Thursday, December 15, 2011

Test Kitchen Thursday - Candy Cane Rolls

This week my bread machines have been humming.  Sunday made some Oatmeal Bread to go with Alan's Chicken Noodle Soup.  Monday made a couple loaves of beer bread.  Tuesday made some sweet braided loaves.  Yet to make this week - Stollen (see photos and recipe from last year) and a Hefenkranz Wreath (ach du lieber - my German heritage is showing). 

These little candy cane rolls were a delightful treat.  These were made for the teacher breakfast at school (where my husband signed up and then let me know he needed to take something).

Ever since seeing them in the 2011 Taste of Home Homemade Food Gifts magazine I knew I had to try them.  They reminded me of the big candy cane coffee cakes that were a Christmas tradition growing up.  I made a number of modifications to this recipe to make it my own - so it does differ from the printed version.

Candy Cane Roll Recipe (my version):

1/4 Cup warm water
3/4 Cup warm milk
1/4 Cup sugar
1 t  bread salt (or regular salt)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 T orange peel, small zest
3 1/4 - 3 3/4 Cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 t instant yeast
3/4 Cup red candied cherries, chopped
1/4 Cup dried apricots, chopped

1 Cup powdered sugar
1 T milk

Place water and milk together in a glass measuring cup.  Microwave just until warm (not hot).
Place the ingredients (except fruit) into the bread machine.  Set machine to the dough cycle.  Add the dried fruit when your bread machine asks for add ins.

If you don't have a bread machine:  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast (use 1 pkg active yeast) in warm water.  Add warm milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg and 2 cups of flour; beat until smooth.  Stir in cherries.  Add enough of the remaining flour to form a 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 let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Continue for both methods:
Punch dough down, let rest for 10 minutes.  Divide dough in half.  Roll each half in a 12" x 7" rectangle.  Cut twelve 1 inch strips from each rectangle. 

Pizza cutter worked great to make the cuts.
Twist each strip and place 2" apart on greased baking sheets, shaping one end like a cane.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Ignore my poor pan.
Bake at 375 degree F for 12 - 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely.  Combine powdered sugar and milk; frost rolls.

These rolls turned out GREAT!  Ask Grant - he ate 3 of them in one sitting (and would have eaten more if mommy hadn't stopped him).  We all liked them!

The main thing I changed from the printed recipe was the addition of the dried apricots - this was the secret ingredient in mom's large candy cane coffee cakes.  Truly it really makes the roll delicious.  The other ingredient I added was the orange zest.  Again - gives sweet roll dough a great flavor especially when paired with other fruits.  If you remember my post from this past Tuesday - you may notice in some of the pictures that the oranges were missing their skin when we made OJ.  Yeah - I was sure to zest them prior to making these yummy rolls.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fresh Orange Juice {for the boys}

Last week the FFA fruit (fundraiser for husband's students) came in!  Made for a busy week for my husband but the students delivered it in just 2 days which we consider pretty good.

Last week Clark and Grant were watching a little Disney Channel and saw Special Agent Oso help a preschooler make fresh orange juice.  Darn TV giving my kids ideas - at least this was a good one :)  However, all week the question of can we make our own OJ was repeated over and over.  Clark even went into the kitchen, searched the cupboards and found my old juicer.
Back to the first paragraph - I did not order any oranges.  Luckily, Alan had some extra boxes.  So we bought a 1/2 box and he brought it home on Friday.  We promised the boys we'd make orange for breakfast on Saturday.

The boys LOVED squeezing juice out of the oranges. 

They enjoyed drinking it too! 

Although I was offered some of the lovely smelling concoction I politely declined.  My mom will tell you that it was her fault I can't stand pulpy orange juice because she used to strain my OJ when I was little.  Don't know if this is the reason but I really can't stand OJ with pulp.  Frankly, unless I'm sick I don't like OJ at all.  Again my mother (who does happen to be a registered dietician) will say she should have never listened to the doctor that told her to start me on OJ when I was just a baby.  Yup, some odd philosophies back in the 70's!
All I have to say is bring on the apples!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Friday Night Sew In - Take 2

Yep, another FNSI coming up this Friday.  Lots of items on my list. 
At the top:
  • PJ's for boys
  • Suspenders for boys and Addie
  • Some felt play food to finish boys' Christmas gift

If there is time:
  • Napkins and placemats
  • A few Christmas gifts I can't list since they are meant for certain readers of my blog :)

If you want to join in be sure to visit Heidi's blog and sign up!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Smiles

Sunday seems to be a good day to reflect on the little things in life that make me smile.  Today this made me smile :)

This is not hot cocoa (although hot cocoa also makes me smile) this is chocolate pudding with marshmallows and sprinkles!  So yummy!  The kids loved it - especially the fact that it was made to look like cocoa.  Grant thought it was fun to put his spoon in and "pretend to stir."  When my husband, who is not a fan of chocolate pudding, asked for seconds that was a sign this was good stuff.

But this is why it made me smile - it was not instant pudding.  It was the real cooked pudding made with milk and half & half. Yummmmm.  Plus, we ate it still warm - heavenly.  This took me back to my childhood and helping mom stir the pudding and eat the pudding.

My husband thought it was for me much like this clip from Ratatouille (the first 40-some seconds) - I agree.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Friday Night SewIn Results {Round 1}

Here is the quilt top I worked on this weekend.  The fabrics are Flurry by Kate Spain for Moda.  The solid white and red were fabrics from my stash.  The pattern is by Konda by Moose on the Porch Quilts it was in the Nov/Dec 2011 McCalls Quilting magazine.  This is one of the most complicated designs I've done.  Triangles have given me fits in the past but all in all the top went together very quickly.

Friday night for FNSI I started out with the jelly roll pieces and everything else left to be cut.  Friday night all the pieces were cut and all of the small blocks were pieced together.

Today in between feeding Addie, baking some yummy bread (which will be this coming Thursday"s recipe) and cleaning I pieced the large blocks to make the rows and then added the borders.  Amazingly most of my points matched up perfectly :) - I love this quilt top!

While I was sewing I couldn't help thinking of my Grandma Clark and all the sewing her Bernina (which I now sew on) saw.  In retrospect I am probably a lot like her in many ways when it comes to sewing.  I remember her being so practical when it came to sewing - things like patching and mending, making clothes, a few home good items, etc.  I know she made some really pretty things but when I inherited most of her sewing room I found patterns and ideas for some fun and impractical things that she just never got around to.  Or maybe like me she just liked looking at the beautiful designs.  

I have a lot of fond memories sitting on the floor in grandma's sewing room.  I would play with her scrap pile, make clothes for my dolls and sew up little stuffed animals (mainly kitties). 

There were a lot of practical things on my list that probably should have been worked on this weekend - like sewing the boys some pjs, mending Clark's pants, finishing up the kids' suspenders, etc.  But this pattern was just one of those things I didn't want to put off. 

Now to decide whether I want to quilt it or if I should find a quilter in the area and make an appointment for this piece.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Test Kitchen Thursday - Lesson Learned; Make a list

I wanted to try my hand at some quick and easy cookies, candy, fudge but every recipe I had marked for the week I ended up missing ONE little ingredient (that would make a big difference).

Like Almond Tassies - mom used to make these but I never have and so badly want to try them.  Ha! I actually had two cans of almond paste but no heavy cream.  Also, not sure where my mini muffin tins are - grrr. 

OK - so found a great chocolate fudge recipe.  Again, have never made fudge but there is no evaporated milk in the house - there was; however, plenty of sweet and condensed milk.  I contemplated this as an alternative but in the end decided no.

Finally, wanted to try my hand at making our own gumdrops.  Seemed like a great experiment to try with the boys.  I knew I had unflavored gelatin.  Recipe called for 3 envelopes - there were 2 in my cupboard.

Lesson of the story - be prepared with a shopping list or in my case adding them into my normal weekly shopping list! 

So, here are some recipes I'd like to try that I found on Pinterest (if you want to follow me and see the full collection of recipes I've pinned you can click the little red pinterest button on the top right of my blog - it's lots of fun):  enjoy!

sugared pecans
Sugared Pecans found HERE. There is a version of these I've made in the past but find it's best to make when husband is at work and then hide some if I plan to share with others.

Peppermint Bark rice krispie treats

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats found HERE.  Who knew - I need to add peppermint marshmallows to my grocery list now too!

Gingerbread truffles

Gingerbread Truffles found HERE.

snowman hot cocoa

Snowman Hot Cocoa found HERE.  If you like fun food ideas for kids this is a great website!

Snowflake cupcakes (seriously how beautiful are these)

Snowflake Cupcakes found HERE.  The sight of these makes me smile - but I'm just dreamin' if I think I could make anything so beautiful.  Still that's the best part of Pinterest - looking at beautiful pictures, admiring them, pinning them (for me - knowing there is no way I could create such beauty but boy they're fun to look at!).

So, what new tasty treats are you experimenting with this holiday season?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Addison's 3 Month Photos

Addison turned 3 months on Thanksgiving Day.  Since we were up at grandma and grandpa's her 3 month photos were put on hold.  Today she smiled ever so sweetly for her photos!

She is growing so fast!  Addie started sleeping through night during Thanksgiving week - that was something for which we give thanks! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Test Kitchen Thursday - Cut Out Cookies

After last weekend I haven't much felt like baking this week!  I helped mom make close to 30 dozen (no, not a typo that's really thirty dozen) cookies for the Christmas Tree Farm Shop.  We baked, frosted and sprinkled 10 dozen each day for the long weekend.

You would think having made over 300 cookies I would have a great picture - so sorry to disappoint.  With all the baking I never had a chance to grab the camera - plus, as soon as I had a batch done they seemed to disappear out the door. So you'll have to settle for our family tree photo :)

But - it was a FANTASTIC recipe that mom found on Cook's Illustrated's website.  The dough was so soft and easy to roll out and cut nicely.

Here's the recipe:

Makes about 6 dozen 2-inch cookies (we only got about 5 dozen per batch)


  • 2 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4cup cornstarch
  • 2teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch table salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3tablespoons light cream
  • 1 1/2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1cup granulated sugar
  • 12tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
  • 4tablespoons vegetable shortening


  1. 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone paper.
  2. 2. Mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix yolks, cream, and vanilla together in a measuring cup.
  3. 3. Cream sugar with butter and shortening until lightened and pasty. Beat yolk mixture into creamed butter until just combined.
  4. 4. Add dry ingredients and beat until mixture begins to clump together (about 18 to 20 seconds on lowest speed of electric mixer).
  5. 5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently to shape into a soft dough.
  6. 6. Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll to about 1/8-inch thick, on a well-floured work surface. Use cookie cutter of your choice to cut out shapes. Using a spatula, transfer cut-outs to prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1 inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Happy Merry

Somehow, even in the midst of all the chaos that is our household, December 1st did not seem to smack me upside the head this year!  Amazingly when I packed up all the Christmas paraphenilia last year I actually created a box with all the Advent calendars and wreaths, the nativities and items needed at the very beginning of the season for setting trees!  LARGE SMILE!  Plus, with our new attic, the box was amazingly easy to find and pull out.

So, this morning the kiddos were surprised with all the advent and countdown to Christmas items ready and waiting.

I loved the addition of the Christmas book countdown that we did last year; however, I was not looking forward to wrapping 50 books (I actually have 75 and have included Addie).  Don't judge me.  I have been collecting Christmas books for a very long time.

Anyway - I came across a post this year where the family had sewn bags and filled the bag each day with a book.  I have to agree it saves time and paper (lots of paper).  So, this is my variation.  Boxes!

Super simple and I can load them with surprises other than books throughout the season so it is truly a surprise each day!  Today's surprises were the Advent LEGO calendar and Playmobil calendar.  The boys were super excited.  They get to open them each night with daddy before bed!  If you want to see a preschooler and a toddler get to work cleaning a playroom just tell them the faster they clean the faster they get to open a door on the calendar.  Lightning fast I tell you!

Grant and his Playmobil calendar.
My only question today was why did I not put the advent candles with the advent wreath? Grrr.