Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls


Christmas morning was at my house this year. This was a lot of pressure for someone who admits that I don't do breakfast. Half of a bagel or instant oatmeal is good for me! So, what to make, what to make? I decided on Alton Brown's Overnight Cinnamon rolls. They were a hit. Even my dad ate one, and he usually saves such things for breakfast the next day. Oh wait, this was breakfast! It really wasn't all that much to put together the night before. You assemble the rolls into almost their final form the day before. The day of, you have a little rise, then bake, make some icing, and ta-da cinnamon rolls!


Andy got up first, so I prepped and allowed for the second rise. Right before "Santa Gifts" I put them into the oven to bake. When there were cooling, it was easy enough to make the icing and then serve. My mom said they looked liked they came from a bakery. My FIL said "they don't make them like this anymore." We will see if they make it to next years breakfast menu.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My first Turkey...

So this was my first Thanksgiving at my house. Thank God my Mom was there to help me. I chose to try a bunch of new recipes. I had great success with the version of this Barfeoot Contessa Recipe with a chicken that I decided to try the turkey version for T-Day :)

The vegetables didn't cook all the way :( I still enjoyed the turkey though!
My first TURKEY on Thanksgiving!!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Susie's Super Cut Out Cookies


I belong to this one playgroup that meets every Wednesday morning. Earlier this year, it was hosted by Susie. She used the playgroup as a little birthday party for one of her three (3!) boys. The snacks she provided were amazing: cupcakes, homemade chex mix, and these wonderful decorated cookies. The cookies were professionally wrapped and decorated, but we soon realized that she had done them herself. And she has three boys. And (this one is for Melissa) she is a pharmacist. I knew that I had met my match. ;)

With Christmas here I wanted some cookies to have the kids decorate and Susie was nice enough to share her recipe with me. It is a long process. I made the dough one evening and let it chill overnight:


The next day, I rolled it out and James helped me to cut out shapes (Andy was sick and napping):


After the cookies had baked and cooler, I made the icing. Twice. First time the icing ending up tasting kind of funny. It uses crisco, and mine apparently was best if used by 2007. Who would have thought. To be honest, I wasn't sure about the crisco, but look at that nice white color:


After icing the cookies (not nearly as nicely as Susie does hers), I let the kids use sprinkles to decorate them. Good in theory, but not so effective. Next time I will try to use little candies. James put forth a nice effort:


Andy, put forth effort in eating the sprinkles:


I took them to get hair cuts while buying Crisco#2, can you tell? Here they are eating their cookies:


Now the recipe:

1 1/2 cupes powdered sugar
1 cup butter softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 1/2 cups self rising flour

- mix together sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg. Gradually add flour. Divide into 2 rounds. Wrap and refridgerate at least 2 hours. After rolling and cutting out, Susie usually refridgerates them again before baking. Not essential for round cookies, but helps other cut outs hold their shape better.
- bake 375 for 6-8 minutes

Buttercream frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup crisco
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar
3-4 Tb milk

- Cream butter and crisco. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar. Add milk a little at a time to moisten frosting. This buttercream will dry hard, but if pushed it will mush down.

Royal frosting (I didn't make this, but hope to try it next time!) - it dries hard
1 lb powdered sugar
3 Tb meringue powder
5 Tb water
- mix all together at high speed for 7 minutes until still peaks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Peppermint Cookie Pops

I found this recipe on my Cooking Light message board. I was looking for something different, yet fancy-smancy and impressive looking. Oh, and also easy enough for my kids to help me with. This one seemed all of those. I actually planned to make these at a different time, but alas, we were instructed to bring a "goodie" to James's Christmas program the next day. Time to assemble the troops and put them to work:


They did a good job, so they got a reward:


This was Andy's first experience with cookie dough...he liked it!


The recipe calls for lollipop sticks, but I couldn't find any. I hear they have some at Michael's, but I improvised with popsicle sticks. I made the cookies a little bigger...not really on purpose, but I think it worked with the popsicle sticks.


Now, these were just your basic cookie, but it had a lot of brown sugar. I just think this would be a prettier christmas cookie if it was more white...or chocolate ;) I would not make as written again, but the kids loved their "cookie pops"!


James's crunchies

Ok, this isn't a very good picture:


Its the holidays, so that means you have to give presents to all your kids' teachers. I really do like to do something homemade, but all the sweets are overwhelming this time of year. Last year I came up with the idea to give granola. It isn't exactly low fat, but it is considered healthy. Plus it is a yummy treat that no one else usually makes. I have posted granola on this blog before, but the following recipe is our version of it:

James’s Crunchies
James loves his crunchies (granola). He helps to make them and eats them sprinkled over yogurt. It keeps forever in the freezer, but it never seems to last all that long. Enjoy!

In a small saucepan, combine:
¼ cup maple syrup
3 TB flavorless oil (canola)
1 TB water
½ tsp cinnamon
- Bring to a boil over low heat

In a large bowl combine:
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
½ cup wheat germ
3 TB brown sugar
Pinch salt
1/3 cup coconut
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Mix well. Drizzle saucepan ingredients over dry ingredients and mix. Pour onto large rimmed baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Working a handful at a time, squeeze granola to form clumps. Bake at 275 for 30 minutes. Add 1/3 cup craisens and bake an addition 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

MIL Mac and Cheese


This is a recipe that Mark grew up with, so of course, I had to find out how to make it. It is just good old fashioned mac and cheese. It is served with every holiday dinner and other meals in between. I made it this past weekend for a progressive dinner to great reviews. Oh, and it is definatley NOT light.

MIL Mac and Cheese

1 cup uncooked macaroni
1 lb sharp chedder cheese
1/3 cup sugar (we use less)
2 eggs
~ 1 1/4 cup milk "whole milk is best, but 2% will do" ps-granny uses cream.
1/2 tsp salt

- cook macaroni until just starting to get soft (I usually do 9 minutes)
- cut up cheese into cubes 1/2" thick and put into a 2 Qt baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
- add 2 eggs and sugar to the cheese.
- drain the macaroni and pour hot pasta into the baking dish.
- Add some milk. Stir. Add some more until milk is about 3/4" from the top.
- Bake at 375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour until top and bottom are brown. It usually takes around an hour or more.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Holiday Showcase

Wow, Dec 6th...I am getting worse and worst at this. So sorry, I know that all of you have been waiting on pins and needles to hear what this month's challenge is. This challenge was actually my sister's idea. She wanted an excuse to show off her Thanksgiving menu and came up with having a Holiday Showcase. Any traditional holiday dishes are fair game, as is anything you make for the first time for a holiday purpose. Happy Cooking everyone!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

I found this recipe in a magazine at my mom's house on Thanksgiving. It sounded neat and I decided to try it because I had leftover pumpkin.

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5oz)
1 can pumpkin puree (16oz)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 gloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Place oil, red onion, garlic and seasonings in a large pot.

2. Cook on low to medium heat until onion and garlic brown.

3. Puree the beans and tomatoes with half of the broth. Add to pot.

4. Simmer uncovered until think, about 40-45 minutes. Before serving add the balsamic vinegar.

We thought this was pretty good. Although it needed a little spicing up. I'm not sure what to try. I thought I might add some corriander next time. Any suggestions?

Also, it needs some kind of sharp cheese or sandwich to go with it too. All we had on hand were some crackers.

Sorry, I have no pictures!