Thursday, February 28, 2013

Oatmeal Cinnamon Swirl Bread

My family really enjoyed this bread warm, out of the oven.  While the crust was super crunchy, it was moist inside.  It also made some fantastic french toast the next day!  

Recipe from: The Frugal Girl

2 packages active dry yeast (4 ½ teaspoons)
½ cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 2/3 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
½ cup shortening
½ cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Sugar (I used a little more)

½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1. In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oats, milk, shortening, 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth (if using stand mixer, beat 3 minutes). Add enough remaining flour to form soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

2. Punch dough down. Divide in half; roll each portion into a 16-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Brush with water. Combine cinnamon and ½ cup sugar; sprinkle over each dough half to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a short side; pinch seams to seal.

3. Place loaves seam side down in two greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cover loosely with foil if bread browns too quickly. Remove from pans to cool on wire racks.

Yield: 2 loaves.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

The cream cheese not only adds a great flavor to these cookies, but a great texture as well.  They are crunchy on the outside with a soft center. The dough looked a little "soft"and I wondered if they would turn out flat, but I went with the directions, lightly pressing the cookie dough down and put in the oven for 12 minutes.  They turned out perfect! We liked to eat them warm.  They had a nice crunch on the outside with a soft inside.  They were a crunchy cookie when they were cooled.  

Recipe from: The Farm Girl

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups plus 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 325°F and line baking sheets with parchment or silpat liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray. In bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until mostly incorporated but a few dry streaks remain. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined and no dry streaks remain.

2.  Roll the dough into 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand (just barely press, it doesn't need to be completely flat). Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until the edges are just barely golden brown. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Orange Beef Stir Fry

John loves chinese food and I love stir fry, so I gave this recipe a try.  The sauce had great flavor that didn't overpower the flavors of the veggies and meat.  

John's rating: 8

Recipe from: The Farm Girl

1 1/2 tsps freshly grated orange zest
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp beef bouillon granules (or 1 cube beef bouillon crushed)
1 lb. skirt steak or flank steak (I used flank)
2 tsp canola oil
4 green onions, white and green parts chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1-2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 cup chopped carrots
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup water

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, cornstarch, soy sauce, sugar and beef bouillon. Set aside.

2. Thinly slice the beef across the grain (very important). Lightly salt and pepper beef slices. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until rippling and hot. Add the beef in a single layer. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until just cooked through, flipping and stirring occasionally, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the beef to a plate.

3. Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add green onions and garlic. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add chopped broccoli, carrots, and red pepper. Add water, cover the skillet, and cook until the vegetables are tender but still firm, 2-4 minutes. Stir in the cooked beef. Whisk the sauce to recombine and stir it into the skillet. Toss the meat and vegetables to coat in the sauce and cook the mixture at a simmer until hot and the sauce has thickened, 2-3 minutes. Serve over hot, cooked rice immediately.  Enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Poppyseed Bread

This bread is fantastic!!  It has great flavor and is really moist.  I honestly didn't think my kids would try it, let alone like it.  A look at poppyseeds in the bread and I thought they'd stay away, but my kids LOVED this bread and begged for more.  I could bribe them with it.   I'm sure this would make great muffins, too.
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1cup plus 2 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 T. poppy seeds
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring extract 
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp butter flavor extract

 For the bread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all of the ingredients together. Pour into greased and floured baking pans. Makes 6 small loaves or 2 large loaves. (I made 4 small loaves and 1 larger loaf)

 Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes for large pans and less for smaller pans. (My small pans were done around 40 minutes, my large one around 50)

For the Glaze:
Pour all ingredients into a small saucepan and let cook on stove on medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove bread from pans and pour glaze over warm bread. Use knife or spatula to bring the glaze that has run off up and over the warm bread until it stays on.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Valentine Apples

I got this idea on Pinterest.  I sliced the apple sideways, then used a heart shaped cookie cutter (this one is from my Pampered Chef set) to cut the core out of the middle.  My kids thought I was an awesome mom for creating these apples.  I was happy they ate them up and asked for more :)

I'm sure we'll have fun with other shapes in the near future, too!