Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

There's nothing like homemade cinnamon rolls. For years and years I made the kind you get out of a can. In fact, it is our tradition to have them on Christmas morning before we open presents and while the ones from a can are really, really good, homemade ones just can't be beat. But, who wants to get up at 5 a.m. to make cinnamon rolls? Not me. So, first I'll give my recipe and then I'll tell you my secrets for having them ready when I want them, not the other way around. The first picture above is what they look like before I put them into the oven. They have risen nicely.

Cinnamon Rolls

6 oz. (3/4 cup) milk (90-100 degrees)

1 egg

3 cups flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoon active dry yeast


1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

In your bread machine pan, place the dough ingredients in the order given or according to your bread machine instructions. Place machine on Dough setting and start. When the dough is done (about 1 hour 20 minutes) place dough on a floured surface. Roll dough into an oblong shape of 9 inches by 18 inches. Spread with the butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar. Roll up tightly, beginning at wide side. Seal well by pinching edges of roll together. Cut roll into 1 inch slices. Place a little apart in a greased 13" x 9" pan or 12 muffin cups.

Cover and let rise until double in bulk (about 1/2 hour). Bake until golden brown and completely baked through at 375 degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. Makes one dozen rolls.

If you want to wait until the next morning to bake your rolls, immediately after rolling and cutting them and placing in the pan, cover with a towel and put in the refrigerator over night. The next morning take them out of the fridge and allow them to rise for about 30 minutes, then bake as above.

If you want to freeze them, immediate after shaping and cutting, place the rolls on a pan and put them in the freezer. When they are completely frozen, place them in a freezer bag and freeze until you are ready to use them. The night before you want to bake them, take them out of the freezer and place on your pan. Cover with a towel and let set overnight. The next morning they will be risen and ready for the oven.

The glaze we usually spread on the warm rolls is a simple one.


4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-6 tablespoons hot water

Combine the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla together, adding enough of the hot water to make a smooth thin glaze. Spread on the warm rolls and enjoy!

I'm participating in Foodie Fridays and Grocery Cart Challenge's Recipe Swap

Choco-Nougat Cake

Last weekend the whole family gathered at my oldest daughter's house for a cook-out and I brought this cake for dessert. It is moist, almost like a cake-y brownie texture and taste. The frosting was really good, too.

Choco-Nougat Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup soft shortening or butter
1 1/3 cups milk
3 eggs
3 squares chocolate (3 oz.) melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9" layer cake pans or a 13 x 9-inch pan.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the shortening and almost half the milk. Beat for 2 minutes. Add in the remaining milk, eggs and chocolate. Beat another 2 minutes.
Bake layers 30 to 35 minutes and 13 x 9-inch pan for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. When cake is cool, frost with:

White Butter Icing

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup soft butter
3 tablespoons cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix together until smooth.

I'm participating in Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed with Grace.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Avocado Dressing

I've been making our salad dressing more and more these days and so far every one has been a winner. However, I'm also finding that the more I make them, the less appealing the bottled kinds from the store are becoming. Which means I have to keep some made almost all the time but since they are oh, so good, it's worth it. This is one of our family's favorites and I love that the oil in this dressing is the heart-friendly kind of the avocado. It's so creamy that you can eat it like a dip or thin it out a little with some water or milk for salad.

Avocado Dressing

1 ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoon oil

Combine ingredients until smooth. Cover and chill for about 3 hours before serving.

This is really good with a green salad with tomatoes, red onion, black olives, and chopped cilantro.

I'm linking up with Make It From Scratch.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Indian Butter Chicken

I made this dish about 2 months ago, took a picture, but never posted it even though it's one of the best things I've made in a long time. My husband couldn't stop eating the sauce. Of course, cream is what makes it so good, but it was very easy. I've kind of shyed away from Indian cuisine because it seems to include spices that I don't usually have (I still didn't have all the spices for this dish) but this is a more simplified way of making the traditional Butter Chicken. If you have any cream in your fridge that needs to be used up try this recipe. It's that good.
Indian Butter Chicken
4 bonesless skinless chicken breasts
5 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cardamon (I didn't have this spice)
1 whole lime, juiced
1 whole onion, diced
1/4 cup butter
1 can (14.5-oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5-oz) diced petite tomatoes
1 pint heavy cream
1 bunch cilantro chopped
2 cups cooked rice
Combine the first 9 ingredients and marinate the chicken overnight. Saute the onion in the butter on medium-low heat until the onion is soft. Add the chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and tomatoes and cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Add the cream and cilantro just before serving over the rice.
This recipe made a lot of sauce and I think you could probably add a couple more chicken breasts and serve more people with this recipe.
I got this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's recipe site but if you want to make a more authentic Butter Chicken you can go here or here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

What Grandma Knew About Meal Planning Part 3

This is the last of a three-part series of menu planning the way Grandma would have. If you want to read the first two posts here is Part 1 and here is Part 2. I am getting my information from one of my favorite cookbooks Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, originally published in 1950 and republished in 1988.

In part 2 I began a list of what you want to check for in your menu planning and what real-life homemakers of the 1950's had to say about it. The first two points are Appropriateness and Appearance.

The next point is:

III. Satisfaction
Good cooking and seasoning
Right combinations of food
Follow tested recipes carefully

Something soft and something crisp

Should always go together,

And something hot with something cold

No matter what the weather;

Something bland needs the complement

Of something with tang and nip.

Follow these rules and all your meals

Will have taste appeal and zip.

"I use a variety of seasonings-sage, thyme, marjoram, flavored salts; and I keep pots of fresh parsley and chives."

"I always try to have a crips vegetable with a definite shape with one that's creamed or mashed."

IV. Nutrition
Serve a wide variety of foods.
Balance meals by including foods from the 7 basic groups.
Breakfast should give about 1/3 of the day's food supply.

"I have a list of menus for balanced meals which is a helpful guide in insuring good nutrition in my meals."

"I have a chart of how much vitamins, minerals, and proteins each member of my family needs according to age and activity."

"I've always tried to balance meals for the whole day. If some factor of the Basic 7 is left out of one meal, I get it into one of the other two."

V. Cost
A food budget will help you.
Buy the basic food needs for the family first.
Buy less of the more expensive foods and more of the less expensive foods.
Grow your own fruits and vegetables if possible.

"We buy the foods we must have for good nutrition first. Then if we feel we can spend more we buy the things that are not so important, but give our meals a lift."

"I find a semi-monthly budget economical, because bulk buying of staples is a worthwhile saving; and if funds are budgeted over longer periods I can take advantage of sales and special values."

"I've always had to consider the cost but have learned to manage by buying in season, taking advantage of sales, and by raising quantities of vegetables which we eat in abundance in summer and can for winter use."

I hope you have enjoyed these little peeks into the life of the 1950 housewife and the way she planned her meals. Besides the Basic 7 food groups (the basic food groups have changed several times since then), I think it is safe to say that I can follow the advice and guidance given even though it was a long time ago. What do you think?

Graphic courtesy of All Posters.

What Grandma Knew About Meal Planning Part 2

Here's the second part to my series on menu planning according to Betty Crocker's 1950 Picture Cookbook. You can go here to read Part 1. There are five points to remember when planning your meals and what other women had to say.

I. Appropriateness

Cut your meal pattern to fit: your situation, the occasion, and the family needs.

"I always remember birthdays and holidays with a special dessert or color scheme."

"I plan the meals to be healthful for the children, first, and then interesting to adults, without cooking separate menus."

"We have a five-room bungalow with limited dining space and no help at all; this requires simplicity and informality."

"I plan my meals with the needs of my young son in mind. I never cook separately for him, but prepare simple foods appropriate for him and then dress them up for grown-up tastes and add to the menu to meet adult needs."

II. Appearance

Prepare, serve, and present each food attractively for greater appetitie appeal.

"I think each meal out in detail, so there will be color appeal as well as good eating."

When I was a child my father used to say, 'We should feast the eye as well as the appetite.' And it has become a tradition with me."

"In my kitchen windows I have many plants and I alternate them in decorating the table and mealtime."

I don't want to make my posts too long so I will give the last three points in my next post. I hope you are enjoying reading about these real homemakers for a bygone era and we really can apply them to our lives today.

Graphic courtesy of All Posters.

What Grandma Knew About Meal Planning Part 1

I thought I would share what women who came before us knew about menu planning. I think it's really interesting to read about the way women ran their homes in an era that seems so different from our own, but we can do most of the things they did and apply it to our own lives. Menu planning is one of those things that I didn't give much time to until I started seeing other people do it on their blogs. Now it seems to be a trend and a good one at that! But, it's not a new idea.
What follows came from my 1950 Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook that was republished in its entirety in 1998. It's one of my favorite cookbooks for finding good, basic from-scratch recipes.
Smart Homemakers Say:
Planning, preparing, and serving meals is an art which develops through inspiration and thought. And meal-planning is really fun! It may look difficult to the beginner, but like driving a car, swimming, or anything we learn to do without thought or conscious effort, it is a skill which grows easier with the doing.
It's important to plan a variety of foods for well balanced meals to keep your family well nourished. But above all, be sure those meals are appetizing, attractive, and delicious to eat. For mealtime should help build happy home life.
"My meals are more nutritious since I've been planning them ahead. I check in advance the basic foods and the daily needs of my family."
"Planning meals ahead helps me to save time and energy."
"I have made the cooking of meals and pleasure and a study rather than a job, and so I enjoy planning each day's menus."
"My meals are more interesting since I started planning ahead, because I avoid repetition and plan for variety in color, texture, and flavor."
Check Your Daily Meals For:
  1. Appropriateness
  2. Appearance
  3. Satisfaction
  4. Nutrition
  5. Cost

Graphic courtesy of All Posters.

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

My husband can really surprise me sometimes. He is definitely a spaghetti and meatball or sausage with red spaghetti sauce kind of guy and hardly ever warmed up to any other kind of pasta-until I made this recipe a couple of years ago. While I love making his favorite dishes, I also like to try new ones, too. Sometimes that is a good thing, sometimes it flops, but not this time. When he was eating this yesterday, he kept saying how good it was. While the pasta is the star of the show in this dish and I only used 3 links of sausage, you don't feel like you are being deprived of protein in any way. I also only had one bell pepper to put in this dish so I took out my frozen bag of peppers that I buy in the grocery store during the months when peppers are way too expensive. I also love how quick this is to put together.

Pasta with Sausage and Peppers

2 tablespoons oil
About 1 (you can use more or less) pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large green or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 bag of frozen chopped peppers
1 large onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound pasta (I used penne rigate), cooked according to package directions
Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage until browned. Add the peppers, onions, basil, and oregano and cook until the vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic the last couple minutes.
Add the tomatoes with the juice, season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta and toss.
Add the parmesan cheese to taste and serve immediately or pass the Parmesan cheese separately at the table.
Serves 6.

I'm participating in Make It From Scratch, Foodie Fridays, and Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Homemade Pizza Crust

Last week my youngest daughter turned 19 and on Sunday we celebrated. The tradition in our home, as it was in my parents' house when I was growing up, is that if it's your birthday you get to pick the dinner and the kind of cake that is made. My daughter chose homemade pizza, and since I would be feeding 10 adults for her birthday celebration, I figured I better get a headstart on the pizza crusts, so on Thursday I made two batches of pizza dough in my bread machine, shaped and baked them for about 8 minutes and froze them until party day.

This is how the pizza crusts looked before I put them in the oven. These are the whole wheat crusts, although I made two regular crusts, too.
This is what they looked like after I took them out of the oven after 8 minutes.
These are the recipes I used for making my crusts.

Pizza Dough
12 oz. lukewarm water
3 tablespoons oil
4 cups unbleached or bread flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons active dry yeast


Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
12 oz. lukewarm water
2 tablespoons oil
4 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons active dry yeast

Following the directions of my bread machine, I added the ingredients to the bread machine pan in the order given. I put it on the dough cycle, which takes 1 hour and 20 minutes. When the cycle was finished I took the dough from the bread pan and divided the dough into 2 parts with a sharp knife. I let it rest a few minutes and then shaped each piece of dough into the shape of the pan (in this case I used rectangular baking sheets, greased with oil and sprinkled with a little cornmeal). I then let the dough rise in a warm draft-free place for 20 to 25 minutes. I preheat the oven to 425 and baked the pizza crusts for 8 minutes, let them cook, covered with foil, and froze them until the day of the party. I let them come to room temperature, put the desired toppings on, and baked at 425 until the crust is crisp and golden brown.
I also have a quicker way to make pizza dough with my food processor that I got from my The Complete Tightwad Gazette book by Amy Dacyczyn. It makes a great spur-of-the-moment pizza crust that can be done in no time flat. It's called Thick and Chewy Pizza Dough and it's in the Tightwad Gazette II, although I didn't think it was so thick or chewy, I guess it's all in the way you roll it out. I usually use a large sheet pan or pizza pan.
Quick Pizza Crust
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 package (1 tablespoon) dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine 1/4 cup of the water with the yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast and let stand until bubbly, about five minutes. Put the flour, oil, and salt into a food processor, and process about five seconds with a steel blade.
Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture, and process about 10 seconds, or until blended.
Turn on the processor and drizzle just enough of the remaining water through the feed tube so the dough forms a ball that cleans the sides of the bowl. Process so that the ball turns around about 25 times.
Put the dough ball onto a 14-inch greased pizza pan or large cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap or a bowl (or towel) and let stand 10 minutes.
Pat the dough out so that it covers the pan, leaving a ridge on the edges. At this point I put the crust in the oven for about 5-8 minutes to give it a headstart; otherwise my toppings are done way before my crust-this is just my experience with pizza).
Spread with pizza sauce, and add cheese and toppings. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.

Although my family still loves to go out to the pizzeria on occasion, frozen pizzas are really not an option anymore. They just don't seem to measure up to what we can do at home and for a lot less money.
I'm participating in Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.