Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cinnamon Rolls

A while back I made the Cinnabon Clone recipe from, I remember reading the reviews for that recipe and a couple of people mentioning another recipe that they liked better, also from So when I decided that I had to have some Cinnamon rolls this weekend I thought I would try the other recipe. Now that I have tried both recipes I think that I prefer the Cinnabon clone recipe, but I'm still in search for a roll with a nice light tender dough. The dough for this recipe turned out to be pretty tough. I kind of new it would be last night when I went to roll it out. It took a lot of work to get the dough to roll out to the right length. The dough wasn't very elastic at all. In the end to get it to roll out properly I sprayed both sides with a little water and held onto the bottom with one hand while I used my other hand to push the rolling pin away from. Sounds complicated? It was. Then on the last rise the rolls wouldn't quite double in size.

Don't get me wrong, the rolls were still pretty tasty. Just not nearly as light and flaky as I would have liked. But be your own judge. Here is the recipe. I only made a few changes and those will be marked in Italics.

Cinnamon Rolls III


* 1/4 cup warm water
* 1/4 cup butter, melted
* 1/2 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
* 1 cup warm milk
* 1 egg, room temperature
* 1 tablespoon white sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 4 cups bread flour
* 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
* 1/4 cup butter, softened (I added 1/4 tsp vanilla to the butter before spreading on dough)
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 3/4 cup chopped pecans (I omitted these)
* 1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1/4 cup butter, softened
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I also used 1/4 tsp lemon extract)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons milk

In the pan of your bread machine, combine water, melted butter, vanilla pudding, warm milk, egg, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast. Set machine to Dough cycle; press Start.
When Dough cycle has finished, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 17x10 inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over dough. (At this point I placed a sheet of parchment paper over the dough and used my rolling pin to press the butter/filling into the dough)
Roll up dough, beginning with long side. Slice into 16 one inch slices and place in 9x13 buttered pan. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. While rolls bake, stir together cream cheese, softened butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and milk. Remove rolls from oven and top with frosting.

Italian Mac and Cheese

Okay, say what you want about Rachael Ray, but she has with out a doubt changed the way many people think about cooking. America was (and still is) falling into becoming a fast food nation. She showed people how to make real food from real ingredients in a realistic amount of time. And she did it, for the most part, with out using processed box substitutes. So, while her face being plastered on anything that won't move is a little bit annoying and even though some of her food doesn't look appealing to me at all, I still think she has done something good. And I really think she did good with this recipe. Jesse and I both really enjoyed it.

Italian Mac and Cheese
(Source: Top 30- 30 minute meals : Comfort foods; Rachael Ray)

Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ziti , penne or cavatappi
1 lb Italian sweet sausage
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
3-4 cloves garlic
12 crimini mushrooms
2 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream (I subbed half and half)
2 and 1/2 cups shredded Italian 4-cheese blend
1 can diced tomatoes well drained
1 tsp hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt water and cook pasta just to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a non stick skillet brown and crumble sausage. Drain crumbles on a paper towel-lined plate. Return pant o heat and add evoo, butter, garlic and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute 3 to 5 minutes, until mushrooms are lightly golden.

Preheat broiler to high (I skipped this part because I had something in the oven)

To mushrooms, add flour and stir, cooking 2 minutes. Whisk in stock, then stir in cream. Bring cream to a bubble, then stir in 2 cups of 4 cheese blend. When cheese has melted into sauce add tomatoes. When sauce comes to a bubble, remove from heat and adjust seasoning, adding hot sauce, if desired.

Combine cheese sauce with sausage and pasta, transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and Parmesan over the top and brown under broiler. (Again, I skipped the browning part and just sprinkled with Parmesan before serving.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Spur of the moment I decided that hot chocolate was not enough this morning. I was in the mood for some big fluffy pancakes. I picked the first recipe I came across and this is what I got. I have to admit that I had no milk this morning so I subbed half and half that I watered down a little bit (weird I know but I was craving pancakes and I didn't want to go to the store). I couldn't believe how much these pancakes puffed up! They were super thick and delicious. I think I would have had better results if I used an actual griddle, but we don't have one so a family size skillet had to work. I also cut the recipe in half so I wouldn't have left overs and I wish I wouldn't have. says serving size "10", but really they mean 10 pancakes not servings. Below I have the recipe in it's original form, since I wouldn't half it if I made it again.

Clark Gable Pancakes
(recipe source:

* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoons baking powder (this is really too much I used less)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1 cup milk (i had that weird substitute of half and half and water)
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* I also added about a tbsp of sugar


1. In a medium bowl, stir together the egg, milk, and oil. Add flour, baking powder and salt, mix until smooth.
2. Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake on hot, oiled griddle. Turn when golden brown. Serve hot.

Szechwan Shrimp

Everyday send out an e-mail with a "recipe of the day". Most days the recipes don't really appeal to me. But Thursday something about it just caught my eye, so we put it on the menu for tonight. I was excited earlier today when some one on the message board that I frequent said she had tried it and really liked it. Following her and several other reviewers suggestion I doubled the sauce. I also meant to add red bell pepper, but last minute I had a brain freeze and realized that I had started my oil before de-shelling my shrimp so there was no time to cut up the pepper. It still turned out great. It had a nice amount of spice, not too much but enough to notice. I will definitely make this again, I might also try it with chicken.

Szechwan Srimp
(Recipe source:

* 8 tablespoons water
* 4 tablespoons ketchup
* 2 tablespoon soy sauce
* 4 teaspoons cornstarch
* 2 teaspoon honey
* 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
* 1/4 cup sliced green onions
* 4 cloves garlic, minced
* 12 ounces cooked shrimp, tails removed

1. In a bowl, stir together water, ketchup, soy sauce, cornstarch, honey, crushed red pepper, and ground ginger. Set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in green onions and garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in shrimp, and toss to coat with oil. Stir in sauce. Cook and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickened.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Introducing the Orange Kitchen

I realize in the (almost) year that I have had this blog I have never shown what the "Orange Kitchen" really looks like. I will admit I am a colorful person. White walls make me sad. I think I vaguely remember my husband saying something like "Don't make the house a rainbow....", bless his heart. I'm not sure he knew what he was signing up for. As you may have noticed in my pictures we use Fiestaware for our dinner ware. I love Fiestaware. It's like it was created just for me. I love it so much that I color matched our kitchen walls to a plate. Of course other ideas were tossed around first and there was a coat of horrible sorbet before the final Orange Zest made it's way onto the walls. I'll admit that I was a little bit worried when it first went up. You could literally see it gleaming through our un-curtained windows from down the street. But once the tile was in and the decor was set, I fell in love. And here it is....

A view of the whole kitchen area.

A nice shot of the tile back splash Jesse did.

The start of a small Fiestaware display and my nifty iron baskets.

My 2 favorite kitchen items, my Kitchenaid standing mixer and the Le Crueset dutch oven my Mom gave me for Christmas.

Really I just liked this picture that I took. It is of the canisters on the island. It does have a nice view of the island back splash that Jesse just finished grouting.

This is the dining portion of the kitchen. It's one big long open room.

And just for fun. This is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the house.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sweet and Simple

One of my all time favorite breakfasts is french toast. Of course having a HUGE sweet tooth probably has something to do with. It's just such a simple breakfast, yet it hits the spot every time. Of course it seems like every family has their own way of making it. Jesse looked at me like I had 3 heads the first time I put cinnamon in our french toast. So this is MY version of french toast.

Jessica's French Toast

4 slices honey wheat bread
2 eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
a pinch of sugar and a dash of salt
1 tbsp butter
Powdered sugar and/or maple syrup to taste

Beat the eggs in the bottom of a wide flat bowl (I actually like to use a small baking dish). Stir in the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and salt. Let each piece of toast soak in the egg mixture on each side for 30 seconds. In the bottom of a large flat skillet or griddle melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the slices of bread and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until the outside of the bread has a nice golden brown color. Serve with powdered sugar and/or maple syrup.