The stickiest buns

I made these sticky buns with Liam the night before Thanksgiving.  They were wonderful and gooey and the perfect accompaniment to our annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade watching!  Liam thoroughly enjoyed participating and as a result of all our recent kitchen exploits, he now drags a chair over to the counter every time he thinks I need help.

This recipe was super easy to make and as long as you follow the directions, you’re set.  By that I mean, when Ree says to wait an hour before adding the yeast, she means it.  If you don’t, you’ll kill the yeast and then have dough the texture of leather.  Ahem.  I was especially grateful that these buns turned out well, because they were the last thing I’ve been able to cook in my kitchen since Wednesday.  My oven blew up on Saturday morning so we are now in the midst of the kitchen remodel that is happening about 6 months ahead of schedule.  Which I suppose is better in the long run, who wants all that hassle with a new baby and a toddler?  Right now, I just have to convince Liam that Daddy doesn’t really need his help.

Spicy, spicy!

If you are making Lola fries, you can’t eat them without spicy ketchup.  Trust me.  There is something the way rosemary and salt blend together with the spice in the ketchup, you’d be a sad person to miss it.  Unless you can’t handle spice.  Then, I’d recommend simply cutting the spices in half and seeing how that works for you.  This ketchup works well not only with potatoes, but also with meat.  Michael Symon has a recipe for barbecue sauce in his book that uses his spicy ketchup as the base.  I’ll be trying it tonight with the roast duck we’re having.  Regardless of how it turns out, I’m just looking forward to how my house is going to smell!
Spicy Ketchup (Mansfield style)
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Adobo paste (I used this instead of the Fresno chilies and Ancho Chilies, not really because I was trying to change his recipe, but as the title suggests, I live in Mansfield… we don’t have those specialty peppers in stock… ever.)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

In a 2-quart saucepan, sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in a “three finger pinch” of kosher salt.  Cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.  Add the adobo paste and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook for about a minute or so before adding in the brown sugar, cumin, cinnamon stick, tomato paste, mustard and vinegar.  Stir to combine and then let it cook for 10 minutes, watching so that it doesn’t splatter.  In the first 5 minutes of cooking, add in 1 cup of water.  Allow the sauce to combine and then add another cup.  Wait about 15 minutes before adding a final cup of water.  Stir so that the thick sauce from the bottom of the pan mixes in with the water.  Cover and allow to simmer for 2 hours.  Make sure you check the sauce and stir regularly during that time.  At the end of 2 hours, remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.  Remove the cinnamon stick.  You can either puree the mixture to get rid of the chunks of onion and garlic (and peppers if you choose to use them) or leave them in.  I chose to  leave them in because I loved the bits of onion on my fry!  When the ketchup is completely cool, cover it and store in the fridge for up to a month. 

Pregnancy Cravings

I find it amazing how my tastes can change so quickly.  Last night, I wanted a roast chicken for supper.  And I was going to make a rice dish… but then, somehow… my mind wandered to potatoes and I thought I’d make mashed potatoes… or baked… or broiled… or oh!  I could make the Lola fries!  Ever since having them this summer, I’ve been meaning to make them, but hadn’t got up the gumption to deal with frying potatoes.  Since we are getting the family into the kitchen as much as possible now, I thought it would be something fun to do with Liam running around.  We ran 6 potatoes over my mandoline’s julienne cutter and I will tell you that it made far too many for just the 3 of us.  Didn’t stop me from eating them though!

Liam was convinced that the julienned potatoes were cheese and kept reaching for handfuls to try.  I lost count of how many he sampled before get gave up and believed us that they were potatoes, not cheese.  I had read a report once that the main “vegetable” consumption of children in Liam’s age group was the french fry.  I have really tried hard to not let him have too many potatoes, but when it’s literally my favorite comfort food, regardless of preparation, I just felt bad.  So, we’ve varied the preparations of potatoes in this house and Liam loves them all.  These fries were the perfect size for his sweet little hands to grab hold of.  Instead of throwing whole pieces of rosemary on the fries, I ground dried rosemary up and mixed it in with the salt.  I made far too much of the salt mixture, but it was a hit with both of my boys, so I’ll keep it on hand and try it with other things.

Michael says that it’s best to fry the potatoes once at 275, drain, rinse, pat dry and fry again at 350.  Perhaps this is something you do when you have time.  Not only did I decide to do fries right before the chicken was done, I have a toddler.  He wasn’t up for waiting for the second frying.  However, they were shear perfection and regardless of how we chose to prepare our potatoes from now on, I’ll be adding some rosemary to the seasoning!  Stay tuned tomorrow for my adaptation of his spicy ketchup!

Stocked for winter, planning for the Spring



How did your canning go this year?  I had bigger goals, I must admit, but I will tell you that I am still really pleased every time I open the cabinet and see the products of my hard work.  I get a similar feeling when I see the neatly arranged piles of vegetables and fruit I prepared and froze.  This summer, I read through the Little House Series for the first time in year and years.  One thing that struck me was how prepared both the Ingalls and Wilder families were.  I wanted to be that prepared, but maybe another year.  Salt pork isn’t my thing.  I worked like mad over the tomatoes and came away with sauce, salsa and diced tomatoes.  I baked and then froze almost 100 ears of corn.  There are a few bushels of green beans in my freezer as well.  My little boy is loving all the applesauce I made and I’m literally hiding the peaches from him, they’re so wonderful!  I had wanted to do a few tutorials this year, but time got away from me… so they’ll be there for next year.

Next year’s garden isn’t going to be very large considering I’m due right in the middle of the planting season and since we’ve been working on the house so much we haven’t even really talked about the actual site of our future garden.  I think what will wind up happening is that I will plant a few things close to the house and then the kids and I will go up to the farmer’s market and purchase what I need to can.  They provide me with the most beautiful tomatoes every year, so I shouldn’t have any trouble getting what I need.  This upcoming season will teach me how to cooperate with my friends more than ever.  Several of us are all having babies in the late spring and early summer, so I’m looking forward to getting together with our little ones and heating up that canner!

Soup for a dreary day

Today is the first day we really had seasonal weather.  It’s cold, rainy and generally dreary out.  I just wanted to stay inside all day and have been craving hot chocolate since about 9 this morning.  I did brave the elements to make a quick trip to the butcher’s so I could have some chicken for this soup.  I’m glad I did.  This soup was comforting enough to warm us up at supper, but bright enough to cheer us up for the evening’s play time.  I served it with a baguette of multigrain bread and a warm cheese dip.  The Christmas music in the background only made it all the cozier!


Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
  • 1lb bone-less, skin-less chicken breast (If you are using legs/thighs, use about 6 total.)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 4-6 cups water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
Begin with a stockpot heated to medium heat and add in either a splash of olive oil or a pat of butter.  Add the onions and celery and saute until tender.  Season the chicken on both sides and then place in the pan with the onions and celery.  Sear the chicken on both sides and then add the lemon juice.  Cook for 1 minute to let the juice flash flavor the chicken before adding 4 cups of water.  Cook until the chicken is done through.  Then, remove the chicken and shred or dice it.  Return the chicken to the soup and add the orzo and peas.  When the orzo is done, you may need to add more water depending on how puffy your orzo got.  Do a taste test for flavor and adjust accordingly.  Sprinkle with the parsley right before serving.

I made this cheese dip by making a quick roux out of butter, flour and milk.  Then, I added 2 cups of freshly shredded mozzarella and provolone.  I seasoned it quickly with pepper and smoked paprika.  There are some leftovers, so I’m excited to use it tomorrow on cheese toasts to go with tomato soup!