breads

Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls

Thanksgiving dinner rollsAs it turns out, there are lots of different kinds of dinner rolls. There are light and fluffy ones, flaky ones, enormous ones…The list could go on, of course. But let’s get to business. These dinner rolls are the kind of dinner rolls that stick to your ribs and fill your belly. They are dense and bread-y, but not in a hard-as-a-rock way. They’re definitely more of a wow-I-could-eat-the-whole-pan-but-there-are-7-cups-of-flour-in-there way. Yeah…I said 7 cups of flour. That’s a lot, right?!? But if you read the title of the post, you know these are for Thanksgiving and I’ve heard calories don’t count on Thanksgiving so we’re good. *Fact: My last statement was definitely NOT a fact. Calories, do, indeed count on Thanksgiving but shhhh…no one has to know.*

Thanksgiving dinner rollsOne of the reasons I love these dinner rolls so much are that they came from Travis’ grandma, who, you guessed it…made them at Thanksgiving (and basically every holiday). It’s definitely a most delicious tradition to keep alive for many future generations if you ask me. As soon as Travis took a bite of one of these rolls, he went quiet except for the, “These rolls are so good” interjection. I’ll take that as a win for me for following a recipe well. However, I must say this process was not without help from my mother-in-law and Travis’ grandma for advice, of course. There may have been a few calls/texts involved. We got there. And the dinner rolls turned out wonderful!

Thanksgiving dinner rollsFunny story about these rolls…one time a few years back my brother-in-law unknowingly said to his grandma that he would’t need the recipe for her rolls since they were store-bought. Even after 20-some years of eating grandma’s beloved rolls, he was sure they had to come from the store because “they were so perfect” (that might be a paraphrase, but you get the point). Needless to say, he was quickly corrected and I’m pretty sure his appreciation of his grandma’s rolls grew even more. I’m also sure he won’t make that mistake again.

Thanksgiving dinner rollsI know we’re a couple weeks out from Thanksgiving. There is a WHOLE lot to do on Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve (if that’s a thing). One great part about these rolls is you can take them out of the oven, cool them and freeze them. Then a day or so before Thanksgiving, defrost them, stick them in a warm oven for a few minutes to heat them up then brush the melted butter on top. So make them now and have them ready to go for Thanksgiving! Win, win!

Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls
Yields 24
Stick-to-your-ribs dinner rolls to please a crowd
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
  2. 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  3. 1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  4. 7 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  5. 1 cup milk
  6. 3 tablespoons shortening
  7. 1 tablespoon salt
  8. 2 tablespoons melted butter, to brush on top
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine warm water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and package of yeast. Stir in 2 cups of the flour, until the mixture is smooth. Let rise about 1 hour. The mixture should appear light and spongy when it's done rising.
  2. While the sponge mixture is rising, scald the milk in a saucepan over medium heat (until tiny bubbles just begin to form on the outside rim). Remove from heat and add shortening, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir until the shortening melts. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Once the sponge has risen, stir the milk mixture into the sponge. Stir in the remaining 5 cups of flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Place in a greased bowl and brush dough with oil or shortening. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 pieces (yes, this takes a little math planning. You can do it!). Shape each piece into a ball. Place all the dough balls in a greased 9x13 metal cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about another hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown on top and sound hollow when you tap on the top.
  8. Brush the tops of rolls with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven.
  9. Serve warm.
Notes
  1. If the rolls are getting too brown on top but don't seem done, you can cover them with aluminum foil and continue baking until they are cooked through.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Focaccia Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Focaccia Grilled Chicken SandwichIf you missed my love story about focaccia, you can read it here. The love is real. So real, in fact, that my recipe makes 2 whole loaves of the magical bread. That’s stupendous if you are having guests for dinner. It might even be stupendous if you are super duper hungry and plan to eat an entire loaf in one sitting. Don’t judge, please. I can neither confirm nor deny that this may or may not have happened.

Focaccia Grilled Chicken SandwichHowever, since it’s currently just Travis and I typically eating the focaccia recipe at our house, we usually have plenty of leftovers. Perfect for creative leftover recipes like this focaccia grilled chicken sandwich! I’d like to say that this is a totally Italian take on a chicken sandwich…But then I threw some guacamole in there and made it a bit of a mutt of a recipe. Sorry I’m not sorry about that. It’s too delicious to be sorry.

Why is this focaccia chicken sandwich a winner? The bread is salty and rich, the cheese and guac are creamy, and the chicken and veggies are fresh and delicious. Oh, and then throw some herbs/spices on there and BOOM! You have a taste explosion. In your mouth.

Focaccia Grilled Chicken SandwichSo, first make the focaccia and enjoy it for all it’s worth with some pasta or whatever you may desire. Then, take what’s left and make yourself a sandwich that will leave you asking for more.

Focaccia Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Yields 4
Chicken sandwich with an Italian twist...focaccia bread, mozzarella cheese, and Italian herbs
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 thick loaf of focaccia*
  2. 1 pound grilled chicken, sliced
  3. 4 thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (about 6-8 ounces total)
  4. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian herb blend
  5. 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  6. 4 leaves of romaine lettuce
  7. 1 tomato, sliced
  8. guacamole (about 2 tablespoons per sandwich)
Instructions
  1. Slice the focaccia loaf into quarters. Slice each quarter in half so there is a top and bottom half.
  2. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place the bottom halves of the focaccia topped with the grilled chicken, mozzarella cheese, oregano/Italian herb blend, and red pepper flakes. Put the top halves of bread on the baking sheet next to the bottoms halves, cut side up (so they can toast).
  3. Broil on high until the cheese melts and the bread is lightly toasted, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add lettuce, tomato, and guacamole.
Notes
  1. *I used my focaccia recipe to make this sandwich.
  2. This is only a guide to a sandwich. Please, make it your own with this recipe as a starting point! Then share what you made in the comments!
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Rosemary Focaccia

focacciaI’ve had a handful of meals that I would consider particularly memorable in my life. The meal after Travis and I got married in Savannah, Georgia immediately comes to mind as well as the meal Travis and I ate in a revolving dining room overlooking Niagara Falls. Then there’s the meal I shared with my family at Pinocchio’s restaurant at Disney World overlooking the It’s a Small World ride. Hey, just because I was probably 8 and eating chicken fingers doesn’t mean it wasn’t life changing.

I’d have to say that definitely in the top 5 most memorable meals in my life so far was the meal Travis and I shared in Rome in a little plaza overlooking the Pantheon. There are things that just don’t fade in your mind such as the red gingham tablecloth, the fact that it was probably 45 degrees but the heat lamp next to us kept us warm, the view (of course), and the FOOD. Focaccia was served along with my entree of Fettuccine Alfredo in a Parmesan cheese bowl. Yes, best day ever. 

focaccia

prepared biga (I could have used a larger bowl)

Let’s think about this a little longer to let it sink in. There was a basket of focaccia served to us, perfectly crisp from being smothered in olive oil before baking. There was Fettuccine Alfredo, possibly one of my most favorite dishes. There was a BOWL made out of Parmesan cheese. A BOWL, people. It was wonderful and I loved it. I ate it all. You don’t let focaccia and Parmesan bowls go to waste when you’re in Italy. You just don’t.

focacciaI won’t pretend that this focaccia can come close to the memory that I have of that meal. I have to face the fact that I do not live in a plaza next to the Pantheon so it’s a bit hard to recreate the mood. BUT, I will say that the time that goes into this bread is worth every last mouth-watering bite. You will not be disappointed. The ingredients are so simple but scrumptious when combined the right way. The bread isn’t greasy from the olive oil. It’s rich and crisp and wonderful. I have nothing more to say than go now. Go now, and make this bread. Now. Please.

focaccia

Rosemary Focaccia
Yields 2
Rosemary, olive oil yeast bread
Print
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
10 hr 50 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
10 hr 50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups lukewarm water, divided
  2. 2 teaspoons dry yeast, divided
  3. 4 1/2 or 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  4. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  6. 2 teaspoons rosemary
  7. 1 teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Prepare the biga the night before baking the focaccia - combine 3/4 cups of lukewarm water and 1/4 teaspoon yeast in a medium bowl. Stir to dissolve. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot for at least 8 hours.The biga should be light and airy when it's ready.
  2. Combine the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons of yeast and 1/4 cup water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the biga, 1 cup of water, 3 cups of flour and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix for about 2 minutes on low, add 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, and mix for another 3 minutes on low. If the dough is sticky, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour in small increments until it is no longer sticky.
  3. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with olive oil and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
  4. Let it rise is a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. Knock down the dough and fold it over a few times before covering again and letting it rise another 45 minutes.
  5. Coat two 9" metal* cake pans with olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Split the dough in 2 and place half in each of the cake pans. Spread the dough out until it reaches the edges. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use your fingers to poke indentations in the dough. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each focaccia (this will pool in some of the indentations). Sprinkle the rosemary and sea salt (I used pink sea salt but regular sea salt is good too) over the focaccia and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. Cool on wire racks before serving.
Notes
  1. Make sure to start the biga for this recipe the night (or at least 8 hours) before trying to make the bread. It's a long process, but worth it!
  2. Pretty much everything in this recipe is divided! Please note the amounts needed for the biga and for the bread-making process in the directions.
  3. *I tried this recipe in a glass baking dish and it did not come out as crispy as when I used the metal pans. However, you could use an 8x8" or 9x9" metal baking dish if you do not have round cake pans.
Adapted from "Baking Boot Camp" by The Culinary Institute of America and Goldstein via A Chookie Cookie
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon RollsOh. Man. I CANNOT wait to tell you about these Christmas morning cinnamon rolls! I am so excited that we will, in fact, be having these Christmas morning! It’s like a present to me. I’ll have to remember to write myself a thank you card…

Cinnamon RollsThis is our first Christmas as a family of 3 and Travis and I decided this year we needed to start some traditions of our own. First of all, we are traveling A LOT over the holidays. Or at least it feels like that. I’m pretty sure it just seems like we’re traveling more than we are because we need to pack a truckload of stuff with us now that we have a little one. Either way, we made it a point to actually be at HOME for Christmas day. I don’t think we’ve ever actually been home for Christmas day as a couple so this will be fun!

Another new tradition is apparently shopping online because we have no time to shop anymore. I’m starting to feel old because I know I’m totally late to this online shopping thing. BUT, with a baby, online shopping is the best thing since sliced bread.

Cinnamon RollsHowever, as Travis and I discussed traditions we pretty much focused most of our attention on food. Doesn’t it always go that direction?? Isn’t it wonderful?? As I thought about past family holidays, I remember the decorations and presents and snow and fun that we had. None of that was lost to me, but what I remember most is gathering around the table with family and enjoying a meal full of love and traditions. So this was like a BIG deal to come up with our own family traditions.

Cinnamon RollsSome of my most cherished holiday memories come back to baking with my grandmas, mom, and sister. Luckily, my family will be doing a little baking when we visit them so that tradition lives on! I still needed to do a little baking of my own though! That’s where these rolls come in. These cinnamon rolls are actually my grandma’s yeast dough recipe (passed down to her from her mom) that we usually would use to make bobalki (another amazing concoction for another day) and poppy seed rolls (like cinnamon rolls, but with poppy seed filling).

All you Slovak or Polish folks know what I’m talking about when I refer to poppy seed in terms of sweet treats. Most people think of the gross dry poppy seeds they find on bagels. No. Just no. This poppy seed filling I refer to is sticky and sweet and delicious. I think they take the poppy seed and engulf it in a tub of sugar and corn syrup and it comes out magical. So when you make these cinnamon rolls, I dare you to replace the filling with just a can of Solo poppy seed filling. I’m salivating thinking about it. *Warning, it may take some time to fully enjoy the amazing goodness of poppy seed filling if you haven’t grown up with it. Travis is not quite there yet…My brother-in-law is finally in love with it, but he has a few years on Travis in the poppy seed tradition.

Cinnamon RollsTravis agreed that we can make poppy seed rolls as part of our usual tradition on Christmas. However, since we were just figuring things out we landed on the cinnamon roll version for this year. And it’s hard to complain when you land on something so delicious. So I’ll share some of my poppy seed creations later. But for now, enjoy these cinnamon rolls! They will surely help make my Christmas morning so, so wonderful!

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 24
Gooey and sweet cinnamon roll treat perfect for special occasions!
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Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
3 hr 40 min
Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
3 hr 40 min
Yeast Dough
  1. 1 1/2 cups milk
  2. 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  3. 2/3 cup white sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons salt
  5. 2 packets regular yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  6. 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 6 1/2 cups flour
Filling
  1. 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cinnamon (4 tablespoons)
  3. 1/4 cup butter, melted
Icing
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  3. 2-3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Scald the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the vegetable shortening until melted. Stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside to cool to lukewarm (about 10 minutes).
  2. While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let the yeast sit about 5-10 minutes (until the milk mixture is cooled).
  3. Add the milk mixture and eggs to the yeast mixture. Add in 3 1/2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and knead until the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Grease two 9" round cake pans.
  6. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
  7. Divide the dough into 2 and roll one of the halves out on a well floured surface until it is 12x18 inches. Brush a thin layer of melted butter over the dough and sprinkle on half of the filling.
  8. Roll the dough, so you end up with a log 18 inches long. Cut into 12 pieces. Place pieces in cake pan, with a little space around each roll so it can rise again.
  9. Repeat with the second batch.
  10. Let the rolls rise about another hour.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  13. Combine icing ingredients. Once the rolls are slightly cooled (about 15 minutes), you can drizzle the icing on the rolls.
Notes
  1. To help the dough rise (especially when it's cold), I turn my oven on to the lowest temperature for about 5 minutes then turn the oven off. Then I put my dough in the oven to rise. Make sure to take it out before you preheat the oven to bake!!
  2. You can freeze the rolls once they are cooled but before you put the icing on. To do this, remove the rolls from the pan after they are cooled and wrap in plastic wrap (I also wrap with aluminum foil after the plastic). To serve, defrost in the refrigerator and top with icing. If you want them warm, you can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven prior to topping with icing.
  3. Rolls are best eaten fresh, but can last a couple of days (but they really won't make it that long!).
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Rosemary Cheddar Squash Bread

rosemary cheddar squash breadLet’s start with the good stuff. I was able to make this delicious rosemary cheddar squash bread recently which was AMAZING! I’m so used to seeing zucchini or squash in sweet cakes or breads. This recipe was quite the welcome change and totally worth it! When my in-laws came to visit recently my mother-in-law brought me some gorgeous squash from VanScoy Farms in Ohio so of course I immediately started thinking of options. After eating some of it plain because, yum, I used about half of a yellow squash to make this bread. Also, yum.

rosemary cheddar squash breadThe rosemary adds that lovely earthy flavor that I adore. I am obsessed with the fact that our rosemary is finally growing in our back yard so I was super excited to put it to good use. You can certainly mix up the herbs in this recipe to fit your taste or use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh (but try the fresh if you can!). Chives seem to always be in abundance in our yard and it’s a perfect pair for this savory bread. Also, let’s at least mention how the olive oil is SPOT ON in this recipe and adds more earthy, savory flavor that can’t be replicated without it. Scrumptious!

rosemary cheddar squash breadNow to the not so good stuff of the week…the worst thing that could possibly EVER happen to a food lover happened this week. Yes, my oven broke. Dun dun duuun. I was making Travis his birthday dinner (steak and mac and cheese, of course) when all of a sudden my oven popped and sparked and then it started beeping and beeping more and beeping louder and LOUDER and then the dreaded “error” suddenly appeared on the little screen. *Sigh* Keep in mind, the beeping kept going. And of course this entire time I was panicked from the loud pop and spark and was absolutely CERTAIN the oven was about to explode. I can be a little overdramatic at times. But hey, an oven freak out is not something that happens everyday.

After I got my head a little more together, which was hard with the beeping from the oven that would not go away, I decided the best route of action was to turn off the electrical fuse. Travis was running an errand so I was pretty proud of myself to think of this…even if it’s fairly obvious. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the right fuse so I was becoming more and more panicked as everything else seemed to turn off EXCEPT the oven. And the beeping. just. would. not. go. away!! Luckily as I started to reach maximum panic, Travis showed up and took over the situation. Thank goodness for handy husbands that can read panic on their wives faces.

I am happy to say that dinner was mostly done at this point, so we were still able to eat an unfortunately somewhat average birthday dinner due to all the issues. Nonetheless, it was food and it was cooked. Also, in other good news, my handy husband was able to order a new electronic panel (which apparently is what shorted and popped and sparked) that showed up magically fast and the oven is working very nicely again. No explosions did occur in this situation despite my panic and all is well in my kitchen again. We only ended up with a few days thrown together leftover meals until the oven part came, so I really can’t complain that much. Let’s just say, I love my oven when it works. Especially to make things like this squash bread!rosemary cheddar squash bread

Rosemary Cheddar Squash Bread
Yields 1
Wonderfully savory and herb-y squash bread.
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  6. 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried and chopped)
  7. 2 tablespoons diced chives
  8. 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  9. 2 eggs
  10. 1/4 cup olive oil
  11. 1/2 cup milk
  12. 1 cup shredded and packed squash or zucchini
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper). Stir in rosemary, chives, and cheddar cheese.
  3. In a separate bowl, use a whisk to beat together the eggs, oil and milk.
  4. Place the shredded squash in a cheese cloth or kitchen tea towel and squeeze any extra moisture out. Add the squash to the liquid mixture and stir.
  5. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool on a wire rack before cutting.
Notes
  1. You can use a mix of herbs or your favorite herbs in place of the rosemary, but rosemary is a favorite of mine.
Adapted from Graceful Little Honey Bee
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/