Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Sorry for the long hiatus.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I suffered an odd allergic reaction to some mysterious item/soap/detergent that left my body covered in unsightly red welts. After seeing a doctor, I was given a steroid shot to stop the spread of the rash. The injection caused me to faint immediately and then left me with heart palpitations, nausea, extreme fatigue, and hot flashes for almost a week! As a result, Paul and I were forced to leave Fort Wayne early so I could try to rest and recover at home. Luckily, I am now feeling much better and am ready to start being a productive member of this family again. And just in time too! As good as Paul's egg salad sandwiches are, when you have them for dinner 7 nights in a row they start getting a bit old. I'm probably going to avoid eggs altogether for a couple weeks.

I cannot believe that yesterday marked the second Sunday of Advent. The Christmas season, while highly anticipated and looked forward to all year long, passes so quickly once it is actually upon us! This Saturday, we went out and picked up our tree - a gorgeous Douglas Fir. Although, after taking the time to carefully decorate the tree only to watch my little monster rip off every ornament within reach, I am beginning to regret not choosing a Blue Spruce - those needles are so sharp and prickly, I have a feeling they would have kept Matthew and his destructive fingers at bay. Oh well. Must remember for next year.

We also finally set up our Advent wreath. Matthew gets so excited whenever we light the candles before dinnertime - he has been on a fire/candle kick ever since he saw Uncle Bruce blow out the candles on his cake for his 4th birthday over Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, now we have to put up with Matthew blowing/spitting all over us at the dinner table as he tries his darndest to blow out the Advent wreath candles. Last night, his intense blowing sent a chunk of macaroni flying from his mouth onto Paul's plate. It was a fairly impressive trajectory.

Since the illness, I have not really been in the mood for Christmas preparations. Every year, I love making holiday gift baskets filled with baked goodies, jams, and chutneys to give to some of our friends who live nearby. I normally begin working on these baskets immediately after Thanksgiving. Obviously, my timeline has shifted a bit. Since the illness, I have also been super picky about food and have had a major aversion to anything sweet in nature (even sweet potatoes which I normally LOVE!) and that has majorly affected my motivation to get baking. I plan to start tomorrow. We'll see what happens.

The only recipe I have to post for you are some rolls that I made for Thanksgiving. My Mom requested the recipe, so I figured I would share them here as well. Unless of course you're all dying for Paul's secret egg salad sandwich recipe - which I'm sure he would be happy to share (and it really is delicious - I'm just really, really, REALLY sick of them!).

Buttery Dinner Rolls
adapted from Lion House Classics
Yield: About 20-24

2 T. active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
5-6 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, proof the yeast in the warm water. Let stand 5 minutes until foamy and activated. Add the sugar, butter, salt, dry milk, 2 cups of flour, and the egg. Beat together until very smooth. Gradually add the remaining flour until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough by hand for at least 10 minutes (or 5 minutes with a stand mixer) until it feels supple, smooth, and elastic. Grease a large bowl lightly. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap tightly and allow it to rise until doubled.

Once the dough has doubled, you can shape however you would like. I like to make little knots - divide the dough into the desired number of rolls. Roll each portion into a rope that is approximately 9-inches in length. Make a shape of a "9" with the rope. Thread the long portion of the "9" under and through the loop to form a knot. Tuck the ends under.

OR you can do a cute little rolled shape. This is the method I used for Thanksgiving. It produces a really flaky dinner roll because you get to incorporate some butter while shaping. First, divide the dough into two sections. Roll each section into a rectangle that is approximately 11x14 inches. Brush the top with melted butter. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough into two pieces lengthwise. Then, slice each half of the dough into five or six strips across. You should end up with 10-12 rectangles total. Roll each rectangle up like a snail and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet so that the roll is resting on it's open edge. Repeat with the second portion of dough.

Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until the are golden brown. If desired, brush with melted butter while hot.


On a completely unrelated note...

Can you spot Matthew in this picture?

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