Almond Pulp Crackers

by Lauren Matthies


I love making homemade almond milk, but have wasted way too much almond pulp by not knowing what to do with it.  Once I finally got a dehydrator, I turned all my frozen pulp into almond flour, but it still just sits in my freezer untouched.

That's when an idea dawned on me.  What if I made crackers with it?  Henry loves these cheddar chia crackers from Bitsy's Brainfood, but I don't like spending that much money on crackers.  Especially because he could go through a whole box in one sitting if I let him.  So, why not try and make my own?  It was a success!

I used a bunch of nutritional yeast in them to give Henry the cheesy flavor he likes, and he loved them! You could really throw any herbs and spices into them to change up the flavor and I was thinking they may even work as a sweeter cracker if I used some cinnamon and honey in them.  Worth a shot.  I plan to add some chia and/or hemp seeds next time and see how they turn out.  I'll taste them myself first because I don't want to go too crazy and turn him off from them.  If I'm successful in creating something yummy, I'll be sure to share the other recipes here.

For the first set of crackers here is what I did...

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 1.5 cup almond pulp leftover from making almond milk
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A ton of nutritional yeast

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  • Roll out between two sheets of parchement paper until desired thickness is achieved
  • Cut into desired shape with a pizza cutter or sharp knife
  • Pierce each cracker with a fork
  • Place on baking sheet in oven set to 350 degrees
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Flip crackers and bake another 20 minutes
  • Continue baking and flipping crackers until golden brown and crisp

 

As you can see, these measurements and instructions are not exact.  I just played with it until I had the consistency I desired.  I rolled my crackers super thin which made them a little harder to flip, but the shape of the cracker doesn't affect the taste.  I continued to remove finished crackers from the oven while others kept baking since they all baked at a slightly different rate.  Let me know if you try it and if any of your combinations are a success!  Enjoy!


My Favorite Secret Smoothie Ingredient

by Lauren Matthies


Avocado "ice cubes" have become my favorite secret smoothie ingredient.  They make smoothies creamy and delicious (not to mention healthy), they're super convenient, and they are a perfect way to preserve avocados at their peak ripeness.

When I have a ripe avocado that I don't need for anything else, I will mash it up and spread it into an ice cube tray (you can also just scoop spoonfuls onto a plate if you don't have an ice cube tray).  After freezing overnight, I use a knife to pop the "ice cubes" out of the tray, store them in a freezer bag, and voila--the perfect addition to any smoothie!  When avocados are on sale, I will stock up now because I don't have to worry about them going to waste.

Once I came up with this idea, I was upset that I hadn't been doing it for years!  Enjoy!


Homemade Hummus and Pita Bread

by Lauren Matthies


One reason I don't post food posts as much is because I don't have the time (or even necessarily the desire) to take gorgeous, well staged pictures of my process.  With Henry I'm lucky to be able to make the food, add photographing it to the mix and I'd never finish anything.  Today it dawned on me that that's not what my blog is about.  There are so many blogs out there with incredible recipes, beautiful styling, and stunning pictures.  This blog isn't one of those and I shouldn't try to be one of those bloggers.  They are truly skilled and I admire their work, however I have a different goal.  My goal is to be authentic with you.  My goal is to offer a glimpse into my life and how I operate no matter how messy that may be.

So here is my first quick recipe post.  I don't have pictures of my process and my final product pictures were just taken to show my family because I was proud of what I made.  I am choosing to share recipes and/or tips from here on out with you to inspire you.  I am not a chef by any means, and yet sometimes I surprise myself.  If I can do it, so can you.

I love pita and I love hummus!  I have thought about making hummus at home before but have never done it.  As silly as it sounds, a big part of the reason I never tried it because I didn't know what tahini was and had no idea where to look for it in the grocery store.  Well, I decided to look it up and it's basically ground up sesame seeds.  So, I made it at home after ordering some sesame seeds on Amazon.

The pita was surprisingly easy as well.  Hopefully I'll get better at making it over time, but for my first go at it, it went really well and tasted delicious.

The hummus I've ended up making a few times and have mixed it up by adding different ingredients in it (e.g., edamame, black beans, beets).

For the pita I followed this recipe.

For the hummus I just kind of throw everything into my food processor and add a little bit more of this and a little bit more of that until I get the taste and consistency right.  Here are the ingredients and my best guess as to how much I end up using:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs water
  • 1 Tbs tahini (blended sesame seeds--I find it easiest to put some sesame seeds and olive oil in the food processor, blend it, and then add the rest of the ingredients to make the hummus)
  • 1-2 Tbs garlic (I love the garlic and lemon flavor in my hummus)
  • 1/2 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • Dash of salt

Again, these are just approximations.  Feel free to add or remove things to your liking.  Enjoy!  And thanks for caring!

 

 


Homemade Cashew Milk

by Lauren Matthies


Remember when I said that almond milk was easy?  I didn't know that there was something even easier!  Cashew milk!

To make cashew milk, you follow the same process, but you don't have to strain the cashews.  There's no leftover pulp, just milk!  Creamy, frothy milk.

I soaked my cashews for about 7 hours at room temperature in a bowl with water, a pinch of salt, and a splash of apple cider vinegar with a kitchen towel over the bowl.  I'm not an expert on soaking nuts and grains, but there are plenty of other resources on that out there.  Please turn to them for more information on soaking, including the process, purpose, and benefits.

Here are my cashews after soaking.  They were swollen and soft to the touch.  (Also, pardon my mess in all of these pictures.  We are about to move and the last thing on my mind is cleaning.)

I rinsed my cashews and put them in the blender with two cups of cold, filtered water.  Don't use more unless you have a blender that can contain a large volume.  At high speed the blender was at capacity.

Here was my milk after blending it for a couple minutes.

I decided to add a little more water to make it less rich and then blended again.  This time I didn't bring it up to full speed so my blender was able to hold it all.

The following morning I used it in my coffee and it was still frothy with bubbles on top when I opened the container.  I only used about three tablespoons and it was delicious.  I'm excited to play around with it and see what else I can make with it.  My plan is to freeze some of it in an ice cube tray because I have more than I'll be able to use in 3-4 days and I don't want it to go to waste.  Next time I will probably only use a half a cup of cashews so I don't end up with so much milk.

Enjoy!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cashews 
  • 4 cups filtered water (feel free to change amount to reach desired creaminess)
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar, optional
  • Dash of salt, optional

Instructions:

  1. Soak cashews in water for 2 to 12 hours.
  2. Rinse cashews well.
  3. Blend cashews with filtered water until smooth and creamy.
  4. Store milk in refrigerator and use within a few days.

UPDATE: Because the milk is so easy to make and the cashews don't need to soak as long as almonds, I have been making milk with only 1/4 cup of cashews.  Obviously it depends on how much milk you intend to use, but I only use it for nice cream and nice cream milkshakes in the evening so I'd rather make less so none goes to waste.  If I need more, I can make it in a few hours.


Homemade Almond Milk

by Lauren Matthies


I've always wanted to make my own almond milk, but I was afraid it would be too challenging.  Boy was I wrong.  It takes a little planning ahead, but it is easy peasy.

The time consuming step is soaking the almonds.  You can soak them for up to two days, but they must soak for at least 12 hours.  Just put them in a bowl of water in the refrigerator and you forget about them until the next step.

After you remove them from the refrigerator, rinse them off.

Put your almonds in a blender with filtered water and blend them until creamy.

Next, pour the mixture into a cheese cloth lined colander (over another bowl).  Wring out the cheese cloth to make sure you get all the milk out.  

There will be a bunch of almond meal left over in the cloth.  I stored mine in the refrigerator and added it to my smoothies and oatmeal over the next couple days.  Apparently you can also bake it for longer storage.

That's it!  You made almond milk!  It doesn't have as long as a shelf life as store bought almond milk, but it is fresh and all natural!  Enjoy!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 4 cups filtered water

Instructions:

  1. Soak almonds in water for 12 to 48 hours.
  2. Rinse almonds well.
  3. Blend almonds with filtered water until smooth and creamy.
  4. Strain milk mixture into a bowl using a cheese cloth or kitchen towel and a colander.
  5. Store milk in refrigerator and use within a few days.

 


Homemade Larabar

by Lauren Matthies


Have you every tried a Larabar?  They're basically food bars with few ingredients designed to be healthy yet taste indulgent.  I accidentally made a mock Larabar this morning and thought I'd share it with you.

I've been wanting to play with dates for a while and also wanted to incorporate my chocolate True Food supplement into a recipe, and this was the result.

I'll be honest, if you're looking for a brownie, this won't do the trick (unless you're super into health food, then maybe).  For me, it tasted exactly like a Larabar.  If you haven't tried one, think healthy fudge meets healthy brownie meets healthy granola bar.  If you have a better description, please feel free to share it with me.

You can make it with either a blender or food processor.  I used my blender because it was already out, but think a food processor would probably work better.  First I blended my walnuts.  I had to be careful here, because some of them wanted to start turning into a walnut butter before they could all chop.  What resulted was having some walnut chunks in my finished product, which I don't mind (I actually like having a crunch to chew).  However, if you want a smoother product, try chopping your walnuts before hand.

After blending the walnuts I added the rest of the ingredients.

DON'T do what I did here!  Pit your dates beforehand.  I've never worked with dates before.  I always see the warning "may contain date pits" on products that have dates in them, but I didn't think to pit them.  Do.  Luckily I was able to find most of the pits after I started blending, but I am still eating the brownie balls (that's what we'll call these mock Larabar balls) carefully just in case.

Blend them until everything is combined and you have a sticky batter.  This was a little challenging in the blender which is why I think a food processor would work better.  I ended up taking some out and blending it a third at a time.

Once everything is blended, your batter should roll together really easily.  These balls were super easy to make.  I rolled some of them in cocoa powder, and left some of them plain.  I put them in the freezer on the plate to set some before transferring them to another container for storage.  You can keep them in the freezer or the refrigerator.  I'm freezing mine.

I think I prefer the ones rolled in cocoa powder to the plain ones because it adds an extra kick, and because I love chocolate!  In the future I think they would taste even better with some dried fruit (like cherries or cranberries) and/or some mini chocolate chips.  I might even lay them flat in a brownie pan and cut them into little squares for something different.  Feel free to play with it and make it your own.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1/8 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 cup chocolate True Food
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Optional mix ins and/or cocoa powder for dusting

Instructions:

  1. Chop walnuts and then blend all ingredients until a sticky batter forms.
  2. Roll into evenly sized balls and store in freezer or refrigerator.
  3. Option to roll balls in cocoa powder before storing.

How to Make the Perfect Risotto

by Lauren Matthies


I was always intimidated by risotto.  I had heard it was both hard to make and easy to ruin.  I didn't trust my cooking skills for a long time, but decided to give it a go relatively recently and have since made it many times with great success!

It's all in the technique.  It's not hard, but it's attention and time consuming.  It's definitely not a dish I can make easily with Henry in my arms.  Even stopping time to photograph the process wasn't ideal (I'll explain why below), and, of course, on top of it, Henry was insisting on breastfeeding while I made it this time.  All in all it resulted in the worst of all my attempts, but luckily it still turned out pretty good.

The main thing you need to know is that you will be stirring consistently for about 20 minutes.  And when I say consistently, I mean consistently.  You need to keep stirring to prevent burning, but also to give the risotto it's creamy texture.  I don't know the science behind it, but something about stirring gives the rice a creamy consistency.  Just trust me on this one.

Like I said before, it's all about the technique.  As a result, I only measure out the rice, nothing else.  Most recipes will tell you to measure our the broth.  I don't do this.  Rather, I base it on the way the rice looks and when it is done cooking.  Don't worry, I'll explain it all.

I also don't heat the broth like most recipes call for.  I do, however, always use room temperature, not refrigerated, broth.

As far as toppings go, you can do whatever you like.  Last time I made it was the first time I added some white wine vinegar.  My husband said it was his favorite so far.  Not sure if it was because of this addition, but it's also supposed to give the risotto an extra bit of creaminess.  I always mix in a bunch of Parmesan cheese right before it is done cooking.  My husband likes his with pesto and peas.  I eat mine plain or add some veggies in it.

So, here we go...

Before you get started, make sure you have everything you need nearby.  I use a wooden spoon to stir.  Have your rice measured out and your vegetable broth open and ready.  Also, have the Parmesan cheese and white wine vinegar (if you are using these) nearby.

First I put some butter (about 1 Tbs), olive oil (approximately 2 Tbs), garlic (around 1 Tbs), and chopped onion (about 1/4 to 1/3 of an onion) in a saucepan over medium heat.  I cook them until the onions and garlic start to soften and brown (a couple minutes, don't worry too much about this step.  They'll be cooking for a while so they'll soften and you won't even notice the onion once the risotto is done).

Next, I add a cup of arborio rice.  Here's where the stirring begins.  Pour the rice into the saucepan and stir it for two minutes.  This process is called "toasting" the rice.  I never notice a change in color, but it prepares the rice for absorbing the broth.

After the toasting process you make your first addition of broth.  I use enough to almost coat the rice.  It's probably around 1/2 a cup to a cup.  The rice shouldn't be swimming in the broth.  Make sure you are still stirring.  Again, don't stop stirring!  Just stir until the broth is almost all absorbed.  How I decide to add more is when I don't see any broth, but the rice doesn't look dry.  Remember, you don't want it to burn.

Now I start adding less broth with each addition (and as a result I'm adding it more frequently).  These additions are around 1/4 a cup.  Again, still stirring and continuing to add vegetable broth.

At the 20 minute mark (including the 2 minutes of toasting) I start tasting the risotto to see if it is done.  You don't want it to be mushy, but it also shouldn't taste undercooked (undercooked will taste like you are eating raw rice).  When you feel like you are right on the edge of it being "just right," add a tiny splash (around 1/2 teaspoon) white wine vinegar and as much Parmesan cheese as you like (I would guess that I add around 1/4 a cup).  You are still stirring here.  Once they are mixed in, I removed the risotto from heat and serve.

For mine, I serve it as is, with some more Parmesan cheese and maybe some added veggies.  For my husband's, I mix in pesto and peas and top with Parmesan.  One cup of (uncooked) rice serves us both without leftovers.  If you have a smaller appetite that I do then it may serve more people (most recipes and serving sizes say a cup is for four people, but I would definitely still be hungry if I halved my portion).

Enjoy!


You'll Never Know it's Healthy Banana Bread

by Lauren Matthies


I think banana bread is one of those dishes that has a million and one recipes and most of them are good.  I've only made a few flops with banana bread--one was in my early days of banana bread baking and I didn't divide it into two loaf pans, resulting in a burnt top and raw middle, the other was fine, but you could taste that it was good for you.  This recipe is healthy, but you can't tell.  I think that's the goal.

The reason banana bread has so many recipes is because it's the perfect solution to overripe bananas.  In this recipe I used two super ripe ones and two overripe ones.  The riper your bananas, the sweeter they'll be.  Next time you have some brown bananas, give this recipe a whirl.

The first step in making these muffins is creating your vegan egg.  To do this combine your chia seeds and water and allow them to sit until they form an egg white like consistency.  I combined them and let them sit while getting the rest of the ingredients ready.  If you'd prefer to use eggs instead, you will use two eggs.

I knew I was using too much banana, but I had a few bananas I wanted to get rid of.  If you use four bananas, you'll want them to be a little smaller than these.  If yours are this size, then use three.  If you want more banana, you can do what I did and just cook them for a little longer.  Also, you'll see that some of my bananas were more ripe than others.  The blacker, the better for banana bread.

Here's my applesauce. honey, and vanilla.

I mashed my bananas and got my dry ingredients ready while the vegan egg was still settling.

Then I combined the "egg" and wet ingredients,

mixed in the dry ingredients, and then stirred in the mashed banana.

For my mix-ins I added chocolate chips and walnuts.  You can play with any additions that you like here.  

Ready to bake--the good news about these muffins is you don't have to worry about them being underbaked as a health risk because they don't use egg.

Like I mentioned earlier, I baked these for a little longer because of the extra banana.  I tried one and found it a little too wet so I just put them back in the oven for a little longer.

DSC04446.JPG

As I do with most of my muffins, scones, etc. I put these muffins in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer.  When I want to eat one, I just heat it in the microwave.  I enjoy eating them with plain Greek yogurt mixed with cocoa powder.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3-4 ripe bananas (approximately 1 1/2-2 cups mashed)
  • Mix-ins of choice

Instructions:

  1. Make your vegan egg, by combining the chia seeds and water and letting it sit until an egg white like consistency forms.
  2. Mix together your vegan egg, applesauce, honey, and vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix.
  4. Stir in your mashed bananas until combined.
  5. Stir in any mix-ins.
  6. Divide batter evenly into greased muffin pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Egg-free Halloween Sugar Cookies

by Lauren Matthies


Sometimes I feel guilty that I am not able to take care of or spoil my husband as much as I used to.  Henry takes up so much of my time and attention these days that the little things I used to do for Derek are much harder to do and sometimes don't happen.  One of the surprises I used to enjoy doing for him was making sugar cookies to decorate.  I decided that Henry and I could do this together (even though he's young, he can learn that it's a tradition).  So, today we tried our hand at some egg-free sugar cookies.

I didn't take any pictures of making the dough, but all you have to do is mix it together.  It's almost easier than the pre-made dough.

I normally let my sugar cookie dough sit in the refrigerator a little bit before rolling out and cutting, but I didn't want to wait and it turned out just fine.  I also didn't refrigerate it after cutting and before baking, but the cookies kept their shape.

I didn't even use a rolling pin, just my hands.  If you want them to look nicer, go for a rolling pin.  I figured if I was planning on decorating them then you wouldn't be able to see the imperfections.

The batch was pretty small and only made 12 cookies, plus the moon one that I free handed with the remaining batter.  Feel free to double it if you want more cookies, especially if you're serving more than two people.

Pre-baking.

Pre-baking.

Fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

I've said it before, but the upside of egg free baking is you don't have to worry about undercooking your food as a health concern.  I baked my cookies until there was a slight golden brown tint on the bottom of them and sneaking up the sides (about 10 minutes).  If you want a crispier cookie, cook them for a little longer, for a softer cookie, leave them in the oven for a shorter amount of time.

Easy and festive.  I didn't end up making frosting for these, but feel free to use any icing that you like, or eat them plain.  They have a sweet buttery taste that made me want to eat the whole batch before Derek got home.  Good thing they're easy to make if you do end up eating them all.

UPDATE: I ended up melting chocolate chips and dipping the cookies in the chocolate.  Oh my gosh, they were delicious!  I think that will be my go to from now on.  I coated the top of the cookies in chocolate, but you can also make a design or cover the whole cookie.  Try it with at least one.  Chocolate lovers, you'll be in heaven!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  1. Cream together butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in milk and vanilla.
  3. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes until desired consistency is reached.

Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers and Egg-free Buns

by Lauren Matthies


I never realized that most burger buns have eggs in them.  I guess I just assumed they were like other breads.  Good news for those of you who want to avoid eggs, I made a delicious egg-free bun.  It's slightly sweet, buttery, and soft, and would pair well with any veggie burger (or meat burger for that matter).

I also added some fall flair to my regular veggie burger by adding some sweet potato to it.  For those of you who are like me and don't consider yourself cooks, it can be scary to just throw things together.  I often don't trust my culinary intuition, but, I promise you, veggie burgers are the perfect place to experiment.  The difference between these and my regular patties is that I added sweet potato and used rice instead of breadcrumbs.

To make the buns, I made my dough, let it rise,

divided it into five equal parts, let it rise again (for the last half of this rise, I had the oven on),

brushed the tops of the buns with butter,

baked them,

brushed them with butter again, and let them cool.  Delicious and easy.

I'm not giving an exact recipe for the burgers because I mostly threw stuff together (and it's been a while since I made them, Henry isn't big on letting me work on my blog).  The pictures tell the story, however, and I will guide you through my process.

First, I washed the sweet potatoes, cut them in half, brushed the cut side with olive oil, and baked them face down until soft.

Once cooked, they were easy to unpeel.

I mashed the sweet potato and black beans (I used a whole can) then added my spices and some veggies.  I had peas leftover from risotto that I made the night before so I threw them in.  You can add any veggies that you like.  They are veggie burgers after all.  

I baked these burgers in the oven before putting them on the skillet and cooking them.  I made six burgers with some leftover mix (which I used for lunchtime burgers that next day).  Two of them I cooked on the frying pan after baking, and the other four I wrapped in aluminum wrap, put in a freezer safe ziplock bag and froze (I haven't tried the frozen ones yet).

And the finished product.

Egg-free Bun Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablesppons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Olive oil for greasing bowl
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Instructions:

  1. Combine the flour, butter, salt, yogurt, baking soda, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.
  2. Knead mixture with a dough hook, while slowly adding the water.
  3. Knead for approximately 10 minutes until a smooth and pliable dough is formed.
  4. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled (approximately 2 hours).
  5. When dough is doubled, punch it down and divide into 5 equal balls.
  6. Place buns on a baking sheet, cover, and let rise until doubled, approximately one and a half hours.
  7. Brush tops of buns with half of melted butter.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes.
  9. Brush tops of buns with remainder of melted butter.
  10. Allow buns to cool completely.

Strawberry and Cheesecake Cake

by Lauren Matthies


Henry and Derek are getting baptized this weekend and my in-laws and parents will be in town.  It also happens to be the birthday month of both my parents and my mother-in-law.  To celebrate, I decided to make a cake.  It's tailored to my dad (he's a strawberry cake guy), but shh don't tell anyone.

Like I've mentioned before, baking and decorating are much more challenging now that Henry is here.  I call him my sous-chef, but he mostly just likes to cause trouble (sweet boy often falls asleep on me while I'm cooking/baking; check out the montage of my cute sous-chef below).  Even with my sous-chef on board, I decided to make this strawberry and cheesecake cake.  It's pretty and tasty and satisfies both the cheesecake and cake lover (feel free to try it with different cake and cheesecake combinations.  I just decided that I need to try a white cake and chocolate cheesecake combination some day.)

I broke up my baking days so it was less time intensive.  If you want to do that, start with the cheesecake.  Make it on day one, the cake on day two, and assemble on day two or day three.  I made the cake and assembled it on the same day. 

Day One: Making the Cheesecake

The "proper" way to make a cheesecake to prevent cracking is to bake it in a water bath.  I do a semi-water bath because I don't have the proper size pan.  If you are doing a water bath, make sure to coat the bottom of your cheesecake pan with aluminum foil.  I go overboard, but I figure better safe than sorry.  I do four sheets and alternate the direction it goes each time (i.e., long way left and right and then long way up and down)

.I was baking on a timer because Henry was sitting in his high chair (he's a big boy now!) and I didn't know how long he'd stay happy.  To make things easier in case he wanted me to hold him, I went ahead and measured out all my ingredients beforehand.  That's a good tip anytime you bake, but I don't always follow it.

Mix everything together.  First beating the cream cheese, then adding the sugar, eggs one at a time, and finally the Greek yogurt, heavy cream and vanilla (I measured these out in the same bowl because they are added at the same time).

Pour into your cheesecake pan.

Pour boiling water into your baking dish if using a water bath.  You can see how mine doesn't actually sit in the bath, but I figure the steam helps.  The water was so hot, it fogged my camera lens.

And bake.

My cheesecake came out a little ugly on top.  I don't love our oven and I should have covered the cheesecake with aluminum foil towards the end to prevent the browning.  That said, because it is going in the center of my cake, it doesn't matter.  You can use any cheesecake recipe that you like here.  No matter how I make my cheesecake, I always use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. 

After your cheesecake cools completely, you want to put it in the freezer.  You'll get it out later when assembling your cake.  If you are not making your cheesecake a day ahead, make sure you give it enough time to freeze before assembly.

Day Two: Making the Strawberry Cake

Like I said above, my dad loves strawberry cake.  The problem is most strawberry cake recipes call for Jello mix.  There are a lot of reasons I don't like that.  One, I try not to use box mix or oils in my cakes.  And two, Jello has gelatin in it and, as vegetarians, my husband and I don't eat gelatin.  So, years ago I found a strawberry cake recipe that uses *gasp* STRAWBERRIES!  I may play with it to make it my own some day, but for now, here's the original source.  I stick to this recipe pretty closely, but I'll show you where I stray.

Before we get into the baking, this is one of those recipes that calls for most of the ingredients to be at room temperature.  Go ahead and take them out now.  I hate it when I forget and have to wait.

The recipe calls for 24oz of strawberries.  Now that I have my scale, that was easy, but if you don't, it's not a big deal.  I end up with plenty of leftover puree so just guess and you'll be fine.  I'd say it's around 4 cups.

I always start out listening to her instructions about straining the strawberries, but quickly jump ship and microwave my strawberries (I use frozen for the puree and decorate with fresh strawberries) and then puree them.  I've never had a problem with that route so feel free to take the quick and easy way (come over to the dark side).

Here are the strawberries in my Vitamix, which I LOVE.

And after they are blended.  Don't you just want to eat it.  Good news is you'll have leftovers--you can eat it by the spoon, pour it over some vanilla ice cream, or serve it with your cake.

Mix 3/4 cup of your puree with the milk, egg whites, and  vanilla.

Mix your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of your stand mixer and then add in the butter, mixing until crumbs form and you no longer see large chunks of butter.

Then add in your puree mixture and mix until combined.  I wanted to lick it all right here, but I've been staying away from raw batter since Henry (don't worry I ate PLENTY of the frosting).

Divide it evenly into two pans.  To do this, I always just alternate pouring the batter into each pan until they both look even to the eye.

And bake.  It won't look like strawberry cake when you take it out, but I promise it is strawberry.  The original recipe tells you that you can add red food coloring into the batter before baking if you want a pinker color.  You are welcome to do that, but I never do.  If it tastes like strawberry, I don't need it to look like strawberry.

Day Two: Making the Frosting and Assembling the Cake

This frosting is DELICIOUS!  If you like cream cheese frosting and strawberries then you should love this.  I think I ate at least 1/4 a days worth of calories just "tasting" it.  It's that good.  I even used my extra strawberry pieces (the parts I didn't use for decorating) to dip into the frosting.  Yum!  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

And, yes, this frosting is caloric.  Two packages of cream cheese and a stick of butter...it's worth it.

At first I added 1/4 cup of puree, but after adding in a cup of powerded sugar I decided to pump up the strawberry flavor and added another 1/4 cup.  You can play with the amount.  Also, I've mentioned it before, but I like more cream cheese flavor to my frosting so I go easy on the powdered sugar.  You can add more if you have a different preference.

I didn't mention it earlier, but one of my cakes was a bit of a flop.  The middle of it sunk.  Rather than get upset, I used it as a chance to revamp my plans.  I decided to add a layer of fresh strawberries between the cake and cheesecake layer, adding the thicker strawberries in the sunken in part.

Remember your cheesecake, go get it.  It should come out without too much trouble, but even if it does break, that's okay.  It's the middle layer of the cake so it will be hidden.  The outside of my springform pan came off without trouble.  To get the cheesecake off the bottom, I just ran a knife between the cheesecake and the pan.

Before you stack your cheesecake on the first layer of cake, make sure that your bottom cake piece is on the serving platter.  I forgot this step and ended up having to flip my whole cake.  If you forget, you can always do what I did and place the serving platter on the top of the cake and then flip the cake.  Don't try and lift it from one surface to another because it is heavy and you don't want to risk it breaking.

When lining up my cheesecake and cake, I try to line up one side.  The cheesecake is always too big for my cake (depends on the size of the pans you are baking with).  If you're like me, all you have to do is grab a knife and shave off the extra cheesecake.  And if some of it gets eaten along the way, you're just making sure nothing is wasted.

It doesn't have to line up perfectly, just close enough.  From above you shouldn't see any cheesecake jetting out.  If there is still some unevenness between your layers it's not a problem.  I always fill in any gaps with frosting.

After stacking my cake, I did a quick "crumb coat" with the icing.  This is the messy layer that helps prevent your cake from getting crumbs all over the frosting.  After this quick layer of frosting, I put my cake in the refrigerator for a couple hours, allowing the frosting to harden some.

When you're ready, frost the whole thing.  I felt like I used a lot of frosting and still had some extra (more for eating, yay!).  Remember, you can fill in any gaps with frosting.  I don't worry about making it too smooth, I think it adds character, but do what makes you happy.

I like to decorate it with fresh strawberries.  For the bottom layer around the cake, I cut four edges off of the strawberry leaving a triangle core (this is the part I dipped in the frosting and ate) and then overlayed them around the base.  On the top, I just sliced the strawberrries and made a pattern.  Feel free to get creative here.  This is the most fun part in my opinion.

We haven't cut into the cake yet because our families haven't arrived, but I'll come back and post a picture of the center of the cake once we do slice into it.  In the meantime, here's a throwback to when I first made this cake for my dad on Father's Day a few years ago.

 

UPDATE: The cake was a great success.  Everyone loved it.  Here are the pictures I promised of the inside of the cake.  Comparing the pictures, you can see that the cake was much darker this time.  I blame that on my oven, but it still tasted great.  Also, the frosting looks different because I tweaked my recipe (I think for the better) this time.

Recipes

Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. Mix cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
  2. Mix in sugar and salt.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Mix in Greek yogurt, heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into greased baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes at 325 degrees, until set (option to bake using water bath).
  6. Allow cheesecake to cool completely.

Strawberry Cake

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup milk, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 carton fresh strawberries (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Thaw frozen strawberries and blend to form puree.
  2. Mix together 3/4 cup puree, milk, egg whites, and vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add butter and mix until combined.
  5. Add puree mixture and mix until combined.
  6. Divide the batter evenly into two baking pans and make for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cakes to cool slightly before removing them from pans to cool completely on wire racks.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients: 

  • 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cups strawberry puree
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Mix in vanilla and strawberry puree.
  3. Mix in powdered sugar.
  4. Refrigerate until time of use.

Easy One Pot Pasta and Sourdough Bread

by Lauren Matthies


A long time ago I saw a recipe for one pot pasta.  I was intrigued and decided that I needed to try it.  Well, years later, I finally attempted my own one pot pasta, and it made me realize that I've been missing out.  

This pasta is so easy and tasty; if you haven't already tried something similar, please don't let years go by like I did.

You literally just put it all in one pot.  Cover and cook (stirring occasionally) and you're good to go!  I promise the noodles will cook, don't worry.

Feel free to adjust the spices as you like.  I just toss them in based on how I'm feelings.  You can get a gist for the amounts I used in the pictures and in the recipe below.  It definitely had a kick to it, so if you don't want so much spice, omit or use less of the crushed red pepper.

It was hard to get a picture of it after it cooked because there was so much steam.  I promise it looked prettier in real life.

To get in some more veggies, I also sauteed some spinach.  To do this, I put the spinach in a pan and covered it with a lid to create steam.  Stir occasionally so it doesn't burn and you're set.  It's really easy.  You may want to spray your pan with cooking oil beforehand.  And remember, the spinach will shrink significantly once cooked so start with more spinach than you think you'll need.

 

Then, pour the spinach in the pasta and stir.

Enjoy!  

I also made some sourdough bread to go with our pasta.  This time, I also added some yeast and increased the hydration in an effort to make it less dense.  What resulted was french loaf like bread that both my husband and I enjoyed.

I used this King Arthur's recipe for my inspiration, and I did not realize that when they said "thin baguettes" that they meant normal sized baguettes.  My bread loaves were huge and overflowed the baguette pan resulting in an odd shape.  Even oddly shaped, however, they were delicious.  I froze the two we didn't eat by wrapping them in plastic wrap and aluminum foil then putting them in a garbage bag (my ziplock bags weren't big enough) in the freezer.  I used them later by letting them thaw for a while in their wrapping and then reheating them in the oven at 350 degrees.

Make the dough, let it rise, and punch it down.

The recipe I cited above gives good directions on how to form the baguettes.  Again, like I said above, using three loaves made for loaves not really baguettes.  They're a good size, but don't use a baguette pan like I did unless you break the dough into six baguettes.

If you do...you get this.

I put aluminum foil under then while they baked because otherwise they would be touching the oven rack.

Good thing they don't rise anymore in the oven.

Here's the problem, they were undercooked at spots where they were touching and then overflowing the baguette pan.

So, I flipped it upside down and cooked it in the oven on the aluminum foil for a little longer.

You'll see that the two outer baguettes resulted in a funny shape, but it still tasted good.  Next time I'll try it with six baguettes, and if I prefer the larger loaves, I'll skip the baguette pan.

Recipes

One Pot Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz capellini pasta
  • 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup sauteed spinach
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook (covered) for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add sauteed spinach and stir.
  5. If desired, garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Sourdough Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 cups sourdough starter
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • Olive oil to grease bowl

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine all ingredients and knead with a dough hook for 7 minutes.
  2. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rest for 90 minutes, until doubled in size.
  3. Punch down the dough and divide into 3-6 pieces.
  4. Form dough pieces into baguettes.
  5. Cover and let rest for 1 1/2 hours.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Pear and Chocolate Scones

by Lauren Matthies


Every so often I think about becoming a vegan (not just a vegetarian).  As strange as it sounds, having Henry and breastfeeding him got me thinking about this even more.  The first time I saw him on sonogram was really early, when he was just a little sac.  During the ultrasound, the doctor pointed at Henry and said, "here is the yolk."  Since then I've had trouble separating eggs from babies.  I apologize if you didn't want that image so skip ahead (I promise the next paragraph will be safe) if you don't want to hear the rest of my vegan inspired thoughts.  Also, while breastfeeding and feeling painful engorgement in the early days, I couldn't help but think of cows and wonder if they experience similar pain while being milked.  While I haven't decided to go that route yet, I am trying to limit my use of eggs in my homemade baked goods, substituting other ingredients where possible.  My next step is making homemade almond milk to use in place of cow's milk in my recipes. If you already have a dairy milk substitute and want to use it in this recipe, go ahead.  I'm not sure how a butter substitute would do perform, but if you try it, let me know.

So, all that being said, I decided to shoot for an egg-free version of my favorite scone.  I adore this scone, but usually avoid it because it has always seemed labor intensive to me.  Maybe it's because my definition of labor intensive has changed, but this didn't seem bad at all.  Also, the pears were slightly riper than I normally use so it made cutting them much easier.

Here are my pears.  You can go with any kind of pear.  I usually just use these because they are the easiest pear to find.  I've also don't a mixture of different pears before.  That is really good.  Also, less ripe pears fair better than riper pears in this recipe.

Peal them.

Cut them in half.

Core them.  Being careful not to cut yourself.

And then cut them into squares.  A fairly easy way to do this is to turn the half face down, and cut them length wise (about 1/2 inch wide) and then width wise (again about 1/2 inch wide).

Place them on a pan and put them in the oven for 10 minutes.

At the 10 minute mark, take the tray out and use a spatula to stir them around, flipping them so the bottom of the pears now face up.  You don't have to make sure all of them change directions, but it helps them roast more evenly.

While the pears are roasting, I cut up my butter.  To do this, I cut the butter width wise in about 1/2 inch segments.  Then I cut it in half length wise, and turn it on it's side to cut it again in half length wise.  

The butter wants to stick together, but I do my best to peal the cubes apart, and put them in a bowl in the refrigerator until I'm ready to use them.

When the pears are done, they should feel slightly dry to the touch.  It's okay if you eat a few here.  They're yummy!

Transfer them to a plate and put them in the freezer.  Make sure you spread them out as much as possible because the ones at the bottom won't cool off if their pear friends are covering them.

All they had at the grocery store was this dark chocolate bar.  Usually I prefer a higher quality, really high percentage dark chocolate for these scones.  Unfortunately my good chocolate didn't make it on the trip out to Alabama (tear).  You can also use chocolate chips if you prefer.

This chocolate was really soft so it was easy to break (positive), but I didn't want it to melt too much during the baking process.  To help prevent that, I put the chunks in a bowl and kept them refrigerated until I was ready to use them.  Had I known the chocolate would be so soft, I would have kept the bar in the freezer before opening it.

Now that the pears are cooling and the chocolate and butter are cut, it is time to mix together the dry ingredients.

Next comes crumbling in the butter.  Normally I use my hands for this step, but because I have a bad cut on my left middle finger (darn knives), I tried to use the two fork method.  I gave up on this method rather quickly and stuck with using my right hand to mix in the butter.  To do this, I'll usually press the butter cubes between my fingers in the four mixture.  

I keep doing this until most of the big cubes are gone.

Now, add in your cooled pears and buttermilk.  I used lemon juice and milk as my buttermilk substitute again.  The brown flakes in the milk are because I got a little crazy with the flour.

Mix until just incorporated.  You don't want to overmix here.  If you made your own buttermilk like I did, but realize you need more milk for the batter to come together, don't worry about making more buttermilk (you are welcome to, but), you can just add some more milk.  Mixing with your hands here helps as long as you don't mind getting messy.  Then add your chocolate and mix until the chunks are evenly dispersed.

Most scone recipes will call for you to form your scones into a round and cut them.  You are welcome to do that, but I always feel like it's an unnecessary extra step.  Instead, I just grab some of the batter and free form it.  My first batch I formed into triangles, and my second batch I made circular scones.  You can use your creativity here to make whatever shape you like.

I'll talk more about it below, but next time I'm going to experiment with making them a little thinner.

Lesson learned: clean the pear juice off your baking sheet before baking again unless you want a mess!

Don't they look delicious, though!

I switched to parchment paper this time because I didn't want even more burnt pear juice.

I think these scones are so pretty!

Don't worry if they break.  I always just use that as an excuse to eat the smaller of the broken half and any of the rogue pear chunks.

The consistency of these scones was a little more cake-like and fluffier than my normal scones.  They also seemed a little less sweet.  Part of what I am missing is the bite of the chocolate.  While I tried to harden the chocolate a little bit by putting them in the refrigerator before baking, I think Hershey's chocolate is just soften in general.  In the future, I'd stick with another chocolate so my chunks are actually chunks and not just slightly melted chocolate.  Also, next time I will make more scones by making them thinner.  I think that will give them a little more crunch and less density to them.  To sweeten them and also give a little more crunch, I might also experiment with topping them with some coarse sugar before baking.  All that said, they are still delicious and I will stick with these egg-free ones in the future.

I also always freeze my scones once cooled.  I'll leave a couple out because I usually have to eat a few on the day I baked them, but for the remainder, I either wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a freezer bag or just place them all in a freezer bag unwrapped (if I'm feeling lazy or short on time).  I prefer to eat my scones heated anyways so freezing them works well for me.  This way, they last longer, and I just pop one in the microwave, heat it for approximately 30 seconds, and I am good to go.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears, not too ripe, peeled and cored
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2-1 cup dark chocolate chunks

Instructions:

  1. Cut pears into approximately 1/2-1 inch wide cubes
  2. Place pear chunks on a lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20 minutes, tossing them halfway through.  
  3. Place pears on a plate and set in freezer.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Crumble in butter to create course crumbs, using a pastry blender, food processor, two forks, or your hands.
  6. Mix in the pear chunks and buttermilk until just combined.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
  8. Shape dough into scones (shape of choice) approximately 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick.
  9. Bake on lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool (or eat)

Sourdough Bruchetta and Pizza

by Lauren Matthies


Remember when I said I can be obsessive?  Okay, I promise I won't say it again.  At least not in my next post.  Well, my husband said he feels like we are in a famine and all there is left in the world is sourdough.  Okay, I get it.  Enough with the sourdough.  I just really hate to waste anymore of my discard and I am very passionate about learning all there is to learn about sourdough (we'll call it that).

For dinner, I decided to make use of my leftover sourdough bread for bruchetta and experimented with making a sourdough pizza crust.  I liked it, but my husband much prefers my normal pizza dough.  He described it as being very dense and filling.  I think it was a little less flavorful than my normal dough, but I enjoyed it.  It was also less labor intensive and easier to manage time wise.

First I'll show how I made the bruchetta, and then we'll move on to the pizza.

The bruchetta was really easy.  All I did was slice my bread (and eat some of it along the way), chop my tomatoes and mix the ingredients, toast the bread, top, and eat.

I didn't worry about making them too uniform.  If you want them more consistent, use a baguette to make small rounds, or cut them into small squares if you are working with a loaf like this.

My ingredients (Ignore the background food.  I like to let you see that I am cooking in a real life kitchen.  Nothing fancy.  If I can do it, you can do it).

I put suggested amounts in the recipe below, however I didn't actually measure anything.  I just put it together and mixed it up.  Trust your instincts.

I brushed them with olive oil and then turned them face down (this is before turning them).

Then, I toasted them in the oven on the top rack for about 6 minutes.

Flip them back up (olive oil facing up) and top them.

Enjoy!

Now for the pizza.

Here's my dough after mixing and kneeding, ready to rise:

Let your dough take a little nap.

Post nap, time to stretch it out.

I stretched it ever so slightly before covering it and letting it rest for 15 minutes.

Then I stretched it almost all the way to the edge.

I covered it again and let it rest a couple minutes before bringing it all the way to the edge.  I kept the middle of my pizza thinner than the edges so I had a nice crust.

Last time covering.  Basically I made the bruchetta during this rise and then baked the pizza after the bruchetta was done.  It was perfect timing for a nice appetizer.

Here is the crust after baking it for 8 minutes.

Topped and ready to go back in the oven.

Melted and ready to eat!

 

Recipes

Bruchetta

Ingredients:

  • Sourdough loaf, baguette, or similar artisan bread
  • 2-4 tomatoes
  • 1-2 teaspoons garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons basil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste, optional
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Instructions:

  1. Dice your tomatoes and combine with garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar and about 3/4 of the olive oil.  Stir together and let sit.
  2. Slice your bread into individually sized slices approximately 1/4 of an inch thick.
  3. Brush the remaining olive oil on one side of each bread slice and place them olive oil side down on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake on the top rack of your oven at 450 degrees for about 5-7 minutes, until bread is toasted.
  5. Flip bread slices over and top with tomato mixture, olive oil side up.
  6. If desired, garnish with salt, pepper, parmesan, and/or basil leaves.

Pizza (adapted from King Arthur recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of "discard" sourdough starter straight from the refrigerator
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Toppings of choice

Instructions:

  1. Combine starter, water, flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer.
  2. Using the dough hook, mix together and knead until dough is mostly smooth.
  3. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let sit until doubled in size.
  4. Place the dough onto a greased pizza pan and slightly flatten.  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.
  5. Begin pressing the dough towards the ends of the pizza pan. If it starts to resist, cover and let rest some more.  Repeating this process until the pizza dough covers the bottom of your pan (with a lip at the end for your pizza crust).
  6. Cover and let rise, until ready to bake.
  7. Bake dough (without toppings) at 450 degrees for 8 minutes.
  8. Remove and top with pizza sauce, cheese, and other desired toppings.
  9. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted.

Whole Wheat Sourdough English Muffins

by Lauren Matthies


I said I can be obsessive, right?  Well, even though Henry and I are definitely in the throws of a (his first) cold, we had to keep playing with our sourdough starter, so this morning was English muffin day.

Like the pancakes, these require a night before start too.  Mix together your starter, milk, and whole wheat flour.  I decided that after 3 weeks, my starter is ready for storage in the refrigerator.  It has grown strong enough and I can't keep up with the discard without throwing it away.  So, I took my discard from this evening's feeding and used it for the muffins and then fed my starter and put it the the refrigerator.

After mixing all my ingredients, I noticed that the dough was a little dry and not coming together all the way.  I decided to add an extra 1/3 a cup of milk and once I mixed it together it was very moist (see below).  Depending upon the amount of hydration in your starter you may need more or less milk.  I started with 2 cups and then ended up with 2 1/3 cups.  If you add the milk slowly, just add enough to get a consistency similar to this:

I used organic nonfat milk, but I would think you could use any type of milk, even nondairy.  If you try it, let me know how it turns out.  

Cover and leave out overnight (at room temperature).

The next morning, stir in the honey, salt, and baking soda.  I mixed it just a little bit with a spoon and then went to my hands. I wanted to kneed it a little bit anyways, and mixing while kneeding with my hands was easier.  It was still very moist.

From here, take your dough and flatten it out until it is about 3/4 of an inch thick.  I used my hands for this and only flattened a bit at a time.  I would flatten, cut out some muffins, combine the dough, flatten again, cut out some more, and repeat until all the dough was used.  I ended up having enough extra for 1 to 2 more muffins, but just tossed it because I didn't have space or time.  I ended up with 24 muffins total.  You can always half the recipe if you want less.  I made more so that I could freeze them (I'll talk about storage a little later).

To cut my muffins, I used the top of a drinking class.  Feel free to use a glass, a cookie cutter, or a biscuit cutter.

After cutting all your muffins put them on a baking sheet lined with cornmeal, cover, and let them rise for 45 minutes to an hour.  My second batch rose a little longer because I was making my first.  They ended up slightly thicker.  I am not sure if that was due to the longer rise or the fact that I cooked them at a slightly lower temperature on the griddle (I think the latter because they looked the same post-rise, pre-griddle).

To bake them, spray your griddle and heat it to a medium high temperature.  My first batch I baked at about 350 degrees.  My second one I started around 300 and then turned it up after a while.

I cooked them for between 3-5 minutes before flipping the first time, but went back and forth a couple times for a total of about 6-10 minutes on each side.  My main concern was making sure the inside was cooked.  It definitely looked softer then the tops and bottoms, but that's what you want.  To test, I used my finger nail to "knock" on each side of the muffin until I had a nice tap and hollow sound.  I also cut one open when  I thought they were done to check.

Here's some more pictures of the cooking process.  You may be able to see that my second batch is slightly thicker.

I ate two right off the bat while they were still warm.  I also plan to make little almond butter and jelly sandwiches with them and try mini English muffin pizzas.  

I read that English muffins are supposed to be cut open with a fork rather than a knife, so I did that.  I cut each one, wrapped them individually in aluminum foil, and then put them in a freezer storage bag.  English muffins are known for freezing well, so I am keeping them there (with a couple left at room temperature).

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup starter
  • 2- 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Cornmeal for dusting

Instructions:

  1. The night before, mix your starter, milk, and flour.  Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight.
  2. The next morning, mix in the honey, salt, and baking soda and kneed until a dough forms.
  3. Dust two baking pans with cornmeal.
  4. Spread out the dough into a 3/4 inch thick sheet and cut dough into 24-26 round biscuit shapes.
  5. Place your biscuit rounds onto the cornmeal dusted baking sheets, cover, and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. Heat your greased griddle to a medium high temperature.
  7. Place English muffins onto griddle and cook until browned on both sides and cooked in middle (approximately 7 minutes on each side)
  8. Cut muffins in half with a fork, and either store or serve.

 


Vegan Sourdough Pancakes

by Lauren Matthies


If you read my last post, you know I just made my first successful bread loaf using only sourdough starter.  If you know anything about me, I can be a little obsessive.  Once I get something in my head, I can fixate a bit.  That's been me with sourdough.  I'm trying to learn all I can and, if it weren't for Henry, I'd probably have enough baked goods to feed the Alabama homeless population.

Today (technically last night because the process starts the night before), we decided to make vegan sourdough pancakes for breakfast.  I know that may not sound very good, but trust me, they are (even my picky husband liked them), and they're pretty healthy too.

Like I said, you'll start the night before.  I wasn't precise here and it still turned out fine.  I had a small glass cup almost full of starter (this week I have been saving my discard in the refrigerator).  I took it out, poured it into a bowl, added some flour and water, and mixed it.  Then I covered it in plastic wrap, like I do my starter, and let it sit out overnight.  The next morning it looked like this (on the left).  The bowl on the right is an example of what it looked like the night before before feeding.

First, I made my vegan "egg."  To do this, I combined 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water.  You can use white chia seeds to disguise them and you can grind them up too, but I didn't care if they showed and all I had were black chia seeds.  They end up looking like poppyseed pancakes.

While the "egg" was resting, I started on the pancake mix.  For this, I combined the starter from the night before (it happened to be 2 cups exactly), 2 tablespoons of sugar, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.  By this point, the egg was ready (it should look congealed like an egg white) so I added the "egg" and mixed it all together.  If you'd rather use a real egg, you can do that too.

Next, I mixed 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of warm water.  This gets folded in at the last minute, so I got my griddle set up and then gently folded this mixture into my batter.

I waited a couple of minutes for the baking soda to start working its magic and then started putting the pancakes on the griddle.  I used a 1/4 cup measuring cup to give me consistently sized pancakes.

As you'll see I flipped my first three pancakes a little early (hence the mess).  Don't worry if you do this, they'll still taste just fine.  You can always flip them back and forth a few times.  

Here is how you know when they are actually ready to flip.  You should see bubbles in your pancakes.  When you do, flip them and the other side will be a nice golden brown.

Cook until both sides are nicely cooked and you are good to go!  

You can store them in aluminum foil in the fridge, or place wax paper between each one, wrap them in aluminum foil, and place them in a freezer safe bag for longer storage.  Or, you can eat them all!  

My husband likes to put peanut butter and syrup on his waffles, I went with some fresh blueberries and maple syrup.  Enjoy!

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups sourdough starter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon warm water

Instructions:

  1. The night before, feed your starter.
  2. The next morning make your vegan "egg" by mixing 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water (if you want vegan pancakes).
  3. Combine 2 cups of starter, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and your vegan "egg."  Mix well and set aside.
  4. Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of warm water.
  5. When griddle is ready, gently fold the baking soda mixture into the rest of the batter.
  6. Let sit for 1-2 minutes and then scoop batter onto griddle. 
  7. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

 

 


Wild Yeast Wheat Sourdough Bread

by Lauren Matthies


I've been doing research on the benefits of sourdough bread and breadmaking with wild yeast versus commercial yeast.  I could talk about it here, but know you can get informed from much more knowledgeable sources than me. Just google "wild yeast," "sourdough starter," "health benefits of sourdough bread," or something along those lines.  The (very boiled down) gist is that using wild yeast helps maintain nutrients that help aid digestion, thereby minimizing problems caused by gluten sensitivity and increasing the nutritional benefit of grains.

For the past few weeks I've been working on establishing my starter.  I had no idea what I was doing at first, but finally got a successful starter going.  I'm still learning the intricacies of sourdough and have a lot to learn, but today I DID IT!  My first successful sourdough bread that I want to devour.

I won't go into the details of creating and maintaining my sourdough starter here (I may write another post about it), but here is how I made the first sourdough bread that I actually wrote home about!

I don't have pictures of my first few steps because I was on the clock with Henry's patience, but I promise I have pictures below.

First, I took my sourdough starter and mixed it with a wooden spoon into 2 cups of water in the bowl of my standing mixer.  I stirred it pretty vigorously until it was all combined.  (I took a couple minutes to feed my starter before continuing.  Because I had a little less starter remaining than my normal 4 oz, I just fed it with slightly less flour and water.  By the next feed in the morning, I was back to my regular 4 oz starter-4 oz flour-4 oz water feed).

Once my starter was fed, I mixed in 3 cups of bread flour with the same wooden spoon.  Again, mixing until well combined.  Then one more cup of water and the salt (I've read different things about letting your dough sit for a while before adding the salt, but it didn't seem to affect mine.  Maybe next time I will try waiting and see if there is a different result).  Lastly, I added 3 cups of whole wheat flour and had my husband stir it while I held Henry (it was getting tough to mix by hand at this point.  Next time I may try using my mixer, but I stuck with the wooden spoon throughout).  Here's what it looked like at this point:

Then I placed a kitchen towel over the bowl and left it to rise.  I let it rise for three and a half hours like this (from 6:15pm to 9:45pm), and then I covered the bowl in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator to continue rising overnight.

Henry and I were up early (we're both a little under the weather and we were excited to check on our bread).  So, at 6am we took the bowl out of the refrigerator, placed it in a greased bowl for it's second rise.

We left it on the counter with a kitchen towel covering it for approximately 30 minutes (until 6:35am) and then put it in the refrigerator to continue rising while we napped.  This time, I kept the towel on it instead of plastic wrap.

At 8:05am we took it out of the refrigerator and placed it (with the towel still on it) on the oven to continue rising while the oven and pot (lid on) preheated to 450 degrees.

Thirty minutes later (8:35am), we sprinkled some cornmeal on the bottom of our heated pot, put the dough in the pot, covered it with the lid, and baked for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, I removed the lid and baked the bread for 15 more minutes.

After removing the bread from the oven, I placed the lid back on the pot and let it sit until just before 10am.  At this point, the lid had condensation on it.  I removed the lid and the bread and set it on a wire rack to cool.  The reason I did this, is because I was looking for a slightly softer crust.  If you want it crunchy and crispy, I would keep the lid off your bread.

I let the bread sit on the cooling rack for a few hours and then cut and tasted it around 3pm.  After tasting it, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to try and keep it as fresh as possible.  

I tried it with some homemade (not by me) jam, but prefer it plain (that's how good it was).

Sourdough bread is considered an art.  It is a challenging process and it took me a few attempts.  Just because I had success this time, doesn't mean I will next time (hopefully I will because this bread is good!).  If you struggle, don't beat yourself up.  Try to think of it as a learning process, and have faith that one day you will make that loaf of bread that you will have to call or write home about.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 3 cups room temperature water
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal for dusting pot

Instructions:

  1. Pour 2 cups of water into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir 1 cup of starter into the water.
  3. Mix in 3 cups of bread flour.
  4. Mix in 1 cup of water and 2 teaspoons salt.
  5. Mix in 3 cups of whole wheat flour.
  6. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for 3.5 hours.
  7. Remove towel, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight.
  8. Remove from refrigerator and place dough in a greased bowl.
  9. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes and then return to refrigerator.
  10. Let rise for an hour and a half.
  11. Remove bowl, still covered, and place on oven.
  12. Place covered pot or dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
  13. After 30 minutes of preheating, sprinkle enough cornmeal to dust the bottom of your pot.
  14. Place the dough in the pot, recover with lid, and bake for 20 minutes.
  15. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  16. Remove from oven and let rest in pot until slightly cooled (with lid on for a slightly softer crust or off for a crisper crust).
  17. Remove bread and place on wire rack to continue cooling.

Meal Plan Week Four

by Lauren Matthies


From here on out, I will write separate posts for new meals that I feel are share worthy.  My husband and I are definitely creatures of habit and eat the same meals over and over.  When we go out to eat, we eat at the same few places, and we usually order the same thing (I am more likely to try something new than my husband, but both of us usually stick within our comfort zone.  The other night I tried something new and regretted it.)  Because of that, many of my meals from here on out will be repeats or just vary slightly.

Monday

Meal: Burritos and Queso

Recipes:

  • For the queso...
    • Ingredients:
      • 6 ounces American White Cheese (at the deli counter)
      • 2 ounces Monterrey Jack Cheese
      • 1 pint Heavy Cream
      • 1-2 teaspoons garlic
      • Desired mix-ins (e.g., red pepper flakes, chili powder, pico, etc.)
    • Instructions:
      1. In a pot over medium heat, begin to heat the heavy cream.
      2. Add cheese and let melt, while continuing to stir.
      3. Add garlic and desired mix-ins.
      4. Serve warm.
  • For the burritos...
    • Ingredients:
      • Large burrito sized tortillas
      • Rice, cooked
      • Pinto beans, cooked and warmed
      • Lettuce, chopped
      • Cheddar cheese, shredded
      • Any other desired toppings
    • Instructions:
    1. Heat tortilla in microwave by wrapping it in a damp paper towel and cooking for 30 seconds
    2. Combine all ingredients in tortilla.
    3. Wrap and eat.

 Photos:

Notes: I've made this queso in the past and it was a hit, but this time it was just okay.  I enjoyed it in the burritos, but it wasn't as good with the chips plain.  Part of it was I was rushed and didn't let the cheese melt all the way, and the other part was that I didn't have chili powder.  That being said, it turned out fine, but nothing to write home about.

I didn't photograph my burritos because I was hungry and ready to eat.  My burritos didn't have rice like my husband's, and instead, had beans, cheese, lettuce, avocado, and queso.  If I hadn't been in such a rush to eat, I would have added some diced tomatoes as well.  You can add whatever you like in your burritos, e.g., hot sauce, pico, guacamole, corn, veggies, meat, tofu, etc.)

 Verdict: I'd definitely make the burritos again, but would save the effort of making the queso for a larger crowd.

Tuesday

Meal: Mimic "Boston Market" Meal

Recipes:

  • For the cornbread...
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 cup milk
      • 1/4 cup butter, melted
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
      • 1 cup flour
      • 1/3 cup sugar
      • 1 tablespoon baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • Instructions:
    1. Whisk together milk, butter, and eggs
    2. Stir in cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt until just moistened.
    3. Pour into greased square pan.
    4. Make 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees, until toothpick comes out clean.
  • For the mac & cheese...
    • Ingredients:
      • Box of spiral noodles
      • 2/3 cup milk
      • 1 pound Velveeta cheese, cubed
      • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
      • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric
    • Instructions:
      1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
      2. Place milk, Velveeta cheese, dry mustard, and tumeric in a bowl over (but not touching) a pot of simmering water.
      3. Whisk until melted.
      4. Pour warm cheese mixture over pasta and stir.

Photos:

Notes: My husband and I used to drive about 30 minutes to get to Boston Market back when we lived in California and it's another place we miss out here.  As vegetarians, we didn't get the typical Boston Market meal, however we got a bunch of sides, with the mac & cheese being our main focus.

I decided to try using veggie noodles for this dish and they were okay, but not great.  I'm not sure if it was a combination of the sauce and the noodles or if I just didn't like the noodles.  Next time I would stick with a whole wheat if I was trying to be healthier.

I don't like using super processed foods too often (depends upon what it is, but Velveeta kind of freaks me out for some reason).  With that in mind, I put aside my hesitations and used it because it was the only way I thought I might get a Boston Market style mac & cheese.  To me it wasn't worth it.  Again, it could have been the noodles that gave it an off flavor to me, but it didn't do it for me.  

I enjoyed the cornbread, and, while I may want to try a different recipe in the future, I would also be fine with making this one again.  It was very simple and, although I've never made cornbread before, think there's no reason to use a box mix when this from scratch recipe is just as simple.

Verdict: I was not impressed with the mac & cheese, but would likely make the cornbread again.

Wednesday

Meal: Veggie Burgers and Fries

Recipes:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 can black beans
    • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
    • 2 baby bell peppers, chopped
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1 teaspoon garlic
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
    • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
    • 1 teaspoon ground tumeric
    • Cornbread crumbs to form desired consistency
    • Burger toppings and buns
  • Instructions:
  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Drain black beans and mash them with a fork until they form a paste.
  3. Mix together all ingredients.
  4. Divide into patties.
  5. Place patty onto a small frying pan and cook over medium-high heat, heating for approximately 3-5 minutes on each side, adding cheese toward the end if desired.

Photos:

Notes: I decided to add quinoa to my veggie burgers this time, and to make use of my leftover cornbread from the night before.  These veggie burgers definitely had much more kick than the ones I made the other week.  My husband noted that they still had a slightly crumbly consistency (rather than the compact version you will get at restaurants), but I'm trying to avoid using egg in my burgers (I think adding egg would bind them better if you want to try it).  I actually ate the leftover mix right out of the tupperware container for lunch the next day.

As you can see in the picture, to help the cheese melt a little faster, I placed a lid over the burger once I placed the cheese slice on top.  This is optional.

This time I just bought the burger buns because it was less time consuming.

 Verdict: I will continue to play with my veggie burgers, but would be content making these ones again.

Thursday

Meals: Tortellini Marinara and Salad

Recipes:

  • For the tortellini...
    • Ingredients:
      • Package of tortellini
      • Jar of tomato basil pasta sauce (or sauce of choice)
    • Instructions:
    1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
    2. Combine pasta and sauce.
  • For the salad...
    • Ingredients:
      • Lettuce, chopped
      • Mandrin oranges
      • Canned pineapple chunks
      • Fresh blueberries
      • Dressing of choice
      • Quinoa, optional
    • Instructions:
    1. Combine ingredients and toss.

Photos:

Notes: Again, I used apple cider vinegar on my salad and it was delicious.  I also added some quinoa from the night before on my salad.  The next day for lunch, I used the remainder of the leftover quinoa, combined it with the leftover salad and some extra fruit, mixed it with more apple cider vinegar, and had a delicious and easy lunch. 

I was hoping to make sourdough bread for this meal, but my starter is having trouble getting off the ground.  Hopefully I have some success with it soon so that I can start baking with it.

Verdict: Definitely a repeat meal.

 

 


Slightly Lemon Poppyseed Bread

by Lauren Matthies


My husband loves lemon poppyseed bread.  Well, he loves his grandmom's lemon poppyseed bread.  I think this is his most nostalgic dish.  I never had the chance to meet his grandmom, but I feel like I know her from the stories he tells.  One of the things I will always equate with her is lemon poppyseed bread.

For Valentine's Day years ago I surprised my husband with lemon poppyseed bread following her recipe.  While I know her's is the one he loves, I also wanted to make it with out the jello box and without the oil.

What resulted from my attempt is what I am calling "Slightly Lemon Poppyseed Bread" because it has a very subtle lemon flavor.  Next time I will try to amp up the lemon flavor with more lemon juice and some lemon zest.  If, however, you don't want too much tart or lemon flavor, then this is the recipe for you.

If you don't have buttermilk on hand, don't worry.  I never get buttermilk anymore.  I always just substitute milk combined with vinegar or milk combined with lemon juice.  It works just as well.  Since I was making lemon poppyseed bread, I went with lemon juice.  To do this, just combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar/lemon juice (for this recipe, half a cup milk and half a tablespoon vinegar/lemon juice) and let it sit for 5 minutes.

After you let it sit, you should notice a slight film on top.  That is how you know you are good to go.

Whisk.

Whisk some more.

Whisk one more time.

And pour.  It's that easy!

I noticed my bread was browning a little to quickly on the top, so I grabbed my trusty aluminum foil and continued baking with it on top.

Toothpick came out good so my bread is ready!

And a shot of the inside for you.

Again, this recipe will give you a subtle lemon flavor.  Feel free to try adding more lemon juice.  The recipe isn't too moist as is so I think extra lemon juice would enhance it on that level too (if you want your bread to be a little more cake like in consistency).  If you do try it, please let me know how it turns out.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Instructions:

  1. Whisk sugar, buttermilk, lemon juice, and eggs.
  2. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Whisk in olive oil and poppy seeds.
  4. Pour batter into greased loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

by Lauren Matthies


Do you ever get in over your head?  You have this sudden idea that you don't think all the way through and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose.  That was me with these cinnamon rolls.  At 9pm I decided that we needed cinnamon rolls the next day.  I started them and at 9:15pm I realized that I was exhausted and had probably overextended myself.  Sure enough, it ended with a crying baby and me running around like a chicken with my head cut off (I just realized how horrible that phrase is...I'll have to come up with another one that's less violent).  At least we got delicious cinnamon rolls out of it.

The good thing about these cinnamon rolls is that you can make them ahead.  If you want fresh, warm, homemade cinnamon rolls in the morning, you can plan ahead the night before and do most of the work, leaving you with a little rise, bake, and assemble time the next day.

Delicious cinnamon rolls ahead...

I only needed 4 1/2 cups of flour, but you may need a little more.  Just add it slowly until the dough is mostly smooth and not sticky.

Henry was asleep during the rise of course, and woke up right when the dough was ready to be worked.  You can see how quickly it rises.  If you want to speed the rise, turn your oven on, and set the bowl on top of the oven.

Here's how I grease my bowl.  Just pour olive oil on a paper towel and wipe it in the bowl.

I just rolled the dough out with my hands.  Don't worry if it isn't smooth.

I also used my hands for the butter.  It's a little messy, but if your butter is super softened (I leave mine out during the rise so by now it is really ready to go) it's really easy to spread.  Also, Henry was yelling for mommy at this point so I was trying to move as quickly as possible.

I didn't mix my sugar and cinnamon ahead of time, but if you want it to be perfectly even, go for it!  Also, feel free to use more butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  I don't like too gooey of a middle.  My favorite part of cinnamon rolls are the dough and frosting.  If you're a person who lives for the middle of the cinnamon roll, add some more.

Roll it up.  Hopefully you have two hands to work with, but if you've got a needy baby in your arms, you can still do it!

Cut it up!  You can make smaller rolls by making them a little more narrow.  I made nine.  I like them a little bigger.

In the fridge to nap overnight.  Sleep tight cinnamon rolls.

In the morning...sitting at room temperature before heading into the oven.

Making the frosting.  It can take quite a while for all the lumps to disappear, but keep mixing.  Here's another place you can make your rolls a little sweeter.  I prefer more of a cream cheese flavor.  If you want more sweetness, add more sugar (you may need more milk to keep it runny enough).

While my cinnamon rolls were baking, I noticed that the tops were getting brown faster than the rest of the rolls were cooking.  I took some aluminum foil and set it on top.  This will help prevent the tops from burning.

Out of the oven and ready for the frosting!  You can even eat them like this if you like.  I usually tear off a tiny bit to make sure they are cooked throughout.  Everyone's oven varies a little bit so just watch them while they bake (while you drool).

I just pour my frosting on top and then spread it out with a spatula.  It's a lot of frosting, but I like it oozing everywhere.

Enjoy your yummy treats!

Recipe

For Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons yeast
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (more if dough is wet)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Combine 1 cup warm milk and 1/2 cup sugar in bowl of a standing mixer.
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top and stir lightly.
  3. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Add 1/3 cup butter, 2 eggs, and 1 teaspoon salt and stir.
  5. Add flour slowly, stirring with paddle attachment.
  6. After adding the fourth cup of flour, switch to the dough hook.
  7. Knead dough at a medium low speed while continuing to add flour 1/2 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
  8. Roll dough into a ball and place in a greased glass bowl.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour and a half.
  10. Roll dough into a rectangle of about 16 x 20 inches
  11. Spread 3 tablespoons softened butter onto dough.
  12. Add 1 cup brown sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon on top of butter (mixing them ahead of time is optional)
  13. Roll from the long edge and cut  into 9-12 equally sized rolls.
  14. Place rolls side to side in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  15. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight (if making the day of, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes).
  16. The next morning, remove rolls from the refrigerator and let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  17. Place baking sheet and rolls into oven and set oven to 400 degrees (allowing them to start baking while the oven is preheating).
  18. Bake for 20-40 minutes until rolls are mostly golden brown to brown and dough is cooked through.
  19. While rolls are baking, make the frosting.

For Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Spread over cinnamon rolls immediately after removing from oven.