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Monday
Dec132010

Cinnamon twists

Oh goodness, these cinnamon twists are good. Sugary, cinnamony, frosting-laden deliciousness. I made them as a middle-of-the-day treat, but they would also be great for breakfast or dessert or a midnight snack or a side dish to chicken. There is truly no wrong time or place to consume them.

They do take a while to make since the dough needs to rise for a couple hours, so plan ahead!

(Source: Christmas Baking 2010 magazine)

Start out by grabbing a large bowl.

Stir together:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 package active dry yeast

Set this aside. Pull out a small saucepan and stir the following together over medium heat:

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter

1 teaspoon salt

Stir until the mixture is warm and until the butter has almost melted.

Add this to the flour mixture.

Add two eggs.

Do you see the cute pipe-smoking guy?

Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, while constantly scraping the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 3 more minutes.

Add 2 1/2 more cups of flour.

Stir it all together. It would be easiest to use a wooden spoon for this part, I imagine. My wooden spoon has mysteriously gone missing (Elijah!), so I can't tell you this for certain.

Place dough on a flat, floured surface.

Knead in enough flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic. This takes between 3 and 5 minutes of kneading. Shape it into a ball.

Place the ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning it once so the entire surface is greased.

Cover and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. This takes about 2 hours. Punch dough down and place onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

While your tired dough is resting, melt 1/4 cup of butter in a small saucepan over low heat.

Add:

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix well and allow the mixture to cool.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle (or oval; hey, it's not easy to roll dough into the shape of a rectangle!). The dough should be between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch in thickness.

Spread the butter-brown-sugar mixture over the dough. It does not have to be even.

Cut the dough crosswise into 1-inch strips.

Fold each strip in half, end to end, and twist several times. Arrange the twists on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets or on 2 lightly greased baking sheets.

Cover and allow them to rise for 45 more minutes. Now would be a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

While the twists are baking, combine in a small bowl:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2-3 tablespoons milk

Drizzle the frosting over the twists when they are still warm.

My two oldest boys were out playing in the snow when I finished these, so only Sammy was around to witness my unabashed indulging. Incredible!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Monday
Dec132010

How to make peppermint sugar

There are a few little secrets that make baked goods tastier. One of them is using flavored sugars. I had a bunch of pepperminty things on my "to bake" list, so I thought I would experiment with peppermint sugar. It turned out great! That is saying a lot coming from a girl who isn't the world's hugest peppermint fan.

Pour a cup of white granulated sugar into a food processor. Add 2-3 candy canes that have been broken into small pieces.

Process until fine if you want to use the sugar as a substitute in a recipe. Don't process quite as long if you plan to use it as a coarse sugar for a topping on cupcakes or a cake.

If the final product is too pepperminty, mix more white sugar in with it. I ended up adding an additional 1/2 cup of white sugar and thought it was deliciously perfect!

Monday
Dec132010

Whoa snow: 18 inches!

A = My foot/knee/thigh-prints in our very snowy patio area

B = Door imprint

A = Our abandoned-in-the-not-so-plowed-road car

B = My footprints, as I carried a 20+ pound baby plus carrier up the driveway and into the house

C = Our snow-covered driveway: snow much deeper than it looks, trust me

Saturday
Dec112010

How to saute mushrooms

Mushroom, oh Mushroom, how I love thee

Never will I understand the unreasonably

Unjust assaults that are spewed in your name

Calling you "fungus" and "slimy" and "lame"

Please know that I love you in every way

Stuffed, sautéed, steamed, roasted and plain

Those who speak ill of you have not a clue

The way you enhance foods and have good flavor, too

I love you, dear Mushroom, without you I'd be

Living a life of mushroomless misery

So there! I have poetically shared my love for The Mushroom. Aren't I a nerd.

If you wish to saute a batch of mushrooms (as opposed to writing poetry about them), here is what you will need to do. It's simple!

Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat. I much prefer using butter over oil because I think it makes the mushrooms tastier. But really, you can use either. Whichever one you use, make sure it gets nice and hot without burning it.

Add 8 ounces of fresh, sliced, washed mushrooms to the skillet and toss them around with a spoon or a hard spatula. Make sure the butter coats all surfaces. Stir constantly.

Depending on the type of mushroom and the thickness of the slices, this will take anywhere between 3 and 7 minutes. When they are a golden brown color, I like to turn the heat up to high and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. This gives their edges a hint of crispness, which I find delicious.

I personally have a hard time sauteeing mushrooms without eating most of the batch. I must exercise supreme self-control if I want more than 80% of them to make it into whatever bigger dish I am making.

Friday
Dec102010

Mexican corn

I would put jalapenos into everything if I never shared food with others. I love a little extra zing in my food. Or a lot of extra zing, depending on what I am eating.

I brought this corn dish to Thanksgiving dinner this year, along with a non-spicy option. It went over well! Most people (kids excluded) at least tried it. A few people said they loved it and much preferred it over the non-spicy version. I absolutely adore this recipe. It is my favorite way to eat corn, aside from maybe sweet corn on the cob doused in butter and salt.

In a medium saucepan, combine:

One 32-oz. package frozen corn

One 8-oz. package cream cheese

1/2 cup butter

1 teaspoon garlic salt

2 diced jalapeno peppers (or more, or less, depending on how spicy you and your guests like it)

Cook over medium heat until heated through, stirring constantly.

Be sure to warn people about the heat before they dig in!

Click here for a printable recipe!