Friday, December 30, 2011

Quick, Easy Cinnamon Rolls

I love baking! And since it's the Holiday season, I decided to take a break until Jan 2nd on watching what I I have been somewhat overindulgent the last few weeks. I was craving cinnamon rolls the other day, but looking at recipes online I found out that most doughs for cinnamon rolls take a long time (the dough has to rise.) I don't know about you, but waking up at 4am to make dough for cinnamon rolls doesn't sound very fun to me. I found variations of quick dough cinnamon roll recipes online and came up with this one by combining a couple of them. This recipe is faster than the original long rising cinnamon rolls and it tastes just as good! It would be a nice little treat for your family on New Year's morning! It's quick, easy, and they will think you got up extra early to slave over the oven!

Quick, Easy Cinnamon Rolls

For the Cinnamon Rolls you will need:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of orange zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

For the glaze you will need:
1/4 cup salted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 -2 tablespoon milk

1. Melt the unsalted butter in microwave. (Just the 10 tablespoons for the rolls, leave the 1/4 cup for the glaze.)

2. Heat oven 425 degrees and make sure rack is in the middle. Pour 3 tablespoons of melted butter into an 8-inch glass baking pan. Make sure butter covers the bottom. (It will help the rolls not stick to the pan.)

3. In large bowl combine buttermilk, sugar, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, and orange zest. Mix until smooth.

4. In a sifter combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Sift into buttermilk mixture.

5. Stir the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture till just combined.

6. Pour dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. (I like to do standing crunches while kneading the dough.)

7. Roll out dough to make a rectangle, until it is about 1/2 in thick. You should end up with a rectangle 12"x9" in size.

8. In small bowl combine both sugars, cinnamon, and cloves until mixed together.

9. Brush the rolled out dough with 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Leave room around the edges so the seams can be pressed together. About a 1/2" border.

10. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar mixture over the buttered dough and begin the rolling process. Roll the dough up in a tight roll, starting with the long side. Pinch the seam together so your rolls will not fall apart.

11. Using a dough cutter (or as my mom uses plain floss) cut out each of your rolls. I cut mine to be about 1 1/2" thick. Keep the roll together the best you can. (I had to use my hands to form each of them a little.) Place each roll in the buttered pan starting with the middle and working out, it will look prettier.

12. Once all the rolls are in the pan, brush remaining melted butter on top of the rolls.

13. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

14. Cool buns in pan for 10 minutes. And make the glaze.

15. For the glaze, melt butter in sauce pan over low heat; remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk 1 tbsp at a time until it has the consistency of syrup.

16. Drizzle over cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Very Busy Christmas!


I don't know if you have noticed, but our blog has been insanely quiet the month of December. It has been one crazy month for all of us. So I wanted to apologize for the lack of blogging.

Christi finished up her hardest semester of graduate school.

In addition to working full time, she was non-stop writing report and studying for tests. She only lives 15 minutes from me and I have barely seen her this month.

Luci is always busy, running her daycare and cutting hair at night.

However, in addition to her normal duties, she has boys that are 5 and 7, so they are at that perfect age for Christmas programs, Christmas projects, Christmas parties and she has been very busy running from one to another.

And as for me, I have been dealing with the moving process. We finally moved out all of our stuff from the home we were selling in Nebraska. The only way I can describe it is like trying to fit into a dress that is 3 sizes too small. We are literally bursting at the seams because this new house is so much smaller than the last one and somehow we have accumulated a ton of junk!

In addition to the moving, I am trying to make more a conscious effort to unplug.

It's the month for Christmas after all, and I didn't want to miss any moments with my little guy because I was "surfing pinterest" or (no offense) "writing a blog". We have spent my unpluged time jumping on the couch, eating ice cream, playing in the snow (what little we have), and making lots and LOTS of cookies. (Which explains my gaining 5 pounds!)

So again, I apologize for the lack of blogs. This doesn't mean I have cut down on my projects, I have finished several this month (including the wine rack!) but I just haven't made time to write them up. I will, someday soon. As for now, I am wishing you all a Happy New Year and hoping some of you choose to unplug this Holiday season too!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Cookie Party

It's that time of year, CHRISTMAS COOKIES! I know many of us have been really busy (notice the lack of blogs for the last 2 weeks!) but I LOVE making Christmas cookies and couldn't wait to get together with a friend of mine and fellow blogger, Amelia, to make a bunch of cookies.
(Read her blog here.)

She came over to my house one morning around 10am and we began the baking process. This is what the counters looked like littered with our baking arsenal.
She has two kiddos and I had my one, but really none of them are old enough to really enjoy the baking process. So the two older ones played together in the living room while watching Yo Gabba, Gabba!
And Amelia found a way to multi-task baking and hanging out with her little one.
We ended up making six different kinds of cookies! Amelia made some wonderful Oreo Truffles. Which, I unfortunately forgot to take a picture of, but she also made these super yummy Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies, which are a new fav of mine!
And no Christmas Cookie party would be complete without Holiday Sugar Cookies. This recipe is really unique in that it uses brown sugar instead of white.
I chose to do freezer cookies, so we could just pull them out and slice them up when needed. I found this recipe for these Colorful Swirl Cookies on Pinterest.
Then of course, there are my Cranberry Pinwheels which I LOVE!
And lastly some Chewy Chocolate Cookies that I rolled in crushed candy cane.
It was really fun to bake all day...and when I say all day, it was ALL day! In total, we baked for 6 hours! I would be lying if I didn't tell you that we did stop and took a break around 2pm to enjoy a beer. It's not a regular occurance, but it was fun to do!We had a really great time and enjoyed eating all the cookies we made.
Do you and your family have any regular Christmas cookie favorites? I would love to have you share the recipes! I love trying new cookies and adding more cookies each year to our cookie list!
Happy baking!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cranberry Pinwheels

I am one of those people who love cranberries. I love cranberry juice, dried cranberries, and I LOVE cranberry sauce. When I was at Sam's Club the other day they had this HUGE bag of cranberries that I couldn't resist in buying. My plan was to use them to make cranberry sauce for the family Thanksgiving dinner...however I realized once I got it home I had way too many cranberries and needed a way to use them. I decided to go with cookies. I found this recipe on Tammy's Recipes, and this recipe for sure will become a yearly Holiday cookie for several reasons! For one, the cookies are so good. They are not too sweet, a little tart, and just a good balance to the normal rich cookie. Second, I can make these cookies weeks in advance and just freeze them. They cook up fast so all I have to do is take out a roll and slice up some cookies. So easy! I hope you enjoy!

To start, you will need the following ingredients:
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom, optional

Cranberry Filling Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon orange zest, optional

1. Soften you butter.
2. Cream together sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Add in your cardamom.
4. Mix together well.
5. In a sifter, place you flour and salt and sift into the bowl. Stir until a thick dough is formed. I should say this dough is pretty stiff, so I had to kneed it by hand. (Don't worry I washed my hands.)
6. Divide your dough in half and form balls. (I doubled my recipe so I had four balls of dough, instead of two.) Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.
7. Measure out your cranberries.
8. Mix 1/4 cup of water with the cornstarch and set aside.
9. In a sauce pan, place cranberries, sugar, and orange zest and heat on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Once most of the cranberries are popped, add water & cornstarch mixture and continue heating and stirring until mixture is thick and chunky. Let cool completely.
10. On a baker's mat (I highly recommend these!) sprinkle confectioner's sugar and roll out one ball of the dough into a 12x7-inch rectangle. (If you do not chill your dough beforehand this step becomes very hard.)
11. Spread half of the cranberry mixture on each rectangle, to within 1 inch of the edges.
12. Start rolling your pinwheels. (The baker's mat helps with this part because the dough doesn't stick to it.)
13. Once all rolled up, wrap the dough in foil and place in freezer for up to 4 months.
14. If you are like me, you want cookies right away, so once the dough has pretty much frozen (4 hours or so) take it out and begin cutting. Cut the cookies to be about 1/3 inch thick. I tried to make these cookies without freezing the dough and the result was a squashed pinwheel. I suggest you freeze it for an easier cookie making process.
15. Place frozen slices on greased cookie sheets. (Just a note, there is no leavening agent in these cookies so you can place them very close together.) Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.
16. Let cool for 5 minutes on pan and remove to a wire rack to cool completely. You will end up with these beautiful, yummy, cranberry cookies that are so easy to make!
I hope you enjoy! I know I did!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sophistication Sundays - Nicole by OPI "Orna-ment for Each Other"

My Sophistication Muse, Audrey Hepburn
Sophistication Sunday revolves around my favorite beauty finds, techniques, fashion trends and anything else "pretty" that catches my eye. I look forward to sharing these ideas with you and hope to hear your suggestions and feedback as well! I am no expert at beauty or fashion by any means but perhaps that will make my thoughts more relatable. Simply put, I'm just a girly-girl navigating my way through the fabulous finds I come across.

If you're looking for a fabulous nail polish to wear to upcoming holiday parties (or just to help you get into the Christmas spirit!) I have found THE best shade: Nicole by OPI's "Orna-ment for Each Other."

I first heard about this shade when reading through descriptions of Nicole by OPI's Holiday 2011 polish line. The colors had adorable names (as per usual) and each shade looked like it would pack a glitzy holiday punch. Orna-ment for Each Other is a vibrant red glitter sprinkled with gold micro-glitter accents. In short I feel like I have Christmas ornaments on my fingertips! You might just want to put on some Bing Crosby while you're looking at the pictures :)

As you can see from the picture the red is nice and bright while the gold provides a subtle pop to the look. It took me three coats to reach this level of opacity.

I should also mention that I haven't applied a top coat in this pictures. Once it dries the sheen wears off and it's a bit more dull than it appears initially. But this can be easily remedied as a top coat while shine it right up. Suffice to say this polish is the epitome of Christmas cheer on fingernails :)

Have you found your perfect Christmas shade?
There are a lot of beautiful lines out this year! I'm also itching to try some from China Glaze and the OPI Muppets collection.


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