Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cinnamon Roll Experiment: Part II

After the disappointing results of my previous attempts at cinnamon rolls, I decided I wanted more immediate gratification and bought a tube of Pillsbury's cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

I'm a pretty big sucker for any cream cheese food item, but ESPECIALLY cream cheese frosting.

I've never actually tried a Pillsbury tubed product before, and had quite a time trying to get the darn thing OPEN. I tried all of our can and bottle openers and finally took one of our very sharp Calphalon knives and sawed off the end, upon which the cream cheese frosting compartment shot across the counter.

The rolls are pre-sliced and cinnamoned. Lay them on a greased cookie sheet and pop in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes.

They came out puffy and after spreading the frosting on and letting it melt, I tasted the results.

Overall Score (out of 10): 6 - better than the previous attempt, the consistency is actually a little soft for me, I think they need to be a little chewier. The frosting is pretty good.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cinnamon Roll Experiment: Part I

A few days ago we were watching Food Network (pretty common around our house) and saw an episode of Unwrapped that included how they make a particular brand of cinnamon rolls. Scott and I were both drooling over the idea of such tasty baked goods, so I started doing some internet searches for cinnamon roll recipes.

I came across this one which even without the chocolate chips sounds tasty and reasonably easy.

The original can be found here.

I got started in the process and then discovered I don't have any eggs or even any eggbeaters left, so I threw in a tiny bit more water, milk and a big soup spoon full of sour cream instead.

Here's the recipe as I interpreted it...
  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon warm water (110 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter or margarine, divided
  • 1/3 cup warm milk (110 to 115 degrees F)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a bowl, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt. Cut in 2 tablespoons of the butter until crumbly. Add the milk, sour cream and yeast mixture; stir well. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 4 hours.
(Do dishes, take a shower, pay bills, watch an episode of House and a few other episodes from our DVR to pass the time)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a 10-in. x 6-in. rectangle. Melt remaining butter; brush butter to within 1/2 in. of edges.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining sugar. Sprinkle over dough. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into 1-in. slices; place cut side down in a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours.

I don't have a rolling pin, so I used an empty oil bottle. I rolled the dough out to about 6" x 12" and did the butter and sugar thing, then rolled from the long side. I think when it said "from the short side" in meant to end up with more layers.

As is, I have about 18 small rolls in the pan. I'm waiting for them to "double".

Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. In a bowl, combine the sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to achieve drizzling consistency; drizzle over warm rolls. Serve warm.
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I don't have any powdered)
  • 1 1/2 tbs butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup hot milk
The rolls are baking now, and I dissolved the sugar in the hot butter and milk, added the vanilla and stirred. Since I needed something to thicken it, I added another couple of spoonfulls of sour cream and whipped it with my mixer.

When in doubt, add sour cream.

The rolls baked for about 20 minutes and I think the glaze needs to chill for about another half hour.

Overall score (out of 10): 3 - edible but not worth sharing with others.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grandpa's Mac N Cheese

I remember my mom making baked macaroni and cheese for me when I was little. Of course, at the time I preferred the chemical orange boxed version.

Fortunately my taste buds have matured (even if I haven't) and I now LOVE my Grandpa Lysinger's recipe for baked macaroni and cheese.

A few years ago I managed to get my Aunt Dixie to find the recipe so I could have a copy and it has since become a favorite of everyone I've ever cooked for (which is a pretty big list, actually).

As we get older and our ability to keep our waistline the size we wish diminishes, I have been trying to make some of the good ol' comfort food a bit healthier.

The recipe as I received it is:

Preheat oven to 350.

7oz elbow macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked)
Cook macaroni according to package directions. While it is cooking, combine the following ingredients:

2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 slightly beaten egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 dash pepper
8oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Add macaroni, stir & pour into baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika and bake for about 45 minutes.
I made a few changes, substituting whole wheat macaroni, low-fat cottage cheese, low-fat sour cream and reduced fat cheddar.

I also like to sprinkle a little chili powder in addition to the paprika.

I made the first batch with just cottage cheese since I was out of sour cream, and it was still pretty darn good. After my grocery store trip today I added a little sour cream to the remainder and it's quite tasty.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Taco Soup aka Easy Chili

Yes, we've cooked since New Year's Eve, but not much and not anything that I bothered to take pictures of.

This recipe is thanks to one of my very best friends, Monica.

The idea is to make the soup/chili and serve it in a bowl with corn chips on the bottom. I personally don't like to put chips IN my stuff (soup, haystacks, whatever) because I get stabbed in the mouth by the corners on the chips. Consequently I just serve the chips on the side and people can put them in the bowl under the soup OR use them to dip with.

I've altered the original recipe a little with the addition of spices, and I often leave out the onions because a good friend in Key West is highly allergic to them. I've also been known to add chopped or sliced black olives and a small can of diced green chilis to the pot.

Also, if beans and/or vege burger tend to make you gassy, add some Beano.

1 12oz bag Morning Star Farms Burger Crumbles
1/2 large White onion (or one small white onion), diced
1 1lb, 13oz can Small Red Beans
1 15.5oz can Black Beans

1 15.5oz can Red Kidney Beans
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with jalapeƱos and/or green chiles
1/2 cup Scott's Homeward Bound Hot Sauce
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup frozen sweet white corn
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Chili Powder

2 tbs Dried Cilantro or 1/2 cup chopped fresh Cilantro (unless you don't like cilantro, then skip it or do 1/2 the amount in Oregano instead.)
1 tsp Garlic Powder (or 3 cloves diced fresh sauted in with the burger and onion)
Kosher salt to taste

(I also like to add anywhere from a 1/2 cup to a full cup of GunSmoke BBQ sauce on occasion)

Optional toppings:
Shredded cheese
Sour Cream
Fresh chopped chives

Fresh chopped cilantro

In a large pot, place all canned items, cover and turn burner to low.

In a separate large frying pan, place burger crumbles and water on med-low and cover. As the burger crumbles are about half thawed, add hot sauce, stir, raise heat to medium and uncover. Once the burger crumbles are hot, add the diced onion and cook until onions are starting to soften. Add a little water if the burger and onion mixture gets too dry.

Raise heat under pot to med-low.

Add burger and onions to pot and raise heat to medium. Stir in frozen corn. Add cumin, salt, chili powder, garlic powder and cilantro.

Once soup is hot, serve and top with whatever you like.

I prefer sliced fresh avocado, a little dollop of low-fat sour cream and a bit of shredded sharp cheddar.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First Meal

First official meal of 2009: avocado and Marmite on toast, with a glass of pomegranate juice.