Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Taco Soup

It's fall now, or so they say. Here the temperatures continue to rise into the 80s on a daily basis, the trees have all their green leaves, and shorts are still in use regularly. Due to the lack of my annual dosage of autumn, I went ahead and made this comfort soup, and even dared to pull out my pumpkin tureen to serve it! My husband bought some pumpkins and gourds that are now on display in our apartment. I can make the inside feel like fall, even if the weather won't cooperate and continues to deny my wish!

Originally from my sister's co-worker, this Weight Watchers soup is a delicious spin off the old chili staple. Lots of legumey goodness, corn, and seasonings will make your taste buds smile. Cheap and easy to prepare, this soup will quickly be on your list of weeknight dinners. Go ahead and try this guilt-free comfort food!

Taco Soup
Prep: 10 minutes / Cook: 15-30 minutes
Serves: a bunch! maybe 8-10

1 pound ground turkey or beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can chili beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn (with no added salt)
1 can tomatoes with diced green chiles
1 can water
1 packet, or 3 T, ranch dressing mix/seasoning
1 small onion, diced, optional

1. Brown meat. Add taco seasoning according to directions. If you use an onion, add it to the meat and cook for a few additional minutes.

2. While meat is cooking, open all the cans and pour into a large pot. Do not drain any of the cans. Add a can of water, I usually divide the water among each of the bean cans, just to get all the juice. Add the ranch seasoning.

3. Add meat to the beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-30 minutes.

Nutrition Facts: 1 Weight Watchers point per cup

This soup is great with cornbread muffins! Bake them while the soup simmers, it's so easy! Try topping the soup with some shredded cheese, or add a dolop of sour cream to your bowl if you want a creamy flavor. Whatever you do, make some cornbread to go with it! Continue reading below for my review.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

It's been a gray and rainy Saturday here in Texas. The day started humid and is now cool and breezy after the storm. We don't get much rain here, so I have started to appreciate it more. The sun is starting to peek through the clouds now, but it will be dark in about an hour. I have noticed myself missing home more and more as the weather grows colder and the year gets older. I hear about corn mazes, pumpkin patches, bonfires, raking leaves and even snow! And I miss home, good ol' Iowa. I don't think corn mazes and pumpkin patches exist in Texas, not to mention the lack of fall foliage. These too-proud Texans don't know what they're missing!

Now that I'm through with my weather musings, I will get to my recipe. You see, I started on the weather kick because these muffins are perfect for a rainy weekend morning! The toasted oats give these muffins a subtle nutty flavor, while the sweet blueberries constrast perfectly with the ever-so-slightly salty and crispy outside. As my husband said, most blueberry muffins are too sweet and cakey, but these are just right!

Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins
from Brunch, Recipes for Cozy Weekend Mornings
Prep: 20 minutes / Bake: 18 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins, 6 servings

1-1/4 cups quick oats (I used whole grain quick oats)       
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk (see my review for substitute)
1 egg
4 T unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. (I didn't have any liners so I just greased the pan and they came out perfectly).

2. In a skillet over medium heat, toast the oats, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until they are fragrant and show just a hint of gold, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the toasted oats, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are moistened. Gently stir in the blueberries.

4. Divide the batter among the 12 cups, they will be nearly full. Bake until they are puffed and lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. (I only had to bake mine for 18 minutes, so keep an eye on them). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Step 2, toast the oats. Just stir for 4 or 5 minutes, they'll start to smell really yummy!
Step 3, whisk the dry ingredients.
Step 3, add blueberries. Try your best not to break them!
Step 4, fill the muffin cups.
There you have it, simple and delicious, these muffins are a spin off of your typical cakey and sweet muffin. I hope you will give these a try, they are worth it! Click below to see my complete review.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chocolate Cream-Filled Sandwiches

My husband seems to have developed quite the sweet tooth recently. Right after lunch he says, "Let's make dessert!" He forgets that he is blessed with an insanely active metabolism, whereas I have to actually work to maintain my figure. Alas, I gave in, and we made these cookies that he wanted to try. After this, it's to the gym for me!

Chocolate Cream-Filled Sandwiches
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies
Prep: 30 minutes / Bake: 8 minutes
Yield: about 2 dozen

1-1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sugar
10 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
Vanilla Creme Filling (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Sift together first 5 ingredients into a bowl.

2. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat to combine. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture and beat until well combined.

3. Using a small scoop, drop dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Flatten dough between palms and sprinkle with additional sugar.

4. Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies are slightly firm. Transfer baking sheets to a wire cooling rack.

Vanilla Cream Filling
Prep: 10 minutes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 T vanilla

1. With an electric mixer, cream butter. Gradually add powdered sugar with mixer on low speed; continue beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat to combine.

2. Pipe filling onto the underside of half the cookies, place remaining cookies on top of the filling.

My Review
  • Preparation: 4
    • This recipe took a little less than an hour start to finish. My husband and I worked together, it was fun!
  • Taste: 4
    • These were really good. However, they were a bit on the crunchy side, we baked them for 9 minutes. Good news is, after keeping them covered overnight, the cookies softened! Now they are perfect, which makes them more unresistable...
  • Cost: 5
    • We didn't have to buy any ingredients, so I'll give it a 5.
  • Clean-up: 3
    • Two big bowls, lots of measuring gadgets, baking sheet (and my husband) ;)
  • Changes
    • We did the recipe in half because we didn't have enough butter for the whole batch.
    • The recipe called for Dutch-process cocoa powder, we didn't have any so we used our normal Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder.
    • The recipe called for half butter and half shortening for the filling, e didn't have any shortening for the filling, so we just replaced that with butter. The shortening would just make the filling more white, less of a butter color. And slightly less butter flavor too, but ours was yummy.
    • The recipe said to drop the cookies on the baking sheet. Then dip the bottom of a glass in sugar and press to flatten cookies to about 1/8 inch thick. (You may need to carefully remove dough from glass with a thin spatula). I'm like, that's crazy! First of all, why would the sugar stick to the glass? And I'm not about to scrape each cookie off the bottom of a cup! So we gently pressed them between our palms and sprinkled them with sugar.
    • Our cookies got much flatter and wider than they looked in the picture, and I don't think we made them too big of dollops. Mine don't look perfect but they still taste good!
  • Summary
    • These cookies were fun to make and they look pretty with the piped filling. Great with a glass of milk!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Classic Cheesecake

Ahhh cheesecake! I accomplished one of my culinary goals this week by making my first cheesecake! It was so much fun! And I'm happy to say that in spite of a few oopses (I think I just made that word up), it turned our great!

Classic Cheesecake
adapted from Taste of Home Cookbook
Prep: 35 minutes / Bake: 45 minutes + chilling
Yield: 12-14 servings

1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
6 T butter, melted
3 packages cream cheese (24 oz. total), softened
1 cup sugar
2 T flour
3 eggs
2 T heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine first 3 ingredients. Press into bottom and 1 inch up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 8 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine sugar and flour; add to cream cheese and mix well. Add eggs all at once, beat on low speed until just combined. *Don't overbeat the eggs. If you do, the cheesecake will puff and then crack when it cools.* Stir in cream and vanilla, pour into crust.

3. Place springform pan on baking sheet and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. *To check if cheesecake is done, remove from oven and tap the side of the pan with a spoon. The cake is done when the center (about 1 inch in diameter) jiggles slightly when tapped with a spoon. Note: My cake didn't really jiggle, but I could just tell by looking at it that about a 3 inch area wasn't cooked, so I put it back in for 5 more minutes. Do not test with a knife because it will crack the cheesecake. The remaining middle will cook while the pan cools.*

4. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen cheesecake. Continue to cool on rack for 1 more hour. Refrigerate, uncovered for at least 3 hours. When cheesecake is cold, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. This helps the cheesecake set and will make it easier to cut.

5. Remove cheesecake from fridge at least 15-30 minutes before serving time. Unlatch pan and carefully lift the rim straight up. *Letting the slices sit at room temperature brings out maximum flavor.* Top with strawberries and whipped topping if desired.

Nutrition facts: Very unhealthy and bad for the hips but very delicious!
*These tips are from my Taste of Home Cookbook*

The crust. Note to self: make crust even!

The filling. My batter was lumpy, I was nervous, but it worked!

I baked it a little too long, it cracked :(
But it still looked pretty good!

My Review
  • Preparation: 3
    • This took about an hour and a half start to finish, but there's down time while it's baking.
  • Taste: 4.5
    • It was really good! My crust got a little overdone, so we didn't eat the edge. The filling was delicious, my husband said it was just like Cheesecake Factory (This would be the ultimate compliment, I'm not sure if he somewhat joking, I don't think he was, but I didn't pursue the doubt in my mind, so we will assume that he really meant it)! BUT, I do think that I could do better, so I couldn't give it a 5. And the crust flavor wasn't my favorite.
  • Cost: 5
    • This surprised me. The ingredients seemed expensive, but after I divided it by the 13 servings we sliced, it was only $1.29 per serving! Cake ingredients (that I had to buy) cost $11.30, toppings cost $5.50.
  • Clean-up: 3
    • A foothill of dishes (see review scale). 3 bowls and the springform pan, plus some measuring cups and such.
  • Changes
    • The crust, it wasn't my favorite. Not sure what I would change but I will try a different one next time. I would make sure that the edges were even, see photo. The recipe I adapted from said to bake it for 10 minutes but it got too done, so I reduced it to 8 minutes on this post.
    • My filling was lumpy. I admit my failure in this area. My cookbook says to soften cream cheese at room temp for at least 30 minutes, which I did, but it was still lumpy after I mixed it. And the book says that it cannot be de-lumped (another word I made up, I'm on a role) after blending, this is true. SO, I had lumps; a big globby lump of cream cheese at the bottom of my mixing bowl. Yikes! Upon discovering the lump I grimaced, withheld the ominous blob (which I soon still tasted good!), and hoped that my cheesecake would not turn out too weird. In the end, I never even noticed!
    • I baked it for 40 minutes, checked it, and there was about a 3-inch center that was jiggly/not done. I put it back in for 5 minutes. This time there was about a 2-inch(ish) undone looking area, so I put it back in for 4 minutes (I was paranoid about having a runny, gooey cheesecake, eww). But after those 4 minutes were up, I pulled out my cheesecake and it was cracked! I whimpered and whined, it had been perfect until then! So I think I could have done without the last 4 minutes. Good thing is that the crack sort of resealed itself a little bit once the cheesecake cooled. Cover it with a big dollop of Redi Whip and you won't even notice!
  • Summary
    • This is a good cheesecake for the first-timer. It was still super delicious, even with some mess-ups! I hope to try out more cheesecake in the future, so keep your eyes open!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taco Ring

Taco Ring = Heaven from the oven. If you never try any of my other recipes, you MUST try this one! This should be on a 100 Recipes Everyone Should Try Before They Die list. It's that good. It's a family favorite and a super-easy comfort food. Whatever you do, don't just read this, cook it!

Once again, you'll have to excuse the lighting
This is a recipe from an old Pampered Chef cookbook. My family has been making it for as long as I can remember, and I think I've only seen the recipe once. We always make it from memory and we have altered it some too. This is a buried treasure. I think it is sad that most people have never heard of this recipe :( But how would they? I feel that it is my duty to share this little slice of heaven with the world, the world that has yet to experience the delightfulness of taco ring!

Taco Ring

1 pound ground beef or turkey (I use turkey)
1 packet taco seasoning
1/4 cup(ish) taco sauce, optional
1 can refried beans (I use reduced-fat or fat-free)
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls (16 rolls total, I use reduced-fat)
1-1/2 to 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Salsa, for topping, optional
Sour cream, for topping, optional

Preheat oven according to crescent roll package. Brown meat and drain. Add taco seasoning and add a little water. Cook on low for a few minutes. Mix in taco sauce until desired consistency (I guessed on the amount, I just add until I think it's enough). Add refried beans, mix well. Cook on low for a few more minutes.

Arrange crescent rolls in a circle, with the wide end towards the middle and the point facing outwards. This can be done on a rectangular bar pan too if you don't have a round one. Then, use a roller to flatten the inside of the circle to make a larger base for the filling.

Spoon the meat around the circle, making it as even as possible. Top with cheese. Fold pointed edges of crescent rolls over the meat and press them into the center of the pan.

This is my Betty Crocker pose
Fold over and press
Bake according to crescent roll package, until cheese is melted and crescent rolls are golden brown. Then the best part, eat it! Top with sour cream and/or salsa, or whatever Mexican-ish topping you like! This is delicious with sweet corn (fresh Iowa sweet corn if you can get your hands on it)! Enjoy!
Yield: 8 servings (unless you have a husband who really really loves taco ring, then it serves 6 :)

Heaven on a plate, right here

This recipe is so versatile. Experiment with making the recipe more spicy if you like that sort of thing. Use a different kind of meat, try various toppings, the options are endless! You can also arrange the crescent rolls in the shape of a wreath or braid, which I will try to show sometime. This recipe can also easily be halved (is that a word?) to serve less people!

My Review
  • Preparation: 5
    • Cook the meat, fill the rolls and bake!
  • Taste: 5
    • Definitely at the top of my favorites list. Without-a-doubt delicious!
  • Cost: 5
    • This is a top-rated recipe for the budget, makes great leftovers too!
  • Clean-up: 5
    • Anthill of dishes, skillet and a stone
  • Changes
    • NONE!!!!!
  • Summary
    • As I am sure you have noticed, I really like this recipe. It's nothing fancy, I suppose you may not be that impressed (though I would cry). But we love it! Oh-so-simple, oh-so-delicious, if you're human at all you will like it too! And just a little tidbit here, I love my Pampered Chef round stone! Check it out here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Herbed Breaded Chicken

This herbed chicken is like those shake 'n bake packets but sooo much better! Herby and bready and yummy! Serve it with some roasted potatoes and it's irrestible. My pictures aren't the greatest because the lighting wasn't good, but the chicken is so delicious I had to share.

Oh yes, see all that starch?? Embrace it!

Herbed Breaded Chicken
source unknown

1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
4 (4 oz) boneless chicken breasts
1 cup bread crumbs
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 T parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 T butter, melted

Combine first 4 ingredients. Mix well and add chicken. Turn chicken to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Combine remaining ingredients and mix well. Dredge chicken in bread crumb mixture, pat crumbs to adhere. Place on prepared baking sheet. Discard marinade. Bake about 35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Crumb mixture, with my homemade bread crumbs again
Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, 546 mg sodium, 7 g fat, 85 mg cholesterol

My Review
  • Preparation: 4
    • This recipe takes about 1 hour start to finish.
  • Taste: 5
    • This is really delicious! I love the herbs and the chicken is very moist.
  • Cost: 5
    • This is definitely a cost-efficient meal. We even got the chicken on sale for $1.77/pound!
  • Clean-up: 5
    • The clean-up is super easy on this one too. One pan to wash, and it was covered with foil... so you could be sneaky like me and not even wash it... don't tell!
  • Changes
    • I used dried parsley instead of fresh. 3 T fresh = 3 tsp dried.
    • I used my Smart Balance spread instead of real butter, works the same and it's a bit healthier.
    • Feel free to experiment with the herbs you have in your pantry!
  • Summary
    • I've said it several times and I suppose I'll say it again...this is delicious! It's really easy to make and it is guaranteed to be delightful. It has good presentation too, (except in my dark picture) so it's great for company. Serve it with some roasted potatoes and you are in for a treat!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn Chowder

Nothing says autumn to me like a delicious bowl of soup. This chowder is savory and delicious! Perfect for a cozy fall evening!

Autumn Chowder
adapted from Taste of Home online

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 large carrot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2/3 cup water
1/2 chicken buillon cube
3/4 tsp rosemary herb seasoning mix*
1 cup milk
2/3 cup frozen corn
1/8 tsp pepper
2-1/2 tsp flour (optional)
2 T cold water (only if using flour)
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Saute onion with a small amount of cooking oil in a large saucepan, until tender. Add potato, carrot, water, chicken buillon and rosemary. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the milk, corn, and pepper. Cook, covered, on medium for 5 minutes. If thicker soup is desired, mix flour and water until smooth, add to soup. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted.
Yield: 2 servings

Nutrition facts: 473 calories, 30 g fat, 16 g saturated fat, 77 mg cholesterol, 810 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 19 g protein.

My Review
  • Preparation: 4
    • This soup took about 40 minutes start to finish, very simple to make.
  • Taste: 5
    • I will definitely make this soup again! It was thick and savory. My husband loved the corn, he said it added a sweet pop to the soup!
  • Cost: 5
    • This is a budget-friendly recipe. Simple and inexpensive ingredients definitely will not disappoint your taste buds!
  • Clean-up: 5
    • This was an easy clean-up meal. All cooked in one pan and only a cutting board besides that!
  • Changes
    • I altered the soup from the original recipe. I did not have bacon but I read on the reviews that it didn't really add much to the soup. I also added more veggies and seasoning.
    • *The rosemary herb seasoning mix is from Pampered Chef. I absolutely love it! I use it all the time in soups, broth, chicken, roasted vegetables, really anything! I honestly don't think I could live without it, and I'm not even being paid to say that! Click here to see it on their website.
    • I baked some french bread a few weeks ago and had frozen a loaf. I set the bread out in the morning and it was thawed and ready by lunchtime. I stuck it in the oven at 350 for about 7 minutes, it tasted fresh and it was a great compliment to the soup!
  • Summary
    • This is truly a delicious chowder! It is super easy to make and it smells so good! I will definitely be making it again; give it a try yourselfand let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Scalloped Potatoes

I'm bound to love anything with the word potato. Thus the reason I had to try these and subsequently loved them!

Scalloped Potatoes
from Taste of Home Cookbook

3 T butter, divided
1 T flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-1/2 cups milk
4 cups potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3/4 cup shredded cheese

In a small saucepan, melt 2 T butter; stir in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 mintues or until thickened.

In a greased 9x9 inch baking dish, arrange half the potatoes, onion and green pepper in layers; cover with half of the sauce. Repeat layers. Cover and bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Melt remaining butter; combine with bread crumbs and sprinkle over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition facts (1/2 cup): 250 calories, 28g fat,  8g saturated fat, 36mg cholesterol, 97 mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 8g protein.

My Review
  • Preparation: 2
    • Preparing the dish is easy enough, it's the lengthy baking that gave this a 2 rating. It took about 1 hour and 45 minutes from start to finish, but there's lots of down time while it's baking.
  • Taste: 4
    • I will make this dish again. It had great flavor, and as I said before, I love anything potato!
  • Cost: 5
    • This is less than $1.50 per serving. It's an estimate but I think it's pretty accurate. Potatoes are dirt cheap and the only other ingredient I had to buy was the green pepper.
  • Clean-up: 4
    • This was a molehill of dishes (see review scale tab if you are confused and think I'm strange); cutting board, chopper, sauce pan, baking dish and a few utensils.
  • Changes
    • I would use less onion next time, there was a little much for me but it was still good.
    • I made a loaf of bread last month and froze half of it. I thawed that out and let it dry to use as bread crumbs. The store bought ones are so small, I like them a little chunkier. I would probably use more bread crumbs too.
    • I use Pampered Chef stoneware, so I don't have to grease the baking dish. The recipe called for a 1-1/2 quart dish, I don't have that so I used my 9x9 inch stone.
  • Summary
    • Great recipe! The creamy homemade sauce goes nicely with the potatoes, onion, and green pepper. My husband's favorite part was the cheesy, crunchy topping. Good as a main or side dish. Definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sunshine Halibut

Sunshine Halibut
from Taste of Home Cookbook

1/3 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 T fresh parsley, minced
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
4 (4-6 oz) halibut steaks
1/4 cup orange juice
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning

Saute onion and garlic until tender; remove from heat. Stir in parsley and orange peel. Place halibut in a 11x7x2 baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with onion mixture. Combine orange and lemon juices; pour over fish. Sprinkly with salt and lemon-pepper. Cover and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition facts (4.5 oz size): 202 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 54 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 36 g protein.

My Review
  • Preparation: 5
    • Just a little chopping and a quick saute, put it all together and bake; easy!
  • Taste: 3.5
    • This was hard for me to determine. I loved the fish, I had never had halibut before. It is very mild and lean and I really liked it. The citrus flavor was present but light, just enough to make itself known. The onion mixture was good but something about it kind of made me want to scrape it off, which I did tonight when I had the leftovers. The flavor was good, I think it might just have something to do with the fact that we were both burping (eww, gross I know, sorry for the details. Don't worry, little burps, not nasty belches) the taste all evening.
  • Cost: 1
    • The only ingredients I had to buy were the orange juice, an orange, halibut and lemon-pepper. Halibut is a more expensive fish, the kind we got was about $11. With 3 servings (we only had 3 steaks, but I didn't really modify the recipe except reduce the onion) it comes out to about $5.00 per serving, not too great at all.
  • Clean-up: 4
    • I like to judge my dishes by the big items, the ones that don't fit nicely into my little dish rack. So I had 4; two cutting boards, a skillet, and a stone. Not too bad.
  • Changes
    • I have a garlic press (love it), so I always press my garlic instead of mince it. It saves me from stinky hands and it's way easier.
    • I used dried parsley because I already had that. When substituting dried herbs for fresh, simply divide by three. This recipe called for 2 tablespoons (which is 6 teaspoons) so I used 2 teaspoons dried parsley. Another easy way is to just change tablespoons to teaspoons; 2 tablespoons fresh parsley equals 2 teaspoons dried parsley.
    • I don't have an 11x7x2 inch dish, I didn't even know they existed. The point is to just use a dish with an edge so your liquid doesn't spill. So I used my 9x9 pampered chef stone.
  • Summary
    • This recipe was good, I just experienced some unpleasant aftermath for some reason. The onion mixture with the citrus flavor produces a surprisingly pleasant taste, and you can't go wrong with a good piece of fish. It is a very health-friendly dinner too. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Morning Cinnamon Rolls

I love to make breakfast on Saturday mornings. Today I decided to make a recipe that I had clipped out of the newspaper a couple years ago but had lost track of and never made. The recipe below is the original, but I made some changes, so pay attention when reading the review!
Sarah's Cinnamon Rolls

3/4 c butter
2 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
1 c mashed potatoes
1 c hot potato water
1 c hot water
2 packages yeast
1/2 c warm water
2 eggs
7-8 c flour
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c sugar
1 1/2 T cinnamon

3 c powdered sugar
6 T butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
6 T milk

Combine first 6 ingredients in a bowl and stir until butter melts. In a separate bowl, combine yeast with warm water and allow time to activate. Add yeast to potato water mixture and stir. Add flour, one cup at a time, until a soft dough forms.
1 cup flour

3 cups flour

5 cups flour
8 cups flour
Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 7 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease all sides. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.

Place dough in bowl
Let rise until double
Then punch it!

Roll dough into a long rectangle. Spread softened butter over top and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough the long way and cut into about 24 equal pieces.

Yes, it was huge!

Roll it up and cut

Place rolls into two 9x13 pans. Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 until golden, about 25-30 minutes. Let rolls cool for 10 minutes. Combine frosting ingredients and spread over rolls.


My Review
  • Preparation: 2.5
    • Let me make a disclaimer here, I enjoyed all the prep work! But, for the sake of a standard, this recipe takes a lot of time and work. I got a workout stirring the dough!
  • Taste: 4.75
    • These were delicious! So warm, gooey, and sweet! I couldn't give it a five though. I think they could have had more cinnamon flavor, and I think there's a better recipe out there. I have 3 more cinnamon roll recipes I need to try, so be on the lookout!
  • Cost: 5
    • This is hard to estimate, but considering I had everything on hand except the potatoes and butter, I think it was pretty cheap.
  • Clean-up: 3
    • Lots of dishes I must say. But I washed them while the rolls were rising in the pans, so it wasn't too bad.
  • My changes
    • Eggs! Did you notice that the recipe doesn't say when to add the eggs?? And I didn't realize I neglected to use the eggs until I was writing this post. They probably would have been added before the yeast was, but I can't be sure. Either way, they turned out great!
    • I have a jar of yeast that I keep in the fridge, it is much cheaper that way and it lasts for 6 months. One package equals 2 1/4 tsp of yeast.
    • I would definitely recommend dividing the dough in half before rolling it out, it went off the edge of my counter!
    • Instead of 1 sup sugar, I used 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar for the filling. I love brown sugar and I thought it would make the taste richer.
    • I didn't have two 9x13 pans, so I used one 9x9. The ends of the roll produced smaller cinnamon rolls, so they all fit. I ended up with 24 cinnamon rolls.
    • After the rolls come out of the oven, the middles will be sticking up. You can leave them that way or just poke them back down like I did (see above pictures).
    • I added an extra tablespoon of milk (to make 7) to the frosting, I thought it needed to be a little thinner.
    • It's a big batch! So I stuck a dozen of them in the freezer to enjoy later!
  • Summary
    • Delicious cinnamon rolls! Be prepared for a time investment. The first stage took me an hour, then I went back to bed while the dough was rising lol. Then the next part took me about an hour too. Of course, it was the first time I had made them and snapping pictures takes extra time. Add in 90 minutes of rising and 25 minutes of baking and they took a while. But I loved it! So throw on your apron and give it a try!