Monthly Archives: January 2012

Soft and Chewy Dinner Rolls

The name says it all – soft and chewy dinner rolls.  Potato flakes are the secret ingredient in this recipe, and I do believe they make all the difference.  I’ve made rolls before, but these are easily the most similar store-bought white rolls – in a good way, not an “I’m-eating-paste” way.

These take a couple hours to make, though hands-on time is minimal.  This is a great lazy Saturday recipe.   And bonus – according to Cook’s Country, you can take the rolls out of the oven at about five minutes, or when they are just starting to brown.  When they cool, you can freeze them for up to a month.  To finish the rolls, let the rolls thaw on a prepared baking sheet for an hour, then bake at 400 for 10 minutes.

Soft and Chewy Dinner Rolls

adapted from Cook’s Country April/May 2011
makes 12 servings


  • 1 1/4 cups water, heated to 110 degrees
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup instant potato flakes
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position.  Heat oven to 200 degrees and turn it off.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Grease a large bowl.
  2. Whisk water, oil, and sugar in large liquid measuring cup until sugar dissolves.  In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, potato flakes, yeast, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt until combined.  With mixer on low, slowly add water mixture and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute.  Increase speed to medium and mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 6 minutes.
  3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball.  Transfer dough to prepared container and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough has doubled in side, about 45 minutes.
  4. Gently press down on dough on lightly floured surface.  Divide dough into quarters and cut each quarter into 3 equal pieces.  Form each piece into rough ball by pinching and pulling dough edges under so that top is smooth.  On clean counter, cup each ball with your palm and roll into smooth, tight ball.  Transfer to prepared baking sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic and let rest in turned off oven until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.   (Unbaked, formed rolls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours).
  5. Remove unbaked rolls from oven and discard plastic.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Brush rolls with egg and sprinkle evenly with remaining salt.  Bake until golden brown and 200 degrees in the middle, about 15 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.  Cool rolls on sheet 10 minutes.  Serve.

Day 8 of 31 – I’m well on my way to a better photo

After a short hiatus for the holidays, I’m back into my 31 days to a better photo.  I found that after just a couple weeks of a break, I’d forgotten everything I learned… awesome.  So I went back, reread the first seven days of the tutorial, and attempted to summarize my new knowledge.  I felt like a college student again, with all of my headers and bullet points.


There are three ingredients that can be fiddled with on a camera: shutter speed, ISO, and aperture.  Changing the setting of one (or all three) will change the outcome of your photo.

Shutter Speed

  • how long the lens is open
  • measured in seconds
    • ex: 2″ = 2 seconds
    • ex: 250 = 1/250 of a second
  • a longer opening lets in more light, but will be blurry unless everything (camera and subject) are perfectly still
  • on my camera:
    1. flip dial to M
    2. press center button
    3. up and down arrows control
    • on left side of screen


  • number refers to light receptors
  • low ISO = clear photo, high ISO = grainy photo
  • measured in numbers such as 100, 200, 400, 800
  • on my camera:
    1. flip dial to M
    2. press menu
    3. scroll up or down to get to ISO


  • Size of lens opening
  • Small number = small border around large opening = focus on subject with everything else blurred
  • Large number = thick border around small opening = all of photo is in focus
  • Measured in F stops (my camera only has two choices – 3.5 and 8)
    • ex: f/3.5 would have a single sharp subject and a softer focus on the rest of the photo, f/8 would have the entire photo sharp
  • On my camera:
    1. flip dial to M
    2. press center button
    3. left and right arrows control
    • on right side of screen

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.