Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

This week I pulled myself together enough to make 8 dozen cinnamon rolls for my friend's daughter's wedding reception! It was a great night with lots of yummy food and I'm glad that I could help out with something since I've been kind of useless lately. If you've ever wondered what 6 dozen cinnamon rolls looks like here is a picture of them rolled out before I baked them:

Anyway, this has been my favorite recipe for cinnamon rolls! It is supposed to taste like Cinnabon and it comes pretty close when they're warm. Hope you enjoy!

Cinnamon Rolls
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
2 1/2 tsp. yeast (or one packet)
2 eggs
1/3 cup margarine (melted and cooled slightly)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 1/2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 T. Cinnamon
1/3 cup butter (softened)

3-4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt

Warm milk to 110 degrees. Add yeast and stir until dissolved. Add all remaining dough ingredients except flour. Slowly add flour while stirring. Let set until doubled. In separate bowl mix brown sugar and cinnamon together. Roll dough into 16x21 in. rectangle and spread with 1/3 cup softened butter. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon mix. Roll dough into long tube and cut* into 15 rolls (about 1 1/2 in. thick). Place rolls on a cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until double. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. While rolls are baking, cream together the cream cheese and butter for the icing. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar. Add vanilla and salt and beat until creamy. Let rolls cool 2 minutes and then spread with frosting while still hot!

* A great trick I learned to cut cinnamon rolls is to use dental floss. Simply pull floss underneath the dough and wrap it up and around. As you pull it tight it cuts the dough from all directions at once (so it doesn't smoosh) and it helps to un-stick the dough from the counter so that you rolls stay in a nice circle shape!

Sorry for the long break...

Hello? Is anyone still reading? :-) Sorry I seemed to drop off the earth there for a bit. As many have heard or deduced for themselves...I am in fact 12 weeks pregnant! While I am so excited to be pregnant again after going through a miscarriage this summer...I have been really sick this time and so I haven't been cooking. And even when I do cook I haven't felt like writing about know how that goes!

Anyway, we have still been doing some fun things around the house for the season and I've tried to keep taking pictures so that I can do posts about them all eventually! Today I'm feeling better so I decided to post some of them. Thanks for you support and hopefully we'll get back up and running on a normal schedule here at Neighbor Julia soon! We'll be at my sister's wedding next week and there will be plenty of festive foods and activities to post about soon! For now, enjoy the sudden bursts of posts from random things that have happened over the last month!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mom's Banana Bread

This is the banana bread I was raised on! I loved when my mom would make this because it not only tastes makes the house smell awesome! I like that it's comes out really solid and moist and not super crumbly...probably all the sugar holds it together :-) Anyway, this was the first batch of the season and it was a great treat for today! Give it a try!

Banana Bread
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3-4 large bananas (I let my go brownish black to get the best flavor in the bread!)
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl or mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. In a seperate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mash bananas well and combine with other ingredients. Add walnuts if desired. Bake in well greased bread pans at 350 degrees. For large bread pans bake 50-60 min. For medium sized bake 30-40 minutes. And for small pans bake 20-30 minutes. (This recipe yields 2 large loaves)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Quick and Easy Beef and Rice Burritos

There are some that will tell you that just opening and mixing cans together is not really cooking! I am not one of those people...and this recipe will prove it! This is one of those recipes that was created on a Sunday afternoon when I needed to feed a big group of people and I hadn't been to the store for a while and VOILA! It now gets made frequently in our house because it's fast, the kids eat it well, and we always have the ingredients on hand! This makes a big pan-full so you can feed a big group or it reheats great for lunch the next day! If you have had a long day but still want something yummy this might be just what you need. I don't know if I've just lived in the southwest too long now or what but a warm flour tortilla is like the best comfort food ever!

Beef and Rice Burritos
1 lb. ground beef
2 cups cooked rice
1 taco seasoning packet (sometimes I only use 1/2...just depends on my mood)
1 cup salsa (I use a chunky type salsa so it adds onion and bell pepper pieces to the mix!)
1 can corn (drained)
1 can tomato with green chilies (I use Rotel) (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
shredded cheddar cheese (to top)
sour cream (to top)

In a large skillet or electric frying pan cook beef and drain. While beef is cooking, prepare rice according to package directions. Add cooked rice to beef. Add taco seasoning, salsa, corn, Rotel, and black beans. Mix thoroughly and cook until heated. Warm tortillas in the microwave so that they will roll easier. Put beef and rice mixture in tortillas along with shredded cheese and sour cream and wrap into burritos. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Coconut Cream Pie

I was recently talking to someone else originally from Spokane and we were reminiscing about the deliciousness of Cyrus O'leary's cream pies! YUM! Sadly they are locally owned in WA and don't distribute all the way down to the great Southwest. But the more I thought about Cyrus O'leary's and their delicious pies...I got thinking...maybe I could try and make one! My favorites are banana cream and coconut cream so I decided to give the coconut a whirl for Thanksgiving. I found this particular recipe on which is a great recipe finder website. I made a few changes to it (like it called for cool whip but I made my own whipped cream...etc) The whole pie was pretty easy to make, it looked great, and it tasted good...not O'leary good...but delicious all the same!

Coconut Cream Pie
3 cups half and half
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut (toasted)*
1 tsp. vanilla
1 9 in. pie shell, baked
2 cups whipped cream (I beat 2 cups whipping cream until fluffy and add sugar until it is the desired sweetness...which for this pie was SWEET!)

In a medium saucepan, combine half-and-half, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in 3/4 cup of the coconut and the vanilla extract. Pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
Top with whipped topping, and with remaining 1/4 cup of coconut. I put the whipped cream in a decorating bag with a large star decorating tip and topped the pie that way...just like my good friend Cyrus would do! Note: To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan and bake in a 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Don't be like me and try and buy it pre-toasted! :-)

* So I put a star by the coconut up top because flaked coconut is one of the things I choose to be a brand snob about! Especially in recipes where I'm going to be baking with the coconut I think it's important! I think that Baker's makes the best sweetened coconut. It is super moist (way more than the cheaper brands) and really made a huge difference in the way the pie and pudding held together! Anyway, that's just my opinion...sometimes you have to splurge!