Monday, January 24, 2011

The Best Cinnamon Rolls




Sorry kids---my mom owns this category too!

In all honesty, there is something about breads that my mom just KILLS it.  These are the sweet rolls that I grew to LOVE. (And I'm not really a bakery/confection person.)  In the past several years, I have tried many other recipes (including recipes that call for "pudding" in the dough), and they don't hold a candle to this recipe.  So, I decided: Why even try? 

I made these late Saturday night, for a special Sunday morning treat for the kiddos.  (I made them, let them rise, and then put them in the fridge and baked them in the morning.)

Cinnamon Rolls/Sweet Rolls
  • 2 c. scalded milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 T. salt
  • 2 T. yeast
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 c. + flour (more like 6+ for me)
Filling:
  • melted butter, cinnamon, brown sugar
  1. Add the 2 Tablespoons of yeast to the warm water; let rise.
  2. In a saucepan, scald the milk.  In the bowl of your mixer, add the butter, sugar and salt.  Pour the warm milk over the top.  Set aside and let cool to lukewarm.  (You don't want to use it when it is still hot, or you will kill your yeast.)
  3. Beat 3 eggs, and add to the cooled milk mixture.  Mix in the yeast.  Start adding the flour; addimg more if needed, keeping the dough soft.  (* My moms original recipe says 4 c.+ flour, but I always need at least 6, sometimes 6 1/2.)
  4. Knead well.  (I use my mixer, with my dough hook, because I am a cheat!)
  5. Cover the bowl, and let rise for 1 hour. 
  6. Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/2" thick. 
  7. Spread the top with melted butter, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. 
  8. Roll the dough up (starting with the long side), into cinnamon roll shape.  Using your bench knife (one of the best inventions ever, if you don't have one, get one!), or dental floss, cut cinnamon rolls about 1/2 inch to 1 inch thick.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  (I used a HUGE sheet pan that held about 20 cinnamon rolls.) 
  9. Cover with a towel and let rise for about an hour or until double.
  10. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Frost when they are just out of the oven, so the frosting will melt into the cracks.
(I know some people put cream cheese frosting on cinnamon rolls, but that's so not the right way to do it.  Do it like my mom does, it's better.)

***I use this same recipe for orange rolls.  Instead of spreading with cinnamon and brown sugar, spread with white sugar and orange zest.  In the frosting, replace the MILK with ORANGE JUICE.  Delicious!!
Basic Frosting Recipe
  • 1/4 c. softened butter
  • powdered sugar (2 c. plus)
  • splash of vanilla
  • milk
  1. Blend the butter and powdered sugar together, then add liquids, a little at a time, until you have reached the right consistency.  I make this thinner than a normal frosting, but not liquidy. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Soft Pretzels


Today I decided to tackle soft pretzels once again.  My boys LOVE big pretzels, but I have yet to find a good recipe. 

These are definitely a winner.  They aren't boiled, only baked, so they are a little different texture than a boiled & baked pretzel, but delicious nonetheless!


Soft Pretzels


  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar (you could also use brown sugar)
  • 2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
Topping:
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 2 T. baking soda
  • coarse salt (kosher salt or pretzel salt)
  • 3-4 T. melted butter
  1. Place all of the dough ingredients into a mixing bowl.  (No need to bloom your yeast, just add it all in!)  Mix until all ingredients are combined.  Knead the dough (using a dough hook) for about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes you should have a nice smooth and soft dough. 
  2. Spray a large gallon size ziploc bag with cooking spray and put dough in bag.  Let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Spray pans with non-stick spray. 
  4. Spray your countertop with a bit of non-stick spray, and transfer dough to counter.  Using a bench knife (or whatever), divide the dough in half and in half again until you have 8 equal pieces.  Let the dough rest while you prepare the topping.
  5. Boil the water, remove from heat, and add in the baking soda. Mix together, making sure the baking soda is dissolved.  Pour into a small shallow dish. 
  6. Using your hands, roll each dough into a long rope (about 2 feet long), then twist into shape.  (I did traditional pretzel shape, but you can do what you like!)  Dip the pretzel into the soda water and then place on the pan.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.  Let sit on pans, uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Bake the pretzels for 7-9 minutes (mine were fairly dark after only 7 minutes, so you might need to alter depending on how fast your oven cooks).  I had 4 pretzels per pan, and cooked them one pan at a time.  Next time I'll probably use my huge sheet tray that would fit all of them at once.
  8. Remove the pretzels from the oven and immediately brush them with melted butter.  Use all of the butter.  Remove to a wire rack.
Best eaten warm out of the oven.  You can also reheat them before eating.

*I plan to make these for valentines day, shaping them like hearts (maybe tinting them red) and shaking them in cinnamon & sugar after the butter. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No waste lunch!

I absolutely LOVE to pack lunches for my kids.  For some odd reason, I enjoy thinking of new things to pack for them, and fun little additions to their lunches.  There are a million and one kid lunch blogs out there: none of which I have time to follow.  I know that "bento" is a big craze in kid lunches.  I think it's adorable, but it is a little unrealistic for me to achieve.

I found these awesome lunch containers at the end of summer, and I am SO glad that I bought them.  I think I'll need to get at least 3 more, especially since I'll be packing 2 lunches next school year!  [They are also great for on the go---I fill them with snacks, fruit, etc. for my toddler when we are at soccer games, baseball games, etc.]

It's pretty awesome to have a virtually waste free lunch!  No ziploc bags at all!  Of course, if I do need a ziploc bag, I have my own waste-free stash.

[*Please note, I purchased these by myself, I love them, therefore I am sharing them with you!]





They unfold, one side is open with a divider in the middle.  This is perfect! You can fit fruit, yogurt, cheese, fruit kabobs on this side.    The left side has no divider, but does have a little flap that covers this section.  This is so that when you close it, everything stays divided from eachother.

Here it is with the flap open.  This side is perfect to fit sandwhiches, bagels, muffins, wraps, etc. 

Here it is all closed up.  It has a little snap that secures it into place.  It's strong enough to stay closed, but easy enough for kids to open and close by themselves.

They fit perfectly inside a lunchbox (ours is from Costco, don't know the brand).  I just throw in an ice pack, the box, and a drink! 

These are called "go anywhere lunch containers".  There are many different kinds out there, but by far, this has been our favorite.  I bought mine at the containerstore.com, but I can't find them on their site anymore.  Google tells me that avon.com (random, right?) has them available here--for a great price!

[I will say: They do say they are dishwasher safe.  However, I wash mine by hand, just to avoid any warping of the container, so they'll close nicely.]

Anyone else have any great waste free lunch products they love??

Friday, January 14, 2011

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sorry for the craptastic photo.  It's dark by dinner time, and dark + crappy indoor lighting = bad picture!

I debated about even posting this.  Do people need a recipe for these?  Mashed potatoes for me are kind of a "wing it" thing.

But...I figured I'd share my method anyway.  For those of you who are curious.

Also, very sorry about my month long absence.  It was the holidays after all.  Sadly, I had hoped to put up a bunch of awesome recipes, but I have just been so crazy busy.  And, I have 3 kids.  And 1 husband.  And a crapload of laundry.  And that's only part of it.

PLUS, I've been working hard on Zoe's new quilt.  It's going to be amazing.  I've also been reading a ton.  And baking.  So who has time for the 'net?

I made these the other night to serve with Camden's dinner.  [I let each of my kids pick a meal to add to the bi-weekly dinner.  It's fun to see what the pick each week.]  Camden's pick was "chicken on the bone" (aka: Balsamic Glazed Drumsticks) and garlic broccoli. 

I think my household might shrivel up and die if we had to live a life without garlic. 

Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes
This amount serves about 4 people. 

  • 4-5 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • water or chicken broth (you could also use chicken bouillon)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 T- 2 T. olive oil
  • fresh rosemary (you can also substitute dried rosemary, I have on many occasions)
  • milk
  • butter
  • sour cream
  • salt & pepper
  1. Boil the potatoes in the water/chicken broth until fork tender. (About 15 minutes.)
  2. Once the potatoes are done, drain the water, and pour the potatoes in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In the same pan you boiled the potatoes in, add the olive oil, minced garlic, and the rosemary.  Return to heat, and saute until you can smell the garlic.  Be careful NOT to burn the garlic!! 
  4. Add the potatoes back into the pan, and toss to coat all of the potatoes.
  5. Transfer the potatoes (and pour any remaining olive oil) into a bowl, and begin to mash with a potato masher.  (You can also use an electric mixer if you prefer.)
  6. Add in a few tablespoons of butter (you won't need much since you already added olive oil)---add more or less if you prefer. 
  7. Start with about 2 T. of milk and 2 T. of sour cream, mash in.  If you need more milk/sour cream add it in until you have reached your desired consistancy.  (I don't really use measurements here, I just eyeball it, as I am sure everyone does!)
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*The sour cream is optional.  You can omit it and just use milk or cream.