Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls and Travel Plans

We have a travel guy at work. He makes our travel reservations and does an excellent job with schedules and saving us money. He mentioned that I needed to make my spring travel plans while Alaska Airlines was running some sales, and in the same breath he mentioned that I haven't baked in a while...
I'm thinking if I don't bake I'll end up with the middle seat for all my trips. So, I baked.

In honor of pumpkin spice everything this time of year, I made pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls. I used my oatmeal bread recipe that I usually use for cinnamon rolls, but added pumpkin, a little extra sugar and some pumpkins spice to it. Then I added pumpkin spice cream cheese on top.

I put them together the evening before, then slide them in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning I just need to take them out of the fridge when I start the oven and let them rise while the oven warms up, them bake them. Top them with the cream cheese frosting and let that melt into the rolls, and take them to work.

I did make them for the travel guy, and I don't think I'll be getting a middle seat anytime soon, but there were so many, I did eat one myself. Pure heaven.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup oatmeal
2 cups water
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
4-8 cup flour

6 Tbsp. butter
1 cup brown sugar, more if needed
1/2 cup granulated sugar, more if needed
pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

In medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil.  Add oatmeal and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.   Remove from head, add butter, salt, brown sugar, pumpkin  and pumpkin pie spice.  Let cool to warm.

Add yeast, 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar and water in a small measuring cup, let sit for 5-10 minutes to bloom.  Add to oatmeal mixture and stir.  Add 4 cups flour and mix thoroughly.  Continue to add flour and mix until a kneadable mixture forms.  Turn out onto well floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed, until a smooth, elastic ball is formed.  (I do all this with my Kitchen aide)

Spray bowl with cooking spray and put dough into bowl, turning to grease the ball.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Spray sheet pan with cooking spray.
Preheat oven to 350°F, if baking on the same day.

Remove dough from bowl and pat and then roll into a rectangle.  Spread with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and walnuts.  Roll, starting from the long end, into a spiral and cut in 1 inch increments.  Place in prepared pan and cover with cling wrap, sprayed with cooking spray (if putting into the fridge), or cover loosely with a clean towel.

Place in fridge overnight or let rise for 1 hour.  Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown.  Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting, if desired.

If placing in fridge overnight, remove rolls from fridge and let set on counter for 30 minutes, while your oven heats up (I put mine on top of the stove where it is nice and warm).  Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.  Top with cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese frosting
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream cheese, room temperature
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2-3 cups powdered sugar

With an electric hand mixer, or with your stand mixer, whisk softened cream cheese.  Add milk, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice and mix thoroughly, scraping sides as needed.  Add 1 cup powdered sugar and mix completely.  Add powdered sugar until desired consistency is achieved.  Top warm cinnamon rolls.

1 year ago:    Work Travel and the Perfect Dirty Martini
2 years ago:   Pasta with Two Peas and the Short Hunting Trip
3 years ago:   Green Bean, Blue Cheese, and Bacon Salad and the Surprise Calls
4 years ago:   Roasted Tomato Soup

September 29, 2016   Sunrise 7:57am  Sunset 7:24 pm  Temp. H 47/ L 32°F

Monday, September 26, 2016

On the Road

This picture is about 7 years old.  My grandma was 93 or so here.

This is the time of year I am on the road for about 3 months.  I visit campuses across the United States and talk about teaching in Alaska.  I love it, I love the travel, and it takes me places I might not otherwise get to, and it takes me to family.

I spent last week in Montana.  My mom lives there so I stay with her.  My grandmother lives there too, and this year we had her 100th birthday party while I was there.

It was a happy occasion, living to 100 is amazing.  Think of the changes she has seen in the last 100 years! Cell phones, microwaves, t.v.s, cars; none of those things existed when she was growing up, and some not when she was raising her own children.  I am in awe of the changes she witnessed.

It was a tender and difficult occasion also.  She does not remember any of us.  When you go to say hello she asks, "Who are you?"  When I went up to her I said, "I'm Toni Lynn." (I was named after my grandfather so he was Tony and I was always Toni Lynn).

"My granddaughter's name is Toni Lynn."  she responded.
"Yes, I'm Toni Lynn, your granddaughter."  I said.
She looked at me closely and then said, "Who are you?"

So it was hard to see the strong, independent woman I remember as my grandmother completely changed.

My uncle put it this way.  "She has good genes, and I hope I got them, just not all of them."

Happy birthday, Grandma.

1 year ago:    Hip Shot and Peach Comfort
2 years ago:   Ham and Cheese Pastries
3 years ago:   A Bear in the Night and Pear and Walnut Muffins
4 years ago:   Roasted Turkey and the Full Freezer

September 26, 2016  Sunrise 7:48 am  Sunset 7:35 pm  Temp. H 44/ L 30°F

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Gin and Tonic

When I was in college (a million years ago) a friend always drank gin and tonics.  Every Friday, we would head over to his dorm and about 15 of us would unwind from a tough week of assignments, work study, and cafeteria food.  He drank Tanqueray gin, and while I tried it a couple times to be sure, it just tasted like chewing on pine needles to me.  I avoided gin from then on.

This past summer, my mom and dad would have a gin and tonic every once in a while.  One day, Dave brought home Bombay Sapphire gin...and now I'm hooked.  I told them how I don't like it and then I took a sip.  Oh, the mistakes we make. I like mine with a lot of fresh lime juice, two shots of gin and lots of ice with my tonic.  It is like an adult lime-aide.

So, when the week gets tough, I look at my husband and just say, "lots of lime please."

Gin and Tonic

2 shots Bombay Sapphire gin
1 lime, cut in quarters, juiced and 1/4 of juiced lime piece placed in glass
tonic water

Drink with day my mom had a strong one and she was a little wobbly!

1 year ago:    Shotgun Wedding Soup and Waiting on the Mouse
2 years ago:  Zucchini Fries and Too Much Zucchini
3 years ago:  Canning Tomatoes
4 years ago:  Ham and Bean Soup

September 8, 2016  Sunrise 6:54 am  Sunset 8:40 pm  Temp. H 57/ L 36˚F

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Pine Nuts

We are all in full fall swing, I am cleaning up the yard and putting up the last of the produce from the garden.  Dave is out at moose camp getting (hopefully) some meat for the freezer.  Even the animals around here are getting ready.  The geese and cranes are gone, I'm checking the foundation of the house for any vole entry holes, and the squirrels are storing pine cones like crazy.

The Chick works on a military base right on the outskirts of Fairbanks.  She has to drive through the gate every morning to get to her office.  Once in a while she gets pulled over for a random vehicle check and has to open all the parts of the car that open; glove box, built in storage, hood, trunk.

The other day she was the right number in a row and got pulled over for the random check.  She opened everything and stepped to the side.  The gate guard opened the hood and started to laugh.  The Chick walked over to check to see what was so funny, and this is what they found...

Some poor squirrel has been working hard storing all these pinecones for winter, and The Chick had the nerve to find them, move them, and start parking away from that tree at work.  This poor little squirrel will be hungry this winter.  I think The Chick should buy nuts for the poor little squirrel and set up a squirrel feeder in that tree.

In the meantime, I made this cake.  We all sat down to a warm piece of this delicious cake, The Chick retold the story, we were thankful those dry pinecones didn't get hot and catch on fire, and we had another good laugh.

Happy Fall.

Italian Pine Nut and Apricot Cake
adapted from A Healthy Life for Me blog

1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 stick butter, melted (12 tablespoons)
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (about 15 whole)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray 9" cake pan with baking spray, or butter and dust with flour.

Place almonds and 1/4 cup of pine nuts, separated, on a baking sheet and bake for 4-5 minutes until nuts are toasted.

Place un-toasted pine nuts in a good processor and grind until a coarse meal forms.

In a large bowl, combine ground pine nuts, almond meal, flour, baking powder and salt.

Melt butter.  In a medium bowl combine melted butter and sugar, then add almond milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Add chopped apricots and stir until blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and top with almond slices and the toasted pine nuts.

Bake 50-55 minutes until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool at least 30 minutes and dust with powdered sugar.

1 year ago:   MRI and Moon Pie Mug Cake
2 years ago:  Baked Oatmeal
3 years ago:  End of the Garden
4 years ago:  Muffin Monday and Banana Crunch Muffins

September 6, 2016  Sunrise 6:48 am  Sunset 8:48 pm  Temp H 46/ L 36˚F