Cinnamon Rolls

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Sometimes I just wake up and need to make Cinnamon Rolls. These are a combination of two recipes with a few more tweaks. Between the two, we have a family favorite! These can be on the table in a couple of hours, so you just need to sneak to the kitchen a little early and your family will wake up to the smell of fresh baked Cinnamon Rolls! You’ll need coffee or a glass of milk to go along.

Dough:

¾ c milk

¼ butter, softened

3 ¼ c flour*

2 ¼ t (or 1 pkg) instant yeast

¼ c white sugar

½ t salt

¼+ c water

1 egg

Filling:

1 c brown sugar, packed

2 ½ T cinnamon

¼ c butter, melted

Icing:

4 oz Neufchatel/Cream cheese, softened

¼ c butter, softened

1 ½-2 c confectioners’ sugar

1 t vanilla

*sub in 1 c white whole wheat flour (I just like to do this where I can)

Heat the milk in small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in ¼ c butter, stir till melted. Let cool to lukewarm.

In large bowl, combine 2/14 c flour, yeast, sugar, and salt; mix well. Add water, egg, and the milk mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth – about 5 minutes. (I use a stand mixer with a dough hook for all of this.)

Shape dough into a ball, cover with a damp towel and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together filling ingredients in small bowl.

Roll out dough on floured surface into a big rectangle 16×21”. Spread filling evenly over dough. Roll dough lengthwise and cut into 12 equal size rolls. (Tip: for even cutting – cut in half, then half again, then thirds.) Place rolls cut side up in lightly greased 9×13 baking pan. (Can also use muffin cups.) Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 30-40 minutes, beginning to “puff” (original said to let double, but they don’t really get there or need to).

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, until beginning to golden.

Beat together Icing ingredients in a small bowl. Spread over warm rolls before serving.

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Sausage & Wild Rice Casserole

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This is my all-time favorite Thanksgiving side dish. I would skip the turkey before I missed having this dish. It’s a family recipe from way back from one of the best cooks I’ve known. It’s even better the next day with a plate of scrambled eggs and leftover fruit salad. I’ll add a photo after I bake it tomorrow!

1 lb bulk sausage, hot or mild

1/2 c celery, finely chopped (1-2 stalks)

2 T green pepper, finely chopped

2 T onion, finely chopped

4 or so mushrooms, chopped (or 2.5 oz jar sliced)

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

1 1/2 c water

1 c shredded cheddar

1 c wild rice

2 T chicken bouillon granules, or other bouillon base

1/2 t dried marjoriam

1/2 t dried thyme

In skillet, brown and crumble sausage. Add celery, green pepper, onion, and mushrooms to soften slightly. Drain pan drippings. Stir all ingredients into a 9×13 baking dish. Cover and bake at 325 for 1.5-2 hours. Uncover last 10-15 minutes to brown a bit. Great to prepare night before, refrigerate, and bake the next day (this helps soften the rice a bit too).

Indian Butter Chicken

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I found this recipe online and have altered quite a bit…I should probably give it another name!
The original calls for heavy cream and more butter, spices altered a bit too… Might be more like Tika Masala?
It’s really tasty – another favorite. Spicy or mild, as you wish. Saucy, tomatoey, creamy yumminess!

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 T minced garlic
1/2 c butter
2 c tomato sauce (or 15 oz can)
2 cans coconut milk (1 lite, 1 regular) – this is where original used 3 c heavy cream and evaporated milk
1 t salt
1/8-1 t cayenne, depending on preference (I use 1/8 t for family)
2 T Garam Masala
1-2 T olive oil
1 T curry powder
1.5 lbs boneless chicken breast cut into bite sized cubes

Serves 4-6

Cook onion and garlic in skillet with 1T butter, caramelize to brown. Begin sauce while these are cooking and add to simmering sauce when ready.

In separate large skillet combine remaining butter, tomato sauce, coconut milk, salt, cayenne, and Garam Masala. Bring to simmer on medium-high heat, then simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Will begin to thicken.

While sauce is simmering, in a large bowl combine 1-2 T olive oil with 1T curry powder. Stir together the oil and curry powder, then add raw chicken and stir to coat. Spread chicken on cookie sheet (I first cover sheet with foil), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 375 till just done – about 12 minutes. Add cooked chicken to sauce and simmer another 5-10 minutes.

Note: I always try to simplify. I tried to consolidate to one pan and skip some steps, but found that these steps make a difference!

Serve over hot rice with fresh bread…or better still, warm naan!

Monster Cookies…Not So Scary

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I was experimenting with this family favorite and used honey rather than brown and white sugar. The original also suggests m&ms and toffee chips…which may be the best, but I was looking to make them a little healthier. Could also try subbing applesauce for the butter…that’ll be my next attempt. This makes a smaller batch too (2-3 dozen).

¼ c butter, softened

1 c honey

1 egg

½ t vanilla

3/4 c peanut butter (crunchy adds nice texture)

1 t baking soda

2 ¾ c oats

2-3 oz (1/4 bag, which is probably about 1/3 c) semi-sweet chocolate chips

¼ c raisins or Craisins

Cream together butter and honey, add egg, vanilla and peanut butter. Mix well. Stir in soda, chocolate chips and raisins. (Or, add it all at once and mix till well combined.)  Use about 1-2 T dough per cookie, and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes on cookie sheet.

Just double or triple for more!  Except: when substituting honey, use less than equal parts past 1 cup.  Example, if doubling, try 1 ¾ c honey. Can add a little more oats too if dough is too soft.

Pumpkin Bars (Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie)

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This is one of my favorite fall recipes.  An easy take-along dessert, and it’s always a big hit. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared the recipe over the years. It just seems more like a bar than pie, but it could be made in a pie plate and served more traditionally too! Super easy and really good.  It’s a Borden/Eagle Brand recipe from waaaaaaaaay back…and I haven’t even modified it except to save a little more of the crumb mixture for topping.

1 ¾ c unsifted flour

1/3 c firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 c white sugar

1 c cold butter, cut into small pieces (or margarine)

1 c chopped walnuts (or pecans)

1 (16 oz) can pumpkin (2 cups)

1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (NOT evaporated milk)

2 eggs

1 t ground cinnamon

½ t allspice

½ t salt

In medium bowl, combine flour and sugars; cut in butter till crumbly.  Stir in nuts.  Reserving 1 1/4 cup of crumb mixture, press remainder firmly on bottom and halfway up sides of 12×7 inch baking pan (or 10×10 square).  In large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients except reserved crumb mixture; mix well.  Pour into prepared dish.  Top with crumb mixture.  Bake @ 350 for 55 minutes or until golden.  Cool.  Garnish as desired.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Gazpacho

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This original recipe is from the Colorado Cache Cookbook from way back. The original uses tomato juice and finely chopped vegetables. It’s amazing. I altered it just a bit, for a quick and easy blended version. I made a batch and ate it for days…I think I could live on this!  Simple, fresh, and yummy. Great for lunch, or as a side instead of salad. Cold soup? Yes, try it!

Gazpacho

3 large tomatoes

1 green bell pepper

1 or 2 cucumbers peeled and seeded (or not)

2 big stalks celery

4 or 5 green onions (or 1/2 med onion)

2 c (1 can) crushed or whole tomatoes

5 T red wine vinegar

4 T olive oil

1-2 t salt

1/2 t black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 c water, tomato juice, carrot juice (some sort of liquid) to desired consistency

1-2 t sugar, to taste

1 avocado

Chop all veggies coarsely, big chunks (save avocado for topping) and blend together in food processor with all remaining ingredients.  (Process in 2-3 parts and stir together in a large, non-metallic bowl.) Best after setting in fridge overnight, but I can never wait! Top with a finely chopped avocado, maybe a little sour cream, and/or some fresh cilantro.

For the original, chunky and more brothy version, just finely chop all veggies, including the avocado, and replace the canned tomatoes with 4 c tomato juice or V-8.

p.s. I’ll have to make another batch…I ate it all before I could take a photo!

Link

Fresh Strawberry Pie

I made the linked recipe with a few modifications, and it was fabulous! Combined the suggestions of a few others:

1.5 times the crust, and used a little bigger Pyrex round dish, also required baking till golden, almost double suggested time; added a layer of lite cream cheese mixed with 2T powdered sugar and 1/2 t vanilla; quartered strawberries, and stirred glaze together with berries.

We just loved it, even Scott, who’s not a big strawberry fan.  A super easy and quick, refreshing and yummy summer dessert!