Thursday, December 20, 2012

Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls and May Your Days Be Merry & Bright

HOHOHO.  … Alright, that’s almost all I got!  Tis’ The Season, for hectic days…sleepless nights…and crowded shopping malls.  It happens every year lately for me… the never ending round of “Where are you Christmas” song playing in my head… the plastered on smile, and the “yes, Merry Christmas to you too!”  I guess for me, it’s just hard seeing everyone turn on their “auto pilot” and go through all the gestures of Christmas, but maybe lack in the emotional side of things.  I believe, it should be about family, friends, memories and tradition!  YUP, what girl doesn’t like sparkly things all wrapped up under a tree?! BUT there’s a time where you should stop… breath, and cherish the many things that are around you.  Speaking from experience, life is too short.  Try to enjoy what you have NOW, as it may not always be there!  The one thing I do LOVE about the season… it’s a great excuse to get into the kitchen and bake.  I confess I haven’t done much, with us travelling quite a bit this season in order to fit everyone in…  however…I did make sure to take some time and make these EGGNOG CINNAMON ROLLS.  They are ooey & gooey & melt in your mouth… the Eggnog adds just enough richness and moisture to the roll while the cinnamon and nutmeg adds just the right amount of spice to finish it off!

For the glaze/icing on top, you can do numerous things.  Just simple icing sugar/eggnog glazes works perfectly, or even a simple cream cheese icing to drizzle over?!  I’ll let you choose!  The best part of this recipe… split the dough in half… bake up one right away, the other…. Put into a foil pan and place in the freezer, its perfect to bring out and bake for when you really don’t feel like making a big breakfast.. or maybe when you just want something sweet….  Or… you get a craving… J
 mmmmmmm eggnog…. (and I am submitting to Yeastspotting, as this is worthy to share!)
Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
·         ½ cup butter, softened
·         1 cup eggnog
·         ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
·         1 tablespoon active yeast
·         2 teaspoon salt
·         2 eggs, lightly beaten together
·         4 cups flour
·         1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
·         1 tablespoon cinnamon
·         2 teaspoon nutmeg
·         ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
*GLAZE – (optional) eggnog/icing sugar mixed until desired consistency
-Melt butter in sauce pan over medium-low heat, add eggnog  and sugar stirring constantly until just warmed and sugar is dissolved.

-Pour mixture into bowl of your stand mixer, sprinkle yeast over mixture, stir, and let rest for about 10 minutes (or until foamy)

-Using the dough hook attachment, mix in eggs and salt
- Gradually add in flour until you have a very dense, yet still slightly sticky dough

-Once dough forms a ball on your hook, remove from mixer, and place on a lightly floured surface, adding a bit more flour if required, and for 1-2 minutes until dough is smooth.
-Place in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover.

-Let rise until at least double in size (2 hours approx)
- Spray a 9x9 pan and set aside
-In a small bowl, start the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon and nut meg with a fork.  Set aside.
-Punch dough risen dough, and place on a lightly floured surface, rolling into a ball.
*if making 2 batches, spit dough in half, work with one half at a time*
- Roll into dough into a large rectangle

- Pour melted and cooled butter over dough and spread evenly with a pastry brush (fingers work too!)
-Sprinkle the sugar filling heavily covering the entire dough surface

-Roll dough tightly length wise and if desired, cut in half length wise, so that the sugared layers are exposed

- This will be a bit messy, finger licking encouraged, cut out about 4 inch pieces of dough, and either roll, or twist into a bun, place in lightly oiled pan.
-Cover and let rise another hour
**if you had split dough in half – make the 2nd half exactly as the first round,  however this time, place in lightly oiled foil container, cover, label and freeze!**

-Preheat oven to 350F
-Place rolls into oven for 20 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown
- Drizzle desired glaze over top, best served warm!!
If you are baking up the frozen rolls, remove from freezer the night before, and let defrost / rise overnight on counter.  Bake & glaze as per above!!

Whatever you get up to this Christmas Season, make sure you take a moment to enjoy and cherish those that are around you.  Get outside.  Play.  Hug your loved ones. 
Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cowboy Meatloaf Casserole and Introducing.....

Hmm.  If you have wondered where I’ve been….  Heck.. even I’ve wondered at times…  I am going to offer up the same ole’ excuse…  Life gets in the way.  November was  a complete blur, and I don’t just mean the crossover of Fall to Winter Season’s,  Halloween to Christmas… I mean… a complete roller coaster, warp speed blur.   That being said… although at times it was hectic… We do have some exciting (well for us anyways) news to share!  Plus, with all that HAS gone on… simple, comfort food, and delicious dinners have become even more of a staple in our household.  Cowboy Meatloaf Casserole.  Don’t let the words “meatloaf” and “casserole” scare you…  this is darn tootin’ good stuff! It’s like a Meatloaf meets Sheppard’s Pie round a Cowboy Campfire.  (you still with me?!)…. And if that fails to get your attention… it’s got BACON and Cheese! Ha!!

Prep and cook time is relatively simple and quick, perfect for those cold and dreary nights during the “wet” months here on the West Coast... or even better - after a day out playing in the snow!  The addition of BBQ Sauce puts a great kick in the typical meatloaf base, and garlic mashed potatoes with  bacon, cheese, and crispy fried onions adds just the perfect “Get-R-Done” flavor boost to this crowd pleasing dish! YUM YUM!
The OTHER introduction I’d like to make… is we have a new addition to our family.  (NO-NO!… not what SOME of you are thinking… or hoping for)  HAHA….  Let me introduce to you Wylie.

Born on September 6, 2012, and adopted from the Maple Ridge SPCA ; we are absolutely in love with this lil’ bundle of fur.  I never thought in a million years that a cat could wiggle...purr...and snuggle its way into my heart… Well Folks… Mr. Wylie has done just that.  Even Duke Dog is excited, and after a slow introduction…

It now appears the two of them are Best Friends.  Even sharing each other’s water bowls!  Wylie appears to be settling in just fine, exploring every nook and cranny in our house… with Duke right on his tail. (Which he doesn’t appear to mind at all… even goes in for a kiss or two quite often!)
SO, with the weather out there a tad bit frightful….  The stress of the Christmas season in full swing... thanks goodness we now have TWO very loving furry members of our house hold to keep us connected with what matters most.  (but… we also need to eat… ) SOOOOOO… let’s get back to the yummy Cowboy Meatloaf Casserole….  
Cowboy Meatloaf Casserole
·         2 large baking  potatoes
·         1 lb ground meat (lean) – Pork would work too!
·         ¾ cup finely chopped onion
·         1/3 cup bread crumbs
·         ¼ cup BBQ – (I used the staple in my house - Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce)
·         1 lightly beaten egg
·         2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
·         ¾ teaspoon salt
·         ¼ cup milk
·         1 tablespoon butter
·         2 table spoons minced garlic
·         1 cup crumbled real bacon
·         ¼ cup crispy fried onions (you can get them in the canned from the grocery store)
·         1 cup Tex-Mex Shredded Cheese

-          Preheat oven to 350F, coat a 9 x 9 baking dish with non-stick spray
-          In a large bowl, combine beef, onion, breadcrumbs, BBQ Sauce, egg, chili powder and salt until well mixed

-          Gently press into the bottom of the baking dish

-          Bake uncovered for 20 – 25 mins, or until cooked through. Dab off any excess fat if need be.

-          While Meatloaf is cooking, dice potatoes (skin on) and boil in a small sauce pan until fork tender, and easily mashed.
-          Remove from stove top, drain water, and mash potatoes until smooth, adding Milk / Butter / Garlic / bacon / Crispy Onions and half cup of cheese (reserve rest for topping)

-          Adjust oven rack to top shelf, and select broil.
-          Add Potato Mixture on top of Meatloaf, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and place on top rack of stove to broil top. 

-          Broil for 3 – 5 min, or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.
-          Serve Hot, and with addition BBQ if desired!  YUM YUM!