Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

This is sort of a chain reaction recipe.  I found it on Pinterest on the blog who copied the recipe from Pioneer Woman.  I have to say these really are Uh-May-Zing.  I didn't do them overnight I baked them the same day I made them.  I do, however, plan to use that little trick in the future.  I also will at some point freeze the cinnamon rolls to use at a later date and if I have any negative feedback with either of these methods, I will note them in an appendage to this post.  I didn't use the coffee flavored glaze that PW and S&S use on their rolls, instead I used a cream cheese frosting recipe I found on Epicurius, it was really, really perfect.  In both the PW and the S&S recipes it calls for 1 c. white sugar, I opted for 1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup brown sugar because I like the caramely flavor the brown sugar provides..  Several reviewers on Sugar and Spice said that their dough was very wet; mine was not.  It was a bit on the stiff side, but in the end it didn't matter.  The rolls turned out perfectly: gooey where they need to be, crusty where they need to be, and delicious where they need to me: in my mouth.  I ate 4 in as many days and do not at all regret my decision.  I honestly don't think I will ever use another cinnamon roll recipe.  I did use a little trick I kind of made up for the rising time: I preheated my oven to warm (in my oven that is 175) and put my pizza stone in it while it preheated.  After it was done, I took the pizza stone out of the oven, put it in the microwave and put the bowl with the dough that needed to rise on top of the pizza stone, closed the microwave door, and let the warmth do it's work: like a charm, the dough rose just the right amount. 

2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
4 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 Tbsp. salt

1 c. melted butter, plus more as needed
1/8 c. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar  

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Mix milk, vegetable oil, and 1/2 c. white sugar in a pan.  Scald the milk (heat until just before the boiling point).  Remove from the heat and let cool 45 minutes to 1 hour.
2.  When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in the yeast.  Let this sit for a minute then add 4 c. of the flour.  Stir mixture together.  Cover and let rise for at least 1 hour.
3.  Next, add 1/2 c. flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir mixture together.  From here, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it, overnight or even a day or tow, if necessary.  Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to rise out of the pan, just punch it down.  Or continue to make the rolls:
4.  Sprinkle work surface generously with flour and roll the dough into a thin rectangle shape, about 1/4" thick.  Brush melted butter on top, then sprinkle sugar over the butter, and finish with a generous sprinkling for cinnamon.
5.  Starting with the wide end, roll the dough tightly towards you in a neat line.  Next, pinch the seam to the roll to seal it.  Spread 1 Tbsp. melted butter in each pan/dish (I got enough rolls to fill one 9" round cake pan and one 6" round cake pan, the original recipe says it will make 3-4 pans, I'm not sure how that would happen, but that's what they say) .  With a sharp knife (or with dental floss) begin cutting the dough into 1 inch slices.  Lay them in your pans.  Let rise for 20-30 minutes.  Bake at 375 for 13-17 minutes, or until golden brown.
6.  While rolls are baking: with your electric hand mixer, whisk together all of the frosting ingredients until smooth.  Slather over the top of the rolls after they have cooled for about 10 minutes.

IF MAKING AHEAD FOR LATER USE:  Instead of putting directly into the oven, put the assembled rolls into the fridge and let them rise for their 2nd rising (the step right before you bake them) in the refrigerator overnight.  Then in the morning let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then bake them as directed.  If you plan to freeze the rolls, place the pan of prepared rolls in the freezer.  On the day you plan to bake them.  Take them out to defrost and rise about 3 or 4 hours before you want to devour eat them.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lemon Bar Cookie Cups

These were very yummy.  Light and refreshing and perfect for our dessert buffet during the girl's weekend I hosted a few weeks ago.  Everyone gave them rave reviews.  Will probably use them on my Christmas goodie plate this year rather than traditional Lemon Bars, I made them a few weeks ahead of time, froze them and then pulled them out of the freezer the day before we ate them, they defrosted perfectly.  The addition of the whole wheat flour in the dough gives it a nice nutty flavor and a pleasing texture.  I used my own recipe for the lemon curd instead of the one that is called for in the original recipe; here is the link for website with the original Lemon Bar Cookie Cups recipe.

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. confectioners sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
3/4 c. lemon curd, recipe here
powdered sugar, optional

1.  In a small bowl combine the flours, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar; set aside.
2.  In a separate, larger, bowl, cream together the butter and 1/2 c. confectioners sugar until fluffy.  Add the egg, oil and extracts until combined.  Stir in the flour mixture.
3.  Pinch the dough into balls, using a tablespoon to measure them out and get an even size.  Place in mini-muffin tins.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make in indentation in the dough, spoon 1 tsp. of curd into each indentation.  Return to oven and bake for an additional 4 minutes or until the crusts are light brown and fairly firm.  Cool for a few minutes in the pan and then CAREFULLY transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Cheesy Southwest Chicken and Pasta Casserole

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it looked so good I just had to make it!  I was not at all disappointed.  Even my pickier eater said it was yummy and asked for a second helping.  It's almost like a southwest macaroni and cheese with chicken.  Will make again and again.
I used only 1 jalapeno and remove both the seeds and the ribs so that my non-heat-eaters wouldn't burn their mouths.  I didn't have any fresh corn so I used a bag of frozen which I defrosted and it turned out great.  I had chopped all of the peppers a few weeks before I made this and had put them in the freezer so they gave off quite a bit of water so I used the full 1/3 c. flour, it thickened perfectly.  I used one 14.5 oz. can of chicken broth and about 1/4 c. of water for the liquid.  I didn't have a casserole dish that I thought this would fit in to so I put it in a 9X13" baking dish, it was the perfect size, filled to the very top.  This recipe makes WAY more than 4 servings.  We've eaten it twice this week and still have some leftovers.  
Here is the link to the website where I found this recipe.  She has several recipes that look super tasty!  Love seeing other peoples food - it makes me happy...

1/2 lbs. whole grain pasta such as rotini
4 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. diced onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 ears corn, kernels removed
1/4 to 1/3 c. flour (depending on how much liquid the veggies give off)
2 c. chicken stock or milk
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 c. heavy cream
1 c. grated cheddar cheese
1/2 c. grated mozzarella cheese
2 c. chopped rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 c. crushed tortilla chips

1.  Boil pasta in a large pot of water, cooking for half of the total time directed on the package.  Drain and set aside.
2.  In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter and saute onion, garlic, peppers, jalapenos, and corn until tender, about 7 minutes.   Sprinkle the flour over the veggies; stir.  Cook for about 2 minutes then add the chicken stock or milk.  Increase the heat to thicken the sauce, then sprinkle in the cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, cheese, cream, chicken and cooked pasta.  Stir to combine and melt cheeses.
3.  Pour into a large casserole dish that you have sprayed with cooking spray.  Top with crushed tortilla chips.  Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Yield: 4 servings

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Yet again: chocolate and peanut butter are making an appearance together on my blog.  I can't help it: I love them with every fiber of my being.  Separately they are amazing, yet together, they are magic. They speak to my heart, sweet messages of love.  sigh...
I found this recipe on pinterest, had the ingredients and the desire so I made them.  I kind of think that next time I might make them in a 9X9" pan rather than the 9X13; I felt like the cookie layer was too sparse on the top.  I ate them anyway, don't misunderstand me.  I just feel that might improve the perfection.

1 (18.25 oz) package plain yellow cake mix
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 (12 oz) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 325.
2.  Combine the cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter and eggs in a large bowl using a mixer or spoon.  Press this into a 9X13" pan, reserving 1 1/2 c. of the mixture to crumble on top.
3.  In a small pot, melt the chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and 2 Tbsp. butter.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
4.  Spread chocolate mixture over the base and then crumble the 1 1/2 cups reserved cake mixture evenly on top.
5.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool completely before cutting into bars.


My husband and I visited Paris 5 years ago and I still love to remember the delicious pastry they have there.  The quality is so much higher than anything you can find here in the US.  I'm not sure if it's the ingredients, the freshness of the product, the water (as Parisiennes like to claim) or a combination of or none of the above, it doesn't matter, their baked goods are superior.  One of my cooking bucket-list items was to make croissants that closely match (as much as possible) the treats I had in Europe; while these are not the exact twin of my culinary experience in Europe, they are VERY, VERY good.  Time consuming, but if you are determined enough to see it through, they are worth every second of effort.

1/3 c. warm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/3 c. warm milk
1 lbs. (about 3 1/2 cups) all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 1/2 sticks (14 oz.) chilled unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

1.  In a liquid measuring cup, combine water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar.  Stir to combine.  Let stand 5 minutes to allow yeast to proof.  In a second measuring cup, dissolve the remaining 2 tsp. sugar, salt and milk.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk the flour.  Add the yeast mixture, milk mixture and oil.  Blend everything together by cutting and pressing with a rubber spatula, being sure all the flour is incorporated.  The dough with be very wet.
3.  Turn dough out onto a well floured work surface.  Let stand for 3 minutes to allow the dough to absorb some of the liquid.  Start kneading by lifting near the edges, with a bench scraper, and flipping it over onto the other side. Rapidly repeat the movement from one side to the other, and end over end, until the dough feels smooth and begins to draw back into shape when pushed out, 8 to 10 times.  Do not over-knead.
4.  Transfer dough to a clean bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down the dough, and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Using lightly floured hands, pat and push the dough out into a rectangle about 12X10 inches.  Fold the dough in three, like a business letter.  Place on a lightly floured baking sheet or plate; cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.  This second rise can be done in the refrigerator, overnight.
5.  Punch down dough.  Cover the dough again with plastic wrap, and transfer to refrigerator for 20 minutes; this will allow the gluten to relax, and make rolling out the dough easier.
6.  Place butter on a lightly floured work surface and beat with a rolling pin to soften.  Then smear it out with the heel of your hand until it is of spreading consistency, but still cold; it must not become soft and oily, refrigerate if necessary.
7.  Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, roll it out to a 18X10 inch rectangle.  Spread butter as evenly as possible over the upper two-thirds of the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border.  Fold the bottom (unbuttered) third of the dough up to the middle.  Fold the top third down to cover it.
8.  Lightly flour the top of the dough, and work surface.  Turn the dough so the edge of the top flap is to your right.  Roll dough into a rectangle, about 18X8 inches.  Roll rapidly, starting an inch from the near end, and going to within an inch of the far end.  Fold again in three, as above.  Wrap in plastic wrap, and transfer to the refrigerator for 1 hour.
9.  Remove dough from refrigerator.  Sprinkle lightly with flour, and deflate the dough by tapping lightly with rolling pin.  Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 8 minutes to relax gluten, if necessary.  Repeat rolling and folding process twice more, as above.  If the butter has hardened and congealed into flakes, beat the dough with light firm taps going from one side to the other until butter has softened.  It must be able to extend the length and width of the rectangle inside the dough as you roll it out until it has softened.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.  If refrigerating overnight, cover with a board and a 5 lbs. weight.  Resting overnight will facilitate shaping.
10.  When shaping the croissant, keep the dough that you are not working with refrigerated.  Place chilled dough on a lightly floured work surface.  Deflate dough.  Roll the dough out to a 25X12 inch rectangle.  (If at any time the dough becomes too elastic to work with, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and let rest 10 minutes to relax gluten.)  Cut in half lengthwise.  Working with one piece of dough at a time, using a pastry wheel or a croissant cutter, cut into triangles with a 5 inch base.
11.  Roll the triangles out to enlarge slightly.  Roll towards the tip, creating tension by using your other hand to stretch the top of the triangle away from you.  The dough should overlap 3 times with the tip sticking out from underneath.
12.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving 2 inches between croissants.  Curve the ends of the croissant inward, forming a crescent shape.  Repeat with second piece of dough.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place until very spongy and doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
13.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and heavy cream, and lightly brush over the tops of croissants.  Open the oven door, spritz the oven heavily with water from a spray bottle, and quickly close the door.  Place croissants in oven, and spray bottom of the oven with water once more.  Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  After 10 minutes, rotate pan to ensure even baking.  Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue to bake until cooked through, about 5 minutes more.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Barbecued Baby Back Ribs

This recipe was given to me by my good friend Lindsay.  
I really love ribs.  These are flavorful, tender, fall off the bone, saucy, awesomeness.  They are easy to make in that the cooking is done in the slow cooker then the ribs are place under the broiler to get the sauce nice and sticky-toasty the way ribs on the grill would be.  
So Yummy!

2 Tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. black pepper (I used less since my older son is a heat-wimp)
2 tsp. garlic powder

1 medium red onion
1/2 c. carbonated cola
2 slabs pork baby back ribs (about 4 lbs. total), rinsed, patter dry and trimmed
1 c. purchased barbecue sauce

1.  Combine the brown sugar, salt, chili powder, paprika, pepper and garlic powder for the rub in a small bowl.  Thoroughly coat ribs with the rub, using all of the mixture.
2.  Add onion and cola to a 4-6 quart slow cooker.  Place ribs on top, cutting to fit if necessary.  Cover; cook until ribs are tender, on high heat setting for 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours or on low-heat setting for 6-7 hours.
3.  Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 6-8 inches from the heating element.  Transfer ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet; brush ribs with sauce.  Broil ribs until sauce caramelizes, about 5 minutes.

Cheesy Ravioli Casserole

This is a very easy ravioli dish that makes you feel like you're eating lasagna but without all of the steps of creating one.  You make it in the slow cooker which makes meal time so much less hectic, at least in my house.  It can also be done in the oven: low temperature, around 300 for about an hour, be sure the pan is covered.  
It makes ALOT of food, we always have plenty leftover for meals later in the week. You could halve it if you really need to, I just don't know how one would need to adjust the cook time.  It is meatless so if you have someone who insists on meat at every meal you could use beef filled ravioli or you could cook and crumble some Italian sausage into the sauce.
It's a hit with my family!

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 jar (26 oz) three cheese flavored pasta sauce
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
2 c. water
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 pkg. (25 oz. each) frozen cheese filled ravioli
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese (8 oz)
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

1.  Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium heat.  Cook onion and garlic in oil about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. Stir in pasta sauce, tomato sauce, water and Italian seasoning.
2.  Place 1 c. f the sauce in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.  Add 1 pkg. frozen ravioli; top with 1 c. of the cheese, layer with remaining pkg. of ravioli; top with remaining cheese; pour the remainder of the sauce mixture over the top.
3.  Cover and cook on low heat setting 4-5 hours. Sprinkle with parsely.

Yield: 12 servings