Friday, December 30, 2011

Cajun Chicken Pasta

I found this recipe over on Pioneer Woman's website earlier in the week. I was planning out our weekly menu and immediately knew I wanted to give it a try.

I'm honestly not sure whether to call this a success or failure. Besides myself, our oldest daughter seemed to be the other family member that enjoyed her meal. My husband said "It's not bad, but I wouldn't go back for seconds." Ouch! That hurt! The two little ones loved snatching the veggies off the counter while I was cutting them up, but once I combined everything they didn't seemed thrilled.

 I was sure this would be a winner; one dish that combines pasta, chicken and veggies all together and with a little spice. I did cut back on the Cajun seasoning so it wouldn't be too spicy for the little ones and I also omitted the white wine and used a little more chicken broth instead. Unfortunately it's not something that I'll probably be making again for my family, but I'm being real here, showing you that there's going to be times when things don't turn out as planned or as well as you'd like. It's okay, I love to cook and bake and it's not going to stop me, it shouldn't stop you either!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 lb. Fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large green pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large red pepper, seeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning over chicken pieces, toss around to coat.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy skillet over high heat.  Add chicken in a single layer, do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1-2 minutes. Flip to the other side and allow to finish cooking through. Remove with slotted spoon and place on a plate.

Add remaining olive oil and butter. When heated add peppers and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun seasoning, add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1-2 minutes, gently stirring and trying to get veggies as dark as possible. Add tomatoes and let cook for 1 minute, remove and add to plate.

With pan over high heat, pour in chicken broth. Cook on high for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of pan to deglaze. Reduce heat to medium-high and pour in cream, stirring/whisking constantly. Cook sauce over medium-high heat until sauce starts to thicken.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Lastly, add in chicken and veggies to the sauce, making sure to include all the juices on the plate. Stir and cook for a few minutes until mixture is bubbly and hot. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.

Source: slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

Well this will be my last post of 2011, I'm so excited to see what the new year will bring. I'll be sharing with you my goals for 2012 next week, some of them will be food related and some not so much. I'll also be giving the blog a little face lift, can't wait for you to see the new look! You'll soon be able to find me on Facebook as well....stay tuned!

Before I go, I have a little frugal tip for ya!

 Don't throw out those green onion roots! Simply place them in a little water and watch the tops grow again You should be able to get them to re-grow at least a couple times. Pretty neat huh?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pizza Bites

Another Christmas has come and gone! We were truly blessed this year with great weather and time with our loved ones.....and of course lots of great food and presents! Both sides of our families decided to serve up a bunch of different appetizers for our meal this year, everyone pitched in by bringing a few different items and I think we all loved having this huge smorgasbord. One of the dishes I shared were these tasty little pizza bites. It's something I've had bookmarked for over a year now and again, wondering why I hadn't taken the time to try them out sooner. I'm a fan of all things pizza and these were sure to not disappoint! I've even been dreaming up other fillings I can stuff into these bite sized pizzas.

I only wish I would've gotten a picture of the inside of these for you to see. They're really easy to whip up....I guess you'll just have to make some and see for yourself!

Did you receive any fun foodie gifts for Christmas? I was excited to get these 2 cookbooks, along with $75 in Barnes & Noble gift cards (yay!). My parents also got me the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid, I can't wait to try that out!

Pizza Bites

1/2 batch pizza dough
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
Sliced pepperoni
Olive oil
Italian Seasoning
Grated Parmesan cheese
Pizza sauce for dipping


Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan. Divide pizza dough into 20-24 equal parts. Take one piece of dough, top with a cube of cheese and 2 slices of pepperoni. Pull the edges of dough around the filling and pinch closed. Place seam side down in baking dish, repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
Lightly brush tops of dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes, serve warm with dipping sauce.

 Adapted from: Annie's Eats

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best Ever Banana Bread

So I'm sure you already have a tried and true banana bread recipe, but before you shove this one to the side, you need to give it a try! At the market this past summer it was one of my best sellers and it wasn't unusual for me to have requests to make up a few extra loaves for individuals. Like chocolate chip cookies, banana bread is one that I've tried many recipes in attempt to find that perfect one. This particular recipe is compiled from a couple different ones, I'd like to think it's my own but I'm sure there just might be one like it already out there.

What makes this bread so special? It's so good, I know you won't be able to stop at just one slice! It's full of banana flavor and incredibly moist. You'll also be happy to know it's simple to pull together, just dump everything in a bowl and mix together. It also freezes really well, I like to make up at least a few loaves at a time and stick them in our freezer. I can pull out a loaf anytime we feel like having some bread. Enjoy!

Best Ever Banana Bread

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla; add to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in nuts if desired.

Pour into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan or 3 mini pans. Bake at 325 for 1 hour 20 minutes for large loaf or 45 minutes for smaller, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Black and White Bean Dip

This is the last of the recipes from my Cookie Exchange I wanted to share with you. It's a quick and easy dip that would be perfect for any type of party or as an appetizer for a Mexican themed meal. I've had this recipe on file for quite some time now but not sure why I've waited so long to make it. I'll definitely be making this again!

Black and White Bean Dip

1-15 oz. can black beans
1-15 oz. can white kidney beans
1 cup frozen corn
7 oz. salsa verde
2 cups shredded co-jack cheese
4 chopped roma tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
avocado- optional

Preheat oven to 350. Rinse and drain both cans of beans. Squeeze liquid out of tomatoes before chopping so dip doesn't turn runny. Put all ingredients except avacado in a bowl and mix together. Spray a 8x8 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray before spooning in the bean mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and dip is heated through. Remove from oven and top with diced avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.

Here's a better view of the dip


Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter-Pretzel Truffles

I wanted to leave you with these yummy treats before we officially start the weekend. If you're needing a quick and easy dessert to bring to any of your holiday gatherings, this is one you definitely need to consider! It doesn't require any baking, you most likely have all the ingredients on hand and it contains one of the best flavor combos ever- sweet and salty!

You can dress these up even more by drizzling some melted peanut butter and adding crushed pretzels on top.

Chocolate Peanut Butter-Pretzel Truffles

1 1/2 cups pretzels
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon butter, room temp
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

Put pretzels in resealable plastic bag, with rolling pin, crush into small bits. In small bowl, combine peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and salt. Stir until all ingredients are combined and smooth. Add pretzels in and mix well. Add powdered sugar and mix until combined.

Line small baking sheet with wax paper. Using about 2 teaspoons worth or peanut butter mixture (or use small cookie scoop), shape into a ball with fingertips. Place ball on wax-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining mixture. Place baking sheet in fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes.

When ready to dip balls, melt chocolate chips and shortening together in a small bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each and until completely melted and smooth.

Makes 18-20 truffles

Source: Brown Eyed Baker

Any big plans for the weekend? We're hoping to finish up Christmas shopping. Ugh! I'm dreading fighting the crowds, every year I say we're going to start early and be done but it seems like there's always something going on.  Oh well, there's always next year, right?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and Mom's coleslaw

This has got to be one of the easiest, yet delicious meals ever! I made this for my gals that attended the cookie exchange and I'm pretty sure they loved it. The pulled pork only requires 4 ingredients so what's not to like?

I've made barbecue pork plenty of times but usually just cook the pork in the slow cooker, drain the liquid and then add the sauce. Not bad, but wasn't anything special. Then I seen this recipe over on Sweet & Savory Food and I knew I had to give it a try.(Check out Ally's blog, she's a fellow Iowan, has some really good recipes and just wrote her 1st cookbook!) I will definitely be making my pulled pork this way from now on. I really like the addition of the cola, and it has a nice barbecue flavor but not too much of the actual barbecue sauce. I think for folks that might not care for the sauce will love this!
Look at that! It's tender, moist and delicious!

This coleslaw comes from my mom, I'm not actually sure where she came across this recipe. It's so easy to make, you seriously just dump a few ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate overnight. I'm not a big fan of mayonnaise based coleslaws and that's what I love about this salad, the dressing is made from oil and vinegar.

Definitely give these recipes a try, even for those of you that say "I can't cook". You can do this! Surprise your family with super easy meal or take the pulled pork to one of your holiday gatherings, everyone will love it!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

3-lb. pork roast (Crock pot or pork butt will give you the most tender meat)
1 can Diet Dr. Pepper (You can certainly use any type of cola)
1 cup Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue sauce (Again use whatever brand you like)
Lawry's salt and pepper

Season roast with salt and pepper. Place roast in your slow cooker. Pour in can of cola and barbecue sauce. Set on low and cook for 6-8 hours.

When done, drain a little bit of liquid from slow cooker. Shred meat with fork. Serve on buns, add additional barbecue sauce if desired.

Asian Coleslaw

1 pkg coleslaw mix
4 green onions, chopped
1 pkg ramen noodles, discard the season packet
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar

Combine coleslaw mix and green onions in medium sized bowl. Break apart dry ramen noodles and add to coleslaw mixture. In another bowl, combine oil, sugar and vinegar. Pour dressing over coleslaw. Refrigerate overnight to allow noodles to soften. Before serving add in sunflower seeds.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Icy Holiday Punch

Icy Holiday Punch Recipe
Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

I discovered this punch a few years ago while skimming through some old Taste of Home magazines. This has become my favorite and is definitely a keeper! Every time I serve this drink I always get requests for the recipe. It's so easy to put together, the hardest part is probably remembering to pull it out of the freezer 2 hours before serving to allow for thawing. I haven't tried substituting any other kinds of jello yet but I'm sure you could get some really good flavor combos!

It's really good as an adult beverage as well! I like to substitute Parrot Bay passion fruit rum for part of the water. I recommend half rum, half water but you can always adjust if you want the punch a little stronger.

Icy Holiday Punch

1-6 oz. pkg cherry Jello
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
1-46 oz. can pineapple juice
6 cups cold water
2 liter bottle of Sprite or 7-UP

In large freezer-proof container, dissolve sugar and jello in boiling water. Stir in pineapple juice and cold water. Cover and freeze overnight.
Remove from freezer 2 hours before serving. Place in punch bowl, stir in Sprite or 7-UP just before serving.

Slightly adapted from: Taste of Home

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cookie Exchange and Dipped Cherry Cookies

(Most of our cookies, we had to use two tables)

I had a really busy but fun weekend! Most of it was devoted to preparing for my 3rd Annual Cookie Exchange, it's A LOT of work but totally worth it. For the past three years I have invited between 8-12 other women to come to my house for a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon before Christmas, and exchange cookies that we have baked. When my guests are selecting their cookie I have them let me know ahead of time so I can ensure that we have no duplicates, no one needs five Peanut Butter Star cookie recipes do they?  I prepare a nice lunch for them to enjoy, we get a chance to catch up on what's going on in our busy lives, we usually play 3 games or so and I award prizes to the winners. Towards the end we gather around the table where our cookies are displayed and we swap, everyone brings in their own container and gets to go from tray to tray and grab the designated amount of cookies. This year I made up a cute little cookbook with all of our recipes so that way they were all together in one spot. Years before I requested that they bring copies of their recipes but then there's always that chance of losing one so I think I'll definitely carry on this tradition of compiling them into little cookbooks each year.  This has definitely become one of my favorite parts of the holidays and I'm so appreciative of everyone that devotes time to attending my cookie exchange.

Our group this year minus one taking the pic

This year the cookie I chose to bake was Dipped Cherry Cookies. It's one that I have made one other time for my cookie tins I give out around Christmas time and I really liked it.

It's pretty much a shortbread cookie with chopped cherries and white chocolate in the dough. You dip one half of the cookie into melted white chocolate and sprinkle with red decorating sugar. Pretty simple for the most part and really festive for the holidays. I'm going to lie though, they didn't turn out as well as I had hoped but part of that might have been my fault. They seemed to spread a little more than anticipated during the baking time. I got ahead of myself when mixing up the dough and thought I remembered how to do everything, I melted the white chocolate instead of just chopping up and kneading it into the dough. Maybe that's what went wrong? I honestly don't know, they still tasted great just didn't look as good as I wanted them to. So my advice on this: Follow the recipe exactly as stated and don't try to make your own adjustments.

*One additional note- the dough will be really crumbly and you'll probably be scared. Don't be, just keep kneading and it will all come together just fine. Enjoy!

Dipped Cherry Cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries, drained
12 squares (1 oz. each) vanilla almond bark, finely chopped, divided
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Red decorating sugar (I found mine at Target in the holiday baking aisle)

In large bowl, combine flour and 1/2 cup sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Knead in cherries, 2/3 almond bark and extract until dough forms a ball.
Shape into 3/4-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a glass dipped in remaining sugar. Bake at 325 for 11-12 minutes or until edges or slightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
In microwave, melt remaining almond bark, stirring until smooth. Dip half of each cookie into chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Sprinkle with decorating sugar and place on waxed paper until set. Store in airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen

I've got some great recipes lined up for you this week: my all-time favorite punch, an easy slow cooker pulled pork with my mom's coleslaw, chocolate peanut butter-pretzel truffles and a black and white bean dip. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I've spent a lot of time and gone through many recipes trying to find that perfect chocolate chip cookie. Listen up folks, this is the one! I'm not kidding, they are perfect. With just the right amount of chocolate, they're chewy and soft in the middle yet a little crisp on the edges. I came across this recipe in my trusty ol' Baking Illustrated cookbook. This has become one of my favorite cookbooks, while it doesn't have a lot of pictures in it, I really like to read about the science behind what I'm baking. They do a good job explaining why certain ingredients work better than others.

So here it is, the last chocolate chip cookie recipe you'll ever need. I no longer have any desire to try any others. Try it out for yourself, let me know what you think, I know you'll love them!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside. Mix butter and sugars with electric mixer or by hand, until thoroughly blended together. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Using a medium cookie scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheet. (I highly recommend using a silicone baking mat, love those things!)  Space cookies 2 inches apart. Bake at 325, for about 15 minutes or until light golden brown and the outer edges start to harden yet centers are soft and puffy. Cool cookies on the pan. Remove cooled cookies from baking sheets onto cooling rack.

Makes 18 large cookies

Speaking of cookies, I'm preparing for my 3rd Annual Cookie Exchange this Sunday. I'm getting really excited! I'll have a recap next week along with my cookie recipe and the other food that I'll be serving. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Enchiladas

These have become my favorite way to prepare enchiladas; the homemade red sauce has tons of flavor with just the right amount of spice and they're definitely just as good as any enchilada from a Mexican restaurant. The last time I made these we used both chicken and beef, while they both were delicious, I think everyone was in agreement that chicken was the real winner.

This dish does take a little more time than simply opening a can of sauce, but as soon as you take that first bite you'll understand! Make the sauce up beforehand to save some time, just mix the chicken in before you prepare them. This has become my favorite meal to bring to new parents, what better way to help them out than with a wonderful homemade meal like this? Put these enchiladas on your menu, you won't regret it!

Chicken Enchiladas

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped fine
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked
2 cups shredded cheese (I used combo of cheddar and monterey jack)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
10 flour tortillas (I use Azteca brand)

Combine jalapeno and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until peppers have softened, 6-7 mins. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and sugar, cook just until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Mix in tomato sauce, water and chopped tomato. Bring the sauce to a simmer, lower heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 mins.

Shred chicken into bite size pieces and put into medium sized bowl. Add 1/4 cup of sauce, 1 cup of cheese and cilantro. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly oil a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon 1/3 cup of chicken mixture evenly down center of tortilla. Roll up tortilla around filling tightly, and place in prepared baking dish, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining filling and tortillas. (I always end up having to use 2 pans, 5-6 enchiladas to each pan) Pour remaining sauce over top of tortilla shells and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 25-30 mins. or until enchiladas are heated through, cheese is browned and tortillas are slightly crispy. Remove from oven, let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Silk Pie

I had every intention of sharing this pie with you right after Thanksgiving but it just sort got pushed to the side. That however has no reflection on how amazing this is. I must admit I'm not much of a chocolate pie fan, I like to stick to my standard apple or pumpkin especially at Thanksgiving time. My job generally is to supply the desserts in our families and I wanted to try something a little different this year. So that leads me to this particular recipe, everyone likes chocolate right?

This was my first experience at making chocolate silk pie and I think I've found the perfect recipe. I love the smooth and silky custard base, the filling is rich but nice and fluffy. You definitely will be satisfied with a just a small piece. The pie itself was pretty easy to pull together. Yes, you spend a bit of time whipping but I think the end result is worth it!

Chocolate Silk Pie


Pie dough:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4-5 tablespoons ice water

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into 8 pieces

Whipped topping or freshly whipped cream, for serving


For the pie dough:
Process flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the shortening and process until mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, cut the butter into flour until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down the dough with broad side of spatula until the dough sticks together, add up to 1 tablespoon more water if dough will not come together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

For the pie/filling:
Roll the chilled pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough. Trim, fold and crimp the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F and adjust an oven rack to low-middle position. Line the chilled pie shell with parchment paper so that it lays over the edges of the dough. Fill with pie weights(or rice) and bake until the surface of the dough no longer looks wet, 20-25 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper and return the pie crust to the oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 10-12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

To make the filling, add the cream to the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate.

Combine the eggs, sugar and water in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  With a hand mixer on medium speed, beat until the egg mixture is thickened and reads 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, about 7-10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to beat until the egg mixture is fluffy and cooled to room temperature, about 6-8 minutes.

Add the melted chocolate and the vanilla to cooled egg mixture and beat until well blended. Beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until well combined. Using a spatula, gently fold in the chilled whipped cream until no streaks remain. Transfer the filling to the baked pie shell. Refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours. Slice and serve with whipped topping or freshly whipped cream if desired.

Source: Pie dough, Baking Illustrated Cookbook, Pie from Cook's Illustrated Entertaining, Spring 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cupcake Wars and Cinnamon Rolls!

I competed in my very first Cupcake War last night! No, it wasn't like the one on Food Network but it was just as fun and for a very good cause. I traveled to Cedar Rapids last night with my mom to compete again 24 other bakers. We were to bring 4 dozen cupcakes all baked and decorated for the event and following one of three themes: camping, holiday or fiesta. I chose to bring my S'more cupcake, it was one that I had perfected and gotten some really good feedback on; and honestly I just didn't have enough time or energy to try out new recipes beforehand. So anyways, the public was invited to come out and sample our cupcakes, they paid $5 to stuff their faces with lots of sugar and all of the proceeds benefited Camp Courageous of Iowa. We ended up raising $1400 last night for them, that's amazing! We had such a great turnout, way better than I think anyone could have anticipated and I know the organization is excited to plan their next war. Unfortunately I didn't win last night but that's okay; it was a lot of fun, a great learning experience and I got to spend some extra time with my mom!

My S'more cupcakes with a campfire decoration

Here's some more pics from last night, lots of creative cupcakes!

Okay onto the food. During the summer when I had a booth at our local Farmer's Market I made sure to take these cinnamon rolls with me pretty much every Saturday morning. For one, they were perfect for people to grab and eat as they browsed the different vendors and second, they're just that good! Besides my cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and banana bread (recipe coming soon!) were my most requested items. Don't be intimidated by making homemade rolls, it's really quite simple. If you have a stand mixer, it does all the work for you. I like to make up a double batch when I can and put them in the freezer, that way at night I can just pull out a few, let them rise overnight and bake in the morning. A wonderful breakfast without all the fuss. I love how soft these rolls are and full of yummy cinnamon goodness! I'm guessing you won't be able to stop at just one.

Cinnamon Rolls

6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temp
1 egg
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup milk, room temp ( I like to use buttermilk when I have it on hand, but any kind will be just fine)

6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar

1 stick butter, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
Milk to thin icing

Cream together sugar, salt and butter in electric mixer with paddle attachment. Whip in egg until smooth. Add in flour, yeast and milk. Mix on low until dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and increase speed to medium, mix for about 8 minutes or until dough is silky and tacky but not sticky. You may have to add in a little more flour to achieve this texture) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer dough to the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp for 2 hours.

Lightly flour your work surface. Roll dough out into a rectangle with rolling pin, about 12x14 inches. Combine sugar, cinnamon and brown sugar in small bowl and mix well. (Add in more spices if you'll think you need more, I sort of eyeball this part) Sprinkle cinnamon mixture over the surface of the dough. Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a log shape. Pinch the seam shut and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls. Transfer them to a greased baking sheet/dish, placing rolls 1 inch apart.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp for another 1 1/2 hours or until rolls have nearly doubled in size. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Let cool in baking pan. To make frosting, mix butter, vanilla and powdered sugar in bowl. Add a teaspoon of milk at a time until you've reached your desired consistency. Spread over tops of rolls and serve.
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