Tag: baking

Speedy Rolls and #LDSConf

This weekend I had the great experience of listening to my church’s General Conference where the prophet and other leadership speak words of wisdom and counsel to all of us. The interesting thing about this weekend is there wasn’t one stand out talk.

They all were great and impacted me.  It all made me want to be a better person and strengthened my faith.  I am so excited to dive into them for the next 6 months and make them part of my life.

In the last 2 years I became more involved in the Church’s twitter movement known as #twitterstake.  This isn’t officially part of the church but they have embraced social networking and have established #ldsconf as the General Conference hashtag as well as tags for every speaker.

#ldsconf

Older members may be surprised by the embrace of such social media and wonder if it distracts viewers to be on twitter at the same time they are listening to the prophet and apostles?  If I had not participated myself I might wonder the same thing.

In fact, it is the reverse.  For a multisensory learner like myself being able to interact with a community of worldwide saints while watching General Conference only adds to my understanding and faith.

Not only do other viewers pick up on talk aspects that I don’t, but I am also using reading, writing, listening and viewing to process ideas instead of merely viewing.  I can’t understate how much it has helped me to get the most out of General Conference since I started in 2012.

It has also helped me to feel a part of a worldwide movement.  To literally bare my testimony to others all around the world.  I have made friends that are truly cherished, some that I have met and others that I communicate with frequently.

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One of my twitter friends @Stan_Way  described it well:

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Indeed, who reading my blog or tweet will become a lasting friend?  What a great world we live in.  Never any other time in the history of the world could a single woman have such a voice.  It’s just wonderful.

For some reason this conference everyone was making cinnamon rolls on twitter.  After about the 300th tweet I broke down and made my own.  I’m not the hugest baker in the world, but I have a recipe for ‘Speedy Rolls’ in my cookbook (see post for more on the cookbook)  for many years. For all of you that aren’t bakers it is the easiest recipe.  Fail proof!

It can also be used as cinnamon rolls and works great.

cinnamonrolls

Speedy Rolls/Cinnamon Rolls

Place in mixing bowl and let disolve

2 cups warm water

2 tbsp yeast (2 packages)

1/3 cup sugar

Add and beat for 2 minutes

1 tbsp salt

2 cups flour

Add and beat for 1 minute

2 eggs

1/3 cup melted shortening or butter

Gradually add until dough forms

4 1/2 cups flour

Let stand for 20 minutes.  Then shape and let rise for another 20 minutes.

Put lots of cooking spray on the pan.

Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes depending on size. Until godlen brown

If making cinnamon rolls using rolling pin to make dough about 1/4 inch thick.  Then spread cinnamon, sugar, butter and brown sugar very liberally.  Roll up into one large log then cut into 1 inch slices.

Let rise and it took me around 25 minutes to cook because they are so big.

Top with glaze made from butter, powdered sugar and a little milk.

 

The cinnamon rolls also gave me an excuse to meet my neighbors.  Win-win!

 

Fast Comfort Food Contest

cooking contest2So friends we are going to have some fun together 🙂

Way back in 2010 I did a healthy recipe contest that was a lot of fun.  Recently I found myself thinking about it and wondering if I should try again now that I have many more followers than back then.  I’m afraid I have had little to no cooking motivation lately and just testing out the recipes will be motivating on that front so I figured why not!

rachel-at-party

So here are the rules to the contest:

All entries must be in by the end of 2013.

They can be appetizer or entrees but they must be able to cook within 30 minutes of prep (If they are crockpot or require more baking time that’s fine).

The healthier the better and while I am not going to forbid processed ingredients (canned soups, bisquick etc) the less the better.

Make it your recipe, but if it is based off somewhere else tell me.

1 entry per person.

Winner gets 6 month birchbox subscription (3 months for birchbox man).   If I get a great response will do 2nd place.

I’m open to any cuisines, and while I’m not rolling in cash, the price is not a qualification for the contest.  I’m also just one person so try to keep the recipes down to a normal family size- serve 4.

Seriously guys I need your help on this.  Please send your recipes in.  I will do my best to judge recipes as quickly as possible and announce a winner in early January.

Fun times!  Email entries to smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.  Also you can ask my friend Amber I’m good on giving out the reward.

cooking contest

Bake 360

bakery
Bakery in all its delights
bake360
Bake 360

When there is a local establishment that does great work I like to use my blog to give a little shout out and maybe try to promote it in my own little way.  One such place is a bakery in my hometown of Draper, Utah called Bake 360.  I can honestly say it is as good if not better than any bakery I’ve ever been to.  Everything is meticulously made and you feel guilty tearing into it (in more ways than one) because they are so pretty, works of art really.

Just to show you I’m not alone here are some of the yelp reviews:

An exhaustive review is unnecessary – Just go! Right now!
I’ve tried most of the items in that majestic glass case and every single one is phenomenal. Eclairs? Delicious

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After one visit to Bake 360 I would now trade my Elvis collectible dolls, the contents of my secret lockbox (doh!), and what’s left of my dignity for just one more visit to Bake 360…

—-

Oh, the poor tattered remains of my diet….After our Saturday visit where we ordered a fairly stupid haul of pastries to sample, my wife asked how much the damage was.  When I gave her a figure in the low $20 range, she was gobsmacked.  The love and care that goes into each product is evident and while paying a bit more might have been understandable, I really appreciate the effort to keep things reasonable.

—–

I’ve only been there three times since I discovered the place a month ago (and one time I didn’t even eat anything –   I just smelled the air and bought stuff for friends.  No, no – real friends.  Not “air quotes” friends).

Things I might have said recently about Bake 360:

I really didn’t mean to get in my car, drive 10.24 miles, and purchase baked goods there.  It just happened.

I haven’t gone there like, 26 out of the last 30 days.  So I don’t have a problem.

Those are not crumbs all over my car.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.

I wouldn’t have to go if there were better bakeries close by.

Sigh.

My name is Kristin.  And I’m a Bake 360-aholic

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Well, that should give you some ideas.  They always have a wide selection of pastries including scones, kouing aman, chocolate croissants and apricot pastries with pastry cream.

pastries to die for!
pastries to die for!

If you aren’t in the mood for pastries they have a whole case of other desserts like eclairs, brownies, cheesecakes and tarts.  All are some of the best I’ve ever had.

The case to die for
The case to die for

Some particular standouts are the creme fraiche cheesecake and raspberry tarts.

tart
raspberry tart. So good!
cheesecake
Best cheesecake I’ve ever had. Sorry Mom
eclairs
Eclairs. The one with the caramel sauce, holy cow!
brownie
Yes, that is one brownie. Dark chocolate dipped in dark chocolate ganache. Hint one glass of milk wasn’t enough

My trainer says if you are going to have a treat make it a ‘hell yeah’ treat.  Meaning don’t waste your calories on some lame cookie.  Get something really good.  Bake 360 totally fits that bill.  They even have pastry classes I’m dieing to take.   Although they say you only take the class to realize you should buy them!

The service is also great at Bake 360.  The staff is all well versed on every item including explanations as to where ingredients were sourced and how it was prepared. They even have french macaroons for the gluten free crowd (although not always in stock).

The only flaw with Bake 360 is there is no seating so you have to take your treat elsewhere; however, there is a coffee shop called Dancing Yetti’s next store that makes all kinds of drinks and has 2 sofas, so in a pinch you can bring your treats there and get a drink.  The lack of seating keeps the prices down and you can get a lot of pastries for under $20.

Check it out!  You won’t regret it.

 

Perfect Saturday

So I’m a very social person but to me the perfect day is one that combines activities and ‘veg’ time as I like to call it.  Today is a perfect example.  I woke up early and then went to pick up my bountiful basket.  The last few have been a bit skimpy but not this week.  It is huge!  We went with the tropical and blackberry addition but it ended up being still just under $40.  Pretty incredible.  The tropical basket has little tiny coconuts.  I’m not sure how to use them but that’s part of the fun. The blackberries are divine.  I’ve already eaten 2 containers!

All of this for under $40!

It was funny when I was picking up my basket a girl looked at the artichoke and said ‘What the heck is that?’.  I guess spending a lot of time in California I was introduced to artichokes from an early age.  I can understand never having tried them but to have no idea what they are?  Funny.

After picking up my basket I went to Boxing is for Girls and it was intense but awesome.  They have you do around a half hour of circuit training and this time it was relays with various tasks.  Its amazing how something that looks so easy like moving on your feet and hands with your but in the air is super hard. Wow! The last half of the class is punching practice and its my favorite.  You do some sets to practice your form and then they bring out the punching bags and you can go at it.  It really is a blast.  My friend Polly came last week and I didn’t know if she was really liking it but after the punching she was psyched.  She even signed up for a pass.

Love this photo
Jab Jab!

After boxing I came home, made lunch and watched my DVR of Say Yes to the Dress (the Atlanta version really isn’t as good!).  Then I made some almond flour cheese crackers.  I was reminded of them by my friend Jill who had them when I taught my class on low glycemic cooking.   This time I didn’t have quite enough almond flour so I had to use some brown rice flour.  I also tried a spin on the recipe and added some Tabasco.   Yum!

cheese crackers. Loaded with protein and flavor. Don’t overdo it because they do have a lot of calories from the almond flour. Still delicious.

Cheese Crackers with Almond Flour (Gluten Free)
(Makes about 30 crackers, recipe from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam. This recipe is half the amount in the book, so double it and make the full recipe if you prefer.)

2 1/2 cup blanched almond flour (not the same as almond meal) (I use honeyville farms made right here in Utah).
1/4 tsp. salt (I used fine grind sea salt)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar and lightly packed it into measuring cup)
3  T  grapeseed oil (or olive oil works great if you don’t have  grapeseed)
2 large egg

 Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Grate 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and cheese. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg and oil. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until well-combined.Cut two pieces of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet. Put one piece of parchment on cutting board and put dough on top, or half the dough if baking on small baking sheet. (I made the dough into the shape of the parchment.) Put second piece of parchment on top of the dough and roll out with rolling pin until dough covers the parchment sheet.Remove top parchment and cut dough into pieces 2 inches square.  Slide the parchment with the cut dough onto baking sheet and bake crackers 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.Let crackers cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes (or if you need to bake another batch like I did, carefully slide first batch off to cutting board to cool while you use baking sheet to bake the second batch.)

I had kind of gotten out of my low glycemic baking.  Not sure why but I think I’m going to dive into it again.  Elana Amsterdam certainly has lots of recipes for me to try! :).

Now I have the rest of the day to relax, rub essential oils on my wounds (another banner exercise week, 4 workouts.  Next week I have one planned every day except Sunday.  If I can pull it off it will be one of the only times I’ve done that.  It’s the home stretch.  My swim is coming in 14 days!)

To me this is the perfect Saturday.  Got enough busyness to feel productive but enough relax time to feel relaxed.  After the week I’ve had I need to feel relaxed. Maybe I will even read for a while.  Luxury!

(I was just reading over the post and wondered- who is interested in the various activities of my Saturday?  Well, maybe nobody but there it is. Enjoy!)

General Conference Brunch

Had such a wonderful morning!  With my family being in town I decided to host a little brunch before the Saturday morning session of my church’s General Conference.  This is an event put on by the leadership where we hear talks, beautiful music and inspiring words from the prophet and apostles.  I look forward to it every 6 months, but with all the challenges lately I was particularly anxious for the guidance of my leaders.

The first session was wonderful with an emphasis on families and on enduring trials.  President Eyring’s talk especially moved me.  He said “Trials aren’t always for punishment, but rather for polishing”.  I’ve felt polished lately! He also said “If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts the power to endure will crumble”.  This a sobering reminder that without studious watch-care my faith could erode.  I will not let that happen.  I will do whatever it takes.

So, back to the brunch.  I love to entertain and make things beautiful and appetizing.  It was a pitch-in (or potluck) but I made 4 quiches and an Easter Cake.I also got some daffodils and have a few other Easter decor pieces.  All and all I think it turned out pretty well.

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I don't usually get to exercise my cake decorating skills very often but that's the fun of having company, they can eat most of the cake! The frosting I made was to die for. You use 1 part butter, 1 part butter flavored shortening whipped well, lots of vanilla, tbsp milk, 1 lb powdered sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1 bar melted dark chocolate. Most of the decor I made. The flowers are purchased (great tip. Wilton flowers. Saves time and making tons of colored frostings). Plus, they look so pretty!
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Madi and I. Don't we look cute?
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Daffodils. One of my favorites. Anyone who follows me on pinterest knows I love fresh flowers of any kind. I would like to learn to make flower arrangements. Anyone want to take a class? 🙂
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The quiches were made using Marie Calendars crusts thawed. Then I bought 4 different meats from the salad bar to save time- bacon, chicken, turkey, portabello mushroom. I sauteed vegetables I had on hand from my bountiful basket including bell pepper, onion, zucchini, mushrooms (you could put anything in it). Then I roasted sweet potato (could use any potato). Put meat, potato in pie plates. Then add chevre goat cheese. Whisk 6 eggs, 1 cup milk or 1/2 half with 1/2 cheddar cheese per quiche. Put in vegetables. Pour egg mixture over other filling until it is brimming. Cover with tin foil. Bake for 30-40 minutes on 400 degrees. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until fork comes out clean. Can be served cold or reheated. Freezes really well. Better than any other egg casserole I've tried.
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One of my best entertaining spreads. Isn't it beautiful!

I’m getting my freezer in a few hours so it will be a great to store my leftover quiches in it right away!  Hurray for appliance purchases.

What a great day!

Rachel’s Homemade Vanilla

I have a very exciting announcement.  Rachel’s first homemade vanilla has been made.  I’m not the most crafty, projecty person in the world but I’ve always loved to cook and bake.  Last winter we had a visitor at our rental properties from Siberia, Russia (with the main contact being the predictable name of Sergei).  They were very cheerful guys and in return for collecting a few packages for them before their trip they had presents for me direct from their ‘hometown’.  It was very nice of them but I was a bit befuddled when they gave me a bottle of vodka and 3 Russian chocolate bars (which I didn’t care for).

What should a Mormon girl do with a bottle of vodka? Then a friend suggested the idea of making my own vanilla.  This can also be done with bourbon but vodka works.  I was able to find a great deal on vanilla beans from the Arizona Vanilla Company.   They sell 12 vanilla beans for $10.95 which is a terrific bargain.  You can also buy their beans through Amazon

Once you get the beans you simply put them in a jar with the vodka, completely covering the beans (I cut the beans in half to make it work).  I then let the beans and vodka marinate for at least 3 months.  I have now taken the beans out and transferred the vanilla liquid into a smaller bottle, ready to use in baking and other purposes. I can’t wait to make homemade vanilla ice cream with my own vanilla!  (I’d like to make some with agave and maybe almond milk.  Yum!).  I also have the vanilla beans that I can use to add vanilla bean pulp to the homemade ice cream.  Breyers will be jealous!

If any of you have healthy ice cream/sorbet recipes I’d love to try them out.  I got a brand new ice cream maker for Christmas and I’m very excited to try it out.  I generally stay away from sugar/honey and gravitate towards agave/stevia and fresh fruit for sweetness.  I am also excited to use alternative milks like almond and coconut.

I look forward to making more homemade vanilla but that requires going to the State Liquor Store (part of a strange rule in Utah). This might sound stupid but I have such a recognizable car and if someone were to see me at the state liquor store…Anyway, I have enough vanilla to last a long time!

More Random Thoughts

Today I have a lot on my mind, so I’m afraid this will be another one of my random, all-over-the-place posts.

1. I just watched Say Yes to the Dress and it has me all fired up.  There is a girl who is a 20 (which is still a touch smaller than me).  She can’t fit into any of the sample plus size dresses (this is the Atlanta show which doesn’t seem to have the plus size selection of Kleinfelds).  Anyway, as she fails in trying on the bridal dresses the upset woman says “Its not that bad.  I’m not that big.  I’m not this horrible person”.  What is wrong with our culture that big girls feel their size is not just a health concern but a sin, an evil- that it makes you a horrible person.   It is a classic example of the prevalence of fat stigma in our culture.  It makes me crazy!

2. So the former political science grad  in me has been eating up this recent debt ceiling debate.  I find it fascinating to watch the back and forth and try to guess what is going to happen (not only now but in 2012 as well).   It is a source of pride for me that the principles I helped fight for in the tea party rallies are being instituted by both parties.  Of course, I am the biggest fan of the cut, cap and balance bill but I think any spending cuts are a step in the right direction.

I’ve also given it a lot of thought and I don’t know what I would do if I was in Congress.  I respect the representatives that are sticky to pure principles but I also understand those that are accepting a practical compromise. I will be very curious to see how everything plays out. What would you’all do and why?

the government listened to my sign! 🙂

3. Today I made delicious whole wheat banana bread.  It is really good and actually good for you.  Here is the recipe:

1/3 cup grape seed oil

1/2 cup clear agave

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup mashed bananas (2 large bananas, 4 small bananas)

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup hot water

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large bowl, beat oil and agave together. Add eggs, and mix well. Stir in bananas and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt. Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then add to batter. Blend in chopped nuts. Spread batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 1/2 hour before slicing

4. Relationships are so confusing.  Its like the great mystery of life.  How does anybody get together in the end?  It happens every day so we just accept it but it seems impossible sometimes.  We hear a million talks in the church about how great marriage is and how we should all get married- if someone would please tell me how to do that I will be glad to oblige?  Anyway, finding love is hard  and that’s all I have to say on the topic.

5.  I am in need of good book suggestions.  I just finished reading the July-September book club picks (Life as We Knew It, All Creatures Great and Small, Anne of Green Gables- 2 out of 3 were terrific).  I figure I can’t read the October book so quickly (I’ve read it before, the Book Theif, but I want it to be fresh for book club).  Anyway, I am looking for engaging, creative, whimsical books.  They can be sad or even tragic but it just has to be something with likable, interesting characters.  I like historical fiction, classics, high-quality chick literature, poetry, and even some fantasy.  Please send me your recommendations.  Even if you think it is not my cup of tea please let me know what you have enjoyed and I will give it a shot.

6. My quest for the open water swim is going well.  As I mentioned in a previous post I had a great effort last week.  It was exhausting but thrilling. I did 5 tough work outs in one week.  However, this week was not quite as successful because of some stomach upset.  I have stepped up my dosage of victoza and once again my body did not like it.  I was doing so well for weeks that I thought I could up the dosage but not so much. Anyway, we will see.  Including tomorrow I will get 4 workouts this week which is pretty good considering I had 2 sick days.  I just want to be ready for the swim.  Next Thursday I will do a practice swim so that will be a good test to see if I am prepared.  If not, I can wait for the October swim but I hope I can participate.  Wish me luck!

7.  Today is the end of week 1 for the cpap machine.  It has been a hard adjustment but I’m improving each day.  Its difficult to get used to sleeping with a mask and it is hard to keep it from leaking.  I also miss being able to read before going to sleep.  Thank goodness for ipods.  (Also, thankfully I am not in a couple because the mask is not a romantic look!).

this is at the sleep lab but my mask is basically the same. Darth Vader here we come!

So that’s my random thoughts.   Love you guys!