Hard Rolls

Bitter cold days produce in me this need to bake bountiful quantities of bread and hot meals.  What a blessing to be able to do this.  I am so grateful to God for providing food for my family and for those in my neighborhood who are in need. 

One of my guys recent favorites are these hard rolls.  I didn’t have a single one left the night I served them.


hard rolls-web

Hard Rolls

(recipe from: The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking)

4 1/2- 5 1/2 c   all purpose flour

2 T  sugar

1 t  salt

1 T  active dry yeast

4 T  butter, softened

1 1/2 c  warm water

1 egg white


For the Glaze:

1/2 c  water

1 t  cornstarch

Poppy seeds


Combine 1 1/2 c of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Cut in butter.  Gradually add water to the flour mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Add the egg white.  Beat for another 5 minutes, adding flour until dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. (I did this portion by hand since I do not have a mixer that does well with bread dough.)  Turn out on a lightly floured surface.  Knead 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent stickiness.

Lightly oil a large bowl.  Place dough in the bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Punch down dough. Turn out again, cover with a towel, let rest 10 minutes. Divide in half and shape into two 9 inch rolls.  Cut each roll into nine 1-inch pieces and form each into a small ball.  Place on the baking sheet and 3 inches apart. Cover with towel and let rise until doubled- another 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450.

To make glaze, mix water and cornstarch in a pan. Bring to a boil.  Cool slightly before brushing on rolls. Slit tops in a crisscross fashion.  (I cut the tops before I let the rolls rise. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to cut the rolls once they had risen.) Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake for about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

yield 18 rolls



So as you can tell from this post our days have been pretty quiet.  I have enjoyed them.  I needed some quiet!  It has been good to just be home, I love the coziness of it all.  To be able to focus on school and the needs of my family is just what I have been needing.  And for a girl who loves the snow, but can’t do the bitter cold it’s been a wonderful week of watching the snowflakes from the warm side of my window!


Home Made Pizza Rolls

My family loves anything and everything pizza.  So I find myself making pizza or pizza type foods a couple times  a month… at least.

For a while I have been making a recipe for Chicken Broccoli Rolls that I just love.  One night when we were eating these Joel just happened to casually mention that these rolls would be perfect with pizza topping stuffed into them.

Being the loving wife I am I decided to surprise him one night with Pizza Rolls.

These can be a bit time consuming, but they are well worth the extra effort.

The recipe that follows is what I make for 3 boys voracious boys, 2 adults, and my daughter who can pack it away just as good as her brothers can.  You can easily cut this recipe in half or increase it if need be.


Home Made Pizza Rolls


2 packages of yeast (this is equivalent to 4  1/2 t)

2 c  warm water, divided

2 t  sugar

1/2 c melted butter, cooled to room temperature

5-6 c flour white, wheat, or a combination. I tend to use 1 to1  1/2 cups wheat and the rest white.

3 t salt

In a bowl dissolve yeast in 1/2 c water. Stir in sugar and let set for 5 minutes or until bubbly. Pour in cooled butter and remaining water, stir.  Add 2 cups flour and the salt.  Mix well using a hand mixer for approximately 2 minutes. Work in as much of the remaining flour as possible by hand. Knead for about 10 minutes or until dough isn’t sticky.  Place in a bowl and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Punch down, cover and let rest for 30 minutes more.

In the meantime prepare your toppings:


Use your favorite recipe or store bought brand.  I use a pint of my home canned tomato sauce mixed with a can of tomato paste, a pinch of sugar, a bit or garlic powder and a tablespoon of a pizza seasoning that I buy from our local Natural Grocery.


Be creative!  We use any of the following,i depending on what I have on hand:  sausage, bacon, peperoni, diced ham,  fresh tomato,onion and green pepper sautéed in a bit of olive oil, green or black olives, mushrooms, feta cheese, and mozzarella cheese.



Pizza Rolls- SycamoreLane Photography



Divide dough into 18 pieces.  Roll out one piece of dough into a circle, keeping dough about 1/4 inch thick don’t go to thin or your dough will break and your topping will leak out.  Place amount of sauce that you like on the circle to within an inch of edges. Place desired toppings on top of sauce.  Here you will have to experiment with how much you want in the roll or in our case how much you can fit in the roll!  Using warm water wet your finger and go around the edges of the dough.  Fold in the edges of dough and seal together.  Flip the roll over and place on a greased cooking sheet.  Repeat with remaining 17 pieces of dough.  Before placing in the oven poke with a knife or fork to create vent holes for the steam to escape.  I actually cut my children’s initials in their rolls, because everyone had different toppings in their rolls.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from oven brush tops with butter.  Sprinkle with garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.



Pizza Rolls-1-SycamoreLane Photography


Oh and try not to burn your mouth by being to eager to taste these. ( I personally wouldn’t know anything about that…Ah-hem)

Rustic Apple Tart




Rustic Apple Tart



Rustic Apple Tart


1 1/3 c  flour

2 T  sugar

1/4 t salt

1/2 c  butter

13 t  cold water

1/4 t  vanilla


4 cups thinly sliced apples

7 T sugar

3/4 t cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

2 1/2 T flour


Cinnamon sugar mix

Caramel ice cream topping

Combine flour, sugar, and salt; cut in butter until crumbly.  Gradually add water and vanilla, toss with a fork until a ball forms.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Divide dough in half. Roll into 10” circles.  Transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Combine filling ingredients. Spoon over pastry within 2” of edges.  Fold up edges of pastry over filling.  Leaving center uncovered.  Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar over the filling.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Slide onto cooling racks.  Drizzle with caramel; serve warm.


~This recipe is the BEST! The crust is flaky and the filling just right.  It is definitely one of my favorites for topping off a warm, filling, autumn, comfort food meal.

Swedish Meatballs- A Warm Meal for a Confused Spring Day



One day of 70 degree weather spoiled me.  It is now 35 degrees and spitting snow. 

I know spring is coming. I can’t be fooled!  While I wait I will just be thankful for a few more days of cool weather to cook up some of our favorite cold weather meals. Before long I won’t even want to turn on the oven.

With the continued cold weather there’s nothing to do but,  bake up some crusty homemade bread and a dish up bowls of steaming comfort food.


hard rolls-web



Swedish Meatballs- A Country Girl's Ramblings-SycamoreLane Photography


Venison Swedish Meatballs

3 slices whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces

1/2  cup milk

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1/2 small onion, minced

2 lbs.  Venison or ground burger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1  teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon sage

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley

1/4 teaspoon fennel, crushed

2 large eggs


Mix bread and milk and let sit.  Mix together meat, seasonings, and eggs.  Sauté onion in 2 Tablespoons of butter until transparent. Squeeze excess milk out of the bread.  Add the onions and the bread to the meat mixture.  Mix well.  Shape into meatballs.  Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Brown meatballs on all sides.  Place the browned meatballs into a greased hot crock pot.



2 Tablespoons butter

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley

3 cups chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup half-n-half

Melt butter in saucepan.  Wisk in flour until paste is formed. Add the chicken broth and stir until thickened.  Add the salt, parsley, and half-n-half.  Mix well.  Pour the gravy over the meatballs.


Cook on high in slow cooker for 2 hours or until meatballs are cooked through.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Moon Pie-001

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (original recipe from Family Fun magazine November 2005)


2 eggs

2 c  brown sugar

1 c  vegetable oil (or 1/2 c oil and 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce)

1 t  vanilla

1 (15oz) can pumpkin

3 c  flour

1 T  pumpkin pie spice

1 t  baking powder

1 t  baking soda

1 t  salt

Beat eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in pumpkin.  Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl.  Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture a little at a time, blending after each addition until smooth. Drop a heaping Tablespoon of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. 


4 oz cream cheese softened

1/2 c  softened butter

2 t  vanilla

4-5 c  powdered sugar

Whip  butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Add vanilla and 2 cups powdered sugar, combine.  Add remaining sugar until desired consistency.

~Place frosting on underside of cookie, top with another cookie.  Admire for at least a second before devouring!

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

Gray autumn day-1

gray autumn day

When the clouds scud across the steel gray sky and the wind brushes noisily past the windows and the beauty of orange, yellow, and red twirl and float across the Autumn sky, it’s time to bake!

PB baked oatmeal

The other morning it was gray and cold. I couldn’t resist.  I just had to have a warm breakfast even if it meant we started school later than usual.  I had been wanting to try a Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal recipe for a long time.  The moment just presented itself perfectly for whipping up a warm, filling, tasty breakfast.  And I must say this recipe did not disappoint!  My children LOVED this, as did I.  It will definitely be put into the cold months breakfast rotation!

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal (adapted from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures)

3c quick cooking oats

1/2c brown sugar

1c milk

2T melted butter

2 eggs

2t baking powder

3/4t salt

2t vanilla

1/2c peanut butter

3/4c vanilla yogurt

Mix all ingredients in mixing bowl. Spread into a greased 9×13 in. pan.  Bake uncovered at 350 for 20-25 min or until moist crumbs are left on knife that is inserted near middle.  Serve with a sprinkle of brown sugar and top with milk or half and half.

Cookin’ When It’s Hot?

Where I live you never know what type of weather you’re gonna get. 

At the beginning of this week we woke up with goose bumps.  It was 60 degrees in the house, the wind so refreshing and cool was blowing briskly through the windows and all my curtains were billowing out.  It was beautiful!  But, our summer weathered bodies weren’t used to it. We were scrambling for our sweatshirts.

Today it is supposed to be  100 degrees… hot, hot, hot for were we live. And when these hot days are upon me I always scratch my head for what to feed my family.  Cuz, in this frugal household we don’t turn on the AC until we can’t stand it and then there is this understanding that you don’t heat up the house by using the oven.  And on top of that the man can only eat so much pasta salad and such before he is needing a meat and potatoes type meal.

Enter center stage my crock pot. Which in itself can put off a considerable amount of heat, but I have a way around that.

I get my meal all prepared and then stick it in one of two places.  1) Out in the mudroom which I can close off from the rest of the house by shutting the door  OR 2) Outside under the awning on our deck.




If you have outside outlets, I highly suggest this!  I just always make sure I put it either on the north side of my house of under shade of some sort.

The other day was just such a day.  We all had had enough of pasta salads and quick stove top meals.  It was definitely time for something substantial to fill my hungry boy’s bellies!  So Scalloped Potatoes and Ham was on tap for  dinner.


Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes ( this feeds my family of 6 with left overs. It can definitely be cut to fit any size family.  Also I used my 5 qt. crock pot for this.)

9-12 medium potatoes peeled and sliced thin

3/4 cup chopped onion

White Sauce:

6 Tablespoons butter

6 Tablespoons flour

3  3/4 cups milk

1   teaspoons salt

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon pepper

2  1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


For sauce cook onion in butter until tender.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Add milk all at once.  Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.  Add cheese and stir till melted.  Remove from heat.  Grease crock pot with butter.  Place small amount of sauce in the bottom of your crock pot, then layer potatoes on top.  Continue with layers, ending with sauce on top.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.


I happened to have a ham steak on had so I fried that up and placed chunks of ham in with the potatoes. Meat is often a must with my guys.  What I love about this recipe is that it is also good with hamburger or ground sausage with this recipe (just cook and drain the meat first before you add it to the potatoes).





If you have a helper when you make this recipe then you are in luck, because they will do a fantastic job of cleaning up for you. Done to the very. last. drop!

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Once you have your crock pot filled and cooking away all you have to do is make up a yummy simple salad.  We were enjoying lots of Romaine lettuce out of the garden until heat and drought conditions made it bitter.  I loved that I could pick bunches of it and just serve it with a simple dressing.  Super easy and amazingly yummy.




Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

1/2- 3/4 cups sugar (start out with 1/2 and adjust to taste)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup Raspberry Balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon onion powder


Combine and refrigerate.


So, if its hot where you are break out that crock pot, fill it, then sit back with a cold ice tea….that is after you hang up the laundry, pick up the house, scrub the tub, make that phone call, feed your children, vacuum the floor…again, etc, etc, etc.


Stay cool!