Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

My husband LOVES sweet bread.  And really, what's not to like?  It's soft, tender, sweet, and pairs well with just about anything.  I found a recipe on pinterest the other day that was for a bread machine loaf of Hawaiian Sweet Bread, but I wanted to make rolls, and I don't have a bread machine, so I changed up the recipe to suit my needs.  This is what we ended up with!  We served these with BBQ Pulled Pork.  Delicious!

Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

3/4 cup pineapple juice, at room temperature
2 T vegetable oil
2 1/2 T honey
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp (1 packet) yeast
2 T dry (powdered) milk
3 cups bread flour
1 egg

In a large mixing bowl combine pineapple juice, oil, honey, salt, and yeast.  Add powdered milk and 1 cup flour.  Mix until a gooey dough forms.  Add egg and mix well.  Add remaining 2 cups flour and mix until a soft dough forms and the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  Place into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Punch dough down.  On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into nine equal portions.  Roll into balls and place in a greased 9" square baking dish.  Let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes - 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F.  Bake risen rolls for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top.  Remove from oven and brush tops of rolls with butter.  Let cool before serving.

Makes 9 rolls.

Monday, February 18, 2013

President's Day Activity: Food Faces

It's President's Day here in the US, celebrating the births of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I decided to have a little dinnertime activity where we made faces of these presidents using our dinner.  We were eating mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, and grilled chicken.  Here are the results:

Washington, using potatoes, corn, lima bean, and green bean

Lincoln, using potatoes, chicken, lima beans, and green bean

Washington, using mixed vegetables and chicken

We're not sure what this is.  My two-year-old didn't specify...

Lincoln, using potatoes, chicken, lima beans, peas, corn, and green beans

Washington, using chicken, potatoes, and mixed vegetables

Which do you like?  And what creative things do you do with your food?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I originally posted this about three years ago, but I've changed the recipe since then, so I thought i'd update it!

When I was a kid and we would go to a Chinese restaurant, the only thing I would ever order was Sweet and Sour Chicken.  Years ago, when my brother and sister-in-law lived in Hawaii, they got me a Hawaiian cookbook.  I was delighted to find this recipe in it, which is a more Hawaiian version of sweet and sour chicken.  Their directions were terrible and their quantities and cooking times were also pretty off, so I revamped the recipe a few times, until I came up with this version. I love it!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken (breasts, tenders, thighs, whatever you prefer)
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T oil
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced in 1/4"-thick rings
1 (10 oz) cans of pineapple in juice (rings or chunks), drained, reserving juice
OR 6-8 fresh pineapple rings

3/4 cups pineapple juice
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T corn starch
1 t ground ginger
1 cup sugar
1 cube of chicken bullion

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the chicken into 1" cubes.  Place flour, salt, and pepper in a large Ziplock bag.  Add chicken and toss to coat.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add floured chicken and cook about 5 minutes, turning once, or until very lightly browned.  Remove chicken from pan and place in a 9"x13" pan.  Arrange peppers and pineapple on top of chicken and put in oven for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  Put all ingredients in medium saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, still stirring, until sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from heat and pour over already-baking chicken.  Continue to cook chicken with sauce until fully cooked.

Serve over rice.

Serves 6.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentine's Day Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls

I saw this idea floating around Pinterest and thought I'd try it.  They turned out nicely.  The buns do lose their shape a bit when baking, but a little frosting in the right shape helps you see the heart.  This is my favorite cinnamon roll dough! As a note on the recipe, you need a total of 9 Tbs of butter, 4 of which is melted.  I split it up in the recipe.

Heart-Shaped Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe adapted from Peter Reinhart

6 1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbs butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract (not lemon juice!) or lemon zest
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (7 Tbs sugar plus 2 Tbs cinnamon)
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbs milk
2 Tbs butter, melted
1/4 tsp lemon extract or vanilla extract

In a mixer, cream together sugar, salt, and 5 tbs butter on medium-high with the paddle attachment.  Whip in egg and lemon until smooth, then add flour, yeast, and buttermilk.  Mix on low speed until dough forms a ball.  Switch to the dough hook and increase speed to medium.  Machine knead for approximately 10 minutes or knead by hand for about 15 minutes, until dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  You may need to add a little extra flour to achieve the right texture, but don't add more than 1/2 cup.

Place kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl.  Spray the top with oil and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. If you put the dough in a warm (90-120F) oven, it will rise faster.

Punch the dough down. Spray the countertop with cooking spray and transfer the dough to the counter.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until you have a rectangle about 2/3" thick and 14" wide by 12" long.  Don't roll too thin or the rolls will be tough instead of tender.

Spread or brush the 2 Tbs melted butter over the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough all the way to the edges.  Roll up the dough, beginning with the bottom long side, up to the center.  Roll the top of the dough down to meet the other roll.  It will look like a scroll.  Using a sharp knife, bench scraper, or some dental floss, cut the scroll into 12 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Place each roll, cut-side down, 1/2" apart on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Pinch the bottoms out so they look like hearts.  Mist the dough with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. 

Let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until large and puffy and almost touching. 

Preheat oven to 350F.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  Let cool slightly while you prepare the icing.

In a small pan combine powdered sugar, 2 Tbs melted butter, lemon or vanilla, and 1 Tbs milk. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until a thick but pourable glaze is created.  Put the icing into a pastry bag or a ziplock-type bag with the corner cut off.  Pipe the icing onto the buns in a heart shape, following the swirls in the dough as a guide.

Makes 12 heart-shaped buns.