Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

The other day I began my morning with my typical oatmeal. I scanned the day's news and weather, and a social networking site. A friend posted a video of some people who had been caretakers of a lion in its youth. The lion was then returned to its natural habitat. The caretakers planned a trip and a year later tried to visit their lion friend. They had been warned that their lion friend was no longer going to respond to them as he was now a leader in his pride. After locating the pride, the reunion was everything the past caretakers hoped it would be. This short video put to music had me dropping huge tears in my oatmeal. As I sat alone in my house, crying in my oatmeal, I wondered if I should be the caretaker of a baby lion rescued from a crowded zoo. Then when the lion became too big for my back yard and was sent to Africa, I could visit. And the lion would run to me and love me.

Or maybe I should just make some bread instead ;)
(Think Jane’s Rolls with a twist.)

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Combine and let set until foamy:
2 c. warm milk
1/2 c. sugar
1 T yeast
Beat in:
1 stick butter
2 tsp. salt
2 slightly beaten eggs
3 c. bread flour
Put on dough hook, and add:
3+ more cups of bread flour (until it makes soft dough)

Knead 7 minutes with dough hook attachment. Place in greased bowl, let rise 1+ hours, or until more than double. Punch down, divide into loaf size (6-7 mini loaves- probably 3 mid size and 2 full size), cover and let rest 10 minutes. Roll each piece out to 1/4 inch thick and brush generously with water; heavily sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (I made up 1 ½ cups for this recipe and used it all). Roll from small end and place in loaf pan, seam side down, let rise 45-60 minutes. Brush melted butter on loaves and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-40 minutes (depending on size).

This bread reminds me of home. Mom knew it was my favorite. Years ago, we lived a short two hour drive from mom. I liked to give her enough advance notice of a potential visit so that she’d have time to make some bread. I would come hungry and polish off half a loaf while we caught up- standing in the kitchen just inches away from another slice and another story about what adventures the boys (ages 2 and 4) had been up to. I miss living close enough to my parents to visit often, but I’m grateful for flavors that take me there- even if only for a moment.

Curious about the video that made me cry? Click here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BBQ Pork Roast

Y got a haircut. It's been getting mixed reviews. He had grown quite a 'fro and then nearly shaved his head clean. I didn't know he was headed to the Barbers that day. He came home and handed me some papers I needed to review and sign. As I looked up at him I literally screamed. A long “flight or fight" scream. I hardly recognized him. The past six months of growing the ‘fro, he has changed- physically changed. He is losing his entire little boy look.
Throughout the evening, as he sat on the couch doing his homework, I found myself starring at him. It wasn't long ago that he would sit on the couch with his curly blond hair and drooling dimpled grin- legs dangling- and being goofy.
So much time has passed- and yet it's passed so quickly. I'm often in awe of all that he has to fight off as he navigates high school in these times. And yet he is truly finding joy in his journey.
So what can I make to celebrate the growth, the joy, and these fleeting moments? Maybe something hearty to provide him the energy needed to move forward, continue the fight, n'er wavering.
This pork roast is a classic at our house. It's affordable and flavorful. Any leftovers are great as a sandwich the next day.

BBQ Pork Roast

Prepare pork sirloin tip roast by slathering with a rub made of pepper, salt, garlic, onion powder, etc. I often mix Johnny’s seasoning salt with steak seasoning. It gives it a little kick of flavor.
Brown the roast on the stovetop with a drizzle of olive oil. Place in a slow cooker. Cover completely with water. Cook on low for 8 hours.
Just before serving, cut or fork pull.
Add your favorite BBQ sauce.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

The sun is shining brightly today. I gathered my shoes and socks and found the little 2'x2' space in my family room where the sun was coming in through the windows. I sat down in that little space and soaked up some warmth from the sun.
It just so happens, my calendar is pretty empty today. So I chose to linger on that sunny spot on the floor of my family room.
As I closed my eyes, enjoying the quiet calm (indirect) sunlight, my imagination took me to the beaches of Hawaii. I imagined the sound of waves gently crashing on the nearby rocks at Hukilau Beach. And lost in my day dream, I decided to have lunch at Kahuku Grill. Today I'll order the Terriyaki Chicken plate. For dessert, I'll have the only item on the menu: Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Sundae!
Well- guilt from lack of progression woke me from my day dream, but my Kitchenaid was calling, and I heeded the call. I may not be able to lunch at Kahuku Grill today, but I think I'll try my hand at that banana bread.
It's a tropical treat. That said, the flavors need to complement each other, and the texture needs to be a bit lighter than my typical banana bread. I think I'll begin with a banana cake recipe from B's friend Saydi, tweaking it just a bit. Next I'll add chocolate chips and coconut. Topping the finished product with a lot of tropical love ;)
Wanna escape for a moment? Give this a try-

Coconut Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 cup of sugar
6 T softened butter
Beat in 2 eggs
Stir in:
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
Mix until well incorporated.
Stir in:
½ cup chocolate chips (I use mini)
¾ cup flaked sweetened coconut
Divide batter between two 3” x 7” aluminum bread pans.
Bake at 350degrees for 50-60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes clean.
Let cool.

Coconut Glaze
1 can of Coco Lopez coconut cream
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
Put both ingredients in the food processor until smooth. (This will top six loaves. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.)
Mini chocolate chips
Toasted coconut
For the topping, layer glaze followed by chocolate chips and then toasted coconut. Repeat layer again ending with toasted coconut.

Everything tastes better with ocean breezes and warm sun, but this isn't a bad momentary escape for the middle of winter!
Go the distance making it a Sundae by adding vanilla ice cream and warm hot fudge!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Turtle Bars

B’s hip us really bothering him. He played a pick-up game of basketball yesterday- can hardly walk today. This is the same problem he was having a little over a year ago when they spotted the tumor in his femur. His actual diagnosis regarding his hip pain is leg length discrepancy. His left leg is more than an inch shorter than his right. Thus pain ensues when he runs. So he's a little bummed today.
This leaves me conflicted as a mom. On one hand it's good for him to have trials away from home so he can learn to navigate how to deal with them without the immediate help of his parents.
On the other hand, I want to make vats and vats of food and treats, and jump on an airplane to go see him.
I'm reminded of a story I recently heard told in a talk given by Elder Quentin L. Cook-
“Last winter my daughter had a white-knuckle experience driving in a severe snowstorm. She reminded me of a similar situation I had with my two sons many years ago. My youngest son, Joe, was three years old, and my son Larry was six. We were traveling by car from San Francisco to Utah in June. The weather had been very good.
As we started our ascent to the Donner Pass summit in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, suddenly and without warning an enormous snowstorm hit us. None of the drivers was prepared. A semitruck in front of us had jackknifed and was spread across two lanes. Other trucks and cars had slid off the freeway. One lane was open, and many vehicles, including ours, were desperately trying to gain traction to avoid the other vehicles. All traffic then came to a halt.
We were not prepared for this blizzard in June. We had no warm clothing, and our fuel was relatively low. I huddled with the two boys in an effort to keep us warm. After many hours, safety vehicles, snowplows, and tow trucks began to clear up the massive logjam of vehicles.
Eventually, a tow truck hauled us to a service station on the other side of the pass. I called my wife, knowing she would be worried because she had expected a call the prior evening. She asked if she could speak to the two boys. When it was the three-year-old’s turn, with a quivering voice, he said, “Hope ya know, we had a hard time!”
I could tell, as our three-year-old talked to his mother and told her of the hard time, he gained comfort and then reassurance.”

Sometimes in life, we have a hard time. Sometimes, we just need someone hear us say, “I had a hard time."
If B were closer, I'd make him his favorite brownies, or maybe his favorite cake or his oft requested favorite other treats: Turtle Bars.

Turtle Bars

• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1 pkg. two layer yellow cake mix
• 1/2-2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
• 7oz caramels or 1/2 jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch caramel Topping
• 1 can evaporated milk.
• 1 cup mini Hershey kisses or chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter, cake mix, and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in large bowl. Mix. Add nuts. Spread 2/3 of mixture evenly over bottom of 9” square baking pan and press to form crust. Bake for 8 minutes. Melt caramels into 2 T evaporated milk. (I found these caramels that you don’t have to unwrap, yet I still prefer the ease of this recipe with the jarred caramel). Spread over cooked crust. Sprinkle with chocolate. Pat together and form remaining crust mixture on the top in pieces. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes more. Cool somewhat to let set before serving.
(This recipe can be doubled nicely in a 10 x 15 pan.)

I got the idea for this treat from a local cafe that I love. I purchased many of these treats and experimented until I decided I was content with my efforts. If you know of someone who has had a hard day- they might appreciate a Turtle Bar treat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Treats

Learning how to show love has been a process for me.
I had a cold reputation in high school. At my senior prom, all my guy friends dedicated a song to me- It was certainly not a compliment as the dedication was announced and the speakers boomed out the beat from Bon Jovi of "You Give Love A Bad Name".
In an effort to progress from a cold beginning toward love, on Valentine's Day- and throughout the year, I speak my love through the foods I make. Hopefully my family has learned to "feel the love."
I assume you've already figured out how to mix and match my recipes to create a lot of love this Valentine's Day. If not, give one of these a try-

This is a classic love note-

made by mixing this with this frosting

These says we make a great pair-

made by mixing this frosting with this - I ommitted the chocolate chips and rolled out the dough on a lightly floured surface before cutting.

These says "Be Mine"

made by mixing this with this frosting

These says "Luv u"

made by mixing this with this topping

These say “I’m Yours”

made by varrying this by gently rolling the "dough" and using a heart shaped cookie cutter

So choose your message. Share some love, but don't "play your game...(and) give love a bad name."

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Tuxedo Cupcakes

Today, I flash back to my freshman year of high school.

Y has had a few opportunities this fall and winter to attend some formal school dances. In our efforts to help him navigate the world of men’s formal attire, we’ve explained to him that he has one responsibility. –He is to not detract from how good his date looks!
He’s taken the advice well and has been fortunate enough to have incredibly good looking dates. The dresses available for these girls are so different than those when I was that age. I grimace at the photo of me in my hideous Homecoming dress from 1983. There is much regret in that selection.
So my advice to Y is “Keep it simple, yet formal.”
Just like these Tuxedo Cupcakes:

Tuxedo Cupcakes

Mix and bake 24 white cupcakes from a boxed mix or your favorite scratch recipe. Let cool completely.
Frost with a Chocolate Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 cups grated chocolate or chocolate chips
1cup whipping cream
Heat cream and chocolate whisking well, or blend in the food processor.
There is not much difference between a ganache and a glaze. You can play with the amounts of cream:chocolate ratios to thicken it or thin it depending on its purpose.

Garnish with a chocolate dipped strawberry.

I enjoy the entry way photo shoot every time my son has a formal date. The teens- obviously view it as a painful parent pleasing ritual. Despite how much I enjoy the photo opps, I’d rather get a glimpse of my kid bustin-a-move on the dance floor. However, no doubt he would think it unparalleled funny to have watched me try to blend my simple farm girl upbringing with my first pair of high heels and a “fancy” dress.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Today, it’s all about perfect pairing. I had a perfect childhood. (Despite never having an Oreo;)) I specifically remember a day when I was 4 ½ years old. Each night as Dad came home from work, he would come into the living room and engage in wrestle time. My dad couldn’t change the fact that all 4 of his children were girls, but he didn’t want us to be wimps. My mom did not support the rough play, but conceded to the idea with the clause that “play” time ended when the first person cried. One of us would always take a tough fall and tears ensued. Afterwards though, we continued to huddle near dad as he discussed with us our day’s events. One night Dad told us he had some big news. We were getting new neighbors. Two girls: One my younger sister’s age and one my age!
We instantly became best friends with our new neighbors and spent the summer making mud pies, swimming, putting on shows for our parents and playing school in anticipation of beginning Kindergarten in August.
My new best friend and I were the perfect pair together. Just like peanut butter and chocolate!
In the 1920’s H.B.Reese paired a peanut butter filling with some Hershey’s chocolate. Many people over the past near century would and will attest to his brilliance.
Today, we look at that brilliance done up in a cupcake:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Begin with a base of Yummy In My Tummy Chocolate Cake batter.
Make 24 cupcakes with the batter. Bake approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely.

Peanut Butter Frosting

8 oz. softened cream cheese
½ cup soft butter
2/3 cup peanut butter
5 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter and peanut butter until fluffy. This batch will frost approximately 24 cupcakes.

Beat in powdered sugar until well blended. Pipe (I put the frosting into a freezer strength Ziploc bag and snip ½ inch from the corner.) frosting onto cupcake. Drizzle on Chocolate Glaze. Garnish with ½ of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Oh how I loved my new friend and our years growing up together. I often felt her moving next door was God’s way of telling me he loved me. Others will feel the love as you share this perfectly paired treat.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Turtle Cupcakes

Is it “Girls Night Out”?!
Do you need a treat your girlfriends will appreciate?
Through the years of treat sharing, I’ve noted that a “turtle” dessert is most favored among female recipients. Apparently the true appreciation of the combination of caramel, chocolate and pecans requires a refinement of the taste buds.
In my youth, I avoided all things with nuts.—why?
Well, one year I remember a thin box on top of the refrigerator. I saw my mom return it there one afternoon. I asked the contents thereof- she simply distracted me. I soon returned to the empty kitchen. As I reached for the thin box of “Sees Candies” my mom’s radar kicked into superhero mode and she was quickly upon me as I opened the box.
“You won’t like them!” she quipped
“I think I will!” was my rebuttal.
“No! You won’t. She strongly replied- “There’s nuts in them.”
And that was convincing enough for me.
Somewhere along in my adulthood, perhaps my sophomore year at college when I learned that I love Snickers Bars, I realized the truth.
Today we are bringing together chocolate, caramel, and pecans in a favorable cupcake treat.

Turtle Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Fudge frosting
Mini Chocolate chips
Caramel Sauce
Chopped Pecans
Chocolate Glaze
Begin with a batch of Yummy In My Tummy Chocolate Cake batter, omitting chips, if desired. Bake batter in lined cupcake pans for 15+ minutes.
Pipe chocolate frosting onto the cooled cupcake. I’ve been experimenting with fudgy frostings and haven’t found anything I love yet. Thus in the meantime, I use a boxed mix requiring milk and butter. I decrease the milk by about 30% allowing the frosting stiffness. Today, I piped it using a contraption broken a bit, held together by duct tape. It was a pain. Next time, I’ll just use a freezer strength Ziploc, with or without a “tip” attached.
Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips onto still wet frosting. If you are using a tip, and your progress seems slow, frost six cupcakes, then sprinkle chips and repeat. Next, drizzle with caramel topping. I prefer Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel Sauce piped from a freezer strength Ziploc. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Finish off with a couple of swirls of chocolate glaze, drizzled from a freezer strength Ziploc.

Now call some girlfriends to get together, or prepared to be highly favored by whomever you choose to share with :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oreo Cupcakes

I am supposed to be making six dozen cupcakes.
Most importantly, I need some for a neighbor friend who deserves a huge thank you. My daughter didn't bring home her math text book for her homework yesterday because she can access it online. She tried to log on and realized she couldn't remember her password. She called a neighbor friend who is in her class. J's friend told her she would copy the pages J needed for her and even offered to deliver them. J graciously accepted the generous offer. However I insisted she call her friend back and tell her we could come get the pages. I sent Y as the driver for the errand. He and his sister returned a few minutes later. I inquired as to the success of the mission. J shows me a 7 page stapled packet. Her friend copied not only the pages with the problems (which she highlighted for J), but also the instructional pages. Following the last page she copied for J, she included a couple of blank pieces of lined notebook paper. It was the most amazingly generous "copy of a text book page" ever! So of course, she needs to be thanked.
I also have committed about 5 dozen cupcakes to the women’s group that I belong to. There is a fantastic program planned for this evening followed by a sampling of gourmet cupcakes.
However, after polishing off my string bean chicken, mixed vegetables, and steamed rice, my fortune cookie told me "YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO UNDERTAKE AND COMPLETE ANYTHING YOU DESIRE". So it only makes sense that I put aside the cupcakes and further experiment with a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe made from scratch. After all, it's not every day you get a fortune promising you success…

…It is now hours later. The cookies were an epic failure. I guess the key word “SHOULD” in my fortune left room for error. (And there were plenty of them!) So I got busy making some very fun single serving desserts!
I never had an Oreo as a kid. In high school, I remember on one special occasion picnic, Mom bought generic “sandwich cookies” for a treat. Now that I’ve had an Oreo, I can tell you those cookies were terrible! I chose to not deny my kids that perfect treat. B had his first one around the age he could be bribed to crawl to it!! And today, I’ve chosen to make a simple Oreo Cupcake to share.

Oreo Cupcakes

Begin with a base of Yummy In My Tummy Chocolate Cake batter.
Make 24 cupcakes with the batter. Bake approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely.

Oreo Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, whipped
8 oz. Cool Whip.
5 crushed Oreo cookies.
Stir together all ingredients until well blended. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and garnish with an Oreo cookie. I piped the frosting by spooning all of the frosting into a gallon size freezer strength Ziploc and trimming a half an inch from the corner of the bag.(This batch will frost 10-12 cupcakes)

Save a few Oreos for bribing:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mauna Loa

So why have I not had time to share many recipes lately? Random things every day have gotten in between me and my Kitchenaid. But no complaints- they've been fun things.
Today: Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa means long mountain. It is the biggest volcano in the world located on the main island of Hawaii. It has 33 recorded eruptions. It most recently erupted March 25- April 15, 1984. The longest eruption began in 1955 and lasted 18 months.

I am now an expert thanks to two very cute and very smart 6th grade girls whom I'm sure you agree deserve an A!