Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls

I decided it was high time to do a post on Grandma's cinnamon rolls. This was probably her most well-known and well-loved recipe. One of the best things I remember about going to Grandma's house is that she would always make you feel special. One of the ways she did this was by serving you cinnamon rolls for breakfast. I mean, who gets to eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast at home? She would always frost them and put a little pat of butter on them and then heat them up just a little bit. Then she would serve them to you on a pretty plate with a napkin and always a place mat. This is probably my favorite recipe of Grandma's. So here you are: Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls.

Hey all you family out there: What about you? What is your favorite recipe of Grandma's?

Grandma's Cinnamon Rolls

A note from Grandma: "These take about 4 hours to make. Let them raise properly. I usually double this recipe"

2 c. scalded milk
1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 Tbs. yeast
4 beaten eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Flour- enough to make a spongy dough (this is somewhere around 8 cups)

Mix milk, shortening, and sugar in a saucepan. Heat to a simmer. Cool until warm. You can set the hot pan over ice cubes to speed up the cooling process. Don't get it too cold, just nice and warm, or the yeast won't rise. Add yeast. Let raise for 1/2 hour. Add eggs and salt. Mix well. Make a sponge by adding flour. It should be about the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Let raise for 1/2 hour then mix in enough flour to make the dough the consistency of roll dough. Turn dough into a greased bowl and let it raise until double.
Divide dough in half. Roll dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick. Spread with melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Roll up long end into a log. Slice into 1-inch pieces. An easy way to slice the rolls is to use a piece of dental floss.Place pieces on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Cover with a dish cloth and put in a warm place. Let rolls raise until double in size. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Move to a cooling rack. Frost while still warm. Eat and enjoy!
Don't frost the rolls you aren't going to eat immediately. If you are going to freeze them, let them cool completely. Place flat in a bread bag to freeze.
A few notes: This dough has a very different texture to it than regular bread dough, so be prepared for that. The first time I made these it freaked me out.
I will often prepare the dough to the point where you put it in a greased bowl. I will then put the bowl in the fridge and let the dough raise slowly overnight. This makes the process a little less overwhelming. If you do this remember to let the dough get to room temperature before trying to work with it.
Grandma never specified how much butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon to use. So I would say, use good judgment. I have found not going overboard actually works to your favor.
A final note form Grandma: "Have fun!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Chicken Korma and Garlic Naan

I was first introduced to Indian food by my brother and sister-in-law Derek and Becca. They told us that they had found this awesome restaurant that was run out of a gas station by USU. I was skeptical to say the least. But they got us take-out one night and we tried it. I have been hooked ever since. Just the smell of Indian food makes my mouth water. I love the smell, the fact that they put golden raisins and cashews in stuff, and the naan! Oh man!
So I have tried several times to reproduce my favorite dish: chicken korma. This recipe is a compilation of 3 different recipes and I think it is very close to what I get in that little gas station restaurant. Becca, this post is dedicated to you, my friend. Thanks for helping me branch out!
One more thing: this recipe calls for a lot of random spices that I don't have laying around my kitchen. As we all know spices are expensive. You buy the expensive spice and you are left with a whole container that you only use 2-3 times a year. And spices don't last forever, right? Well I found the perfect solution: The bulk spice section at Smith's Marketplace. It is the coolest thing! You just measure out the amount of whatever spice you need and take it home in a little baggie. Cheap, no waste, I love it! Try it out. They had everything I was looking for in this recipe.

Chicken Korma

fresh ginger- 1 2-inch piece
5 cloves garlic
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 tsp garam masala (picture below)
1 can coconut milk (found in the Asian food section)
1 Tbs. coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (this was HOT. I would probably add less next time. Shawn thought it was perfect).
1/2 tsp. salt
3 bay leaves
7 cardamom pods (picture below)
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. cumin seeds (picture below)
2 onions- peeled and diced
1/2 c. cilantro- chopped, plus more for garnish
2-3 pounds chicken breast- diced (tip: only partially thaw your chicken and dice it frozen. It makes it much easier to work with.)
1 c. golden raisins
1 1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 c. cashews
Jasmine rice (picture below)

Garam masala is a combination of ground spices that are often used in Indian cooking.

Cumin seeds

Cardamom pods. Very aromatic. Remember to remove before serving.

Jasmine rice. This rice is aromatic and delicious. I think is tastes quite different from Basmati rice, which we eat more often. We love both kinds!

So are you totally overwhelmed just reading the ingredients list? Don't be! It is totally worth it. I listed the ingredients in the order that you combine them together. Hopefully that was helpful. OK, here we go.
1. Peel ginger and garlic. Combine ginger and garlic with water and process in a food processor until smooth. I don't have a food processor so I minced the garlic, zested the ginger and combined them all. This seemed to work just fine. Set this mixture aside.
2. Combine coconut milk, garam masala, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet, heat 2-3 Tbs. olive oil. When hot, add bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin seeds, onion, and cilantro. Saute until onions are soft and transparent. Remove cardamom pods and cloves.
4. Add diced chicken to this mixture and saute until chicken is brown.
5. To chicken, add garlic/ginger paste and golden raisins. Combine and saute 1-2 minutes.
6. Now add the coconut milk mixture to the pan. Turn heat to medium and cook 20 minutes.
7. Add yogurt and cashews to chicken. Cook 7-8 minutes. Remove bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
8. Serve hot over jasmine rice. Garnish with cilantro.
So, so yummy!

Garlic Naan

This is a traditional Indian bread. Naan is cooked in a tandoor, or cylindrical clay oven. The bread is cooked by throwing it onto the side of the oven. Since I don't have a tandoor I cooked my bread on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet. I put it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, turned it and cooked the other side. This seemed to work pretty well.

1 Tbs. yeast
1 c. warm water
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbs. milk (some other recipes said you could use yogurt instead of milk. It might be interesting to try).
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 c. flour, approximately
4 cloves minced garlic, divided in half
1/4 c. butter, melted

In a large bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid), dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 mintues or until yeast raises. Refer to this post for more direction. Add milk, egg, salt, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead 6-8 minutes or until smooth. Place dough in a greased bowl and let raise until double.
2. Punch down dough and divide into 8-10 balls. Working with one dough ball at a time, using a rolling pin or your hands, roll dough into a oval shape until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Place on greased cooling rack. Combine melted butter and 2 cloves minced garlic.Brush dough with this mixture. Repeat with other dough balls.
3.Place under oven broiler 2-3 minutes, watching carefully. My rack was in the very middle of my oven. When bread is brown and bubbly, turn and broil other side.
4. Remove from oven and serve immediately with chicken korma and rice.

Here is the order I suggest doing everything in to make sure it is all hot at ready to serve at the same time.

1. Make naan dough. Let raise 1 hour.
2. While naan is raising begin cooking the korma.
3. When you reach the end of step 6 with the korma, punch down the naan dough and roll it out. Get it all ready to put in to oven but don't put it in yet. Also start rice at this point. I love my rice cooker for this. I can start it and walk away.
4. Do step 7 for korma. While it finishes cooking, bake the naan.
5. Make your husband set the table. You are busy.
6. Now everything is done and hot! Eat and enjoy. Breath spicy korma/garlic breath on your husband, then eat some more.

Please forgive me for the super-long post. I hope you are not put off from trying this dish by the length of it. It does take a while to make this meal, but none of it is complicated. I would allow yourself a good hour to cook this dinner. Please let me know if you try it. I would love to know what you think!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hot & Sour Chicken Soup

(not my picture...mine didn't turn out)

I tried this out tonight and my kids really liked it! It's good and fast to make (approx. 30 minutes)

Hot & Sour Chicken Soup - from allrecipes Cookbook

3 c. chicken broth

1/2 c. water

2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms

1/2 c. sliced bamboo shoots, drained

2 t. grated fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 t. soy sauce

1/4 t. red pepper flakes

Add all these ingredients into a big soup pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and cover and simmer.

1 lb. boneless chicken, cut into thin strips

1 T. sesame oil

2 green onions, chopped

3 T. red wine vinegar

2 T. cornstarch

1 egg, beaten

Place the chicken in a bowl and drizzle with the sesame oil. Stir to coat. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and vinegar. Return the broth to a boil. Add the chicken and return to a boil. Drizzle the egg into the broth while stirring. Stir in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer over medium heat until chicken is cooked. Serve with green onions.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

White Bread

Baking bread has always kind of scared me. Yeasty anything has kind of scared me. I got this great little recipe from my friend Trudy. I have been making it quite a bit lately. It is easy and so yummy. It took quite a bit of the scariness out of bread-making.

Yummy White Bread

2 c. hot water
1/2 c. sugar or water
2/3 c. milk
1/4 c. butter- melted
3 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. dry yeast
7-8 c. flour

Combine hot water, sugar/honey, butter, milk, and salt in a large bowl. I use my Kitchen Aid for this recipe. Sprinkle in yeast, stir until wet and then let rise, about 20 mintues. It will look like a puffy sponge when is raises.

Put in 4 cups of flour and mix thoroughly- it will be wet. Add the rest of the flour one cup at a time until the dough reaches a nice elastic consistency. Knead or machine mix(with a dough hook) for about 10 minutes. Place in a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let raise until double, about 45 min. I have had a terrible time getting things to raise, but I finally figured out a great trick. Turn on your oven light when you start preparing the dough. It makes the oven a perfect temperature for raising dough.

After dough has doubled in size, punch it down (I think this is so fun), knead lightly and let raise again until double. (45 minutes). Punch down then dump onto a floured surface and knead. Divide into 4 equal portions and form into loaves. Place in greased loaf pans. Place back in oven and cover with a towel. Let raise until double in size (45 minutes). When dough has doubled, take bread out of the oven (very important!) and heat oven to 350 degrees. When oven in preheated bake bread for 20-30 minutes until brown. When bread is done, remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Be sure to eat some of it hot with butter. So, so yummy!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

What to do (or not) with those dried bean soup mixes

Okay so this post may be kind of lame: dinner out of a bag. But I am kind of pissed at dried bean mixes right now. So you all get a lame post.
We (meaning mainly Shawn) cooked a ham for Christmas. It was a butt (butt hee, hee) roast and it was awesome. We carved all the meat off of it and froze the bone. I had grand plans for soup and fitness. After we froze said ham bone we proceeded to eat like pigs for the next 2 weeks. Ugh, I feel like crap!
So with fitness and ham bone in mind I went to the grocery store and bought a 15 bean soup mix. You know, the kind that come in a bag, dried beans with a little flavor packet. That is what I bought. I was excited to kick off our new healthy eating with some wholesome and tasty soup.
So I followed the package directions. I put the beans in a large stock pot with 2 quarts of water and let them soak overnight. I let them soak more like 12 hours. Then the package said the drain the beans and cover with 2 quarts of fresh water and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.Here we get to the part of what you DO NOT do with bean soup. DO NOT do as the package says and then go off to take your Sunday afternoon nap. You will come back to your bean soup boiled dry in your Grandma's favorite, very good, stock pot. You will have to throw out said bean soup and maybe yell at your husband just a little. Babe, I'm sorry, it wasn't you it was the soup I was mad at, or maybe the nap, or maybe the smell. Burnt beans stink. Then you will have to start dinner over again on a Fast Sunday when you haven't eaten all day. Bummer.
So here is what you really need to do:

  • Cover beans with 2 quarts of water and soak overnight. That part is sound advise.
  • Rinse the beans with cold water. Several times. There is a reason for this. It cuts down on flatulence problems later on. Rinsing the beans washes off a sugar molecule which our stomachs cannot digest. That is where bean toots come from. Who knew? Thank you wikipedia, and Shawn.
  • Return beans to stock post and cover with 4 1/2 quarts fresh water. 2 quarts is not nearly enough. Dumb directions. Also add any meat you are using at this point. We added the ham bone and then were going to remove it before adding spices. It is in the garbage now. You can also use 1 lb diced ham or sausage. If you use sausage, cook it first. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours.
  • After simmer time is over, add 2 cans of stewed tomatoes, 1/2-1 c diced onion, 2 garlic cloves-minced, 1 tsp. chili powder (I added more than this), and salt and pepper to taste. I also threw in the seasoning packet from the bean mix. This is where I must confess that there were not actually any beans in my bean soup. I burnt them all up. I just happened to have a can of dried soup base mix from the LDS cannery in my basement. It had pasta, rice, and lentils in it. So no beans, but we pretended and practiced our bean toots anyway.
  • After adding seasoning, simmer soup for another 20-30 minutes. Serve hot with bread sticks, because that would be yummy. We also topped ours with Parmesan cheese because we had it and Parm makes everything taste better.
So I have rambled, but I feel much better. Here is a ingredients recap:

Bean Soup with Ham

1 bag of dried bean soup mix
1 ham bone- if you happen to have one laying around
1 lb. ham or sausage (if using sausage, fry it up)
2 can stewed tomatoes
1/2-1 c. diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Follow above directions, especially the nap part. By all means take a nap, I love naps, but not while your soup is cooking. Enjoy your soup.

By the way I got a new camera for Christmas. A Canon Rebel T1i. Doesn't it take great pictures?