Honey Yeast Rolls with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter

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We had a big group over for Easter yesterday, so of course I cooked a lot. I’m still getting the hang of coming up with my own bread recipes, and I didn’t want to risk an experiment with a big crowd. So, I used this recipe for honey yeast rolls from Southern Living. These rolls were amazing. There were no rolls left. People were going back for second and third rounds of rolls!

I used the last bit of honey we had on the actual rolls, so I had to come up with another plan for butter. The butter recipe makes enough for 28 rolls, and you might have some left over.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter

Combine ingredients below with a fork. Ideally you want to let it sit for a little while so the brown sugar isn’t grainy, but I served it right away and it was fine.

2 sticks butter, softened and partially melted.
⅓ cup + 1 tbsp light brown sugar
6 shakes ground cinnamon

Cinnamon Rolls

IMG_4589You might’ve seen these on my Instagram a while ago. The first time I made these, I had a food blogger fail and forgot to write the recipe down. Oops! I made them again a few weeks later and remembered to write the recipe down. I forgot to take pictures of them with the icing both times. Oops again!

This recipe makes a lot of cinnamon rolls. Freeze what you won’t eat within a couple of days. According to one of my coworkers, these freeze and reheat very well.

Ingredients

2 cups milk
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
4 ½ flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 package yeast

1 stick butter
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2+ tbsp heavy cream or milk

Instructions

Pour milk into a microwave safe contained. Microwave in 30 second increments until a candy thermometer reads between 105-110°. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, make sure your milk is very warm, but not boiling.

Pour the milk into a mixer bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Whisk after letting it sit for about a minute. Let it sit for about 10 minutes until the yeast looks frothy.

Add the oil, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix. Cover and let rise for an hour. Toward the end of the hour, start the filling.

Melt the stick of butter. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon. The filling should be a little pasty, not runny. If it’s too runny, add more brown sugar. You want to be able to spread it over the dough and roll the rolls without the filling running out.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle. Spread the filling over the top and roll into a long log. Cut into individual cinnamon rolls and pack them into a greased pie dish or other baking dish. Use a baking dish that isn’t any taller than the rolls.

Cover and ler rise for about another 20-30 minutes. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.

Make the icing toward the end of the baking time. Combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream or milk. The icing should be thick, but a little runny. Pour the icing over the cinnamon rolls. Troubleshooting: Too thin/runny? Add more powdered sugar. Too thick? Add heavy cream or milk 1-2 tsp at a time until the consistency is right.

Breakfast Minis

IMG_4792This recipe uses the Tastefully Simple silicone bar pan. You can also use a regular muffin tin, but silicone muffin cups would be better because the ingredients won’t stick.

These are great to pack in your lunchbox and reheat once you get to the office!

Recipe makes about 12.

Ingredients

4-6 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
5 eggs
3 cups hash browns
½ cup shredded cheddar
½ cup shredded mozzarella
¼ tsp salt

Instructions

Mix all of the ingredients well. Press firmly into the compartments of the bar pan. Fill the unused compartments of the bar pan with water. Bake at 375 until the hash browns are crispy on top.

Mini Chocolate Cakes

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I had a party yesterday afternoon and needed a quick and easy dessert to make. I was already running behind schedule. I had some chocolate pound cake mix, which would be super easy to do something with. (I’m totally serious – you just add butter and water to this magical mix!)

Ingredients

1 package Tastefully Simple Classy Chocolate Pound Cake Mix
¾ cup melted butter
1 cup water
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 ¾ cups heavy cream
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup powdered sugar

If you want to use store bought whipped cream, you don’t need the powdered sugar or vanilla, and you only need 1 ¾ cups heavy cream.

Instructions

Cake

Mix the pound cake mix, melted butter, and water. Grease two 9-inch round pans. I probably would’ve used a jelly roll pan if I had one. Make sure you set your cakes up to bake flat. I have these Wilton bake even strips that go around the pan to promote even baking. A Cozy Kitchen also had a DIY method here. I totally forgot to use the strips, which is why you see some uneven layers in the photo.

Bake at 325 for about 15-18 minutes. I think I did 12 minutes, tested, and put it back for another 5. Like a regular cake, a toothpick will come out clean when it’s done. Don’t be scared if the toothpick comes out clean and the cake still looks a little jiggly in the center.

Cool cakes fully before assembling.

Filling

Beat 1 ¾ heavy cream until it thickens slightly. Add ¼ cup milk and the packet of pudding mix. Beat for 2 minutes. Cover and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Whipped Cream

Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and ¼ cup powdered sugar until it’s a whipped cream consistency with stiff peaks. I could’ve beaten mine for a few more minutes. It wasn’t runny, but it wasn’t quite as stiff as I wanted. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

Assembly

Remove the cakes from the pans. (Caution – don’t remove until your cake is fully cooled!) Use a biscuit cutter to cut the cakes into small circular pieces. You can use whatever size cutter you want. The one I used was about 2″ and I was able to get 16 pieces (for 8 cakes). Go smaller if you don’t want people to need a fork.

Use a piping bag to pipe the filling onto each bottom piece. Stack with the top cake piece and top with whipped cream. You could also add some chocolate shavings.

Improvised Two Bean Soup – Saved from Disaster

photo-feb-17-4-59-25-pmI ended concocting this yesterday when I needed something to bring to an event. I made potato salad, but I didn’t like how it tasted. It ended up turning out fine, but I needed to get something else together in case the potato salad was a total fail. It seemed like my normally stockpiled pantry and fridge were empty, and almost every measuring cup or spoon I owned was in the dishwasher. So WTF do I make?

I basically had to come up with something with all of the ingredients I always keep a ton of: diced tomatoes, beans, stock, and onions. Chili wasn’t an option because all of my meat was frozen and I didn’t have time for anything to defrost.

I diced an onion and started cooking it in the dutch oven. I realized I was smart enough to freeze chipotles in adobo, so I chopped up a bunch of that and tossed it in. I added the tomatoes (28oz can), black beans, and pinto beans. I also added 1 box of beef stock. Ideally I would’ve wanted a third kind of bean, but didn’t have it. I also seasoned it with a bunch of salt and some Tastefully Simple Wahoo! Chili Seasoning (probably about 1-2 tbsp of the chili seasoning).

The soup was looking really sad. It needed more beans, but I didn’t have any. This is when I slap realized my knife skills were kind of bad on that onion. I wanted to thicken it. I grabbed the masa harina from the pantry. I would’ve liked to have used beer for this next part, but we didn’t have any. I was also not wasting any of my good wine on this! Grabbed some vodka and made a slurry with about 2/3 cup masa harina (1/3 was the only measuring cup not in the dishwasher). I stirred it into the soup, brought it to a boil, and reduced it.

It was starting to look better, but still looked sad. I decided to get the immersion blender and puree it. It was starting to look pretty good! I adjusted the seasoning, added corn, and just let it simmer for a bit, stirring occasionally. At some point I added about 2 cups of cheddar cheese and probably 8 shakes of Worcestershire. I kept tasting it and it actually tasted good. Yay!

I didn’t really think about how I was going to transport it. I don’t have a portable Crock Pot. I ladled the soup into gallon freezer bags (I made sure they were the ones that can also go in the microwave), put the bags into the crock pot, and taped the lid shut. Not ideal, but it worked!

Everyone really liked the soup, and I didn’t have much at all to bring home.

I did not add an actual recipe for this because of all of the troubleshooting I went through to make it happen, and also because I wasn’t measuring much of anything.

1972 Sugar Cookies

photo-feb-16-7-56-42-pmI have a boatload of cookbooks, but I have to admit, my 1972 Betty Crocker is my go-to for cookie recipes. I made these one night last week after dinner to take to work the next day. So yeah, I didn’t chill the dough for 2-3 hours like I was supposed to. I took a shortcut, and they turned out fine.

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He knows just where to hang out. Notice mixer above him and flour on his back leg.

It’s best to chill them in the fridge for the recommended time, but sometimes I just don’t have time for that! The primary purpose of chilling is so the cookies won’t spread too much when you bake them. Chilling the dough helps prevent spreading because it makes the fats in the dough solidify (so they won’t melt when they hit the oven). Anyway, I stuck the dough in the freezer while I was making the frosting and the oven was preheating. After rolling out and cutting a batch of the cookies, I wrapped the leftover portion of the dough and stick it in the fridge. I basically had a rotation of dough portions in and out of the fridge until I was finished.

If you don’t have a Betty Crocker cookbook, this recipe from their website is almost identical to the one in the book I have. The icing is the meringue buttercream from Karen’s Cookies. I used ½ tsp of almond extract instead of ¼.

I also made the powdered sugar in my Vitamix. I actually haven’t purchased powdered sugar since I bought my Vitamix. Test it to make sure it isn’t grainy. Sometimes I have to blend a bit longer.

I frosted them in different patterns. I filled some in completely, did some in a zig-zag (like the photo), and some just had an outline. People have varying degrees of like or dislike of frosting, so I wanted to have a variety since I was taking them to work.

Once the cookies were finished and the icing was solid enough not to get on stuff when it touches, I put the cookies in layers separated by wax paper in my Snapware Snap N’ Stack container with the egg trays removed. I always email my coworkers when I have baked goods available. I had a lot of repeat visitors!

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The Banana Nut Bread That Almost Wasn’t

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As you might be able to tell from the uneven bake on these (top half lighter than the bottom) and the weird holes in the center of each loaf, this wasn’t my finest work. Overall it tastes pretty good. The top half tastes really good! But this recipe needs some work.

So what went wrong? I’m fairly certain I had a density problem, and I had the oven too hot (I did 375 like I do for my pumpkin bread). The centers were jiggly and the edges were way golden after baking for 15 minutes. Uh-oh. I turned down the heat and tented with aluminum foil. After it still being jiggly after an additional 10 minutes, I switched to convection mode. Normally I wouldn’t convection anything cake-like because it’ll dry it out, but I decided to try it since I actually kind of needed the center of this thing to dry out!

The ingredients list below is corrected for what I think I need to do next time. I’ll report back and post instructions once I have a chance for a do-over.

Ingredients

2 cups bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar  1 cup sugar
½ cup milk (I did not have this in my original attempt)
2 eggs
3 extra- or over-ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans

Deviled Eggs with Bacon Pepper Jam

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I make pretty good “regular” deviled eggs, and occasionally I like to mix it up and do something different. My bestie got me a deviled egg transporter for my birthday, which I desperately needed. The last time I transported deviled eggs to a party, it was kind of a disaster. I used the carrier for the first time yesterday, and all of the eggs stayed in place!

Ingredients

1 dozen eggs
Tastefully Simple bacon pepper jam (Update – this is a seasonal item that might not be available when you’re reading this. If it isn’t, try the sweet pepper jalapeño jam instead!)
Mayonnaise
Yellow mustard

Instructions

Boil eggs. My foolproof method for making boiled eggs (actually, I have to give my wife credit for this one) is to put the eggs into a wok, cover with salty water, bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat off, cover, and leave them undisturbed for 15 minutes. Let the eggs cool.

Cut each egg in half, and empty yolks into a mixer bowl. Add ¼ cup mayo and 1 tbsp + 1 tsp mustard. Mix well, until smooth. Look at the texture and taste it. Add more mayo or mustard as needed. If it’s crumbly, add more mayo. If it’s bland, add more mustard.

Normally I add about 1-2 tsp bacon pepper jam into the mixture, but we’re running low and I didn’t want to take the chance of not having enough for the tops of the eggs.

Fill a piping bag with the mixture and fill each egg. Top with a small amount of bacon pepper jam.

Tip: Put a small drop of filling under each egg to keep them from sliding around on your serving tray.

Strawberries & Cream Filled Cupcakes

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Pretty sure these are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The filling and buttercream were amazing. I can’t take any credit for a recipe for the actual cake part, so this post focuses on the filling, frosting, and putting it all together at the end. If you need a good vanilla cupcake recipe, try this one from Natasha’s Kitchen.

Ingredients – Filling

2 cups quartered strawberries
⅔ cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 cup heavy cream
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (have a second package on hand just in case)

You will likely have some left over. This is definitely enough for 3 dozen, maybe even 4 (I’ll report back on this when I make the next batch.) I did 2 dozen and froze the rest of the filing for next time.

Ingredients – Vanilla Buttercream

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter at room temperature
Colored sugar sprinkles or food coloring (optional)

Double the buttercream recipe if you like your icing super high (higher than the photo). This was just enough for 24 cupcakes frosted as shown in the photo.

Instructions

Star baking the cupcakes before you start making the filling. This will allow the cupcakes enough time to cool before you fill and frost them.

Filling

fullsizeoutput_c1bPuree the strawberries. I used the Vitamix, but you could use any blender or food processor.

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook while stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the strawberry puree, combine, cook over low for a few minutes, and put it in the fridge to cool.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the strawberry mixture. It’s OK if the strawberry mixture is not super cold at this point, but you don’t want it to be hot. Put the mixture in the fridge to chill. Once mixed, it will need to be cold for the next step. You can move on to the buttercream while it’s chilling.

Once the strawberry-cream mixture is cold (it’s very important for it to be cold!), add the package of vanilla pudding mix and beat for 2 minutes. Give it a few minutes to set. It shouldn’t be runny. It’s OK if it’s looser than a normal pudding or custard, but if it’s flowing right out of your piping bag before you even squeeze, it’s too runny. It’s OK if a small amount drips out.

  • Troubleshooting – Too runny? Make sure you’ve left it in the fridge for several minutes to set. Still too runny? Whisk in another package of pudding mix. Start with half of a package, whisk in for at least a minute, let it sit for a few minutes to see how it sets. Add the rest if needed. Too firm? Whisk in some milk, a little at a time, until it loosens up enough.

Buttercream

photo-feb-11-4-33-01-pmUse the paddle attachment to your stand mixer – bonus if you have one with the flex edge.

Beat butter until it’s fluffy, then beat in the vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar and heavy cream by alternating ½ cup of powdered sugar and ½ tsp of heavy cream. Wait until the powdered sugar is fully incorporated before adding the next ½ cup. (This is a good time to use the pouring shield for your stand mixer. The powdered sugar tends to fly.)

Add sugar sprinkles or food coloring at the end. I just shook the sprinkles in until the buttercream turned pink and the sprinkles were incorporated throughout.

Finish the Cupcakes! 

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Put the piping bag in a mason jar and fold the sides over to make filling it easier

When the cupcakes and filling are fully cooled, use an apple corer to make a hole for the filling in the center of each cupcake.

Add filling to a piping bag. You can also use a plastic zip-top bag with a corner cut off if you don’t have a piping bag. I highly recommend using a piping bag with a tip for this, though, because it really gets the filling distributed throughout the center.

Pipe buttercream on top of each cupcake. I used Wilton tip #32.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Cold, cold day today, and I spent several hours outside at the barn this afternoon. Soup was definitely a good choice to help me warm up when I got home.

Ingredients

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp Tastefully Simple Wahoo! chili seasoning
1 jalapeno
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo + about 2tsp of the sauce
28oz can diced tomatoes
3 cups frozen corn
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup masa harina
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
Monterey jack cheese
Tortilla strips (store bought or homemade)
Salt

Instructions

Dice onion and jalapeño (after removing seeds). Mince garlic. Rough chop chili. Don’t worry too much about having perfect knife skills because you’re just going to puree it all later.

Boil chicken breasts in a medium pot. Salt the water! Set the chicken aside when finished.

Melt butter in a dutch oven (or other large pot) over medium heat. Cook onions, jalapeño, garlic, & chipotle+sauce until the onions are translucent.

Add tomatoes and chili seasoning. Cook for a few minutes, then add chicken stock.

Use an immersion blender to puree everything in the pot. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender. Just be careful because hot/steamy stuff + blenders aren’t always a good combo.

Add the masa harina. Use the immersion blender to get rid of any chunks that form. This is a good time to taste it and add salt. Don’t worry if you think it’s too spicy right now. The cream will take care of that later. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Add the corn. (Get the tortilla strips in the oven now if you’re making them)

Pull or shred the chicken. I use the stand mixer for this. Toss the chicken in and use the beater on speed 2 for about 30-45 seconds. I always cover it with a towel because sometimes pieces like to fly out. You can also pull it with a fork instead.

Add the chicken to the soup. Stir in the heavy cream. Taste again, and add more salt if needed. Let it cook on low for about 10 more minutes.

Serve and garnish with the cheese and tortilla strips.

Tortilla Strips

Use a pizza cutter to cut tortillas into strips. I cut small tortillas into quarters, then cut into strips. You have two options – fry until golden, or bake. I baked these since they were going in soup. Coat in olive oil, season with salt. Line up the strips on a baking sheet and bake on 350 until golden.