Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A New Adventure: Christmas Break

Menu: Homemade Caramel-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls, Sausage and Fruit

The semester has come to an end, for me at least. For the next month, I’ll be frat boy free. The only animals I will have to contend with will be my neurotic dog and cat. I will only be cooking for two, and it will certainly be an adjustment. But, it will give me time to experiment. My first task is to come up with a tasty side dish for my husband’s office Christmas soirée. They are having a contest for tastiest dish or dessert. They had a similar contest for Halloween. I made mini monster cream puffs with cheesecake filling. They were adorable and delicious. I was told that that competition would be judged on taste rather than ghoulish appearance. I was told wrong, ironically, by the person that ended up winning the prize… Coincidence? I think not! So, I need to come up with something all-star to make up for my lost prize (I contend that it should have been mine. I was cheated! I was framed! I was robbed!) Sorry, it’s been a rather sore subject with me. My other hope is to make a little money off the baking-challenged this holiday season by hocking my cakes, cookies, and pies. So, if you live in the Atlanta area and are jonesing for some fantastic baked goods, or need a gift for that person who is impossible to buy for, I’m your baker! Cookie Platters R Us, once you try my peanut butter fudge, you’ll never go back… or something like that.

So after today’s, the recipes may be more “family sized”. I may only be cooking for two, but I still feel the need to cook enough food for at least four on any given night. This turns out to be good for my husband’s friends as he tends to like to invite them over at the last minute for dinner. At least he calls me before inviting them now.

The cinnamon rolls I made today turned out spectacularly. I was quite pleased. The recipe isn’t mine, it’s true. I found it on the Betty Crocker Website. But, it needed a little tweaking (as most recipes you find on the internet do). The guys really loved them. I know this because I was late getting them out (traffic was a mess, 3 accidents on my way to work! I will not miss Atlanta traffic while I am on Christmas break). Anyways, the guys came sniffing around the kitchen the minute I pulled the first pan from the oven. They proceeded to stay in the kitchen or just outside the kitchen door and chat. Stuffing their faces and burning their fingers on a hot, sticky mess. When I told them there was milk in the fridge to go with the rolls, you’d have thought I said free beer or gold (which is equally valuable to the average frat boy).

Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
Makes approx 24 rolls

1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 cup Pecan Halves, approximately
1 cup Butter
4 ½ cups Bisquick Mix
1 cup Cold Water
4 tbs Margarine, the soft and easily spreadable kind
½ cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat oven to 450. Generously grease 24 regular sized muffin cups with Spray Pam. Put 2 teaspoons of butter, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar and approx 3 pecan halves (I put more pecan halves in each one because I love them so) in each cup.

In a large mixing bowl, mix water and Bisquick together. Beat vigorously with a fork until the dough comes together. You want a soft dough, but not a sticky one. If it’s sticky, add a little extra Bisquick; if it’s crumbly, add a little extra water. (Unlike most baking, this recipe does not call for exact science, so you’re free to fudge a little). Smooth the dough into a ball on a surface sprinkled with Bisquick (I suggest a countertop covered with plastic wrap, for easy cleanup). Knead 5 times. Pull the dough into 2 even balls. Shape one ball into an elongated rectangle. Roll out until dimensions are approx. 15x9. Spread 2 tablespoons of margarine over the dough. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and ¼ cup of brown sugar. Starting on the 15 inch side, roll the dough tightly to form a log. Pinch to seal. Cut into 12 1 to 1 ¼ inch slices. Place each slice in a muffin cup. Repeat with the other ball of dough. Put the muffin tins on a foil line baking sheet (the butter mixture in the cups can run over the edge).

Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately invert pan on a heatproof plate. Leave the pan/s over the rolls for a minute (but not too long or the rolls will stick to the pan). Serve with cold milk.

Note: The beauty of this recipe is that it’s super easy, and the end result is delicious. No waiting for the dough to rise, no anxiety over exact measurements. In fact, I didn’t really bother measuring out the cinnamon and the sugar when I was sprinkling it over the dough before rolling it. It makes it easier to sprinkle evenly if you leave the cinnamon in the jar (which is conveniently equipped with a sprinkle top)

Note 2: If you don’t have 2 muffin pans, don’t worry, you can use an 8x8 pan. Just evenly spread the butter, nuts and brown sugar over the bottom of the pan. Cut the rolls into 20 even slices (between 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches). Place them side by side in the pan. You may need to add another couple minutes cook time. The rolls will be more like pull-apart sticky buns as the center ones won’t get golden brown on the outside.

1 comment:

  1. I'm officially drooling on my keyboard.