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I made these cinnamon rolls, found here, tonight, utilizing the power of my bread machine.  Partially, I wanted to try out the dough function on my Zo, and partially because I wanted to see what the difference might be if I did.

Now, the ingredients were a bit different than the other recipes.  First, I used bread flour.  Bread flour has a higher gluten content, which does change the texture of the bread.  Next, this recipe called for granulated sugar and nutmeg, also very different.

This was an extremely easy recipe. The dough rolled out easily.  I could tell from that point that the rolls would be lighter and fluffier than the other recipes.

On a taste level, I consider these 4 stars.  I would have liked more filling and perhaps cream cheese icing.  Bad Pants agreed and I’m pondering a hybrid of the first recipe we tried and this current recipe.  Perhaps the dough and nutmeg of these paired with the filling of those.

If you’re looking for a light and fluff sweet roll, these are the ones you want!

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The most favorite cinnamon rolls in our household are from Cinnabon.  We love them with cream cheese icing.  So, to kick off the Bake-Off, I decided to start with a recipe that claims to be the gold standard, A Copy of a Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll.

However, after reading through the recipe, I discovered an important step left out.  At no time do they tell you when to add the milk-yeast mixture.  And they aren’t really clear as to how to make the filling mix.  Are you supposed to put the butter in the mix?  Or do you spread it on the dough?  And is it really necessary to preheat your oven almost 2 hours in advance?  As these issues are very important, I am posting the corrected recipe below, as I made them:

Copy Of A CINNABON Cinnamon Roll

You Will need to gather your ingredients first before starting this recipe. You must follow the recipe step by step in order to achieve the true cinnabon flavor.

1 CUP WARM MILK
2 EGGS
1/3 CUP BUTTER
4 1/2 CUPS FLOUR
1/2 TEASPOON SALT
2/3 CUPS OF  SUGAR
2 1/2 TEASPOONS QUICK RISING  YEAST
_________________________________________________________________________
1 CUP BROWN SUGAR
2 1/2 TABLESPOONS OF FRESH GRATED CINNAMON (I used ground cinnamon)
1/4 CUP OF BUTTER
_________________________________________________________________________
3 OUNCES CREAM CHEESE
1 1/2 CUPS OF CONFECTIONER SUGAR
1/4 CUP BUTTER
1/2 TEASPOON OF VANILLA
1/8 TEASPOON OF SALT

Gather these ingredients and set them aside to start your dough recipe first.

MIXING:

Take your 1 cup of milk warmed to about 100 degrees and disolve the packet of yeast, mix well into the milk making sure there are no clumps in the bottom of the bowl or on the spoon.

In a large bowl mix together the flour,sugar,salt, butter and eggs. Mix well, add the milk-yeast combo.   Mix some more.  Knead the dough until well mixed and doesn’t stick to your hands. Knead this into a large ball, Using your hands lightly dusted with flour place into a bowl with a drop of oil in the bottom of the bowl and cover in a warm location to allow to double in size.

Once the dough has risen for about an hour you will remove it from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface to roll out. Take your rolling pin and roll the dough out in the shape of a rectangle. Let this rest for approx. 10 minutes.

While this is resting take the cinnamon that you have grated and combine in a bowl with the brown sugar and mix in well and set aside.  Once your dough has rested take the butter and spread it on the dough evenly, then slowly sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mix all over the surface. Next, roll the dough up and seal it with a little bit of water on a pastry brush to allow the seam to stick during the baking process.  Cut the roll into 1/2 inch sections and place on a baking sheet and allow to rise again until doubled again in size. About another 30 minutes should be enough time.

PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 400 DEGREES while waiting on this final rise.

Baking:

Bake the rolls in a preheated oven until golden brown about 15 minutes, While rolls are baking, Beat together the cream cheese and butter with the confectioner sugar and vanilla and salt. You will want to spread the frosting on the cinnamon buns as soon as they have cooled but just for a few minutes as the best time to add the frosting is while they are still warm and will disolve the frosting allowing it to soak into the cinnamon bun.

***

RATING: 5 STARS!

If you’ve compared the recipes, you’ll see that I’ve changed up some of the wording so as to not give you a headache with the creator’s bad wordage.  Ugh!  Apparently, they didn’t pay attention in “How To Write A Recipe Class”.

So, I made them.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have started with these as Bad Pants said, “Damn, Babe!  You didn’t have to knock the Pillsbury Dough Boy out in the first round!”  I don’t know if it will be possible to top these.  However, I’m more than willing to give it a try!

But, in order to do that, folks, I need more recipes from YOU.  Send me your Aunt Betty’s famous cinnamon roll recipe!  Send me Grandma Ida’s fabulous recipe!  C’mon!  Even if it’s not YOUR recipe, send me your favorites!

(Picture of rolls to follow)

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The Bake-Off

Once in a while, I have to admit I’m human and have faults.  Unfortunately, a few of these faults lie in the kitchen.  I cannot, for the life of me, cook sticky rice.  I used to be able to.  But, apparently turning 30 caused me to lose that skill.  I cannot make pie crust, unless you’d like to be able to replace the soles of your shoes with it.  I also cannot make Shake ‘n Bake chicken via the microwavable recipe on the box, or your fork just might break.  You can ask The Marine about that one.  (And who cooks chicken in the microwave anyways?  Who decided that was a skill?)

We changed up our diet and began eating less processed food when we lived on the farm in Oregon.  We cooked more foods and relied on packaged less.  We also ate out A LOT less.   Dessert, which my kids thought needed to happen every day, was relegated to days that start with “S” or holidays.  Sugar breakfast cereals quickly joined the ranks of desserts.   Yeah, they weren’t too keen on either of those changes, but took it with as much aplomb 8 yr olds and 15 yr olds can muster.

Then, this past January, we changed up our diet some more.  We began only eating things with ingredients we could readily identify as food.  That means, even if we knew it was a chemical, what the chemical was used for, and could recognize it, we still wouldn’t eat it unless it was naturally occurring as food.  Anything with food coloring went right out the window.  (An aside here- removing ALL sources of food coloring from Dude’s diet has really changed his behavior.  Without food coloring, he no longer needs medication for his ADHD, and is a perfectly pleasant, nice kid.  It was sheer dumb luck we stumbled across this).  Breads, desserts, snacks, and the sort all became either purchased at the local Farmer’s Market, or were made from scratch.  Yes, I made a lot of food from scratch.  I bake my own bread.  Even in the summer.  (I use a bread constructing miracle product in the summer.  It’s a sweet little machine called the “Zo”).

We got into the habit of going to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning.  We usually buy pastries for breakfast from the French baker there.  Doodle absolutely loves her cinnamon rolls.  I love her authentic croissants (another thing I can’t make!), and BP loves her apple turnovers.  Dude eats pretty much whatever you put in front of him, so there is no accounting for taste.  😉  I jest!   Dude is a fan of her cinnamon rolls as well.

And so after one particular sunny day in which the younger kids burned themselves to a crisp, we decided to forego the market instead of exposing the kids to more sun.  This did not go over well.  Not at all!  They wanted their cinnamon rolls!  So, I decided to make cinnamon rolls from scratch for the kids.

Now, I can bake my butt off with the best of them.  Don’t believe me?  My butt is flat as a pancake!  Really, there’s nothing there to hold up my jeans.  Seriously!  Alright then, ask Bad Pants.  He’ll tell ya he didn’t marry me for my rear end.  So there!  Proof I cake bake my butt off, because it’s already gone!

Having not made cinnamon rolls from scratch in many a year (they’re time consuming- so sue me!), I could not remember which recipe I had tried last.   And I wasn’t about to stoop to buying them out of a can, as Doodle came to us believing that “homemade” cookies came out of the refrigerated section of the grocery store.  So obviously, I had to really, really make these rolls from scratch!

Yeah, well, unfortunately, they were a flop!  I extremely dislike the recipe I used.  They- they were more than just a disappointment.  They were hard enough to play baseball with.  Or build houses.  Or potentially skip on the surface of a pond.  Actually, I might have been able to solve the termite problem here in the South if we HAD built houses of them.  No self respecting insect wanted to touch them!  And they tasted like…  styrofoam.  A total and complete flop!  Of course, Doodle was very happy with them and polished off the pan.  (There’s no accounting for taste in children).

Since that time, this particular baking failure has been haunting me.  It wakes me at night from a sound sleep.  It’s always there, just over my shoulder, in the rear view mirror, right around the bend.  And I am determined to get this proverbial monkey off my back!  I can and will take back my title of Baking Queen!

So, in order to do this, I have decided that my family and I will taste test different cinnamon roll recipes over the next xx number of days.  (Well, until I tire of them or Bad Pants begs me to quit making them, whichever comes first).  I need your help, Gentle Readers.  I need you to send me the best of the best!  Email me your best cinnamon roll recipe and I’ll test it out right here on this blog!  Each day’s recipe will be featured here, along with a review on ease of making and taste.  The winning recipe will become the new, go-to recipe for the Sunshine-Pants household and be crowned champion!

So, find those recipes and email them to me at: oregonsunshine21@gmail.com

How long do YOU think I can hold to making a recipe a day?

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A couple months ago, I won a book over at Stone SouP.  Katrina, blog owner and dear friend, has a weekly book giveaway.  This was the first time I’d won after entering nearly every week for the last two years.  During that time, I’ve enjoyed getting to know Katrina, talking sustainable farming and horses, reading book reviews and happenings in her life.

The drawing I entered and won was for a book of my choice.  I chose Mini-Farming- Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham, as we have less land and less space here in Georgia.  Of course, I chose this book before finding out the LL would not let me put in a garden at all!  However, I still read and enjoyed the book.  After all, there’s always something to learn and store away for future knowledge, right?  Right!

One of the first things you notice upon picking up this book is that it’s hefty in weight and filled with photographs.  Author Brent L. Markham covers nearly every topic under the sun for how to make your land self-sustaining on just a quarter of an acre.  Hard to believe you could do such a thing on such little land, I know!  He delves into the realm of square foot gardening, traditional double digging, the pros and cons of various fertilizer and other money saving tips and techniques.  Mr. Markham even talks about growing and processing your own grains, something which I had never considered or thought could even be accomplished on less than an acre before.

Mini-Farming talks about the pros and cons of each type of crop, how to get the most bang for your buck, what fruits might produce the best and provide the largest crop, how to amend your soil, even how much food to grow per person in your household.  Additionally, this book gives ideas of how to even generate some additional income with the crops you grow.

*If you are at all squeamish, please skip the next paragraph.

Mr. Markham does a wonderful job walking the reader through how to raise your own chickens for meat and eggs.  He discusses tools of the trade, shows a photo of a cone set up for butchering, and once plucked, how to cut up your food.  He even includes plans for a homemade chicken plucker, something I appreciate if I ever get the chance to raise any of my own food again.

However, he does not discuss raising rabbits, which are prolific breeders and not overly expensive to keep.  Nor does he mention that their droppings can be immediately applied to the garden as fertilizer, not having to “cool” as other manures can require so as to not burn the roots of plants with the nitrogen content.  (Yes, this is something I’ve considered recently).

I love that this book walks you through putting up and storing your produce.  From canning to freezing, drying and saving seeds, the methods are shown in photo and explained so they can easily be followed by anyone.  To me, some methods of canning have always been intimidating after growing up hearing horror stories of what can go wrong with pressure canning.  But here, Mr. Markham directly addresses those fears, leaving one feeling confident enough to try the techniques he discusses.

In short, I think this book is a wonderful education guide for anyone looking to grow even a small part of their own food but feel intimidated to try.  Having read a lot of other books on this topic, I feel this is the most user and beginner friendly book I’ve seen so far.  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in sustainable farming.

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In Honor of Dexter…

I thought I’d do a book giveaway!

First, let’s talk Dexter!  

It’s been 12 days since he came home.  During those 12 days Dexter has:

learned to walk on a leash

learned to master the stairs 

began to seek out human contact

decided to sleep under my desk during the day

ate! That’s a huge accomplishment since he didn’t really for the first few days!

Has only pottied outside

decided that Maddie is not a dog-eating monster

sniffed noses with Mo and Sloan

has come to accept that doors are walls that move and aren’t going to eat him

All of these things are HUGE accomplishments in such a short period of time!  We still have a long, long way to go though.  We’ll get there, I’m sure.  

Dex is also still nervous with the other dogs.  He snapped at Copper once and hasn’t come out to investigate any of them.  We’ll do some on leash introductions this weekend.  

Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for!

I am giving away one copy of The Dogs Who Found Me: What I’ve Learned From Pets Who Were Left Behind by Ken Foster.  

This will ship to the winner directly from Amazon.  

Please leave a comment telling me about a rescue pet that touched your life in order to be entered.  Contest open to all residents of the US and Canada.  I will draw the winner’s name on Friday, Feb 12th, 2010.

Next time you’re looking for a pet, I hope you consider your local animal shelter.  Save a life, adopt a homeless pet!

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