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Pizza Night

I’m not sure if I’ve talked about this before, but we have Pizza Night every Friday night, homemade pizza at that.  Every Friday afternoon I make pizza crust and let it rise, it’s so yummy!  I found the recipe for both the sauce and pizza dough at Perfect Planner Meals.  Both are easy and delicious.

I am guest posting today at Stellar Path.  Sounds familiar because it’s my host site.  My husband asked me to come and post today about our Pizza Nights.  Scoot on over there and visit him and read about our yummy pizzas!

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I love to bake, there is very little I’d rather do.  Sadly I don’t get to often because baked things aren’t usually on diets, and I think we’ve both been on a diet for the last 3 years.  Jeremy was having a bad day Friday and both of us were off so I decided to do a little baking….that turned out to be quite a bit of baking.  I had just found a recipe for cinnamon buns from the Joy of Baking, and thought I’d give it a try.  I’m not saying these are the end all be all of cinnamon buns, but they are amazingly tasty.  They do take a large amount time, mostly to let the dough rise…and rise again.  There is a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes of waiting time, on top of about 45 minutes of prep time, depending on how quick you are on the prep.

You start out combining flour and yeast with a mixture of milk butter, sugar and salt.  Then you add in the eggs, and beat for 3 minutes, and it will look something like this:

Then with a dough hook attachment, or kneading by hand, you add more flour until you get a nice firm non-sticky dough.  Put in a greased bowl and allow to rise until doubled:

Allow it to double in size, about an hour to an hour and a half’s time.  Punch it down, turn out on floured surface, cover with clean towel and let rest for another 10 minutes.  During this time mix together the filling.  Spread it over the rolled out dough and roll into a spiral.  The recipe says this makes 8, it makes 8 very large rolls or in my case only 7, but they were HUGE.

I am making them again today to take to campus for all of Jeremy’s coworkers and I will be making about 16 of smaller rolls.  Cut them and place them in a greased pan and let them rest for another hour.  During this time they will grow even bigger.  Bake for 23-35 minutes.  They smell amazing!

After they are finished baking you can make the glaze.  The half cup of powdered sugar and tablespoon of half and half is not nearly enough for all these rolls.  On my first attempt I made double, this next time I will make either triple or quadruple, I’m not sure yet.  The glaze is very simple and really adds a great flavor to them!  This is a great sweet dough recipe, not too sweet, just right, could be great for another recipe you have in mind!  I did not brush my rolls with half and half, either time, I might try with just regular 2% milk this next time and see how that goes.  Yum, my mouth is watering already!


4 1/2 – 5 cups (630 – 700 grams) all-purpose flour

1 package (1/4 ounce) (7 grams) active dry yeast

1 cup (240 ml) milk

1/3 cup (75 grams) unsalted butter

1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) salt

3 large eggs


3/4 cup (160 grams) packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup (35 grams) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cold (cut into pieces)

1/2 cup light raisins (optional)

1 tablespoon half-and-half (light cream)

Powdered (Confectioners or Icing) Sugar Glaze:

1/2 cup (58 grams) powdered (confectioners or icing) sugar

1 tablespoons half-and-half (light cream)

Make the glaze thin enough to drizzle over cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon Rolls: In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, combine 2 1/4 cups (315 grams) of the flour and the yeast.

In a small saucepan, stirring constantly, heat the milk, butter, sugar, and salt just till warm (120 -130 degrees F) (49 – 54 degrees C) and the butter is almost melted.

Gradually pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture, with the mixer on low speed. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Beat this mixture on high speed for 3 minutes. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook (or do the kneading by hand), and knead in as much of the remaining 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 cups (315 – 385 grams) flour until you make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 5 minutes).  (Dough will no longer be sticky to the touch.)

Shape into a ball. Place the dough into a greased bowl, turning once.  Cover and let rise in a warm place till double (approximately 1 – 1 1/2 hours).

When the dough has doubled in size punch it down. Place onto a lightly floured surface, cover with a clean towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the filling. In a medium-sized bowl place the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender, or two knives, until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

After about 10 minutes, roll the dough into a 12 inch (30 cm) square. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the rolled out dough and top with raisins (if desired). Carefully roll the dough into a log and pinch the edges to seal. Slice the log (roll) into eight equal-sized pieces. Arrange dough pieces in a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch (33 x 23 x 5 cm) baking pan.

Cover dough loosely with clear plastic wrap, leaving room for rolls to rise. At this point you can refrigerate the dough for anywhere from 2 to 24 hours. If overnight, the next morning remove the rolls from the refrigerator, take off the plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. (If you are making the cinnamon rolls immediately, don?t chill dough. Instead, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let dough rise in a warm place till nearly double, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.)

Break any surface bubbles with a toothpick. Brush dough with half-and-half or light cream. Bake in a 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or till light brown. (Can tell if done by inserting a toothpick into one of the buns, and it should come out clean. Also, if you lightly tap on the top of the buns it should sound hollow.)

If necessary, to prevent over-browning, cover rolls loosely with foil the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. Remove rolls from oven. Brush again with half-and-half or light cream. Cool 5 minutes and then invert onto a baking rack and re-invert onto a serving plate or platter.

Drizzle with the Powdered Sugar Glaze.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 rolls.

-The Joy of Baking

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If you haven’t heard of Pinterest by now you must be living under a rock! It’s awesome! It’s an online inspiration board, a place to keep all your potential projects, or ideas, in one convenient place where you can reach them at any time! I first caught wind of this fantastic site at WhipperBerry. If you all haven’t been there before, when you get a chance, take a gander. They have awesome recipes and ideas, this is one of my daily reads. But anyway, back to Pinterest!

You can have, seemingly, as many number of inspiration boards as you wish. Right now I have about 7 or 8 boards, I have lost count already! I’ve recently gotten into knitting, (I’m a horrible blogger, I know this, but that will be another post) and I have a Knitting Inspiration board, a Fun Frilly Things board, Baby Inspiration board (quite things I might find here or there that I would love to make for a baby), a baby shower board (my best friend is due in April, shower is in March). I’m also working on getting my office usable, posts on that should be coming soon, I have inspiration board for things I would love to have in there! There are so many things!
My bookmarks have been several pages long for a while now, and I had recently cleaned them out!

It’s just in its starting phase right now, Beta version, and it requires an invite to be included in the fun, all you have to do is send them a request and they will let you start, or at least that is what I assume, I got an invite and I ain’t nothing special!

When you get your invite you go through the whole sign-up process then they give you a button to put on your bookmark tabs. Anytime you see something you want to save just hit pin it. A separate window will open up and have all pictures from your current page, you click on it and another page will pop up, allowing you to input a description and board, you can use an already started board or start a new one right from this page.

It’s so easy and is absolutely amazing, it has made my life so much easier!
Every page I’ve been on has been nothing but pinterest buzz, and I’m proud to say that I’m part of the beta version! That makes me happy!
I’m finishing up my lovely desk I gushed about far too long ago, 1 more coat of poly and she’s finito, then the big task, getting into this house and through my office door, hoping the top pops off! Saturday is the 4th Annual Humane Society Fur Ball, we all get fancied up and go to a big party to benefit the helpless animals at the animal shelter here, been the highlight of my January since its inception, which marks mine and Jeremy’s second date, isn’t that fun?

Then my FINAL semester starts on Monday, I’m both crazy excited to start, but also dreading it. I’ve got just a few things, a research class that I will be doing in a high school biology classroom, I’m very excited about that. I’ve also got Practical Light Microscopy with my favorite professor, and I’m SOOOOO excited about this, I’m such a dork but microscopes fascinate me. I’ve had a class on electron microscopes so compared to that this should be a breeze.
Until next time, which I promise will be sooner than the last!

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Vegetarian Bible

After watching Julie and Julia, which is a really great movie, but Julie was such a whiney, selfish person, I decided that it was a really good idea, and I was going to steal it.  Not to try to get a book deal or even say I did it.  I am a creature of habit, I know what I like and that’s what I eat, I don’t venture too far away the norm.  Several months ago I bought a cookbook entitled Vegetarian Bible because most of the recipes sounded good and we needed more vegetables in our diets, oh and it was on the sale rack at Barnes and Noble.  I had not even cracked this cookbook since I bought it until I decided to do this little experiment.  This cookbook had 74 recipes and I will be attempting to cook them all by next Christmas.

The first recipe I attempted was Pasta Shapes with Pumpkin Sauce.  It sounded interesting and I had 2 pie pumpkins sitting in the kitchen that I hadn’t done anything with.  I started out by crying while I chopped up some really strong onions.  The recipe called for 4 oz, I don’t typically think in ounces so it’s a little over half of an onion or a pile this size.

Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat.  Add the onions and a little bit of salt, cover and cook for approximately 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Next comes the hard part, dealing with the pumpkin.  I assume you can use canned pumpkin, however the recipe calls for fresh.  I started out by halving the pumpkin and pulling out the seeds.

The real bear is peeling it.  Typically I cook the pumpkin in the over and the pulp comes right out.  This recipe cooks the pumpkin in a pot on the range.  I quartered half pumpkin and it made it much easier to peel.  Be careful, this is difficult and I can see it being very easy to slice something open or chop something off.

I realize now that I did not use anywhere near the right amount of pumpkin, I misread the recipe!  It calls for 1 lb 12 oz and I only used 12 oz, I can’t imagine using the other pound, it was plenty pumpkiny enough.  I threw the mismeasured pumpkin in the food processor and chopped it until very fine.

That was the tough part of the recipe, the rest is basically just waiting.  You throw the pumpkin in the sauce pan with the onions at the end of their 25 minutes and season with a very small amount of nutmeg.  Let that cook for another 45 minutes, still on low and still stirring occasionally.

After the 45 minutes, I stirred in ¾ cup of skim milk even though the recipe calls for light cream, we’re on a diet after all, 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sometime during all this I boiled my pasta, I used cellentani, simply because that is what we had, any type works.  We put 2 large spoonfuls over a bowl of pasta and grated a little bit of parmesan cheese over top.  It was surprisingly good, but was still missing something.  We added a little bit of mozzarella cheese, which made it better, but it was still missing something.  We decided it was meat, we’re not vegetarians, just cooking from the book, so bacon was added.  Jeremy really liked it then, but I thought the bacon was not the right additive.  Maybe some turkey…I have tons left, I might have to try that later!

Thanks for reading my first recipe!  I’ll be back next week with the second installment, Garlic Spaghetti!  I’ll leave you with the actual recipe.


4 tbsp unsalted butter

4 oz/115g white onions or shallots, finely chopped

1 lb 12 oz/800g pumpkin, unprepared weight

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

12 oz/350g dried penne or radiatore

Generous ¾ cup light cream

4 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat.  Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, for 25-30 minutes.

Scoop out and discard the seeds from the pumpkin.  Peel and finely chop the flesh.  Tip the pumpkin into the saucepan and season to taste with nutmeg.  Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta, return to a boil, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite.  Drain thoroughly, reserving about 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid.

Stir the cream, grated parmesan cheese, and parsley into the pumpkin sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.  If the misture seems a little too thick, add some or all of the reserved cooking liquid and stir.  Tip in the pasta and toss for 1 minute.  Serve immediately, with extra parmesan cheese for sprinkling.

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Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows

We had some horrible storms come through our neck of the woods yesterday. We had, I think, 4 tornado warnings in a 2 hour period, I hear a tornado actually touched down at the National Corvette Museum, which is only a mile and a half from my house. I opened the windows so I could hear everything that was going on and it got so hot in the house! After everything was over and it stopped raining I took my puppies out to do their business and it had dropped about 15 degrees! It was rather chilly and that put cocoa in my mind and there was no getting rid of it! It’s the very beginning of the cool weather around here and there was none to be found in our house! There was no way I was going out in the nasty weather so the only other option was to make it! After making this delicious hot chocolate I don’t know if I’ll ever buy store bought again!

Chocolately Hot Cocoa
This was originally a Martha Stewart recipe, but I doctored it a bit with some chocolate chips. Here are the ingredients:

* 1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa
* 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
* 3 ounces milk chocolate chips (or your favorite variety)

It really could not be more simple than this! You combine all of the ingredients in a food processor with the chopping blade and pulse. It combines the sugar and cocoa and coarsely chops the chocolate chips into smaller, easily melted pieces.

All chopped together

Martha says to add 3 tablespoons of mix to 1 cup of milk, but that’s just to gritty for my taste. I like eyeballing the milk to about a cup, I’m usually generous, and 2 tablespoons of mix, tastey! That is a little This recipes makes a delicious semi-sweet cocoa, if you like a sweet cocoa, add more sugar! For a little variety add caramel chips, mint chocolate chips, or even instant coffee!

No hot cocoa is complete without marshmallows, and of course we didn’t have those either, so home made those became too!

This too was a Martha Stewart recipe, but not nearly as easy to prepare as the cocoa. In fact it’s an overnight process. The taste is absolutely amazing, this would be a great activity with kids, what kid doesn’t love to get messy, and this is a messy recipe! Here are the ingredients:

* 1 cup water
* 2 ½ tablespoons unflavored gelatin
* 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
* 1 cup light corn syrup
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
* Confectioners’ sugar

A stand mixer is really a must for this recipe, a hand mixer could work, but it is mixing intensive! Start by mixing 2 ½ Tbsp of unflavored gelatin, I used Knott’s gelatin, it comes in five individual packages and I used almost all five packages, mix with ½ cup of water with a whisk attachment. It becomes a gooey gelatin that has a horrible smell! Don’t let this scare you, it comes out delicious. This has to sit for 30 minutes, so continue on and come back to this.

In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and the other ½ cup of water. Over low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves. Martha suggests using a wet pastry brush to brush the sugar down the side of the pan. After the sugar dissolves, turn the heat up to high and with a candy thermometer monitor the heat until it reaches exactly 244°, firm-ball stage. This took a lot long than I expected, it shot up to 215 within seconds but then took several minutes longer to move up the additional degrees.

Waiting for the right temp

When it reaches 244°, remove from the heat immediately. With the mixer on low speed, combine the heated mixture with the gelatin. Allow to mix until it is thick, white and nearly triple the volume, approximately 15 minutes.

Minute 0

Minute 15

While that is mixing prepare your pan. Martha suggests 1 8” x 12”. I only have a 9” x 13” and it was occupied with delicious lasagna. Instead I used 2 8” x 8” pans. My marshmallows came out about 1” thick, the small the area the thicker they will be. Generously coat the bottom of your pan(s) with confectioners’ sugar, this is what will keep your marshmallows from sticking.

Prepared Pans

Once you’ve reached the desired consistency pour into your prepared pans. Coat the top surface of the marshmallows with confectioners’ sugar. With wet fingertips, smooth the surface of the marshmallows and dust with more confectioners’ sugar. If you plan to cut your marshmallows into shapes with cookie cutters, it might be easier to smooth them thinner than one inch on a sheet of parchment. Leave the marshmallows on the countertop to dry overnight.

Dusting top with Sugar

Smoothing flat

To remove, run a knife around the edge of the pan and lift with your fingertips, it’s much easier to jiggle it loose with your fingers. Cut with a hot dry knife, this works very well, but only stays hot and dry for about 2 seconds, then it’s all gooey, so I typically worked with a gooey knife, not the easiest thing.
My marshmallows ended up being approximately 1” squares and made somewhere near 150 to 200.

Clean up is the perfect time to taste, kids absolutely love this….and I know I do as well!

Can't waste any!

Housed in mason jars, this would be an adorable and delicious any time gift! Here is my finished product, quite quite even unadorned.

Gift time!

Cuddle up with a good book and a cozy blanket and sip til your heart is content! Enjoy!


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