Sunday, January 26, 2014


Need I say more?  The title of this post alone is enough to make anyone want to try this.  I could just post the recipe and be done.  But no, I'm still going to post photos too and step by step instructions. :)  Time to get your taste buds tingling!

This is the best cinnamon roll recipe I've ever tried.  Throughout the years I've tried a handful of them - the quick bread types.  You know, where you just use self-rising flour.  Making it with yeast is frequently spoken of as if it's very arduous.  And yes, this recipe takes a few hours from beginning to end.  It's not quick.  At all.  But some things - take that back, most things turn out better when they are not rushed.  So today, we are sloooowing it down and taking our time. 

The first step is of course to make the dough.  Very simple.  Once that is mixed together, it will look something like this:

Having prepared the dough, you will then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5-10 minutes.  This is the really fun part!!! :)  One of the things I love so much about cooking is how much I get to use my hands to shape, mix, create.  This is a very hands-on recipe and that's one reason I love it so much!  After kneading, you will place the dough in a greased bowl.

Cover it with a towel and let it rise to double the size.

While the dough is rising, head to the griddle and get the bacon sizzlin'!  The first time I made these, I cooked the bacon in the oven thinking it would save time and mess.  It did, but the bacon didn't taste nearly as good as it does on the griddle.  There was definitely a difference.  So this time I cooked it on the griddle.  Again, things turn out better when they are not rushed. :)

Mmmm... I can just smell it and hear that popping and cracking and sizzling.  Good stuff.

Feast your eyes on that!! 

Let the bacon cool a couple of minutes; then you can chop it up and get these yummy little bacon bits.

By the time, you've finished with the bacon and cleaned up a little, the dough will probably have doubled in size and be ready to go. Ain't it purty?

Turn it out on a floured surface again.  Proceed to roll out to a 9" x 15" rectangle.  This is when a pastry mat is really nice because it has the measurements on it!

Now for more fun, hands-on stuff.  Take some softened butter and (with your hands) spread it over the dough.  Get every nook and cranny.  Don't leave a single spot of that dough without butter.  The more, the merrier!  Once the butter is spread sprinkle on a brown sugar-cinnamon mixture.  Again, get every nook and cranny.


I've found that brown sugar works better than granulated sugar.  Brown sugar is more moist so it really sticks to the butter and the dough better, really sinks in there.

Time for the bacon!  Try to make sure it's spread out enough that once rolled and cut, every roll will have some bacon in it.  After the bacon is on, lightly pat everything down to help it all stick better.  I highly recommend using a whole pound of bacon (or even a pound a half!.  I did not use a whole pound here - I set aside six pieces for my family to enjoy - but I will be using a whole pound next time.

At this point, it's time to start prepping the pan.  Use some more softened butter to spread - generously - all over the pan.  You can use either cake pans or a brownie pan for this.  Once the butter is slathered on, sprinkle with sugar - brown or granulated. 

Then you can turn your attention back to the rolls.  Begin rolling at one end the way you would roll up a sleeping bag.  Roll it tight and give a little pull with each roll to make sure it stays together well.  Once you get to the end, pinch the dough together to keep it secure.

Cut the long roll into about 1 inch wide rolls.  I got 16 rolls out of this.  Of course, that can vary depending on how big or small you want them to be.  

Place the rolls in the pan and then cover them with a towel.  Let them sit for 45 minutes to double in size.  Once doubled, place them in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  

This is what I got at the end of the cooking time. 

If that doesn't make your mouth water, I don't know what will.

The finishing touch is to add the glaze!  I used a cream cheese glaze for the very first time.  Not a fan of cream cheese, but I've heard a lot of people say that a cream cheese frosting on top of cinnamon rolls is delicious.  So I decided to try it.  Didn't like it.  Next time I'll be sticking to my regular glaze.  I will include both a cream cheese glaze recipe as well as a regular glaze recipe at the end of this post so you can choose your favorite. :)  Either way, it still looks fabulous!

Now go eat on.  Close your eyes, lean back, and savor that delicious salty-sweet combo.  Worry about the dishes and mess later.  Take your time eating it.  After all, we're slowing it down today. :)

Bacon-Cinnamon Rolls  

1/4 ounce package yeast    
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup scalded milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or shortening
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour


1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 stick butter, softened

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

(1) In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. 

(2)Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread 2/3 stick softened butter on the dough. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle with bacon. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.

(3)Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.


Cream Cheese

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all together.

Best Glaze! :)

4 tblsp. butter, softened
2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-6 tblsp. hot water

*Add only 1 tblsp. of water at a time.

*Dough, filling, and cream cheese recipe courtesy of Food Network*


Monday, January 20, 2014

Jazzin' It Up

Today I share with you a wonderful spin on regular ol' grilled cheese.  I've always been a bit finicky when it comes to grilled cheese.  If it's too mushy or too butter-saturated (yes, even I have limits with butter) or on wheat bread (bleh, that stuff does not make for a delectable grilled cheese sandwich!) I won't eat it.  In fact, in those cases it's rather nauseating really.  

But, grilled cheese can also be one of the most tasty yet simple sandwiches.  With just a few extra ingredients you can turn your everyday grilled cheese into a masterpiece.  

This grilled cheese today is, to be precise, Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Pancetta.  You get delicious grilled-cheese-just-got-a-makeover plus a dose of greens!

Before I proceed, pancetta is sometimes called Italian bacon.  It is similar to what we know as bacon but rather than being smoked, it is cured in salts and spices and then dried for several months.  You can use either pancetta, bacon, or prosciutto in this recipe.

The first thing you will want to do is cook the bacon (or other bacon equivalent) and then drain the cooked yummy stuff on paper towels.

Having done that, you will then combine 1 stick of unsalted butter with Monterey Jack and Cheddar Cheeses, salt, and vegetable oil.  The vegetable oil helps make the cheese mixture easier to spread onto slices of bread. 

You will blend this together until smooth and spreadable.  Add extra oil bit by bit if the mixture is too dry.  Next step - just add some spinach and pulse.

See how fabulously easy this is?  

At this point, you will want to go ahead and preheat your panini maker.  If you don't have one, a griddle or frying pan works just as well!

Spread the cheese mixture over 8 slices of bread.  I have discovered that the most scrumptious bread to use for this recipe is the Pepperidge Farms Farmhouse Hearty White bread.  It's super yummy. :)  And now, just top one slice of each sandwich with crumbled bacon.  Like this:

Top sandwich with other slice of bread and place on panini or griddle.  You'll want to grill the sandwiches until they are golden and a little crispy.  Allow the sandwiches to cool for a couple of minutes and cut them in half.  At this point, they'll look like this:

Now that is a yummy, albeit slightly messy, lunch right there. The combination of the butter, cheese, and spinach with the crispy, salty bacon definitely takes grilled cheese to a whole new level of wonderful.  This one's a keeper.

Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Pancetta

6 oz. bacon (or pancetta or prosciutto)
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tblsp. vegetable or canola oil (plus extra, if needed)
2 packed cups baby spinach
16 slices white bread

(1) Cook bacon and drain on paper towels.  Once cool, crumble into small pieces.
(2) In a food processor combine butter, cheeses, salt, and oil.  Blend until smooth and spreadable; add more oil as needed.  Add spinach and pulse until combined.
(3) Preheat a panini maker.  Spread cheese mixture on 8 slices of bread.  Top with crumbled bacon and put remaining bread slices on top.
(4) Grill the sandwiches - 2 at a time - until golden and crispy.  Usually 3-4 minutes.  Cool for 2 minutes and then cut in half.

Enjoy :)

*Recipe from Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis.

Sunday, January 12, 2014



My apologies for taking a ridiculously long time to post another recipe.  I love to write but sometimes I get distracted very easily (hence the rambling that sometimes evolves)and can't focus enough to write a full post.  So tonight, I finally tackle this!  I was just watching a delicious cooking show and it inspired me.  So here we go...

This recipe was originally intended to be posted in November or December as a delectable dish for the holidays but it really is good for anytime of the year!  I came across this recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook about 5-6 years ago.  I first made it for a Thanksgiving meal because I wanted to make a side dish that was different than the typical "green bean casserole" but still traditional.  Oh, and by the way, from the moment you start cooking this dish - from the very first step - your house will smell heavenly.  It really will.  It's amazing.  And will make you so hungry.  So indulge.

One more thing before I get started on the details.  In the cookbook, this recipe was labeled "Green Beans with Bacon & Tomatoes".  Well, you should know one thing.  I do not - never have, never will- call those vegetables "green beans".  In my world - they are snaps.  They are called snaps.  If you've ever sat on a front porch with a bowl of these freshly picked vegetables you've probably snapped off the ends.  So they are called snaps.  I refuse to call them "green beans". Just one of my little stubborn pet peeves.  So I will call this recipe "Bacon Tomato Snaps". :)

The first thing you'll do is cook 6 slices of bacon (roughly chopped - about 1 inch pieces)in a skillet over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes.  You want the bacon to be crispy but still a wee bit tender.  Once the bacon is cooked, remove it from the skillet and let it drain on paper towels.  Save 1 tblsp. of the bacon fat in the skillet.  Feast your eyes on the photo below before we move on.

Yes, it is very hard not to eat that whole plate instantly but control here is a must - save the bacon for the snaps.  Okay, you can take a few pieces. But only a few.

*Note: I usually double or even triple this recipe so the amounts you see will be larger than you would get from the recipe as I'm describing it.*

You will then take 1 medium onion that has been chopped (approx. 1/2 cup) and cook that in the bacon fat reserved in the skillet for about 3-4 minutes.  Stir occasionally and cook only until the onions are tender; you don't want them to turn brown or become to mushy.

The next step involves stirring in a medium tomato that has been chopped (approx. 3/4 cup or you can use 1 can of chopped tomatoes just drain them first),1 finely chopped clove of garlic, and 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves, 1/2 tsp. salt and a dash of pepper.  This is what it will be looking like now:

This is when the captivating aroma starts to really kick in.  As you'll see in this photo the ingredients are not in a skillet, again because I was making a triple batch.

All you have to do now is simmer uncovered for 5 minutes and then stir in 1 lb. of canned (rinse and drain first) snaps.  Keep on stove until entire dish is heated through.  The original recipe actually calls for uncooked fresh snaps.  I have always used canned snaps so it can certainly be cooked that way but in the recipe I attach at the end of this post, I will put the original recipe with fresh snaps.  

Drizzle with 2 tblsp. of lemon juice.  *Note: If you'd like, you can make the dish up to this point, put in a casserole dish, and refrigerate for a day or two.  When you are ready to eat it, just pop it into an oven at 350 until heated through.*  Garnish with bacon and eat up!  Pretty easy, eh?

Of course, you can put it in a prettier dish. ;)  And trust me, although there's nothing fancy-looking about this dish, it's flavor is phenomenal.  And considering how easy it is... I'd say it's definitely a keeper.

Bacon Tomato Snaps

1 lb. frozen or fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 slices bacon, cut up
1 medium onion, copped (1/2 cup)
1 medium tomato, chopped (3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. chopped fresh or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
2 tblsp. lemon juice

(1) Place beans in 1 inch water in 2-quart saucepan.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain.  Immediately rinse with cold water; drain.
*Note: You can skip the first step if you are using canned snaps.*

(2) In 10-inch skillet, cook bacon over medium heat 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp.  Remove bacon from skillet, reserving 1 tblsp. fat in skillet.  Drain bacon on paper towels.

(3) Cook onion in bacon fat in skillet over medium heat 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.  Stir in tomato, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.  Simmer uncovered 5 minutes.  Stir in beans; heat through.  Drizzle with lemon juice.  Garnish with bacon. 

*Recipe taken from Betty Crocker Cookbook, 10th Edition