/2 cup raisins [I used a mix of regular and golden]


In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, yogurt, vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and pepper for the dressing. Set aside.

Use a food processor or a sharp knife to shred the cabbage into thin strips and place in a large bowl. Grate carrots and apple, then toss with cabbage. Pour dressing over vegetables, then gently toss until combined.

Slaw is best within the first day or so, but lasts in the fridge up to one week.


Chicken, Couscous, Main Dishes, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous #bookclubcookbookCC

Fragrant, rich chicken and chickpea curry incorporates great flavors to make an amazing dish! Serve it over spiced couscous for a special treat. 

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous | thepajamachef.com #thebookclubcookbookCC

Happy Friday! I joined a new blogging group… the Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew. And guess what! YOU can join us. Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla organized a group of bloggers to read through some great books and make some great recipes inspired by them. We are using The Book Club Cookbook as our guide and inspiration… you can read more about the club on her blog, but here’s the gist. Each month, one blogger serves as hostess to choose a book and a recipe from the cookbook. From there, we can make the chosen recipes OR draw inspiration from the selected book to create a recipe. Camilla is our July hostess and she chose Jhumpa Lahir’s Interpreter of Maladies for our book of the month, and invited us to make curry and lassis with her. At the end of the month, you can win a copy of the cookbook so you can follow along! Go to Camilla’s blog to enter now! 🙂

On with the recipe though! Have you ever heard of Jhumpa Lahir’s Interpreter of Maladies? I had not, and was surprised when I picked up a copy at my local library. It’s actually a collection of short stories centering on the themes of family, home, marriage, belonging, and more. Many take place in America, but I thought some of the most interesting stories were set in India. You don’t think about adaptations to new life in your own country… this book is just lovely! The first and last stories were my favorites, but they are all good. Have you read this book before? If not, you should pick it up! I highly recommend it.

Food is an integral part to all of the stories, and nearly each one mentioned curry! An Indian classic for sure, with as many variations as there are people. One of the recipes Camilla chose for us to make this month was a hard boiled egg curry. It sounds SO interesting. But Ben hates hard boiled eggs with a passion, so that’s a no go for us [and I don’t think I could eat a whole batch alone]. Instead, chicken curry it is!

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous | thepajamachef.com #thebookclubcookbookCC

This is one of my very favorite curry recipes, and actually is the one that made me love Indian food! Ben and I have made this recipe a handful time over the past few years… it is absolutely delightful each time! Every bite is rich and flavorful, and your kitchen will smell absolutely wonderful while you’re cooking. Ginger! Garlic! Garam masala! Mmm, mmm, mmm. The tomato and coconut based curry sauce is fabulous over the chicken and chickpeas and plump, juicy raisins… and the flavors are magnified since it’s not just served over regular ‘ole rice, but instead over a spiced couscous that is just bursting with more raisins and rich spices. Yes, it’s a lengthy recipe with quite a few ingredients… BUT it is oh-so-good. A great dish for company, a great dish to make on a relaxing night at home. It’s just as fantastic as anything you could get at a restaurant, but easy to make at home with accessible ingredients too. Make it this weekend! 🙂 Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Peas | thepajamachef.com

And oh! If you’re looking for an easy side dish to serve with this, try these easy Indian-spiced peas. No real recipe… just mix together a teaspoon or two of coconut oil, a 10 ounce bag of frozen peas, and a teaspoon each of curry powder and garam masala in a skillet. Cook over low heat until hot, then mix in a about a 1/4 cup of coconut flakes. Ahhhmazing! Next time I might toast the coconut to make it even better. Yum!

one year ago: Ginger Ice Cream
two years ago: Mom’s Potato Salad

three years ago: Mediterranean Feta Dip
four years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies
five years ago: Big Thumbs Up Bite Size Soft Pretzels –> yes! my blog is FIVE! 🙂

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

from Jenna’s Everything Blog – go to either post for great step by step photos if that’s your thing!


for curry

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder [I used a sweet curry powder]
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 serrano chili, minced – remove seeds to reduce heat… or not, your call
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 – 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts [I’ve also used chicken thighs]
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

for couscous

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend [I forget what size it is…about 18 or 20 ounces I think] — can also substitute 1 pound Israeli couscous plus a couple tablespoons quinoa and orzo — or an equivalent amount of rice [I’ve made it all three ways!!]


Set a small skillet over medium heat. Pour in curry powder and garam masala, then stir constantly for about 1-2 minutes to toast spices, until fragrant. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. When hot, add onions and season with salt. Stirring occasionally, cook for about 15 minutes until onions are browned and caramelized. If you have you more time, cook the onions on medium-low heat for a longer amount of time to caramelize them more. But either way works!

After onions are cooked to your liking, add garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. Stir and cook for about a minute, then add in toasted spices and tomato paste. Pour in the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes, stirring to mix everything up. Add chickpeas, chicken, and raisins. Make sure the chicken is submerged as much as possible. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until chicken is just about done.

Meanwhile, prepare couscous while chicken is cooking.

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until soft. Stir in garam masala, cooking for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chicken broth, butter, and raisins. Stir and bring to a boil. Add couscous [or other grain], bring to a boil again, and cook for about 10-15 minutes until fully cooked. Liquid should be absorbed but exact time depends on what grains you use. Season to taste with salt or additional garam masala then set aside to serve with curry.

When chicken is fully cooked, remove to cutting board and chop it up into bite-sized pieces. If the chicken isn’t fully cooked, it will finish cooking in the sauce.

Return chicken to pot, then stir in coconut milk and peas [if using]. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in half of the cilantro.

Serve curry over couscous, with additional cilantro on top. Enjoy!