Cleaning a Gas Range

Did you know that you can take your gas burners completely apart for cleaning?  or maybe I’m the only one who didn’t.  Its possible.  This is the first time I’ve ever had a gas stove.  My entire life, I’ve cooked on electric.

Our maintenance man showed me the other day. We were having trouble with one of the burners not lighting properly, so I had him come down to take a look at it.  There are grooves in the burner where food spills can get stuck and prevent the burner from lighting.

Its really very easy.  You just take everything off.  The burners won’t light if they are not assembled properly, so you don’t have to worry about it lighting accidentally, either.

So, I did take everything off and put it in the sink with hot, soapy water to soak while I cleaned the stove top under the burner parts.  There was some burnt-on food there.  I squirted it with soft-scrub and let it sit for about 10 minutes before scrubbing it off.  (I gotta change that date on the camera!  It thinks its next October!)

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Then I scrubbed the other parts and left them on several layers of paper towel to dry thoroughly, flipping them over after a few hours to drain out any water that might have been caught inside.

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After that, all you have yo do is put it back together, lining up the slots with the stove top.  It was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done.  Then, I test-lighted each burner to make sure everything was back together again.

voila!  clean stove top AND burners!

Cinnamon Rolls

Yum!  One of my favorite things to bake.  I have a church Christmas Party tomorrow afternoon and I’m supposed to bring a dessert.  I’m thinking that I will probably take a pan of cinnamon rolls.

Yesterday, I ran across a copycat recipe for Cinnabon cinnamon rolls (I love Pinterest).  I’m going to try it.  It looks pretty straight forward, like any other cinnamon roll recipe I’ve used.  So it must be the proportions that are different?  Or maybe they just have a magic touch.  Well, we’ll see.

After trying this recipe, I find that the dough is a little spongier than the Betty Crocker recipe I’ve been using my entire life (well, since the 70s at least).  After checking my old recipe, I find this one has a little less flour; about a cup overall.

And the finished product?  Yum.  The best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made.  I will be sticking with this recipe. (Sorry, Betty)

Here’s a picture taken before I put them in the oven. (Ignore the date:  My camera doesn’t know what its talking about!  I took this picture Friday, December 4.  really.)    I’m sorry; I forgot to take a picture after!  Maybe next time.IMG_0310

My new favorite Cinnamon Roll Recipe (exactly as I found it on Jo Cooks):

Cinnabon Copycat Cinnamon Rolls

INGREDIENTS
Dough
  • 1 (2¼ tsp or ¼ ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup margarine (I used softened butter)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
Filling
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup margarine, softened
Cream cheese icing
  • 6 tbsp margarine (I used butter)
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • ⅛ tsp salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. For the rolls, dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.
  2. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour to the bowl of a mixer and mix well.
  3. Pour the milk/yeast mixture in the bowl and using the dough hook, mix well until well incorporated.
  4. Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approx 16 inches long by 12 inches wide. It should be approx ¼ inch thick.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  7. To make filling, combine the butter or margarine, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
  8. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Alternatively you can spread the butter first on the dough and then the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  9. Working carefully, from the long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge. The roll should be about 18 inches in length. Cut the roll into 1½ inch slices. You might find it easier if you use a piece of floss vs a knife.
  10. Place the cut rolls in the prepared pan. Cover them with a damp towel. Let them rise again for another 30 minutes until they double in size.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Cooking time can vary greatly!
  12. While the rolls are baking make the icing by mixing all ingredients and beat well with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  13. When the rolls are done, spread generously with icing.
NOTES
Prep time does not include time to let the dough rise.
You could prepare this the day before up until step 10. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge overnight. The rolls should continue to rise in the fridge but if by morning they have not doubled in size, turn your oven on to 200 F degrees, then turn it off. Place the pan in the oven for about 30 to 45 minutes until the rolls double in size. Then you can bake them as instructed.
My notes:
1.  I doubled the recipe and they came out great.
2.  Since I buy my yeast in a jar rather than packets, I used a full tablespoon for each packet of yeast.  Its a little more than is in a package, but not enough to make a real difference.  It gives the dough a little more lift, but the amount is not significant enough to make the dough taste yeasty.
2.  I like to add orange flavor to my cinnamon rolls.  I added the zest of one orange to the cinnamon sugar mixture and 2 tablespoons of juice to the frosting.  The orange flavor is there, but not very strong.  I may add more zest next time.  If I like it better, I’ll let you know.
3.  The recipe calls for 20 minute baking time.  In my oven it took 25 minutes and might have been able to go another five.  The tops were just starting to brown.  Be sure to check after 20 minutes, but use your judgment and bake longer if you need to. You know your oven best.
4.  I think I put my rolls too close to each other and they didn’t have enough room to spread.  The ones on the end were really huge compared to the others.  Be sure to give them plenty of room.
5.  I mixed the filling in my food processor, which worked OK but I think the butter was too soft.  Next time I will either use butter straight out of the fridge and cut into slices before adding to the food processor  OR I will use softened butter and mix it with my hand mixer instead.  I  will update the success of each of these.

 

 

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cooky

I started making cookies “by myself” when I was in the third grade.  My mom would sit in the living room watching TV with the cookbook in her lap and would tell me how much of each ingredient to use.  I would run in the kitchen, add that ingredient and then run back to the living room to get the next ingredient.  Within a year I could read a cookbook by myself, and became the chief baker of cookies at our house.

My daughter started making cookies at about the same age and became a whiz at chocolate chip cookies.  She makes them well.  We did learn a secret about chocolate chip (and other butter-based cookie recipes) from Cook’s magazine that has improved both of our cookie-baking.  After you cream the butter and eggs together, let it sit for 15 minutes.  I don’t know what the scientific reason is, but the cookies become chewier.

A few years ago, my daughter found a recipe on the back of a flour bag that she wanted to try.  It has become her favorite cookie recipe.  I’m sorry, I don’t know what brand it was on because I usually buy whatever is the cheapest at the time.  And frankly, I think she wanted to try it because it calls for two bags of chocolate chips.  Anyone knows the more chocolate the better, right?

She’s been making these for a couple of years, and I’ve always thought they were OK.  They are chocolatey, I have to give them that.  But I’ve also always thought they had too much flour in them.  They never spread while baking and can easily go rock-like.

The Fix:  I recently got hold of a cookbook called Ratio:  The Simple Cod51JIkVVObaL._AA160_es Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking, by Michael Ruhlman.   According to him there are standard ratios behind recipes, and baked goods especially.  From it, I learned that the ratio for cookies is: 1 part fat, 2 parts sugars, and 3 parts flour.  I found this intriguing and started checking it against recipes I already had.  When checking it against my daughter’s favorite recipe, I found that the butter and sugars were in line, but there was too much flour. (I knew it!)   I scaled it back to match Mr. Ruhlman’s ratio and voila!, the perfect, and I mean perfect, chocolate chip cookie.

Below is our new and improved Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.  When I figure out how to make it a printable copy, I’ll come back and fix that!  🙂

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 1/4 c butter
  • 1 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 3/4 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Beat together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Allow to rest 15 minutes, then add flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix together and add chocolate chips.

Spoon onto cookie sheet with small ice cream scoop or two teaspoons.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

NOTE:  you could substitute M&Ms or other flavored chips for the chocolate chips.

 

Pumpkin Silk Pie

I found this great recipe on Pinterest and decided to try it for Thanksgiving this year.  It is your basic unbaked (refrigerator-style) cheesecake and was good.  The recipe was very easy to make.  However, the pumpkin flavor is very light, you almost can’t taste it.  It needs some adjustment.

Here’s the original recipe, as I found it on The Gunny Sack.

Pumpkin Silk Pie Recipe

Recipe Inspired By Pumpkin Torte
Author: The Gunny Sack
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 32 gingersnaps
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla (Nielsen-Massey Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 16 oz Cool Whip
  • 2 cups whipped cream (made with Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste)
Instructions
  1. Finely crush 32 ginger snaps.
  2. Mix in melted butter and sugar.
  3. Press into springform pan.
  4. Bake at 325 degrees for 5 minutes.
  5. Beat softened cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  6. Add the powdered sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice; beat until smooth.
  7. Fold in one large container of whipped topping and spread into the springform pan.
  8. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight to allow it to set up.
  9. Remove the springform pan sides and top with whipped cream.
  10. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

I did make two adjustments when making this the first time.

  1.  I used a 12-oz container of Cool Whip because that was the most I had ( the other one was going into the French Silk Pie I was making for my daughter), and
  2. I didn’t put more whipped cream on the top.

Over all it came out good.  As I said the pumpkin flavor was too light for me.  When I make it next time, I will either use more pumpkin or less Cool Whip.  I’m thinking the method could be improved just a bit, too.  After beating the cream cheese until it’s light and fluffy, I think I will add ONLY the powdered sugar and beat it in as well.  I think it would be helpful to mix the pumpkin, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice together before SLOWLY adding it to the cream cheese.  This may help reduce the tendency for the cream cheese to lump as well.

I will probably not have the opportunity to make another cheesecake until Christmas; but when I do, I will update you on the progress.

Happy Baking!

UPDATE:  I just had another slice of this, the next day.  The pumpkin flavor is better today.  So, maybe the only adjustment that it needs is to be sure to make it the day before you plan to serve it?  I still may experiment a little….i guess we’ll just have to see.

 

About Me

Hi!  Iannie3‘m Annie.  I’ve been cooking since I was five years old.  I’m now w-a-a-y older than that.  I love futzing around the kitchen and trying new recipes.  But every time I make a dish, it comes out different because I can’t remember what it was I did “last time” to make it come out so good (or terrible).  So, I am taking a page from my scientific friends and turning this  blog into a lab book to detail my kitchen experiments and perfect all those new recipes I love trying.  Since I love baking the most, I think its a pretty fair bet that most of the recipes will be baked goods, but you never know.  I am interested in a lot of things and always exploring new things.  So, we’ll just see where it goes, eh?

 

 

My Test Kitchen

I love cooking.  Or maybe, more accurately, I love fussing around in the kitchen.  I’ve been doing it since I was 13 years old–a long, long time.

More than anything, though, I love trying out new recipes.  Exploring new methods and taste sensations.   I don’t know about you, but when I experiment in the kitchen I forget what I did last time to get such a great (or terrible) result.  Frustrating!

A few years back, I worked for a pharmaceutical company, and discovered something cool.  When the scientists are working on a project, they keep a lab book detailing everything they did so that they can see where they went wrong or what worked last time.  Genius.

So that is the intention of this blog.  To detail my kitchen messes, so that I can actually perfect my recipes and someday be able to actually duplicate that great dish again someday.