Shaped Dinner Rolls

 photo 386F9E82-00B6-4F9F-BF2A-7FEECFA9A4A4-22370-00001D55E8515ADD.jpgI enjoy  making homemade rolls, biscuits, bread and buns. The bread machine I've had since the late 90's remains one of my best kitchen helpers not only for loaves of bread, but also for preparing dough for rolls, buns or pizza.  In an hour it mixes, kneads, and gives the first rise.

The white bread recipe below is the one I use for making bread and shaped dinner rolls or hamburger buns.  It has a perfect soft texture and crust.  If you don't have a bread machine, mix by hand or with the mixer and dough hook.

Bread machines are not that expensive now days and pay for themselves over time. Freshly made bread and rolls contain none of those "preservatives" now found so often in store bought bread or mixes, and save money.

Here's video link to demonstrate how to shape rolls.

Bread Machine White Bread 
1 cup milk warm milk
1 large egg, or 2 small at room temperature 
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour, regular white flour will be okay, too.
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Put ingredients in according to machine instructions.  Mine calls for liquids first, then dry ingredients, with yeast last. I warm milk to about 90 degrees quickly in the microwave with the butter, then beat egg(s) and pour in. Next add sugar, salt, then flour.  Make an indent on top and spoon in yeast.  Set machine to basic cycle for a loaf, or  to dough cycle for rolls or buns,  which mixes and gives a first rise in about an hour.
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For rolls or buns, take dough out and place on a lightly floured board and divide rolls out and shape as needed.

Clover Shaped Rolls:  roll out about 1/2- inch thick, lightly brush dough with butter, and using a one inch cutter (doughnut hole shape) cut out small circles, and place 3 into sprayed muffin tin.  Set aside to rise until double in size.  Bake 350 for 30 minutes. (See video)

Rose Shaped Rolls:  roll out about 1/2 inch thick, and cut with 2 inch round cookie cutter.  Take two circles of dough and fold in half circle.  Take each half circle and over lap bottom ends slightly and pinch, then wrap one piece of dough forward and around, and the other back and around to form a "rose."  (See video)

Braided Roll:  Roll dough into rectangle 1/2 inch thick.  Cut in half length wise then cut strip approximately 1-1/2 inches wide.  A half inch down from each strips, make three small slices to the bottom, and braid the three strands of dough, pinching at the bottom.  (See video)

Estimated cost: $1.00 or less for a dozen or more rolls.

Jalapeno Appetizer Poppers

 photo null_zps5cab4fd2.jpgWith the holidays arriving, buffet tables with assorted appetizers are always welcomed at gatherings.  Our family always called them "snick snacks."

Jalapeno poppers have become a favorite, and these are quick and easy to make. The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. Allow for two or three halves per person.

Here's a link to some other snick-snack family favorites I serve at gatherings  for the holidays.

Jalapeno Appetizer Poppers
6 jalapenos, cut in half and seeded
4 oz. softened cream cheese
2 Tabs. chopped chives or green onion
4 slices thin-cut bacon
salt and pepper to taste
12 wooden toothpicks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Soak toothpicks in warm water for 20-30 minutes to prevent burning while baking peppers.  Slice each pepper in half, lengthwise. Scrape out and discard all seeds and white membrane. (Wear kitchen gloves or wash hand thoroughly, as pepper residue can irritate sensitive hands, mouth or eyes if touched by hands.)  

 photo null_zps552122ee.jpgUsing a spoon, combine softened cream cheese, seasoning, chives or onion in a small bowl, then fill each pepper-half.  Slice each strip of bacon into 1-1/2 to 2-inch pieces and wrap one piece around the top of each stuffed pepper-half. Pierce a toothpick through the bacon and pepper to secure the bacon.

 photo null_zps7bd0e600.jpgTo bake, line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Arrange peppers filling side up. Bake until bacon is crispy and peppers are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. 

If bacon isn't crisp enough, put under broiler to make crispier. Can be made ahead of time and refrigerated before baking. Serves 4-6.

Note: for variations, season cheese with Old Bay or add shredded cheese variations to the cream cheese such as cheddar or pepper jack.

Estimated cost: $1.60 or less; .40 cents a serving or less.

Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits

Red Lobster Biscuits photo null_zps46efe754.jpgCopycat recipes are always fun to try.  I've seen dozens of recipes for Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits, so had to try them, and glad I did.  

I often make homemade soup, so they're handy to have on hand when serving soup and/or a salad. With just the two of us, I freeze extras and microwave to reheat them.

If you prefer, you can use 2 cups of Bisquick in place of the first 4 ingredients.  This recipe uses more butter than several recipes I've seen, plus I added more cheese than some recipes call for. The recipe is very similar to the "cheesy" one on the box of Bisquick, but made from scratch.

They turn out golden-fluffy-tender with buttery-cheesy goodness. I season with Old Bay just to spice them up a bit, and they take less than a half hour to make from start to serving.
Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits photo null_zps074d5f03.jpg
Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits 
2 cups flour
1 Tab. baking powder
Tab. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1-1/2 sticks melted butter, (3/4 of a cup divided)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2  tsp. dried parsley
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone mat.  Melt butter in a small bowl in a microwave for about 30 seconds or until butter is melted.  Set aside.
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Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk until combined.  Add a 1/2 cup of melted butter and milk and whisk to wet flour, do not over mix.  Fold in cheese with a spoon. Dough will be stiff and thick, but moist.

Drop heaping spoonfuls, about a 1/4 of a cup, onto the baking sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are golden brown.

Red Lobster Cheddar Biscuits photo null_zps3146f805.jpgTo remaining melted butter add 1/4 teaspoon salt, parsley and Old Bay.  Stir with a pastry brush.

Remove biscuits from oven, brush with melted butter mixture. Makes approximately 12-18 biscuits.

Estimated cost: $2.25 or less.

Chinese Chicken or Pork Stir Fry

 photo null_zpsb1f25066.jpgI clipped this recipe from the newspaper decades ago and enjoy the flavors and texture of the meat. Frying it in a cornstarch mixture gives a crispy texture, and overall it's the closet recipe I've come across that's as delicious as our local oriental restaurant.

I keep frozen bags of mix stir fry veggies on hand. They come in various mixtures, but I tend to buy those featuring broccoli and carrots.  Frozen cut veggies saves a lot a prep time.

If we're dieting and cutting out carbs, we eat it as prepared, otherwise I serve it over rice or rice noodles. If you're craving Chinese take-out, give this a try. You won't be disappointed.

Chinese Chicken or Pork Stir Fry
1 pound of chicken breasts or pork cut in 3/4-inch cubes
1 egg white
4 Tabs. cornstarch
1 cup vegetable oil, plus 3 tablespoons
2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium red bell pepper, optional, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, or onions
1-1/2 cups mixed stir fry veggies: carrots, broccoli, zucchini etc.
1 Tab. finely minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup cocktail peanuts
cooked rice or rice noodles: optional

Chinese Pork photo null_zpsbe4b06b0.jpgSauce:
3 Tab. soy sauce
2 Tabs. dry sherry or wine
3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
2 tsps. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Toss meat cubes in beaten mixture of the egg white, 2 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Mix well to coat.  Heat a cup of oil in a wok or large fry pan to 280 to 300 degrees.

Stir meat in slowly and cook until it's no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside. Discard oil.

Combine soy sauce, sherry/wine, garlic, sugar, salt, 2 tablespoons of cold water, and add remaining tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix well.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or fry pan until smoking. Stir-fry fresh vegetables for 5 minutes, or until bright in color. Add meat cubes and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the cocktail peanuts and toss a few times to mix.  If using frozen veggies, defrost before using.

Stir the sauce again and add it to the meat and vegetables. Toss or mix a few times to heat through, thicken, and coat ingredients. Quickly serve. May serve as is or over rice.  Serves 5 to 7.

Estimated cost: $5 or less; $1.00 or less per serving.