Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cinnamon Buns with Cream Cheese Icing

Hubby got this recipe from a coworker, whose wife had made these for some event at work. The cinnamon buns were so good that he didn’t give up until he got this recipe emailed to him.


I made it not long after. My memories of doing it are (a) time-intensive, (b) delicious, and (c) the icing was so sweet and the buns so full of sugar and deliciousness that just one bun was plenty… but that the experience of that one cinnamon bun was mind-blowing. Warm, gooey, cinnamon-sweet, just sinfully perfect.

Side note: I just learned shortcuts to random emoticons. Typing (a) gets you Angel and typing (b) gets you Mug. Who knew? Of course, typing (c) gets you ©, but everyone knew that.

Anyway, as I mentioned in a previous post, my brother and sister-in-law stayed with us last weekend. As I saw it, this was a perfect excuse to indulge. So, one morning I got up early with the dogs and got to work.

First, dissolve a tablespoon of active yeast in warm milk. This is about 0.5 ounces, or 2 packets.


Just one problem….


Yeah, my yeast was “best if used by Oct. 2009.” It’s April 2011. I couldn’t believe it had been that long since I made real bread, the kind that you knead and let rise and knead again. How much life and rising power does yeast lose with time? Honestly, I have no idea. I do remember one failed attempt to make a bread that was in a children’s cookbook that I had years ago, and that bread didn’t rise at all, but I always figured that it was more due to my interpretation of “1 packet of yeast” as being a sprinkling from the jar that my mom kept in the fridge, but in retrospect that was probably old yeast, too. Anyway, at this point, I was skeptical that the dough would rise at all, but I had already psyched myself up and made coffee, so I decided to throw an extra packet of yeast into the warm milk and just go with it.

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, melted butter, salt, and eggs.


Add a bunch of all-purpose flour (plus the milk and yeast mixture), and you end up with a sticky lump of dough. I was out of clean mixing bowls so I used a punch bowl and pretended I was being fancy. Dust it with flour and roll the dough in it.


Cover it and set it aside, giving it time to rise.


After an hour, the dough didn’t look like it had come even close to doubling in size. Uh oh. But I didn’t want to wait longer. Extra time wouldn’t make much of a difference at this point. Next step: roll it into a big rectangle with a rolling pin (I had to add lots of flour, since it was so sticky!), and then smother it with butter. Hey, I said this was sinful, not healthy!


After the dough is thoroughly covered in butter, sprinkle on a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon.


And then roll it up into a long log.


Slice it into 12 equal pieces, putting six in each pan.


Then cover them and let them rise again. I found that the ones resting on the warm oven rose more than those in the pan that was on the counter, but none of them rose nearly as much as I had hoped.


Anyway, pop them in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. While they’re baking, whip up a quick icing with butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and a touch of salt.


And then finally, you take the cinnamon buns out of the oven, smother in icing, and dig in.


All said and done, they didn’t rise as much as they were supposed to, but they were still absolutely yummy. Rich, sugary, full of cinnamon, and warm, they had each of us going back for more. But we each stopped at two, even the pregnant lady, because our bodies said “That’s enough!"


In the future, I will make sure that I have fresh yeast, because I was pretty disappointed in the way that these looked. Still, I’m sure that I’ll make these again, someday, when I want to pamper someone with a ridiculous breakfast. IMG_2113

Recipe in Tastebook soon. Special thanks to Lisa Wainwright for sharing her secrets.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Just a side note, it just came to my attention that I didn't have anonymous commenting enabled. Until now, you needed some sort of account (i.e. google, AIM, Livejournal) to comment, but I've changed it so that's no longer true. Now you can be completely independent and not signed up for anything to comment. You can be a secret lurker if you'd like, or you could sign your name when you comment anonymously. I love to hear who's reading this, but I get it if you'd like to comment without sharing who you are. Just keep it PG-13 and respectful, please! :)


Hubby’s sister and her family, in town for job interviews, stayed with us last week. I took the opportunity to beg Allyson, my sister-in-law, for a demonstration of how to make jambalaya. Luckily she was willing to help me out, and she even came prepared with 5lbs of Lejeune sausage (which I’m told is Cajun sausage from Lejeune Sausage Kitchen in Louisiana). When she told us that she brought it, she was met with a blank stare from me (I’m a Northerner, I don’t know these things!), but hubby’s face lit up so I knew it was something good.


She started off with cooking the sausage in a big pot until it caramelized. I didn’t know that this happened with sausage, and I’m told it would have been better in a cast-iron pot, but our little gumbo pot was all that we had and I think it worked out all right.


Anyway, you get it to the point that it’s sticking to the pan and turning brown. Then you add a pound and a half of cubed pork loin, along with chopped onions, garlic, celery, and green bell pepper, and cook it until the pork is cooked through.


Add 5 cups of water, let it come to a boil, and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Mmmmm it’s starting to smell pretty amazing by this point.


Finally, add 2 1/2 cups of rice, stir it, cover it, reduce the heat, and leave it alone. An hour or so later, you’ve got a savory, spicy, Cajun dish that will feed a small army.


Allyson humored me as I spooned it onto my plate and took pictures. Thanks, Allyson!



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Apparently, according to the gazillion sites that come up if you google “how to hard-boil eggs,” there are many different techniques and many different ways to screw up. If you do it wrong, you end up with greenish, sulfur-like yolks and rubbery whites, and the egg police will come and arrest you for screwing up something ridiculously simple.

Luckily, I found a method that worked pretty well for me. Put the eggs in a pot, cover with water (at least one inch past the top of the eggs), bring to a boil while uncovered, then cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then transfer to an ice-water bath, and then dry off and refrigerate.

I actually printed this out, because you know what? I know the next time I go to make them, I’ll think, “Was I supposed to put them in cold water or boiling? Should I boil them for 15 minutes, or let sit in the hot water that long?” I don’t really have OCD, but I have a lot of OCD tendencies, and I certainly don’t want the egg police telling me I did it wrong next time.

Anyway, an Easter tradition in my family is dyeing hard boiled eggs together on the Saturday before Easter and serving them for breakfast with a white cream sauce on Easter Sunday. I haven’t done this in a few years, really since I went off to college, but since my brother and sister-in-law were visiting this weekend, it was the perfect time to revive the tradition.

I bought a ridiculous egg-dyeing kit from the grocery store. They didn’t have a “simple” and an “elaborate” kit, so I ended up with the $4.99 kit that included stencils, sponges in the shape of springtime things, paint, glitter, sequins, beads, glue, stickers, rubbery bands, and white crayon in addition to the one thing I really wanted: dye.


I got excited and punched out the holes in the box, transforming it into an egg holder before I’d read the directions on how to prepare the dyes. Adrienne, my sister-in-law, helped me find the correct circles so that I could read the directions. Each dye tablet goes in some vinegar until it dissolves, then you add water. She took a few pictures while I prepared them.



Did I mention that Adrienne is pregnant?


We decided to make tacky eggs instead of pretty ones. What fun is all that nonsense if you don’t use it?


Finally, Easter morning. I made a cream sauce with butter, flour, and milk, poured it into margarita glasses because I don’t have a gravy boat to serve it in, and then Easter breakfast was ready to go.


Flashback to childhood: complete. Happy Easter, everyone!