Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tough two

I'm sorry for the lack of posts the last few weeks. I have a great excuse though: headaches. Two weeks ago today my boyfriend and I went out for our anniversary dinner at a verrrrrry nice restaurant and, after eating, I fainted. And hit my head. And got a concussion!

Obviously, it was an eventful night (and my poor boyfriend...he handled it like a champ, and took very good care of me afterwards)! So for the last two weeks I've had some pretty bad headaches, lasting all day. Looking at a computer screen has not helped, but it seems like the headaches are finally waning. I still have a lot of tension in my neck, but I'm hoping the 90-minute massage I've booked for tomorrow will help with that! (And in case anyone is wondering, my doctor said that unless it happens again, why I fainted isn't really important, particularly because I was pretty dehydrated and I didn't faint until I stood up. So there's that.)

Anyways...that's not what I wanted to post about, but I felt I should explain the absence. I really just wanted to say that...I lost this little guy on Sunday and it's broken my heart a bit. I have no idea what happened. No signs of illness or injury, and he wasn't even a year old :( He was such a character and an awesome little hamster. I've had so many over the years, but I love each of them more than I can explain. So here's to Hershel...a great little mischief maker, gone too soon. Miss you, buddy x

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ridiculously Early

Since I got back from England I've had this problem with waking up stooooopid early. Today is another example. 5:30 on a Saturday! Ah well, plenty of time to get things done, I suppose.

And one of those things to get done (albeit a bit impromptu)?

Cinnamon Rolls.

I haven't made these since my friends and I went away for a winter cabin weekend in February. They were part of the smorgasbord of food I provided that weekend, and were the staple at breakfast that snowy Saturday morn. But since then, my friends have been begging me to make them again.

So today I will. It's a friend's birthday party tonight, and there's a work birthday on Tuesday, so double batch it is! And no one knows I'm bringing these :)

They're better than Cinnabon, I promise. So do my friends. And my family.

And aside from how they taste, I love that this recipe can be vegan. I like knowing I can cater to whomever, and because this recipe doesn't use egg (the binder is flax "egg") by swapping out butter for vegan margarine and milk for soymilk, you can make the recipe vegan.

Now - on to the fun stuff.

I found this recipe the summer I was vegan ('09) and have searched thoroughly for the blog I originally found it on, but cannot find it. I've found numerous blogs that say that exact same thing, but no recipe. So - if you happen to be the vegan blogger who created these - you are a god. I've un-veganized it (sorry), and I've altered the rising times. In my opinion, more rising is better!

Now - a few notes about making cinnamon rolls. It is a process. It is not difficult, but you have to have time and patience. Do this when you KNOW you will be at or around home for at least 6-8 hours. The longer they rise (during each step) the better, lighter, fluffier, and gooier they taste. I'll edit this with a picture tomorrow at breakfast :)

Cinnamon Rollz (click here for a pictorial version)

2½ t active dry yeast
½ cup sugar
1 cup 2% milk, warmed
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed whisked together with 6 T hot water
⅓ cup butter, melted
4½ cup unbleached flour
1 tsp salt 
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2½ Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 cup butter, softened
Frosting (I usually need to double this)
2 cups icing sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
as much milk until you get desired consistency

1. Mix yeast, sugar, and heated milk in a large mixing bowl and let stand until foamy.

2. Add flax egg, melted butter, flour, and salt. Mix well and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough should be firm and smooth, not sticky. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm room to rise at least 2 hours (I use my oven on the "proofing" setting. The damp cloth is very important, otherwise your dough will get too dry).

3. After the dough has doubled, turn it over in the bowl and let it rise for another hour.

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.

5. Roll dough into a rectangle. (To clarify - make a large, thin rectangle. This is the most annoying time consuming part of the recipe, but it's worth it. You want to roll the dough out as far as possible until it springs back, then let it rest about 5 minutes, this allows time for the gluten to rest and restructure. Repeat this process until your rectangle is as large and thin as possible, then proceed to the next step.)

6. Spread dough with butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12-16 sections with a sharp knife. 

7. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

8. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

9.While rolls are baking, beat together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving. And if your friends and family are like mine...make extra frosting.

Note: These can be par-baked. Bake them for 10 minutes, allow to cool, then put them in the fridge for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, remove from the fridge and put them in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Alternatively, cook for the full time, refrigerate, then heat in a low-temp oven (200 degrees) for 20 minutes, or microwave until warm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Catch up x2

I keep thinking anyone following this blog will think I've forgotten about it, but I haven't!

My trip to England was fantastic - there will definitely be a post about that!

As for now, I've been working overtime because we've got a crazy amount of stuff to get caught up on at work, and have been playing catch-up at home from having been away for a week. Things are slowing down now so hopefully I'll get a post out this weekend! Thanks for being patient :)