Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let freedom ring!

Is this the most handsome soldier ever? This photo was taken almost exactly 5 years ago on the day of Matt's deployment to Baghdad. I'll never forget that day--I was charting new waters having never been part of a military family before. I have such pride in Matt's service and am particularly grateful to those who chose to serve our country at a time of war.
On this Veteran's Day I remember and honor my two grandfathers-Ed Heydinger (who is 90 years young), Byron Morgan who is now deceased, and his brother-in laws who were killed in war at very young ages-Robert and Gates Neidlinger. My dad (Robert Gates Morgan) is named after them. I must also recognize Matt's grandparents-Don Underwood (who is 83 years young) and Vertus Schulz, now deceased. These men are all heroes to me. I am grateful for their service and sacrifice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

5th Anniversary calls for homemade cinnamon rolls!

On October 9, 2009 Matt and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary! It is hard to believe it was five years ago we were married and celebrated with family and friends on the Indiana University campus where we met. As I look out my window, we have had so much rain lately I realize how fortunate we were five years ago to have a gorgeous fall day to showcase Indiana's beautiful trees our state is so famous for in the fall.

Matt and I have been on many wonderful adventures together--his job as an Air Traffic Controller in the military, living in beautiful Savannah Georgia, vacation/study in Italy, hiking the Franconia Notch in New Hampshire, taking a trip aboard the Amtrak just to name a few. I look forward to more adventures I haven't even thought of that will continue to open my mind, cause me to be flexible, inspired, spontaneous and mobile! Stay tuned for many more fabulous years with us! In the meantime you could find us celebrating our 5th anniversary dinner at a little local Italian restaurant, Ragazzi that promised to serve real Italian food and accommodate my allergy to garlic. Fantastaco!

Now what about those cinnamon rolls?! Since our anniversary was on a Friday and I was headed to work & Matt was headed to class and work I thought homemade cinnamon rolls would be a scrumptious way to begin the day! I have made cinnamon rolls before and they were not the soft, warm & gooey rolls I had hoped for. Enter my new favorite recipe. If you are visiting my house these will be served!

The beauty of this recipe is there’s no kneading. You simply mix the ingredients in the order they’re listed and then let it rise. The “no-knead” part is what makes these rolls so soft and delicious. This recipe says it makes 30-36 rolls, but mine probably made about 20-25 rolls. Either way, it makes a large batch of deliciousness! Mmmmmmm....

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup oil
11/2 teaspoon salt
11/2 cup hot water (too hot to hold your hand in)
1/2 cup warm water (able to hold your hand in comfortably)
2 packages yeast (2 tablespoons)
2 eggs (large)
6-7 cups all-purpose flour (This will be added gradually. Do NOT pour it in all at once.)

8 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon

1 stick butter or margarine
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the dough: In a large bowl, mix ingredients in the order listed. Whisk mixture after each ingredient is added. When you begin adding flour, the whisk will work. However, after about 3 cups of flour, it will be too stiff to use the whisk. Switch to a wooden spoon. Do not BEAT the dough. This will cause you to need more flour than called for and will make the dough stiff and the rolls dry. Simply blend in flour until it disappears in the dough. When all the flour has been added, switch dough to another large, well-oiled bowl It will be very sticky, but should look “wet.” Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise until doubled in size. In the fridge, this will take several hours. If allowed to stand in a warm place (by a heating register, on top of a stove while the oven is on, by a window where the sun comes in), the dough will rise in about an hour. Sometimes the dough rises so much it will actually split the plastic wrap on the bowl.

For the rolls: When dough has doubled, divide into two equal halves. Use 9-by-13-inch pans for baking the rolls. Prepare pans for baking by greasing them with shortening or cooking spray. Cover bottom of pan with waxed paper, then grease the waxed paper with shortening or cooking spray. On a lightly floured work surface, roll one half of dough out into a 12-by-17-inch rectangle. Brush rectangle with half the melted butter (4 tablespoons). Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag. Sprinkle half of sugar/cinnamon mixture over melted butter on dough Beginning with a short end of the rectangle, gently roll dough up into a “log.”
Using a serrated knife (one with “teeth” in it), cut rolls about 1 inch thick. Place rolls, evenly spaced, in prepared pans. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Cover pans loosely with plastic wrap and allow rolls to rise until doubled in size. (They may also rise overnight in the refrigerator, which is what I do)

When rolls have risen to the desired height (or have come to room temperature out of the fridge in the morning!), heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for about 20 minutes or until barely golden brown. Do NOT overbake as they will be dry. While rolls are baking, make icing as follows.

Icing: In a medium saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Remove from heat when butter is melted. Using a whisk, stir in powdered sugar until mixture looks “pasty” and “crumbly” in pan. Gradually add milk while stirring until icing becomes smooth and of a pourable consistency. Don’t be afraid to add more or less milk or sugar in order to get icing the way YOU like it. Use a whisk to smooth out any lumps. Stir in vanilla. As mixture cools, it will thicken. You may want to add more milk to thin icing before pouring it over your rolls.

When rolls are done, immediately flip them onto a baking sheet and peel off the waxed paper. Flip them right-side up onto a serving platter and pour over the icing before the rolls cool. Allow icing to seep into the rolls and down the sides. Makes 30-36 rolls.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall & scrumptious soup! Mmmmm.....

It is officially fall-the cool, crisp mornings & finding this tree outside my office building are signs it is officially here. That makes me crave warm, comforting soups!
Some of my girlfiends have been asking me to post this recipe--it is always a winner & great to have the ingredients on hand for a quick comforting weeknight meal! It only takes about 20 minutes start to finish.

Tortellini Tomato Spinach Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion (about 1/2 small onion)
4 to 6 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (9-ounce) package fresh tortellini or 4 servings dried tortellini
Coarse grained salt and cracked black pepper
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In a 3-quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion, stirring often until onions are translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth and tomatoes, turn heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook according to package instructions. When tortellini is almost done, add spinach and taste, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

ALTERNATE INGREDIENTS: We also love to add cooked ground sausage to this recipe. and if you have a couple carrots on hand, slice them thin (or grate) and add when you cook the onions.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We're outta here!

The house we have rented for almost 3 years sold recently, so as of June 30th we are no longer residing at beautiful Ridgewood Drive! It was a wonderful place for us~we loved how it backed up to the woods, enjoyed the summer on the patio flanked with plants and forest friends, and we had great views of starry nights. It had more than enough room for guests & we will miss living there! Pictured here is the empty living room where the morning light was perfect for coffee and the newspaper. Moving on....we'll have a new address at the beginning of August.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In the news...

Check out this link to an online version of an Indiana University publication Teaching and Learning. The summer 2009 issue has featured some of my students and the Cox Research Scholars Program!! I am so proud!

Friday, June 12, 2009

CSA Friday!

Matt and I have joined a local CSA--LIFE Certified Organic Farm. We LOVE it! It is very exciting each week to see what the farms are growing and what ends up in our basket. It started May 1, and we also added the spring salad share and local fare share. The salad share has been wonderful--I have fresh baby lettuces all week long! In fact, I have not even bought any lunch meat for sandwiches lately because I bring a beautiful salad to work each day with some kind of protein on it--tuna, beans, or leftover meat/fish from dinner.

The local fare share is a local food goodie--we have had oyster mushrooms, honey, granola & cheese. I can't wait to see what this week's fare share will be!

A sheet of recipes accompanies our pick-up which I scheduled for Friday afternoon at the downtown Bloomingfoods--a three minute walk from my office. This works so well because then I know what I have and what groceries I should buy to supplement our CSA share before the Saturday morning farmer's market or the weekend grocery run. Do you have a CSA near you? You should check it out!!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Off and running again....or at least trying!

I have taken a hiatus from many things lately--one of them obviously being this blog, and the other is always the first thing to go--working out! I was determined to start running again and decided to get home at a decent time from work, change, and head out. I prepared mentally all day-ate well (Dagwoods for lunch) snacked well a couple hours before running and my shoes felt great! I made it about 1.5 miles and a sudden storm came out of nowhere. There was lightning, thunder--the close kind that sounds scary, strong winds and rain pelting me as I tried to get home quickly. The rain felt great, since is was sticky and humid outside but the rest I could have done without!

For those of you who love to run in the rain, or like me, just get caught running in the rain there is nothing worse than the sopping wet shoes that follow! The best way to get your running shoes dry fast is to stuff them with newspaper.
Sure enough, my shoes are dry this the event I want to give it another go. Maybe I'll just try blogging instead!