Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Homemade Cinnamon buns

These are SOOOO good, and they make your house smell like a Cinnabon while they are baking. (Cinnabon is, I'm quite certain, a registered trademark. I am not claiming these are the Cinnabon recipe. But two different people told me they were better)

In the bread machine, run these ingredients on the dough setting (the second time I made these, I actually set the dough cycle to run right before going to bed, and didn't die because there was milk in the recipe. On the other hand, we keep our house in the mid 50's overnight during the winter nights, so take that into consideration if you try it in the African heat):

1 cup warm milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 packed (2 1/2 tsp) yeast

When finished, punch dough down and transfer to board:

Very lightly flour, and roll/stretch out, then brush w/ 1/4 cup butter, melted (or spread if you thought ahead enough to have some very spreadable):

Combine 1 cup brown sugar with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon. (GOOD cinnamon. Not been in your cabinet since Reagan was president cinnamon) If the smell isn't incredible when you open the container, don't bother making this recipe)

Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on all but the far edge (make sure to cover all the way to the edge of the other three sides):

Roll it up. To do this, start by turning the closest edge over once, then run your hands down to finish that "crease", stretching the dough to the sides a bit as you go, and keep rolling. Sprinkle a bit of water on the very edge to help the dough seal to dough to close the roll.

Cut into 12 pieces. I do this by cutting in half, then the half in half, then each quarter into three:

Place in a 13 x 9 pan, which you already greased. Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the buns with a cloth just dampened with warm water, and allow them to rise, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in another part of the kitchen, put 1/2 brick of cream cheese (4 oz) with half a stick of butter into the merry go round with 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and some vanilla (I actually used vanilla paste):

Give'm a whirl!

Bake the buns for about 20 minutes - until they are light brown on top:
Immediately after removing from the oven, spread with the frosting, so it gets ooey gooey melty on top:
By the way - did you know sticky buns, a regional favorite in Philadelphia are made almost the same way, but omitting the cream cheese frosting? You would just put a brown sugar (1 cup)/butter (half stick)/pecan (1 cup, chopped) or raisins mixture on the BOTTOM of the pan before allowing the buns to rise. They come out of the oven, you immediately flip them out of the pan so the gooey mixture on the bottom becomes the topping. If I was making sticky buns I would have used two 9" cake pans instead of one 13x9, for easier flipping.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Doctored Soups: Corn and Roasted Pepper Soup; Tortellini and Spinach Soup

I love a good soup, made from scratch. With a homemade long brewed stock. But during the winter, especially when our lives are very busy and/or we're fighting illness, I want to eat soup more often than I have bones to make homemade stock.

So instead, frequently I doctor prepared soups:

Trader Joes Corn & Pepper soup:

+ some type of already cooked protein (in this case, Langostino Tails, which I've been dying to try. Ok, but I wouldn't buy them again) Canned chicken, frozen shrimp, leftover poultry or sausage would all work.

Heat and serve!

Another soup - tortellini & spinach soup.
Chicken broth:

Add some flavors:

frozen tortellini:

+ some frozen spinach

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reconnecting with an old flame ...

Look what I found in my basement! He first made my heart light up at a large church yard sale (the type where everyone donates their old junk, and the missions committee gets the money from the sales). For five dollars, he was mine.

By the way - I have yet to be burned buying this type of thing used. So often people buy (or receive as gifts) fancy equipment, use it twice, and store it away .... and you can almost always look up the manuals on the web these days!

We make beautiful music together, don't you think?

Molasses Wheat Bread

3/4 cup water
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons fast rising yeast or quick-rising yeast

- I used medium crust setting, large size (choices on my machine are M, L, XL) and the quick (two hour) bread cycle

Freezer Berry Crisp

A quick dessert from ingredients on hand - and a VERY flexible recipe to boot. Any combination of berries (actually almost any soft fruit) will mix well. Just adjust the sugar added to the tartness of the fruit.

Berries, from your freezer. I used blueberries:

Cranberries, and some mixed berries - about 8 cups in total:

I added about a cup and a half of sugar (less if it hadn't included all those tart cranberries) and a splash of vanilla:

Meanwhile in another part of the kitchen:

Butter was melted:

Leftover, stale storebought cookies were tried and sentenced to execution by spatula:

Then mixed with about three cups of oats and the butter. (I didn't sweeten because of the cookies. If you're using all oats, add a bit of brown sugar)

Pour the berries into a 13 x 9 pan, followed by the topping. Bake at 375, 35-45 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Making Do Dinners

You know, I haven't been blogging much because the last few weeks (or perhaps even the last couple of months) have been more about eating for survival and frugality (i.e. not getting take-out again), then anything particularly interesting. Life has been busy, we've been sick off and on, we are dealing with insecurity in employment, and because of that wondering if we'll have to move .... and yet it didn't dawn on me until this morning that I am probably not the only one who needs "Make Do Dinner" ... so without any claims to originality, chefosity, or gourmet taste, here's a few easy meal ideas.
  • Stuffed Shells & Turkey Meatballs, from the freezer: I frequently stock frozen stuffed shell, bought frozen at the grocery store, as well as frozen meatballs. Those, with a jar of tomato sauce (or homemade from your freezer, if you happen to be challenging Martha for her crown), layer them in a 13 x 9 pan, and bake for an hour at 400 ... easy dinner.
  • Breakfast foods: eggs and toast (my favorite is frying a piece of bread, with a whole ripped out, then cooking the egg in the middle .... yum); pancakes w/ yogurt and fruit; corned beef hash from a can with a poached egg ...
  • Fried rice, especially if you have leftover chinese take-out rice and various leftovers to use up.
  • doctored soups - more on that soon.