Recipes

Summer Garden Salad

 

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Pretty hot this weekend – so far hottest this summer. Not only the heat but the humidity damn its gross out there! My phone is telling me that it is 91’F out and it also says it feels like 98’F. That means it is gross out there and hopefully you can stay inside with the air conditioner on or you are somewhere near a lake, pool or ocean. I am fairly certain that even I would go into the Atlantic ocean; which I very rarely ever do, it’s way too cold; if I was crazy enough to head to Hampton Beach today.

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Cooking on hot days is not really enjoyable and neither is eating on hot days so that generally means something light and easy. Friday night my husband made us salads and then we went out for ice cream. They counterbalance each other right?

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Best if you can make this first before you start whatever you are serving it with so it has time to meld and let the veggies soak up the dressing.

Summer Garden Salad
Serves 4
quick and easy summer salad
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. ⅓ cup cider vinegar
  2. 2 tsp honey
  3. 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  4. ½ tsp kosher salt
  5. ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  6. 1 cup sliced cherry, grape or like tomatoes
  7. ½ medium cucumber, halved, seeded and sliced thin
  8. ½ medium yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced ¼ inch thick
  9. ¼ medium sweet onion sliced thin
  10. Kernels from 1 ear of corn
  11. 1 Tbs coarsely chopped fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Whisk the first 5 ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the next diced/sliced 5 ingredients; stir well to combine.
  3. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  4. Stirring occasionally before serving.
  5. Garnish with basil.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Individual dessert parfait cups

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Being a foodie we tend to eat with our eyes first! Plating a meal or even a dessert does matter and brings a smile to my face when it is does properly. I will admit I am still a work in progress when it comes to plating, I try but sometimes it doesn’t come out as well as I wanted it to.

IMG_4155.JPGI am totally one of those people that takes pictures of my food; when a dish is placed in front of me that looks like a piece of art I just have to snap a photo. I plating envy – sounds like a thing right?
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I was asked to bring a dessert to a friends house that was serving Alaska King Crab Legs and every time we go to their place, you can tell the entire meal was well thought out. Table set with linens, water and wine glasses. I try to reciprocate with the same when they come to our place.
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I ended up making individual parfaits and yes you can definitely spoon all the ingredients in the glasses or cups you are using but I wanted to try to avoid smudges if I could. I also chose to not make everything from scratch; sometimes it just make sense.

Individual dessert parfait cups
Serves 4
quick and easy dessert
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  2. 4 cup chocolate pudding cups
  3. 1 box cheesecake mix or cheesecake flavored instant pudding
  4. 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  5. 2 containers cool whip
  6. 1/2 cup pecans chopped
Instructions
  1. make the cheesecake filing per the box directions
  2. chop the pecans
  3. the cups you choose to fill define how much of the fillings you should add to each cup
  4. add to the cups in order. graham cracker, chocolate pudding, cheesecake, some of the chocolate chips, cool whip and finish with the chopped pecans.
Notes
  1. you can change up any of the fillings. for instance banana and chocolate are great together.
  2. add some fresh raspberries or strawberry's. Change it up for your taste.
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

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Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage

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I believe I mentioned a few posts ago how I was going to leave the entire garden to my husband. I am basically still being true to my word. I have only harvested a few asparagus and only weeded that bed. He has spent more time out there more this years than in years past and has harvested cauliflower, lettuce, radishes and now Swiss Chard. Which this is the first time we have tried growing Swiss Chard. It is doing great out there and looks gorgeous. My daughter was the one that wanted it to be rainbow chard and that was a great choice too.
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Friday nights dinner needed to include Swiss Chard only because I am not sure how long it will last sitting in the fridge. And it really is pretty cool to pick, cook and eat what you have planted, nurtured and harvested.
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When I told my daughter what we were having she immediately said “yum” some of our favorite things, pasta, sausage, cheese. Pretty fail safe that dinner will taste like it was made with love. And it was!

Pasta Swiss Chard and Sausage
Serves 6
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 ounce box of pasta - small shells, rigatoni. cavatappi
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 3 links sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, crumbled
  4. 4 tablespoon butter
  5. 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  6. 1 bunch of Swiss chard, remove stems and roughly chop leaves
  7. 2 tablespoons flour
  8. 1 3/4 cup milk
  9. 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano grated
  10. 1 lemon - zested
  11. kosher salt
  12. freshly cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Pasta; make pasta as directed on the box. save 1 cup up the pasta water
  2. in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat add the olive oil and the sausage. breaking up while cooking. transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.
  3. remove most of the fat from the pot and add the butter, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to a minute being careful not to burn.
  4. Add the Swiss chard and saute until it wilts 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for another minute or so. lower the heat to a simmer
  5. Add the milk and bring to a boil. cook for a minute then add the sausage, parmesean, lemon zest and add a little salt and black pepper.
  6. stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add the pasta to the pot and toss. Add pasta water as needed.
Adapted from Food Network
Adapted from Food Network
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Sirloin Tip Steak Bearnaise Butter

First day of summer means end of school for some, allergies for most, and BBQ season has officially begun. That doesn’t mean we haven’t fired up the grill several times already. When I plan on grilling out, I try to make sure that if it can be grilled it will be grilled.

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I usually complain how the asparagus in my garden is not producing, it is still not where I think it should be; more like where I want it to be. But I was pleasantly pleased with how many cuttings I was able to harvest. 

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I don’t usually make compound butters and I am not sure why I don’t; they taste delicious and they are very easy to make.

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This is a great weeknight dinner if you need it to be or a date night meal with a nice glass of wine. 

2 large sprigs fresh tarragon
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs minced shallot
1 Tbs dry white wine
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs water
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 ½ lb. beef flap meat – aka sirloin tip – cut so they are uniform sized pieces
1 bunch of asparagus – trimmed
T Tbs olive oil

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Bearnaise Butter

Strip the tarragon leaves from the stems, finely chop the leaves; about 2 tsp. And set aside.

In a skillet over medium-low heat melt 1 Tbs butter along with the shallots and the tarragon stems. Cook for a couple of minutes till the shallots are translucent. Add the wine, vinegar and 1 Tbs of water. Increase the heat to medium, and cook until the liquid is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, remove and discard the stems and let cool complete.

Once cooled add the last 3 Tbs butter, the chopped tarragon, ¼ tsp kosher salt, and ⅛ tsp pepper. Mix with a fork until well combined. Set aside until ready to use.

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Steak and Asparagus
Heat your grill to high about 400’F – 475’F

Using a sheet pan place some plastic wrap down; use one end for the beef and the other for the asparagus. Coat both with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

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Grill the meat turning every 2 minutes. Around 6-8 minutes, you are looking for medium rare 140’F for best flavors.

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Remove plastic wrap place beef on sheet pan cover loosely with foil, while it is resting, cook asparagus turning once till slightly charred 2-3 minutes.

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Thinly slice the meat against the grain, arrange on plates or a platter with the asparagus, top both with dollops of the butter.

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Mangia Mangia!!!

 

 

leftover takeout white rice

If you have ever ordered takeout from a Chinese, Japanese or Thai restaurant you probably ended up with a container or two or even three of white rice. I mean who is not going to eat the fried rice first over the plain, sticky and starchy white rice am I right?
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If you are anything like me you can’t just throw it away. So you put it in the fridge with the rest of the leftovers since you ordered way more than you could ever eat in one sitting and wait for someone to eat it. Until it stays in there a week, or more and you end up throwing it away on fridge clean out day. I too am guilty of this!
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I started out thinking I was going to make fried rice, but with the ingredients I wanted to add to my dish we ended up with a stir fry. You might think they are similar and they basically are. Both using leftover rice, both cooked on high heat with a little oil. You cook them both in a wok but you don’t have to if you don’t have one. Both have some veggies and a protein plus a little soy sauce or oyster sauce; maybe some hoisin sauce top with a few sliced scallion and you’ve got a meal.
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Here is what I threw in my stir fry – you make yours with what you like and what you have on hand.

2 containers leftover white rice
2 chicken breast
2 carrots – match stick
1 medium onion
1 can water chestnuts
1 can baby corn chopped
1/2 bell pepper
handful pea pod
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon ginger – grated
kosher salt and black pepper

Prep by slicing and dicing all of your ingredients.
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heat your pan with a little oil and add the chicken or whatever protein you are using if it is not already cooked. Remove from heat, add the onion, carrots, pepper stirring constantly around the pan until lightly cooked, add the garlic stirring for another minute or two. Add the remaining already cooked veggies along with rice and chicken. Add the soy sauce and the hoisin. It only takes a minute or two for everything to come together.
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Serve topped with sliced scallions.
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Date Night Dine In

In my opinion the key to a successful marriage is communication. Why we have made it 30 years is beyond me. We are not great a communicating but apparently it is working for us. Do I think things could have been easier had we been better at it, definitely.
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It seems we always have some sort of plans either out or at home. Yesterday was no exception he worked, I went shopping; stop laughing SF. Had we discussed during our morning coffee/tea what our plans were we might have eaten dinner before 9pm. My plan was to hang out 2 loads of laundry, go shopping come home and put everything I bought away and then wash a couple of cars; after all that then I wanted to make this date night dinner for the two of us. His plan was to disrupt my plans.
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Mid washing he made a cheese, cracker, salami board and invited his parents over for wine and snack on the porch. Oh and then he got a call and had to leave because one of his tenants needed their AC unit put in. Parents show up, he leaves and I continue to wash cars, it ended up being 5 vehicles but hey who is counting. Parents leave around 8 when the wine and board were empty. Took me a little less than an hour to throw this meal together but I was great and I would totally do it again or something that resembles it.
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I had most everything on hand, steak tips, half a bag of shrimp and cocktail sauce were all in the freezer. I literally only picked up the lettuce and the small potatoes. Oh and the fresh bread that we ate some before hand; but it made it into the pictures.

Ingredients
Steak Tips
Shrimp
Baby potatoes
Iceberg lettuce
Bleu cheese dressing
Feta crumbles
Bacon
Cocktail sauce
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Directions
Shrimp
Make the shrimp first so it has time to cool. I used to boil them but find that baking them add a little more love to them. a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for about 8 minutes till cooked through. Set aside to cool.
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Baby Potatoes
slice in half, a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350’F
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Steak Tips
a little salt and pepper and a swirl of olive oil in your heated pan is all you need.
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Wedge Salad
I cooked my bacon in the microwave between some paper towels. 4 pieces for 6 minutes.
Slice the head of iceberg lettuce in half and then half again.
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If you use 2 boards or platters, you can keep the warm stuff away from the cold and it looks nice.

 

 

Meatloaf – low sodium low fat

My mother might be shocked to read this blog – nothing bad trust me just me making and sharing a meatloaf recipe someone might have to pick her up off the floor! I am sure everyone has a childhood food trauma – OK trauma might be a little harsh but I am still not a meatloaf fan by any stretch. My poor husband sometimes orders it out since I pretty much never ever make it.
IMG_4063My mother might fall over again when she reads that I not only made a meatloaf but I used ground turkey WHO AM I? When I was a punk teenager my mother tried to pull off ground turkey as ground beef – who did she think she was kidding – my teenage self was not falling for it one bit. My adult self is far more evolved I usually have a package or two in the freezer.
IMG_4065.JPGYou might be wondering why I would even attempt making this meatloaf; but my Dad should be eating a lot more healthier than he has his entire life so I guess I am going to try to convert him on a few things I know he likes. I feel that if I can make him a couple staples that are lower in sodium and with healthier choice of protein maybe he’ll try a little harder.
IMG_4066.JPGI found this recipe from Genius Kitchen and changed it from ground beef to ground turkey. Yes I did try a bite of it, but I also put a chunk out on the table for the fam, immediate and extended, and they all liked it a lot so I think it is a winner.
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Low-Sodium Low-Fat Meatloaf
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. Meatloaf
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. ½ cup onion, chopped fine
  4. ⅓ cup celery, chopped fine
  5. ⅓ cup carrot, chopped fine
  6. 2 pounds ground turkey
  7. 1 cup rolled oats
  8. 1 egg
  9. 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  10. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  11. ½ cup milk
  12. 2 teaspoons Mrs Dash seasoning mix
  13. ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  14. Sauce
  15. 8 ounces no salt tomato sauce
  16. ¼ cup brown sugar
  17. 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  18. 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the olive oil just till tender, let them cool a bit.
  3. In a large bowl mix all the meatloaf ingredients together using your hands.
  4. Shape into a loaf and place in a baking dish.
  5. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the meatloaf ingredients.
  6. Bake for 1 hour.
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Adapted from Genius Kitchen
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/

Pasta Salad easy tasty crowd pleaser

I wonder if there are people who are not BBQ’ing this weekend? I can safely say that even when we didn’t have company over we had a BBQ. Weather has so far never stopped us – huh KP? Think pouring rain, no lights, umbrella with drinks in hand and SO many laughs. Food tasted great I think? We were incredibly soaked but we were making memories!
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Even with all the outdoor parties, the unofficial start of summer and the great food out on the grill please take a moment to reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day maybe even take in a parade! A day on which those who died in active military service are remembered.
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I will be making this pasta salad to share with the fam along with BBQ shrimp, steak tips and lobsters. I might even make a potato salad since we have a lot of protein and not a lot of sides. We’ll see what I come up with later today.
IMG_4070IMG_40711 box of pasta such as campanelle, cavatappi or similar; cooked as directed – I use Tri-Colored Rotini
1 Can of small Black Olives drained
Container of cherry tomatoes – cleaned and sliced in half
Container of Feta Cheese
1 Carrot – grated
I like adding sliced salami or pepperoni – but this can be omitted
Ken’s Zesty Italian dressing

Make the pasta according to the package directions. After straining the pasta and while it is still warm add some dressing to toss with the pasta and marinate it.
IMG_4072In a large bowl toss everything else together and toss till its mixed all together.
IMG_4073Just before serving add a little more of the dressing and give it a quick toss again!
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lemon zucchini blueberry tea cake

My initial intent was to post about the asparagus that I cut from the garden Friday after work I had pork chops out and a plan. But it was so nice out and we haven’t been able to use the patio or the porch yet this year; it has been too cold and too rainy. Friday afternoon was beautiful out so instead of cooking we made a plate of cheese and crackers and had our first Happy Hour out on the porch. I will admit our Happy “Hour” usually turns into Happy till the sun goes down or the bugs force inside.

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Since my asparagus is still in the fridge and we are going out to dinner with some friends tonight (Saturday) I still won’t have time to cook the dinner I planned on making last night. Welcome to nice weather and the changing of plans. Happens to me all the time!
My daughter and I got the porch, patio and the flower garden ready this morning plus did some raking and got my in-laws patio ready for them and I made my shopping list but it is way to nice out to go to the store, so that will have to wait for another day. I am currently sitting out on the patio writing this while my husband is lounging over there reading. Life is good!!!

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If you have never had lemon and blueberries in a muffin, tart or cake or something you really need to try some sort of baked good using both of them, they are like the perfect compliment a little sweet, a little tart. the flavors are terrific together though I am very partial to lemons so maybe I am a little biased but they are worth checking out.

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This is my first one using their suggested amount of blueberries – we all felt every bite benefited from having a blueberry with it.

Lemon Zucchini Tea Cake preheat oven to 350 degrees

¾ cup applesauce – or if you want coconut oil
1 ¾ cups shredded zucchini – drained
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Handful of fresh blueberries

In a stand mixer or use your hand mixer; combine the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until light in color 1-2 minutes. Add the applesauce, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla beat until well combined another 1-2 minutes. Add the zucchini, beat till combined; another minute. Sift the flour, soda, powder and salt. Add this mixture to create the batter and beat till combined; do not over mix.

Grease or spray your pan and add the batter, place in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Bake until your wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool, loosen the edges and invert the cake onto a wire rack to completely cool. Once cool, spread cream cheese frosting and top with some blueberries

I used 2-8” cake pans but could be made in one larger cake pan; it doesn’t rise like you would think as it is a denser kind of cake.

Cream cheese frosting
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 16-ounce bag of powdered sugar (roughly 4 cups – I buy mine in bulk)

Cinnamon Rolls for Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day!

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You really should make these this morning – my mouth is watering

I will be going out to breakfast this morning without my children. My husband and I are away for the weekend for a wedding in Rhode Island. For those of you that are home and plan on making breakfast for your mother, wife, grandmother or just for yourself. These are worth making today, or any day really.  They are so easy to put together and crazy fast that you can make them in under an hour – seriously!

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Do I have your attention yet?

I’ve made them a few times and it still surprises me how good they are and how quickly I can make them and with so few ingredients that I always have on hand; I bet you do too. Make a frittata or strata or just scrambled eggs and a fruit plate and you will have a very tasty very satisfying breakfast or brunch fit for a Queen!

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The dough comes together very easily!

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Add as much or as little cinnamon as you like

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after baking

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before baking / after rising

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Cinnamon Rolls
Serves 9
Easy, fast, light and fluffy Cinnamon Roll with great flavor
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  2. 3 tablespoons sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast = 1 packet
  5. 1/2 cup water
  6. 1/4 cup milk
  7. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  8. 1 large egg
  9. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
for the Filling
  1. 1/2 stick butter softened, room temperature
  2. 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  3. 1/4 cup brown sugar
for the Glaze
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  3. 2-3 tablespoons milk
Instructions
  1. pre-heat your oven to 200’ and just before you place the rolls in the oven; turn it off.
  2. in a large bowl add the flour, sugar, salt and yeast; mix well
  3. In a microwave safe bowl heat the milk, water and butter till the butter melts 30-40 seconds.
  4. Once melted stir into the flour mixture and the egg and knead until the the dough is no longer sticky roughly 3-4 minutes.
  5. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl to rest for 5 or 6 minutes.
  6. Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar for the filing
  7. Roll out the dough after it is done resting; into a 15″x 9″ rectangle.
  8. Spread the softened butter on top and then sprinkle the sugar cinnamon mixture over the butter.
  9. Roll the dough on the 15” side tightly and cut into 9 large even pieces.
  10. Place them in a 9″x 9″ slightly greased pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the; turned off oven for 20 minutes.
  11. After 20 minutes remove the plastic wrap and turn the oven up to 375’F. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are lightly browned.
  12. Make the glaze while the rolls are in the oven. Mix the powdered sugar, vanilla and use enough milk to make the glaze light enough for you to drizzle over the hot rolls when they come out of the oven.
Adapted from from the recipe critic
Adapted from from the recipe critic
Cooking at Clark Towers https://cookingatclarktowers.com/
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