Friday, February 11, 2011

A Snow Day, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, and Homemade Granola Bars

Well, Enid, Oklahoma finally got the snow they were predicting!! The first "snowstorm" was pretty pathetic and everything shut down due to about, oh, 2 inches of snow or less. But the second snowstorm they were predicting was a little different. I didn't really believe it would be that bad, and was pretty surprised to wake up to this:

Everyone was pretty surprised and said this was the most snow they had seen since living here. So glad we could bring all the Chicago snow with us!! At least it is forecasted to be in the upper 60's, possibly 70's next week!!
So, anyways, we were stuck in the house, everyone's work and school was canceled, and we had the whole day to hang out. I was pretty sick, and so when all the kids went out and went sledding at the pastor's house, I stayed home and babysat Judah and my Cinnamon Swirl bread. I had fun cooking all day. It did wear me out, since this sickness seems to be lingering and lingering, but it was a good thing to be worn out from. Cooking is my passion, so it was a fun snow day for me!! And it was nice to have Tad home all day!
So, I found this recipe for Cinnamon Swirl Loaf. Actually, it makes 2 loaves of Cinnamon Swirl Bread, and is a really old recipe from a Better Home's and Gardens Bread Cookbook from 1973!!
One of my favorite food bloggers posted the recipe, and I will share it here, and then share my notes, mistakes, and opinions about this bread.

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

7 to 7 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (this is where I went wrong, see notes later)
2 packages of active dry yeast (I used 2 tsp. instant yeast)
2 C. milk
1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. shortening (the blogger uses butter instead)
2 t. salt
2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar
2 t. ground cinnamon

In a large mixer bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups of flour and the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, 1/2 cup sugar, shortening and salt just until warm (115 to 120 degrees), stirring constantly to melt shortening (I used a wire whisk, and stirred continuously). Add to dry mixture in mixing bowl, add eggs. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer for 1/2 a minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Then, beat for 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 8 minutes). Shape into a ball, place in a greased bowl and turn once to coat with grease.

Cover; let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour). Punch dough down, and place onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Roll each half into a 15 by 7 inch rectangle. Brush entire surface with water.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar with the cinnamon. Spread each rectangle with half the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Roll dough up as for a jelly roll, beginning with the narrow side. Seal long edges and ends by pinching together. Place, sealed side down, in 2 greased 9 by 5 by 3 inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost double (35 to 45 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees until done, 35 to 40 minutes. (If crust browns too quickly, as it did on mine, place foil over bread for the remaining 15 minutes or so.) Remove bread from pans and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.

My notes: I have not baked bread very much. I'm afraid of yeast. So I'm really hesitant to make any kind of breads with yeast. I used the 2 tsp. of the instant yeast. When warming the liquid in the saucepan, I used a thermometer, which made it more accurate than trying to figure out the temperature by feel.
My big problem was adding the flour until it was a moderately soft dough. I added all but 1/2 cup of flour, thinking that since it called for 7 to 7 1/2 cups of flour, I would need that much. It ended up being too much flour, making the dough hard and not moderately soft. My dough didn't rise like it was suppose to, and I didn't even see it rise until it was put into the oven!! I didn't think it would even be edible!! But it was, to my surprise, just probably not as soft and airy as it could have been. So the next time I make this, I will add the flour a little bit slower until I get the right consistency!!
I want to keep experimenting and making more recipes with yeast so I can get better at it, and am more comfortable with make breads!!
It was a yummy bread though, and it was eaten up pretty quickly!!
Excuse these blurry pictures, our camera got a little bit messed up while sledding outside!!
See those yummy cinnamon swirls?? They are calling out for butter!! Everyone came back from sledding and had this bread and peanut butter cup hot chocolate!!
Recipe: A packet of Hot Chocolate mix, made the usual way, with 2 tsp. of peanut butter! And there you have it. Courtesy of!!
Now, onto yummy homemade granola bars!! I was on a kick, and one recipe didn't keep me occupied for very long! Or, long enough!! I have made this recipe before, and both times I could have cooked them longer. The taste was good, but they were pretty crumbly. The edges that were browned a little more held together better.
I saw this recipe on an episode of Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network called Giada's Kidz Kitchen. She was making recipes with kids and for kids, and this looked like a good one to try!! I always love recipes that are made from scratch and can be good, homemade treats for kids, instead of the processed version from the store with all the additives. If you can make it at home, it's so much better for you!! And if it gives you and the kids something to do, you've killed 2 birds with one stone!!

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Vegetable Cooking spray
1 egg white
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (I used sliced almonds, spread out on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, and baked for about 8 to 10 minutes, then sliced them a bit)
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a 7 by 10 3/4 inch nonstick baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. Lay a 6 by 18 inch piece of parchment paper (I use aluminum foil, it stays in the shape of the pan so much easier) in the pan, allowing the excess to hang over the sides. Spray the parchment paper (or foil) with vegetable cooking spray lightly.

In a medium bowl, using a hand beater, beat the egg white until frothy. Stir in the peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey. Add the melted butter, oatmeal, and almonds. (At this point, I used a spoon so as not to crush up the ingredients for the bars). Stir to combine, then add the chocolate chips.
Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan, pressing lightly to form an even layer (one review said to press firmly to make them stay together better). Bake until the edge of the bars begin to brown, about 15 minutes (one review said she baked them for 28 minutes to make them firmer, I think at least 28 minutes to make them firm. Last time I followed the prescribed 15 minutes, this time I did about 28 minutes, next time I think I would go even longer to make them stick together better; they were still pretty crumbly.)
Remove from the oven and let cool for about 1 hour. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares and serve.

And there you have it!! Cut them however you like, really, and serve them at once!! (I wonder if you froze them, they would harden up a bit before serving?? I suppose you could make these in bulk, freeze them, and thaw them?? Just wondering???)

Yummy afternoon snack!! Or breakfast, or late night snack, or lunch accompaniment, or you name it!!
New short haircuts done by my wonderful sister-in-law, Lydia!! We both got a lot cut off, and we love it!!

Happy Snow Day!!


  1. Cinnamon swirl bread sounds yummy! Cute new haircuts, love them!

  2. Oh, the snow is so pretty in the country!

    I found your blog through my husband's facebook, and just realized that we used to see you guys all the time at the Atrium! I'm sorry now that I didn't really get to know you before you moved. Your little girl is so adorable, and she was always so friendly! :)

  3. Carrie,
    We saw you guys too, we should have gotten to know each other since we had so much in common!! Thanks for checking out my blog!! Do you have your music on a website anywhere?? I'd like to listen to it!!

  4. We totally should have! Oh well, there's always the internet! :) Thanks for asking, and yes! You can go to to hear most of my music. I appreciate your interest!! :)

  5. Carrie,
    I went to your website, love the music! I was listening to it the other day for awhile!! I will keep looking!! Do you have a cd?