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Homemade Crescent Dinner Rolls
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These super simple homemade crescent dinner rolls are fancy enough for a place on any holiday table but are easy enough for weeknights or weekend dinners with company. Forget the fake popped-can variety filled with ingredients you can’t pronounce and make your own crescent rolls!

Homemade Crescent Dinner Rolls

Holidays are never a sure bet for a great time around here. Not to be a Debbie Downer but in reality, holidays are stressful for us. Part of this has to do with the fact that our families live in different states; mine are separated from us by a number of roads you never want to travel on a holiday/holiday weekend – the Hutchinson River Parkway, the Cross Island Parkway, and the Long Island Expressway (LIE). If you’ve braved the LIE on any Friday or Sunday afternoon between Memorial Day and Labor Day, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s gouge-my-eyes-out-with-a-spoon brutal.

The other part has to do with the problem that illness and injury tend to creep up on us on holiday weekends. I honestly don’t know how this continues to happen but I suspect two things here: 1.) we both push ourselves to the limit at work in the weeks prior to holiday time off and subsequently ignore the warning signs of depressed immune systems. Case in point: Thanksgiving 2009 landed Kyle in the hospital for 4 days; and 2.) Kyle is so excited to work in the yard over a long weekend that he inevitably pulls out his back while overworking himself. This has happened on more Memorial, 4th of July, and Labor Day weekends than I can count. I can’t make this stuff up.

So, what I’m getting at is that this past Thanksgiving was one of those stressful holidays. We (I) foolishly decided we should take the morning to relax at home, have a leisurely breakfast, and watch the Macy’s parade; things we are never able to do on Thanksgiving. This meant that we left for my parents later than usual and what is normally a 2 hour drive took us nearly 4 hours. Like I said: brutal.

Homemade Crescent Dinner Rolls

On the bright side of that Thanksgiving, we had a really nice time with my parents and little bro. Dinner was over-the-top delicious with all of my favorite side dishes which continue to grace the table year after year. The one new addition this year were these homemade crescent dinner rolls. I’ve been dying to make crescent rolls over the past few years but many of the recipes I found were either too much work for dinner rolls (croissant-style butter pat method) or included shortening to aid the texture of the rolls.

This recipe however, was perfect: all-butter, easy advance prep with an overnight chill, resulting in a dinner roll that doesn’t mimic the popped-can, store-bought variety but outright blows them right out of the water. With their lightly crisp crust, pillowy and tender interior texture, and addictive buttery flavor, these homemade crescent dinner rolls deserve a place on every holiday (or anyday) table. I baked off my batch before leaving the house on Thanksgiving and rewarmed them for just a few minutes on a baking sheet in a 250° F oven while I helped dad carve the turkey. You would never know they were reheated rolls. Piled up high in a napkin-lined basket, these homemade crescent dinner rolls were the highlight of the meal for me and they almost made me forget about my earlier vow to never travel on Thanksgiving ever again. And if you’re wondering, you’ll find the two of us brunching at a local hotel this Easter followed by a visit from one of my cousins – a low key, simple, and delicious day. My favorite kind of holiday.

Homemade Crescent Dinner Rolls

Looking for other rolls to make for your holiday dinner? Try some of my other favorites:

Honey Rolls with Maple Butter
Honey Yeast Rolls with Maple Butter
Soft and Fluffy Dinner Rolls
Rocket Rolls

Homemade Crescent Dinner Rolls

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Yield: 12 large rolls or 16 smaller rolls

Ingredients

  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup half-and-half, heated to 110° F
  • 1 tbsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs - 1 whole and 1 separated
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200° F and then shut the oven off. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease a large bowl; set both aside.
  2. While the oven heats up, in a large measuring cup, whisk the melted butter, half-and-half, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar together until the yeast dissolves. Whisk in the whole egg and egg yolk - save the egg white for a later step; set mixture aside.
  3. Stir the flour, remaining sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low, power the liquid mixture into the bowl in a slow, steady stream and mix until the dough starts to come together, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low (setting 2 or 3) and knead the dough for 5 to 6 minutes, until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  4. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead it for a few seconds to pull it into a ball. Roll the dough ball around in the greased bowl until coated with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set it in the warm oven for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface and roll it into a 12-inch circle. Spread the remaining butter over the top and then sprinkle the remaining salt evenly over the butter. Cut the dough into 12 or 16 equal pie-shaped pieces (a pizza cutter makes really quick work of this). Starting with the wide end of one of the pieces, roll the dough towards the pointy end. Place the roll on the prepared baking sheet with the pointy end tucked underneath; repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Cover the rolls lightly with a large piece of lightly-greased plastic wrap and allow them to proof in the still-warm oven until they double in size, about 1 hour. At this point, you can refrigerate the rolls overnight on the baking sheet, covered with the plastic wrap.
  7. With the rolls out of the oven, preheat the oven to 350° F with a rack centered in the oven. Whisk the remaining egg white with the teaspoon of water until slightly frothy. Brush all of the rolls once and then a second time with the egg white mixture.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes, until they are golden brown and gorgeous. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.
  9. You can also bake the rolls in advance of dinner and reheat on a baking sheet at 250° F for 8 to 10 minutes. Rolls will keep well at room temperature for about 2 days.

Source

adapted from Cook's Country, October/November 2008

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2016/03/homemade-crescent-dinner-rolls/

How to Bake the Best Baked Potato
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How to bake the best baked potato: Guess which appliance you don’t need!

How to Bake the Best Baked Potato

Growing up, I saw no shortage of baked potatoes. Cheap, easy, kid-friendly, and versatile. A mother’s dream food. My mom grew up in a “meat and potatoes” home where, as you may have guessed, dinner was required to have each component on the table.  It was the 50s and 60s – vegetarianism was virtually unheard of. I imagine the potatoes were mostly boiled during that time with maybe some surprise breakfast potatoes on the weekend. Blah.

Years later, my grandma never lost sight of potatoes and the bar food trend of the 90s overjoyed her when she found out that loaded potato skins were a thing. I guess I’m a product of my genetics (shocking, right?) because I could seriously eat a baked potato a few times a week. I don’t need the meat to go with them but a butter-tender medium-rare grilled steak is not something I’ll turn down a couple times a year.

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So enter these baked potatoes. I was actually on the hunt recently for how to bake the best baked potato and lo! Cook’s Country came to my aid, yet again. Turns out, the key to the perfect baked potato is to be patient. In an effort to speed up the baking time, for years I was pre-baking the potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes and then popping them in the oven. This resulted in unevenly baked potatoes, microwave-tasting skins, and an overall sense of dissatisfaction. More blah.

How to Bake the Best Baked Potato

Cook’s Country went straight for the oven after the potatoes are washed of dirt and then tossed in a salt brine. Baked in a super hot oven for nearly an hour and then brushed with oil and baked again, these potatoes emerge as piping hot pockets of buttery, fluffy, perfectly tender and evenly cooked potatoes. The skins are pure crispy perfection and this was the first time I have ever seen Kyle eat the potato skin. We loaded these potatoes up for lunch two weekends in a row for a fantastic and filling meal (stay tuned next week!), and I even popped a few extra potatoes in the oven to guarantee lunch for me during the week. Win-Win-Win!

How about some recipes to use these potatoes?

Chorizo Roasted Broccoli Cheddar Overstuffed Baked Potatoes
chorizo roasted broccoli cheddar overstuffed baked potatoes
roasted vegetable stuffed potato
roasted vegetable stuffed potato

How to Bake the Best Baked Potato

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 (7 to 9oz) Russet or Idaho potatoes, washed and poked a few times on each side with a fork
  • ½ cup warm tap water
  • 2 tbsp table salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. In a large bowl, stir the water and salt together until the salt is dissolved. Roll the potatoes in the water until well-coated; pat dry and place them on a wire rack set atop a large baking sheet.
  2. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the inside temperature reads 205° F (smaller potatoes will need around 45-50 minutes). Remove the potatoes from the oven, brush the tops and sides with the oil, and return them to the oven for another 10 minutes to allow the skins to become crispy.
  3. Remove the potatoes from the oven and slice them open right away with an "X" in the center to avoid them steaming and thus, softening the skins. Squeeze the potatoes open and load 'em up with plenty of salt, pepper, butter, and/or your favorite toppings.

Source

adapted from Cook's Country

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2016/03/how-to-bake-the-best-baked-potato/

The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake
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The I Want Chocolate Cake Cake: For when you need a low maintenance single-layer, naked-sided, made in a square brownie pan kind of cake to stuff in your mouth after a week (or day?) of pure torture.

The I Want Chocolate Cake Cake

It seems like ages since I’ve made a cake and I won’t lie to you when I say that I’ve been daydreaming about cake day in and day out for weeks. I’m wish I were kidding. It’s a good thing I work in an office because if I were home every day, there would be trouble. On the other hand, this blog would get updated more often than it does now so there’s that.

The I Want Chocolate Cake Cake

But back to the cake. I really wanted chocolate cake. And you know what? This is the cake for when I want chocolate cake. I’ve talked about other easy cakes before like this I want cake at 7pm on a Tuesday night cake and this hey! I don’t even need a bowl to make this cake cake and the ever-perfect everyday chocolate loaf cake but this one is a little different.

The I Want Chocolate Cake Cake

It mostly has to do with the fact that the creamiest and fluffiest of chocolate buttercream frostings gets whipped around in a food processor. Yep. But also that it’s a low maintenance single-layer, naked-sided, made in a square brownie pan kind of cake. That luscious frosting is just plopped on top straight from the food processor and swirled around to your heart’s content. Sprinkles aren’t necessary but they sure are pretty. And the cake itself? Soft, intensely chocolatey, and irresistible, especially with all that billowy chocolate frosting happening on top. I think I feel another one coming on today because after this past week, I want chocolate cake.

The I Want Chocolate Cake Cake

The I Want Chocolate Cake Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

    For the cake:
  • ½ cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp table or fine sea salt
  • 6 tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup (145 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp (25 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ cup (175 ml) buttermilk (or ¾ cup milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar mixed in)
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • For the frosting:
  • 2 oz (55 grams) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 ½ cups (180 grams) powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy)
  • ½ cup (4 oz or 115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp cream or whole milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper and grease the paper and sides of the pan with baking spray; set aside. Sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars together at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bowl. Mix the vanilla into the buttermilk. Starting and ending with the buttermilk, in three additions, mix in the buttermilk and dry ingredients until just combined (½ buttermilk-all dry-½ buttermilk). Scrape down the bowl again and give the batter a couple of good stirs to ensure everything is combined. The batter may be lumpy and that's ok. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it into an even layer.
  3. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes (dark pans need the lower amount) until a toothpick inserted into the center of pan comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes before inverting the cake from the pan onto the rack to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting: Add all of the frosting ingredients to the food processor and process just until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The frosting sets up pretty quickly so you'll want to frost the cake immediately or cover the bowl tightly until you're ready to use.
  5. When you're ready to serve, cut into squares. Keep leftovers (ha!) tightly covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to a week if you like your cake cold.

Source

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2016/03/the-i-want-chocolate-cake-cake/

Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes
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Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes

Let’s talk carbs today, yes? Because, it’s no longer January and so resolutions are no longer relevant. We’ve made it through the Super Bowl with all the dip and Valentine’s Day with all the chocolate. In between and thereafter, we’ve squeezed in plenty of salad, grains, and meatless meals to make up for crappy weekend eating. But it’s also winter and as much as we love lighter meatless meals, we do also crave hearty, meaty meals.

I finally found an old-school butcher shop in our area a few months ago and I recently picked up a bunch of short ribs which got braised in a red wine sauce (amazing!). After the ever-complicated decision of what to serve them with (over polenta, grits, or mashed potatoes), I ultimately went for these cheesy hasselback potatoes on the side instead.

Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes

In all honesty, I was dying for true hasselback potatoes – adorable, individual, stand-alone servings – but I kept cutting through the bottom of the potatoes and I ended up hacking up the potatoes into almost paper-thin potato slices with very few pretty accordion-like potatoes leftover. So I cut all of them into slices, mixed up a quick cheese-milk mixture and lined them up like little soldiers in a gratin dish.

What emerged from the oven after an excruciatingly long bake time was pure perfection: crispy potato edges peeking out over the edge of the screaming hot cast iron dish with tender herbed cream-braised potatoes nestled beneath a lid of crackly cheese. I can’t make this stuff up. We scarfed these cheesy hasselback potatoes down like it was our job. There was no turning back. We ate the leftovers over the rest of the week with pan-roasted chicken and Dijon pan sauce for dinner and beneath poached eggs for breakfast. And in between those just out of the pan with a fork. I won’t judge you if you do the same.

Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes

Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 oz grated Gruyère or comté cheese
  • 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 to 4 ½ lbs russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick on a mandoline slicer (7 to 8 medium, see note)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F with a rack centered in the oven. Grease the sides and bottom of a 2-qt casserole or gratin dish; set aside.
  2. Combine the cheeses together in a large bowl. Transfer 1/3 of the cheese to a smaller bowl and set aside. Stir the cream, garlic, thyme, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper into the cheese in the large bowl. Add the potato slices to the bowl and toss them gently with your hands to coat all of the pieces.
  3. Line the slices up side-by-side in the prepared dish, starting around the edge and working your way into the center. Pour the remaining cheese-cream mixture over the potatoes until the mixture reaches halfway up the side of the dish. Discard extra mixture.
  4. Cover the dish tightly with greased foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes, until the top is pale brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for a final 30 minutes, until the potato edges are crispy and the cheese is deep golden brown. Let the potatoes rest for a few minutes before serving.

Source

adapted from The New York Times

http://www.smells-like-home.com/2016/03/cheesy-hasselback-potatoes/