Make-Ahead Caramel Rolls

Caramel Rolls

Caramel Rolls

When I started my first teaching job as a Family and Consumer Science a few years ago, I would always practice new recipes at home in advance so that I was fully prepared for any questions students may have during the actual lab.  For the most part, I enjoyed testing new recipes out on the weekends and I know my husband never once complained!  Prior to a few years ago, yeast scared me.  To invest several hours into making bread from scratch didn’t sound appealing to me.  After all, the store bought tasted pretty good and it only costs a few dollars for a loaf.  But when my Culinary Skills class was about to cover the Yeast Unit, I knew I had to up my game and  practice with the unpredictable ingredient: yeast!

I am happy to say that yeast isn’t all that scary after all.  And it’s not all that unpredictable either!  Lately I’ve been making one or two baked goods a week using yeast.  Homemade whole wheat buns are our new favorite and I usually whip those up when it looks like a beautiful night to grill burgers.

When I was student teaching, the FACS teacher I was teaching under had her students prepare a cool-rise sweet dough recipe for caramel or cinnamon rolls.  She was so calm and collected while demonstrating.  She acted like yeast was no big deal.  So that was another indicator that I needed to get over my fear of yeast and make some of those delicious rolls!

Every year my students prepare caramel rolls and it’s one of their favorite labs.  Anyone that’s ever make caramel rolls from scratch knows that it can’t be done in a 52 minute class period.  Which is what I love about this cool-rise method.  They rise in the fridge overnight which makes it possible prepare in a classroom.  Day one students make the dough, shape into a ball, and place in the fridge to rise overnight.  Day two students punch the dough down and shape into rolls.  Day three I pop them in the oven so that they’re ready to eat once students arrive.  Sometimes I squish this into two days, but students have to come in during their lunch hour to punch the dough and shape into rolls.  Although the recipe I have my students prepare is slightly different than the one I’m going to share below, they both have the same concept of prepared in advance.

Ready to bake rolls

Ready to bake rolls

I made these caramel rolls this past weekend mostly by my husband’s request.  I prepared the dough Saturday afternoon which didn’t take much time at all.  And when Sunday morning arrived, our son thought 6 am was a good time to wake up to start the day.  This allowed for a little one-on-one time as my husband slept in a bit.  Which also allowed me time to preheat the oven and bake the rolls so he could walk out to the delicious smells of CARAMEL ROLLLLSSSSS.

Make-Ahead Caramel Rolls

Ingredients

Rolls
1 c milk
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1-.25 oz package)
1/4 c warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3-4 c flour

Caramel Sauce
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
2 Tbsp corn syrup

Filling
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

  1. Warm the milk in the microwave until warm, about 1 minute.  Let cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, add the sugar, oil, and salt.  Let sit until creamy and bubbly – about ten minutes.
  3. To the yeast mixture, add 1 c of the flour, baking powder, and egg.  Mix with an electric hand mixer until thoroughly combined.
  4. Continue to add 1/2 c of flour at a time until the dough is too think to mix with an electric hand mixer.  Switch to a sturdy rubber scraper to form the dough into a ball.  When the dough is easy to handle, dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead until smooth.  Slowly adding in flour until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  5. Lightly oil a glass bowl and place dough in the bowl.  Cover with a cloth and let rest until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
  6. While dough is resting, prepare caramel sauce by warming the butter and brown sugar together in a sauce pan until smooth.  Remove from heat and add the corn syrup.  Pour into a 9×13 inch pan.
  7. After dough has doubled, punch dough and roll on a lightly floured counter to the size of 8″x12″.  Spread with softened butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.  Roll into a log by first taking one of the two long sides and rolling like a sleeping bag.  Pinch edges to seal.  W
  8. With a serrated knife, cut into one-inch slices and lay cut side up in pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 12-48 hours.
  9. When ready to bake, take out the rolls, remove plastic wrap, and let warm on the counter for 30-60 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 20-30 minutes, until rolls are golden.
  10. Cover a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and flip rolls onto prepared pan, allowing for easy clean up with the stinky caramel sauce.
Before and After Caramel Rolls

Before and After Caramel Rolls

Enjoy!

Upcycling Old T-Shirts

Before and After - Upcycled Shirts

Before and After – Upcycled Shirts

After moving into our house last summer, we made a conscious effort to try and not to hold onto too much stuff. Both Jake and I have accumulated a lot of furniture and miscellaneous items from our college years and married life. We wanted our first home that we owned to include only the furniture, decorations, and clothing that we loved and wanted to keep. So much of our belongings were mismatched and handmedowns. Although I love saving money and I see nothing wrong with mismatched and handmedowns, I still knew we needed a good weeding out of things that we didn’t love, but still felt like we had to hold onto since it was at one time free to us. When we moved in, we sorted and made a donation pile for our local Salvation Army. So that helped our surplus of goods dwindle while allowing someone else to find a new treasure. Fast forward to today and we still find our selves with a lot of stuff lying around the house. The idea of having a garage sale this summer was formed.

I gutted my closet. I’m 26 and I still have a lot of clothes from when I was in high school! I think that is a nice example of my penny pinching ways. Most of the clothes still fit and are in good shape, but they really are no longer in my style or aesthetic. I have grown to want a more polished and mature wardrobe to be a reflection of myself.  I also love making things so the thought of refashioning some of my current clothes really excites me.  An added bonus as a FACS teacher is that since I teach sewing, I can inspire my students to design and sew their own clothes too .

It was a weekend morning and I didn’t have much planned for the day other than doing my normal: laundry, dishes, groceries, lunch, supper, and spend time with my husband and son.  But I felt ambitious and wanted to make something DIY while our son took his usual two naps during the day.  I was about to head to our local thrift store to find an old shirt to cut up and refashion, but then I remembered I had a closet full of clothes waiting to be included in our garage sale!!!  I found a few nice solid colored knit t-shirts that I was saving for making into little boy shirts.  But then I came across my husband’s old striped long sleeve shirt from American Eagle and I knew I wanted to do something with it since striped shirts have been so trendy lately.  I love a pop of bright color with neutrals so I was pleased when I found my pink, raglan, 3/4 sleeve that was also in our garage sale pile.  These were perfect contenders for my weekend refashion project because I knew that I could keep the existing seam finishes for the waist and cuffs, which would cut down on the time spent making it.  I found a very helpful tutorial about how to make a raglan sleeve shirt from scrap fabric that I used as a starting point.  But since I wanted to use the existing cuffs from the pink shirt, I I used her tutorial as a general guide and went my own route to construct the shirt.

Here’s what I did, I hope you enjoy!

Before

Before - Striped Shirt

Before – Striped Shirt

Before - Pink Raglan Sleeves

Before – Pink Raglan Sleeves

I started with my husband’s American Eagle striped shirt and my pink raglan sleeve shirt.  Both were knits and had stretch, although the pink shirt was much lighter in weight so I was afraid the difference in material would be a factor in the end product.  But when I was done, I felt like the material difference wasn’t a huge deal for this diy project.

1. Deconstruct

Cutting at Seams

Cutting at Seams

White shirt – cut as close to the side seams as possible.  Cut around sleeves and shoulders so that the shirt is deconstructed.  I kind of felt like a sewing surgeon 😉

Deconstructed Shirt

Deconstructed Shirt

Note – you’ll notice that I didn’t cut through the collar yet in the picture above because I wasn’t sure if I would try to salvage the original collar or discard it.  In the end, I ended up discarding and cutting it out.

New Sleeves

New Sleeves

I didn’t take a picture of how I cut out the pink sleeves, but I just cut as close as possible to the seams around the armhole and under arm towards the wrist.  Separate the pieces and lay them out to visually see how they will look when done.  Exciting!

2. Cut New Pieces

Cut Shirt Front and Back

Cut Shirt Front and Back

Unfortunately I did not get a good picture of how I cut the front and back pieces with the angle going in towards the neck.  But In the picture above, I’m starting the process of attaching the sleeve (right sides together) but I wanted to show the cuts I made into the front of the white shirt.  I didn’t follow anything specific, I just eyeballed where I wanted the pink sleeve to sit and drew a straight light from the armpit of the white shirt to a few inches from the center of the neckline.  Repeat on the other side, being very careful if your shirt has stripes to keep the stripes parallel and evenly spaced with the new cut lines.  Repeat on the back.

3. Assemble Arms 

Pin the front and left sleeve with right sides together and stitch using a stretch stitch since the materials are knit.  Repeat with the right sleeve and you’ll have something that looks like this:

Sleeves Attached

Sleeves Attached

Note:  the white collar is not even with the sleeves.  I decided not to worry about the shape of the collar until I had the shirt assembled.

 

Attaching the Back to the Sleeves

Attaching the Back to the Sleeves

With right sides together, attach the back piece to the sleeves.

Fold shirt together, right sides together so that it looks like a shirt only inside out.  Pin and sew with a stretch stitch the sides and arms.  Since working with a striped shirt, pay close attention to lining up the stripes of the front and back pieces when sewing them together.

4. Add Collar

Shirt Without the Collar

Shirt Without the Collar

The picture above doesn’t have the sides and arms sewn yet, but it gives you an idea of how the neckline looks without the collar.  You’ll notice that my white shirt was longer in the center front and back compared to the sleeves.  I tried to round out the pink and white by cutting where I saw fit to create a circular shape.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to use for the collar, but then I realized I had a lot of the pink shirt I deconstructed that had subtle ribbing to the material which would work great to finish off the neckline.  I cut a strip that was 1 3/4″ wide from the leftover pink knit shirt, folded it in half and pressed it to create a crease.

Attaching Collar

Attaching Collar

I laid the pink ribbing collar that I just pressed on the right side of the shirt and placed one pin in the back to start.  Otherwise, I didn’t use any pins to sew the collar.  I just slightly stretched the pink ribbing collar as a sewed around the circle.  I would be lying if I said wasn’t crossing my fingers that the stretch of the collar would turn out even and sit nicely around the neck.  Success!  I was so happy it worked since I consider myself an amateur when it comes to sewing with knits.

Done!

I decided not to add any topstitching, but that would definitely give the shirt a more professional look.  Along with finishing the seams with a serger… oh how I hope to one day own a serger. But otherwise, I would say this shirt took me less than a couple hours to make.  The most time consuming was researching how others have sewn a raglan sleeve from existing shirts and planning how I would cut the shirts I was going to use for this project.  I am already looking forward to the next outfit I plan to upcycle.

Have you worn something that you upcycled?  If so, I would love to hear about it.

Before Before - Jakes ShirtAfter - Combined

Make Ahead Whole Wheat Buns

Homemade Buns

Homemade Buns

A fond memory that I have from when I was younger was the smell of freshly homemade bread that my grandma would deliver on the weekend.  If my family and I were lucky, it was caramel rolls.  Nothing compares to the smell and taste of bread that is still warm.  Although this may have been one of my favorite things to eat from a young age, it took me many years to build up the courage to work with yeast.

Fast forward to today and I am happy to say that I have been making homemade buns, bread sticks, pizza, or bread at least once a week.  I am no expert but I enjoy the process of preparing a high quality product.  There has been quite a few flops with my bread making skills whether it’s too dense, underdone, overdone, or chewy.   But also along the way I have found many successes that are husband approved!

I use a few recipes over and over but I also like to try new recipes.  The weekends are an ideal time to make bread and buns because it takes time for the dough to proof, rest, rise, and bake.  But I have found for me that pizza dough and bread sticks can be made after school in time for supper.  I have tried buns several times but since it doesn’t have adequate amount of time to rise, it ends up tasting really dense.

This morning I knew that I was going to prepare blue cheese burgers for supper and wanted a whole wheat bun to go with it.  I remembered a cool-rise bread recipe that I had my students use while in the Yeast Bread Unit.  The cool-rise method is where the dough can rest in the fridge for 2-48 hours after it’s initial rise which takes about 30-45 minutes.  This recipe is perfect for a busy family that enjoys home cooked meals.  Prepare the dough in the morning while the baby sleeps, let it rest in the fridge while at work, and pop it in the oven to enjoy warm and delicious buns for a night of grilled burgers.

Make Ahead Whole Wheat Buns


1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4 to 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c water
1/2 c milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Directions:
1. In the KitchenAid mixer bowl, combine whole wheat flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
2. Heat water and milk in microwave for about 30 seconds to reach 125 degrees F. Add oil to this mixture.
3. Blend with flat paddle attachment at low speed until just moistened  and then beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.
4. By hand, stir in 2 1/4 c all-purpose flour to make a soft dough. Use remaining all-purpose flour to knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
5. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled (30-45 minutes).
6. Shape dough into 6 buns on a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan. Spray plastic wrap with non-stick spray and cover the buns.
7. Place in fridge for 2-48 hours.
8. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before placing them in the oven to allow for them to rise one final time.
9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, until an instant read thermometer is inserted and reads 180 degrees F.

Enjoy!

April Goals

April Goals

My husband pointed out the other day that we had three calendars in our kitchen. Three is a lot for one room, I had to agree! But I didn’t want to take one down because they all serve a different purpose. We have our family calendar I made through Shutterfly with our pictures and dates for birthdays and anniversaries. A school calendar that reminds me of deadlines, activities, athletic events, and meetings. And my marathon training calendar hanging on our fridge to motivate me several times a day to keep logging miles. All serve a purpose and I love seeing the visual  organization of my life. It makes me feel at peace having a calendar calendars in sight.

What I am trying to get at is that if I have things written down, I am much more likely to work towards those goals. So my intentions are to create monthly goals and share them here to keep myself accountable. I will set three goals each month that focus on trying a new recipe, a diy project, and personal development. Wish me luck!

April Goals:
Food: Homemade cheese
DIY: Sloper for drafting my own clothes
Personal Development: Send snail mail every Saturday

Glider Makeover

Glider Before and After

Glider Before and After

$35 Goodwill Glider

Glider – Before

When I was 40 weeks pregnant, I had the ambition to makeover a glider I found at a garage sale for our baby’s room.  My husband was so kind to help out and paint the chair white while I took on the challenge to recover the cushions.  Our glider is something that I still use everyday and I love how it was made with love for our impending arrival.  A cousin of my husband is expecting a baby boy in May and she mentioned that she wanted a unique glider for her room similar to what I did for ours.  I couldn’t wait to jump on the opportunity for another DIY project, especially for a piece that means so much to me and I know will be as important to her.  So that I day I started the official hunt and went to our local thrift store to see if I could find any treasures just waiting for an upgrade.  My thrift store shopping and Craigslist browsing continued for a few weeks and I enlisted my father-in-law’s girlfriend (the garage sale queen) to help with the hunt.  She found the perfect piece at Goodwill that not only glided, but also swiveled!  And so the project began…

Glider and Ottoman:

The glider and matching ottoman were $35 from Goodwill which was a great buy considering comparable secondhand chairs were going for $70 to $100 on Craigslist (through my research, that is).  The next step was to pick out fabric to recover the cushions and buy paint to give the chair a fresh, white look.

Fabric:

Fabric Selection for Glider

Fabric Selection for Glider

Andrea and her husband knew they were expecting a little boy but they wanted the fabric to be a more neutral color so that it could be used for years to come if they decided to change their color scheme in the house.  After measuring the cushions and ottoman, I knew that I  needed three yards of fabric for the project.  Andrea suggested grays and navy’s so I went to the aisle for upholstery and outdoor fabric.  I love the durability of the outdoor fabric and price point of about $10-$20 per yard.  After sending Andrea pictures of a variety of fabrics, she settled on a cool geometric navy blue print that was $10 per yard.  With my 50% off coupon for the 3 yard purchase, it ended up being about $15 total for the fabric.  I knew that I had navy thread and Velcro at home to use for the finishing touches so the fabric was all I needed!

Paint:

We are in the process of remodeling our home so we have plenty of white paint that I was able to use for this project.  I’m new to the Chalkpaint (such as Annie Sloan Chalk Paint or Folkart Home Decor at Jo-Ann’s) so I did buy a white color from Jo-Ann’s in case I wanted to use that after some experimenting.  Well I found that the paint was adhering about the same as the Chalkpaint so I decided to save the Chalkpaint (which was more spendy by the ounce than my leftover paint) for a future project.

Glider Makeover Process –

1. I couldn’t wait to start painting so that’s where I started.  We have a workroom in the back of our basement that is the perfect set up for painting.  So I laid out our drop cloth (old curtain) over the cement and set up a couple saw horses.

Work Room

Work Room

2. My New Year’s Resolution was to “Get My Hands Dirty”, meaning I wanted to learn more about the building process by not always relying on my husband to do it for me.  So this was my first all by myself moment when I had to figure out how to take the chair apart so that it could be painted more easily in all those hard to reach areas.

First Coat

First Coat

First Coat

First Coat

The Painter

The Painter

Skol Vikings!

Second Coat

Second Coat

3. Paint, paint, and more paint!  With an infant, I really only had nap times on the weekend to work on painting since it is in an isolated room that I didn’t want our son to go into while painting.  So Saturday afternoons for about a month and a half were devoted to running downstairs to apply another coat while our son took his afternoon nap.  I didn’t keep track, but I would estimate it took about four coats before it looked evenly coated.

4. Recovering the two cushions for this chair went really fast.  I laid the fabric out, good sides together, stuck a cushion in the middle and pinned around three of the four sides, leaving the side that would be tucked into the corner open so that I could slip the cushion in like a pillowcase.

Sandwiching the cushion

Sandwiching the cushion

Pinning the Fabric

Pinning the Fabric

Close up of pinning

Close up of pinning

The hardest part was that the pattern on the fabric was geometric so I wanted the lines to be centered and try to line them up along the edges.  I then took the pillow out (with the pins still in tact which was a little tricky) and used a straight stitch on my sewing machine to sew along the edges.  It was almost like connecting the dots on a sheet of paper, only sewing and connecting the pins while I sewed.  I did the same process for the other cushion by wrapping the fabric around with the good sides together, pinned around three of the four sides, sewed around following the pins, clipped the curves, and then turned the fabric right side out.

Sewing following the pins

Sewing following the pins

Trimmed after sewing

Trimmed after sewing

Right sides out

Right sides out

I folded the opening like a hem so that the raw edges looked nice and tucked under.  I figured that this was going into her nursery, there is the likelihood that the covers will get dirty so I wanted an easy way to take the covers off to wash.  I sewed on Velcro in three spots in the opening of each cushion.  This is not a visible area so I was happy with the Velcro finish.  If it were more visible for the end project, I would have opted for a zipper as a finish.  Convenience and ease of the Velcro wins over the zipper!

Finishing

Finishing

Folding under to create a finished look

Folding under to create a finished look

Adding Velcro

Adding Velcro

The ottoman top detaches from the base so all I needed to do was place the fabric where I wanted, staple the fabric to the ottoman top which covers the cushion, and reattach the cushion to the base.  The hardest part about this step was also lining up the geometric pattern so that it matched both cushions on the glider.  I lined up the ottoman in front of the glider with the cushions on to see how I wanted the fabric to sit so that the obvious geometric pattern would be straight.  I then temporarily pinned it in place so that I could flip it upside down and staple with our staple gun.

Staple Time

Staple Time

I kept the original fabric on both the cushions and the ottoman.  An option could have been to remove the original fabric and make a pattern out of the original material as a new cover, but that to me felt like it would have taken way longer.  And life with a baby gives you limited time to work on projects so again, convenience won again!

That’s pretty much it!  A fun project that made an excellent gift.  I can’t wait for the spring and summer to roll around so that I can hit up as many garage sales as possible to find furniture that is need of a little face lift.

Final Glider Redo

Final Glider Redo

Painted and recovered glider for nursery.

Painted and recovered glider for nursery.

First Post

Many years ago I remember myself as a 7th grader having wild dreams and telling others that I wanted to grow up and become a Wedding Planner just like Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner.  Well my big ideas have not changed much and although I feel extremely blessed and happy as a mom, wife, and high school Family and Consumer Science teacher, I have this creative mind seeking an outlet.

My intentions for this blog (www.amandanygaard.wordpress.com) are to be a place for me to find myself as a creative.  A place to share and encourage others to live a life of purpose and discover their own passions.

Please follow along as a dabble in projects, express my (sometimes dramatic) thoughts, and explore the possibilities in life.

-Amanda