Katie Lee Biegel is always tapping into her Southern comfort upbringing with her delicious and unique recipes, especially around the holidays! With her grandmother’s voice in the back of her mind, the top chef revealed in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife about how she brings her Southern traditions into her holiday recipes, while also upgrading them with her own personal touches. “I definitely like to keep things traditional around the holidays, and not stray too far from the classics. Like, my grandma would be shocked if she knew I was making brussel sprouts in a salad!” Katie Lee laughed while chatting with HL. “However, she always believed in a colorful plate, so I definitely live by that and make sure it has 80% vegetables.”
She recalled spending time at her grandmother’s house for holidays while growing up in West Virginia, and how the matriarch inspired her love for cooking. “My grandma was the most amazing cook, and she made it look completely effortless,” Katie Lee said, while chatting about reducing stress and using cooking as therapy, in partnership with Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove.
Now, The Kitchen star has a toddler of her own, whose palate she says it not as diverse as she’d like it to be, but the chef revealed that, inspired by her grandma, the two start their day with a bowl of fruit. “My grandma would also start the day with a fruit bowl every morning, so that’s how I got started with it. It’s a good way to start the day with some vitamins and antioxidants,” she told HL. “Iris is a little bit of a picky eater, but she’s a toddler so it’s to be expected, but I like to have at least one thing that I’m cooking that I know she’s going to want to eat, as well.”
Also inspired by her late grandmother — Katie Lee’s Holiday Cinnamon Rolls! The classic recipe is spiced up with Katie Lee’s homemade dough and extra-gooey cinnamon frosting. See the full recipe below and indulge this year on Christmas morning with this sweet treat!
Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls:
1/4 cup warm water
One 1 1/4-ounce package instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup or more as needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for Icing:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk or orange juice
For the cinnamon rolls:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the warm water with the yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside for about 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken and bubble slightly. (If the mixture does not start to thicken and bubble slightly, the yeast is not working. Check the expiration date on the yeast and start over.)
- In a large bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, the egg, oil and salt. Mix in the cold water and then the boiling water. Add this to the yeast mixture and stir until well blended. With the machine on low speed, slowly add in 4 cups of flour until incorporated.
- Knead in the mixer on low speed for about 5 minutes until smooth, adding in the extra 1/2 cup flour or more as needed so the dough isn’t too sticky. Put the dough into a clean large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until doubled in size, about 3 hours.
- Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter using a pastry brush.
- Punch down the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle about 20 by 10 inches, with the long edge facing you. Using the pastry brush, spread 1/4 cup of the melted butter over the top of the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the dough.
- Roll up the dough, starting with the long edge facing you, into a tight cylinder. Gently squeeze the cylinder to seal it. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 12 even rounds. Place the rounds, cut-side down, into the prepared baking dish. There will be some space in between the rounds. Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls until golden, 40 to 45 minutes.
For the icing: Meanwhile, mix the confectioners’ sugar with the milk in a small bowl. When the rolls come out of the oven, drizzle the icing over the hot rolls. Serve while warm.
This recipe can also be made without a stand mixer. Knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 8 to 10 minutes. If the dough is difficult to roll out, allow it to come to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. If you like more icing on your rolls, double the icing recipe.