Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Service -- from home!

Our church, Harvest, has decided to have a live stream service beginning at 7pm EST on Saturday, December 24th and continuing through Christmas Day.

Feel free to pass the link to my blog along so that others can watch the live stream.

May you be blessed by the service and may you enjoy the celebration of the gift of Christ.

"Glory to God in the highest!"

Merry Christmas!

Experience a "taste" of Harvest here:   Harvest Christmas Celebration

Friday, December 16, 2011

Healthy -- and MOST Delicious -- Sticky Buns

The title of this post can be taken in so, so many ways. 
I'll just tell you that it is not the name of my new workout video.

The title was intended as a shortened version (read: fit in the title bar) of the name of the recipe I am going to gift you with. 
Yes, these treats are a gift. 
Trust me. 
Once you make these sticky buns (Or do I say cinnamon roll?  Is there a difference anyway???) you'll never be the same.  Or at least, your pants will never fit the same.

"Whoa!  Whoa!  Hold your horses there just a minute now missy!  You said these were healthy."

Ah, yes.  Yes, I did.
And since I am trustworthy and truthful,  I'll tell you how I've made these healthy as I show you the recipe.  (Yes, show -- it's a photo recipe!!)  So, on to the healthy cinnamon rolls/sticky buns...

WAIT!  Come back.  Healthy doesn't have to taste like dirt.  Trust me.  These taste nothing AT ALL like dirt.  Not that I've eaten a lot of dirt.  But, I'll take it from my friend Lucy** who, apparently, as a child used to eat the mud pies she made.  Enough mud pies to cause worms.  Uh, yum!

I digress.  You get my point, right?  These do not, I repeat, do not taste like dirt!

On to the healthy cinnamon rolls...

You're gonna need all this stuff in the picture there.  It all looks innocent enough.  And healthy.  Definitely healthy.

You see here?  This is the first part of the healthy rolls.  I am using Canola Oil instead of one of the less beneficial oils.  Healthy, right?  It had nothing to do with the fact that I was out of Veggie Oil and only had Canola oil on hand.  It had everything to do with my desire to make these cinnamon rolls healthy.

Take said oil and the other healthy ingredient: milk.  Wholesome.  Nourishing.  Full of Calcium.  Healthy!  You'll also need some sugar.  Not 'high fructose corn syrup.'  Bad stuff.  Well, at least that's what I've been lead to believe.  But the corn people are trying to change all that.  So, sugar too.  Again with the healthy.

Anyway, take the oil, milk and sugar and dump them into the biggest pot you've got.  Trust me on this one.  You're gonna want a pot with lots of stirring room. 

Once you've got all the milk, oil, and sugar in your big pot, then "heat over medium heat, but do not allow to boil.  Remove and cool to lukewarm."

Yeah, okay.  So maybe if you're some fancy schmancy pastry chef, then the above directions make sense to you.  Me?  Not so much.

All I know is that yeastie beasties can be finicky.  Too hot, and they die (is die the right word???)and my rolls come out flat and dense and yucky.  Too cold and they don't grow (is grow the right word???) and, again, my rolls come out flat and dense and yucky.  Not yummy.  Definitely not delicious.

In order to avoid the flat and dense and yucky roll, I use a very, very scientific way of making sure my milk mixture is heated enough.  Wait for it... Wait for it...

 Like the tattoo?  I was ready for another... Heh, heh, heh!

Ah, yes.  It is the hold-your-hand-over-the-liquid-to-test-the-heat maneuver.  Pretty clever, huh?  

Seriously, I just wait for some little foamy bubbles to appear around the edges.  (After I've tested the heat-with-my-hand-manuever.  Of course.)  Then turn the heat off and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.  (Again using my hand to test -- dipping my finger in the mixture.  Burns?  Too hot.  Comfortable?  Just right!)

Sprinkle the wee yeastie beasties over the lukewarm milk mixture and allow to sit for about a minute. 

Then, add 8 cups of flour and stir until just combined.  Top with a clean kitchen towel (You didn't know you'd have to do laundry before making these rolls, did you???) and let rise in a warmish part of your kitchen for an hour.

In the meantime, make lunch for your family who has been circling your work area ravenously for the last 20 minutes asking repeatedly, "Are they done yet?  Can I have one yet?  When are they going to be done?"

I would be disrespectful to my Type A alter ego if I didn't mention that I also use this time to clean up my work area, utensils, measuring cups, and all the other junk I've already used.

After the hour, pull the towel back.  TA-DA!

A big, gooey yeasty smelling mass of dough.  If you didn't burn your yeastie beasties.  But, since you used the highly scientific method that I outline above, you didn't.  And you have a nice big pot full of puffy dough.

Add the additional cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir well.

At this point, you can either put the dough into a mixing bowl and refrigerate until you're ready to make the rolls (up to 3 days), or you forge ahead. 

I'm not patient afraid so I forge ahead.  I knew you were waiting.

Break the dough apart into two portions.  I put one portion back into the bowl and keep it in the fridge until I'm ready for it.

Put your butter -- oop, oop.  Healthy alert!  Healthy alert!  REAL butter!  Very healthy, right?  Much better for you than that fake, processed, supposed to be like butter, solid at room temperature, spread junk.  All natural.  Less processed.  Healthy. 

Take that healthy butter and get it into a saucepan.  Melt it over low heat.  You'll need it in a minute.

On a well floured surface, roll out the dough.  You obviously want it longer than wider, and rolled to a pretty thin rectangle.  However, because I'm anal I have a hard time visualizing measurements accurately, I might have done something crazy like mark my counter.  Then again, I might have just rolled blissfully.  Not that I have any pictures to prove my attempt at perfection.

Nope.  No pictures.

Now you'll need to get ready to create the yummy, delicious, and truly, truly healthy filling for the cinnamon rolls.  There are just a few basic ingredients:

Melt the butter, and pour a cup of it over the rolled out dough.  Use the back of a spoon or your fingers to spread it all around.

Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon...

...and half of the sugar.

Then begin to roll.  This is the hardest/messiest part for me.  I have a hard time making the roll nice and tight and so my rolls can be somewhat misshapen.  Doesn't seem to make them any less delicious though, so I don't sweat it.

When you roll, do not be alarmed if some of the buttery,sugary, cinnamon-ness oozes out of the roll.  That just means you've got enough of that delicious gooeyness in there!

Once rolled, cut into 1 1/2" slices.  My slices always smoosh down so my rolls are oval shaped.  Again, no worries.  Doesn't effect the delicious factor at all!

Drizzle a bit of butter into each pan and then place the rolls.  

Don't crowd 'em.  Cinnamon rolls like their space.  Plus, they'll grow considerably in the oven.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.  Take 'em out when they're light brown.  Don't over brown the rolls.

While the rolls are baking, make the icing. 

Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, strongly brewed coffee, and melted butter.  Add the maple flavoring.  Stir until smooth and pourable.  You want it thick-ish but still pourable.  Add sugar and/or milk to get the desired consistency.

When the rolls come out of the oven, begin to pour the icing over the tops.  That is, if you haven't sucked up all of the icing through a straw.  Uh, excuse me.  Dunno where that thought came from!

Pour the icing all around, making sure to coat each roll.

Then, when they've cooled a bit, wrap them nicely and deliver to those you love. 

Or, tear into a pan.  I mean, after all, you want to make sure you're delivering quality goods, don't you??  Once you've declared the rolls safe for consumption, then wrap 'em up and deliver them to the neighbors.  You don't need to tell them how healthy these little babies are.  I mean, seriously, doesn't everyone know that cinnamon rolls are filled with wholesome, natural, nutritious ingredients anyway?

So there you have it.  Healthy and delicious sticky buns cinnamon rolls with maple icing.
Happy baking, sweet friends!
Here's the free printable version of the recipe:

** Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  But, Lucy, you KNOW who you are!

*** This recipe was taken from Ree Drummond’s cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, however I did put my own spin on it.  She never, not once, has called these little bites of glory “healthy", nor extolled the virtue of their wholesome ingredients! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Endless Summer

One of the big perks about living in Florida is that the weather is beach-worthy pretty much all year.
And that's a great thing.

Until it's time to go.
Then it's not such a great thing...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Best 3 Minutes of the Season!

I posted this last year, but I so love it that it's back for a replay.

First, click the four arrows heading outward that are in the lower right corner.  
Then click the play arrow.  

Trust me.
It's worth it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I did it!

A while back, I posted a product review as part of an interview process for something called Molly's Home Team.

Guess what?

I made the cut!

I'm so excited!  Thank you to those of you who became blog followers as part of my review process.  I look forward to telling you more about lots of fun and interesting products!

Oh, and in case you're wondering who Molly is...
I've got the deets for you...