Friday, May 18, 2012

Cinnamon Buns & Cream Cheese Frosting

This is a recipe that is modified from Taste of Home's annual best recipe cookbook (that Hannah gave me at my wedding shower - and remains one of my favorite cookbooks). If you all have never read a TOH cookbook or magazine, you are missing out.  It is probably the greatest cooking magazine because all the recipes are sent in from the readers and they are all tested out.  Sure, there are some duds in the mix, but for the most part, I usually like the majority of the recipes.

cinnamon buns (makes a lot - I usually half or quarter this recipe - what do I mean by a lot? It can fill 4ish 13x9 pans, if you make the rolls big: 12 x 4 = 48, if you make them smaller, like me: 24 x 4 = 96)

11 to 12 c flour
3/4 c sugar
7 tsp yeast
3 tsp salt
3-1/2 c warm (105 - 115) water
1 cup oil or applesauce
3 eggs

Combine 8 cups of flour and the next 3 ingredients. Mix a few times in your mixer. Add the warm water while still mixing.  Most of the time I add the applesauce to the water before I add it because I heat the water too much and the applesauce will cool it down a bit. Lastly, add the egg. Mix well with paddle.  Add another 2 - 4 cups of flour.  Tend towards the side of caution with yeast dough, leave it a bit wet if you have any doubts. Cover with wet towel; let rise 1 hour (funny comment here: I had always let this rise for 45 minutes to an hour. Well, I just read the directions and it only tells you to let it rest for 15 min).

Punch the dough down.  Divide into 4 sections (or 1 or 2 if you are halfing or quartering this). Let rest a few minutes. Roll each section out (one at a time).  I have this big cookie sheet with edges that I like to use (it is about 24 x 16).  It contains the flour so that I don't have the scrap and bunch of flour off my counter after I am finished.

1/2 c. melted butter
1 c sugar
2 T cinnamon
optional: 1 c pecans
optional: 1 c raisins

Spread 2T of melted butter on each of the rolled out sections. Mix 1/4 c sugar and 1.5 tsp cinnamon together.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the melted butter.  Sprinkle with raisins and nuts, if desired. 

Roll the dough up (make the roll shorter if you want fewer, but bigger rolls, roll it up the long side if you want more, smaller rolls). Slice the rolls. I think I make them about an inch thick... maybe more... maybe less depending on how I am feeling.  They all taste good.  You just have to watch how long you cook them depending on how you cut them.  Place in a pan with edges. Cover with damp towel.  Let rise 15 - 30 minutes or so.  Or you can place them in the frig and let them rise overnight... If you are planning on doing this I suggest decreasing the yeast by at least half.

Place in preheated oven at 425 for 10 - 18 minutes (depending on the size).  Cool slightly.  Frost.

I eat this icing by the spoonful with a nice tall glass of milk.  This is how much I make for a half batch.  I would double this recipe if you are going to make the whole batch.  I have never made the whole batch.
1 package cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
3 - 3-1/2 c powdered sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla
2 - 5 T cream, milk, half and half, water...etc.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Favorite dip from my favorite 1st grade Sunday School teacher

This is a recipe from Mrs. Render, with a few of my additions and subtractions.

Bottom layer:
1 can refried beans
1 can pinto or black beans or (not a can) of ground hamburger
1 lime juiced
2 - 3 T of taco powder
1 can mexican lime and cilantro rotel (brand) tomatoes 
optional: 1 can corn

Middle layer:
grated cheese
optional: guac (I usually leave this out because I eat this over several days)

Top layer:
diced green onions
diced green, red, or yellow peppers
optional: diced tomatoes (I am indifferent)
optional: cilantro (jared doesn't like)
optional: diced olives (I don't like)

I eat this for lunch and dinner many days. It is very easy to throw together. Eat it with some good chips or on a pile of lettuce or spinach. Yum.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Random bits of life:
* I picked 18 quarts of strawberries last night.  It was lovely.  Picking strawberries is one of my favorite activities.

* I took my parents some strawberries. My Dad gave me almost 2 pounds of asparagus and a vase full of roses and I was able to see my parents and favorite two youngest siblings.  I definitely received the better end of the deal.

* I am very proud of my siblings, all of them. Whenever I have a chance to mention how awesome they are, I usually do.  It makes me sad that other people don't seem to enjoy spending time with their family. I am very thankful for mine.

* I am glad I have a talented, smart little brother and I am glad I have multiple, beautiful sisters.

* I am playing in a soccer tournament on Saturday.  Yikes.

* I reserved my spot in Paris for June!!  In the first two weeks of June, I am working only 1 and a half days, taking 2 vacation days, 1 holiday, and being paid for 5 days in Europe.  It is going to be sweet (catching up on the work on all my teams is NOT going to be sweet, but I am not going to think about that until I come back -  ha).

* Jared is really funny.  If you have a chance you should come and see him play Felix Unger in the Odd couple in the 3rd and 4th weekends in June.   

* The longer I work, the more thankful I am for all those HORRIBLE engineering projects and teams that I was on.  It has completely and fully prepared me for the real world of terrible projects and crazy people. It is amazing to me that many of these people are in positions of authority. Moreover, it is even more incredible to me that the world works.  God must really hold the whole thing together.  I don't think that verse in Colossians just means that he holds the universe (matter) together, which I believe he does too, but also the every working of people and their stupidity. 

* I really like the new slogan on Ikea's new catalogs.  This is one more reason I love Ikea! I could not more fully agree ("A home does not have to be big, just smart").  That is how my brain sees the world.  I see spaces and I think about the most efficient use of a space.  I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to work for them!!! That is my dream engineering job.  Yes, owning my own Bed and Breakfast is still top of my list. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


I finally did it; I finally made gumbo. I had made jambalaya before (what is the difference you ask because I did before I made them, simply (and this is really a simple explanation), one is a red based (tomatoes) and one is a brown base (roux).  They have many of the same ingredients and they are both served over rice. It was that roux that was scaring me away from making this. On a whim I decided to whip some up.  I still don't know why I tried this.  I had been in long, long meetings with a customer for the first two days of the week and then the CEO was coming the next day to visit with our state senator and I had plenty of work to do. However, somehow instead of being super tired, as I normally am, I had energy and thus, I made Gumbo.

So, to start this you can either brown chicken in oil or just boil it in a pot.  I choose to boil it in a pot because that way I make chicken broth at the same time. I have posted the recipe for chicken broth before. It is super easy to make your own (and I actually just scoped this out of the pan my chicken was boiling with and replaced the water that I took... because I needed chicken broth and didn't want to wait the full time that it was supposed to cook).

1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. flour
1 c. minced onions
1 c. minced green pepper
3/4 c. minced celery
1 tsp Tabasco (or more if you like it spicy - we usually sprinkle it over our bowls at the end)
3 T Worcestershire
2 bay leaves
1 tsp commercial Cajun seasoning (look up a recipe online: I used a bit of garlic and pepper and salt and paprika)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper (I used Cayenne)
2 quart chicken stock (stolen from pan with boiling chicken)
1/2 c. chopped green onions
1 tsp minced garlic
1 lb andoulle sausage thinly sliced

To make your roux: Heat up oil to medium heat, sprinkle in flour and stir.  Keep stirring on and off until the roux is a medium brown.  I was cutting up my onions, peppers, and celery while this was cooking.  I probably cooked it for 15 - 20 minutes.

Stir in the onions, pepper, and celery.  I found it was best to remove this from the heat or turn it way down (if you have gas). You want to cook these until they are a bit softened. 

Next, add the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning, pepper, red pepper, and chicken stock. Mix well.  It is best to add the chicken stock in small amounts.

At this point, turn the heat down to low, add the chicken, thinly sliced sausage, minced garlic, and green onions.  Simmer 1 - 2 hours.  The longer you simmer, the better it tastes. 

Serve over rice.  Sprinkle with Tabasco, if desired.

Feel free to add shrimp, crab, or other kinds of seafood.