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Orange Rolls

Orange Rolls

These sweet rolls are light (not in calories, unfortunately) and soft with a slight tang from the addition of sour cream and fresh orange juice. A nice change from a traditional cinnamon roll.

To keep your rolls light and airy, do not add too much flour to your dough, and knead only until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. I roll my dough out on a buttered silicon mat (instead of a floured mat). Greased hands will also help in handling the slightly sticky dough.

An easy way to cut your dough logs into rolls without crushing the dough and having the knife stick to the dough is to use dental floss (not mint!) or a strong sewing thread. The (really out of focus) picture below shows the floss in action.

Cutting Rolls 2

I like to first make shallow knife cuts in the dough so that I have a cutting guide. Then place the floss UNDER the dough. Cross the ends of the floss over the top of the dough (lining up with the knife cuts) and pull crossed floss ends until the dough is cut through.

RECIPE:

Orange Rolls

Orange Rolls

½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
3 Tbs butter
1 cup sour cream
½ cup sugar
3 eggs
about 4 – 4 ½ cups flour
1 Tbs instant yeast**
2 tsp salt

Filling:
6 Tbs butter, softened
½ cup sugar
2 tsp orange zest

Glaze:
3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbs butter, softened
3 Tbs freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbs heavy cream
1 tsp orange zest
dash salt

Combine orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest, 3 Tbs butter and sour cream in a small saucepan or microwave safe bowl. Heat slowly until butter melts and mixture is warm to touch, but not hot (do not allow mixture to boil).

Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer with a dough hook attached. Mix in ½ cup sugar. Add eggs all at once and mix well. Mix in flour (start with 4 cups), yeast and salt. Knead dough, adding additional flour if necessary, until dough pulls away from the edge of the bowl, but is still soft and slightly sticky. Cover and let dough rest 10 minutes.

Combine filling ingredients in a small bowl; stir well.

Divide dough in half. On a buttered surface, roll each dough half into a large rectangle about ½” thick. Spread each with half of the filling. Roll dough beginning with the long edge; press edge to seal seam. Slice each dough roll into about 12 rolls (use dental floss or sewing thread for easy cutting). Place rolls in a buttered pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Bake at 375°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until barely golden brown. Cool at least 15 minutes before spreading with glaze.

Combine glaze ingredients and mix well. Add additional cream or orange juice if glaze is too thick to spread. Spread on warm, but not oven-hot rolls.

**NOTE: If you are using regular, and not instant yeast, proof yeast for 5 minutes in 1/4 cup of the orange juice (or water), warmed, before mixing into the dough. Allow dough to rise in a covered bowl until doubled before rolling and shaping into rolls.

Yield: about 24 rolls

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Lemon Meringue Pie Bites

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites 7

All the goodness of a lemon meringue pie in a hand-held bite-sized dessert.

These bite-sized pies use packaged pre-baked fillo (phyllo) dough shells as a crust. For a gluten-free dessert, skip the crust all together, and bake pies in small ramekins.

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites 2

Lemon pie filling is a pudding made with egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest. It is thickened by the eggs and cornstarch. Meringue is made from the remaining egg whites, stabilized with sugar and cream of tartar.
Lemon Meringue Pie Bites 5

For the mini-pies, I piped the meringue using a large star pastry tip. Because of their small size, it is not as important to seal the meringue completely to the sides of the crust.

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites 3

The pies are baked just long enough to cook and brown the meringue.

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites 4

You can, of course, make a regular lemon meringue pie by pouring the hot filling into a regular baked pie crust and spreading the meringue over the hot filling. Bake until meringue is golden brown.

Lemon Meringue Pie 1

Tips for keeping meringue from shrinking and weeping: Start with room-temperature egg whites for best results. Be sure to seal the meringue to the edge of the piecrust. It should touch everywhere along the edge of the crust. Also be sure that the lemon filling is hot when you spread the meringue over the filling. The hot filling will help cook the bottom of the meringue and keep it from weeping as it cools. The pie should also be completely cool before cutting.

Lemon Meringue Pie 2

RECIPE:

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites (or Regular Pie)

  • Servings: 45 mini bites or 1 regular pie
  • Print

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites 4

1 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups cold water
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
5 eggs, separated (at room temperature)
2-3 tsp grated lemon zest (from one lemon)
2 Tbs butter

3 packages Mini Fillo Shells or 1 Baked Pie Crust

½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup + 2 Tbs sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine 1 ¼ cups sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Mix with a whisk. Stir in water and lemon juice until smooth. Separate eggs. Set egg whites aside to use in the meringue. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks with the whisk until well mixed. Stir into cold liquid in the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in lemon zest and butter. Continue to cook until butter melts. Turn off burner, but keep pan warm.

While lemon filling is cooking, prepare meringue: Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until foamy. Gradually beat in ½ cup + 2 Tbs sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla. Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fit with a large tip.

Place fillo shells onto a baking sheet. Spoon hot lemon filling into fillo shells. Pipe meringue onto filling. Bake at  350°F for 13-15 minutes.

Makes about 45 mini lemon meringue pie bites.

Lemon Meringue Pie 2

For regular Lemon Meringue Pie: Prepare filling and meringue as directed, but do not spoon meringue into a pastry bag. Pour hot lemon filling into a baked pie crust. Spoon meringue over hot filling, spreading to seal to edge of pastry crust. Use the back of a spoon to make peaks. Bake at 350°F for 15-18 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown. Cool completely to room temperature before slicing.

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Szechuan Beans

Szechuan Beans 3

Szechuan Beans are one of my favorite dishes at Chinese restaurants. Often at restaurants, they are made with Chinese long beans. When I make them at home, I use the skinny French filet beans.

These beans are slightly spicy, flavored with Szechuan peppercorns, a good dose of garlic, ginger and chili paste. Szechuan peppercorns are actually less spicy than regular black pepper or chili peppers. They have a slightly lemony taste and leave your tongue with an interesting tingly, slightly numb sensation.

Szechuan Peppercorns

Szechuan Peppercorns

I buy whole Szechuan peppercorns from Penzeys. If I am grinding a large quantity of the peppercorns, I use a mini electric coffee grinder. For times when I only need a small amount of ground peppercorn, I have a separate peppermill (the wooden kind you turn by hand) that I keep full of these peppercorns. Don’t use your regular black peppercorn mill to grind the Szechuan peppercorns and then refill with the black ones. As straight Szechuan peppercorns can leave your tongue feeling numb, your kids might not appreciate that sensation when they are expecting regular pepper.

I like to include a small amount of ground pork when I make these beans, but you could leave that out for a vegetarian dish.

Szechuan Beans 1

RECIPE:

Szechuan Beans

Szechuan Beans 3

1 Tbs oil
¼ lb ground pork
4 green onions, chopped
1 Tbs minced garlic
2 tsp chopped fresh ginger
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp ground chili paste (use more for spicier beans)
1 tsp honey (or 5 drops liquid stevia)
½ tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
1 lb Chinese long beans or French filet beans, ends trimmed

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground pork, green onions, garlic and ginger. Cook until pork is cooked through.

Add soy sauce, chili paste, honey and ground peppercorns to skillet. Stir to mix, then add green beans to skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. Add 3 Tbs water to the skillet and cover with a lid. Cook beans for about 3 minutes, or until beans are not quite done.

Remove lid and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and beans are crisp-tender. Do not overcook beans. Serve immediately.

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Ginger Beef Stir-Fry

Ginger Beef 2

We eat a lot of stir-fries in our house. They are a fairly quick meal to get on the table, and they are one thing that I don’t hear complaints about from anyone. This Ginger Beef is not a saucy stir-fry, but is very flavorful. The beef marinates for about half an hour at room temperature and then is cooked in small batches over very high heat. Fresh ginger, cut into thin matchstick shapes, green onions and sliced serrano chiles (hot, but not overpowering) provide additional flavor. Because this dish is not as chock-full of vegetable as some other stir-fries, I often serve it with Szechuan green beans (recipe coming soon!).

RECIPE:

Ginger Beef Stir-Fry

Ginger Beef 2

Marinade
5 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs unseasoned rice vinegar
1 Tbs honey (or 5 drops liquid stevia)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp red chile pepper flakes
½ tsp ground cumin

Stir-Fry
1 ½ lb flank steak or top sirloin steak
2 Tbs oil, divided
2-3 hot chiles, preferably red serranos, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchstick shapes
1 bunch (about 5-6) green onions, cut diagonally into 1” pieces
1 Tbs sesame oil

Mix together all of the marinade ingredients.

Thinly slice the steak (partially freezing the steak will make this easier) and place slices in a Ziploc bag. Pour marinade over the sliced steak. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. This can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Remove beef from fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

Place 1 Tbs oil in a wok or  large skillet and heat over high heat until very hot. Place a small amount of the beef (about ½ cup at a time) in the hot pan. Sauté beef slices over high heat until juices in pan almost completely evaporate. Transfer cooked beef to serving bowl. Repeat with remaining beef.

Add remaining 1 Tbs oil to the pan and sauté the sliced chiles, minced garlic and ginger matchsticks for 1 minute. Add the beef back to the pan with the sliced green onions. Stir in the sesame oil and cook for 1 minute. Serve immediately over steamed rice.

(recipe adapted from Simply Recipes)

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Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 4

Making your own taco seasoning mix is an easy way to cut chemicals and preservatives out of your food and save money at the same time. And it tastes so much better than any packaged mix. Make a large batch and then store in an airtight container. Use about 2 Tbs of the mix for a pound of ground beef to make regular tacos. You can adjust the amounts of spicier chilies to your family’s taste. Penzey’s (online or in person) is a great source for quality bulk spices.

Use this for more than just ground beef tacos. Try replacing spices in the following recipes with this taco seasoning mix:

Layered Chicken Taco Salad Bowls
Taco Cornbread Pie
Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas
Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes
Baked Chicken Taquitos
Chicken and Black Bean Chili
Hearty Beef Chili
Fajitas
Marinades for grilled steak or chicken

RECIPE:

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

  • Servings: Makes about 2 ½ cups
  • Print

Taco Seasoning 4

1 ½ cups chili powder
4 Tbs paprika (Spanish smoked or regular)
2 Tbs kosher salt (coarse grain; use less for regular table salt)
2 Tbs black pepper
2 Tbs garlic powder
2 Tbs onion powder (not onion salt)
2 Tbs ground cumin
2 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs Ancho chili pepper
1 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbs ground cayenne pepper

Mix all ingredients and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Use about 2 Tbs of seasoning per pound of meat. Makes about 2 ½ cups.

Note: Adjust amount of crushed red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper to make milder or spicier

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Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread: where summer and autumn collide in a great tasting snack. This is a great way to use an over-abundance of zucchini from your garden (or local farmers’ market) and incorporate the great fall flavors of pumpkin and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.

You can also make these in muffin form for a delicious on-the-go breakfast or lunch box treat. There is no easier way to get your kids to eat their veges. Chocolate chips are optional, but always appreciated (unless you are a certain son of mine).

Pumpkin Zucchini Muffin

RECIPE:

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

  • Servings: Makes 2 loaves
  • Print

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin
2 cups shredded zucchini
½ cup butter, melted
1 Tbs vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground nutmeg (or cloves)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, optional
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 medium loaf pans.

Combine eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add pumpkin, zucchini, melted butter and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Gradually add to pumpkin mixture and stir until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour into 2 loaf pans.

Bake at 350°F for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

FOR MUFFINS: Line muffin pans with paper liners (or grease pan). Bake at 375°F for 15-18 minutes.

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