Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Best Cinnamon Rolls!!


     Determined to bake something for Christmas Morning I decided that Cinnamon Rolls would be perfect.  I searched various sites and settled on Breadworld.com because Fleischmann's Yeast has always had good recipes for me! I followed the recipe exactly except for adding Pecan's for my Mommy and making 12 instead of 9 of the most wonderful cinnamon rolls ever!! I also broke the process into two steps making and cutting my rolls and chilling them then rising and baking in the morning.  It did take a little extra time to have the rise in the morning but they still worked out just fine. 
     I am pretty sure I will use these as my standby cinnamon rolls, though I will continue to play with other recipes but these will be my standby! I also searched for an icing recipe.  I didn't want just a glaze I wanted a gooey icing but not too sweet. I had some cream cheese and made a similar icing to a carrot cake. Not to sweet and right on the hot rolls its melted into cinnamon roll bliss!!


Grand Award Sweet Rolls


7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 envelopes Fleischmann's® RapidRise Yeast
2 teaspoons salt 
1 cup water
1 cup milk 
2/3 cup butter or margarine 
2 large eggs 
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
 



In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast, and salt.  Heat water, milk, and 2/3 cup butter until very warm (120o to 130oF).  Gradually add to flour mixture.  Beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally.  Add eggs and 1 cup flour; beat 2 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally.  Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Cover; let rest 10 minutes.

Roll dough to 15 x 12-inch rectangle.  Brush with melted butter; sprinkle with Cinnamon Filling and pecans.  Beginning at long end, roll up tightly as for jelly roll.  Pinch seam to seal.  Cut into 12 equal pieces.  Place, cut side up and 1 inch apart, on greased large baking sheet.  Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Bake at 375oF for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.


**Cinnamon Filling:
Approximately 1 cup granulate sugar
Approximately 3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
Approximately 1 cup chopped pecans 
 
** I admit that I just used approximations on the cinnamon filling.  We are huge cinnamon people and I basically put a good scoop or two of sugar into a bowl and then added cinnamon until I was happy with the appearance of the mixture.  Create your filling to your liking.


Cream Cheese Icing: 

4 oz Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
1/2 c margarine or butter, Room Temperature
1 3/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the cream cheese and the butter/margarine in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment.  Beat until creamy and well mixed, about 5-10 minutes.  Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until creamy and well mixed another 3 minutes.  Add the last 3/4 c of powdered sugar and continue to whip the icing to creamy consistency.  Add the vanilla and mix til blended.  Spread the icing on cinnamon rolls as soon as they come out of the oven.  The icing will slightly melt onto the rolls..amazing.

These are truly amazing and I will enjoy making them again for my friends and family. They are quite simple just a little time and patience.  If I have learned anything it is that making Cinnamon Rolls are not as scary to make as I thought they would be! A Great Giant Cinnamon Roll!

 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New Blanket



My little brother, not so little now but still, got married unexpectedly last year.  When we met Her earlier in the year I had given her my first rag quilt to use as a blanket. She asked me about it and inquired what it would take to make one.  Well I had decided that I should make her one for Christmas this year. Her favorite color, according to the brother, was teal.  I will tell you finding some teals was not all that easy to do! But after several weeks of searching and picking up a random one and then matching it I found my five patterns and made this blanket for her.  It was my first blanket made from cottons instead of flannel but it came out beautiful.  I am very proud of it and they showed up last week and I was able to give it to her in person! I so love giving hand made gifts.  I am happy she is part of our family, a great girl that keeps that boy in place! They are both amazing and loved :)

Maple Sticky Buns...



My Mom has taken to pulling recipes out of anything she finds for me.  Many of them come from an insert in our local newspaper, it is called Relish and can be accessed on line at Relish.com.  We find many interesting and yummy recipes from this insert and on line.  I have loved making sweet rolls and when Mom handed me this torn out recipes I was taken in.  A sticky bun that doesn't take yeast but looks so very good.  I had spent the day several weeks ago baking several batches of muffins for work and since I was in the kitchen I figured I should try them out.  This recipe was quite simple and I wouldn't hesitate to make it again or play with the filling. It was really good and we had them finished by breakfast.  They were definitely worth the try!!

Maple Sticky Buns

Ingredients

3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
12 tablespoons butter, divided
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Mix together walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. Bring maple syrup and 4 tablespoons butter to boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil 30 seconds, then scrape into a 10-inch cast iron or heavy skillet of pan. Top with one-third of walnut mixture.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add 7 tablespoons butter and mix until mixture resembled small peas. Add milk; stir gently, just until the mixture comes together.
  4. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan.
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 5 or 6 times. Roll into a 9 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter.
   6.Cover dough evenly with remaining walnut mixture, patting gently. Roll up  dough to for a 12-inch log,     pinching  seam to seal. Cut into 12 (1-inch) slices and place in pan. Bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately invert onto a large plate (do this quickly, but carefully—the syrup is very hot). Scrape any syrup from pan and spread over buns. Serve warm or hot.

 Some day I may actually wake up early enough to have something this awesome for breakfast until then I am settled with enjoying it for dessert!


My First Pumpkin Pie..

This Thanksgiving we had to set things up at my Grandparents house, it was easier to travel for us than them and lately it is the best thing to do.  I decided that I would just make a couple simple desserts one of which had to be pumpkin pie for my Grandma.  I had initially wanted to make one I had seen on line that had a hint of orange and a meringue but we decided that part of the enjoyment for my Grandma was the whipped cream.  I decided that I would just make a good old Libby's Pumpkin Pie from the recipe on the can. I tweaked it by adding a little orange zest and made my own freshly whipped cream.  Of all the baking I have done never once did I make a pumpkin pie.  I picked a pastry recipe, just a simple one from my Great Grandma's Joy of Cooking cookbook and decorated it with little pastry leaves to make it festive.  I was very proud when it came out and my only regret was adding the zest of an entire orange. It did overwhelm so for the recipe I will leave out my tweak! It was a good idea and next time I will do only half an orange!

LIBBY'S® Famous Pumpkin Pie:

Ingredients

Directions

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving. 
 
For my whipped cream, I took a small cartoon and whipped it with powdered sugar to taste and a hint of vanilla.  Nothing beats fresh whipped cream!



Best Peanut Butter Cookies Ever!

So last year my Mom made these peanut butter cookies right of a Heath Toffee Bits package. Oh My Goodness were they awesome! I set out this year when she wanted us to bake one day to find that package in the store so we could make them again and of course to make sure I got the recipe on my blog. There is nothing I would change from this recipe they are so good. The best thing added to a peanut butter cookie was Heath Toffee Bits!!


Heath Bits Peanut Butter Cookies 

1/2 c shortening
3/4 c Peanut Butter
1 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
3 TBSP milk
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 8-oz package Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, divided

1. Heat oven to 375
2. Beat shortening , peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended.  Add egg, beat just until blended.  Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup of toffee bits, reserve remained for topping
3.Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto un-greased cookie sheet (I always use parchment paper); top each with reserved toffee bits.  Bake 7-8 minutes or until set. Do not over bake. Cool 2 minutes and remove to wire rack.  Cool completely
About 3 dozen cookies

These have moved up to the top of my most awesome cookie list!!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

New..Job..

Well, Things have been a bit chaotic lately. This post will be more informative and just a bit of a vent than fun.  I had a job opportunity that I was looking into just over a year ago, in fact I was so excited as it was a bakery job that I had dreamed about for years.  But suddenly it was gone and I had not heard from anyone and my heart was broken.  I had basically stopped much of my baking and often forced myself just to do whatever showed up on this blog. 
In June my fiance and I took a huge risk and I saved everything I could, flew out to Indiana and drove back to California with him for what I had hoped would be the start of our lives together.  He set out looking for work and I just went back to my job.  I had a decent job, part time manager for a retail store which worked well with my full time school attendance for my Bachelor's Degree.  He was here about a month and things crashed.  His car broke down and no one would talk to him about work just nothing.  It was very hard to take everything on with my minimal job.  His car breaking down was the worst. On the day we found out just what was wrong with his car ( the motor.. the absolutely worst thing that could be wrong) I got a call from the bakery offering me a job. I simply cried.  How could I even consider it, I can't afford a transition now and what if it was flakey and so forth.  I agreed to go down and talk.
The job seemed like a good thing, with much possibilities.  If anything it was my chance to see just how much I loved baking.  It is very unstructured and for the most part frustrating and miserable. Since taking it on, Erik had to go back to Indiana after we took out loans to get his car fixed. I find myself more broke and struggling ever in my life and less happier than I had ever thought.
I am not sure how much I regret the job change or if it will ever get better or if things will get worse.  I am going to try to post some of my work there, it is kind of seasonal but they want to make it year around.  I work at Apple Dumplin Restaurant and Bakery in Oak Glenn, hopefully I will get the pies down and maybe feel pride in my abilities instead of dread and misery. 
The first successful thing I have been able to incorporate is this Rustic Apple Tart, I am quite proud at how well it came out and how pretty it is.  I hope I can be happy a little at some point, it will be over a year before I get to see Erik again.  Lets hope things figure themselves out cause I am tired of trying to figure them out.

Cori's Blanket

I wanted to make my future step-daughter a blanket.  I had found this adorable skull snuggle flannel several months ago and after meeting her in June I felt it would be perfect for her! She is an adorable 12 year old, a bit of a tomboy and so much like her Daddy.  She likes the neon colors so I set out to use the skulls as the base print and just accent with neons and black! I have only made a couple of these so far and as much of a pain in the tush they are I am very proud when they are done.  The cutting was much easier than the last few times the laying out of the blanket was more of a pain just because well I detest that much bending haha..
I was in the process of changing jobs and had a few days off before having to say good bye to my fiance(long story that has much heart ache that I simply can't go into anymore lol) so I was determined to get this little project done.  On the upside after so many days I pulled off getting what will likely be my one and only Christmas present this year! At least I know she will have it and I think it is pretty damned cute!
I sure hope she likes it and will keep it for a long time, I am even thinking of taking it down and having her name embroidered on it. 

Shepherds Pie


I had been itching to try and make a shepherd’s pie.  After looking at many recipes I thought to myself  "I can do this"! It is fantastic, such a wonderful flavor!  The beef broth and tomato paste adds a great depth. I will definitely do a full veggie version but my Mom is not big on a variety of vegetables so we did just the corn and mushrooms. It tasted even better reheated.



Shepherds Pie
2 pounds Organic ground beef 80/20
2 8oz containers sliced mushrooms
1 16oz bag frozen corn
2 packets of dry Brown Gravy Mix
1 medium onion
Olive Oil
2 cans beef Broth
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
Shredded cheese for sprinkling
Your Favorite Mashed potatoes
Preheat oven to 375
Meat filling…
Cook ground beef, mushrooms and onions until cooked thoroughly, drain.
Place drained beef mixture back in skillet and add 1 can of beef broth. Cook until broth has almost cooked out.
Add tomato paste to meat
In a medium sauce pan, prepare the brown gravy according to package directions,
however, use broth for half the liquid called for( 1 cup water, 1 cup broth)
Pour gravy into meat mixture. And cook all together until you get a nice thick gravy. Stir in frozen corn and heat through until corn is thawed and warmed.
In a 2 quart baking dish, add meat and vegetable layer as bottom layer and then add the mashed potatoes. Top with Shredded cheese .Cook at 375 for about 20 minutes or until cheese in nice and bubbly
I took this moment to do an adorable jar version of shepherd’s pie, too cute to resist and fun to eat! 

  I love this creation, it is so very good! I will make it again and I will play with variations!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grilled Pork Loin..



I am quite proud of my ability to cook, bake and grill but I am far from awesome.  I do love pork loin but I had not yet mastered it yet.  I was flipping through my Weber’s Real Grilling cookbook and came across Lightly Cured Pork Loin and decided I should try it!
It was so amazing, seriously!! I made the most juicy and flavorful pork loin ever.  It was even moist cold the next day when I made a sandwich out of it (And I hate sandwiches.. well not hate but they are far from my love list!).  Mom absolutely loved it and said she had never had pork so wonderful and juicy.  I am extremely proud of how well it came out and can’t wait to grill another pork loin!
I even got to use my Cinnamon Vanilla Orange Marmalade that I canned last year!


Lightly Cured Pork Loin with Orange-Mustard Glaze:
Salt Cure:
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp prepared chili powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp ground black pepper

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 ½ pounds, trimmed of excess fat

Glaze:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp ground paper
 
1.       To make the salt cure: In a small bowl, mix the salt cure ingredients and rub it all over the roast.  Cover and refrigerate for 45 min to an hour.
2.       To make the Glaze, in a small sauce pan, stir the glaze ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until the marmalade melts.
3.       Rinse the roast under cold water, washing away all the salt and spices, and pat dry with paper towels.  Allow to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.  Brush the glaze all over the roast.  Grill over Direct Medium heat until evenly caramelized on all sides, barely pink in the center, and to an internal temperature of 155, 40-45 minutes, turning every 5 – 10 minutes.  Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Serve warm.  I sliced it nice and then and it was amazing!! 
 I am still amazed at how well it came out and I will definitely be making this and more grilled pork loin again!

Chili and Cornbread in a Jar!



Chili and Cornbread Jars!
I had been intrigued since seeing pies in a jar and all the other things people were coming up with to use canning jars for.  I love to can my own jam and marmalade so of course I have jars around and they need to be used!  During a round on Pinterest ( A horrible addiction that needs to be broken!) I saw chili and cornbread baked in the jar.  The next week I found myself making chili for my mom and my chance had arrived!!
I will definitely do these again and can’t wait to do more things in jars!
Chicken Corn Chili… The original recipe comes from Food Network magazine Oct. 2011.  I tweaked it though!

For the Chicken:
I used 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts this time and poached it in a large pot of water with salt, spicy pepper and a generous shaking of dried cilantro. If I had not been lazy and entire quartered onion would have gone in as well. Once the chicken is cooked through just dice it up and continue on with the recipe.
For the Chili:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano chili, minced (I used a whole can of chopped jalapenos undrained)
1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies (I did not drain my can)
A generous shake of cumin (recipe calls for 1 tsp but I just started shaking until I was happy lol)
3 cans of low-sodium chicken broth
4 15 oz cans white beans or pinto beans (2 undrained, 2 drained and rinsed)
2 cups frozen corn (recipe said thawed I just threw it in frozen and it was fine)
1 8 oz bar of pepper jack cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, chopped Serrano chili, green chilies and cumin and cook, stirring, until the cumin is toasted about 2 minutes.  Stir in the chicken broth, chicken and beans (including the undrained liquid).  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer.  Stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the cheese and corn.  Cook about 15 minutes until creamy and hot.

Fill jar size of choice halve full, I did pint jars because well that is a nice serving for me! I then just put my jar away until the next day; the chili was made for my Mom’s chili potluck at work.

The next day I came home and set the oven as directed on my cheap cornbread box, because well I was testing the idea and honestly was too tired from work to make my own cornbread, Jiffy it is! Once oven was set I put about 2 good heaping spoons of batter in my cold jar of chili and put it in the oven on a try.  I baked it for about 25min until golden and chili was bubbling in the jar. 

It was so cute!! The jar was awesome, from the fridge to the oven.   Remember they are canning jars and are meant to take the heat! I am up for doing so much with Jars now; I just kind of can’t help myself!

On a recent trip to the mountains I did banana pudding in a jar, my first use of the jars for something other than canning. So handy for picnics!!