Caramelized Onion and Herb Rolls and a Giveaway!

I don’t think I can stress enough how easy it is to make these caramelized onion and herb rolls. I made them for our Thanksgiving dinner last week and they were great. I used to be very intimidated of making bread from scratch until I found out how simple it can be.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite bread making books, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and the dough is exactly the same as my favorite artisan bread. All you have to do, after the dough is made, is make the onion jam that goes on top of the rolls before you pop them in the oven. The onion topping can be made days in advance so that you can make these rolls at the drop of the hat. I also froze the leftover rolls we had after our feast and we heated them up to make turkey sandwiches for the days following the holiday and they still tasted great.

If you are thinking about making homemade rolls, look no further. This is a great recipe to add to your arsenal.


THE GIVEAWAY

It’s officially the holiday season and I love these rolls so much that I want to share the splendor with a giveaway of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The winner will be chosen, via a random number generator, on Sunday December 4th at 5:00pm. I will email the winner Sunday night and they will have until Wednesday, December 7th to respond. Otherwise, I will select another winner.

Here’s how to win:

1) Leave a comment telling me about your favorite homemade bread recipe (enter once a day)

You can also get additional entries by doing the following:

1) Follow Lolly’s Sweet Treats on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you do 

2) Follow Lolly’s Sweet Treats on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you do

Good luck! :)

Full Disclosure: This giveaway is provided by me because I love this book so much and want you to love it too :)

Caramelized Onion and Herb Rolls

Printable Version

Yield: 6 dinner rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (grapefruit-size hunk) of refrigerated pre-mixed artisan bread dough
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp dry white wine
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • Black pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, salt, wine, vinegar, brown sugar, herbs, and water to the oil and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized. Add more water as needed to prevent burning.

Grab a grapefuit-sized hunk of the dough and dust with flour and shape it into a ball. Divide the ball into 6 equal portions. Shape each one into a smooth ball and place on a greased baking pan. Allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Just before baking, sprinkle the rolls with flour and cut a 1/2 inch cross pattern onto the top, using a serrated knife. Fill the space with about 1 tablespoon of the onion mixture.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until browned and firm. Allow to cool before digging in. :)

Source: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Thanksgiving Recap

It was a busy weekend with my family spending the holiday at our house. My mom came down Wednesday night and helped me prep in the kitchen. Everyone else arrived Thursday afternoon and we had the big feast on Friday, with Robert’s family joining us as well. It would have been a little crammed sitting 12 people in a our small house, so we made a makeshift dining room in our garage. Whatever works- right? ;)

Everything went off without a hitch. Starting the preparations a week in advance allowed a smooth and low stress Thanksgiving. Of course, there were times when I wanted to drop a few expletives-like when the entire spice drawer came off its tracks and the contents spilled all over the kitchen floor; but in the end, I really am very thankful for my family. We definitely aren’t perfect and we don’t always get along like a 1960′s sitcom family, but the good times always outweigh the bad. :)

I’ve had my fill of turkey and mashed potatoes, and I am ready for a break from the heavy holiday food. I’m hoping to post some lighter recipes in the next week. I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving as well. I’ve posted some pictures from the weekend below.

These turkey plates were my paternal great grandmother’s

The sun was shining and the boys were able to get in a few games of cornhole

The turkey hot off the grill!

The Spread…

Selby and the Dessert Table… in the garage ;)

Robert’s side of the family joined us as well

And…. my favorite little Turkey, my nephew Jack!

Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies

Pinterest may be the ultimate procrastination tool of all time. On more than one occasion, I have gotten up early on a Saturday morning with lots of ambitious plans for the day. That is until I grab a cup of coffee, sit down on the couch, open my laptop, and pull up Pinterest. Four hours later I’m still in my pajamas and half the day is gone. It’s hypnotizing. I go on pinning binges and I think it’s time I start rationing my time on this addictive site…. maybe… ok probably not.

Anyways, I bring up Pinterest because that is where I found the idea for these turkey and leaf cookies. What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with festive cookies? They took some planning and extra time, but I was pleased with the results and I am now even more excited to have my family over to our house for the holiday.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and take some time to remember all the good things in your life. Gobble, gobble! :)

Turkey Sugar Cookies

What you’ll need:

  • 1 batch of your favorite sugar cookie dough
  • 1 batch royal icing
  • Brown, green, yellow, orange, red, and black food coloring
  • Disposable piping bags with small (#1 or #2) tips
  • Toothpicks
  • Baking sheets or parchment paper

1. Roll out the cookie dough in 1/8 inch thickness. Using a circle cookie cutter and a double heart or flower cookie cutter, cut out a circle. Remove the circle and then partially cut the dough with the heart cutter on top of the circle.

2. Carefully transfer the shapes to a baking sheet and gently press the two shapes together with your fingertips.

3. Bake according to the recipe instructions. Remove from oven and cool on a baking rack.

4. Divide the royal icing into small plastic containers with a lid. Add the food coloring to the icing. Using brown icing, pipe a brown circle around the belly of the turkey. Allow to dry. Add one feather at time, allowing to each to dry in between so that the colors don’t bleed together.

5. Add a small amount of water to each container of royal icing to thin out the icing. Carefully squeeze (with a pastry bag or a bottle) the thinned icing within the outlined area.

6. Using  a toothpick, gently spread the icing evenly out until the cookie is covered. Allow to dry completely.

7. Once the cookies are completely dry (allow to sit for a few hours), pipe on the details and allow to dry. Voila! You have turkeys!

Source: Bake at 350

Thanksgiving Week!

(I apologize for the glare- couldn’t get a good picture)

Thanksgiving is somehow only 3 days away! I am hosting the feast this year for a total of 12 people. I finally nailed down the menu and preparation is well under way. Three years ago I held my first Thanksgiving at our townhouse apartment and it was a lot more stressful than I thought it would be. Probably because I, along with my mom, did all of the food prep the night before and the day of the holiday. That’s not the case this time around. We are actually celebrating on Friday because  some of our family is driving in from out of state. Nonetheless, I am determined to make it a low stress (no stress is just downright impossible ;) ) day so everyone can enjoy themselves. I’ve  tried to space out my to do list over a reasonable amount of time and I feel pretty prepared.

Much to my sister’s distress, we are not doing a taco bar for Thanksgiving- sorry Selby (maybe next year?). The menu is pretty traditional with some beloved family favorites from both my and Robert’s sides. My mom’s bringing the fresh turkey from a local butcher shop back home, my mother-in-law is bringing her delicious date nut pudding, my dad’s bringing the wine, and my sister is bringing the beer :) .

The menu includes:

Main Meal

  • Perfect Roast Turkey (a Martha Stewart recipe that our family’s been using for a few years and it’s the best turkey we’ve ever had!)
  • Mom’s Fresh Cranberry Sauce
  • Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
  • Amish Dressing (Robert’s family recipe)
  • Corn Pudding (my childhood favorite)
  • Mixed Greens with homemade French, Ranch, and White Wine Vinaigrette dressings
  • Herb and Caramelized Onion Dinner Rolls (dough from my favorite Artisan Bread)
  • Relish Tray

Desserts

  • Connie’s Date Nut Pudding
  • Frozen Pumpkin Pie (my brother-in-law, Kevin’s, favorite)
  • Caramel Apple Pie Cheesecake (a tasty recipe I found from Annie’s Eats and made last year)
  • Wedding Sugar Cookies (Selby’s favorite)
  • Chocolate-covered pretzels (because everyone needs chocolate)

I went grocery shopping over the weekend and I made the sugar cookies, French dressing, cooked the caramelized onion mixture for the rolls, and I also prepared the Amish dressing so that all I have to do is pop it in the oven on the day of the meal.

As I mentioned above, the Amish dressing is a recipe from Robert’s paternal grandmother. She is the ultimate master when it comes to making the dish. My mother-in-law, Connie, makes as close a version as I’ve ever tasted (although she will humbly deny it). It’s somewhat of a right of passage in the family to be able to create the dressing. When I think of Amish dressing for Robert’s family, one word comes to mind- sacred. Each culture has its own special dish that it is known for and dressing has to be towards the top, if not number one, for the Amish.

Here’s how it’s made (Warning-this is not a low calorie side dish; you need to get over any fear of butter before proceeding):

First you dice and cook 3 cups of potatoes.

Then you shred 3 cups of carrots and dice 2 cups of celery.

Next you cook and shred about 2 cups worth of chicken.

Mix the potatoes, carrots, celery, and chicken together and add some chicken broth.

Now it’s time to cut up two loaves of bread and pan fry the cubes of bread until crispy.

After all the cubes are crispy, combine the bread with the vegetable mixture.

Then you whisk together 5 2/3 cups milk, 10 (yes 10!) eggs, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp seasoning salt, and a cube of chicken bouillon. Add the milk mixture to the bread and vegetables and carefully stir to combine. After all that you pan fry the mixture in more butter for about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture into a large greased pan.

At this point, I froze the dressing. On Friday, I will preheat the oven to 300 degrees and bake the dressing, stirring occasionally, until it is cooked through.

Am I a fool for attempting to make this beloved dish? Probably. We’ll see if what I pull out of the oven can even come close to the magic that Grandma Miller can whip up. ;) Stay tuned…

A Happy Birthday Post: Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Alright, I know what you’re thinking. Peanut butter granola bars for a birthday? It doesn’t sound very exhilarating, but they really are quite tasty.  These granola bars are for my dear old dad, who turns 56 tomorrow. I contemplated sending him some fun pastry in the mail, but he protested and since I will be seeing him this Thursday for Turkey Day, I decided to freeze these for breakfast for him and the rest of my family.

I wasn’t surprised when my dad insisted I didn’t mail him anything. He is a very selfless person. In fact it’s difficult to even help him sometimes because he won’t let you. Robert has to practically wrestle him to the ground before my dad will allow him to assist on fixer-up projects. And let’s not even go to how things were after he got his hip replaced a few years ago. ;)

My father is a very steady and reliable person. He always gives the best advice and I admire his patience. When I was eight years old, I received the greatest Christmas gift of all time- the Barbi Dream House. This toy kept me occupied for months-years, probably. Little did I know, the 3×4 foot toy came in a tiny box that came with the dreaded “some assembly required.” Little did I know, my dad stayed up all night to build that glorious home. Thanks, Dad!

The thing I appreciate most about my dad (and my mom for that matter), though, is that they aren’t afraid to march to the beat of their own drum. They tend not to get caught up in what other people think so much that it affects the way they live their life. I guess that’s why I went with more non-conventional birthday treat for my dad. It’s not the traditional cake or cupcake, but it’s still a treat all the same.

Happy birthday to my dad! I love you very much and will never be able to thank you enough for all you have done for me and my siblings. :)

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Printable Version

Yield: 12-16 bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup (or light corn syrup)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends.
  2. In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, pecans, wheat germ, flax seed, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and honey together. Pour over the oat mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Spread the granola evenly in a thin layer on a large baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from sticking or burning, until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. (Do not overcook; the granola will crisp more when cooled.)
  5. Cool the granola on the baking sheet on top of a wire rack and stir in the raisins. When the granola is completely cooled, place in a large bowl.
  6. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the brown sugar, agave syrup and peanut butter to a boil. Cook and stir for 30 seconds, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture, stirring to coat well. Cool slightly then stir in chocolate chips. Press into the prepared baking dish and let cool completely and harden before cutting into rectangles.

Source: Adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen, originally from Emeril Lagasse

Tex-Mex Rice and Bean Casserole

Whelp, it’s that time of year again. The holiday season is in full swing, with it seeming to start earlier and earlier every year. With all the menu planning for Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, and holiday parties, it’s nice to have a fast and delicious meal that I can throw together without having to make another trip to the grocery store. This Tex-Mex Rice and Bean Casserole is that meal. It’s a tasty vegetarian dish that is hearty enough for all those meat-lovers out there. Even better, it’s packed full of fiber from the brown rice and black beans. And, if you are feeling extra health-conscious, you can swap the the sour cream for Greek yogurt. I especially love this meal because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and it couldn’t be easier to put together. I will definitely be making this casserole again and again.

Tex-Mex Rice and Bean Casserole

Printable Version

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked according to the directions on the package
  • 1- 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1- 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • 2/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2 quart baking dish with cooking spray. Place the rice, corn, beans, chiles, chile powder, sour cream, cheese, pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Mix until combined.  Pour into a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Weight Watchers

A Happy Birthday Post: Pumpkin Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and Cream Cheese Filling

Today is my baby brother Jack’s 22nd birthday. I guess I can’t really call him my baby brother anymore. He is living on his own and almost finished with his aviation mechanics degree and is also in the process of getting his small pilot’s license. Still, I find it hard to not imagine him as a little blonde-haired boy who I used to be able to pick and throw over my shoulders. Hmm… nostalgia. :)

Jack is an outdoorsman through and through and I imagine it had to be a little tricky growing up with two older sisters. He’s always been a pretty good sport about it, though; and while I don’t know much about the intricacies of fishing and hunting, I do know that Jack loves pumpkin. At the wee age of five, he single-handedly scarfed down an entire pumpkin pie. Not surprisingly it really wasn’t tough to decide what kind of cake I would make Jack this year.

I used my favorite pumpkin cake recipe and then filled the layers with a cream cheese frosting and topped it all off with a vanilla buttercream frosting. The frosting choice changed at the last minute after an extremely frustrating attempt at making cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. I’ve made swiss meringue a couple of times before and I’ve never had a problem, but the stars did not align on this attempt. I tried and I tried to revive this temperamental icing, but time was not on my side and I had to throw in the towel after nearly two hours. The end result was still a great cake of which Jack gave his 22 year old seal of approval. I sent the leftovers home with him and I think he and his roommate will be enjoying it all week.

Happy birthday, Jack! I love you. :)

The birthday boy and his cake (apparently it’s “no shave November” and that’s why Jack is sporting a crustache)



Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Filling and Vanilla Buttercream Icing

Printable Version

Yield: 16 slices

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 can (15oz) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 5-6 Tbsp half and half

For the Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2- 9″ cake pans with parchment paper and spray oil. Combine eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin. In another bowl combine flour, soda, salt, powder, and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Do not overmix. Pour evenly into the cake pans. Bake for 30 mins. Remove from the oven and let cool. Invert and carefully cut each round in half. Place on parchment paper to prevent the cake from sticking to a surface.

For the filling, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk. Spread a layer of the filling on top of one of the halves of cake. Top with half and repeat until the full cake is assembled.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter, shortening and extracts. Gradually add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time and mixing well after each addition. With the mixer on low, add the half and half one tablespoon at a time until the frosting is combined. Spread a thin layer over the entire cake. This is your crumb layer. Let the cake chill slightly in the fridge (about 10 minutes). Remove from the fridge and spread another layer on top until the icing is evenly dispersed. Decorate as desired. Enjoy!

Source: Cake- adapted from Taste of Home, Frosting- I can’t remember! :(

Honey Pecan Fudge

Today marks the last day of Honey Week on Lolly’s Sweet Treats. I’ve had a lot of fun finding different ways to cook and bake with honey from Honeyrun Farm and what better way to end it with a rich dessert.

With all the choices for honey desserts out there, I had trouble deciding what sweet treat I wanted to make. I was originally planning on making a honey cake, but my Aunt Khaki brilliantly suggested honey fudge. I researched recipes online and found this one from Better Homes and Garden.

The original recipe calls for macadamia nuts, but I substituted in pecans instead because that’s what I had on hand and because macadamia nuts are pretty pricey. I will also say that the fudge pictured above is from my second attempt. You see, the recipe only called for 2 tablespoons of honey, but I was concerned it wouldn’t give the fudge enough honey flavor so I added more honey and decreased the sugar. The end result- was a soft, caramel-like blob. It tasted good, but it never set. Oh well- I guess you’ll never know if something works until you try!

On the second time around, I stuck to the recipe (with the exception of using pecans) and things worked just like I envisioned. The honey flavor still came through well and the saltiness of the pecans is a great pairing. Best of all, you only need a small nibble to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Thanks again to Jayne for the honey. It was delicious!

Honey Pecan Fudge

Yield: 24 pieces (or more or less depending on how you cut it)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Line a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan with foil, extending foil over edges of the pan. Butter the foil; set pan aside.

Butter the sides of a heavy 2-quart saucepan. In the saucepan, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, half-and-half or light cream, milk, and honey. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils and sugars dissolve (about 8 minutes). Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue to boil at a steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 234 degrees F, soft-ball stage (about 20 minutes).

 

Remove pan from heat. Add butter and vanilla, but do not stir. Cool, without stirring, to 110 degrees F (about an hour).

Remove thermometer from pan. Beat mixture vigorously with a clean wooden spoon until fudge just begins to thicken; stir in the 1/2 cup nuts. Continue beating until fudge just starts to lose its gloss (about 10 minutes total). Immediately spread fudge evenly in prepared pan. Score into 1-1/4-inch squares while warm.

When fudge is firm, use foil to lift it out of the pan. Cut fudge into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Better Homes and Garden

Pear, Brie, and Honey Crostini

Continuing with the honey theme for the week, I made Pear, Brie, and Honey Crostini in the midst of our kitchen floor remodel. That’s right! We are finally replacing the carpet in our kitchen with wood laminate flooring. After numerous spills and trudging down to the basement to get the carpet cleaner, I can’t wait to be able to simply mop up a mess instead of scrubbing fabric in vain.  What better way to start the celebration with an insanely easy, yet delicious appetizer.

This recipe is great for using up day-old bread and it’s perfect for a quick dish that will leave your guests happy. I sauteed the pears over the stove, but they would also be great grilled in the summertime. The honey does a wonderful job of caramelizing the pears and the delicate flavors of the two go great with the creamy brie and crunchy bread.

If you are looking for something special that you can whip up at the drop of a hat, this honey appetizer is for you!

I have one more honey recipe, a dessert, coming up on Sunday. Happy Weekend!

Pear, Brie, and Honey Crostini

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of bread (a baguette is best, but others work well too)
  • Brie cheese, thinly sliced and rind removed
  • 2 pears, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the bread into thin slices and place them on a large baking sheet. Place one slice of cheese on each slice. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the brie is melted.

While the baguette slices are baking, brush the pear slices with honey and saute in a sauce pan over medium heat, until golden brown.

Remove the bread from the oven. Place the pearson top of the slices and drizzle honey over top. Serve immediately.

Source: Slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Honey Ginger Chicken

Just because a recipe calls for honey doesn’t mean it has to be a dessert. I’ve been making this chicken for a while now and it’s one of Robert’s and my favorite ways to prepare poultry. Making the marinade is as simple as it gets with only four ingredients- honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. After heating the ingredients over the stove, all you have to do is pour it over some boneless, skinless chicken breast and let the marinade do it’s work.

I’ve let the chicken set for a hour or overnight, but overnight is best if you have time. It’s some of the juiciest chicken I’ve ever had and it’s scrumptious served with brown or fried rice.

I apologize for the dark photo. Daylight savings time has limited the natural light available and we were pretty hungry before dinner so we didn’t have much patience for getting a good snapshot. ;)

Honey Ginger Chicken

Printable Version

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup peeled and chopped ginger

Directions

Heat the honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 inch plastic or glass container. Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

To cook, heat the grill over medium heat. Place the chicken on the grill until browned and cooked through (time varies depending on the heat of the grill and the size of the chicken). Remove from the grill. Cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten