Delicious Cinnamon Bread

I LOVE CINNAMON BREAD. And we buy it all the time… until I decided I should try to make it, as it would be much less expensive and probably even better!  So I did! And it was! Even though Big D is the bread maker of the family usually, I hit this one out of the park. I really like the “Pioneer Woman” and tend to watch her on Saturday mornings while Big D and Little S are playing… so I followed her recipe. Check out her blog for more photos and details on the recipe. Melt 3/4 stick salted butter (6 Tbsp) and add 1 cup milk (any kind).  Let cool until lukewarm and add 2.5 teas. of active dry yeast. Stir it a little and let sit for 10 minutes. Throw 2 room temperature eggs and 1/3 cup sugar into your Kitchenaid or beat them until combined. Pour in milk/butter/yeast mixture and stir. Combine about 3.5 cups of flour and 1 teas salt.  Add half the flour and mix until combined. Then add the other half of the flour/salt and mix until combined. Then switch to your dough hook attachment and knead the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes.  If dough still looks sticky, add a bit more flour and beat again.  Heat a metal or glass mixing bowl so its warm. Drizzle in a little pol, toss the dough in the oil to coat and cover bowl in plastic wrap and set in a warm place for at least 2 hours.  I like to put my bread on the oven and turn the oven on low to keep it on the warm side.

DSC_0008

After it has rested, turn the dough out onto your work surface and roll it into a rectangle about the width of the loaf pan you are planning to use.

522

Smear with 2 Tbsp melted butter. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp cinnamon (or a little extra if you want), and sprinkle over butter smeared dough.

  523

Starting at the far end, roll dough toward you, keeping it tight and contained. Pinch seam to seal. Smear loaf pan with butter. Place dough, seam down, in the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours.

524

Preheat  oven to 350 degrees. Mix a little egg with milk and smear over the top.  Bake for 40 minutes on a middle or lower rack. Remove and allow to cool. Slice and serve.

  DSC_0014

Sorry I don’t have any pics of the inside! We gobbled it up too fast! 🙂

Have a great day!

Advertisements

Imagine That! adventure

In the spirit of exploring our new area we decided to adventure off to a place called Imagine That! They were having a Mommy and Me Day and thus, there was no fee for the Mommy, just the “me” aka Little S. They were having a bunch  I figured this would be a great way to see what was around the area for us to take advantage of.  So off we went! This place was pretty cool to say the least.  Sam had a great time climbing around some different slide/castle/jungle gym type structures and they had a little plane, a fire engine and a VW bug that the kids could climb in and around as well.  This was a big hit.

I stopped by all the vendors and actually ended up winning a vendor’s raffle — so that was cool.  I also got on the list for Stroller Strides so I can think about joining that again if I feel like it.  I also found out about a lot of Montessori and Preschool programs in the area so that will be helpful since Sam is fast approaching that age.  All in all it was very fun and I got another free adult pass with kid fee as a bonus for coming so we will definitely be going back!

IMG_2818

The littlest pilot

IMG_2817

This is Pilot Sam to Air Traffic Control.  Ready for TAKE OFF!

IMG_2814

Beep Beep!!

Anyone else gone to any fun children’s exploration museums or the like recently??

The Best Greek Orzo Salad

This week has been a little crazy so I am back with another awesome recipe.  This is my go to favorite for every potluck, BBQ, and generally most parties and for the most part it is super easy. I also tend to keep pretty much all the ingredients on hand so it is usually quite fast to throw together.  It is adapted from “Bride and Groom: First and Forever Cookbook” which my friend Lily gave me for our wedding and surprising I think it is one that I actually reference the most.  (So of course, I in turn gave it to her for her wedding! )

Here are the ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil  *  2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (I always add a bit extra) *  1.5 teas fresh garlic (again, add extra if you like garlic) *  1/2 teas dried organo *  1/2 teas kosher salt * 1/8 teas black pepper * 1/2 teas sugar * 1 cup orzo (I usually make a couple cups and have been none to make the whole box – so feel free to increase as needed for servings * 1/4 cup pine nuts * 1/4 cup golden raisins * 3 Tbsp finely chopped kalamata olives (or black olives) *1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (I love my herb scissors for this!) * 2 oz feta cheese (again, add more if desired – I do!)

Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat and add kosher salt. Add orzo and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, but still firm (around 8-10 minutes).

Whisk together your “dressing” – the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper — and set aside.

DSC_0048

Then put your pinenuts in a dry skillet and toast them over medium low heat, shaking constantly, until toasty and brown (about 5 minutes).

2013 March-May 049

Once the orzo is done cooking, drain it and transfer to the medium bowl with the dressing.  Toss to coat. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

2013 March-May 050

While the orzo is cooling, you can chop your olives and prepare your other ingredients.  Once the orzo has cooled slightly, add the olives, feta, pine nuts and golden raisins.

2013 March-May 053

Stir it up and then add some fresh basil on top.  So easy and so delicious! It will be a hit at any party you go to! I promise!

DSC_0055

Freezer Potato Skins

I couldn’t resist buying a big basket of red potatoes at the little farmer’s market a couple weeks because I love potatoes in most forms; however, I never really got around to using them for a week or so and finally decided I really needed to do something with them.  Potato skins are one of my favorite apps, but I never order them because I think they are covered in grease and oil in most restaurants and always seemed to difficult to make.  Then I realized I could probably make a big batch of my own and freeze them in small batches so I would have them whenever I wanted!

This recipe is so easy, but really allows for long lasting rewards in having some semi-healthy potato skins waiting whenever you feel like it!!

Take your small potatoes — I used red, but yukons would work as well.  Scrub them well, especially if from the farmer’s market!! Then stab them all with a fork a couple times so they don’t explode and throw them on a cookie sheet.  Now you can drizzle them with oil and salt for a tastier experience, or leave them plain to be a bit healthier.  Then bake for about 45-60 min in a 375 degree oven, depending on the size of your potatoes.  You want them to be pretty soft.

IMG_1953

When they are done, pull them out and let them cool a bit so they are not so hot to the touch.

IMG_1954

Then slice them in half and scoop out the majority of the insides with a spoon or a melon baller, until you are left with your “skin.” Be sure to save the insides for something fun — mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, all sorts of lovely things!

IMG_1955

Then fill them up with whatever you like! I often cut up slivers of bacon and cook them while the potatoes are cooking and then let them cool so I have fresh bacon bits to sprinkle on them.  I also like chives from my herb garden, but really you can fill these little guys with just about anything, as long as they are not too water based, like tomatoes as I don’t think they would freeze very well.

IMG_1958

Once your potatoes are loaded up with goodies, then its time to sprinkle the cheese! Do this liberally with whatever kind of cheese you like!

IMG_1956

Once you have your potatoes sprinkled with cheese, throw them in the broiler to melt the cheese for about 5 minutes.  Pull them out and let them cool for a minute and then stick them in the freezer, just as they are, on the cookie sheet for a while until they freeze slightly — then they won’t freeze into a giant mass in the baggie. Once they are mostly frozen you can divide them up into baggies for storage.  I usually do 4-6 for a single serving and sometimes 8-10 if I am planning on serving them with dinner for two.

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Crockpot Apple Butter

So this is an old favorite and one that I definitely plan on putting to good use after some apple picking this fall. I’m so excited that its so easy which is how I like it, especially with a toddler underfoot. There are lots of recipes for this floating around but I like it stick to the basics.  You basically heap your crockpot full with peeled, cored and sliced apples — around 3-4 pounds, add about 4 cups of sugar – I like to use organic — but this could really be replaced with any form of sugar substitute that you prefer or have on hand.  Then 4-5 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 teas cloves, 1/4 teas nutmeg, 1/4 teas allspice and 1/4 teas salt.

368

I really like my apple butter to have some spice to it so I give the cinnamon a good shake, and throw in the other spices for good measure, but you can always dial it back if you like it a little blander.  Or just stick with cinnamon if you want it a little purer.  Then you turn it on high for 1-2 hours to really get things going…

375

After that turn it on low and leave it for 6-8 hours.  Basically, do all the prep before you go to bed and turn it on low right before you head to sleep.  In the morning, it will have broken down into deliciousness and as a side benefit your house will smell amazing and you’ll have something to put on your toast!!!

377

If it is not blended down quite the way you want, a few passes with the immersion or hand blender should get it to the right consistency and then just can them according to the same process I explained with the pear chutney.  Enjoy!!

 

Homemade Pear Chutney

Since it is starting to get closer to Fall and we actually get to experience Fall for a change since in Alaska, we just get rain and then snow, I decided to share a couple of favorite recipes for pears and apples since Fall means apple picking somewhere.  I’m hoping we are going to get that on the agenda sometime in October!

So first up, pear chutney – I forget where I found this recipe but I kind of added and subtracted with things that I liked and had on hand, so feel free to do the same.

1 cup blanched almonds

6 pounds ripe pears

2 cups coarsely chopped red peppers

4 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups cider vinegar

2 1/3 cups golden raisins (15 oz.)

2 2/3 cups chopped dried apricots (15 oz.)

2 tablespoons  chopped crystallized ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

371

Prepare your canning jars:

1. Put water in pot. It should be 2/3 full if using pint-size jars, 1/2 full for quart jars.  Cover pan, and bring water to a boil over high heat. Wash jars, bands and lids in hot soapy water or run through dishwasher (hand wash lids). When water is boiling, place jars in pot and boil 10 minutes. Reduce heat and keep jars in water until needed.

Rinse fruits and veggies well. Place almonds in 9 in pan and bake in a 350 degree oven until golden, shaking pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Peel, core, and chop pears; you should have 10 1/2 cups. In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine almonds, pears, bell pepper, sugar, vinegar, raisins, apricots, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and garlic salt.

IMG_0105

Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-high and stir often until mixture is thick and reduced by 1/3, about 1 1/4 hours.

372

For canning, quickly ladle hot mixture through a wide funnel into jars, leaving headspace (the distance between top of jar rim and food inside) as recommended. To release any air bubbles in chunky mixtures, run a clean plastic knife around the inside of the jars (metal knives can damage jars). Wipe jar rims and outer threads with a clean, damp cloth.  Center lids on jars so the red or gray sealing compound is touching jar rims. Using a hot pad, screw bands on firmly, but don’t force. Place jars on rack in canner or into pot and lower into water. The water should cover jars by at least 1 inch; if necessary, add more hot water.  Cover and return water to a boil (or to 180°-185° for pickles), and process for time specified in recipe (10 minutes for pear chutney). Using tongs remove jars and set upright on towels. Let jars cool completely. Press on center of each lid.  If it stays down then jar is sealed.  If it pops up, chill the jar and serve within 2-3 weeks. Label and store in cool, dark place for up to 2 years. for best quality. Once open, consume within 3 weeks.

373

YUM! So delicious! Let me know if you try it out!

 

 

 

Sensory Games and Colored Rice

I haven’t been very good about the Montessori/Learning Activities with Little S lately.  Too much with all the packing, moving, unpacking, settling in, house hunting, etc. so I thought I would share a super easy sensory activity that I did with him a while back that he seemed to really enjoy.  And once all of our belongings arrive and we settle in to a new house; hopefully he will again, or maybe a new sibling if we ever get around to that… (no Mom, I’m not pregnant.)

So this is how simple it is… take white rice (I did about 2 cups per color as I had a giant thing of rice from Costco I was trying to use up and I had a few different plans to try out once it was made), pour into a ziplock bag…

334

Put in a few drops of food coloring — pick whatever colors you like — I did a rainbow variety as we were working on our colors at the time — and mush it all around. Then once it was the color I wanted I poured it into a heap in one of those tin foil cooking pans until I had all my colors…

337

333

Then I saved out some of the unmixed into separate bags for working on colors and mixed the rest up together.  We had this cute little bucket, shovel and rake that we got at some doctor’s office and which inspired me to do this little project actually.  I also stuck in some of the leftover flowers from my wreath project and Little S had a grand old time. Just a warning – can be messy if left unattended or without a playmat underneath!

341

Such fun! I also collect small objects from around the house and at the dollar store to put inside a bottle with additional rice for a sensory bottle.  I’m excited for Sam to see it again now that he is older as I think he will get more out of the “I Spy” action then he did 6 months ago! Ok, now I am feeling inspired again — time to figure out some fun activities for when the little man wakes up from his nap! 🙂 Have a great afternoon!