Tuesday, March 31, 2015

World's Best Dinner Rolls

I make a lot of bread, but I usually just wing it. That's fine for most bread I make, but I've never been able to make AMAZING, soft, buttery dinner rolls without a recipe. And I've never found a really great recipe that I wanted to hold on to.

WELL. Now I have.

Brian and I have been Alton Brown fans since *forever*, but I don't remember ever seeing his episode on dinner rolls. I made the "brown and serve" version for Sunday dinner and it was FANTASTIC. They were amazing. I am so geeked about these rolls. I just can't even.

The only thing I'll change next time is the roll forming. Next time I'll just do standard round rolls instead of the Parker House style (it was a pain and they looked kind of ugly). I'm making these again tonight! I'll freeze half to brown and serve later!

(Original recipe link here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/parker-house-rolls-recipe.html)

Alton Brown's Parker House Rolls
(The doubled recipe fit perfectly in my KitchenAid)


  • Nonstick spray
  • 8 ounces warm whole milk (100 degrees F)
  • 2 1/4 ounces sugar (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 15 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, 3 ounces at room temperature, 1 ounce chilled and cut into 16 small cubes

Spray a half sheet pan with nonstick spray and set aside.

Place the milk, sugar, yeast, flour, egg yolks, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine on low speed for 1 minute. Change the paddle attachment to the dough hook and rest the dough for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add 2 ounces of the room temperature butter and mix on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and you are able to gently pull the dough into a thin sheet that light will pass through, about 8 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll and shape with hands to form a large ball. Return dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm, dry place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove the dough from the bowl and roll into a 16 by 3-inch log. Use a bench knife to cut the dough into 1 3/4-ounce portions, about 16 rolls. Using your loosely cupped hand, roll each portion on the counter until they tighten into small balls. Working 1 at a time, use a rolling pin to roll each small ball into a 3-inch circle or oval. Use the side of your hand or a small dowel to make an indentation across the middle of the circle. Place a small pat of chilled butter into the center of the indentation, then fold in half and gently press to seal the edges. Place the rolls, top-side down, onto the prepared sheet pan, spacing them evenly. Melt the remaining 1 ounce butter and brush the tops of the rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, dry place to rise until doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake until the rolls reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees F, 8 to 10 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking.

Remove the pan to a cooling rack and cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

For Brown and Serve option:

Assemble rolls as above, but bake as follows.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Bake until the outside of the rolls just begin to set but have not browned and the internal temperature is 185 degrees, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool on the pan for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the rolls from the pan and place on a cooling rack until they are room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes. Place the rolls in bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Finish:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Thaw the rolls for 60 to 90 minutes.

Spray a sheet pan with nonstick spray. Place the rolls on the prepared sheet pan and bake until the rolls reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. Rotate the pan halfway through baking, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pan to a cooling rack and cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2011

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/parker-house-rolls-recipe.html?oc=linkback

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Post nap conversation

Barrett wakes up from his nap crying (unusual) and I go in there to get him and he's just sad. I suspect he's still tired since he only slept an hour. I pick him up and sit on Will's bed with him on my lap. Will's laying down.

"Will, why is Barrett so sad?"

Will has this way of repeating himself after the word so. "Barrett says he wants a cookie, so... he wants a cookie, so... he wants a cookie, so... we can go to the store and get a cookie."

"Sorry, buddy, we're not going tonight - we're going to see Grandma and Grandpa." A few minutes later, Barrett's still crying softly on my lap, and I say, "Barrett, buddy, do you need some medicine?"

Will interjects forcefully. "Barrett says, NO.... Mommy, Barrett says NO. Barrett says NO. And Barrett says NO. And Barrett says NO!"

"Thanks, Will, I got it."

I spread Barrett's beloved blanket out on Will's stomach. "Will, can Barrett give you a hug?"


Barrett flops down onto his blanket, arm around Will and sucking his thumb. Will smiles and pats Barrett's back as he holds his own blanket to his face.

"Look at my two dudes!" I say. "My two blanket dudes!"

Will rubs Barrett's head and says, "My chubby friend."

Friday, March 27, 2015

End of March.

Says, when excited: "After VIS (this), it's gonna be WOUD!" (loud)
"All DEBOARD!" with his head thrown back and his fingers on his chin as if to amplify the sound)
"Hey, who put away my train? That's not very nice."
"This is gonna be super super fun."
"This is gonna be super scary."
"SHHHHHH. I'm washing my train."
"Mommy, can I have some M&Ms?" "No, Will." "After my rest, NOW I can have some M&Ms."
"This strawberry's not very good."
When about to go to the bathroom: "I don't want to talk to Morty Bumble and Emma and Bob and Larry."

Barrett says:
He drives his cars on the floor and blows raspberries to imitate the engine sound. This morning he looked up with spit all over his adorable face.
He signs eat, banana, blanket, more and waves hi and bye

Barrett is so little and snuggly. Will is cuddly too. Will my boys one day move far away? Will they marry women who hate me? Are these warm, wonderful, snuggly days an early compensation?

I sometimes feel like Barrett is a warm little puppy dog. I even call him my little puppy sometimes. HE is just so chubby, warm, lightweight, and sweet-smelling. He climbs up my leg and does a little seize of joy when he's in my arms. He has a wonderful balance of needing me and of entertaining himself. When I lay him down for his nap, Will goes right tosleep but Barrett fools around and talks to himself for twenty minutes, no matter how tired he is. He makes a NOM NOM NOM noise when he's sucking his thumb and trying to fall asleep.

Will repeats things he's heard long ago and recalls memories made over a year ago. Maybe this is normal but I'm always surprised. We have to be very careful what we say. I must say though, I LOVE having an almost three year old as much as I thought I would. Just this morning, as I was typing this blog post, I heard a cry upstairs and went to check things out. I ended up rocking a half-sleepy Barrett who kept popping his head up to joke around with me. Should I take him down for breakfast? Should I put him back in bed? It made me remember the days of Will being that little. The days felt so long, as I felt so guilty for that. He was too little to talk but still wanted constant interaction. William was adorable - adorable! - but it felt so impossible to get things done. As I rocked Barrett I looked over as Will's sleeping body and thought, when Will wakes up, the house will be full of chatter and fun. OR maybe meltdowns and requests, but those are thankfully infrequent. Will is the bright sunny personality that entertains and comforts Barrett and that makes they days fly by most of the time.

I have noticed Will "washing" his toys pretty often lately. He takes his two hands and rubs them all over and makes a SHHHH sound. He sincerely panics when he spots "dirt" (a dog hair, usually) on any of his toys. Yesterday I looked at him innocently washing his little train and I felt some pain in my heart. Is he going to struggle with anxiety? He's always saying "it's too scary for me" or "that's super scary". I bounce around in my responses. Sometimes I am patient, explaining and reassuring. Sometimes I am brisk: "Will, you're not allowed to be afraid of the window shade." Last night I was bold: "Will, I want you to say this: For the Lord! - has not! - "given me a spirit of fear! - but of power! - and of love! - and of a sound mind! - And I WILL NOT be afraid! - for the Lord my GOD! - is at my right hand!" He repeated it and got into it and I decided I will do that more often.

But I'm also prepared that if this is going to be his struggle, it may be a long haul. It's very sad to me when he doesn't want to go to the tractor barn with Daddy (something he would have JUMPED at last spring) because he's afraid of the tractor starting. Why? We've explained it won't start on its own. Sometimes I appreciate my cautious little boy. There aren't broken lamps or broken bones or potted plants dug up around the house. But shouldn't he want to get his hands dirty? Is it normal for him to not want paint or crumbs or any speck of anything on his hands?

I love my kids so much. I have to accept that they will struggle with things, and that those struggles aren't automatically a result of my failings as a mom. But I'll be darned if I'm not going to battle these things with everything in me.

On a lighter note, Barrett is *this close* to walking. He stood on his own two nights ago! I know he could do it... he just doesn't want to. As long as he's walking by the time the weather warms up and we can go in the sprinkler, that'd be awesome. This little dude is so bold and cheerful. I love his hambone ways. Last night at dinner Will was having a hard time. (He had a hard day in general.) He was chewing a grape and wanting to spit it out because "I don't like my grape." And I told him no, he had to swallow it, so he was whimpering and whining, and Barrett is sitting next to him with a paper plate in his hands, beaming an enormous smile and smacking himself in the face in an attempt to play fast-peek-a-boo. Hilarious contrast.

I'll have to write more soon, I miss blogging, and I'm looking forward to doing it more. For the record, it was snowing this morning.

Starting seeds for the garden - a moment I expected would be more magical than it turned out to be. It was "I want to play in that dirt! But wait! Is that DIRT on my hands? NO!"

Will bumming a ride.

Brian showing Will the bear skull. In the background Barrett is holding one of his favorite toys, an old cosmetic brush.

Three dudes eating dinner at the counter.

Will trying on his tux for this summer's wedding! MATTHEW AND KASS!

Crying over spilled milk

How it usually looks when Will gives Barrett a 'nice hug'

Chilling in Barrett's crib

We have a love/hate relationship with bathtime bubbles

Bob the Builder still pops up every so often

"Helping" daddy fix the stove. See Will holding the hammer and banging daddy's leg.

A snap I took. 'Weaster' is coming soon...

Monday, March 23, 2015