Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Delicious Ooey Gooey Monkey Bread

It's Thanksgiving break and my DD wants Monkey Bread.  I'm thinking we have time let's make our own.  I just can't bring myself to buy that frozen one at the grocery store.  I remembered years ago making something that really reminded me of Monkey Bread.

It was a recipe in my "Make A Mix" cookbook called Butterscotch Butter Balls.  The "Make A Mix" part of this recipe is that you make a Hot Roll Mix.  It can be used in many recipes in this book.  So, first I made a batch of Hot Roll Mix.

Hot Roll Mix 

    • 5 lbs all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/4 cups sugar
    • 4 teaspoons salt
    • 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together to distribute evenly. Pat in a large airtight container. Label. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 to 8 months. Makes about 22 cups of Hot Roll Mix.

I have to admit that the name of this recipe I find quite unappealing.  Especially in this day and age where people like Katherine Heigl are launching websites called  All for a good cause in spaying and neutering pets and the adoption of pets that have been rescued.  But come on I'm really getting sick of talking about balls in the media.  My daughter and I threw a few name ideas around.  Her suggestion was Butterscotch Monkey Balls, which elicited a good natured chase around the kitchen and spanking with a spatula.  We still haven't come up with a name we really like, but we did really like the recipe.

Butterscotch Butter Balls 

    • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
    • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    • 2 eggs, beaten
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 cup melted margarine
    • 5 to 6 cups hot roll mix
    • 1 (3 ounce) pkg regular butterscotch pudding
    • 1 cup butter or 1 cup margarine, melted
    • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
    • 1 (1 1/2 ounce) pkg pecans, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Blend in eggs and oil or margarine. Add 5 cups of Hot Roll Mix. Stir well. Add additional Hot Roll Mix to make a soft, but not too sticky dough. Knead about 5 minutes until dough is smooth. Lightly butter bowl. Put dough in bowl and turn to butter top. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Punch down dough. Divide dough in to 48 balls of equal size. Place balls on a cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. When frozen, transfer to plastic bags for storage in freezer. Use within 1 to 2 months. About 8 hours before serving, or the night before, place 24 frozen balls in each of 2 unbuttered bundt pans. Sprinkle half of the butterscotch pudding on each pan of frozen rolls. Combine melted butter or margarine and brown sugar in a small bowl Pour half the mixture over each pan of rolls. Sprinkle half of pecans and half of cinnamon over each pan. Cover both pans with towels and let rise about 8 hours over night. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 c) Bake about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Makes 2 butterscotch rings.

Lynne's note:  I make one.  Saving the 1/2 butterscotch pudding for another day.  We doubled the pecans, because we like them.

It's best eaten while warm.  If you can't eat it while warm from the oven.  Warm it up in the microwave. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ed's Designer Chocolate Birthday Cake

My husband's birthday is right around Thanksgiving.  I couldn't get him to stick a candle in a piece of pumpkin pie and call it a birthday pie.  Can't blame him.  So, many years ago I asked what he'd like his birthday treat to be and he said a chocolate cake.  I've been making the cake for years, but as soon as the kids got old enough I got them involved.  Up till now it's been mostly helping.  This year though my daughter took the project on.  She asked if she could make a designer gourmet cake.  After just a couple suggestions by me for instance it had to be made with things her father liked and steering her back to the fact that this had to be a chocolate cake she did well.

She got out pen and paper and drew out a sketch like she was building a skyscraper and it was her blueprint.  The cake would be chocolate with peanut butter chips baked in.  Then there would be 3 layers of peanut butter fudge.  The whole thing would be coated with a chocolate ganache frosting and pressed into that would be toffee bits.  My husband isn't a big dessert eater.  His main complaint when he has dessert is "it's too sweet."  I didn't know what he was going to think of this cake, but knowing his daughter made it I knew he would be a good sport.

Chocolate Ganache frosting with toffee bits pressed on.
He decided he wanted his cake a day early as to not have to eat a whole chocolate cake practically by himself.  This way he could share it with all who came for Thanksgiving.  This turned out to not be such a good idea for him or me.  Everyone wanted a piece of his beautiful cake.  No one wanted a piece of the pumpkin pie I had baked.
Everyone dove in so heartily into this cake that I barely got a picture before it was all gone!
As you can see there was only 1/4 of the cake left before I realized I wanted to get a picture.

Here you can see the peanut butter fudge layers and the peanut butter chips.
Here's the peanut butter fudge recipe.  My daughter did not chill the peanut butter fudge.  My daughter laid out a piece of plastic wrap and using a rolling pin rolled out some of the fudge.  Using the cake pan as a pattern we then carefully cut away the excess fudge making it the size of the cake round.  Being careful not to cut the plastic wrap.  Picking up the plastic wrap she flipped the fudge layer down on to cake layer.  Then peeled off the plastic wrap and repeated 2 more times.

For the frosting I've been using Mrs. Milman's recipe the last few years.  I hesitate to share it even though delicious, but I've had problems with it every year.  There is even a video where Mrs. Milman talks about how easy it is to make.  My problem is getting it firm enough to frost a cake.  After stirring it for hours in the fridge I ended up leaving the frosting in the fridge overnight.  I figured if it got too hard to spread we'd deal with it in the morning.  Turns out it was perfect spreading consistency.  So, before I call it quits on this recipe I'm going to try making it the day before instead of anxiously waiting for it to firm up the day of.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Yogurt Craze

First I fell in love with Starbucks Black Cherry Parfait.  I couldn't afford to buy one every day, so I started making them at home with a recipe I found online.  Tweaked it slightly to my personal taste.  I  found using greek yogurt really adds a wonderful flavor, but regular works fine too.  I use a coffee filter and in 8 hours there is 1 cup of whey drained from yogurt.  Right now I throw it away, but feel a bit guilty about it.  I'll have to find a use for it.

Black Cherry Yogurt Parfait

4 cups (32 ounces) reduced-fat plain yogurt
1 cup frozen pitted dark sweet cherries, thawed and quartered
1/2 cup 100% cherry juice
2 T honey
1 1/2 cups of granola

Line a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth or one coffee filter and place over a bowl. Place yogurt in prepared strainer; cover yogurt with edges of cheesecloth. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.  Quarter cherries before they thaw for ease of cutting.

Remove yogurt from cheesecloth and discard liquid from bowl. Place yogurt in a small bowl; stir in the cherries and cherry juice. Cover and refrigerate until serving. It will keep in the refrigerator for the week. Before serving add 1/4 cup of granola to yogurt. Yield: 3 cups. 6 Servings.

With fall being here I got a craving for something maple, cinnamon and apple.  I thought the combination would make a great parfait and it did!

Maple Apple Cinnamon Yogurt Parfait

4 cups (32 ounces) reduced-fat plain yogurt
1 diced apple
1/2 cup 100% apple juice
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp maple extract
1 1/2 cups of granola

Line a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth or one coffee filter and place over a bowl. Place yogurt in prepared strainer; cover yogurt with edges of cheesecloth. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove yogurt from cheesecloth and discard liquid from bowl. Place yogurt in a small bowl; stir in apples, apple juice, maple syrup, cinnamon and extract. Cover and refrigerate until serving. It will keep in the refrigerator for the week. Before serving add 1/4 cup of granola to yogurt. Yield: 3 cups. 6 Servings.

Both are absolutely delicious and make a great start to ones day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Where Has November Gone?

It occurred to me on Friday that Thanksgiving is a week away.  I've bought nothing!  Not even a turkey.  I like to get a turkey some where between 23-25 pounds and if I don't get it pronto it won't be defrosted in time.  So, out I went on Friday to get at least a turkey.

When I found out that DH's family weren't coming to Thanksgiving this year (due to health issues of their matriarch) this cut my cooking and planning in half.  I was disappointed they weren't coming, but tickled that Thanksgiving isn't going to be a 3 ring cooking circus.  It's going to be my extend family and I cook a meal for them about every month.  No biggie there.

I got so relaxed about it all I completely forgot that a little planning and prep was needed.

Hot Cranberry Cider
Mashed Potatoes
Brussel Sprouts
Homemade Dinner rolls
Cranberry Sauce, Jellied
Pumpkin Pie
Pecan Pie
Whipped Cream

Every thing will be made by me except for the canned jellied cranberry sauce.  I just love it for some strange reason.

I don't like sweet potatoes and nobody has ever complained that there aren't any.  I also don't like the green bean casserole frequently pushed this time of year.  Sometimes I'll make a wild rice mushroom dish if I'm feeling ambitious.  Frequently, we'll have a green salad too.  It's a big meal and I plan for leftovers.  That's why I get a big turkey.  Everyone can take some home for sandwiches the next day.

On another topic I crocheted a hat to test a pattern for a designer this week.  Here is a picture of the hat.  This Jester doesn't like to be called a fool. :)

FYI:  This pattern is sold on Ravelry (free site to join).  It is located here Silly Court Jester/ Elf hat.  I found the pattern easy to follow and crocheted up fairly quickly.