Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday Morning Cinnamon Rolls

When Darren and I were still dating, I sometimes liked to surprise him at the bookstore where he worked with a tray of hot, homemade cinnamon rolls to share with his co-workers on cold Sunday mornings. It made me happy to serve him this way, but the considerable amount of time spent in the kitchen on those crisp fall and winter days were quite enjoyable for me, too, warm and comforting, in a cozy, domestic sort of way. I realized a few weeks ago that it's been years now since I last made cinnamon rolls for him, and never, in fact, have my kids experienced the pleasure of pulling apart the sticky, fresh baked treats, warm from the oven and served by Mom. And so, when I came upon a recipe for cinnamon rolls on the back of a Jiffy baking mix box two weekends ago, I thought I'd give them a try. Not quite the same as the confections of the past, but still, we all agreed, rather tasty. Never satisfied to settle for less than the best, however, I decided this past Saturday night that I was going to redouble my efforts and really go all out for Sunday morning's breakfast. Cinnamon rolls were, again, on the menu, but this time, they'd be the real deal. Out came the cookbooks. Through the cupboards I rummaged. And wouldn't you know, I did, in fact, have everything I needed to try the recipe I loved most! (Thank goodness I finally found that last pesky package of yeast, which I just knew had to be hiding in there somewhere!)

Having reviewed the general instructions, I knew that this would not be a quick, mix together and stick in the oven affair. I was quite all right with that, though, because it was really the effort of "doing" that I actually desired most. I rose at six before the rest of my family was stirring to start the dough, which I knew would have to rise for at least an hour and a half. During that time, in the still, dark quiet, I unloaded the dishwasher and read in the silent living room, joined eventually by Dylan, who curled up beside me on the couch with a book of his own. As the rest of our family joined us one by sleepy one, there was much excitement and happy anticipation as the heady aroma of the rising dough filled the kitchen. When the time finally came to roll it out, all three of my kids were up at the counter, helping and tasting with wide smiles and twinkling eyes. I have to admit that we deviated just a bit from the printed recipe; in place of raisins, we opted instead to fill our rolls with chopped pecans and chocolate chips, a decision that was met with an overwhelmingly positive response from all of us! I'm convinced that these will become a regular Sunday breakfast in our home over the coming months, and I look forward to many happy, toasty mornings spent in my kitchen, serving my family with love.

Cinnamon Buns

1 recipe Sweet Yeast Dough (see recipe below)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup raisins (we used about a 1/4 cup each of chocolate chips and pecans
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare Sweet Yeast Dough; let rise as directed.

Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; set aside. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Cut dough in half. Roll one half of dough into 12x8 inch rectangle. Brush rectangle with half of melted butter, sprinkle with half of sugar mixture and half of raisins. Starting with 1 (12 inch) side, roll up jelly-roll style. Repeat with remaining dough.

Cut each roll into 12 (1-inch) slices. Place slices 1/2 inch apart in prepared pans. (Rolls will spread as they rise.) Cover with towel; let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 20-25 minutes or until rolls are golden brown. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Combine powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in small bowl until smooth. Spread mixture over rolls. Serve warm.

Sweet Yeast Dough

4 to 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Set aside.

Combine milk and butter in 1-quart saucepan. Heat over low heat until mixture is 120 to 130 degrees. Gradually beat milk mixture into flour mixture with electric mixer at low speed. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and 1 cup flour. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour, about 2 cups, to make soft dough.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface; flatten slightly. Knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding remaining 1/4 cup flour to prevent sticking if necessary. Shape dough into a ball place in large greased bowl. Turn to coat with grease. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Punch down dough, knead on lightly floured surface 1 minute. Cover with towel; let rest 10 minutes.

(Recipes from In the Kitchen with America's Favorite Brand Name Recipes.)


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Meat Filling for those Rolls

I had promised to post our favorite meat filling for these, and so here it is!

Hot Beef and Cheddar Sandwiches

1 Recipe French Rolls (7 individual rolls)
1 lb ground beef
1 diced green pepper
1 diced onion
1 10 3/4 oz can cheddar cheese soup
1/4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
7 slices American cheese (or your favorite)

Cut off top of rolls and hollow out some of breading (Save 1/2 c. of bread). Cook beef, onion, and pepper on medium heat until brown. Drain. Mix in soup, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 cup breading. Spoon into buns and top with slice of cheese. Replace bun tops. Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Great with some oven potato fries!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Bean's Banana Bread

Well, you really must try it. I take absolutely no credit, whatsoever. Today we finally got around to making Danielle Bean's recipe for banana bread and it was delicious! I really like the fact that it has no nuts! Go on over to Danielle's place and try the bread. You'll be pleased.


Welcome to the Kitchen

Just wanted everyone to send a little welcome to our newest cook to join the kitchen. Melissa from Bountiful Blessings has joined us for some cooking fun. I love everything she creates. She has a lot of creative genius. And her recent peach pie was enough to make us all salivate. I can't wait to see what you offer to our tasty little food blog.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Easy Blueberry Cobbler

With all the recent talk of blueberry recipes (see Blueberry Bash at The Virtual Kitchen and Celeste's yummy 'The Best' Blueberry Muffins recipe below), I decided to post a recipe for a simple blueberry cobbler. This is a recipe I got from my grandmother a long time ago. It's very basic and easy to make - which is sometimes the best kind of recipe when you have toddlers in the house!

Blueberry Cobbler

1 stick oleo
2 cups self-rising flour
2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
3 cups blueberries

Melt oleo in bottom of pan. Layer blueberries over oleo. Mix batter and pour over blueberries. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Simple, but delicious!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Well, just so our readers will not think we are too terribly proud over here, I thought I would offer a dose of reality.

Sick Mama Tuesday Night Dinner Menu

Breaded Flounder, from a frozen bag
Crispy French Fries, from a frozen bag
Green Romaine Salad, from a cold bag
Corn, from a can

Despite the number of containers from whence this meal came, it was truly tasty, not too bad for you and quite pleasing to the eye.

Gotta try the breaded Flounder from Sam's.


And here they are!

The real things! 'The Best' Blueberry Muffins. We made them tiday using some really delicious blueberries. We used an extra cup (a little secret from my mom).


Monday, July 23, 2007

A Hint on Making Bread with Small Children

I have heard from a few people "How do you make homemade bread with small children. It takes a lot of time."

Well, not actually. The hardest part of bread baking is planning ahead. I keep basic ingredients on hand - flour, sugar, big jar of yeast. The most work is the mixing that needs to be done several hours ahead. This coincides perfectly with the really little ones' naptimes. I can mix (and knead if necessary) in the relative peace of only older helpers. And those older helpers can be quite good at the tedious kneading! After that, it really just needs to be put into the oven.! You can do it!


Homemade French Bread (or Sandwich Rolls)

This is a versatile little recipe which is easy to make. It is no knead. It can be either a loaf of French bread, served hot alongside a meal, or made into sandwich rolls, stuffed with a fantastic filling (maybe tomorrow, I will share our favorite one!). So without further ado...

French Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon melted shortening
4 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water. Add sugar, salt, shortening, and remaining water. Add flour and stir until smooth.Cover and let rise 1 hour, or until doubled. Roll out onto floured surface, divide into halves and rest 10 minutes. Roll each half into a 10 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Roll up from a long side and pinch to seal. Place seam side down on baking sheet, cover, and let rise 45 minutes. Bake at 400 for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Makes 2 loaves.

If you want sandwich rolls: Complete above through first rising of an hour. Then divide dough into 7 individual 4-inch circles (will be about 2 inches tall). Let rise for 45 minutes and then bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Will supply a great beef and cheddar filling for these later! Enjoy!


As we begin this new adventure...

I just want to thank Celeste for asking me to join her and Michele in this fun recipe sharing endeavour. I am honored that she has that much faith in my cooking and my choice of recipes! I look forward to posting my favorite mealtime selections, which will more than likely come in the form of desserts, as those are my favorites. And take it or leave it, I will offer any cooking advice I may have acquired over the years in the hope that it may benefit someone else. So until I find that perfect first recipe to post (which I will make happen very soon) - happy cooking, everyone!


'The Best' Blueberry Muffins

I know everyone has their favorite recipe for blueberry muffins, but these are "the best". Not only do I think so, but the title actually says it!

My mom has been making these blueberry muffins for as long as I can remember. She clipped this recipe from the Houston Chronicle's weekly Food section years and years ago! It has been a staple ever since. I hope you enjoy it as much as I always have and still do! Here is the recipe as it appears in the newspaper clipping.

'The Best' Blueberry Muffins

From Muffins Elizabeth Alston. The secret is an extra half cup of blueberries which are mashed and added to the batter.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar or less depending on tartness of blueberries
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups blueberries (mash 1/2 cup with a fork)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg*

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 to 18 regular muffin cups including the area between each cup, or use foil or paper baking cups.

In a medium bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt.

Mix mashed berries into batter.

Fold in half the flour with a spatula, then half the milk. Add remaining flour and milk. Fold in remaining blueberries.

Scoop batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let muffins cool at least 30 minutes in the pan before removing so they won't crumble.

These produce a soft, more cake-like muffin than some recipes. Be sure to adjust amount of sugar to tartness of berries and let cool in pan as directed after baking.

* My mom and I have always used a mixture of cinnamon and sugar instead. It is purely a matter of taste.


The Newest Food Blog on the Block

I think so many of us enjoy blogs for a host of different reasons. One of the reasons, I am sure you would agree, is all the yummy recipes you can collect and try! I am amazed at the number of bloggers out there who have "food blogs." Where have I been? Recently, I have been inspired most especially by the sweet friends in The Virtual Kitchen. They tantalize us with their delicious fare and host a lot of fun with their festivals. While I do not want to copy their blog in any way, I did think it would be lots of fun to share a new "food blog" with a few friends.

So Michele, Robin and I have teamed up to offer recipes for some of the foods that we love to prepare for our families and friends. We hope you enjoy what we have to offer - lots of love from our kitchens to yours!