Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bun in the Oven

The blog posts around here have been kind of hit or miss lately, and I apologize. Things are getting pretty hectic around here. It's been a busy semester with work, and there's more news, too. We're expecting a baby! Yep, we've got a bun in the oven here at The Sweet Life! The Little Sweetie will be here in early June of this year...in just about 2 months! (If you're interested in reading more pregnancy news, click here.) I had plans to make these cinnamon rolls much earlier in my pregnancy and announce our big news with a picture of the rolls in the oven. Well...I just never got around to it until this weekend (at 31 weeks pregnant!), and then I forgot to take the "bun in the oven" picture! Sheesh. Butanyway, without further ado, I give you Ultimate Cinnamon Rolls, from Cook's Country: I think part of my not getting around to making these rolls had more than a little to do with my fear of yeast bread, but pregnancy cravings trumped my fear this weekend, and I put these delicious rolls together last Friday night after I got home from work. The recipe is pretty daunting when you just look at it, but really, it's very simple. I made the dough, let it rise, and assembled the rolls on Friday night. Then, I woke up Saturday morning, took the pan of rolls out of the fridge, turned on the oven, and went back to bed. About 2 hours later, we got up and I stuck the rolls in the oven. Then, about 40 minutes later, I had beautiful, decadent, homemade cinnamon rolls on the table. Oh, yum.
These rolls are so very good, but they're really an obnoxious size. They are HUGE! These are definitely special occasion treats...like for when you announce to the blog world that you're expecting a little one!

Ultimate Cinnamon Buns

Cook's Country

Dough 3/4 cup whole milk, heated to 110 degrees 2 1/2 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast 3 large eggs, room temperature 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup cornstarch 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 1/2 tsp. salt 12 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened Filling 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar 1 1/2 Tbs. ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp. salt 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened Glaze 4 oz. cream cheese, softened 1 Tbs. whole milk 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Instructions: 1. For the dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When the oven reaches 200 degrees, shut off. Line 13x9 inch baking pan with foil, allowing excess foil to hang over pan edges. Grease foil and a medium bowl. 2. Whisk milk and yeast in measuring cup until yeast dissolves, then whisk in eggs. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add warm milk mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium, and add butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and comes away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in warm oven. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. 3. For the filling: Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 18-inch square, spread with butter, and sprinkle evenly with filling. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll dough into tight cylinder, pinch lightly to seal seam, and cut into 8 pieces. Transfer pieces, cut-side up, to prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until doubled in size. 4. For the glaze, and to bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Discard plastic wrap and bake buns until deep golden brown and filling is melted 35 - 40 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and top buns with 1/2 cup glaze. Cool 30 minutes. Using foil overhang, lift buns from pan and top with remaining glaze. Serve. Make ahead: After transferring pieces to prepared pan in step 3, buns can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 24 hours. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove plastic wrap and continue with step 4 as directed.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - March 14th

I'm back with my menu plan for the week (see LOTS of other menu plans at Org Junkie). I didn't get around to posting last week, but I promise you didn't miss anything. It was a crazy-busy week around our house, and we did well just to get some food in our bellies! I had somewhere to be every night except Friday, so it was pretty much a slap-dash, grab on the go kind of week...not the kind of week I enjoy. This week, I don't really have any evening obligations except for Monday night, but because David and I will both be off work all day due to a funeral, I'll still be able to fix us a nice meal. Here's what we'll be having this week:
Monday: Greek-Style Skillet Supper (recipe found in the Sunday coupons!) with a salad.
Tuesday: Slow Cooker San Francisco Chops with rice and roasted green beans.
Wednesday: Garlic Marinated Chicken Cutlets with Grilled Potatoes and a salad.
Thursday: Mexican Polenta Casserole and roasted green beans.
Friday: Inside Out Eggroll Casserole.
Saturday: Leftovers, or dinner out for my birthday.
Sunday: Leftovers/forage in the fridge.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Red Velvet Cake

It's birthday season again! Chet & Larry's birthdays are back-to-back (February 24th and 25th), so this year, I made a shared birthday cake for them. Last year, they got individual desserts (Larry's is here and Chet's is here), but neither of them told me waht they wanted this year, so I got to pick. For some reason, I've been looking for a reason to make a red velvet cake, so that was this year's birthday treat! When I took the cake in to my parents' house, Larry said, "What kind is it?" When I told him it was red velvet, he said, "I don't know a single man who doesn't like red velvet cake." And what is that about, anyway? Remember in Steel Magnolias...the armadillo groom's cake? Why do men like red velvet cake? It's delicious, that's why! I think I may have overcooked (or overmixed) my cake layers, but they were still quite tasty. But the icing? Divine. I have found my go-to cream cheese icing!

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Brown Eyed Baker, via Joy the Baker
For the Cake:
8 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
5 T unsweetened cocoa powder
6 T red food coloring
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups + 2 T all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp distilled white vinegar
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
2 T vanilla extract
To Make the Cakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9" cake pans.
On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.
In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with teh remianing milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.
Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda, and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.
Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes, and then remove cakes from the pan. Place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
To Make the Frosting:
Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.
* Note: This recipe can be halved to make 12 cupcakes.
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