Friday, December 31, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I love a good piece of toast, slathered in butter and sprinkled with a mound of cinnamon and sugar. Imagine this delicacy on a piece of cinnamon bread. Heaven!

Or you could use it to make the most AMAZING french toast, as I did here. I do recommend leaving out the raisins if you are going to make french toast though.

This cinnamon swirl bread is absolutely delicious. I know that I will be making it again. It freezes well and makes for a great breakfast or midnight snack.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread (Print)
from Taste of Home
Prep: 30 + rising / Bake: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 2 loaves

5-1/4 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups quick oats
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 packages (4-1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 teaspoons salt
2-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, oats, milk powder, brown sugar, yeast, and salt. In a small saucepan, heat water and butter over medium heat until 120-130 degrees. Add to dry ingredients, beat just until moistened. Add egg; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough. Stir in raisins.

2. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour.

3. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half with a pizza cutter. Roll each portion into an 18-in. x 9-in. rectangle. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Set aside 2 tablespoons for topping. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon and sugar over rectangles to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up, starting on the short side; pinch seams to seal.

4. Place seam side down into two greased 9-inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved cinnamon and sugar.

5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil if tops brown too quickly. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Monday, December 27, 2010

My Favorite Things No. 6

I wrote about my new tea kettle in this post, and told you that I won a giveaway from CNS stores. I was also able to purchase this handy kitchen timer with that prize too! In my kitchen wishlist, I mentioned that I wanted a kitchen timer, because I have had to use my microwave until now. This was tricky sometimes, as the microwave only beeps once, making it easy for me to not hear it! Other times I would need to cook something in the microwave while the timer was going, so then I would have to stop the timer and try to keep track of the remaining time in my head!

Check out this little beauty! It can do three timers all at once, how cool is that?! And once the time is over, it starts counting up to let you know how long the timer has been going off. It is magnetic, a feature that I was definitely excited about. It also has a clock. I'm very happy with my little timer!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas from the beautiful state of Iowa! Take time to pause and remember why we all celebrate; the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cheesy Potato Casserole

I made this recipe for our Thanksgiving meal. My family has been enjoying it on the holidays for several years and it is always a big hit. This is a popular potluck dish, but I can promise you that I have never had a version as good as this one. And trust me, I'm a potato expert.

Cheesy Potato Casserole (Print)
from my sister
Prep: 20 minutes / Bake: 45 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

For the casserole
30 ounce bag frozen hash browns, defrosted
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1 large/family size cream of chicken condensed soup (you won't use it all)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) cheddar cheese, shredded (or more if you like!)

For the topping
2 cups crushed corn flakes
1/2 cup melted butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the casserole ingredients in order and mix well. About the cream of chicken soup: you won't need all the soup. You will probably only need 16-20 ounces of it. Basically, decide how creamy you want the casserole. I would err on the side of too little if you can. I suppose you could just get 2 small cans of soup, but I like the freedom of the big can I guess.

2. Spread casserole ingredients into a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish. Mix the crushed corn flakes and butter; put on top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until center is hot and bubbly.

3. You can also make this casserole a day ahead. If so, skip the corn flakes topping and cover the dish with foil. Keep it in the refrigerator until 30 minutes before you need to bake it. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, if possible, before baking. Top with corn flakes and bake as directed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Favorite Things No. 5

This week's favorite thing is Garlic Garlic, a seasoning from the Tastefully Simple company. It makes the best garlic bread, as you may recall from November. I use it all the time and it never fails me!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sour Cream Fan Rolls

I was having a hard time deciding which roll recipe to make today, but I am very glad that I chose this one! These rolls are light and fluffy; perfectly soft on the inside, with a slightly crispy outside. They have a touch of sweetness and pull apart into bite-size pieces! What more could you want in a roll?

These rolls would be a perfect addition to Christmas dinner. They look pretty too, especially if you don't overcook them like I did. I highly recommend you give them a try. If you don't believe me, I'll have you know that my husband said after lunch today, "The rolls were fabulous." There's your proof, now get baking!

Oh, and a bit of advice before you start, make sure you have enough flour! I halved the recipe but only had 3 cups of flour... which meant that my dough was very sticky and I had to use bisquick to 'flour' my surface. Thus the funny white specks on the rolls! As a side note, I cooked the rolls for 16 minutes, and they got a little overdone. I also made mini rolls with the scraps, those only needed to be baked for 10 minutes.

Sour Cream Fan Rolls (Print)
from Taste of Home
Prep: 30 minutes + rising / Bake: 20-25 minutes
Yield: 2-1/2 dozen

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups warm sour cream (110 to 115 degrees)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a small bowl, add yeast to warm water and stir slightly to dissolve. Add 2 tablespoons sugar; let stand for 5 mintues. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, butter, salt, and remaining sugar. I warmed the sour cream in the microwave on 50% power for 60 seconds.

2. Stir in baking powder, yeast mixture, and 4 cups of flour until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

3. Turn on to a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

4. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each portion into a 23-inch x 9-inch rectangle.

5. Cut into 1-1/2-inch strips the long way. Stack 5 strips; cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces and place cut side up in a greased muffin cup. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes. I acually didn't grease my muffin tins and they didn't stick at all.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25* minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks.

Nutrition Facts: 1 roll equals 182 calories, 6g fat, 31mg cholesterol, 158mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein.

Monday, December 13, 2010

My Favorite Things No. 4

This is one of my new favorite things. I won a giveaway from CSN stores and I chose to buy this little beauty. I used it for the first time last night and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate with Jeremiah.

I have a confession to make. The whistle scares me. As in, I take it off when I start to hear it hiss so that the whistle doesn't sound. I don't know why, but it makes me anxious and slightly uneasy. Ah well, we all have some strange quirks I guess. Well, this tea kettle has a different noise, a "harmonic hum" as the website stated. That's one of the main reasons I got it.

But let me tell you that the "harmonic hum" is more like a train whistle, and I had the feeling that a train wreck was about to happen in my kitchen. Alas, it was humorous and definitely better than the ear-piercing whistle that is commonly heard. All in all, I love my new tea kettle!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Swedish Meat Loaf and Gravy

I'll be the first to say that meat loaf is not photogenic. I tried to get a good picture, but the with the combination of my underdeveloped photography skills and the ugly meat loaf, this is all I got.

But you can take my word for it, this meat loaf is tasty! I prepped it the night before, so all I had to do for lunch was put it in the loaf pan and bake it. I served it with mashed potatoes, but egg noodles would be great with this too. It's hearty and filling, perfect for a chilly winter evening.

Swedish Meat Loaf (Print)
from Pampered Chef
Prep: 20 minutes / Bake: 75-80 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 (4 oz) can mushrooms, drained and chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, snipped or 4 teaspoons dried parsley
2 bread slices, crumbled
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or allspice
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except for meat, and mix well. Add meat and mix well.

2. Shape into loaf pan. Bake for 75-80 minutes, until center temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from pan and let stand 10 minutes. Serve with gravy.

Swedish Gravy
12 oz mushroom or beef gravy
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1. Heat gravy and milk in saucepan on medium heat. Whisk in sour cream.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chicken & Broccoli Twice-Baked Potatoes

This recipe is a twist on your typical twice-baked potato, and it's filling enough to use as a main dish. Jeremiah made this for dinner on my first day of work. He had worked hard to make me a nice dinner and they tasted delicious! We have made them twice and I know we will enjoy them in the future too.

Chicken & Broccoli Twice-Baked Potatoes (Print)
adapted from
Prep: 30 minutes / Bake: 30 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 large russet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter or margarine
8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) cheddar cheese, shredded
1-1/2 cups broccoli, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
Milk and additional butter (to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Clean potatoes. Prick potatoes with a fork several times on each side. Place on a plate and microwave for approximately 7 minutes, rotating and turning potatoes halfway through. The original recipe says 14-17 minutes. I have a 'baked potato' setting on my microwave, so I just use that. I halved the recipe last time, so it was 6 or 7 minutes for 2 potatoes and I'm not sure how long 4 would take. Just make sure that the potatoes are slightly softened and tender.

2. While potatoes are cooking, sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes in oven.

3. Set potatoes and chicken aside to cool when done. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Combine remaining salt and pepper, butter or margarine, sour cream, cheese, broccoli, and garlic.

4. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out pulp with a spoon or melon baller, leaving the shell intact. Mash pulp with additional milk and butter to taste (to sort of make mashed potatoes). Cut chicken into small cubes. Combine potatoes and chicken with the remaining filling.

5. Scoop filling into potato shells. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Optional changes
  • You can cut the chicken and cook it in a skillet with a small amount of oil instead of cooking it in oven.
  • You can also bake the potatoes in the oven instead of using the microwave. To do this, clean and prick the potatoes, then rub with vegetable oil. Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees for about 1 hour.
  • You can put half the cheese in the filling and save the other half to sprinkle on top before placing the potatoes in the oven.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Favorite Things No. 3

Here I've started a new weekly series and I already missed a post! But with the holiday weekend, I'm sure you will forgive me. This week I decided to write about my set of Pampered Chef stainless steel mixing bowls.

I'm probably the only person in the world who is willing to do the following: stretch as far as possible to reach the cabinet above the fridge to get out all the mixing bowls, haul them over to my living room floor, position them as to avoid the electrical outlet and the curtains, and then lie on the ground at odd angles to get a good picture. Of my mixing bowls.

{but they are worth it!}

These little beauties have rubber bottoms to prevent that annoying spin-around-on-the-counter-while-you-mix syndrome. As you can see, there are measurements on the inside, in liters and cups. Each mixing bowl has a lid that fits tightly, making them great for storage too! I love the pour spouts, they keep things from getting too messy. They fit inside of each other, which allows them to reside in a humble corner in the cupboard above my fridge. That's choice real estate in my 7x8 foot kitchen!

I received them as wedding gifts and I use them all of the time! I couldn't have asked for anything better. Wishing you all a great week!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Thanksgiving Tales

As you may remember from Wednesday, I told you that I was going to be making Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. I am about to fill you in on all the details, from bravely touching the huge raw turkey, to serving up my favorite pumpkin pie. I have lots to tell, so I will try to keep it brief and organized!

To begin, here is a picture of us and our wonderful friends who joined us for Thanksgiving!

Allow me to start with the planning. I chose the menu items and then made a grocery list. Simple as that. We had turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cheesy potato casserole, rolls, green bean casserole, carrots with dip, and pumpkin pie. There were a few things that I didn't make but would have liked to have: cheese ball, sweet potato pie, my french apple pie and cranberry ginger ale. Given the small party, light budget, and my inexperience, we kept things simple. I also cut a few corners by using store bought rolls and making the usual canned-ingredient green bean casserole instead of a homemade one that I would like to try. I would have liked to do everything homemade, but as I mentioned above, I needed to keep things simple. Especially since I worked until 8:00 the night before!

Now to move onto the preparation. I put the turkey out to thaw on Tuesday (did I mention that we got our 14-pound turkey for $4.07?! It was a great deal!) I made the pie crust on Wednesday and kept it in the fridge. Thursday after work I made the pumpkin pie, and also put together the cheesy potato and green bean casseroles.

Friday morning I prepped the veggies and spice rub for the turkey. Then the part I had been fearing. De-gutting the turkey. I've heard horror stories of reaching into the cavity abyss to pull out gizzards (and might I add that gizzards and giblets are gross words?). Getting the turkey out of the fridge without spilling the nasty juices that were on the plate under it was quite a difficult task. After getting my workout for the day, I slowly cut the wrapper off the turkey.

And I was pleasantly surprised.

{Source: Bing images}
There was a small, tidy bag sticking out of the cavity. So I pulled it out and thought, that was easy! I looked inside and was surprised at how small the cavity was, especially since I had a large pile of veggies to put in there; only about 1/5 of them fit (see below for the reason why)! So I rubbed the turkey with spices, filled it with veggies, and put it breast side down in my roasting pan. I then made the stuffing and put it in the crockpot.

Two hours later the turkey came out of the oven and the two casseroles went in. I boiled water and began cutting the potatoes while the turkey sat and got juicy. Then I made the gravy and mashed potatoes.

Jeremiah carved the turkey (and did a great job for his first time)! But there was one small surprise. The neck and the giblet bag were still in the turkey!!! Umm, gross! Apparently, I only pulled out a gravy mix, not everything else! I was so surprised, and thought to myself, no wonder the cavity seemed so small! But the turkey tasted good in spite of my missed body-part removal. And I might also mention that the turkey literally fell off the bones when we took it out of the pan. I guess that's a good thing, right?!

And then we ate! And it was all delicious!

I was happy with the timing of everything. It all stayed hot and was done as planned. I now have confidence that I can host any big holiday feast! My only complaint was the size of my kitchen. I hardly had working space and had to use my dining table, which meant that I didn't have the table set and ready like I hoped, but that's okay. In the end, it all worked out great!

I forgot to take pictures while cooking, but here is the link to view and print the turkey recipe. I highly recommend it to you! I plan to post recipes for the stuffing, cheesy potato casserole, and pie at a later date.

Two-hour Turkey adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just Me and My Uninspiredness

This last week has been really busy and I haven't gotten around to putting up a blog post for a while. I was searching through my recipe pictures but didn't feel inspired to write something. I have pictures for Chicken and Broccoli Twice-Baked Potatoes, Bacon and Gruyere Macaroni & Cheese, a Pumpkin Roll, Swedish Meat Loaf, 3 Chocolate Chip Cookie versions, Pumpkin Oatmeal, French Toast Casserole, and 4 other recipes that I will probably never write about because they were (sadly) gross. But I did work hard on them, so here's some pictures of the not-so-good recipes. It happens to all of us I guess. Just don't be mad at me, k? : )

Bacon and Broccoli Strata
Potato Noodle Soup
Herb and Pecan Crusted Pork Chops
Green Bean, Chicken, Wild Rice, and way-too-much Onion Casserole
Well there you have it, not everything I make turns out good! Out of all those recipes, I couldn't bring myself to blog and review one. I think it might be because I got off my schedule. I usually write on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and maybe one other night of the week; but I only write when Jeremiah is at work. It gives me something to do and prevents me from becoming obsessive (which could easily happen).

Anyway... I'm starting to ramble.

I had to work Thanksgiving, and then we were out of town the whole weekend. I worked my 12-hour shifts on Monday and Tuesday, so as you can see, I'm just getting around to catching up in the blog world. After feeling slightly bad for not keeping up with my normal postings, I felt a little better because many other bloggers cut back on posts last week too.

And here's the main topic I was going to discuss when I started this post: my Thanksgiving! As I mentioned above, I worked at the hospital that day from 6:30 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. It wasn't my ideal first Thanksgiving as a married couple, but that's just how life is sometimes. And I'm thankful for my job! As a result, we are celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday! And I'm going to be making my very first turkey (eeek)!

This is my menu: Turkey, Gravy, Stuffing, Green Bean Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Cheesy Potato Casserole, Rolls, and Pumpkin Pie. Nothing too fancy or out of the ordinary, but it's my first time hosting a holiday meal, so I went easy on myself. I plan to tell you all about it on Saturday, so stay tuned!