01 March 2015

Winter is for the Birds! (photo heavy)

To say I am done with winter is an understatement. If you have been around long you know I am a heat and sun seeker. I don't complain about the heat and humidity of the American South. Having said that I do enjoy one really good snow a year. I think snow is beautiful. I love the silence of a walk in the snow, how it makes all the world look clean (remember this is the South our snow doesn't stick around long enough to get dirty lol) The last half of February has been nothing but messy weather. Eight of the last ten school days have been cancelled, you'd think that doesn't affect me anymore but it has meant the loss of several sub jobs. One thing i enjoy during weather like this is the constant stream of birds to our feeders and working (yep, it's work) to capture beautiful pictures. Every year I hope to get one outstanding capture each of a cardinal and a bluebird. I feel like I accomplished this in February.

Sunday Song of Praise

Hillsong - Deep of Your Grace

27 February 2015

Red Velvet Cinnamon Rolls

Last week when it snowed/iced I went into baking mode (that was not possible this week because we had no power @@)  Anyway the Chosen One loves German chocolate cake and I never make it (I am not a fan of coconut). I decided to make German Chocolate stuffed cupcakes which must have been good because they disappeared. Then I decided to be brave and attempt something I had no experience with ... I have never made bread other than in a bread machine. I figured the worst that could happen was it would be awful and we'd throw them out. Believe me, that did not happen. They were amazing!! I was a rock star!! I had tons of facebook comments so here's the recipe I used for

recipe adapted  by Melissa of  No.2 Pencil 
from a Duncan Hines recipe My comments are in italics.

These take about 3 hours from start to finish, mostly inactive prep time.
Makes 24 rolls
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
2 envelopes (1/4 oz each) of Active Dry Yeast
2 1/2 cups of warm water
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
5 cups of all-purpose flour
Cinnamon Filling
1 stick of softened butter
1 cup of packed dark brown sugar
1 cup of granulated white sugar
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 sticks of softened butter
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
2 packages of softened cream cheese – 8 ounces

Combine two packages of active dry yeast with warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir until dissolved. Add cake mix, flour, vanilla and salt. Use dough hook attachment to knead dough together, just for a minute or two. Move to larger bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour. Punch dough down after an hour, and let rise again for another hour.

Use plenty of flour on a clean surface and turn dough out.  Shape into a ball, then roll into a rectangle shape, Melissa's measured about 28×17, mine was a bit smaller. Spread softened butter over dough. I put the butter down in "globs" and then just spread it around with my fingers. Heavily sprinkle with brown sugar, repeat with granulated sugar and finally an generous layer of cinnamon. Start from farthest edge and roll dough tightly into a long skinny log shape. After rolling I stretch mine longer very gently. Slice into 24 rolls.

Place rolls in two 9×13 pans that have been greased with butter, or sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Let rise a final time in pan for about 30 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
While the rolls are baking, prepare cream cheese frosting. With paddle attachment on the stand mixer, combine room temperature butter with powdered sugar. Beat until well combined, then add vanilla and pinch of salt. Mix again, then while mixer is going, drop cubes of softened cream cheese in the bowl one at a time until frosting is well mixed. While the rolls are still very warm spread the frosting on top. Grab a glass of milk or some coffee and savor the awesomeness.

They are simply glorious!