Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cinnamon rolls- my way {deliciously healthified}

Made with a simple glaze rather than cream cheese frosting

About 3 years ago I got a hankering for cinnamon rolls.  It had been a while since I had made them or had them for that matter and I got online to search for a recipe.  I found one that looked incredible.  Kenneth tried to encourage me to sub some of the all-purpose flour out for whole-wheat flour, but I in my cinnamon roll craving scoffed at him and told him I just wanted to go all out for once and use all-purpose (I was really trying to live on the wild side).  So, I made them and they were awful.  Don't get me wrong, they were sweet and gooey and soft, but they were too much.  Sicky-sweet.  In fact, we ended up throwing away half the pan.  For those of you who may not know us well, that is quite unheard of around here- in general we DO NOT WASTE FOOD. 
So, then I was on a quest to make cinnamon rolls that would be perfect- for us anyway. I wanted them to be a treat, but still somewhat healthful. I'm sure that other version was perfect for someone else, or they wouldn't have published it!  I started with my mother-in-law's recipe that she always makes when we visit.  There were 2 reasons for this:
1) I've always enjoyed her cinnamon rolls
2)  I knew the title of her recipe is 'Quick Cinnamon Rolls' 
    I love that these are really fairly easy.  Not a long rising time, but they taste fantastic. 
This recipe actually came from the Friend Magazine years ago.  That is the magazine for the children in my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Since I have made so many changes, I think I can safely call this my own recipe.  I usually prep all the ingredients I can the night before so that it is easy the morning I want to make them.  Like measure the flour, salt, flax and cover.  Put butter in a ceramic bowl ready to be melted in the microwave in the morning.  Measure out the cinnamon and sugar.
So, here goes:
delicious!
Cinnamon rolls- my way (deliciously healthified)

1/4 cup honey
3 Tablespoons yeast
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 Tablespoon cinnamon

Mix the honey, yeast, warm water, applesauce and oil in large bowl until yeast dissolves.  Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.  (Yeast will grow quickly and become quite frothy.)
Blend eggs into yeast mixture.  Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl and add to yeast mixture a little at a time to make a soft dough.
Knead 5 minutes (I use my Kitchen Aid to do this) on a floured counter.
Roll into a rectangle 1/4 " thick.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon mixture.
Roll the dough up starting with the long edge.  Use a piece of floss to cut the dough into about 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces by sliding it under the roll, centering the floss, crossing over the ends and pulling them away from each other so the floss slices through the dough.  Place rolls into an un-greased rectangular pan (I usually use a 9x13 and another smaller pan.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Bake for 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees or until golden brown.
You may put on the glaze, or cream cheese frosting at this point, while they are still warm.  I much prefer these with the cream cheese frosting.

Glaze

1- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons hot water
1/2 tsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix until well blended.

Cream Cheese Frosting

I actually make this different ways depending on to whom I am serving it, or what I have on hand.  You could always use powdered sugar in place of the maple syrup.  This is my favorite version.  My husband prefers less frosting on his cinnamon rolls, so this cut is half would be enough for him, but I like more, so this is what I would make.  Plus, extra cream cheese frosting will always find a way to be used in my world. 

8 ounces Cream Cheese
2 Tablespoons softened butter
Splash vanilla (1/2-1 tsp)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (or more to your liking)
With a mixer mix 8 ounces of cream cheese with 2 Tablespoons of softened butter.  Add a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup and a splash of vanilla.  Taste to test that it is to desired sweetness.  Add more maple syrup if desired.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carrot Cake

As I've mentioned before, I am not a cake lover.  I would much rather have brownies or cookie bars.  But, for Easter this year I decided to make a carrot cake.  It was fabulous and I really enjoyed it and will make it again.  I think I now have three cake recipes I love: a pound cake, a dense chocolate cake (it really is a cake and not a brownie, I promise) and this carrot cake recipe.  I got the recipe from Mel.  Of Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I love that lady.  She makes me happy.  Here is the link to the recipe on her blog.  And below is the recipe copied from there.  As always, my changes are to the right in red.  I didn't mess with the flour this time, but I bet I could have subbed at least half whole wheat flour and it would have still tasted decadent.  Maybe I'll try that next time. 

Carrot Cake

Ingredients
    Cake:
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 large carrots), peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces) (I used a little less)
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil (I used a half applesauce, some canola and some coconut oil)
  • Frosting (I double the recipe below to frost a 9-inch layered cake):
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons butter softened to room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream, light or regular
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (4 1/2 ounces)
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease and flour a 9X13-inch baking pan or 2 9-inch round pans.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside. In a food processor fitted with large or fine shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. You can also shred by hand on a box grater if you don't have a food processor.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
  4. Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 32 minutes for 9-inch round pans and 40 minutes for a 9X13-inch pan. Let cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely (the 9X13-inch cake can be cooled completely in the pan if you don't plan to invert and ice all the sides). At this point, once the cakes are cooled, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and put in a ziploc bag and placed in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature prior to frosting.
  5. When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute. Frost and eat!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Build a Better Salad with Kale

Our regular salad



A few years ago I moved to California.  During my time there I thoroughly enjoyed the abundance of fresh, local produce.  (We now live in Kansas!)  One of the things I learned about in California was kale.  I don't know which rock I had been living under all my life, but I had never even heard of it until we were living there (and I am in my 30's!).  When I discovered how good this power food was for me and my family, I started a quest to incorporate it into our regular diet. 
I've tried the kale chips- I over-salted and over-cooked them I think.  I had a hard time liking them and wanting to make them again.  I tried to make green smoothies with them.  I truthfully had a hard time choking them down.  I also tried to saute it and eat it that way- sometimes even with bacon or nuts to make it more palatable.  I still couldn't love it.  I learned that our favorite way to eat kale was in soup or in baked egg dishes.   But, both of those things can take some planning and time to bring about.
When we moved to Kansas and lived in temporary housing for a couple of months, I wanted easy meals to serve.  I also wanted to keep feeding us the healthy variety of vegetables we had come accustomed to in California.  I recalled a friend in California telling me that they put raw kale in their salads.  When I initially heard this months ago I hadn't even considered trying it since the only raw form of kale I had eaten was in a smoothie and I thought it was awful.  But, for kicks and because of the ease of preparation, I decided to try it in our salad.  I mixed baby spinach with romaine and added a little bit of kale in the mix along with your regular old green salad stars.  Not bad!  I thought.  I continued to do this as we were eating salad 3-4 days a week and upped the amount of kale.  My six-year-old daughter picked up one of the kale leaves off her plate and asked, "What is this mom?  It's my favorite part of the salad!"  I couldn't believe it!  Still now, 3 1/2 months later as we continue to eat lots of salads, my six-year-old still loves the kale.  My other 2 children (ages 3 and 5) eat this salad right along with us with no complaints.  It's a miracle!!!   I now usually mix equal amounts of baby spinach, kale and romaine, green leaf or red leaf.

So, I challenge you to build a better salad with kale!!!

p.s. We really enjoy this salad with Brianna's Caesar Dressing.  It is great! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Baked Macaroni and Cheese {the one}

I haven't posted in forever.  I am still discovering many yummy recipes, but alas, life is just too busy to do it all.  But, I have been on the search for *the* baked macaroni and cheese recipe for years now.  I happened to have a craving for it (hey, I'm pregnant, I'm allowed) and since my husband was out of town (he has banned me from making it when he is home)  I decided the time was right to try again. I was at a friend's house and asked if she had a recipe for it and she pulled out her America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  It looked good so off I went.  I then proceeded to eat it for the next 5 days as leftovers (since I made the entire 9x13 pan and apparently my kids don't really care for it, either).  I don't know if I have ever enjoyed leftovers so much as I did these.  I looked forward to it every time.  I even had it as a snack one day just because I wanted it.  Yum.  So, of course, I made some changes based on what I had in the house, but really I held to the recipe pretty close.  I will share it as it is in the cookbook and add my changes in red to the side.  This is for my sister-in-law, Karen, who encouraged me to put it on here.  Sorry no pictures; by the time I was going to put it on here it was all gobbled up!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
serves 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes (includes 25 minutes baking time)

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
salt
1 lb. elbow macaroni (I used Riccioli, which I found at Costco)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water
1/4 teasppon cayenne pepper (I would maybe reduce this slightly- while I enjoyed it, my almost-3-year-old-son said it was too spicy)
6 Tabelspoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk (they noted in the recipe that this was a must- they said anything less wasn't rich enough to make a creamy sauce, but I didn't have any in the house- only 2%- and I thought it was just fine)
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound colby cheese, shredded (4 cups) (I used maybe 3/4 of a lb. of colby (that's all I had) and then supplemented with Romano cheese)
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups) (I used medium because that is what I had)
pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter and toss with the breadcrumbs.  Set aside. 

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil.  Stir in 1 Tablespoon of salt and the pasta.  Cook until it is almost tender, but still firm.  Drain and leave in the colander.

Wipe the pot dry and add the rest of the butter (6 Tablespoons).  Melt over medium heat.  Stir in the garlic, mustard mixture and the cayenne.  Cook until fragrant, only about 30 seconds.

Stir in the flour and cook until golden about 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in milk and broth.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook, whisking often until it thickens up a little (about 6 minutes).

Remove from stove.  Whisk in colby and cheddar until completely melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  (You have to taste the sauce at this point- yum!!!)  Stir in drained pasta- breaking up any clumps. 

Pour into a 9x13 baking dish.  Spinkle buttered bread crumbs evenly over the top.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling around the edges.  (Mine took less time than this, can't remember exactly, but maybe just 17 minutes or so.)  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

I thought this tasted great heated up in the microwave on subsequent days. 


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day to Me! {Lemon Poppy Seed Scones}

I could try and say that I was selfless and made this breakfast for my dear sweet ones, but it wouldn't be truthful. Kenneth likes to eat the same thing every morning: 2 fried eggs, one piece of toast and COLD milk. As in, don't pour it and let it sit on the table while you make breakfast. He likes it cold.

So, I didn't really make these for him. I'll save one for him, though. Maybe he'll eat it. The children, on the otherhand, were chomping at the bit for breakfast and don't like to wait while I make something like this. Nevermind that I had it ready at 7:20. It's still too long for my early-rising children to wait.

As for me, I enjoyed every bite. I simply love butter. And scones have got some butter, let me tell you. As I was grating the butter into the bowl this morning, Kenneth passed by on his way out the door and said, isn't that a lot of butter? To which I promptly replied, as I tried to keep from salivating, "It sure is."

We've been trying to eat healthier foods over the course of the last year or so. I guess I mean to say more natural foods. As in more butter as opposed to artificially flavored and colored candies =). So, instead of buying candy for Valentine's Day as I might have in the past I bought these for our treat today:

Don't worry, though. I am not completely without a chocolate loving heart. Kenneth is having a Valentine's Day 'party' at work today. I made these for him to bring (and ate about 6 myself along the way:
Of course I had a little left over chocolate and to please my sweetheart, did this:
Now, back to the scones. I got the recipe from Our Best Bites. Here is the link to the recipe. I, or course changed a few things, as I usually do (they're in red). I cut back the sugar slightly. I think even less sugar would have been good. I also cut the glaze in half. I always seem to have too much glaze/frosting/ icing which I think is so wasteful. In cutting this in half, I STILL had extra.
So, here is my version:

Lemon Poppy Seed Scones Recipe adapted by Heidi Larchar from Our Best Bites from Allrecipes
Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt (decrease or omit if using salted butter)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (if using salted butter, cut down on salt)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1 large egg
Zest of 1 lemon

GLAZE:
2 Tablespoons strained lemon juice
1 Tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup + 2 1/2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400. Place baking rack in the middle-low position. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. Add the lemon zest and whisk together again. Grate the frozen butter. Toss the grated butter into the flour mixture and combine it with your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream and egg. Drizzle it over the flour mixture and then toss the mixture together with a fork until everything appears moistened. Gently press the dough into a ball–it will take some time and some parts of the dough will be more moist than other parts, but continue pressing together until it forms a ball.
Lightly flour a surface (you can use the lined baking sheet if you want) and place the dough on top of the floured surface. Press into an 8″ disc and cut into equal wedges with a butter knife (or pizza cutter). Separate the wedges and place them evenly on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven.
While the scones are cooling slightly, whisk together the glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle over the scones. Makes 8 scones.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cream Puffs with Custard Filling and Chocolate Sauce


I guess technically these are just the 'puffs' since I don't fill them with cream. I also don't think I can call them eclairs because I never make them in a log shape- too much work-I've tried. Either way they are fantastic. These are definitely a treat. I enjoy making them for guests. I have also made them extra tiny (reduced baking time) and brought them to a bridal shower where they were a big hit. I used to put chocolate buttercream frosting on top, but I found I prefer them with a nice rich, chocolate sauce. (I've also found if I don't feel like making the chocolate sauce, or don't have any on hand, Nutella works great!) I often make the custard after making a batch of granola since I use 4 egg whites for that recipe. I usually double the custard to have enough to happily fill all the puffs (and to have enough for me to sample along the way!).

Cream Puffs (recipe from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

These are one of Kenneth’s mom’s specialties. She supplied these for one of the local bakeries for years when Kenneth was growing up. The custard that goes inside is luscious. I could get lost in a spoonful- yum! Yes, I enjoy a few spoons when it is still warm.

1 cup water

½ cup butter

1/8 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (make sure you have this all measured out next to you ready to go)

4 eggs

In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. (Don't be nervous! Just move fast. I remember being terrified the first time I made these!) Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Transfer cream puffs to a wire rack; cool.

Cut tops from puffs; remove soft dough from inside (I never do this). When ready to serve, fill with custard and top with chocolate sauce. Store any unfilled cream puffs on the counter covered with a cloth.

Delicious Custard

2 Tbsp butter

¼ cup corn starch

¾ cup sugar

½ tsp salt

2 cups milk

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla

In medium saucepan melt butter. Stir in cornstarch, sugar and salt. Gradually add milk. Heat to boiling over low heat. Stir in gradually hot mixture into egg yolks. Continue to do so until eggs are the same temperature as the hot mixture and then combine. Return to low heat and cook 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add vanilla. Pour into dessert cups, cover and refrigerate until cold. (Or pour into a container and cool on the counter for a while and then refrigerate.) When custard is cool and you are ready to fill your cream puffs remove from refrigerator and do so. (The cream puffs will get soggy if filling sits in them for too long)

Chocolate Sauce

This recipe came from a great friend of ours when we lived in Potsdam, NY. It really is just like Hershey's Chocolate syrup, only better because you made it yourself! It keeps in the refrigerator for a very long time- like months! (Never actually tested it to see exactly how long- let's just say I've never had any go bad- I don't think it can, really) This makes about a pint and a half or so, so if you don't want that much in your refrigerator, I would cut the recipe down.

In a large saucepan, combine:

1 1/3 cup cocoa

2 1/4 cup sugar

Gradually stir in:

1 1/3 cup boiling water

Cook stirring frequently, over medium heat until smooth and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes

The kids and I are involved with a preschool co-op. I truly enjoy the friendships I have made with these incredible women and their children. One of my friends in the co-op is Betsy. I have learned so much from Betsy over the last year and am sure that I will continue to do so. She has taught me about things that I had never even thought about before. She is such a healthy, happy, real sort of person, who is very conscious of her choices when it comes to the health of her family. Here is her blog if you want to check it out. One of the things she has shared with me is this pancake recipe. I tasted one at her house and it was so fluffy and moist; something that I had not yet achieved with whole wheat pancakes. She has tweaked the recipe slightly to incorporate honey rather than white sugar, but says it is most like Alton Brown's WW Pancake Recipe. I like the little bit of sweetener; it makes these more prone to be snacked upon by my children at times other than breakfast. . .

Here goes:

100% Whole Wheat Pancakes


3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t. table salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
3 eggs
2 2/3 - 3 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups yogurt and 2/3 cup of milk)- depending on how thick you like your batter

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another medium bowl; stir until smooth. Pour wet into dry and mix until just combined. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cooking the pancakes on a hot griddle. (I love to cook pancakes on my electric skillet. I have found that if I keep the temperature at 250 I never burn a pancake and they are golden and beautiful.)

This makes quite a few pancakes (sorry I didn't count how many). They heat up beautifully even in the microwave. We had them 2 mornings in a row with no complaint and the kids even ate them at the park for lunch as well!

Thanks, Betsy!