Archive for November, 2011

Cinnamon Wreath Bread

November 30, 2011

This is another Pinterest find that I just had to try out.  My first attempt last week was a little underwhelming, but I decided it was because I used a different recipe for the bread and it’s just not the best cinnamon roll recipe.   I had some free time this morning and decided to try it again, using the original recipe, which was printed in the Dec/Jan 2010 issue of Taste of Home.

Cinnamon Wreath Bread

2 Packages ( ¼ oz each ) Active dry yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
6 TBS butter
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
¼ cup sugar
1 egg
¾ tsp salt
4 1/2-5 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 TBS butter melted
½ cup chopped almonds
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 TBS water (it took closer to 1 1/2 TB to get the icing to drizzle consistency)
¼ tsp almond extract

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the butter, milk powder, sugar, egg, salt, and 3 cups of flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough flour to form a soft dough. ( The dough will be sticky )

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Punch dough down. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 18 in x 12 in rectangle. Brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and chipped almonds to within ½ inch of the edges. Roll up jelly-roll style starting with the long side and pinch the seam to seal.

Place seam down on a greased baking sheet and pinch the ends together to form a ring. With kitchen scissors, cut from the outside edge to 2/3’s of the way towards the center of the ring at 1 inch intervals. Separate the strips slightly and twist to allow the filling to show. Cover and let rise again until doubled. (About 45 minutes to an hour)

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, Combine the confectioners sugar, water, and extract and drizzle over the warm bread.

I tend to struggle a bit with rolling dough out evenly and getting nice straight edges.  So one part of my wreath was pretty sickly and skinny, while the opposite side was nice and plump.  Oh well….it all tastes the same, right?

I didn’t add almonds (I don’t believe in nuts in baked goods), and opted for  brown sugar and cinnamon instead.


This recipe turned out much nicer than the one I used previously.  And I REALLY like the addition of a little almond extract in the icing….YUM!! I think this is one that will make a reappearance throughout the year!

What I’d do differently:

First, I’d made the length of the roll a little shorter.  Last week, my wreath fit perfectly on a pretty red platter I had, and the hole in the center was just right to put a bowl of icing in for dipping (picture above of the full wreathprior to baking  is from last week….much more manageable size).  Today, the wreath was huge and barely fit on the cookie sheet, which made it hard to get a nice, round shape.

Second, I’d double the icing recipe so that there was enough to put in a bowl for dipping.  However, I’d not quite double the almond extract….I’m afraid it would be a little overpowering.



Chicken Parmesan Bake

November 23, 2011

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and pinned it….twice.  I guess that means it looked really good to me.  I was at a loss for what to make for dinner one night and went to my handy dandy recipe board there to find a quick and easy idea.  Chicken Paremsan Bake stood out to me.  I called Joseph and asked him to stop on his way home from work to pick up a couple of ingredients we didn’t have, and set out making preparations.  I didn’t take pictures along the way, but this recipe is EASY.  And quick.  My two favorite things.  Even better, EVERYONE in the family loved it!  This is one that will definitely go into our regular rotation!

Chicken Parmesan Bake (via Food Wishes, where a nice video tutorial is also posted)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used tenderloins and just covered the bottom of the baking dish)
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped basil
8 oz mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Parmesan, grated
1 (5-oz) package garlic croutons

Coat the bottom of your baking dish with the olive oil and sprinkle the garlic and  red pepper flakes on top.  Place chicken breast in the dish, covering the entire bottom.  Pour 2 cups of marinara sauce over the chicken.  Sprinkle the basil and half of your mozzarella and parmesan cheese on top.  Spread the croutons over the top of that, and then sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes, or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Lion House Rolls

November 23, 2011

While I do make a pretty mean loaf of bread, I’ve never been much of a roll-maker. I’ve experimented with different recipes over the years and some worked better than others….but I could never make any of them great. Then I decided to try out the famed Lion House Rolls. And I was instantly converted. Not only are they really EASY, they look and taste marvelous as well.

The recipe is available on, but here are the ingredients and basic directions.


2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)

2/3 cup nonfat dry milk (instant)

2 Tb. dry yeast

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. salt

1/3 cup shortening (butter or margarine)

1 egg

5-5 1/2 cups flour, all purpose (bread flour can be used if you have it on hand)


In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the milk powder and stir so the milk dissolves. Add the yeast to tthis mixture then the sugar, salt, shortening, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour then mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. The dough will be getting stiff and you may need to remove the bowl from the mixer and mix in the remaining flour by hand. Add approximately 1/2 cup of flour and mix again. (This can be done by hand or mixer). The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff (it is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour). Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and pour approximately on tablespoon of vegetable oil all around the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so it is covered with the oil. (This helps prevent the dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size. Sprinkle a cutting board or counter with flour and put the dough on the flour. It is now ready to roll out and cut into desired shape and size of rolls. Place on greased (or parchment lined) baking pans. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls are double in size (approx. 1-1 1/2 hours). Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are browned to your satisfaction. Brush with melted butter while hout. Yields 2 to 2 1/2 dozen rolls.

I also found this helpful little video….next time I make these, I’ll defititely try out the little flip to roll them up!

French Breakfast Muffins

November 17, 2011

Do you ever have breakfast for dinner?  We do, and we love it!  There’s nothing like being in a what-to-cook-for-dinner slump and having the thought to just whip up some breakfast.  Our meal on this night was nothing particularly fancy: scrambled eggs (yes, I like them brown), YUMMY bacon from Christiansen Family Farms, and even YUMMIER French breakfast muffins.  I know they don’t look special, but trust me….they are!

Really, anything topped with cinnamon and sugar will make a meal better!  Here’s the recipe:

Muffin Ingredients

2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg
1 cup plus 2 TB milk
6 TB unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

2 TB unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  1.  Heat oven to 375°.  Butter the cups of a 12-cup muffin pan and set aside.
  2. Measure and whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until it’s frothy.  Blend in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, mix the batter until it’s evenly blended.  Then spoon it into the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full.
  5. Bake the muffins on the center rack for about 20 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a rack and let it cool for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the topping by stirring the sugar and the cinnamon together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, melt the butter.  Set both bowls next to the muffins.
  7. Working with one muffin at a time, quickly dip the tops on the melted butter, and then in the cinnamon sugar, rolling each one to cover the entire muffin top.  Makes 12 muffins.

Classic Baguette

November 10, 2011

This bread is so easy to make and has come in handy for so many meals for us.  This is a classic recipe  with very basic ingredients:

1 TB active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 3/4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 TB cornmeal

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast with 1/2 cup of the water.
  2. Pour the remaining water into a large mixing bowl, along with the salt and 1 cup of the flour.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and begin mixing.  Add enough flour to create a soft dough.
  4. Knead for 10 minutes
  5. Grease a bowl and add the dough, turning to coat the dough.  Cover and let rise, about 2 hours.
  6. Punch down and divide dough in half.  On a lightly floured surface, knead each half several times and then roll into a snake.
  7. Place on a cookie sheet coated with cornmeal.
  8. Use a knife to make four diagonal cut marks across the top of the dough.
  9. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour.
  10. Heat the oven to 450°.  Place a small pan filled with a couple of inches of water on the bottom rack (the steam this creates will make the outside of the loaf nice and crusty). Place loaves in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.


If you have French bread loaf pans, use them.  You can see in my picture that my bread isn’t very uniform in size…a loaf pan should correct that.

This bread goes well with so many meals.  I also used it recently for an appetizer at a party with a cream cheese and garlic spread and it was a huge hit.

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs

November 3, 2011

Paula Deen has really come through for me lately, which is ironic because I don’t reallly even know who Paula Deen is.  Apparently she’s on some cable channel called Food Network?  See, I told you I’m not a foodie.

A few months ago, we purchased a Beef/Pork share from Christiansen’s Family Farm.  We try to buy food as locally as possible and when I heard about the grass-fed meat shares available from Christiansen’s I knew I wanted to try it out.  Does  it cost more?  Yes.  Is it better meat?  Without a doubt.  And when you see this cute family sitting on the back of their trailer when you go pick up your share, you feel all the more inclined to support local agriculture.

One of the benefits for me has been learning to use meat outsite of what I typically buy–which is primarily groud beef, with an occasional roast for Sunday dinner.  When I’m really feeling adventurous, I buy pork.  99% of the chicken I use comes in the form of frozen tenderloins from Costco.  The bottom line is that I don’t really know that much about all of the different kinds and cuts of meat out there.  So when I saw a package of beef short ribs in my freezer, I felt more than a little lost with what to do with it.  Enter Google.

After perusing quite a few recipes, I selected Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs for a a couple of reasons.  First, I had all the ingredients on-hand (including some small potatoes that HAD to be used or tossed).  And second, it utilized the crock pot, which I love because I can throw everything in and forget about it.

  • One thing to note is that you have to start this recipe the night before.  After browning your ribs, they need to go in the crockpot for 8 hours.  Once you toss in the rest of the ingredients, it needs to cook for 4-6 more hours.

The end result was a lovely stew that got the thumbs up from everyone in the family, including me.  Next time, I’ll peel the potatoes first….nothing ruins a potato for me like having the skins left on.  But aside from that, I actually liked it quite a bit–and I’m really not much of a stew person.

As with the chicken noodle soup, we paired this meal with a classic baguette, perfect for dipping.  We can’t wait to try this recipe out again!