Posts Tagged 'Pioneer Woman'

Cinnamon Rolls

Are you interested in a trip to food heaven?  Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls can take you there.

I’ve had some highs and lows when trying PW’s recipes, but these Cinnamon Rolls are the best of the best.  In her cookbook, she mentions that the recipe has been passed down through the family, and I can see why it’s still in use.  The rolls are sweet, gooey, and incredibly moist; it’s practically impossible to eat just one.  I brought them to my brunch-themed gourmet club meeting as the dessert course, and the recipe was branded a “keeper.”

Between dough making, rising, rolling, filling, cutting, rising again, and baking, the rolls require some effort.  I think they were delicious enough to be worth it, though, and even a half recipe will leave you with plenty of rolls to store or share.

As usual with PW’s recipes, I’ll let her show you how to make them.  Here are my notes from the experience, though:

  • I cut the recipe in half and ended up with around 23 rolls.  (My dough rolling wasn’t perfect, so I lost a few on the ends.)
  • After I scalded the milk, oil, and sugar, I let it drop to around 120°F before I proceeded with the dough making.  (This took about 45 minutes.)  I used an instant-read thermometer to measure the temperature.
  • After I added the first quantity of flour, my dough seemed a bit loose and I was worried.  Everything worked out fine with the rising and rolling.
  • I refrigerated my dough overnight before using it.  I just punched it down before I rolled it the next morning.
  • Rolling the dough (both into a rectangle and into a roll) was a bit challenging. Hopefully, I’ll improve with practice!
  • I used butter-flavored cooking spray to coat my baking pans instead of butter.
  • My rolls didn’t rise much during the 20 – 30 minute pre-baking rise period, but it didn’t seem to matter.
  • I used those 8 1/2-inch round aluminum foil cake pans that you can buy at the grocery store.  I was afraid they would be too shallow (they’re about 1 1/2 inches high), but I didn’t have any trouble.
  • I did a lot of needless worrying while trying this recipe.  Have you noticed? 🙂
  • I think the ideal number of rolls per pan is 7 or 8.  I did as few as 6 in one pan and as many as 9.  The more space you give them, the more they expand.
  • I baked two pans right away and froze one (tightly wrapped in foil).  I let the frozen one thaw on the counter for an hour and then factored in 20 minutes of rise time before baking.  I baked each pan of rolls (fresh and previously frozen) for 17 minutes at 375°F.
  • A half-recipe of icing makes approximately 1 3/4 cups.  Divide it among your pans accordingly.
  • When I say the rolls are sweet, I mean sweet.  I’m a bit of a sugar addict and I definitely enjoyed them, but they may be too sweet for some.  I think you could successfully cut the amount of sugar in the rolls in half; I was shocked when I had sprinkled the entire surface of the dough with sugar and still had half of it left in the measuring cup.
  • I think the rolls are best when they’re warm, but they really were delicious the entire day they were baked.  (I know because I couldn’t stop nibbling on them.)  They did start to take on a “day-old pastry” taste the next day.
Cinnamon Rolls

Baked cinnamon rolls before the icing

Cinnamon Rolls

Ooey-gooey iced deliciousness!

I can’t wait to make these again!

Recipe link: Cinnamon Rolls

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I mentioned earlier this week that I would write about making Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pot Roast and Creamy Mashed Potatoes, so it’s time to make good on that promise.  I’ll start with the pot roast, since I hate to be anticlimactic.  Honestly, it was pretty disappointing.  It wasn’t bad, but after hours of blissing out to the intoxicating smell of rosemary cooking in beef broth, I was expecting something spectacular.  The fattier slices of meat were pretty tender (forget about the dry side of the roast!) and the veggies were reasonably tasty, but the fantastic smells just didn’t translate into a fantastic meal.  Meh.

Thankfully, though, the mashed potatoes saved the meal.  They were amazing.  I can think of fourteen caloric reasons why this is true (12 tablespoons of butter, 1 package of cream cheese, and 1/2 cup of half-and-half), but you know what?  They can be made ahead and they’re abso-freakin’-lutely delicious, so they work for me.

As always, PW is going to give you way more step-by-step photo instruction than I can muster, so I’ll let her tell you how to make them.  Here’s a shot of my finished product, though (along with the sad, sad pot roast):

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The potatoes were creamy, flavorful perfection, really.  I couldn’t bring myself to put the extra pats of butter on top before baking, but they didn’t need it.  I did have to go four rounds with the seasoning to get the flavor I wanted (probably because I used unsalted butter instead of salted butter to start with), but they were worth the effort.  If you make sure your potatoes are fully cooked, use the recommended quantities of other ingredients, and keep salting and peppering until they taste good to you, you can’t go wrong.  I’m adding this recipe to my entertaining arsenal, and I look forward to having these potatoes on my plate again soon.  Mmmmmm.

TIPS:  I made my potatoes ahead and reheated them; they were not completely heated through at the end of the recommended 30 minutes at 350°F.  Christopher and I got warm potatoes; poor Dr. O got left out in the cold and had to have a date with the microwave.  Next time, either I’ll give them some time to come to room temperature before I put them in, or I’ll warm them for an extra 5 – 10 minutes.

Recipe link: Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Apple Fritters

Like thousands of other people who follow Pioneer Woman’s blog, I’m sure, my friend Christopher and I set out to make her apple fritters this past weekend.  (Our Saturday night also included her pot roast and mashed potatoes, which I’ll write about later, and The Hurt Locker, which I highly recommend.)  Due to my level of red wine consumption, I was kindly demoted to sous chef.  I can’t say I minded, since I rarely get to see someone else in action in my kitchen.

Since I didn’t do anything besides chop the apples and pull the ingredients out of the refrigerator and pantry, I can’t give a first person step-by-step breakdown of this recipe.  I do know that Christopher followed it as written, though, and that the results were absolutely delicious.  Here are a few photos from our project:

Apple Fritter Batter

This shot shows the consistency of the batter and the size of our apple dice.

Undusted Apple Fritters

This photo says it all. We have the freshly fried, undusted fritters; the arm of C.Go, who made it all happen; the powdered sugar that had to be transferred to a Ziploc after I dropped most of the regular bag into the batter bowl; the red wine that got me demoted; and the arm of Dr. O, ready to taste the finished product.

Apple Fritters

Finished fritters!

It took us a few tries to find the right amount of batter for fritters that were golden brown and cooked through, but once we got it, we got it good.  The result was a soft, puffy fritter that was lightly crisped on the outside; the cinnamon and the apple bits were what really made them sing.  They were super tasty and definitely worth the fry mess, especially since we were able to re-crisp the leftovers in the oven the next morning (350°F for 8 minutes) for a second round of deliciousness.

If you’re going to try this recipe, I have a few recommendations:

  • Dice the apples pretty finely.  You can see the basic size we used in the photo of the batter.  I was pleasantly surprised by how cooked they were even after only a minute or so in the oil.
  • Start with your oil at medium-low heat.  We started at medium heat and our test fritters were browning way too quickly; the centers were undercooked while the outside was practically burned.  Once we hit our stride, we were using about 1 tablespoon of dough (half of my cookie scoop), oil over medium-low heat, and only about 90 seconds of cooking time (45 seconds on each side).
  • Definitely wait until the fritters cool down a bit until you dust them with powdered sugar; otherwise, they’ll just soak it up.  (If you just can’t wait, though, go for it; you’ll still taste the powdered sugar even if you can’t really see it.)

Recipe link: Apple Fritters

Pots de Creme

Are you ready for the easiest dessert I have ever made?  (And I mean ever.)

As I’ve mentioned before, January’s gourmet club theme was Pioneer Woman.  I was on appetizer duty (I made Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits and used the topping from her Olive Cheese Bread as a spread) and the hostess handled the entrées (Comfort Meatballs and Fancy Macaroni), so my friend Paige took care of dessert.  Paige travels often for work and had been out of town the week prior to our meeting, so she really hadn’t had time to think about what to make, much less actually make something.  She found PW’s recipe for Pots de Creme Saturday morning; in a matter of minutes, she had dessert in the refrigerator.

When I made this recipe, I was in a pinch myself; I knew I was serving dinner to at least my husband and one friend (no pressure!), but there was a possibility of one or two additional guests.  I’m all about first impressions so I wanted to have a nice dessert ready, but I didn’t want to put myself out too much since everything was pretty up in the air.  Amazingly, I had everything I needed to make the Pots de Creme waiting in the refrigerator and the pantry, so I decided to give it a go.

Into my trusty blender went 12 ounces (1 bag) of semisweet chocolate chips, 4 room-temperature large eggs, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and a pinch of table salt.  I put the lid on the blender, fired it up, removed the plastic stopper from the lid, and – while it was running – gradually poured in 8 ounces of very hot, strong coffee.  (Either brew some extra in the morning and microwave it, pick some up at the coffee shop, or use instant crystals.)  The mixture rose up in the blender as the coffee was added, but adding it in a slow stream prevented any disasters.  Once all the coffee was added, I continued blending for a few more seconds until everything was well combined.

I poured the chocolate mixture into six small ramekins and placed them in the refrigerator to set up.  (This takes three or four hours, so admittedly, you can’t make them at the last minute.  With five minutes of prep, though, does it honestly get any easier?)  To serve, I topped the Pots de Creme with whipped cream and a strawberry fan.

Pots de Creme

I would expect something this tasty to either (a) take hours to prepare, or (b) have loads of heavy cream in it, but you and I both know neither of these is true.  Much like most of what I’ve made of PW’s recipes, this isn’t the absolute best chocolate dessert I’ve ever had, but I do think it’s a crowd pleaser.  Plus, it really does look elegant and it was ridiculously easy to prepare.  Winner!

TIPS:  To get your eggs to room temperature, either let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes or submerge them in warm (not hot) water for about 2 minutes.  I use the 2-minute method all the time.

Also, this is definitely one of those recipes where you can vary the flavor significantly by changing up the ingredients.  Try using a different kind of chocolate chip (dark, maybe?), liqueur in place of the vanilla, or different coffee blends.

Recipe link: Pots de Creme

Comfort Meatballs

I mentioned in an earlier post that January’s gourmet club centered around the recipes of Pioneer Woman.  We had a great time (as always) and the food was absolutely delicious (again, as always!), but we narrowly avoided a meatball-overload catastrophe this time around.  It’s rare for the gourmet club members to have to worry about any duplication of recipes since we usually pick a type of food (Northern Italian, Mexican, Greek, etc.) and then pull our recipes from a variety of sources.  Choosing Pioneer Woman as our theme, though, left us with two primary sources: her cookbook and her Web site.  At a party the night before our meeting, the other members and I were chatting about what we planned to serve when we determined that the existing plan called for these meatballs as both an appetizer and an entrée.  Oops!  Although our guys pretty much loved the idea of meatballs with a side of meatballs, I decided to change up my appetizers a bit to avoid the repeat.  (I wasn’t about to get in the way of meatballs and macaroni and cheese for dinner, believe me.)  Plus, don’t things usually taste better when someone else makes them for you?

I didn’t mind giving up my plan since I had already experimented with the meatballs earlier in the week.  Since the work was done and the photos were taken, I could still share them here with you. 🙂  To make them, I started by combining 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, 3/4 cup of quick-cooking oats, 1 cup of milk, 3 tablespoons of finely minced onion, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (I used coarse), and ground black pepper (to taste) in a large bowl.  (Try not to overwork the meat so the meatballs stay tender.)  I portioned the mixture in heaping tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet, formed them into balls, and placed the sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes.

While the meatballs were chilling, I made the sauce.  In a medium bowl, I combined 1 cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire, 4 tablespoons of finely minced onion, and a dash of hot sauce.  (I used Cholula.)

After 5 minutes of chilling, I dredged the meatballs in plain all-purpose flour and transferred them to a plate.  Next, I browned them in batches in a large skillet (medium heat, 3 batches, 1 tablespoon of canola oil per batch) and transferred them to a glass baking dish.  (Mine is about 11 x 17 inches, but a 9 x 13-inch dish would work well.)  I poured the sauce over the meatballs, baked them (uncovered) at 350F for 45 minutes, and served them with Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits and green beans.

Comfort Meatballs

These weren’t the absolute best meatballs I’ve ever had, but they’re certainly good, solid, crowd-pleasing comfort food.  On one end of the spectrum, kids would probably love them (with really finely minced onion, of course); on the other end, you can dress them up and serve them with Fancy Macaroni for your foodie club.  They’re really more of a meatloaf-style meatball; I especially liked the tangy, slightly sweet sauce.  Since they’re super easy and could be prepared ahead, I would probably make them again.

TIPS:  I made my meatballs with 92% lean beef and my friend Katie made hers with 80% lean beef.  While they were already extra delicious because Katie made them for us, I have to admit they were tastier and more tender with the fattier meat.  Pioneer Woman would approve.

Recipe link: Comfort Meatballs

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits


After hosting book club last week (Kielbasa Black Bean Chili and White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce!), making sugar cookies for my sorority alumnae group’s white elephant party, making appetizers for my gourmet club, and hosting my mom at my house for a week (including a Runza lesson), I’ve been doing an awful lot of cooking and not a lot of blogging.  I’m sneaking this hour between starting a new batch of cookies for a party tomorrow and going to the store for a brunch I’m having on Sunday.  Does anyone out there know if you can teach a cat (or a husband) to cook?

Anyway, I’m ready to talk bacon, cheese, and the gooey goodness that is Pioneer Woman.  My friend Katie chose her recipes as the theme for gourmet club this month, so I did a bit of experimenting before the big day.  My primary goal (as it almost always is) was to find ridiculously appetizing food that could be made ahead.  Her Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits fit the bill.  Here’s how I made them:

First, I fried up 10 slices of thick-cut bacon, drained it on paper towels, and chopped it into small pieces.  (Crumble it if you want; I was in a chopping mood.)  I drained off most of the bacon fat and then sautéed 1 cup of finely diced onion in the same skillet until browned (about 5 – 7 minutes over medium heat).  I transferred the onions to a plate to cool.

With the cooked ingredients ready to go, I sifted together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of table salt.  Using a pastry cutter, I cut in 1/4 cup of Crisco until everything was combined.  (The mixture should look a bit like coarse meal.)

In a large bowl, I whisked together 10 tablespoons of whole milk, 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1 egg.  I added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, along with the bacon, onions, and 1 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.  (PW is normally about fresh-grated cheese, but she says the cornstarch coating in packaged grated cheese can help suspend the cheese in this batter.  I used packaged cheese.)  I stirred the mixture gently to combine.

The original recipe calls for full-size muffins, but I thought mini muffins were more appropriate as appetizers.  I greased my 24-cup mini muffin pan with butter and then used my cookie scoop to portion out the dough.  (With slightly heaping scoops, there was about a muffin’s worth of dough left over.)  I baked the muffins for 20 minutes at 375F and cooled them in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Since mine wouldn’t be served until later in the day, I cooled them completely and transferred them to an airtight container.  If you’re ready to eat, though, serve them warm!

Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

This is just another one of those recipes where it’s practically impossible for the results to be bad because only delicious things went into the batter.  (Cheese?  Bacon?  Sautéed onions?  Heaven.)  Initially, I was actually pretty worried that these wouldn’t work as a make-ahead appetizer because PW made them sound through-the-roof delicious when they’re warm.  I enjoyed them warm (of course!), but I almost felt like I could taste the bacon and cheese better when they were room temperature.  Texturally, they were slightly crusty on the outside and fantastically moist on the inside.  Mmmm.

Although I think it worked really well to make them ahead, they’re definitely best the day they’re made.  After spending the night in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they lose that yummy crispness on the outside.  If you want to make them ahead AND serve them warm, I’d recommend wrapping them in foil and heating them in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes at 300F when you’re ready to eat.

TIPS:  If you try this recipe, I would strongly recommend reviewing Pioneer Woman’s step-by-step instructions before you attempt the printable recipe.  I’m sure it was an accidental omission, but the printable recipe doesn’t say a word about sautéing the onions.  Somehow, I don’t think raw onion in the batter would taste quite as good. 😉

Recipe link: Bacon Onion Cheddar Biscuits

French Onion Soup

How do I love thee, Pioneer Woman?  Let me count the recipes.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ree Drummond (aka Pioneer Woman), she’s an “accidental country girl” who blogs about life on an Oklahoma ranch with her cowboy husband and four children.  Cooking is one of the central themes of her Web site, and every single thing she makes looks abso-freakin’-lutely delicious.  Every.  Single.  Thing.

I’m a relative latecomer to the Pioneer Woman party, so I haven’t actually made all that many of her recipes yet.  (OK, I’ll admit it.  I’ve only made one.  But that Vanilla Bean Ice Cream might be the most delicious thing to ever come from the marriage of a saucepan and a freezer.  Plus, I just bought her cookbook, so surely more will come!)  I’ve been lucky enough to have things made for me, though.  One of my best memories from last winter was the day my friend Christopher brought all of the ingredients for Pioneer Woman’s French Onion Soup over to the old condo and spoiled Dr. O and I with dinner.  (What friends I have!  I tell you.)  It’s absolutely to die for, and I’m sure the stick of butter and cup of wine have a lot to do with it.

I’ve been meaning to make it for well over a week now, but The Sickness took me down before I could get to it.  Thankfully, my ingredients survived the delay.  I’m not even going to put you through the paces of step-by-step instruction today because nobody does it better than Pioneer Woman herself.  Visit her site to check out the recipe (with a photo for each step!).

French Onion Soup

This soup is just so, so good.  Make it!  It takes some time (about 2 hours total), but most of that is just sitting around waiting for things to happen.  If you can melt butter and slice onions, success is sure to be yours.

One thing, though…  I’m used to using unsalted butter in all of my cooking, and Pioneer Woman uses salted butter in hers.  Plus, she suggests using regular-sodium beef broth with the low-sodium chicken broth; silly goose over here bought all low-sodium.  Due to the combination of unsalted butter and low-sodium broth, I did end up having to add several healthy pinches of kosher salt to my soup to get it to taste the way I wanted it to taste.  So, either go with the salted butter and regular-sodium beef broth or be prepared to season.

Recipe link: French Onion Soup

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