Bet you can’t eat a whole one

I  really ought to stay off the internet. Really. Last weekend I opened my news feed and one of the first things I saw was a video of the largest, most luscious-looking cinnamon rolls I’d ever seen. I might have drooled on myself. The rolls were the size of a dinner plate and at least a couple inches high. A baker at heart and a lover of all-things-I’m-not-supposed-to-eat, the self-imposed challenge was on. Could I make something similar?  I had to know.

First, a little background. Our family tradition on Christmas morning has long been scrambled eggs, sausage, orange juice, and Cinnabons. Supplying the full calorie count for the remainder of that week, the “meal” can stand on its own. Regardless, tradition is tradition. We all know that you don’t mess with tradition according to Brubaker in the same movie (although for mess, he used a choice F word. We won’t go there). You get the idea.

My mind was made up; I had to know. It’s October and Christmas is around the corner.  Could I make a giant, gooey roll? Might they rival our coveted Cinnabons?

Turns out, the rolls in the video were made at a bakery in Texas. Isn’t this where everything is big? Bigger? Biggest? Indeed, the place lures the customer with three pound rolls! It is fascinating watching the baker use giant slabs of dough, buckets of filling, and gallons of cream cheese icing. How many calories can one burn from handling mass amounts of dough (as I try to offset the inevitable)?

I didn’t want three pounders, but at this point, there was no going back.

baking_giant cinnamon rolls_oct 2017 (45)The dough was very easy. With little effort it rose beautifully and I had to take it out long  before I sometimes do given the result. As this was in the works, I started on the filling.

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Is it possible to use too much cinnamon? I think not.
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It can be slightly warmed for easier spreading; either way works

I have never been able to roll out a perfect rectangle. Ever. I tried spreading the dough into a well-greased 9 by 13 inch pan with great results. I did this for each half of the dough. Then, on went the filling.

baking_giant cinnamon rolls_oct 2017 (42)This appears to be a lot of filling, right? It is. I doubled the amount. I can’t really tell you why except that it seemed right. The amount in other recipes seemed insufficient for the amount of dough.

Once the dough was fairly covered, I sliced it into three lengths and rolled them into rolls. My pizza cutter worked great.

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One “length” makes one large roll

Striving for giants, this amount of dough made six large rolls. Can anyone really eat a whole one?!!?

baking_giant cinnamon rolls_oct 2017 (40)Almost immediately they started to rise. I put them back into my warm* oven for the second rise. It took about 15 minutes.

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I made three with raisins, three without

While I waited for the final rise, I made the cream cheese icing.

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Seems especially sinful. 🙂

Before I knew it, the rolls were done. There are no words to describe the aroma. I don’t indulge like this often; I soaked it up. We’d avoided lunch to make room….

baking_giant cinnamon rolls_oct 2017 (55)…and they didn’t disappoint. Not by a long shot. In flavor and consistency, they rivaled our favorite Cinnabons. The dough is gooey, the filling very rich, and the icing perfect.

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Not exactly dinner plate size…but close.

And it’s true. Neither of us could eat a whole roll. They are too rich, too filling, too sweetly dense…just what one expects from the perfect cinnamon roll. I set mine aside after the first few delicious bites. I tried later in the day but still could not finish. It took me three tries to finish one, over the course of one day.

Can you finish one at one sitting?




  • 2 C whole milk (Whole milk makes for a very rich dough)
  • 1/2 C sugar, 2-3 tea sugar for the proofing
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 2 tea salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (~ 4 1/2 tsp)
  • 2/3 cup warm (105-115-degree/bath water warm) water
  • 8-9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten


  1. Combine milk, sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat until butter melts. Low heat works best. If it’s too warm, you may scald the milk and it may kill the yeast. I find it best to heat slowly to avoid having to wait for the mixture to cool.

2. Dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water. “Bath water warm” has always worked for me. Cover with a towel and let stand several minutes. You’re in business if the yeast has bubbled. If not, start over.

3.  Combine the flour and milk mixture in a large bowl. Beat slowly until well mixed, scraping the sides of the bowl. Add yeast mixture and beat until mixed well.

4. Add eggs and mix well.

5. While it’s temping to add all of the remaining flour, don’t. Add enough to make a very soft dough. This part just takes experience. Imagine a gooey cinnamon roll. Gooey dough makes gooey rolls. When it’s ready, it will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl yet remain sticky. Too much flour results in a dense roll.  Cover and let rise in well-greased pan inside oven. I use a pan of boiling water underneath the pan of rolls in the oven. No oven heat is necessary.

6. When dough has risen, punch down and divide in half.

7. Spread one half of dough in well greased 9 by 13 baking pan. Spread half of filling mix over the dough. Add raisins and pecans or both if desired. Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough into three lengths and roll up. Place each roll on a well-greased baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough to make six large rolls.

8. Let rise in warm oven until the rolls are touching each other, or are the desired size. This took about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or longer as these rolls are large. I stopped at 20 minutes, covered with foil, and baked an additional 10 minutes.


1/2  C  butter, slightly warmed
1  C  brown sugar (firmly packed)
4 T cinnamon (I used 4 T total, not 8 T)
Mix well and set aside. Remember, I doubled the amount written above for this recipe.


1/2 C butter, softened
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/8 tea vanilla
pinch salt
1 pound powdered sugar
1 T milk, added slowly by the teaspoon
Add in order and mix well.

baking_giant cinnamon rolls_oct 2017 (50)I may not survive these Texas-sized portions, I most definitely should stay off the internet, and I’ll bet you can’t finish a whole one in one sitting.

Oh, but it’s worth a try. Let me know how you do.

Can you say cheeeeeeese?

Thaw Rhodes loaves the night before, spray first and cover.

Unless caught in time, there may be leakage.


Next, prepare the egg mixture that is brushed on the dough.

  • Eggs–two per loaf.
  • Parmesan cheese–roughly 3/4 cup per loaf.
  • Oregano–usually one teaspoon per loaf.

Mix well and set aside.

Next, slice cheeeeeeeeses of your choice. Here, I used provolone, Colby, and pepper jack. This can vary in both type and amount. I’ve also made this without pepperoni, turned it into a cheesy herb bread. I prefer it with pepperoni, but either way is delicious.

I try to have the egg mix, the sliced cheese, and the pepperoni ready BEFORE I roll out the dough. It’s quite elastic and tends to shrink back in. If all is ready, it can be put together and rolled in short time. The cheese can be shred, but it’s not necessary.

Roll dough into a rectangle, and shoot for 12″ by 15″ if you can get it that large. It should be large but not overly thin.

pepperoni-bread-3Next, roll and seal the edges. It will expand substantially and I like it to stay on the baking sheet. I roll from right to left, side to side, not from top to bottom, to make a shorter loaf.

Edges are sealed underneath and the opening is on the bottom.

pepperoni-bread-8I use separate baking sheets because the dough may rise in an unpredictable manner. The leaves don’t need to be that friendly. You’ll thank me later. I then let both sheets rise side by side in the oven on the top shelf, over a metal pan half full of boiling water. This works well. I let them rise until doubled in size, usually an hour.

I bake each loaf alone. If they are baked at the same time, the edges cook faster at this high heat and the final result is less desirable. The only problem I’ve encountered here is that my family has devoured the first loaf before the second is ready and they have to wait.

Cover with foil and bake at 425 for ~ 30 minutes. Just try to let it cool–I bet you can’t–before you enjoy! 🙂

Pepperoni bread


I promise, no one will care. If there are children  adults  neighbors  people around, anything you’ve sliced will be gone before you’ve finished cutting the loaf. Once I began slicing, they vanished. I have no pictures of any cut slices.


When I Can’t Find Words

I’ve been flying under the radar lately, been on a self-inflicted hiatus. This happens when I have trouble finding words and the best thing is to unplug. I retreat to my kitchen during such times. Albeit highly caloric, it’s one of the best places for thinking. This past week, I found that with the bounty in my garden, I have no excuses not to be healthy. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

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parsley, zucchini, and onion from the garden

It’s the beginnings of a very tasty and easy Zucchini Onion Pie.

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3 eggs, 1 C grated Parmesan, 1/2 C oil, 1 T fresh, minced parsley, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/4 tea salt, 1/8 tea pepper, 3 C chopped zucchini, 1 C baking mix, 1 small onion, chopped. In large bowl, mix first seven ingredients. Stir in zucchini,  baking mix and onion. Pour into greased pie pan. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min,or top lightly browned. Yield: 6 servings. I served this with baked salmon and fresh cherries.


I make my own–also quite easy–so I’ve included this as a guide (retrieved from the Internet). I make it “my own” by adding whichever flours I have on hand. Store in the fridge.

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can use coconut oil or margarine in place of butter*

*If you’d like the larger amount, contact me.

It’s also that time of year when I can’t use bananas fast enough (because I prefer berries,  peaches, and whatever else is fresh) and can only freeze so many.


This sounded SO GOOD that I had no choice, I had to make it. I was slightly disappointed that the flavors were not stronger, but this is highly personal. It is very moist and makes eating regular cornbread seem rather boring.

banana walnut cornbread_july 2016


When my three kids were young, I made this each year from the yellow transparent apples in our orchard. These first photos of our apples were taken a couple weeks before they were ready to cook.

I’ve learned a few handy tips about making applesauce through the years.

1. Because the cooking can take a while, I omit peeling.

2. If using yellow transparent apples when they first turn yellow, the skins cook nicely, helping eliminate the need for peeling. If used early enough, there are very few worms or other critters. We don’t spray.

3. Using a food mill also helps eliminate the need for peeling.

I quarter the apples, inspect for bugs, and throw them in the pot, seeds and all (I use my pressure cooker pot–no lid–only for the cooking). I can’t say enough how handy it is using a food mill for large amounts. I keep the heat on medium because it can be rather nasty when/if it starts to splatter. Controlling the amount of water–and ending up with less runny applesauce–is easier as well when the heat is kept down. This also reduces the chance of burned apples on the bottom of the pan. It must be stirred constantly. Wear good shoes.

At this point I scoop large amounts of cooked applesauce into my food mill and grind out any remaining skins and seeds. I use a large dutch oven.

I add sugar and cinnamon here. For this dutch oven full, I add maybe 1/2 cup sugar. We like it less sugary. From here I can into hot quart jars.

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We probably have enough for this year (although our sons are known for putting away copious amounts).


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I add ~ 1/2 C chopped walnuts

For two loaves:

2 1/2 C flour, 1/2 C cornmeal, 1 1/2 tea baking powder, 1 1/2 tea baking soda, 1 tea salt, 2 tea cinnamon, 2 C mashed bananas (about three large), 1/2 C sugar, 1/2 C brown sugar, 2 eggs, 2/3 C oil, 2 tea vanilla, 1 1/2 C shredded zucchini, 1/2 C chopped walnuts,  optional.

Mix dry ingredients (not sugars) in bowl and set aside. Mix all wet ingredients (with sugars) in separate bowl and set aside. Allow zucchini to drain on towels to reduce extra moisture. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, then fold in zucchini and nuts. Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes.

As mentioned, I HAVE NO EXCUSES not to be healthy (with this book in my house).

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Zucchini picked last night…I better get busy.

Ain’t No Breakfast About It

It’s been one of those days, kind of dreary and wet, a bit chilly. I headed for the kitchen because it’s also that time again. I have extra in the garden and I dislike waste. I happened to have three very ripe bananas. I was all set.

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I was going to make banana cookies or smoothies, but look what the husband found. It’s only early July, but this is the first of what we know will be a plentiful crop. No problem.

I looked for a recipe that called for bananas and zucchini.

Ever since my son told us about the untimely death of the man who bought the couch, I have been trying to eat better, even balanced. Dinner has never been a problem, but breakfast and lunch is where I could use some help. Lucky me! I found the perfect recipe.

breakfast cookies_july 2016 (16)I could not believe my eyes. Both my great grandma and my father died from diabetes, and I’m guessing my risk of being diagnosed is higher than for those without a family history. I try to find recipes with low sugar, or none, and I try to watch my overall carb intake.

breakfast cookies_july 2016 (18)You are correct in noticing that bananas are missing from the list. I found plenty of recipes with zucchini and bananas, but they called for lots of sugar, so I decided to “Karenize” this one. Aside from adding one very ripe banana, I followed this exactly as printed. With two large zucchini squash and three ripe bananas, I doubled the recipe.

(Note: I mentioned I had three ripe bananas. I used two for this recipe and froze the third. So, I followed this recipe exactly but added two ripe bananas.)

breakfast cookies_july 2016 (6)I was pleased to see that the original recipe calls for 1/3 cup sugar and only 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Adding the banana makes it sweeter, and in hindsight I probably could have added none.

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I could live on these alone, for years, without complaint, except my gut would scream.

I absolutely LOVE walnuts. I could eat them daily. In fact, I have, and later paid dearly (but I’ll spare you the details. You’re welcome). They are very healthy and I use them sparingly when I can.

breakfast cookies_july 2016 (9)Another ingredient I like to use is oats. I like the texture and the taste, and that it reduces overall flour amounts. It seems that most cookie recipes call for more than the one cup here. I can live with that.

I’m also a snob when it comes to chocolate chips. I only buy Ghirardelli dark. Only.

Ghirardelli_wishesanddishesdotcom_july 2016

When I’d added all of this together, I was afraid it would be too gooey from the bananas. I was right, so the test would be in the baking. I settled on 375 for 10 minutes.

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It WAS gooey. But, it’s pretty, right?

Just look at the health in that bowl! I let it sit for a few minutes to allow the oats to soak up some of the moisture.

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(Karenized) Banana Zucchini Breakfast Cookies

They appear to be healthier than most recipes with the walnuts, zucchini, oats, bananas, and reduced sugar. Both the husband and I tried a dozen couple to make sure they had baked the proper time and make sure the ingredients had been balanced. (I heard that.)

All we can say is because they are so good, they are suitable for any meal, and there ain’t no breakfast about it.

Bribery Jam

Tomorrow will be a scorcher in the PNW, so I thought of a quick bribe used my time wisely for another GOOD EATS post. Today is a rainy “ugh” day, so I got busy in the kitchen. If I tell my sons* what I am doing, chances increase immeasurably that I may see them…

First, a note about jam making. I have tried sugar free recipes, liquid pectin, powdered pectin, lemon juice, no lemon juice, and several others searching for a healthy jam. (Is that an oxymoron?) I have made cooked jam, refrigerator jam, and freezer jam. I have used mixers, blenders, mashers, and just about every kitchen utensil available. I tried the following recipe a few years ago and have never gone back. It’s my no fail/no fuss (but plenty of mess) recipe.

Arguably, some may think making this jam is a huge ordeal. Either I am used to it or I have a fever, but I set it all out ahead of time and it goes quickly.

recipe_june 2016Starting with the best from a farm around the corner, these berries were picked yesterday and are indescribably sweet. In the SIX hallocks only that I used for this double batch, I threw out the equivalent of half a berry. That’s it. The cost of a day old flat in these parts is a full $10.00 less per flat than for a full price, picked today flat. I can live with that.

As stated, it’s an easy 1:1 ratio.

I know. It does seem like a lot of sugar. A lot. That’s probably because it is. A lot. However, when I think of the preservatives–no pun intended–in the commercially made jams and jellies, not to mention a lack of flavor, I have to believe this is better. Two ingredients. Are you smiling yet?

I try to set out everything I think I may need ahead of time:

OK, here we go:

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berries are crushed with a potato masher

Berries are fully crushed and sugar is added. I use my pressure cooker pot to cook the jam. That is my preference since I have a strong dislike for hot jam splatter.

I took a video of this next part because it is essential to the success of the recipe. We may be tempted to avoid that rolling boil, but this is key: the jam needs to maintain a rolling boil while stirred. I time this for 15-20 minutes (depending on how thick it feels after 15 min.).

Meanwhile, I’ve had my water bath heating on the stove top.

jam two_june 2016 (3)The recipe states that at this point, the jam can be ladled into hot jars, sealed, and flipped over on the counter. I do not follow this part of the recipe. I place my sealed jars in the water bath–the water has to cover the jars–and cook for 15 minutes (boiling water bath).

This step DOES NOT OVERCOOK the jam. I was afraid it might, but it does not.

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lovely, messy, gooey jam

After the jam has cooked for 15 minutes in the water bath, I take them out and place on a towel or cutting board to cool. I always cover the jars with a towel.

 The boys have been warned. We’ll see who shows up for some of mom’s bribery jam.

Make that briberry jam. 😉

*I am an Even-Steven type of mother and have not forgotten my daughter. She does not eat jam. Coffee and chocolate work with her. 😉