Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Best Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls are a tradition in my family. My mother always made tea rings for friends and family for Christmas gifts. I have tried dozens of recipes, but these are by far the best. They require some planning, since you have to start the starter at least the day before you are ready to bake. All the planning and the minimal fussing with the starter is so completely worth it. These are far better than Cinnabon. I don't use raisins (since raisins have no place in cinnamon rolls) and I don't put nuts in since Mr. Smith feels that nuts are a crime against humanity. 'Nuff said.

Now, go make some Cinnamon Rolls! Add the raisins or nuts if that is what you like. And stop lazing around reading this silly blog and go bake something! I will wait for the thank you comments to flood in after I post this.


These Cinnamon Rolls were featured on Paula Deen's show. Unfortunately, they did not include the recipe for the starter on the original show.


1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup Idaho potato flakes

1 teaspoon dry active yeast

1 1/2 cups warm tap water

One day before you plan on baking the cinnamon rolls combine the starter ingredients. Stir this mixture occasionally with a rubber spatula and your starter should start bubbling within 12 hours. You will know this because you will see bubbles along the side of the bowl and on the top of the mixture as well. Let this mixture sit bubbling, uncovered, until you are ready to make the dough the next day. You might want to stir it occasionally. Remember this is a living culture and you will need to take care of it in order to keep it alive.

Lots of love and have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Try this cake

I have been reading this woman's blog recently. I guess I find it interesting because her life is so completely different from mine. Check it out if you have time to kill. I don't, but I seem to end up on her site several times a day.

Anyway, she has tons of recipes, with step-by-step photos. I was drawn to this one, probably because of Mr. Smith's deep, abiding love for all things chocolate. Of course, Mr. Smith does not have a deep abiding love for any type of nuts in his food. Nuts are poison in Mr. Smith's estimation. He feels that they do not belong in his food or anyone's food for that matter. My point is, you can make this cake and leave the nuts out and the cake will still be an absolutely sublime experience. Do yourself a favor, just make it and for a moment, you won't care that your 401k is probably worthless.

Pioneer Woman Chocolate Sheet Cake

Combine in a mixing bowl:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a saucepan, melt:

2 sticks butter

Add 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa. Stir together.

Add 1 cup boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In measuring cup, pour 1/2 cup buttermilk.*


2 beaten eggs

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make icing:

Chop 1/2 cup pecans finely.

Melt 1 3/4 sticks butter in a saucepan.

Add 4 heaping tablespoons cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat.


6 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 lb minus 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Stir together.

Add pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

*There is this really nifty powdered buttermilk you can buy in many stores. You add it to the dry ingredients and then just add water where the recipe tells you to add the buttermilk. Check it out if you have trouble finding actual buttermilk.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Emeril's Banana Bread

I made this Banana Bread this morning. The Monkey went on a business trip so we had some pretty old bananas laying around, looking sad and lonely. So, rather than let them turn completely into candy, I decided to repurpose them before it was too late. Mr. Smith expressed his desire for banana bread sans walnuts (are you kidding? What's the point?)

The result is absolutely wonderful. I can highly recommend this recipe. The bread is delicate (probably because of the cake flour) and light. Not the usual heavy, oily banana bread.

I made two smaller loaves instead of the one big loaf, so the baking time is shorter. So, if you have a couple of oldish bananas around, go for it. Even without the walnuts, it would be wonderful.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chicken a la King

This Chicken a la King recipe is a little fussy, but honestly, all the chopping and fussing is so worth it. This is another one of Mr. Smith's favorites and it has become a family favorite. I usually leave out the three egg yolks at the end, it just plain gives me the willies, but if you are okay with it, go for it.

I have to tell you, the method that Emeril uses to cook the chicken (in a foil packet with vegetables) absolutely set my world on fire! Now, at long last, I can cook the chicken while I am doing other things, have some beautifully cooked vegetables AND the broth to add to a million recipes. It also allows you to cook chicken that is frozen solid (just bake it a little longer) in a recipe. Love love love it!!!

The Herb Biscuits are too much trouble, so I usually just make Baking Powder Biscuits (recipe to come from the legendary Robin Hood Flour Cookbook). Occasionally I will throw in some herbs or some shredded cheddar cheese just to make things interesting.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Abs Diet Smoothie

Abs Diet Ultimate Power Smoothie

1 cup 1% milk

2 Tablespoons low-fat vanilla yogurt

3/4 cup instant oatmeal, microwaved in water

2 teaspoons peanut butter

2 teaspoons chocolate whey powder

6 ice cubes, crushed

Throw everything in the blender, blend well and enjoy. Makes two generous 8-ounce servings. I also throw in some ground flaxseed, it gives it a nice nutty flavor. Here is the nutritional information:

Calories per serving: 220; Protein: 12 g; Carbs: 29 g; Fat: 4 g; Saturated fat: 1.5 g; Sodium: 118 mg;

Fiber 3 g.

This was my saving grace when I was pregnant. I could have this, made with soy milk and it would do the trick for a meal. I couldn't have ANY dairy for the first 6 months of my first pregnancy. It didn't even stay down for 5 minutes. As long as I live, I will never completely recover from having to throw up potato cream soup. Ouch!

I will admit, it does take a little getting used to (the oatmeal, in a smoothie, I mean), but once I got used to it, I started craving them. It is the perfect is quick, you can drink it in the car, you can make it the night before. Love it!

Apple Crisp

This recipe comes to you courtesy of Let's Bake the Robin Hood No-Sift Way, published in 1964. This cookbook is no less than legend in our family. It is literally in pieces, and has been repaired thousands of times. There are samples of recipes on several pages. Not being able to find the cookbook on a moment's notice has been known to incite sheer panic. We have discussed multiple times scanning the cookbook in its entirety so there is no chance of losing the classic.

My mother used to make this when we were young. I would practically skip around the kitchen, inhaling the sweet aroma of apples and cinnamon. When it was finally done, I would practically set my mouth on fire by trying to eat the wonderful concoction before it was cool enough to eat.

To this day, the smell of apples and cinnamon baking, that smell wafting through the house, makes me so happy. This time of year I will put a little apple sauce, some cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc. in a sauce pan mixed into about a quart of water. I just leave it gurgling away for a few hours on low. It smells like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolled into one.

Apple Crisp

6 cups (4 large) peeled, sliced apples

1/2 cup water

2 tsp. lemon juice

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

Arrange prepared apples in well-greased 9-inch square pan or well-greased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle with water and lemon juice.

Mix flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Spoon crumb mixture over apples.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Serve warm or cold topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Makes 9 servings (Yeah, right!).

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pepperoni Pizza Twist

The first time I ever had this recipe, I was at a Pampered Chef party at Miss Amy's house. Wow, it sure was tasty and it took all my self-control not to eat the whole thing myself.

Since then, I have made it for dinner several times. Every once in a while, I make it for Mr. Smith for his lunch. He loves it when I make this for lunch. Most of the time we have a Romaine salad with it, dressed with Olive Oil, lemon juice (from Miss Amy's lemons...thank you very much!), garlic and fresh ground pepper.

There is a handy little video of technique since I know the written instructions can be confusing if you have never made this. Also, I have had trouble finding the French Bread, but have used the Pillsbury Pizza Crust and I actually like it better that way.

Pepperoni Pizza Twist

1 package (3.5 ounces) pepperoni slices, diced

1 can (3.25 ounces) pitted ripe olives, drained and chopped

2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 garlic clove, pressed

2 packages (11 ounces each) refrigerated French bread dough

1 egg

1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning Mix

2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1 can (15 ounces) pizza sauce, warmed (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Dice pepperoni. Chop olives using. Snip parsley using kitchen shears. In a bowl, combine pepperoni, olives, parsley, mozzarella cheese, flour and garlic; mix well.

2. Place bread dough, seam sides up, on smooth side of a cutting board. Using a knife, slice each loaf lengthwise, end to end, cutting halfway through to center of loaf; spread open flat. Lightly sprinkle additional flour evenly over dough. Using a baker's roller, roll dough crosswise to a 4-inch width, creating a well down center of each loaf.

3. Spoon half of the pepperoni mixture down center of each loaf. Gather up edges over filling, pinching firmly to seal. Place loaves, seam sides down, in an "X" pattern on a rectangle stone. Crisscross ends of dough to form a large figure "8," keeping ends of dough 1 inch from edge of stone and leaving two 1 1/2-inch openings in center of twist.

4. Separate egg over small bowl. (Discard yolk or set aside for another use.) Beat egg white and seasoning mix; lightly brush over dough. Using serrated bread knife, cut a 3-inch slit in each of the top sections of the twist to reveal filling.

5. Grate Parmesan cheese over loaf. Bake 30-32 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove to cooling rack; cool 10 minutes. Cut into 16 slices. Serve with warm pizza sauce, if desired.

Yield: 16 appetizers or 24 sample servings

Nutrients per serving: Calories 160, Total Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 10 mg, Carbohydrate 20 g, Protein 6 g, Sodium 440 mg, Fiber 0 g

Cook's Tip: If desired, 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper can be substituted for the olives.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

I made these Chicken Enchiladas tonight for dinner. As usual...fiasco, but the results were phenomenal! These are better than any enchilada I have ever had in any restaurant. Be warned this recipe is HUGE (two 9 x 13 pans full of really zippy enchiladas), but I can see that the leftovers will not hang around. Mr. Smith declared that he would eat these every day. He looked a little scared when I told him he might have to.

The fiasco part of the story involves the shopping trips (yes, trips) that Mr. Smith and I both had to make. He to go on the bigger shopping trip, since coordinating the naps around here is impossible. He did not feel confident purchasing chicken and could not find chipotle at the store.

After he got home, I was tied up feeding Pinkie (seeing as how she eats almost constantly). By the time that was done, Hamster was up from his nap (Mama talk to me on the walkie talkie), having his snack. Finally I was able to get out of the house, with the promise that I would not return without a new car for Hamster (this has become a real problem around here. Hamster feels that there should be a new car on his high chair tray after each of his naps).

Pinkie and I went to the store largely without incident. Got home pretty quickly, and was so glad to be pulling into the garage WITHOUT THE PROMISED CAR!!!! Quickly called Mr. Smith, and rushed to Target to buy the stinking car. Pinkie was not the least bit happy to be making yet another stop, but we were able to find a car that The Hamster does not have yet (not easy at this point, he has almost the entire Matchbox/Hot Wheels aisle).

Luckily Mr. Smith was kind enough the keep The Hamster outside long enough for me to get dinner ready. This was no small feat as The Hamster has discovered running in and out of the house...maddening to say the very least!

Anyway, Hamster says it is too spicy for him, but Mr. Smith LOVED it. Add it the repertoire and call it a day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Peanut Butter Bars

I found this recipe today on this gal's blog.

These are kind of a cross between candy and a bar cookie. They are rich, but not over powering. Mr. Smith maintains that there is too much peanut butter and not enough chocolate. I, of course, feel that there is no such thing as too much peanut butter. What an insane notion! Obviously, this is a dispute that will NEVER be settled. Two oldest children duking it out over something so trivial. Perhaps this dispute will supplant the Abraham Lincoln argument (was he, or was he not a good president, I say yes, Mr. Smith, not so much...go ahead talk amongst yourselves)

Anyway, I am always looking for new ways to increase the amount of peanut butter in my diet, these fit the bill perfectly.

1 cup butter

1 cup peanut butter

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 cups confectioner sugar

1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

4 Tablespoons peanut butter

Melt the butter and peanut butter together. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and sugar until well blended. Spread peanut butter mixture in 9 x 13" pan. Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter together and stir until well blended. Spread chocolate mixture on top of peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mexican Lasagna

I made this Mexican Lasagna for dinner last night. We are trying to incorporate some new recipes into our repertoire. Things have been getting a little stale lately, so this was the plan. I am also trying to cut down on grocery shopping trips (pricey and time consuming, not to mention, not easy with 2 1/2 year old and a 4 month old). Anyway, we watch The Food Network around here and Robin Miller made this one the other day. Mr. Smith thought it looked good, so we decided to give it a shot.

Well, this recipe is an absolute killer. You can make it as healthy as you would like and as spicy or non-spicy as you would like. I used the marinade that she recommends from the same show to roast the chicken, but it would be just as easy to pick up a rotisserie chicken when you are shopping and use that.

The awesome thing about Robin Miller is that she figures out a couple of recipes to use the same basic ingredients, so if you plan things a little bit, you get a couple meals out of each cooking session. Works for me!!