Sunday, August 30, 2015

Overnight blueberry sweet rolls

Soft, fluffy rolls that are bursting with blueberries will become your family's new favorite breakfast. Top with a sinful glaze or opt to eat them plain. Just be sure to save some for me!

It's hard to believe that I used to be afraid of working with yeast. The thought of it scared me. What if it didn't rise? What if I scalded it? What if...?  Now I don't think twice when baking with yeast (other than fresh bread... that's a completely different story). My brother was coming to town and I wanted to have a comforting yet impressive breakfast for him and his wife while they stayed with us. I didn't want to be slaving away in the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning so I needed something that I could make the night before.

I remembered that the last time they came to visit, I made some overnight cinnamon rolls. Since that was my first time attempting them, they didn't turn out as well as I had hoped. I have had lots of practice since then so things were getting easier. I opted to change things up slightly this time and fill the rolls with blueberries. I only had frozen blueberries on hand so I used those in this recipe.

While these rolls were good, Addie and I both agreed that we preferred the sweet lemon sticky rolls from Mother's Day. In fact, I used some of the glaze from that recipe and topped them onto these blueberry sweet rolls.

Despite our personal opinions, my brother and his wife loved their breakfast. I served them these rolls and my breakfast pizza and they were happy as clams.

If you're in a blueberry kind of mood, these rolls are a solid recommendation. If you are a lemon lover, go with the sweet lemon sticky rolls instead. You can't go wrong either way.


Blueberry sweet rolls
Filling
  • 1 and 1/3 cups frozen blueberries, not thawed
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
Dough
  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (one 0.25 ounce packet) instant yeast
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons water, milk of choice or heavy cream
Directions
Make the filling (first): In a small bowl, toss the blueberries, sugar and cornstarch together. Set aside and continue to toss occasionally.

Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or in a large bowl if using your hands, mix together 2 and 1/4 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

In a measuring cup, microwave the water, milk and butter on high for about a minute or until the butter is completely melted and the liquid is warm.

Turn the mixer on low and drizzle in the milk mixture. Turn the mixer to medium speed (if kneading by hand, create a well in the center of your dry ingredients and drizzle in the liquid while you mix with the other hand). Knead until the ingredients slowly start to come together. Add in the egg and continue to knead. Slowly add in the remaining 1/2 cup of flour until the dough is no longer sticky - it will be tacky but should not stick to any surfaces. You may not need the entire 1/2 cup of flour so add it slowly.

Allow the dough to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle (about 14"x8"). Evenly distribute the blueberries on top of the dough. Then roll the dough up, jelly-roll style, starting along the longest edge. Once the dough is rolled up, keep it seam side down. Cut into 12 equal pieces.

Place the rolls, cut side up, in greased baking pans. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake the rolls: About 30 minutes before baking, take the rolls out to thaw at room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Allow to cool slightly.

Make the glaze: In a measuring cup, mix together the powdered sugar and liquid of choice. Drizzle over slightly cooled rolls and serve.

Leftover rolls should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for about 2-3 days.

Yield: About 12 rolls

Source: Barely adapted from Red Star Yeast

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Skating Fridays

Needing More Room


I signed up to compete in our rink's competition next month. I'm a bit ho-hum about it since it's just me and another lady from our club competing against each other. While I am curious to see if my scores improve from Adult Nationals, I have to admit that I'm not completely motivated to skate my program.

I'm keeping my program from last season ("Mute girl theme" from Kung Fu Hustle), but we are switching around some of my elements. I started working on the program revisions with my choreographer last week and have some pleasantly surprising news to share with you all.

My choreographer asked me to skate the first third of my program so she could see how it was flowing. After I ran through it, she told me that we needed to move my starting position. Curious, I asked why. She said that I was pushing more so I needed more room to execute my elements. We kept most of the same transitions and added a few more so the program flowed better.


I'm so excited that my "going back to basics" training is paying off. Coach B has even noticed that I'm skating with my power and poise and looking less like a stereotypical adult skater. Progress!


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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Small batch salted caramel sauce

This small batch salted caramel sauce is perfect for occasions when you don't need a lot. This simple, fool-proof recipe does not require a candy thermometer and comes together very quickly. You'll be tempted to make another batch!

Do you ever get caramel cravings? I hope I'm not alone here. Well, I definitely do. There are days when I just want a nice spoonful of caramel and then go off on my merry way. (OK, I'd probably come back for another spoonful)

What I dislike about making caramel sauce is that 1) it usually makes a huge batch, and 2) most require a candy thermometer. Boo to both. Thankfully, this recipe requires neither. This simple, no-fuss recipe only yields 1 cup of caramel sauce so it's perfect for you to eat for breakfast share with a friend.

Addie and I made this caramel sauce together, and she was fascinated to see how the sugar turned into this beautiful, sweet and salty amber-colored goodness. My batch yielded about a cup of caramel sauce, and I'm trying to figure out how best to use up this liquid gold (other than just drinking it, of course).

Any suggestions?

Small batch salted caramel sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more if you like it extra salty)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
Mix the sugar and water together in a deep, heavy bottomed sauce pan.

Turn the heat to medium high and allow the sugar to melt. Do not stir (it's hard, but please resist).

While the sugar is melting, heat the heavy cream in the microwave until it is almost boiling.

Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat to high. The sugar mixture will turn a deep amber color. Watch the sugar carefully, as it will burn easily if you look away for a moment. Feel free to swirl the sauce pan around to allow the sugar to evenly caramelize.

After your sugar has turned a deep amber color, take it off the heat and add in the warmed heavy cream. Watch out - it will bubble vigorously! Then add the butter, salt and vanilla. Whisk until the caramel thickens and is smooth.

Transfer the caramel into a glass container and store at room temperature. It will keep for several weeks.

Yield: About 1 cup

Source: Dessert for Two

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Whole wheat cranberry buttermilk muffins

Healthier muffins made with whole wheat, oats and dried cranberries - these lovely treats are perfect for breakfasts, snacks and a quick treat for anytime of day. They contain no butter or oil!

I take no credit for these muffins. Addie exclaimed one day that she wanted cranberry muffins.  I also happened to have about 2 cups of buttermilk in my refrigerator, so that's the reasoning behind these breakfast treats.

These muffins, like most muffin recipes, were very easy to create. You grab one bowl for your dry ingredients, one for your wet ingredients and mix them together before adding the sweetened dried cranberries. You can even add nuts, raisins or chocolate chips if those are your thing.

I found that the muffins were a tad dry the day they were baked but they actually got better the following day. The muffins were dense and springy and did not produce any crumbs when bitten into (that deserves bonus points in my book). I liked that I used whole wheat flour to make the muffins a bit healthier.

The next time I bake these, I may try swapping out the buttermilk for Greek yogurt to see what differences that makes. Otherwise, this was another solid recipe from the Eva Bakes kitchen.

Whole wheat cranberry buttermilk muffins
  • 1 and 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Directions
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the buttermilk, egg and applesauce.

Transfer the buttermilk mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until a few dry streaks remain. Toss in the dried cranberries and fold until everything just comes together - do not over mix.

Evenly distribute the batter into your muffin pan and fill each well about 3/4 full.

Bake in your preheated oven for 18-20 min or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (I baked for 18).

Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: Between 10-12 muffins

Source:  Adapted from Food.com

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Skating Fridays

Progress on the Back Sit Spin With a Twist


I mentioned in a recent post that my coach has me going back to basics on the three base spins (upright, sit and camel). I have been practicing these spins each and every time I am on the ice and can say that my basic spin positions have made slight improvements. The back camel is still the worst spin for me, so I have been focusing on that one quite a bit.

Those who have been reading Skating Fridays for a while (thank you!) know that I had a knee injury last summer. I partially tore my meniscus and was unable to spin on my right leg. The centrifugal force caused pain so I wasn't able to do any forward spins.

Most of you would call that an inconvenience. In my mind, it was actually a blessing in disguise.

My back sit spin was pretty much non-existent prior to my injury last year. I practiced it a lot since I couldn't do any forward spins. As a result, my back sit spin improved immensely. Coach B and I tried to learn the twist variation but it wasn't going that well. Occasionally, I'd get a good one, but it wasn't low enough.

We have not worked on the back twist variation in months - maybe even closer to a full year. When discussing my program for this upcoming season, my coach and I talked specifically about what spins to include. Just for fun, she asked me to show her the sit-back sit. I executed it and she seemed pretty happy.

Then she asked me to try the sit-back sit but then add a twist to see what would happen. And here is what she captured on video:



As you can see (turn the volume on), my coach was very excited about what she saw. It is definitely going in the program, and she believes that the technical controller will call this as a back sit variation. If I am lucky, this will get called a Level 1 change sit spin. I would be thrilled with that. All those hours practicing basic spin positions are really starting to pay off. As coach says, once you have the basics (spin positions) down, adding variations is easy.

Next step - figure out my remaining program elements and where to place them. Stamina is definitely an issue right now. Must stop eating ice cream...

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Homemade salt water taffy

Salt water taffy is a must-have candy when visiting the beach. Make your own salt water taffy at home - while keeping the sand out of your car!


Like most people, salt water taffy reminds me of my childhood. My family and I used to go to the Jersey Shore and the Delaware beaches, and I always loved going into the candy stores to browse around. One of the best places in Rehoboth Beach (Delaware) is a place called Dolle's. They have countless flavors of salt water taffy, and I could never resist buying a box or a bag. In fact, I'd usually eat half the bag before we even made it home.

I haven't visited the beaches lately because we've been so busy. And I definitely miss my salt water taffy, so I made a decision to make it myself. I've always wanted to try my hand at taffy pulling, so this was my chance.


The first batch I made turned out way too hard. My stove got too hot, too fast, and I'm fairly certain the candy mixture's temperature made it closer to 260 degrees F, which made it too hard. Not satisfied with my first batch, I made a second batch and turned the heat down significantly. I watched my thermometer like a hawk, and as soon as it hit 250 degrees F, I turned off the stove and moved my pan off the heat. This time, my taffy was successful.

This candy is a fun project for kids - they can help you pull and shape the taffy after it has cooled down significantly. I made this while Addie was at school so she didn't help this time, but I have no doubt that she would have a blast pulling and taste testing the candy. The resulting taffy is soft, chewy, and reminiscent of the ocean.

So if you're not heading to a beach anytime soon, consider making this salt water taffy instead. It takes about an hour from start to finish, and you'll have plenty to share.  Well, unless you're like me and want to eat it all yourself.

Homemade salt water taffy
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter (plus more for greasing)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon extract of choice, optional
  • 1-2 drops of food coloring, optional
Directions
Generously grease a standard 8"x8" baking pan and set aside.

In a small or medium sized saucepan, heat the sugar, corn starch, corn syrup, butter, water and salt on medium-high heat until bubbles form. Keep stirring until the mixture reaches 250 degrees F. (My new Thermapen worked wonders here!).  

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add in the extract and food coloring if using. Pour it into the greased baking pan. Using a well-buttered bench scraper, fold the liquid onto itself until it is cool enough to touch.

Generously butter your hands and stretch the candy into a long rope. Fold it in half so the ends meet and stretch again. Repeat for about 5-10 minutes or until the candy gets lighter and lighter in color.

Finally, pull the candy into a rope about 1/2" wide (or whatever thickness you'd like). Set it down and using a well-buttered pair of scissors, cut into small pieces.

Allow the candy to rest for about 30 minutes before wrapping in parchment paper or waxed paper.

Salt water taffy should be stored in an airtight container and will keep for at least a month.

Yield: About 30 small pieces of taffy

Source: Slightly adapted from Cupcake Project

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

4 ingredient S'mores fudge

Bring the taste of s'mores indoors with this quick and easy 4-ingredient s'mores fudge. It only requires a saucepan, spatula and some patience to whip up this rich and tasty treat. Gift extras to friends and family - or keep it all to yourself!
Here is another s'mores recipe in case you didn't get enough of the s'mores cupcakes from last week. This beauty only requires 4 ingredients, and it is something you can easily whip up in no time. No candy thermometer required!

Addie and I made these together one weekday evening when I got the itch to make something. I had s'mores on the brain and took a basic fudge recipe (1 bag chocolate chips, 1 can sweetened condensed milk) and altered it to make it a s'mores version. We added mini marshmallows and chopped graham crackers.


I gifted some of this fudge to Addie's classmates and teachers and they all said that they loved the surprise treat. The fudge was nice and smooth while the marshmallows and graham crackers provided a good textural contrast. My two complaints were that the marshmallows weren't toasted and that the graham crackers got a bit soft after chilling in the refrigerator. Nevertheless, it was still quite tasty and something I'd definitely make again.

S'mores fudge
  • 1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • About 6 graham crackers, broken into pieces (plus more for garnishing if desired)
  • About 1 cup mini marshmallows, plus more for garnishing if desired
Directions
Generously grease or line a standard 8"x8" square pan. Set aside.

In a medium sized saucepan, melt the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk over medium heat. Keep stirring so the chocolate doesn't seize. Keep mixing until the mixture is uniform.

Take the pan off the stove and gently fold in the graham crackers. Then fold in the marshmallows.

Quickly transfer to your prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula or other flat object. If desired, add more graham cracker pieces and/or marshmallows.

Allow to cool completely and then transfer to the refrigerator to cool for another 1-2 hours.

Once cool, cut into squares and serve. Store leftover fudge in the refrigerator. It will keep for over a week if stored in an airtight container.

Yield: About 36 squares of fudge


Source: An Eva Bakes original, but most likely seen on countless websites on the internet

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