Hello Ballston and Virginia Square!
One of my passions in life is cooking. I’m no Paula Deen or Rachel Ray, and I have never claimed to be an expert, but I love trying recipes and learning how to better provide for my family. I get a little excited about it, but so what? I’m a happy person who loves experiences and life! I think it’s a great thing to be excited about what you get to do. And, for those of you who read my articles (however many or few there may be) would you really read them if I wasn’t excited? I think not.
My biggest goal and hope for this column, as it always has been, is to encourage Ballston and Virginia Square readers to not avoid their kitchens and to cook more. Life is hectic in this city: between long hours, metro delays and social lives-it’s easy to use the oven as storage space instead of for cooking. It’s really easy to turn to the freezer section of the nearest grocery store for dinner instead of whipping something up in the kitchen. Not that I’m telling you to make homemade meals all the time. I definitely don’t pull that off! However, I do think that we need to be careful about what we are putting in our bodies. Even if it’s not the healthiest dish in the world (example: what we’re making today) by making it ourselves we at least know what the ingredients are. I also think there’s a personal level of satisfaction that goes into cooking for people you care about-cooking for people is a way I show my love and affection for them as it takes a little time, patience and work. If I cook for you, it’s because I care about you.
So, in the spirit of building community with cooking, I made cinnamon rolls with some of our friends last weekend (actually, it was with our pastor who conducted our wedding ceremony and his wife). It was a blast. Cooking (especially something sweet!) with people you care about always makes it a better experience-so invite your friends or neighbors over for this one!
Like most recipes, this one can be found all over the web but I found it initially at www.tastebook.com. I hate baking bread-I’m not good with letting yeast work it’s magic and I don’t have a lot of patience for it. What’s great about this recipe is that you can use your bread maker!
Cinnamon Rolls Makes 16 Servings
Ingredients and Directions were found at: http://www.tastebook.com/recipes/1296339-Cinnamon-Rolls-III
¼ cup warm water
¼ cup butter, melted
½ (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup warm milk
1 egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons milk
- In the pan of your bread machine, combine water, melted butter, vanilla pudding, warm milk, egg, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast. Set machine to dough cycle; press Start.
- When dough cycle has finished, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 17x10 inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over dough.
- Roll up dough, beginning with long side. Slice into 16 one inch slices and place in 9x13 buttered pan. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. While rolls bake, stir together cream cheese, softened butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk. Remove rolls from oven and top with frosting.
Rating: A++++ These are AMAZING!
Level of Difficulty: Since the bread maker is involved, I’d say moderate (rolling the dough can be tricky if it sticks!). Without a bread maker-this would shoot up to very difficult.
Cost: You’ll drop around $20.00
Cost per Serving: around $1.25
Bad Breath Factor: Not an issue.
1) The original recipe (click above or here for that) includes pecans. We left the nuts out.
2) We had to bake them for about 23 minutes (so a little longer than the recipe indicates). Stick a knife in the center of them to check-if you can remove the blade and no dough sticks to it-then you should be fine.
3) Thin out the icing or make extra. The icing is really good, but it’s pretty thick. We would have made more icing as opposed to thinning it out (just a tiny bit more) as it was very good!
4) Keep in mind this takes about 2 ½ hrs. It’s a long process (with all the dough rising and such) but the result is absolutely delicious.
Four out of five of us loved these! They were sweet, moist, and fantastic. The one who did not like these was their two year old son who just kept saying “donut” and pushing it away. Eh, oh well!
As this is a recipe review column, I am always looking for recipes to try out and to share with Ballston and Virginia Square readers. I've asked this before, but I would love if some Ballston or Virginia Square people would send me some of their favorite recipes! I think sharing recipes within this community could be a lot of fun, and I'd love to feature your recipe in my column!
Next month is one of our favorite holidays, March Madness. In honor of this special season I’m thinking of having the ingredient be bacon or some sort of cheese. All appetizers. So if you have any great recipes you’d like to share with our community, let me know! If you're interested, simply email me a copy of your recipe (and where you got it from) or leave it in the comments below and I will absolutely make it, take pictures of it and share it with the Ballston and Virginia Square Community! (You can contact me by clicking on "email the author" at the top of this article.)