Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The bread post

There have been many requests for this...so here goes!
I've never actually written down the recipe for my ham and cheese rolls, but I'll describe what I do.
I start with a basic bread recipe I learned from Christian, who learned it from his father. I don't think either of them wrote it down, either!

(If its easier, give me a call and you can come over to my house and I can show you exactly how I make it--It'd be fun!)

So, if you want these...
...do this:

Start with 3 cups flour (I never measure exactly when I'm making bread, by the way). Add 1 1/2 T salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup powdered milk (optional, but this makes the bread softer...you can also use regular milk as a substitute for some of the water), and 3 T yeast. About the yeast---I use the instant yeast from Sam's--it comes in a brick and I store it in a plastic container in my freezer. This type of yeast can be added directly to the flour, making it much easier, and it taste better than the regular yeast.
Sift that all together.
In a small bowl, mix 1 egg and 1/3 cup oil. I use a separate bowl so I can beat the egg before adding it to the flour, and I add it after the water because it mixes better...but you don't want to cook the egg in the hot water, so adding it to the oil helps. Just a tip.
Measure out 4 cups hot water--the hottest you can get from the tap.
Add 2 cups of water to the flour and mix, adding more water and mixing until it is smooth and creamy, but not too watery (about 3-3 1/2 cups water, typically). Add the egg and oil mixture.
At this point, you need to add about 3-4 more cups flour, but I suggest doing it one cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Too much flour will make the dough dry, and it is easier to mix if it is added slowly. After about 2 cups, I usually turn it out onto a floured countertop and start kneading, adding more dough as I go. Keep kneading until the dough is tacky, but not sticking to the surface. The more you knead, the softer it will be. This is kind of a tricky point--and much easier if you have a mixer, which I don't. If you have a mixer, it is still best to add the dough slowly to avoid adding too much flour.
Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a dishtowel. Let it rise until doubled--usually 45 min to an hour. The rule is--the slower the rise, the softer the dough. It is also easier to roll out when it has risen properly. In a pinch, you can help it rise faster by putting the bowl on the stovetop of a warm oven.
When it has risen, divide it in half and roll it out on a floured surface. Make it into a long rectangle.

For the filling: I use a dry alfredo sauce mix, made with a little less butter and milk so it is thicker than regular sauce, but you can also use jarred alfredo sauce, thick salad dressing, or even spagetti sauce. I also chop ham, and use whatever shredded cheese I have on hand (last night I used monterey jack, mozarella, and cheddar). When I'm feeling fancy, I add drained spinach and artichokes, or make pizza rolls with spagetti sauce and pepperoni and sausage( these are messier to make because the sauce is typically watery).
Spread the sauce, then the ham, then cheese, and roll up like cinnamon rolls. Slice about 1 in thick and place on a greased pan. Let them rise a few more minutes (maybe while the oven is preheating) until they look a little puffy, and bake until they look pretty--about 18 minutes.

These freeze really well if they are wrapped tightly--to reheat, just stick them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so!

Have fun! Let me know if you try them!
(Also--these can be made with any bread dough, even refridgerated, if that works better for you.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

a special friend

What's with all the ladybugs? My kids counted 17 on our living room windows (inside and out).
Rachel thought they were pretty cute. She adopted one and gave it the best (and last) 20 minutes of its life. She has this little problem with squishing her pets (who remembers her pet worm? She played with that thing at least an hour after she killed it!)--which is one reason why we'll never have a dog.
In other news, check out the gorgeous view out our living room window. It's like living in a tree house. I love fall colors!

Make it and Love it

I have a new favorite craft blog--makeitandloveit.blogspot.com
CHECK IT OUT!!!
Her stuff is amazing, and I have every intention of copying her...or trying to.
I'll post when I do...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Therapy

Last week was a little rough (you might have noticed from my Facebook posts...). By Saturday night, I was wiped out, cranky, and in serious need of a pick-me-up, so I turned to the web and my handy paintbrushes and made these little cuties (idea from ourbestbites.com):Afterwards, I felt much, much better.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Imperfectionista Strikes Again

I am really trying to be frugal. Really. I swear. I am trying to coupon and shop for deals, and I've had some successes (4 Aveeno products for $8...not bad) but it seems like for every step I make forward, I have to take a couple stumbles backward.
It just seems like i HAVE to save money. We are expecting a few major financial needs over the next few months, including another week of MULA (mandatory un-paid leave of absence), and with so many good deals available, it seems like I ought to be able to cut back and still meet my family's needs.
So--I decided to try making my own laundry soap. Its kind of the cool thing to do in my ward. The first step is to melt felsnaptha on the stove top. I chose to do this at the very time my girls were coming home on the bus, dropping their backpacks on the kitchen floor and demanding a snack. This is what I ended up with:
Seriously, only I could make such a mess of soap. At least I had a clean stovetop afterwards. Hannah said she thought it looked like vomit. I say its more like snot.
I'll try again, and I still think its worth the effort (although I'm not sure I was able to salvage the detergent...it looks really strange).
But come on, universe, shouldn't it be easier to do the right thing?
Right?
I'm in desperate need of a soul-satisfying craft project. Halloween costumes, here I come!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Combo-Post

Wow, I really haven't been a faithful blogger lately! So this will be a combo-post...
Hannah turned 7 on Oct 3. Every time General Conference rolls around we have to figure out how to celebrate a birthday and watch conference (Rachel's birthday is always at April Conference). I think we've decided to do parties only every-other year, so we had a little break this year. On Friday, the day before her birthday, Hannah was excited to take a batch of cinnamon rolls to share with her class, but she barfed all night, so...we kept her home (and ate the cinnamon rolls). Poor kid. Thankfully, she was only sick for a bout half a day, so I don't think it was the flu. Saturday morning we did gifts and she was able to play with some neighborhood friends. On Monday we were able to get a babysitter and take Hannah to dinner and some one-on-one time, which was nice.(This is Rachel, pretending to read her scriptures while listening to Conference. At one point she came over to look at my computer screen and asked for me to set it up with interpreting, and then actually watched it for a while! Yeah, my kids are cool like that. Sometimes.)
I love General Conference! I'm always reminded just how much I need to change, but that the Lord loves me anyway. I have a Conference tradition of deep cleaning my kitchen while listening--it keeps me awake, plus I feel like I'm accomplishing something. Thank goodness for technology! I love being able to watch Conference from home, especially since with 4 small kids I probably wouldn't be able to get to see all the sessions if I had to get to church. After listening to the talks, I've been thinking a lot about temperance, self-discipline, and what exactly I want my life to be filled with.
Christian traveled nearly all week. He went to North Carolina and rented a Seabring convertible, and he liked to call me when he was somewhere particularly pretty with the top down. He also went to a trivia night at a pizza place with a few of his old co-workers, where they placed 4th in the competition. While he was enjoying himself on his work-trip/vacation, I had a busy week full of the usual stuff...class, housework, and desperate attempts to learn this whole couponing business (I've had a few success, found some good deals, and had a few frustrations...there's definitlely a learning curve). Also, with Christian out of town, the kids got to go with me to the YM/YW mid-week activity to a pumpkin patch. They, of course, had a grand time.The kids are doing well--the boys still spend their days building GeoTrax, and the girls love school. Rachel was upset this Saturday when I told her she couldn't go to school. Both girls are improving their reading skills in the last few weeks.I'm in desperate need of a project, so over the next few weeks I'll work on painting the boys' room, starting another growth chart, canning apples, and making Halloween costumes...I'll update as I get things done!

Monday, October 5, 2009