Growing Out On A Limb


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No-Knead Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

I made these before Emery came along but they are so good I have to post them for fear of losing the recipe. 

Again with the pumpkin, I know, but what a great take on cinnamon buns!  These were moist and sweet and raised really well … in fact, next time I might roll it out into two rectangles so the buns aren’t SO big! 

The directions are beefy but they’re really straightforward, especially if you’ve ever made cinnamon buns.  I think these will be perfect to throw together on Christmas eve and bake up Christmas morning. 

The original recipe is here, at The Kitchn

INGREDIENTS

For Dough

1/4 cup water

1 scant tablespoon yeast

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

1 1/2 tsp salt

5 1/2 cups flour

For filling

1/2 cup butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp nutmet

2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped

For glaze

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup milk

1 cup brown sugar

pinch salt

2 1/2 cups powdered/icing sugar

DIRECTIONS

Sprinkle yeast over water and let activate. 

Meanwhile, warm milk and butter in a small saucepan on the stove until the butter is melted.  Combine with sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. 

Let milk mixture cool until it is just warm to the touch.  Stir in the yeast and pumpkin.  Add the salt and 5 cups of flour, stirring until all flour has been absorbed (incorporate last of flour with your hands if necessary).  The dough will be sticky but should come together in a shaggy ball; work in an additional 1/2 cup of flour if necessary. 

Cover dough and let raise 1-3 hours, until doubled in bulk.  At this point, you can punch the dough down and store in the refrigerator or continue shaping into rolls. 

To shape the rolls, prepare your work surface by sprinkling with a little flour.  Dump the dough onto the counter.  Pat it down into a rough rectangle, then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a rectangular shape about 1/2-inch thick and longer than it is wide.  Sprinkle more flour if the dough gets sticky. 

For the filling, melt the butter.  Stir in brown sugar and spices.  Brush over the dough, leaving an inch of bare dough at one end.  Sprinkle one cup of the toasted pecans on the dough.  Roll the dough into a cylinder so the edge without the filling is the last to roll up.  (I am realizing now why my buns were so large… I rolled on the short edge instead of the long edge!)

Prepare the pans:  Rub a 9×13 baking dish or two round 9-inch pans with a tablespoon of soft butter.  Preheat oven to 375. 

Using a sharp knife, cut the cylinder into rolls that are 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick.  Place into baking dishes with a little wiggle room to rise on all sides.  Cover with a clean kithcen towel and let rise until they fill the pan – 30 minutes for already-warm dough and 1 hour for refrigerated dough. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden and starting to look toasted on the edges.  Rotate the pans halfway through cooking. 

While they are baking, prepare glaze:  In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and butter.  When the butter has melted, stir in brown sugar and salt until sugar is melted.  Remove from heat and strain into a mixing bowl to remove sugar clumps (I skipped the straining step).  Stir in sifted icing sugar.  This should form a pourable glaze. 

Let baked rolls cool for about five minutes, then add glaze.  Sprinkle remaining pecans over the top, if desired.  Eat immediately.  Reheat leftover rolls for a minute before eating. 

Here are the buns right after baking.  Mmm… toasty (and huge!). 

Mmm… GLAZE. 


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And then there were four…

Introducing my newest pride and joy … Emerson! 

After a night of contractions that stopped and then another 15 hours of contractions the following night, he finally decided enough was enough and came flying into the world on November 17th.  I was so ready to meet him. 

Here are a few of my favorite photos so far. 

Brand new…

Loving on my daddy…

 

You’ve gotta love baby yawns….

 

And, despite the disheveled appearance and maternity bra poking out, this may just be my favorite of them all… me and my two boys: 

 

Oliver is, as usual, a champ – he doesn’t seem upset at all by the appearance of a baby.  He is very curious and responds to every whimper, cry, and groan with, “oh baby!”.  He loves to tickle Emery’s belly and gives him lots of kisses.  Of course he needs lots of reminders to be gentle but he knows what it means and responds well to it.  Oddly enough, he calls the baby ‘cameron’ for some reason (there are a couple of camerons at daycare but I’m still not sure where the correlation comes from). 

I am happy to be home, rid of heartburn, and am feeling like a very fortunate woman to have two healthy boys to love on every day.  Throw into the mix a winner of a hubby who is constantly understanding and supportive and what could I possibly have to complain about?!


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Cracking us up…

I am loving the stage that Oliver is in right now – He tries out new words all the time and is putting more sentences together as he figures out what words and phrases mean.  His little personality evolves more every day as he figures out his surroundings and what makes us all tick together. 

It all leads to lots of laughs, which he loves and feeds off of.  Here are a few things that are making us laugh lately:

  • I often ask Oliver, “Are you okay?” – when he falls down, bumps his head, etc.  Lately he has started asking us, “Mommy?… ah u ok?”.  “Daddy… ah u ok?”.  It’s often from his bedroom when he has just woken up or been put down, but pretty random other than that. 

 

  • I have several pet names for Oliver… turkey lurkey, honey, honey bunny, etc.  He has said, “Hi Mommy!  Hi Daddy!” for a long time now, which is cute enough, and I would usually respond with, “Hi honey!”.  Of course this eventually led to him to say, “Hi honey”.  And he only upped the cute meter a few days ago when he actually said, “Hi honey bunny”. 

 

  • His latest fetish… everything Thomas.  The first thing he says every morning is, “I want Thomas” or “I want cartoon”?  And it’s pretty amazing how quickly he has picked up on names of the main characters. 

 

  • To the dogs, he says, “Doggy… enough!”

 

  • He loves yogurt and pronounces it “o-goot”

 

Our latest hurdle was to put Oliver in a big boy bed, to free up the crib for the (still!) pending baby.  We moved him into his new room at the same time.  He wasn’t showing any signs of disliking his crib so I worried about the transition but of course I shouldn’t have.  He took the change as he always does:  like a champ. 

Most nights he falls asleep quickly, without much running around.  Only once has he fallen asleep on the floor and needed put in bed.  But when we peeked in on him last night, this is how we found him: 

Smart enough to climb back into bed but obviously tired enough to just barely get back into bed. 

How cute is that?!


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Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

I seriously regret not getting a picture of these squares but I didn’t.  The picture really does make them irresistable to try so I’ll use the author’s photo (stamped with her site name and with lots of links back and recognition)… hopefully that’s okay. 

Image Source

See?  What’d I tell you? 

With the words “caramel” and “cheesecake” in the title, could this really go wrong?  The answer is no. 

These squares are basically a cheesecake in bar form, which I find much easier to bake (surely I’m not the only one who has a mini heart attack wondering if her cheesecake is baked in the middle?).  If the sweet streusel topping and cheesecake center isn’t rich enough for you, the drizzle of caramel sauce on top will definitely do it. 

It’s friggy but so worth the effort.  Here is the original recipe over at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe… I didn’t change a thing. 

 

INGREDIENTS

Base:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened

Cream Cheese Layer:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apples:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup butter, softened

Caramel Topping: 

4 Tbsp butter
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup half-and-half or cream
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp vanilla

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For apples:  In a small bowl, stir together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg. 

For streusel topping:  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until crumbly.  Set aside. 

For the base:  In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly but combined.  Press evenly into a 9×13-inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil.  Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. 

For the cream cheese layer:  While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla and mix well.  Pour over the warm crust. 

Spoon the apple mixture evenly over the cheesecake layer.  Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples.  Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set. 

Cool to room temperature.  Drizzle with the caramel topping or plate individual slices and drizzle with caramel topping. 

For caramel topping:  Mix butter, brown sugar, cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thickened slightly.  Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further.  Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a jar.  Refrigerate.  Reheat to serve.


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Bread Machine Bread

If you have a bread machine, you know that it takes a bit of hit and miss to find a good recipe that isn’t going to produce a hard-as-a-rock loaf.  I’ve tried the tricks – bread flour vs ordinary flour, more vital wheat gluten, instant yeast vs traditional yeast – and nothing seemed to work. 

This recipe flies in the face of all instructions from my bread maker’s producers.  They (fairly strongly) warn about letting the yeast touch the liquid before the machine does the mixing, but this recipe has you activate the yeast beforehand, as you would making a loaf the old fashioned way.  What a difference!  (Of course you can’t set a loaf to bake overnight this way but it’s worth the pre-planning). 

This loaf raises high… so high I sometimes worry it’s going to hit the top of the machine.  It’s light and airy. 

I play with it a bit … replacing some of the white flour for whole wheat, using unbleached flour from the local mill instead of bread flour (how many types of flour can a person keep laying around?!).  I’m sure you could use honey in place of the sugar, throw in flax seeds, etc. 

Here is the original recipe, so you can do what you like with it: 

Yield:  1 1/2 pound loaf

INGREDIENTS

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

2 Tbsp white sugar

1 .25-oz pkg of bread machine yeast

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 cups bread flour

1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine.  Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. 

Add the oil, flour, and salt to the yeast. 

Set your machine to the White Bread setting and press Start!  (Remember – it’s a 1 1/2 pound loaf!)