Rolls – Two Ways

I have been itching to get back to making bread. I have been feeding my sourdough starter, week after week, for months but I haven’t had the chance to actually DO anything with it.  Thankfully, I had a few days off over Christmas so I decided now was my chance!  I took a look at a bunch of recipes, but they all made WAYYYY more that we can eat and I absolutely HATE when food goes to waste.  I decided to make one batch of dough and create two different rolls with it.   One to eat that night and one to have the next morning.

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I used the King Arthur Flour Recipe for Buttery Sourdough Rolls.  I split the dough, creating a garlic and butter roll for dinner and a cinnamon roll for breakfast the next day.

It worked beautifully!  I melted some butter and added three minced cloves of garlic to it.  I brushed that on one half of the dough, rolled it up and cut it into rolls.  I placed them in a greased 8″ round pan and set it on the stove to rise.

Garlic and Butter Sour Dough Rolls - Baked

Fresh from the oven!

With the other half of the dough, I brushed it with melted butter and added a mixture of cinnamon and  brown sugar.  Again, after rolling it up, I sliced it and placed them in a greased 8″ round pan.  I set that on the stove to rise for 30 minutes before covering it and allowing it to finish rising in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, I pulled them out of the fridge an hour before I was ready to bake them, to allow them to come to room temperature.   I baked them for 25 minutes, then made a glaze of powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla, and heavy cream.  When the buns came out of the oven, I poured the icing over them and let it melt slightly before serving.  OH MY GOODNESS…they were amazing!

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Definitely put both the hubby and I into a sugar coma for the rest of the morning, but it was TOTALLY worth it!  We certainly indulged ourselves the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I don’t regret a thing.

 

Tradition!

I know everyone has their favorite New Year’s Day foods – they ones that you are supposed to eat for good luck.  In our family, that has always been pork and sauerkraut.  I hadn’t gotten around to making sauerkraut this fall, and I was in the mood to try something new, so I pulled out several cookbooks and ended up trying Marcella Hazan’s recipe for Smothered Cabbage.   

Shredded Cabbage

We LOVED it, similar to sauerkraut (only A LOT less sour!), the cabbage was tender, the caramelized onions added just the right amount of sweetness to the dish.  I will definitely make this again.

For the pork, I chose Ms. Hazan’s recipe for Pork Braised in Milk.  I have made this recipe before and it is amazing.  The pork gets absolutely tender and the milk transforms into a sweet, nutty sauce.   I started the pork, then the cabbage.  Both cooked, in separate pots, of course, on the stove top, for three hours.  It really was a very hands off, easy dinner – oh – and my house smelled amazing!  I rounded out the meal with some oven roasted potatoes.  Our plates looked pretty plain, but after one bite, we totally didn’t care – the flavors and textures were perfection.

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I guess we have a new tradition in our house!  I am going to add some of the leftover cabbage to the leftover onion soup and add rice.  I will let you know how that turns out!

Happy New Year!

My goodness, 2017 was one for the record books.  I had no intention of taking a break from writing this blog, work kinda consumed my life.  Well – NO MORE!  I truly enjoy writing this blog and I refuse to allow my work life to be my only priority.  Anyway, enough about work – we need to be talking about FOOD.

2017 ended with both the hubby and I feeling under the weather.  I decided we needed delicious and healthy food to get us back on track.  Since that didn’t work, I tried bacon and guess what – it WORKED!

NYE Breakfast

After that hearty breakfast, we had a light lunch of leftover soup (you know the thing that was supposed to cure what ails me….)

chicken barley soup

I took a picture while I was cooking.  I love the colors in this photo and man did it taste amazing.  I joke that it didn’t cure me, but it certainly made me feel better, what more can you ask for when your head feels like it is stuffed with cotton?

Anyway, I was originally going to cook veal chops on the grill for our New Year’s Eve dinner, but the temperature was hovering around 5 degrees and I was afraid the grill wouldn’t get hot enough.  I decided to stuff chicken breasts with spinach and cheese and bake them in the oven.  Good choice – if I do say so myself!

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

They turned out better than I expected.  I used a 10 oz box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained.  To that I added a container of Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese.  I cut a pocket in the chicken and stuffed them with the spinach mixture.   I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  After browning them in a cast iron skillet, I slide them in the oven to finish cooking.   Dinner was a simple affair – French Onion Soup, Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and Baked Potatoes.  For dessert, I whipped up a Maple Pear Upside Down Cake – it was amazing!  I found the recipe in the New York Times https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012862-maple-pear-upside-down-cake 

Maple Pear Upside Down Cake

I highly recommend making it if you have the time. Well, that was our New Year’s Eve – I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.  Happy 2018!

Christmas Eve Dinner

I spent much of Christmas Eve trying to finish up my home made gifts.  I wanted an easy dinner, one that I could slide into the oven and not worry about.  One that had vegetables, starch, and meat on one pot.  My of the hubby’s favorite dinners is a recipe I found in the Rao cookbook a few years back. It is Chicken with Peppers and Sausage.

chx-and-peppers-with-sausage

It is a super easy recipe, bone in chicken pieces, italian sausage cut into 1″ pieces, peppers, onions, diced tomatoes, garlic, and potatoes.  All seasoned with oregano, salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil.  Toss it all in one pan, roast at 425 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes, turning the contents of the pan every 20 minutes or so.  The meat falls off the bone, the flavors are off the charts delicious, and it is ridiculously easy to make.  What more could you ask for on an early winter’s night.  Plus, cooking it makes your house smell AMAZING!

HELLO! I’M BACK!

Oh my goodness, I so did not mean to take this long to write another post.  It has been one heck of a holiday season!  Work was insane….which scares the heck outta me because typically the spring semester is busier than the fall semester.  Time just seems to go faster and faster every year.  I can’t believe we are already in the second week of January.  It is hard to believe that my students come back on Monday.  I doesn’t feel like it has been a week since they left.

Anyway, I have been cooking and taking photo’s – just not blogging – so here goes!

For the last admissions open house in December, I always make desserts for our student ambassadors.  This year, time was tight, so I made a pan of caramel brownies, a pan of blondies, and this amazingly awesome apple cake.  Oh my, was the apple cake delicious, so full of apples, barely sweet, with a nice hint of dark rum….YUM! It was the first dessert that the kids devoured, but have no fear….they ate every bit of the home made desserts and begged for more.

 

2016 was a crazy year and I didn’t get the opportunity to make as much jam as I usually do, thankfully, I was able to make a 5 gallon batch of hard cider and multiple batches of cranberry vodka, so at least I had gifts to give away to friends and co-workers.

Hard Cidercranberry-vodka

I, of course,  made  multiple batches of what my neighbor Kim lovingly refers to as Christmas Crack….aka….Burnt Sugar Almonds

sugar almonds

So all was right with the world.  I am hoping that life will slow down a bit once I am finish my responsibilities as task force chair of one of our program review teams.  I am putting in an additional 15-20 hours per week as part of the task force.   March 1st can’t come soon enough!  I hope you all had a lovely holiday season, mine was good, it just went  by wayyyyy to quickly!

Beef….

Is what I did for Thanksgiving!  This year it was just the hubby and I for dinner.  Our niece has a big family Thanksgiving meal at her house on the Saturday after Turkey Day so I knew we would be having turkey.  It gave me a chance to change things up a bit.

t-day-menu

Between my work schedule and the husbands travel schedule, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen as I like.  I find it very therapeutic, so I took the opportunity to spend the entire day in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.   We started with bacon and homemade buttermilk waffles.

Because honestly, a day that starts with bacon is ALWAYS a good day in my book!  For lunch, I made a pot of pasta fagioli soup and paired it with a good old grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

soup-and-sammie

Late afternoon, I put out a plate of cheese and crostini, I found a really awesomely sharp cheddar and a creamy brie.  It was a perfect little bit to get us through the second football game of the day.

Finally, it was time for dinner.  Our first course was homemade pumpkin ravioli.  I made the filling in the morning and just before dinner, I made the dough.  I picked up a ravioli maker from Williams Sonoma and it made my life so much easier.  That and the pasta rolling attachment for my kitchen aid meant I went from a ball of dough to actual ravioli in under twenty minutes!

I made a very simple cream sauce, butter, cream and Parmesan cheese for the ravioli, they were amazing.  I can’t wait to make them again!

For dinner, we grilled beef tenderloin steaks and asparagus, and I made twice baked potatoes. I even made homemade bread using my sour dough starter, I am telling you, I was in the kitchen ALL DAY LONG, and I loved it!

It is always good to end the day on a sweet note, neither the hubby or I are big fans of pie, so I made a caramel apple cheesecake instead.  It was AWESOME!

 

It was a very relaxing, enjoyable day, which I think we both needed and for which I was truly grateful.

Cranberry Vodka

Fresh cranberries have made their debut in my grocery store and it isn’t a minute too soon as far as I am concerned!  I started making liqueurs for the holidays about ten years ago.  Up until three years ago, I had never duplicated a recipe.  Well that all changed when I made Cranberry Vodka.  It was a huge hit and I have had multiple requests for it.  I sincerely doubt I could get away without making it for the holidays, it is now a tradition.

cranberry-vodka

It is super simple to make, you toss the cranberries in a food processor to chop them finely, you add them to a jar along with a bit of lime peel, orange peel, a cinnamon stick, vodka, and simple syrup.  You let it sit on the counter, covered, shaking it every few days, for the next 8 weeks.  After that it is a simple matter of straining the vodka and bottling it.   I absolutely love the color, it will deepen over the next few weeks, it is such a cheerful color that livens up even the coldest, dreariest, darkest days of winter.

Luckily, I have found some pretty bottles to decant the liqueur into for the holidays.   Between this and the hard apple cider that is currently fermenting in my kitchen, we should have a festive holiday season on our hands.