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The Misadventures of Mrs. B: 2010-04-04

Cook. Writer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Klutz.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Heaven

So...with all the cooking I had to do for Easter, I felt as though I should make something a bit out-of-the-ordinary for breakfast.  After all.  It was Easter morning.

So I thought I'd make something I'd heard many, many wonderful things about.  Something for which I already had the ingredients in my pantry (big plus, seeing as how Easter wasn't cheap).  Something that I just had a feeling would make me roll my eyes in delight and thank God I was alive.

I was gonna make cinnamon rolls.

But not just any cinnamon rolls.  Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls, which I have heard nothing but tremendous things about.  And since I already had tremendous good luck with one of her recipes in the past, I figured what the heck!

So the night before, I started the dough.  Of course I halved the recipe because, let's face it, I had no business making 7 pans of rolls.  So here's what I did:

I scalded two cups of milk (heated to just short of boiling), then once it cooled to around 110 degrees (lukewarm - any hotter and you'll kill the yeast!) I added 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1/2 cup of sugar and a packet of yeast and allowed it to "bloom" for several minutes.

To this I added 4 cups of flour and mixed it all together.  Once it was mixed I left it, covered, in a warm spot for one hour in order for it to rise.  Incidentally, my warm spot is in the oven with the light switched on.  I've been told that it's the ideal place, and it is working well for me.

After that hour, I added another 1/2 cup of flour, around 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder (or a heaping 1/2 teaspoon), a scant 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and around 3/4 tablespoon of salt.  Then mix that all together and if you wish, cover it and leave it in the fridge overnight.  That's what I did.  Of course you can make them right away, but the dough can easily sit and wait.

The next day, after rolling the dough out in a rectangle on a lightly floured surface...

I brushed 1 cup of melted butter all over the dough...(PW calls for 1 1/2 to 2 cups.  I just couldn't even bring myself to do it.  Plus I didn't have enough.)

Then I sprinkled 1 cup of sugar all over the butter, doughy goodness.

And then, as you can see, I very generously devoted a great deal of cinnamon to the effort.  After all, these are cinnamon rolls.  In case you forgot what we were making.

This lovely, lovely mess then got rolled up into a log which I made sure to seal once I got to the end.

Then I sliced the log into rolls and placed them in well-buttered cake pans.  Now, with the full recipe PW says this should make around 7 pans of rolls.  I got all of two pans with half the recipe.  Maybe I sliced them more thickly.  Which was just my choice because I love nice, thick cinnamon rolls.

These pans got covered and were left to rise for 30 minutes, then into a 400 degree oven they went for 18 minutes.  Actually I think it was closer to 20.  They got a liiiiittle too brown on top.  Hey, I was super busy.

While the rolls were baking I made a sugary glaze for them! This glaze used: 1/2 bag of powdered sugar, a splash of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  Then, just for fun, I added a tablespoon of melted butter.  Just because I could and I'm dangerous like that.

Plus, I don't know...I felt as though the glaze needed some sort of richness.  I didn't like PW's recipe when I read it, because I'm not a huge fan of maple flavoring outside of syrup.  Now that I think about it, I might make more of a frosting next time, using cream cheese.

Now wouldn't THAT be something??

Anyway, rolls came out of oven and glaze met rolls.

And then rolls met mouth.  And then mouth sang with appreciation and downright worship of me, for making them...and of course of PW for sharing the recipe in the first place.

I was pretty wise and foresaw how dangerous these rolls could be for me and my desire to no longer be a "fatty fatty boom boom" (in the words of my beloved friend Gretchen...she wasn't talking about ME, though), so I very bravely gave a pan of them to my family before they left on Easter.  Rob immediately got this look I can only imagine he'd get if I tried to give away, like, our child or something.  But it was for the best for both of us.

My dad is NOT a sweets person.  But he had one when he got home and loved them! Hey, it's one thing to have my sweet-toothed husband love them - but my dad? THAT'S the true test for me.

So lemme tell ya.  Make these.  They're so good, and really very easy to make.



The Girl Creative

Sumo Sweet Stuff

The Trendy Treehouse

Blessed with Grace




Friday, April 9, 2010

Two BIG Questions!!

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, the central theme of which is the direction and growth of this blog.

Blogging has brought me such joy and sense of purpose, I can't even explain it.  I have met amazing, talented and wonderful people who I adore and am inspired by on a daily basis.

But I find that this little old blog of mine has evolved into something far different from what I had originally intended a year ago.

I started this thing in an attempt to record the stupid, silly, clumsy happenings of my life and the stories surrounding them.  Because there's a lot of them.  Like, a lot a lot.  And I felt that my title reflected that.

Now I'm blogging about food, mostly, with random thoughts and little domestic tidbits thrown in there from time to time.  I would like to expand into a home and garden section if, you know, I ever stop killing the things I plant (although my basil and parsley finally look like they're growing actual leaves and not just sprouts! I cannot tell you the joy I felt!!).  Those are the sorts of blogs I connect most to, and the kind of blog I want to have.  Of course humor will always be a part of it because, well, life is funny.

Anyway, I'm sitting here breaking my brain over this.  Agonizing, really, over the idea of starting a NEW blog with all the old material in place but one which would allow me to go in the direction I want to go.  Away from misadventures and on to...other adventures.  "Misadventures", when my blog focuses mostly on cooking, makes it sound like I burn everything.  That's just my opinion.

I finally texted my best friend, aka my husband, aka Rob and asked him: "Who are my readers? Why do they read?".  His answer? "Ask them".

And the heavens opened and God said "DUH!".

Then he added, "Have a blog naming contest".

I won't tell you the verbatim reply to that one.  Let's just say it inspired me and leave it at that.

So that's what I'm doing.  I'm leaving it up to you...for the most part.  I want to know what your ideas are and we'll see if any of them ring my bell! And I'll have a special, as-yet-undecided gift for the reader whose idea comes closest to the one I have in mind.  I think it should be a personalized gift, so it depends on the reader.

My question is therefore twofold, and will be open for the next two weeks:
1) Who are you, friend? What is important to you? Do you feel that there are people like you, sweet reader, who would also enjoy what I have to offer?

2) When I rename and reconfigure my blog, which I will be doing, what should the title be? I have several ideas floating around in my head already but am open to suggestions! Who do YOU think I am? How does that translate into a name of a blog?

Now I am trusting you folks with my life! Okay.  Maybe not that serious.  But definitely with my blog which, as my husband will tell you, has become a pretty big part of my life.

Thanks in advance for your feedback, friends - and thanks, always, for reading!


Let's Party!

Hey there! Welcome to my blog!

I am so happy that you've come to visit from the Ultimate Blog Party! I'm always looking to make new friends and build a better blog.  PLUS, visiting other blogs always gives me great ideas and inspiration.  It's a win/win all around!

My name is Jen B.  I'm a 30 year old kid with a husband I adore, my own unique take on the world and a whole laundry list of things I want to be when I grow up.  For now I'm settling for cooking up a storm and writing about it here!

So now that you know the basics about me, let me ask you a question:

Do you enjoy food?

Do you wax rhapsodic over butter? Drool over chocolate? Want to go swimming in a sea of spaghetti? Wish you had your own icing waterfall like they do at Krispy Kreme so you could hop on the conveyor belt and ride underneath it?

Okay.  Maybe that last one is just me.  Either way, if you like food even just a little bit, you've come to the right place.  You're also in for some deep (and not-so-deep) thoughts, stories about my family and home, and cringe-worthy tales of my epic clumsiness and downright penchant for disaster.  Hence the word "misadventures" in the title there.

And then more food.

Here are links to some of my favorite and most popular food posts:

Chocolate Truffle Cake - Seriously, you will cry tears of joy at the first bite.  It's practically mandatory.

Divine Deviled Eggs - Hey, I know.  Deviled eggs, big deal.  But my no-fail method for cooking them perfectly has changed lives.  Okay, maybe not that dramatically.  But I've gotten a lot of great feedback!

Lemon Meringue Pie - You can't beat it when the temps start to climb!

And just to show you that I'm not all about food, and that I really do want us to be friends, I will share with you my most personal and embarassing post yet.  A story my own mother still laughs over until she almost wets her pants.  My Very Worst Day Ever. 

Take a look around - I hope you like what you see.  And I'm totally looking forward to visiting YOU! So drop me a line and let me know you were here so I can repay the visit!

Have a great time at the blog party - I know I will!


Thursday, April 8, 2010

(Super) Sweet Potato Casserole

Time to roll the clock back a little, kids.  I'm gonna take you back to a time when temps were chilly, when turkeys were gobbling, and when pumpkin pie was king.

Okay, not really.  Although this is traditionally a cold weather holiday type of dish, I made it for Easter because, well, I need to play to my audience.  And many members of my audience love them some sweet potato casserole.

Including me.  The most important audience member of all.

So let's review the process of how to take a perfectly healthy and good-for-you food and turn it deadly.  Shall we?

First thing's first.  Cooking the sweet potatoes.

Many (most, really) recipes I find for this dish call for either microwaving or boiling the potatoes.  Uh, say what? No no no.  Roasting or baking is the way to go.  The sugars really develop that way! So take 4-5 sweet potatoes (depending on the size), prick them all over with a fork, and let them roast in a 400 degree oven for at least an hour.  I think I let mine go for an hour and twenty, actually.

I just love how they get all wrinkly and stuff!

Anyway, once they've cooled, all you have to do is split those babies down the center and scrape out the flesh.  Or if you're pressed for time, like me, just squeeze the sweet fleshy goodness out of there.

Either way, you'll end up with this:

And to this you will add:

2 eggs.

1/2 cup of white sugar.

4 tablespoons of very soft butter.

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Also add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 cup of milk.

The salt and the milk were all like "don't take our picture" and kept holding their hands up in front of the lens and stuff.  Can you believe that? The nerve! I mean, it would be one thing if I forgot to take their picture, but come on! I never do that!!

Ahem.  Anyway, you want to mix all of that together.

Kinds looks gross.  But it gets better.

That's all you have to do for the sweet potato part.  Now just empty all of that goodness into an 8x8 pan and set it aside.

Now it's time for the topping, aka The Best Part.

Also simple.  You combine 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar, 1/3 cup of flour and *gulp*...3 tablespoons of softened butter.

I love butter so much.  Why does it hate me?

Cut this together with your handy dandy pastry cutter or two forks.  Hey - do you think a food processor would work for this? I've never tried to make a crumbly topping in a food processor.  Let me know what you think.

Once your mixture resembles coarse crumbliness, add in 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.

Then sprinkle this goodness all over the top of your sweet potatoes!

Into a 325 degree oven it goes, for 30 minutes.

And when it's incredible aroma will fill your home.  If it's Thanksgiving or Christmas, it will only feel more so.  If it's Easter you'll wonder what the heck's going on but remember that it smells better than a bunch of hard boiled eggs.

And your finished, baby.  So sweet.  So wonderful. 

So darn easy to make! You need to try this.

You owe it to yourself.

I only wish I had a better picture of the finished product but by then it was Go Time and I had to forgo picture taking in favor of feeding my hungry guests.  C'est la vie, I guess!


Hey What's For Dinner


Blessed with Grace


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

L is for Lilikoi

Lili-who? Lilikoi!

What's lilikoi? I'll tell you!

Lilikoi is a fun word.  Isn't it?

Okay, okay, it's more than a fun word.  Lilikoi is passion fruit.  And it makes for fabulous, fabulous, delicious juice.

But you know who has especially amazing lilikoi juice?

They do.

Who's they? "They" is the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World.

See, I've been on a bit of a Disney kick the past week or two.  It's like an itch, and it seems like I get it around this time of year.  Last year I got the itch one day, inadvertently ran across one of those crazy ads for a huge Disney deal, and like less than an hour later we had booked the trip.  And then giggled the rest of the day over it.

Eventually the trip was extended a day, we booked four different rooms before finally settling on the Poly, and we moved it from June to September in order to coincide with our first anniversary...all the while rationalizing to ourselves that this was okay because it would be our last big trip for a while.

The itch is a dangerous thing.


At the Polynesian they serve the most amazing Lilikoi juice imaginable.  Not only can you get it at the Kona Cafe (home of Tonga Toast...good Lord), but if you're a concierge guest (which of course we have been these past two trips), you can mosey on over to the lounge at any time to get a cup.  You can even get some while you're checking in since they have chilled dispensers right there by the desks.

That first sip...ahhhh.  It's like liquid sunshine going down your throat. It tastes like...the Polynesian.

The view from our balcony when looking to the right - towards the middle there is Space Mountain, and to the right of that is The Contemporary Resort

There's also a sushi bar next to the restaurant which serves probably my second favorite roll of all time: tempura sushi with mango, wrapped in rice paper and served with lilikoi sauce.

I wish I had a picture of it so it could be my wallpaper and my profile pic and possibly also be carried in my wallet.

Can I just tell you that the first time I had a piece of it, I literally pounded my fist on the table in ecstasy? For real.  So great was my bliss that I made a mini-scene which I'm sure no one noticed because, heck, they were in Disney World.

This is a version of it without the sauce, served at The California Grill.  Which is incidentally the home of my favorite roll of all time: Spicy Kazan.  I think I'm going to cry...

In my head and my heart, lilikoi juice will always be linked with the Poly, and therefore with WDW.  It just makes me happy, and makes my yearn to visit again.

I'm feeling all itchy now...

You can even watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks from your balcony while sipping lilikoi juice!

While I sit here and itch, why don't you go visit my friend Jenny Matlock and participate in her weekly Alphabe-Thursday? This week's letter, in case you hadn't guessed, is L.  It's always so interesting to see where people's imaginations go!

Jenny Matlock