Monday, December 26, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls. The end all. Be all. Amen.

Merry Christmas darlings! Was Santa good to you? Did you get the brand new Red Ryder Carbine-action BB Gun you were dreaming of, or your own personal equivalent?

I had a wonderful Christmas. Great food. Great gifts. Great family time. And as usual, I'm a little flattened that it's already gone. So today I'm trying to stay upbeat and reflect on what I loved about this year and how to make it last longer next year. These cinnamon rolls are a new tradition. I used to be a 'bread' person - making quick breads to give to friends and neighbors. But thanks to the Pioneer Woman - I'm now a cinnamon roll person.

I gave these away to my family when they came over Christmas Eve for them to eat on Christmas morning. There is nothing like them on this earth. As you eat them, you will wonder how the hell you made something as ridiculously delicious and amazing as these. And here's the kicker - it was easy. Time consuming, sure, but easy. And this is coming from someone who still hasn't mastered the art of pie crusts so trust me when I say I'm not a naturally gifted baker.

Just like her pizza dough, this is a semi fool proof dough. Very forgiving. Very laid back. All you need is a ton of clean counter space and a pair of blinders to distract you from how much butter goes into the recipe. But then again, I only make these at Christmas, so I say bring it on!

One of the thousands of reasons I love these is you can make them in stages, starting with the simple process of whipping the base together in a large lidded pot on the stove top. Once risen later on, you can just stick the top on and keep the dough in the fridge for up to 3 days until you have another chunk of free time to roll them out. The only trick is you CAN'T forget to check on the dough every couple of hours that first day in case it's risen up enough to lift off the lid. All you have to do is punch it down again and put the top back on - but if left it to its own devices for too long it just might take over your refrigerator. Dough is a little science fiction-y that way.

And even later, when you roll it out and assembled the rolls, you can refrigerate them again for a couple of days before you bake them off and ice them (just cover them well and be sure to set them out 15 minutes before baking so they can rise slightly in that final stage.)

Anyway - the fact that you can split up the process this way makes these much more manageable than the forthcoming recipe makes them appear. Here are couple more tips for this too good to be true recipe - and in the meantime - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Y'all!

* Don't be tempted to substitute a simpler icing for her recipe here. As great as the dough part is, the icing is the gilding of the lily. I could eat it out of an old shoe and be happy for it.
* I serve these with spicy sausage kolaches, you know, for a well rounded meal on Christmas morning. That recipe coming in the next post.
* You can add any variations you like to the filling - dried cranberries or cherries, pecans, etc. I think I prefer them plain as listed below with just cinnamon, sugar and butter.
* She has different amounts of butter in her online recipe for the icing than her book. I go by the book, as reflected here (mo butter mo better.)
* She says to not crowd the pan when putting these in the tins. This year I ignored her and found they came out doughier/softer when all pushed together versus having their own space. We like them this way (my husband always wants 'the middle' one) but if you like more a crust around the rolls then by all means space them out a little more, only giving 4 to 5 to each pan.

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 2 Hours | Cook Time: 30 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 5-7 round pans full (a lot of people!)

Dough Ingredients:
1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets (4 1/2 teaspoons)
8 cups (Plus 1 Extra Cup, Separate) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter - I use 1 1/2 cups, PW uses 2 cups
2 cups Sugar
Cinnamon, about 1/4 cup or enough to coat entire surface of rolled out dough
Several disposable round tins and plastic wrap to cover them with
1 (2 pound) bag Powdered Sugar
1 tablespoon Maple Flavoring or Extract
1/2 cup Whole Milk
3/4 cup Melted Butter (6 tablespoons)
1/4 cup Brewed Coffee
1/8 teaspoon Salt

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a large lidded pan/dutch oven over medium heat to just below a simmer (DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL.) Set aside and cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.
Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine.

Use the dough right away, or place the lid on it and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

When ready to make the rolls, preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches (I live on the edge and do it all at once, rolling it into a 60 x 10 inch rectangle, but recommend splitting in half the first time you make these.) The dough should be rolled fairly thin.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly, or a pastry brush. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1-inch slices. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd (I overcrowd but I like them 'doughier.')

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until just light golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the maple icing: In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing generously over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor. They only get better with time… not that they last for more than a few seconds. Make them for a friend today! It’ll seal the relationship for life. I promise. - PW

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

15 Reasons Why You Need This Pie. (Dulce De Leche, Chocolate, and Sea Salt)

1. You need this pie because your tree is already turning brown.

2. You need this pie because you've spent more time stressing about shopping than actually shopping.

3. You need this pie because it won't give you a hangover like the eggnog did. Or the Christmas-tinis you made to get yourself in the mood to wrap presents but just put you in bed by 9.

4. You need this pie because you haven't sent out Christmas cards yet.

5. You need this pie because you haven't bought Christmas cards yet.

6. You need this pie because your cat crapped on a present that took you 45 minutes to wrap because you have the dexterity of an embryo and can't afford gift wrapping.

7. You need this pie because of what happened in the Target parking lot yesterday.

8. You need this pie because you just ran out of wine.

10. You need this pie because not only do you need to get all of your nieces and nephews Christmas presents but also birthday presents for the past 5 years.

11. You need this pie because you just placed your order without realizing you had a coupon.

12. You need this pie because your dog just ate the cat poop off the present under the tree.

13. You need this pie because you just ran out of vodka.

14. You need this pie because by God you're going to find the holiday spirit somehow, someway, even if it means shoving it into your mouth.

15. You need this pie because it's Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

The 'Merry Christmas' Pie (Dulce de Leche, Chocolate and Sea Salt)

1 store bought, refrigerated pie crust, blind baked and cooled
1 (13.4 oz) can dulce de leche (to make it more pourable, you can scoop it into a microwave proof bowl and heat up for 10 seconds or so)

Chocolate Pudding Layer:
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/4 cups milk [I used skim milk, because that's what I had on hand. It came out delicious. Use what you like.]
1 cup sugar
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

Top Layer:
2 cups sweetened whipped cream (add 1/4 cup confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla), or Cool Whip
Chocolate shavings, for garnish
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, optional

Pour the dulce de leche into the baked and cooled pie crust, spreading or swirling around to create an even layer. Set aside while you make the pudding.

For pudding:
In bowl, whisk cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt; whisk in half-and-half. In saucepan, heat milk, sugar and chocolate over medium heat, stirring, to melt chocolate. Whisk in half-and-half mixture. Cook, whisking, until filling begins to bubble; cook, whisking, until very thick, 1 minute. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Spread over the dulce de leche layer in the prepared crust; cover with plastic wrap (laying it over the pudding so no ugly 'skin' forms. Chill thoroughly, at least 4 hours.

Remove the pie from the fridge. Spread the whipped cream (or Cool Whip) over. Garnish with shaved chocolate, and sea salt and serve right away. If not eating/serving the whole pie right away, do not add the salt over the pie but sprinkle over individual slices so you don't make the topping watery when store in the fridge.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Simple Perfect Enchiladas

These enchiladas, while delicious, redefine the term stick to your ribs.

Proceed with caution.

Pioneer Woman's Simple Perfect Enchiladas
Prep Time: 1 Hour30 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 6

1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
1 can (28 Ounce) Enchilada Or Red Sauce
2 cups Chicken Broth
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chopped Cilantro
1-1/2 pound Ground Beef
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
2 cans (4 Ounce) Diced Green Chilies
1/2 teaspoon Salt
10 whole (to 14) Corn Tortillas
1/2 cup Canola Oil
3 cups Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup Chopped Black Olives
1 cup Chopped Green Onions
1/2 cup Chopped Cilantro

Preparation Instructions

Step #1 – The Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, add oil and flour and whisk together to make a paste, cooking for one minute. Pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes.

Step #2 – The Meat
Brown the meat with onions in a skillet. Drain off fat. Stir in 2 cans diced green chilies and seasoned salt. Set aside.

Step #3 – Tortillas
Heat canola oil in a small skillet over medium heat. One by one, using tongs, fry tortillas in oil until soft, not crisp – about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a paper—towel lined plate. Repeat until all tortillas have been fried.

Step #4 – Assembly
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour ½ cup red sauce in bottom of baking pan. Spread to even out. Dip each tortilla into red sauce, then remove to work surface. Spoon meat, a little grated cheese, a little black olives, and green onions in the center of tortilla. Roll up and place, seam down, in baking pan. Repeat until pan is filled. Pour extra red sauce over enchiladas. Top with remaining cheddar cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle cilantro over enchiladas before serving.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Quick and Easy Overnight Stir Fry

Y'all when I threw this together the other night I'd had a couple glasses of wine and had no idea if it would even be edible the next day. It seems I've replaced my sipping and clicking habit with sipping and marinading as this was the exact same way I came up with my Broken Spoke Pork Chops.

Anyway, all you do is throw all of the marinade ingredients and beef together in a ziploc, chill overnight, then fry up in a wok the next day. It's kind of like frozen food you assemble yourself and is super flexible to your own tastes. If I'd have had red bell pepper, I'd have added it. And on the contrary, if I hadn't of had any of the post marinade additions (onion, peas, baby corn), I think it would've been lovely just the way it was. Though I'd have missed those damn baby corns...

Baby corns! How do they make them? Where do they come from? When I was little I stayed up at nights worrying that the miniature farmers who harvested them would get washed away in a flood or something. But then again, I spent a lot of time alone as a child...

Quick and Easy Overnight Beef Stir Fry

Marinade Ingredients:
1 lb beef sirloin, sliced thin on the diagonal
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 fat green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 fat/2 small garlic cloves, rough chopped or smashed
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 large carrot, sliced into thin rounds
Throw all of the above into a large ziploc, smush around to incorporate, and refrigerate overnight.

Ingredients for Stir Fry:
couple dashes vegetable oil, enough to lightly coat bottom/sides of wok pan
Half of small onion, cut into 1/4 inch thick slivers
1/3 cup frozen peas
large handful of baby corn, plucked and drained from a jar
Cooked white rice, for serving.

Assemble marinade ingredients and chill overnight in the fridge or at least 8 hours.

When ready to cook, heat a wok or large rimmed skillet over medium/high heat and add enough olive oil (not extra virgin) or vegetable oil just to coat the bottom generously. Let heat through for 1 minute, then add the sliced onion and saute, stirring occasionally for 4 minutes, just to take the 'bitter' off. Add the contents of the beef marinade (all of it) and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the beef is mostly cooked through. Stir in the peas and let heat through, another 2 minutes or so. Finally add in the baby corn and cook another minute.

Serve over white rice.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seared Pork Chops with Prosciutto, Mushrooms, and Wine

1-2 tablespoons olive oil (just enough to lightly coat a nonstick pan)
2 boneless pork chops, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick (neither the super thin scallopini ones nor the crazy double cut ones)
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 cup Cremini mushrooms, large ones quartered and small ones halved
1/2 cup white wine (or just enough to create a super shallow pool for the chops to sit in)
5-6 fresh sage leaves
3 slices prosciutto, folded in half length-wise and snipped into lardon (little strips) with kitchen shears
splash chicken stock
small pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
handful chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper and set aside. Add the oil to a large nonstick skillet and bring over medium heat. Let heat through for a couple minutes or until the oil moves freely in the pan when tilted then carefully add the chops, leaving them alone for a couple of minutes to brown. Once you have a golden sear, flip to the other side and add in the mushrooms distributing evenly around the pan (they all need contact with the heat and oil - don't let any sit on the chops at this point.)

Stir the mushrooms occasionally around the pan while the pork browns on the second side. After 2 minutes, pour in the white wine and bring to a simmer over medium/high heat. Once simmering, add in the sage leaves, prosciutto, a splash of stock and nutmeg. Let simmer another minute, then remove the chops and set aside while you finish the sauce. Basically you want the amount of moisture to reduce a little and the prosciutto to continue to infuse its flavor for a bit longer without over cooking your chops.

Once the liquid has reduced a little (careful though to not let the pan dry out or you won't have a sauce!) - lower the heat to its lowest setting and remove from the heat a second while you stir in the butter and a teensy bit more of salt and pepper (if you're salt sensitive check it before adding.) Add the chops back into the pan, scoop some of the sauce/mushrooms/prosciutto over the chops, garnish with chopped flat leaf parsley and serve.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Spicy Grilled Buttermilk Chicken

Spicy Grilled Buttermilk Chicken

1 quart buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
big handful chopped cilantro
1/3 cup chopped green onion
2 jalapenoes, seeded, deveined and chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or Franks Red Hot Sauce, optional
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried mustard powder
pinch fresh cracked pepper
3-4 pounds chicken pieces. A mix of boneless, skinless breast cutlets and skin-on drums and thighs or whatever you like.
Additional chopped green onions and cilantro, for garnish

1. In a large bowl, mix buttermilk, shallots, garlic, cilantro, green onion, jalapeno, hot sauce, salt, sugar, cumin, mustard, and pepper. If you have an extra large ziploc, you can brine the chicken in a bag to save fridge space. Otherwise you a bowl and be sure to cover it with plastic wrap when chilling.
2. Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry. Trim off excess fat on skin pieces. Submerge chicken pieces in buttermilk brine. Cover and chill overnight or at least for 8 hours. Remove from fridge one hour before grilling to take the chill off.
3. Lift chicken from brine; and gently shake off excess herbs and garlic. Blot gently with paper towels (they don't have to be really dry but just not dripping), season lightly with more salt and pepper, and set aside while you prepare the grill do medium heat.
4. Grill for 5-6 minutes per side or until cooked through (dark meat may take longer.) Serve hot with extra tabasco on the side and/or a dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce, Optional (Pesto also works well!):
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
handful minced cilantro
handful chopped green onions
1/2-1 teaspoon Frank's Red Hot Sauce, or Tabasco to taste
pinch salt and pepper

Mix together, cover, and keep chilled until ready to serve.