Friday, February 27, 2015

The Best Cinnamon Rolls

Are you tired of the snow wherever you are? We've only gotten a tiny bit of snow/ice once last week and once this week, but it sure is pretty to see it fall! The first time it started icing I was already at home with the day off, and I was in the middle of making these cinnamon rolls. It was the perfect snow day (sort of) activity: the snow was falling outside and I was inside all warm and cozy with my dough rising. These cinnamon rolls are the best homemade cinnamon rolls I've ever had, no lie. They rose beautifully (I'm very picky about that) and had just the right amount of filling and icing for each cinnamon roll. This has become my go-to cinnamon roll recipe. I hope you have a warm and cozy weekend, complete with fresh cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Icing
for the dough
1 cup whole milk
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
4 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp salt
1 egg

for the filling
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

for the icing
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbsp whole milk

Prepare the dough:
Heat milk and butter in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave until warm. Stir in sugar. Transfer milk mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle yeast on top of warm milk mixture and let rest for 2 minutes. Gently stir together. (Temperature of liquid should be between 100-110 degrees when using Fleischmann's and between 120-130 degrees for Red Star active yeast.)

Add 3 cups of flour, salt, and egg and mix on low until combined. Switch to the mixer's dough hook. Add remaining cup of flour and knead dough for a few minutes until it pulls away from the bowl. If needed, add another tablespoon of flour to help all the dough completely pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Spray a medium bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Remove dough from mixing bowl. Knead dough a couple of times by hand and then shape into a ball. Place in coated bowl and turn over to coat each side. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise in a warm spot for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until dough doubles in size. If dough reaches top of the bowl, punch down.

Prepare the filling:
Butter two 8x8-inch pans. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Keep extra flour handy to coat your rolling pin, hands, and work surface if needed. Roll into a roughly 14 x 24 inch rectangular shape with the longest side closest to you. Roll so that the dough is almost 1/4 inch thick.

Drizzle melted butter on dough, spread around to coat, leaving about a 1/2 inch uncoated along the edges. Sprinkle both sugars and cinnamon all over surface of the dough.

Starting from the side opposite you, roll dough tightly towards you to form a long cylinder of dough. At the end, pinch the seams together and turn so that the long seam side is down. If needed, gently squeeze or shape the dough to help form more equal sized cinnamon rolls. Cut dough shape into 18 1-1/2 inch sections with a serrated knife and place nine cinnamon rolls in each pan. There will be a little space between each roll.

Let rolls rise a second time in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees and then bake rolls for 15-17 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, prepare the vanilla topping. Sift confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter, vanilla, and milk until completely smooth. Remove rolls from the oven and pour topping evenly over cinnamon rolls while warm. Makes 18 cinnamon rolls.

source: bakerella

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

House Tour: Laundry Room

Today I'm excited to share another little piece of our house tour! Next up is our laundry room. Here's a little side-by-side before & after:

When we first looked at the house, I had issues with the laundry room. The biggest problem was that the door opened right into the washing machine, meaning you had to squeeze through the half-opened door, then shut the door behind you to finally be able to access the washer. I also didn't like the lack of cabinets and the one lone shelf around the entire room. I'm not a big yellow fan, but this shade especially was too dark, making a small room look even smaller and darker.

To fix the problem, Caleb took the laundry room door off the hinges and cut it in half to make double doors that opened into the kitchen. He cut the door right down the middle and hung new hinges. Since we didn't know what color of paint the door was, we took a kitchen drawer of the same color to Lowe's and they matched it exactly for us. Caleb painted the double doors and added new dummy door knobs to the front. He also put a little magnetic strip at the top of the door frame to keep the door closed tight.

Caleb removed the shelf that was in the laundry room to begin with. Then he painted the whole laundry room with a couple of coats of white paint. The walls and ceiling are the same white, since I just wanted a fresh, bright room. He built a cabinet with two interior shelves, and then built and mounted L-shaped shelves to go around the rest of the laundry room. There is a TON more storage now, which is exactly what I was hoping for.

All I had to do was get a little rug and find cute baskets to store all of my cleaning supplies. And actually when it came time to do that, I realized I had SO many extra cleaning products stored under my kitchen sink. I would just buy extra cleaning supplies thinking I needed them, since I couldn't really see what all I had shoved under there. This resulted in my finding 8 tubs of Lysol wipes - whoops! I'm glad that I now have a clear view of what I have on hand, so that I can replace only what we need.

I am so pleased with how our little laundry room turned out! Cutting the door and making it into double doors made the biggest difference! It was so much cheaper than buying new doors, and I love the way the double doors look. Like usual, Caleb did all of the hard work to make this laundry room a happier, more efficient space, and I'm so thankful for all his efforts!

sources: paint: Valspar Signature Paint + Primer in One in "White" | 
cabinet + shelves: designed + built by Caleb | 
rug: Target | wire baskets: Target 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mini Fruit Tarts

On Saturday I had the best time with one of my oldest and dearest friends. She made the trip to come down for the day, and we sat and had lunch and just talked for several hours. There's something that just feels so good about spending time with a friend you've known for most of your life (in this case, about 23 years). We had a simple lunch of quiche and Caesar salad, and we finished it off with these mini fruit tarts. These are relatively simple to make and are a great, lighter dessert option for any brunch or lunch.

Mini Fruit Tarts
for the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 Tbsp cold water

for the custard:
2 cups milk
1 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 Tbsp unsalted butter

to top:
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh raspberries

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

For the crust, add flour, powdered sugar, and salt to a food processor and process to blend. Add 1/2 cup cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cold water and process just until the dough starts to stick together. Add more water by teaspoonfuls if the dough is dry.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough into the cups of a mini muffin pan and press onto bottom and partially up sides. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pans 5 minutes. Use a knife to pop out the crust cups and cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, for the custard, put milk and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch to the bowl and whisk until no lumps remain. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Spoon into the cool crust cups and let sit at room temperature about 20 minutes. Top with berries and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 48 mini tarts (but I easily halved the recipe).

source: recipe from i heart naptime