Cinnamon Rolls

Weekend food is not typically my favorite. Often I feel as though I get stuck in the kitchen while my tribe goes off galavanting.
HOWEVER. Sunday morning food traditions are an exception.

When I was a child, my Mom used to make a large pan of cinnamon roll on Saturday night. They would rise, gaining girth and height until she would pop them into the oven Sunday at dawn. The whole house would smell of baking cinnamon rolls and I swear to you, my spiritual life is wafted-over with the smell of baking cinnamon and brown sugar. It’s a beautiful thing. My mom is particularly good at recognizing both the physical and spiritual needs of her people. Food when we’re hungry, naps when we’re weary, prayers over all. It’s a motto she lives by, though I’m not sure she’s ever stated those words exactly. I’ve inherited some of that from her.
And also cinnamon rolls on Sunday morning.

These are so easy to whip up, I rarely make them Saturday night. Sunday morning before my tribe starts rolling out of bed is enough time. Thirty minutes or so and these guys are in the oven. Also, they rise as they bake, so no need to wait overnight.
Enjoy!


CINNAMON ROLLS

DOUGH:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon quick-rising yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup very warm water
3 cups flour

FILLING:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon (or more) cinnamon

In a stand mixer or large bowl, combine warm water, melted butter, sugar, salt, and yeast. Whip vigorously until yeast mixture is foamy. Add in flour, one cup at a time, stirring until you can no longer work with a spoon or spatula. If you’re using a stand mixer, attach the kneading hook and finish the last cup of flour with that. If you’re using elbow grease, dump soft dough onto the counter top and work the last cup in by hand. Allow to rest for ten minutes.

Work dough on a floured surface into a large, long rectangle. Dough should be no more than 1/2 an inch thick. If the dough continues to shrink dramatically every time you stretch it out, allow it to rest a couple more minutes. Feel free to use a rolling pin if you like.

Spread the surface liberally with butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up, working the long side of the rectangle closest to you toward the opposite side, smoothing and stretching as you go. When you reach the opposite side, pinch the open side onto the roll, sealing it up. Turn the roll seam-side down, and using a sharp knife, trim off the ends. Cut the roll in eighteen to twenty slices, about 2 inches long each.

Place rolls in a well-buttered pan (you should have enough small blunt-ended rolls for two round pans) and allow to rest for ten minutes or so. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown across the top. Serve warm.

Blueberry-Banana Yogurt Muffins

August is the season of Blueberries.
Well, so is July, but it’s still early August and blueberry season kind of runs over into August around here. It’s glorious. I have six little blueberry bushes in my garden and this is the first year they’ve produced fruit. It feels like a real victory. I so look forward to what future summers hold in the blueberry department. Good things ahead, people.

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This morning, it seemed like a wise idea to do more than just nom those fresh berries straight from the bushes, so I picked what I could and decided muffins would showcase their sweetness best. Throw in a couple of over-ripe bananas and yogurt for consistency, and presto—muffins.
Enjoy!

BLUEBERRY-BANANA YOGURT MUFFINS

1/2 cup butter (1 stick, softened)
2 eggs
1 soft banana
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup Greek Yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 pint fresh blueberries

In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, blend butter (softened), sliced banana, sugar, yogurt, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until will combined. Feel free to really work the batter so no banana or butter lumps remain. Then mix in the flour, but don’t overdo it or the muffins will fall when they bake. A little visible flour in the batter is okay.
Fold in fresh berries with a soft spatula until they are well-dispersed.

Scoop batter into a greased muffin tin (about 2/3 full in each), and bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden-brown across the top.

orange crescent rolls

  Food anchors memory. Ever noticed that? I have so many amazing food memories associated with family, friends, childhood, and holidays.
Pecan pie on Father’s Day (because that’s his favorite).
Clam chowder on Christmas Eve.
I remember one summer when my mom made like twenty-five chocolate cheesecake tortes to sell at a bake sale, only they didn’t all sell so we had chocolate cheesecake torte for weeks.
My Dad made a lobster-shaped birthday cake for my mom one year because lobster was her favorite food, but money was too tight for the real thing.
I had breakfast with my grandpa at the lake growing up—eggs over-easy on toast.
My grandma would make fried bread dough with sugar dusted over top when we came for lunch.
And my great-grandmother was the QUEEN of Sunday dinner.
I have a heritage of being loved and nourished through food. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This recipe is an Easter tradition—one that goes back as far as I can remember.
We would go to bed Saturday night anticipating the rejoicing that would greet us Sunday morning, and all the wonderful shouts of “He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!” ringing throughout the house. This was followed by Easter basket hunting, getting ready for church, and these beautiful, light-as-air, orange crescent rolls for breakfast.

So from my family to yours, Happy Easter!

PS. I’m giving this recipe to you a day early so these rolls can rise in the refrigerator overnight and bake first thing Sunday morning!

ORANGE CRESCENT ROLLS
ROLLS
3 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

GLAZE
1 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
Enough orange juice to make desired consistency

Advance Prep:
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups iof flour ad the year. In a saucepan, heat together milk, water, sugar, butter, and salt until just warm. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and then add this to the dry mixture. Add the egg and orange peel. Beat on low with an electric mixer or a stand mixer for a couple minutes and then scrape the side of the bowl continually. Beat for three minutes on high. Then, by hand or with a dough hook, add in the remaining flour and mix well. Place dough in a greased bowl and turn to grease all sides. Over with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-24 hours.

Before serving:
About two hours before serving, remove dough from fridge and divide in half. roll each ball into a 9-inch circle and with a pizza cutter, cut into 12 wedges. Starting at the wide end, roll up each wedge. Let rise in a warm oven until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. While still warm, spread with glaze.

To make glaze, combine sugar, peel and juice in a small mixing bowl and whisk with a fork.

Serve warm

Makes 24 rolls

Originally adapted from CRISCO PRESENTS FAVORITE FAMILY FOODS, copy write 1973, Proctor and Gamble Company.

yogurt pancakes

I’m not a breakfast person. The ratio of breakfast recipes to dinner recipes on this site speaks clearly to that. And yes I’ve read the research. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Yada-yada-yada. Even so. No.
Coffee. I’m all about coffee.
Coffee is my breakfast.
Coffee is my love language.
Coffee.
Ahem.
Unfortunately my kids won’t drink the stuff.
So there are things like poached eggs on toast. Sweet potato hash with sausage. Spiral-skillet apples. And these pancakes. —Buttery, light but heavy with yogurt, slightly sweet. Ultimately, the perfect breakfast for a lazy weekend.
Enjoy!

 

YOGURT PANCAKES

2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter

Start by melting the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, sugar, salt and whisk well. Add the baking powder and whisk again until frothy. Finally, whisk in the yogurt. (Greek Gods Honey-Vanilla flavor is my favorite for this recipe!) When everything is well combined add the milk and flour, stirring until the whole mixture is well blended without lumps.

Heat a large griddle or flat-bottom pan over med-high heat and melt a little butter in the bottom of the pan to prevent the pancakes from sticking. Using a 1/3 or 1/4 measuring cup to measure out the batter for each cake, cook one side until it bubbles, flip, and cook the other side until golden brown. Top with your favorite flavor of deliciousness. Jam, syrup, fresh fruit, yogurt, or as one dear friend of mine showed me: peanut butter, maple syrup, and whipped cream. (Decadent!)

 

pizza crust

I have ambitious plans this summer for making an outdoor pizza oven in our backyard. I’ll be blogging the DIY plans and process when I get that far. But until then, I have to content myself with perfecting my pizza crust recipe. Which, happily, feels close enough to perfect to share with you!

This recipe has a dash of sugar, but if you’re trying to stay clear of the sweet stuff, leaving it out will be of no great consequence.

Enjoy!

PIZZA CRUST

2 cups water (quite warm, but not hot)
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups flour

*makes enough dough for two small/medium size pizzas (average-crust thickness) or one large thick-crust pizza.

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk warm water and yeast together until yeast has dissolved and the mixture is frothy. Add salt, sugar, and oil and whisk again until sugar and salt have dissolved. one cup at a time, add in flour until the final cup, which will need to be kneaded into the dough on a floured countertop.

If you have a stand mixer, use a dough hook for the last two cups of flour and let it do the hard work for you.

Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes, covered, before trying to form your crust. Otherwise it’s just a little too stretchy for rolling out, or if you’re more skilled than I, tossing.

cheddar, garlic, and dill biscuits

Savory bread is the bomb.
I know people don’t say the bomb anymore, but it really is.
Honestly, I don’t even know what people say anymore. I’m getting old. (Please enlighten me, Internet).
Anyway.
These biscuits are savory and cheesy and delicious and EASY to whip up. Even in the wild rumpus of dinner-making madness. Also, they pair perfectly with Fire-Roasted Cream-Of-Tomato Soup or Roasted Acorn Squash Soup. Either one. Both. NOMNOM. The bomb.
Sorry.
I’m old.

CHEDDAR GARLIC AND DILL BISCUTS

This is one of those recipes that works best with a few extra tools, though they aren’t necessary. If you have a stand mixer, definitely use it. It will save your arms. Also one of those nifty scoops. What do you call these, even?

 They release the dough which is soft and super-sticky, in a nice neat dollop on your baking pan. —I like as little as mess as possible.

1 cup butter, softened
2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons onion flakes
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon garlic
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 3/4 cup flour
1 3/4 cup whole milk

In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, blend dry ingredients and cut in softened butter until well incorporated. Add milk and mix vigorously until a very soft dough forms and all of the dry ingredients are completely blended.

Scoop dough in roughly two-inch sized dollops onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes, or until golden brown across the top.

Keep in an air-tight container as they will dry out quickly.

 

artisan no-knead bread

Bread is my favorite.
I think, if I had to choose, bread and cheese and wine, in that order, would be my dietary meal selections on into forever. Which, of course is super healthy and definitely in keeping with all good eating resolutions I have made thus far in 2016. Ahem.

I love making bread as well as eating it, save for the fact that it takes so much stinking time to produce. But the result at the end of the whole venture! —That yeasty smell filling the house and reminding you the world is still a good and wholesome place (at least in some corners) . . . The way your grandmother’s bread knife (that you inherited) bites into the heavy crust . . . How butter almost dissolves into the warm crumb . . . Ahhhh. It’s almost too much to bear. And sometimes it actually is too much, and I end up eating the whole loaf. By myself. (So much for resolutions).

So when a dear friend of mine whipped up this bread one evening for her family, while we were there visiting, (and it was mixed, had raised, and baked in less than an hour) I almost died and begged her for the recipe. Imagine: homemade bread and all the good vibes that come with it in a fraction of the time!? Miracles, people. Miracles. My friend, being the beautiful person she is, promptly copied down the recipe for me, and now I’m sharing it with you. Because, homemade bread, man. It’s my favorite. Enjoy!

ARTISAN NO-KNEAD BREAD
(or 5-Minute Bread)

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3 cups of warm-almost-hot water
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
6 ½ cups flour

In a large mixing bowl (preferably a 6 quart stand mixer, if you have one), combine the water and yeast. Whisk, allowing the yeast to dissolve and add salt. Whisk again. Add the flour, mixing slowly every two cups. The last ½ cup will serve to finish off the dough, but it will be a more loose and sticky mass than the traditional make-all-day-kneed-all-night bread. Transfer the dough to whatever baking dish you intend to use, making sure it is well greased.
This recipe will make three medium sized loaves or, like I did here, one GIANT loaf. Go big or go home, right? Allow the dough to rise for about a half hour or so and then bake at 350-degrees until crisp and evenly browned on top. Roughly 30-40 minutes, depending on loaves/rolls/and the sizes of each.

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NOTES:
* The dough can be kept in the fridge in a sealed container to use over the course of a week. Cut off only as much as you need for a small loaf, or a handful of dinner rolls. Form, allow to rise, and bake.

* For variation, consider adding herbs, olives, a variety of spices, or dried fruit to the dough for some wonderful flavors. A few of my favorite combinations: Rosemary and Olives, Apple and Cinnamon, Apricot and Cranberry, Orange Peel and Raisin, Chocolate chip and Cinnamon, Cheddar and Dill.