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Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_7526 (1600x1060)We had a sudden desire for cinnamon rolls yesterday and these 90 minute wonders came up.  I have to say that the allrecipes site has been very good for me lately.  They have a Youtube channel with the best recipe instructions – good photography and concise descriptions without silly banter.  They feature the recipe and not some self aggrandizing twit being cute.  The video link is on the page I linked to above and is well worth the few minutes it takes to watch.  DSC_7529 (1600x1060)I heard the nice lady mention cream cheese icing towards the end of the video so I did a quick search and found a recipe:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

We had some maple syrup on hand so I substituted a few ounces of that for the vanilla extract and used a hand mixer to beat it until it was smooth.


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Friday Recipe Exchange: Blood Oranges

Blood Orange1snap

Tonight’s recipe exchange is going to be a quick one. It’s been a stressful week –  the little company I work with is downsizing (you can read about it here) and I’m busy helping them restructure. The weekend cannot come soon enough. Time to get out and ride and maybe do some gardening.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, it’s Blood Orange season and I thought I’d take advantage. I know we just did oranges, but that’s actually one of the reasons for tonight’s theme. I received an email question about using blood oranges instead of Clementine’s in the Orange Bread recipe. That reminded me to go looking for blood oranges. Usually I have a difficult time finding them, but a new Sprouts Market opened in my neighborhood and they have a great fresh produce section where I’ve been able to find all kinds of fun stuff. Including some beautiful and flavorful blood oranges.

If you haven’t ever had them, they are sweeter than navel oranges, a little bit of a raspberry flavor, I guess, to them. A nice mix of sweet and tart flavors. Here’s a bit of an explanation over at Sunkist. Really anything you do with oranges, you can do with blood oranges and get a really pretty display in the process.

So with that, I have three recipes for you and, sorry, no photos, it took all the energy I had left just to put together the recipes.

First up: Blood Orange Salad (click here)

Next: Blood Orange Coleslaw (click here)

What’s going on in your kitchen this weekend? Anything fun? Anyone firing up the grill yet?

And finally tonight’s featured recipe:

Blood Orange Glaze and Salsa

This was originally meant for a firm white fish, but it works well with chicken, salmon and pork. So I thought I’d give you the basics and you can experiment with how you use them.

If you can’t find blood oranges, you can substitute ruby red grapefruit, or use all navel oranges, maybe add some raspberries for a nice flavor.

Blood Orange Glaze

  • 1/2 cup blood orange juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper to taste

Warm honey and orange juice until the honey is completely melted. Stir in zest, pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Broil (set rack at second level from the top) or grill fish fillets, pounded chicken breasts or boneless pork chops,  basting with the sauce and turning frequently until cooked through and glaze is carmelized. Top with salsa (recipe below).

Blood Orange Salsa

  • 4 blood oranges, peeled, sectioned and chopped
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 naval orange, peeled, sectioned & chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp limejuice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

large bowl

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes.

Roasted Orange Chicken

A while back, JeffreyW roasted a duck and glazed it in a nice looking sauce. I thought I would use that glaze on my Thanksgiving turkey, but since I didn’t end up cooking on Thanksgiving,  a chicken was going to have to do. I stuffed it with oranges, onion and a spice bag. I roasted it at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then let it finish out at 350 degrees until it was about 150 degrees. Then I coated it with the glaze (recipe below) and continued to roast until it was 165 degrees. I pull it out and let it rest for 15 minutes. It was really good.

EDIT: I forgot to add that I did the herb butter/oil paste under the skin (that’s why there is that small tear in the skin – half the time it tears, half it doesn’t). I added a bit of orange zest into the herb mixture.

I was a bit concerned because when I do the orange turkey, it’s usually in a cooking bag, so the flavor of the orange is intensified. I wasn’t sure roasting was going to give me the same flavor. But between the oranges in the cavity and the orange glaze, it had a nice spicy-orange flavor.

Orange Chicken 2

It looks like it burned, but it was just a trick of the light, making the darker spots look really dark.

Sweet & Spicy Orange Glaze

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp teriyaki, ponzu or soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Sriracha chili sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan, bring all the ingredients, except orange juice and cornstarch, to a low boil. Mix together orange juice and cornstarch until smooth and add the to boiling mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 5-10 minutes before applying to the chicken.

Test Duck

 

This duck spent all day outside in my small electric smoker (12 hours!) and only managed an internal temp of 155 degrees so I moved it to my 350 oven to finish.  When the thermometer beeped 165 I took it out and brushed the glaze on and put it back in after boosting the oven past 400.  Just a few minutes set the orange/honey/ molasses mixture.  Now what do I do with it?

I started out just wanting the fat to cook potatoes with, duck fat being all the foodie rage some years ago.  News tends to filter slowly into the Heartland.  There are a few places to order duck fat online but they seemed uniformly too expensive – and I’m Cheap.  I did get a cup of fat out of this, a cup and a half , max.  This web site has good info, and lots of pictures, it gave me some good ideas for how to go about cooking this thing.  Not that I followed the instructions, of course.  I did see the utility of crosshatching the skin so I did that.  Cut my thumb, too, but I didn’t get much blood on the bird.I think I’ll dismember it and serve it along with rice and a roasted veggie or two.  I can picture thinly sliced breast atop a bowl of noodles, or in an upscale taco.

Thursday Recipe Exchange: Fruit Desserts

Cross-posted at Balloon-Juice

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m having fun with these Thursday night recipe posts. Thanks for playing.

I love chocolate, so it’s usually my sweet of choice. But a very close second is fruit desserts. Strawberries, apples, oranges, blueberries, citrus anything, I love them all. So I have a wide range of fruit dessert recipes available:

Strawberry Bread, Orange Cookies, Key Lime Pie Bars,  Coconut Lemon Cake (perfect for Easter dinner), pineapple and cranberry upside-down cakes, blueberry oatmeal cookies, the list goes on…and on.

It was hard to narrow down the recipe for tonight, I ended up choosing two, Perfect Apple Crisp and Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake.  One is decadant, one is quick and easy. What fruit desserts make the top of your list? Hit the comments with the recipes. Next week: I’ll be traveling again, but I’m thinking pizza, since JeffreyW has so many varieties and I’m usually hunting perfect pizza places while I travel.

On to tonight’s recipes.

This is one of the most requested birthday cakes at our office:

Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

You’ll want to prep the lemon juice, lime juice and zests ahead of time. You’ll need 2 lemons and 3 limes to complete the recipe.

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) melted butter, cooled slightly
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Bundt or Angel Food pan, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix sugar, eggs, zests, lemon, juice, limejuice, sour cream, butter and salt until well blended. Mix together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture in three sections to egg mixture, mixing until blended, but do not over blend. Fold in poppy seeds. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 75-90 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, or until cool to touch, then remove from pan to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Whisk together until smooth. Pour over the top of cooled cake. Let stand about 10 minutes until set.

Next is a different take on apple crisp.  I had seen video of a recipe that pre-cooked the apples in a cast iron skillet. The idea looked really good and since I’m all about cooking in my cast iron skillets, I thought I’d give it a whirl.  And I have to say, that yes it did make the best apple crisp ever.  It allows the apples to fully cook, then you can bake the “crisp” part at a higher temperature for a shorter time, giving it a really crisp top.

Cast Iron Apple Crisp

  • 2 lbs apples – mix of sweet and tart (about 3 apples)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger to taste

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (more as desired)
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup flour

10 inch cast iron skillet and small mixing bowl

Core and cut apples into small pieces (about 1/2 inch). Peeling is optional, but with this method the peels cook nice and soft, so it isn’t necessary.

Melt butter in skillet, add apples and sugar, stir until apples are well coated. Cover and cook on medium heat until apple mixture is soft and caramelized, stirring occasionally. About 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In mixing bowl, stir together butter, sugar, flour and oats, mix until crumbly. Crumble over the apple mixture. Bake for 10-15 minutes, just until top is crispy golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes and serve warm.

What makes this so good is that because the apples are cooked on the stovetop, you can use a much higher heat in the oven and get a good, crisp top without drying the whole mixture out or under cooking the apples. Really, this is one of the best apple crisps I’ve made.

Alternately, if you don’t have an oven-proof skillet, you can transfer the cooked apple mixture to a glass baking dish, add topping and bake that way.

Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

This one turned out much better

Last month, I was not happy with the 7-Up pound cake, it was very dry. I added extra flour as is usually needed to make a cake at altitude. It didn’t need it, so I also suspect it doesn’t need the full 3-1/2 cups below 5000 feet either. I’ve amended the entry to reflect this.

I was going to make it again to see for sure, but at the last minute decided to go a different route and adapt a sour cream pound cake to include lemon and poppy seeds. This is what we call baking by committee. When I polled everyone at work to see what they wanted, well this is what happens. Though I must admit, the citrus is all me. Besides chocolate desserts, I love citrus desserts, especially in summer. So lemon cake it had to be.

Sour Cream Lemon-Poppy Seed Pound Cake

You’ll want to prep the lemon juice, lime juice and zests ahead of time.. You’ll need 2 lemons and 3 limes to complete the recipe.

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) melted butter, cooled slightly
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Bundt or Angel Food pan, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix sugar, eggs, zests, lemon, juice, limejuice, sour cream, butter and salt until well blended. Mix together flour and baking soda. Add flour mixture in three sections to egg mixture, mixing until blended, but do not over blend. Fold in poppy seeds. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 75-90 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, or until cool to touch, then remove from pan to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • Dash of vanilla extract

Whisk together until smooth. Pour over the top of cooled cake. Let set about 10 minutes until set.

Links to some of my other citrus desserts:

Coconut Lemon Cake

Key Lime Coconut  Bars

Orange Cookies

Key Lime Pie

7-UP Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake with Raspberry Drizzle

 

 

NOTE:  (6/1/11)  This cake came out rather dry.  I added extra flour to counter high altitude.  It didn’t need it.  I suspect that at lower altitudes it may not need as much flour as the recipe calls for.  You may want to reduce the flour from 3-1/4 cups to just 3 cups.  That should keep your cake moist.

As I said earlier, I have another birthday at work this week and the request was for Raspberry Poppy Seed Cake. I wanted to honor that, but I had a very intriguing recipe for a 7-UP cake that I wanted to try. So I modified it to satisfy the birthday request. I think it turned out ok, but a little dry. I’ll update on how it was received by the birthday boy.

7-UP Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake

(with raspberry drizzle)

You’ll want to prep the lemon, lime juice and zests ahead of time. You can use any lemon-lime soda, but not sugar free because it doesn’t create the right texture for the cake.  I used Sierra Mist because it has natural flavors. You’ll need 2 lemons and 3 limes to complete the recipe.

  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup (4 oz) 7-UP or other lemon-lime soda (not sugar free)   
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 1/4 cups) melted UNSALTED butter, cooled slightly
  • 3 ¼ cups flour
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Bundt or Angel Food pan, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix sugar, eggs, soda, zests, lemon juice, lime juice, butter and salt until well blended. Add flour in three sections, mixing until blended, but do not over blend. Fold in poppy seeds. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 75-90 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, or until cool to touch, then remove from pan to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

Whisk together until smooth. Pour over the top of cooled cake. Let set about 10 minutes until set.

Raspberry Drizzle:

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Small saucepan (not aluminum)

Bring ingredients to a low boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat, mash raspberries, and let simmer until thickened. Spoon cooled mixture over individual slices.

Thursday Night Menu: Final Edition…for now

I have some good news and some bad news. Tonight marks our last Thursday Night Menu. That’s the bad news. The good news is I’ll still be food blogging and I’ll still occasionally post full menus. I have at least a dozen recipes in the queue that I want to try out, so there will still be cooking adventures to come. But I have a new project I must put my full attention to for a while and a lot of travel in the coming months, so something had to give and it was the full menus on Thursday.

On the more good news side of things, I have a full year of menus (about 500+ recipes) formatted in a searchable database, if you’d like a copy, send me an email and I’ll send you a copy. So to summarize, the What’s 4 Dinner Solutions blog goes on, but Thursday Night Menus will morph into an occasional full menu here and there.  Thanks to John Cole at Balloon-Juice for suggesting the Thursday Night Menu and hosting it and to Anne Laurie for posting it each Thursday.  And to all of you for popping in for a look and for those who let me know how the menus turned out at your house.  It’s been so much fun.

And in some final good news, tomorrow is Opening Day! Rockies have a home opener while the Red Sox will be on the road.  Tomorrow I’ll post the ultimate opening day menu. See you then…

On the final board tonight:

  1. Skillet Lasagna
  2. Vegetable Sauté
  3. Italian Bread
  4. Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

When I decided to make this recipe, I didn’t think it would be as good as regular lasagna, but a nice, quick dinner recipe.  But it turns out that the flavor is really good and a great weekday lasagna.

Skillet Lasagna

  • 6 oz mafalda (mini-lasagna noodles) or bowtie pasta

    Mafalda pasta

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed

    Bowtie pasta

  • 1 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 carrot, diced or shredded
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz grated parmesan

deep skillet and saucepan

In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, cooking to al dente (slightly chewy), and drain well. Meanwhile, in the skillet brown beef, onion & pepper. Add spices, garlic, carrot and sauté for 1 minute. Add sauce and paste, stirring well into meat mixture, let simmer for 10 minutes. Add pasta, stirring gently to mix. Mix together ricotta and spinach, drop rounded spoons full evenly into mixture (do not stir in, you want to create little cheese balls), top with mozzarella, cover and let simmer on low until mozzarella is completely melted. Serve with parmesan.

This is so pretty when you put it together, lots of great colors which equals lots of great fresh flavor.

Vegetable Sauté

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded & cut into strips
  • salt & pepper

skillet

Heat oil and butter in skillet until butter melts, add vegetables and sauté until squash is tender. Salt & pepper to taste.

For some reason, I’ve been craving a good coffee cake recently….and pecans.  Go figure.  But this recipe does the trick.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Pecans

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Streusel:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsps cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 ½ cup whole pecans

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsps orange juice

4 mixing bowls

Bundt pan, greased and floured

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Using a spatula, scrape the sides and bottom to make sure the mixture if fully combined.

For the streusel, crumble the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl (I use a fork or pastry cutter). Gently mix in pecans.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and place on a serving plate. Whisk the powdered sugar and orange juice together, adding a more OJ if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

Shopping List:

  • Loaf of Italian Bread
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, small
  • 1 green pepper
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 4 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz grated parmesan
  • 2 yellow summer squash
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 4 green onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 oz sour cream
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 12 oz whole pecans
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 oz orange juice

Also: cinnamon, vanilla, salt, baking soda, baking powder, olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic

Needed – Side Dishes for Baked Ham

I’ve decided to do baked ham for Christmas dinner this year and I’m not sure what to serve it with.  I’ve never done ham as a holiday dinner before because,  honestly ham is not overly popular in my house.  Neither my husband or daughter are big ham fans and my boys are ambiguous about it, but I love it and my son-in-law is a fan.  I especially love country ham.  It’s like eating a super-sized,  super thick piece of bacon, with only the meat and none of the fat.  As much as I love it I have decided it’s probably not the best ham to serve for dinner, so I’m going for a bone-in ham, glaze flavor yet undetermined.  Any leftovers will be waiting to go into the ham and beans pot, ham and cheese frittata and loads of other things I can thing of.  What I’m having a hard time thinking of is side dishes to serve with it.  Something with cheese seems an obvious choice – either scalloped potatoes or macaroni and cheese.  After that I draw a blank, especially with veggies.  Anyone have favorite sides that go well with ham?  And what about glazes, anyone have a brilliant flavorful glaze recipe?

UPDATE

I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to help me out with this.  There are some really tasty ideas here.  I haven’t finalized exactly what I’m going with yet (yes, I’ve been known to procrastinate a bit), but so far everything I’m leaning toward includes cheese, bacon and/or sugar, so how bad can it possibly turn out?

Orange Glazed Turkey

This is how the turkey dinner went.  I cooked it in a bag, I found a new kind that open at the top, which simplified my preparations.  I prepped it last night which made today much easier. 

I washed and cut up one large orange (peels included) and stuffed it into the bird cavity, along with an herb packet.  I used sage, garlic and onion, which I tied into an unbleached coffee filter to make the packet (I always have coffee filters around so I don’t have to worry about keeping cheesecloth on hand).  I softened 2 tablespoons of butter and mixed it with 1 heaping tablespoon of frozen orange juice concentrate, which made a thin paste that I spread over the entire bird (you’ll probably want to use a brush, I used my hands).   All this took about 10 minutes.  I refrigerated the bird until this morning when all I had to do was pop it into the oven. 

I served it with roasted fingerling potatoes and salad.  Asparagus is in season and I think it would make a great accompaniment as well.  Whole cranberries were nice with the orange flavors.

The bird browned nicely in the bag, I’m sure due to the high sugar content of the butter/orange mixture.  The flavor was subtle and complimented the turkey nicely.  If I was going to do anything differently I would add a bit of sage to the butter mixture – it’s a good flavor with the orange.  I was a bit unsure so I used it sparingly, I could have been a bit more daring.

Instead of gravy, I reduced the drippings for more of a glaze to use at the table.  That was definitely the best use of it, adding a citrus tang to the final product.  All and all a good turkey.

A couple of things.  When I’ve done this before I’ve used Clementines – a complete accident really because they are sold in bulk and the last ones are usually overripe before they can be eaten.  The flavor with Clemantines was much more intense, probably because the oranges were so overripe.  Also, I prefer fresh turkeys, but this time of year they are hard to come by on a budget.  I try and find un-basted frozen hens as a ‘next-best’ alternative.   This time I couldn’t even find that and had to settle for a large tom.  Turkeys over 16lbs can be difficult to cook and keep moist, but this one was surprisingly moist and tender.

Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving.  Total prep time, including sides:  30 minutes.  Cooking time: 2.5 hours (of which I only spent about 15 of those in the kitchen) – a smaller turkey would take about 1.5 to 2 hours, making it a great weekend meal.

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