Sunday, October 31, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Icing

by Pioneer Woman
(click on all pictures to get a closer look at all this yumminess!!)

1 qt. whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsps. (or 2 packets) active dry yeast
9 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 scant tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. salt

2 cups melted butter, plus more as needed
1/4 cup ground cinnamon for sprinkling
2 cups sugar, plus more as needed

2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
6 tbsps. (3/4 stick) butter, melted
1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
Dash of salt
1 tbsp. maple flavoring or maple extract

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, do not allow the mixture to boil.  Set aside and cool to lukewarm.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

 Add 8 cups of flour.  Stir until just combined, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

Remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour.  Stir throughly to combine.  Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan.  On a flowered baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches.

To make the filling, pour 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough.  If you'd like, use your fingers to spread the butter evenly.  

Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter.  Use more of either if needed.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly toward you.  Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight.  Don't worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine.

When you reach the end, pinch the seam together.  When you're finished, you'll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, goeey log.  With a sharp knife, make 1 1/2 inches.  One log will produce 20 to 25 rolls.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of melted butter into the desired pie pans or baking dishes and swirl to coat.  Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd.  (Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans.  
Preheat, the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cover the pans with a kitchen towel and set a side to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking.  Remove the towel and bake for 13 to minutes, until golden brown.  Don't allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing.

In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt.  Splash in the maple flavoring.

Whisk until very smooth.  Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency.  The icing should be thick but still pourable.

When the rolls come out of the oven, notice the gooey filling inside.  Mmmmm.  At this point, your kitchen is by far the best-smelling place on earth.
While the rolls are still warm (see main picture on top), generously drizzle icing over the top.  Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top  As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing's moisture and flavor.  they only get better with time. . . not that they last for more than a few seconds! 

  • Add finely chopped pecans to the rolls after sprinkling on the cinnamon and sugar.
  • Substitute 8 tablespoons of orange marmalade and 1 cup brown sugar (per half batch of dough) for the cinnamon and white sugar, then substitute orange juice for the maple and coffee in the icing.
Cinnamon rolls can be frozen in the pan, unbaked.  Just cover them tightly with foil after you place them in the pan but before they rise.  Then, when you're ready to bake, allow them to thaw and rise before baking.  Ice as directed.

My Comments:
Ever since I got the Pioneer Woman's cookbook (it was a gift from Elise) and saw this recipe, I just couldn't wait to make these cinnamon rolls.  They were screaming out to me.  The recipe looked a little on the difficult side, but like I mentioned to my mother in law, Evelyn, working at a bakery taught me a lot so I knew it wouldn't be too difficult and it really wasn't.  Once I get the hang of it, I'll be able to bang these babies out in no time.  The only thing I would change is the amount of sugar I used.  I just think it was a little too much and I just don't like my mouth full of buttery sugar with hardly any dough, it all needs to be balanced between the dough, sugar, butter and cinnamon.  Other than that, I now know how to make those "Cinnabons" you find at the mall.  ~isavortheweekend

It's been another crazy football weekend.  The Flames won their 3rd conference game in a row.  After a sluggish start in the first half against Presbyterian, my stomach nerves were tamed by a much better, dominanating  2nd half finishing with a "W"!!  The Dallas Cowboys on the other hand, lost another one.  They had such great potential but they just got worse and worse as the season went by.  Losing Tony Romo wasn't in their plans and just made things sadly worse :(  Oh well, I still love my Cowboys and always will.  On the other hand, Redskins lost to Detroit (yay!!)  Detroit has been at the bottom for too long and they need these victories not only for themselves but also for the Detroit community what with the recession and all.  Way to go Lions!!  Patriots won and Favre got hurt, a slash on his chin that needed 10 stitches, I think that's what I heard.  He's one tough hombre, especially at his age (41).  Loved the weekend, today was Halloween, my little pumpkin (grandson) dressed up as a monkey and he looked sooooo adorable.  I love him so much.   It's late, there's much more to say but I just can't type anymore. ~isavortheweekend

Carnitas, Salsa and fixins

Carnitas con Salsa, Frijoles y Arroz (Carnitas with Salsa, Beans and Rice)

I got in the mood for Carnitas this weekend.  Here's the recipe since I've already posted it before but this is an updated picture.

For Lene: Old and New Pepper Mill

Old pepper mill
You have to squeeze a lot just to get this much.  Plus I don't like the size of the grains, they're too big in my opinion.  I hate chomping down on a large grain of pepper and then it gets stuck between my teeth, ewww!!!
(click on all pictures to get a closer view)

My new Bobby Flay pepper mill
Just a few turns and I get all this pepper in a fine grind, just the way I like it!

Both mills together.  Which one do you prefer?  You already know my answer :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

by Pioneer Woman

(Printable Recipe)
  • 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
  • 1 pound Fettuccine
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • ½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ cups White Wine
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente; do not overcook!

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. 

Toss around to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.
Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.

With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until cream starts to thicken the mixture. Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste. Sauce should be spicy!

Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.
Top with chopped fresh parsley and chow down!

I started my weekend cooking a little early, on Friday night.  I had some chicken in the fridge that needed to be cooked and couldn't think of anyway on how to cook it then, "Pioneer Woman" to the rescue!  Surprise, surprise :)  This took a little longer than I expected, I'm sure it will be faster the more I learn the steps and the more I cook it.  I did like the flavors of all the spices along with the kick.  The noodles mixed with a creamy, spicy sauce all smothering the chicken make for a tasty, filling, satisfying end to my work week.  ~isavortheweekend

Monday, October 18, 2010

Perfect Pot Roast

by Pioneer Woman
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
One 3 to 5 lb. chuck roast
2 onions
6 to 8 carrots
2 to 2 1/2 cups beef stock
3 or 4 rosemary sprigs
2 or 3 fresh thyme sprigs


Preheat oven to 275
Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-heat.  Add the olive oil and let it get really hot.  While it heats, prepare the other ingredients.

Generously salt the chuck roast on both sides.  

Cut a couple of onions in half from root to tip.  Cut off the tops and bottoms and peel off the papery skin.
When the pot is very hot, place the onions in the oil and brown on both sides, about a minute per side.  Remove the onions to a plate.

Next, thoroughly wash - but don't peel - the carrots.  Cut them roughly into 2-inch slices.  Throw the carrots into the same (very hot) pot.  Toss them around until slightly brown, about a minute or so.  The point here is to get a nice color started on the outside of the vegetables, not to cook them.

Remove the carrots from the pot and allow the pot to get really hot again.  Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan.  Place the meat in the pot and sear it, about a minute per side.  Remove to a plate.

Now with the burner on high, deglaze the pot by adding  1 cup of the beef stock, whisking constantly.  The point of deglazing is to  loosen all the burned, flavorful bits from the bottom of the pot.

When most of the bits are loosened, place the meat back in the pot.  Followed by the carrots and onions.  Pour enough beef stock into the pot to cover the meat.  Next, put in the fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs.  The fresh herbs absolutely make this dish.  Tuck them into the juice to ensure that the flavors are distributed throughout the pot.  

Now, just cover the pot and roast for 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of your roast.  For a 3-pound roast, allow for 3 to 2 1/2 hours.  For a 5-pound roast, allow for a 4 to 5 hour cooking time.  Don't disrupt the roast during the cooking process.  When the cooking time is over, check the roast for doneness, a fork should go in easily and the meat should be very tender.  Remove the meat to a cutting board and slice against the grain.  Place on a plate with vegetables and your choice of mashed potatoes or rice or whatever your heart desires.  

I made this on Sunday afternoon knowing that it was going to be our dinner for Monday night as I had plans and didn't have time to whip something up in the kitchen.  A dish like this needs all day to cook so I didn't mind doing it a day ahead.  Well it was worth the wait.  I never cooked a chuck roast with fresh herbs and it's as good as it tastes and of course meat and potatoes man loved it.  He did suggest though that next time I add a little brown sugar to the carrots and I just may do that.  ~isavortheweekend

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chicken with Lemon Potatoes

cooked by Elise found in Home Cooking magazine

1 4 lb. whole chicken
1 medium bunch fresh basil leaves (thinly sliced, about 1 cup)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 lemons, zested (1 reserved)
5 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 3/4 pounds small to medium potatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, trimmed (1 1/2 packed cups)

1.  Preheat oven to 450 F degrees with rack set in middle.  Remove any excess fat around chicken cavities and discard; rinse chicken and pat dry inside and out.
2.  In a small bowl, combine basil, butter, lemon zest, garlic and scallions.
3.  Starting a chicken's neck, slide hands under skin, carefully loosening skin on breast and thighs.  Spread butter mixture, about 1 tablespoon at a time, between loosened skin and meat, taking care not to tear skin.  Rub hands over skin to spread mixture into crevices.
4.  Season chicken (inside and out) with salt and pepper, then tie legs together with kitchen string.  In a large blow, toss potatoes with oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and enough pepper to coat well.  Cut reserved lemon into quarters and set 3 aside.
5.  Heat roasting pan in oven for 10 minutes.  remove; then put potatoes and any oil left in bowl into pan, keeping potatoes in a single layer and pushed to edges to make room for chicken.  Place chicken in pan, breast side up.
6.  Roast chicken for 20 minutes, then remove pan from oven and turn bird breast-side down.  Continue to roast for 20 more minutes, then remove pan from oven and turn bird breast side up again.  Sprinkle parsley over potatoes, then stir to coat with pan drippings.  Squeeze reserved lemon over chicken and put rinds into pan.  Continue to roast until juices of chicken run clear when thigh is pierced with a fork, or an instant-read thermometer inserted in breast reaches 160 degrees F, 30 to 30 minutes.
7.  Remove pan from oven; let chicken rest for 15 minutes before transferring to a cutting board.  Let rest for 5 more minutes, then carve.  Spoon pan juices over chicken; serve with potatoes and roasted lemon.

Wow, coming home to dinner is always good, but coming home to a GOOD dinner is even better.  I always like it when Elise cooks.  She likes to surprise us and that's half the fun.  This chicken has some lovely savory flavors, the potatoes were even better.  I don't ever remember having potatoes mixed with lemons but wow, this was awesome.  The pototoes were carmelized in the oil, lemon, spice and garlic juices and tasted ever so fantastic.  Dad and I enjoyed this immensely.  Thanks Lisee :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

by the Pioneer Woman - Ree Drummond

3 pounds cube steak
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk, plus 2 cups for the gravy
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus about 1/2 cup for the gravy
2 teaspoons seasoned salt (Lawry's seasoning is the best)
3/4 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil

Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, mix the eggs and 1 cup of milk (I added salt and pepper too).  In another separate dish, mix the flour, paprika, and peppers.  Begin with an assembly line of the  dish with meat, egg/milk mixture and flour mixture with a clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat.

Take one piece of meat at a time and dredge it in the egg mixture, then the flour, then back in the egg mixture and then one last time in the flour.  Place on clean plate.

Once all the pieces have been breaded, heat the oil on med-high heat.  You know it's ready when you sprinkle a smidgen of flour and it sizzles.  Fry two to three pieces of meat at a time.  

Cook on one side until the edges start to look golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm.

To make the gravy, after frying all the meat, pour off the grease into a heat proof bowl.  Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over med-low heat.  Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan.  Allow the grease to heat up.  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of flour evenly over the grease.  Using a whisk, mix the flour with grease, creating a golden brown paste.  This is know as a "roux," and you want the roux to attain a deep, rich color.  If the paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour.

Whisk again and check the consistency.  After a couple of minutes, the paste will start to turn golden brown.  That's when it's ready.  Whisking constantly pour in 2 cups of milk.  Whisk to combine, then let the gravy come to a slow boil.  The gravy will thicken gradually, but if it seems too thick at first, add splashed of milk as needed, whisking to combine.  As you cook and thicken the gravy, be prepared to splash in more milk if it becomes overly thick.  The total cooking process should take 5 to 10 minutes.  Generously season with salt and pepper, tasting to ensure that it's seasoned adequately.

This dish has to be on my hubby's top 5 list of favorite dishes.  This is what he always orders when we go to Doc's Diner or any other steak house.  I like it a lot too but not as much as he does.  My mother-in-law joined us with this meal and made many good comments and how much she liked it.  {{{Brownie points}}} ;)  We are all very happy with this recipe - thanks to Pioneer Woman.  ~isavortheweekend

It's so hard to believe that college football is already half way through the season.  It's like we're so anxious to play each game to find out whether we chalk up another "W" or not, next thing you know it's the end of the season, which is so sad.  Our quest this year is to win the conference title which will give us an automatic bid to the playoffs - which in turn will be first time in history.  We're anxious to find out if that happens, but then at the same time, I don't want the season to end.  But it is what it is.  
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