Freezer Rolls

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I’ve been making freezer rolls. These were the dinner rolls for our Thanksgiving feast and the cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving breakfast. Although I had read about these on the King Arthur Flour website here, I dug out my handy-dandy Fleischmann’s Yeast Bread booklet and used a recipe in it. This booklet is falling apart. My mom used this and gave it to me. The copyright is 1971. This recipe makes 4 dozen rolls. So I made 24 cinnamon rolls and 24 dinner rolls.

Pick your pans. I use a standard 9-inch x 13-inch baking pan for the cinnamon rolls. Except the picture shows a Christmas tree pan because these are for Christmas breakfast. The mini muffin pans are just to hold the rolls until they are frozen solid and then they can be popped out and put in a freezer bag. These should keep in the freezer for up to one month.

  • 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (on occasion I substitute 2 cups with whole wheat flour, regular or pastry)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 packages Active Dry Yeast OR 5 teaspoons Instant Yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk (any type)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 eggs at room temperature

Combine water, milk, and butter. Heat to 120-130 degrees F. I most frequently do this is a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup/bowl in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Check after two.

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Whisk to mix thoroughly.

Gradually add the heated liquids to the flour mixing a you do and then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl occasionally. Add eggs and 1/2 cup flour and beat at high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape bowl and add enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead. I knead this with the bread hook for 5 minutes. By hand is 8-10. Turn out on lightly floured board or counter. Cover with plastic and a towel and let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Now shape your rolls. I cut the rested dough in half with a bench scraper and cover one half with the plastic while working with the other. For rolls, I gently pull this half into a log about 12 inches long. Then with the bench scraper I cut this into 24 pieces. I placed these into a greased mini-muffin pan. You could just set them on a baking sheet but wrap them well to freeze. The second half of the dough I roll out into a rectangle, maybe 14 inches by 11 inches? Spread this with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of cinnamon sugar. I placed these in the baking pan and then wrapped it with plastic wrap to freeze.

To bake, remove from freezer and place in greased pan. Set on counter and let thaw and rise for 2 hours or so until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

Truth be told, there are differences to the method of the Fleischmann’s booklet and King Arthur Flour. And it might make a difference:

  • KAF suggests using cooler liquids, not warm
  • KAF suggests not to let the dough rest before shaping

Their reasoning is to keep the yeast as dormant as possible so as not to be damaged during the freezing.

The batch of rolls I made for Thanksgiving I used Fleischmann’s recipe (as listed above) but KAF’s methodology. The dinner rolls rose nicely on the counter. The cinnamon rolls rose nicely in the refrigerator overnight. The batch you see in the picture for this blog I used the Fleischmann’s method. Thawing the rolls overnight in the fridge did not see a rise. They were soft and not frozen so additionally I put them on the stove (indirect heat) for 30 minutes before baking. They finally had a slight rise and did bake up nice and soft and tasty.

I think I will stick to the KAF method in the future. It results in a better risen roll. The thaw and rising have more eye appeal. The taste was not affected.

 

 

 

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Chicken and Biscuits

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This is not my usual chicken pot pie. This was inspired by Colleen of Leen Cuisine. Should we call this chicken cobbler because of the biscuit topping? Maybe, maybe not.

I had thawed two chicken breasts and needed to cook them. However, I had not thawed the disk of pie dough nor did I think I had my frozen mixed vegetables which is my “go to” veggie filler for dinner dishes. When I got home after work I found that I did not have frozen mixed vegetables. I did, however, find the frozen peas that I had bought for our Thanksgiving feast but did not use.

Do you know there are women/cooks who do not use frozen vegetables? I am super impressed that they cook real vegetables for dinner every night. I don’t expect to live up to that standard.

  • 1 tablespoon butter and about that in olive oil, too
  • 1 can grand type biscuits
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into “pennies”
  • 1/2 large onion, diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic from jar
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by putting a little oil or butter in the skillet to saute the garlic, onion, and carrots. Cook these for about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like additional spices, you would add them here. If, not just sprinkle on a little salt and pepper. Remove these vegetables to the baking dish or pie pan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add a little more oil to skillet and cook the chicken until no longer pink, maybe 5-6 minutes. Add a little of the broth to the pan and the vegetables, this time add the peas. Stir the cornstarch into the rest of the broth add to the skillet, and heat on high for a few minutes. Move this concoction from the skillet into the baking dish. Stir the cheese into this.

Remove the biscuits from their tube. And arrange artfully on top of the baking dish. Since all the ingredients are cooked it is just a matter of cooking the biscuits. Since the bottom of the biscuits are in the “stew” they will take a bit longer to cook than the directions on the tube.

I baked this for 20 minutes and then covered loosely with foil to keep warm in the oven while waiting for Hubby to come home. This dinner came together in less than an hour.

I served this with jarred pickled beets from an orchard in the Adirondacks. They did not disappoint! And the cucumber salad is similar to the salad Son made for Sister and me  when we visited him in Armenia. Thinly sliced cucumber and carrots, tomatoes, and green onions in a vinaigrette.

I had intended to make a green salad but the lettuce had gone rusty and was promptly added to the compost bucket. I like having a compost bucket. The service picks it up every other week. When I have to throw away food I know that it is being put to good use. With that, and our town recycling nearly everything in sight, our trash bin is getting emptier and emptier. Just my little part for the environment…I hope everyone can do a little something.

 

Chicken Cutlets with Herbes de Provence & Apple Compote

This is another recipe from Eating Well Magazine Winter 2003. I had all these ingredients and it is supposedly a meal made in 30 minutes. Well, it took me 40 minutes, and an additional 8-10 for the sides.

  • 2 apples, peeled and slice thin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided (These are what the recipe calls for. My amounts were approximations because I do not take the time to measure out oil for adding to skillets for sauteing and the like.)
  • 3 teaspoons butter, divided (see above note)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste (see note above for salt and pepper as well)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast; I had thawed four for this recipe and have no idea how much they actually weighed. Be sure to thaw the chicken!)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

First make the apple compote: Take two apples, peel them, and slice thin. Put in a bowl and mix with the  lemon juice and cinnamon. I cooked this in a little oil and butter in my cast iron skillet. That took about 5 minutes to cook. Set aside and keep the compote warm. Add 5-7 minutes for peeling the apple and squeezing and zesting the lemon. And another 2 minutes for cleaning the skillet and finding a bowl to hold the compote.

Mix 1 teaspoon of herbs with the salt and pepper. This does not look like enough seasoning but it is. Place chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with mallet until 1/2-inch thick. This went rather smoothly. I got to use the meat mallet Hubby had found that is all of one piece. It just won’t do to be pounding meat and have the head of the mallet go flying across the kitchen! Anyway, sprinkle both sides of the flattened chicken with the seasoning mixture.

Heat the remaining butter and oil in the skillet. Heat over high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until no longer pink 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to platter and repeat with the other half of the chicken. Here is when I begin to get the idea that perhaps this recipe was made for 6 chicken breasts…did say it served six. Too bad, for Hubby and me I have the four. When chicken is done, remove to platter to keep warm.

Add broth, lemon zest, and remaining herbs de Provence to the skillet. Cook stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring to boil and cook for about 3 minutes until slightly reduced. I kept cooking a few more minutes because it did not look reduced to me. Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with the apple compote.

 

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IMG_0714The magazine suggested serving this with orzo and green beans. I served it with leftover sweet potato mash and cooked mixed vegetables from frozen. If one were to make the orzo and beans this meal would take longer. The entire time I was focused on the cooking the chicken and compote. Next time around, I won’t have to keep referring to the recipe and that may shave 5 minutes or so from the prep and cook time.

This is a tasty chicken dish. I will make this again. I may leave out the apple compote and make a savory lemon sauce/gravy to pour over, or maybe an orange sauce! I think orange would complement the Herbs de Provence very nicely.

 

 

 

 

Spinach, Sausages, and Potatoes

I have collected various cooking/food magazines over the years. While looking for my cookie recipes I found some Eating Well magazines from 2002 and 2003. I have a memory of the time reading these and thinking the recipes were too exotic or different. But when glancing through them now I find the recipes intriguing and simple enough. They are different from the usual Midwestern fare of my upbringing, but now in my cooking that is a good thing. Back then I read the articles for the health and wellness; now I will try out some of the recipes.

This recipe was touted as a warm salad along with other recipes for adding greens to one’s diet. It describes a variety of winter greens and how to cook them. This one was named Warm Salad of Greens, Italian Sausage & Potatoes. And it’s not like I had all these ingredients sitting around my kitchen. But as many of you do, I read the recipe for the idea and the way the ingredients are combined and cooked and put together. And as I was reading this one I thought about frozen spinach (always in my freezer), the venison sausage from my son-in-law’s first buck, and the white potatoes in the pantry. Voila, a recipe is born!

The original recipe calls for kale. I have never cooked kale, nor eaten it to my knowledge. I have heard, who knows where, that it is bitter and tough if not cooked right. Here’s what I used:

  • 4 links of venison sausage, most likely a pound or more
  • 3 medium sized potatoes, washed and diced
  • 1 or 2 cups frozen spinach (I just poured from the bag)
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic from a jar
  • pinch of salt
  • fresh ground pepper

First put the potatoes in a pot of water and bring to boil. While waiting for this, remove skins from sausages. First actually I boiled the sausages for 10 minutes in a pot of water like my son-in-law instructed. So I am removing the skins from these cooked sausages.

Put the fennel seeds in a skillet and cook with the sausages. I had to improvise here because my sausages were already cooked. I added an additional tablespoon of oil to this skillet and sauteed the sausage with the fennel seeds. The seeds did indeed stick to the sausages as reported in the original recipe. When done, I cut the sausages into 1/2 inch thick slices.

When the potato pot comes to a boil, add the spinach and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to the skillet with the sausages. Whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the sausage-potato mixture and toss to blend. Dinner is served.

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The beauty of this recipe is that it also make a fabulous base for soup for the leftovers. Venison has a rich taste so a little goes a long way. To make soup I sauteed a diced onion and 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables in a tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven. After about 5 minutes I added a can of diced tomatoes and two tablespoons of pesto. The pesto was in place of sauteing garlic with the onion. I had one last square of homemade pesto in my freezer. Now add 3 cups of broth. I used chicken or turkey broth that also was homemade in my freezer. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add the leftover sausage-potato mixture and a can of cannellini beans, drained. Simmer until heated through.

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This is a nice rich soup/stew. We had some for supper, and I have leftovers to bring to work for my lunches.

 

 

 

 

 

Cook’s Cookies: Gingered Sugar

I have forsaken Sister’s tried and true sugar cookie recipe for the magazine’s. Cook’s Illustrated Holiday 2007 boasts The Best Sugar Cookies. Well, I thought I would see about that. They had a gingered option and because I love all things ginger, I made that version. I always have fresh ginger root in my freezer.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (someday I am going to make everything with whole wheat pastry flour but not today)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I always use unsalted butter; I suppose if you use salted butter you could leave out the salt, but I am not certain of that.)
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for rolling dough
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

And for the gingered version:

  • in food processor, process 1 teaspoon (I used 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced) with the 1/2 cup sugar for rolling the dough for about 10-20 seconds. place this in a shallow bowl
  • add 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger to the sugar along with the eggs and vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl, set aside. In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter, 1 cup sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add egg, vanilla, and crystallized ginger and beet about 30 seconds until combined. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined; scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Form dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and roll in the ginger sugar. The sugar was moist probably because my ginger was from the freezer. This actually helped it stick to the dough nicely. Place 2 inches apart on lined baking pans. Now butter a bottom of a drinking glass and dip in the gingered sugar and flatten each cookie to 3/4 inch thick.

Bake 15 minutes. Edges will be lightly browned. These spread some in the baking. My second pan kind of spread together but not too much. That doesn’t affect the taste.

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These have a nice sugary crunch on the outside and are slightly chewy on the inside. The ginger is very subtle. I like them and so does Hubby. And we tend to think of sugar cookies as rather bland, but not these.

Cook’s Cookies: chocolate chip

This is the absolute best chocolate chip cookie ever! Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2009 calls it “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.” I must agree. The only adaptation I make is using dark chocolate chips and not making them as big. The Cook’s way makes 16; I make 36.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

I baked these at 350 degrees F. I just reviewed the recipe and it said for 375. Oh well!

This is the secret: heat and lightly brown 10 tablespoons of the butter being careful not to burn. This will take 3-5 minutes. Swirl pan during this time, or stir. Pour this into the mixer bowl and add the rest of the butter; stir until it is melted.

Add both sugars to the bowl along with the salt and vanilla. Whisk (I am using a beater here) until fully incorporated. Then add the egg and egg yolk and mix for 30 seconds. Let rest for 3 minutes. This is a bit fussy but is worth it. Do this 30 second/3 minute rest two more times. Stir in flour mixture and then chips and nuts.

I spooned heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined baking pans. And baked them for 9 minutes. Let them set on the pan for one minute before removing to wire racks to cool.

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I have tried the browning of the butter in other chocolate chip cookie recipes but it does not come out the same. When I first made these my son enjoyed the batter so much he wanted me to make some of the cookies without the chocolate chips!

Cook’s Cookies: chocolate

It’s cookie baking time and being the season of the year that it is one would think that I would be making Christmas cookies, but no. I have found the most wonderful chocolate cookie from Cook’s Illustrated January/February 2009 edition. I was in awe of this cookie when I first made them. This is a cookie that I could have one or two with a cup of tea and be satisfied. Now that is unusual; with homemade cookies I can eat and eat and eat them, especially fresh out of the oven. But these are so rich and satisfying of that chocolate craving that one can be enough! This is my adaptation; I am not so fussy as the magazine.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa; I use Hershey’s, don’t know if that is Dutch processed or not?
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

  • 1/2 cup molasses; the original recipe calls for dark corn syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk these together in a small bowl.

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Cream these together until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Beat in egg mixture until fully incorporated and then the flour.

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips; I used Hershey’s special dark since the original recipe calls for 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chopped into 1/2 inch pieces.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill in fridge if desired; I did not bother. I had read that using wet hands to shape the dough into balls prevents the dough from sticking to the hands. It does work, somewhat. Roll the dough into balls. Make these uniform in size and adjust baking time accordingly. I used heaping tablespoons. Then roll in the sugar and place 2 inches apart on the parchment lines baking pans.  Bake for 10 minutes. Let rest on the pan for at least one minute before removing to a wire rack for cooling.

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I should have taken a picture of one with a bite out of it so you can see the darkness of the soft interior with a crispy outside. But I put them away so I would not feast on them over the course of the week, before packaging them to send to my favorite airman!