The original MTNMAMA

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Easy Caramel Sauce

Today is my last day in Minneapolis with Jenny, Jon and Ella. The 10 days have flown by as they usually do when you are busy and enjoying the company. I will leave in the morning for Tulsa. Wish I could take this smiling face with me!!

Before I leave MN I have a really neat "trick" to share with you that Jenny and I did last night. My friend Mary Persinger Nease had this on her facebook page a couple of weeks ago. For years I have heard about boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk to make caramel. BUT....who wants to watch a can boil on the stove for three hours and be responsible for keeping the water level up and not burning down the house??? Not me!!! Well Mary came up with using the crock pot!! Ingenious!! Now you can make easy, breezy caramel sauce for all your favorite dippers or recipes during this autumn time of year. Nothing better than caramel to dip crisp apples, gingersnaps or pretzels into during the game or by the outdoor firepit!!

Here's how we did it:

Take 1 can of SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK....(not evaporated milk)

Place the can unopened into the crock pot and fill until the can is covered in water.
Turn the crock pot to low and cover with lid. Then go to bed or work. It takes about 8 hours.

Remove the can when you wake up or get home from work. Put the UNOPENED can into the refrigerator for at least two hours. The can must COOL completely before you open it!!! I don't want you to have an explosive experience on my watch!!!!!
Now you can open the can and reveal the wonderful caramel goodness inside!!! Doesn't that look fantastic!!
You can warm the caramel on the stove or microwave. I warmed ours over the stove and added just about 1/4 cup heavy cream to thin the caramel for dipping apples into. It tasted so wonderful!!! Ooey, gooey deliciousness!!
Believe me this is easier than buying a bag of caramels and unwrapping them all then heating them slowly in a double boiler to make caramel. With just a can of sweetened condensed milk, a crock pot and some overnight or all day planning you can have the best caramel sauce you have ever eaten.
This would be a great thing to do with little them an extra can of milk opened and what it looks like uncooked then have them participate in putting the can into the crock pot and let them see the finished product....better yet ......let them stir and taste the caramel!! I am sure we will have a new generation of cooks on board after they taste the final product!!! Teach them while they are young and they will have a skill they can use for life. You know the old saying:
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime!!!
Let's get all ages involved in the art of cooking!!! It's never too early or too late to learn!!!
Missy and MacKenzie be sure to let me know how yours turn out!!!

This is Miss Ella and her mommy eating Salted Caramel Yogurt we had at the Yogurt Lab last night. When we figure out how to make that we will share with everyone out there in blogland.!!
FYI: I have worked on my comment box so it should be easier to use. All you have to do is hit the word comment below. A box will appear which you can type inside. Hit enter when you are done and it should show up on the screen. I took the Word Verification off of it. I hate that too and can never get it right. Please leave me a note so I know you are out there and I will keep on keeping on!!

For the eyes of The Lord are over the righteous and His ears are open unto their prayers. I Peter 3:12

Happy Trails,

Mtn Mama

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

As promised I have step by step Cinnamon Rolls to share with you. Today in Minneapolis it was cloudy with cool breezes in the high 40's. Perfect weather to bake!! I will start by telling you that I am at least a third generation baker. My mother at 84 still makes great bread and rolls. The recipe that I have used for years was my grandmother's "Ice Box Rolls" recipe. That should tell  you how old the recipe is. The recipe is before electric refrigerators were in homes. It makes great clover rolls and cinnamon rolls. HOWEVER, for this group of young women I used the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls recipe with my variations for several reasons.

1.There is no kneading this dough and it is perfectly soft, light and flaky.

2. This dough uses yeast and baking powder and baking soda so it gets extra spring in the oven and failing is virtually impossible.

3.  It makes 5 dozen cinnamon rolls.

I will list the recipe below as I show you the steps but you can go to and get the complete recipe which can be downloaded and printed.

Now let's Bake:

Cinnamon Rolls


1 quart whole milk

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

2 pkgs yeast

8 cups (Plus 1 cup extra, seperated) All-purpose flour

1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder

1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda

1 Tablespoon (heaping) salt

2 sticks butter softened

2 cups suguar

Generous sprinkling of cinnamon

Preparation Instructions

For the dough heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium sucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm.

Sprinkle yeast over the top and let it sit on the milk (warm not HOT) for 1 minutes.
I used fast rising yeast only because that is what Jenny had on hand. At home I would have used Instant Yeast from a large bag that I buy at Sam's. I would have measured 1 1/2 Tablespoons.

Measure 8 cups of flour.
Add the cooled milk mixture and stir until just combined.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and the remaining cup of flour.
Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away or place it in a mixing bowl greased with oil and cover with plastice wrap. Can be refrigerated up to 3 days. PUNCH DOUGH DOWN IF THE DOUGH RISES TO THE TOP OF THE BOWL.


To assemble the rolls, divide into manageable parts. Since I had 5 "Mom's" I divided the dough into 5th's.

On a floured baking surface roll the dough into a large rectangle. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.

Spread the softened butter over the rectangle leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges. Pix show all the different "Mom's" rolling dough and making the rolls.
Generoulsly sprinkle sugar and ground cinnamon over the butter. The more cinnamon the better as far as I am concerned.... after all they are name CINNAMON ROLLS!!
Now beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep it tight. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so the the seam is face down. Now you have one long, buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.
Slip a cutting board beneath the roll and with a serrated knife make 1/2 inch slices. Grease the pan of your choice and place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. DO NOT TOUCH THE ROLLS TOGETHER.

Cover the pans with a clean dish towel and let rise on countertop for at least 20 minutes before bakin
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don't allow the rolls to become overly brown.

Maple Frosting:

1 2 lb bag of powdered sugar

2 teaspoons of maple syrup

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup brewed coffee

1/4 tsp salt

Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Icing should be thick but pourable. Adjust by adding milk or coffe to taste and desired consistancy.

While rolls are baking.....playing with the babies is MANDATORY!!

What heavenly smells are whafting through the house??? Cinnamon, butter, baking bread!!! Yum!!

Out of the oven. Perfectly golden cinnamon rolls!

Pour icing liberally on warm rolls. The rolls will melt the heavenly goodness and spread out over the entire pan. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing's moisture and flavor. They only get better with time....not that they will last for more than a few minutes!!

What a productive day!! Cinnamon rolls for everyone to take home!

These rolls can be frozen after the first panning out before the countertop rising. Remove from the freezer, thaw, rise and bake then frost with icing!!! Perfect for any day!!
Hope you enjoy these cinnamon rolls as much as we do!!. All the mom's had a great afternoon and want me to come back before Christmas for more cooking lessons......maybe!!! You never know where life is going to find me these days!!.
Please leave me a comment if you enjoy the recipe and the is lonely now and I do enjoy hearing from all of you that read the blog It keeps me going!!

Happy Trails,

Mtn Mama

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Tribute to my Dearest Jeffrey Don Smith

It is with a very heavy heart that I start out my return to blogging with an explanation for my absence. Almost two months ago my precious husband of 31+ years died after a long battle with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and MDS. If you had been reading my blog since early spring you knew that he was spending more time in the hospital than out. His bone marrow transplant failed and he was transfusion dependent since late April. We tried another attempt at a "mini" transplant in July with cells frozen from his original donor but they did not engraft and thus on Aug 14 Jeffrey made the decision to come home on hospice. The Lord is full of mercy and Jeffrey died after only two days at home surrounded by "his girls". Jenny, Ella, Kristy and myself surrounded his bed as The Lord called him home. He made it obvious to us he was saying goodbye. Thank you Lord for that!! Now he no longer has to worry about PET scans, blood counts, transfusions or the constant pain that he had come to live with since June. My comfort comes in knowing that indeed he is in heaven, rejoicing and singing praises to our King. Still I am left with a huge whole in my life which I will have to learn to live with. I have two beautiful daughters, a son-in-law, and a granddaughter and many, many, good friends all of which all help me to get through each day. Below is the obituary as it read in Memory of my dear husband, Jeffrey.
A Celebration of Life

Aug 19, 2012 9:07 PM

Sunday Mornings Tulsa World Obituary:

Jeffrey Don Smith, Attending Radiologist with Diagnostic Imaging Associates, passed peacefully in his sleep Friday, August 17, 2012 at the age of 55 to his heavenly home. He was born in Nitro, West Virginia on February 7, 1957 to Tony and Geraldine Smith. He graduated from Marshall University in May of 1979 and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 1983. He was called to serve in the U.S. Navy after completion of his internship until his discharge in 1987. He completed his residency at Botsford Hospital in MI followed by fellowship at the University of Arkansas 1992. He was an avid traveler, golfer and loved watching football. Jeffrey is survived by his loving wife of 31 years, Susan Burford Smith, daughter Jennifer Smith Kirkland and husband Jonathon Kirkland, daughter Kristina Lee Smith, and granddaughter Ella Lillian Kirkland. His life will be celebrated at Redeemer Covenant Church at 7pm Monday, August 20, 2012, a family visitation with follow the service. Donations may be made in memory of him to the Osteopathic Founders Foundation (918) 551-7300 and Caringbridge ( An additional service to follow in Charleston, West Virginia on Friday August 31st. (Time to be announced)

Many of my friends have asked when I was going to return to blogging and my standard answer was, "I don't know....I guess when I feel I can". I flew to Minneapolis last week to spend time with Jenny, Jon and Ella. Jenny asked me to show her "Mom's group" how to make cinnamon rolls. I was excited to share my love of baking so I thought it would be fun to do. It is a great recipe to share on my blog. It gave my spirit a lift to think of teaching young moms such a wonderful skill as baking cinnamon rolls. I remembered back to when I was a young mom living in California and had to learn how to make bread dough without the help of my mom. A long time ago....but it brought back warm memories. There was a phrase I found shortly after Jeffrey's passing that has helped me so much.

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it Happened!!" When I think of those memories of early parenthood and "learning" all those homemaking skills I SMILE remembering. My college roommate even bought a magnet for my refrigerator with the saying printed in Bold letters so when I am really sad I can read it and SMILE not CRY!! Sometimes I do both!!

So tonight I made the dough and tomorrow we will roll it out, fill it, shape it and bake it. I will have lots of pictures and the complete directions so you too can fill the air in your home with the sweetest smells of cinnamon, butter and bread baking. I will be back tomorrow with the goods to prove it!!

Thanks to all of the many of you who have kept my family in your prayers for months. We have felt those prayers for strength and comfort. As I go through this valley I continue to seek the Lord's will in each and every day and in all that I do. Psalm 143:8 sums up my request.

Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in Thee do I Trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift my soul unto Thee. Psalm 143:8

It is a new world for me, one that I did not plan, but The Lord doesn't make mistakes and he WILL show me the way through if I stay focused on HIM!!

Will be back tomorrow with Warm, delicious, ooey, gooey, Cinnamon Rolls!

Happy Trails,

Mtn Mama