Garlic Knots

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‘Sup, peeps?

See what I’ve been up to?

Garlic Knots.

They look pretty awesome, right? I made quite a few.

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I mean, a LOT.  As in, I had to throw them all in a great big gallon size Ziploc bag to store them.

So, you know what I’m gonna do?

I’m gonna give you guys a crap load of excuses (I mean, REASONS) to eat just as many of these Garlic Knots as you want. Because in actuality, garlic is actually pretty good for you. And these have garlic in them. So it all floooooows together.

Incidentally, they are also the “reasons” I gave myself that having just this many carbs in my house is a good idea.

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Garlic can combat common sicknesses, including the common cold. Apparently, by 63%.

So when you start to feel those summer sniffles or itching coming on, what do you think you should do?

Have some hot chicken noodle soup. And a Garlic Knot. Of course.

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Garlic may improve bone health, minimizing bone loss in females by increasing estrogen in females.

Now don’t get me wrong: you should DEFINITELY keep taking those calcium supplements. Drink your milk. All that good stuff.

But you know what else you should do? That’s right.

Have a garlic knot.

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Garlic is chock full of good nutrients. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Manganese: 23% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin B6: 17% of the RDA.
  • Vitamin C: 15% of the RDA.
  • Selenium: 6% of the RDA.
  • Fiber: 1 gram.
  • Decent amounts of Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Phosphorus, Iron and Vitamin B1.

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Listen up, cause this is important:

You gotta get your vitamins in, guys. Don’t neglect your health. Eat a Garlic Knot. They’ll make you feel better. Trust me: I know.  They’re light, fluffy and oh so delicious. They’ll also be at this week’s Fiesta Friday #78, co-hosted by  Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

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Garlic Knots

Recipe Courtesy of My Life and Travels

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Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup or Honey
  • 1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • About 4 C flour
  • 1 Tsp salt
Garlic Butter
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 Tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Directions

Combine the water, maple syrup and yeast. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Stir in the oil then, stir in flour and salt. Add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together, if needed.

Knead dough for 5 minutes.

Place dough in a large, greased bowl. Turn to coat dough. Cover the bowl with greased plastic wrap, and let it rise until double in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Divide dough into 16 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a dough rope/snake that is about 9-10 inches long and about 1/2-inch thick.

Shape into a knot (fold one end of dough over the other so that it looks like an awareness ribbon. Twist dough at the place where the two sides overlap. Fold ends back, and tuck under). You can also just tie the dough into a knot and leave the ends out.

Place knots on a baking sheet. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown.

To make the garlic butter, melt butter in a small saucepan.

When the butter has melted, stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and parmesan cheese.

Toss knots in the garlic butter

Whole Wheat English Muffins

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I’m grateful to live in a world full of convenience when it comes to food. It’s not like it was for people in generations before me who had to do mostly everything by themselves when it came to putting a  meal on the table. I can admit that I take that for granted. These days, if you want something, you can usually go into the grocery store and buy it, or go to a restaurant or fast food joint to eat it. Such are the conveniences of living in a first world country.

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Breakfast foods are one of those things that I think most people would rather be able to buy in a store or restaurant rather than put in the effort to make themselves. Who can blame them, really? If you have to wake up and be at work by say 8 or 9 in the morning, you may be in the mood for pancakes or french toast but you’re probably not going to feel like waking up super early to make them and still be on time to your job-especially if you have kids to get ready for school on top of that. Sometimes I wake up in the morning craving a honey butter croissant- I’ve never woken up craving one and actually attempted to bake it before I had to be where I needed to be in the morning. Nor am I likely to ever try.

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I usually just resort to the ease of store bought or restaurant made method when I want something for breakfast. If I want bagels, I’ll buy a bagel. If I want pancakes, I’ll go to a restaurant to eat some. If I want a breakfast sandwich, I’ve always just went out to the store to buy the ingredients to put it together, or just picked one up through a drive-thru.

Until now, that is. This time was different.

Sometimes, I’ll be flipping through one of my numerous cookbooks and suddenly come across a recipe that at first glance, I may think: why on Earth would I make that for myself, when I know very well that I can go out and buy it at the store? What a waste of time.

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Then I’ll give it another glance and think, “Well…why not?”

That was what basically happened with these English Muffins. I bought this huge, beautiful cookbook called “Bake” that features regional recipes from around the world and was looking through it  to choose a recipe to make and I stumbled across this one. I’d never seen how they were made before  and when I saw that it looked relatively easy, I began thinking about giving it a go for myself. To make them a little healthier, I substituted whole wheat flour in the recipe and I think it gives the bread a nuttier, heartier flavor. Was it a necessary recipe to make? No, but it was a lot of fun.  It also made me decide to go a step further and throw together the ingredients for a full on breakfast sandwich- recipe is soon to follow.

I hope you guys don’t mind me bringing whole wheat English Muffins to this week’s Fiesta Friday- I wouldn’t mind if they just get pushed to the back of the table while you guys smash on some ‘less healthier’ options. I swear they taste great toasted and smeared with butter and jam though!

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Whole Wheat English Muffins

Recipe Courtesy of ‘Bake’ by Edward Gee

 CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4  tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • Fine cornmeal or polenta, for dusting
  • Vegetable oil for drying

 Directions

1. Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.

2. Add buttermilk and water and mix to combine. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth dough forms. If it is too wet, add a little flour. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rise for about 2 hours.

3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to thickness of 1/2 inch. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles, rerolling the trimmings, if necessary. Do not overwork the dough. Sprinkle the circles with fine cornmeal and let rest for 1 hour.

4. Put some oil into a flat griddle pan or heavy skillet and het over medium heat. Add the muffins to the pan, in batches, and cook on one side for about 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Turn and cook on the other side for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Place the cooked muffins on some paper towels and cool before serving.

 

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Winterfell Brown Bread

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Game of Thrones Series {Week 2}

Happy GoT Day, guys! I hope you all were able to catch my first post of this totally awesome series I’m doing right now dedicated to the popular HBO show, but if not, just click on the link and check it out so you can be all caught up for this week. I thought that before we get to the recipe, I’d talk a little bit about last week’s episode a little bit with some of my favorite moments from it. (If you don’t want spoilers, go ahead and skip this part)

  • Omg, it was Margery’s grandmother Olenna (with Littlefinger) who poisoned Joffrey! She honestly would not have been the first suspect on my list, which I guess goes to show why she would realistically be able to get away with it. I gotta say though, that maternal instinct of hers is really admirable- I sure as heck wouldn’t want to leave my granddaughter in the ‘care’ of a sadistic monster like Joffrey. Whether she sees it or not, girlfriend really is better off with him dead.
  • Speaking of Margery, I gotta applaud how fast she works to make sure that she’s able to sway Tommen over to her influence and not that of Cersei’s. My sister (who’s very familiar with the books) tells me though that Margery is really supposed to be no older than 15- this is kinda confusing to me, as Natalie Dormer (however lovely and talented) is umm…not 15. The wide age gaps between her and the actors portraying Joffrey and Tommen have proven kinda distracting to me into buying them as actual couples and I wish I knew why the producers of the show just didn’t decide to go with a younger actress to be more realistic.

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  • Ugh, I SO wish that poor Sansa could catch a break at sometime during this show. From Joffrey and Kings Landing to Littlefinger and the open sea/unknown? I honestly don’t know which one is worse. I can’t get over this yucky feeling that he schemed to lure her away from Kings Landing out of some sick fantasy he has about seducing her because he never was able to get Catelyn Stark for himself and feels like the daughter is the next best thing to her mother. The guy’s just a real creepy jerk.
  • Jamie and Brianne: I swear man, they’re just the best BFFs ever. Brianne’s character really served an awesome purpose in showing us a more complex, sympathetic side to Jamie’s character that (in spite of all the bad things he’s done) makes me really unable to completely dislike him. I don’t really dislike him at all actually, and find myself hoping that nothing else arises that makes me change my mind about that. I felt kinda sad about the scene between them when she left to find Sansa- something about it just made me feel like it was a real goodbye…

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  • I loved the scene between Tyrion and Jamie in the prison cell. You could really feel the subtle respect that they have for each other, which Tyrion hasn’t been able to receive from Cersei or Tywin. Once again, to me it shows Jamie’s ‘nobler’ side and feeling of loyalty to Tyrion if for no other reason than for the fact that #1: Blood is blood, and #2: if it weren’t for Tyrion, he wouldn’t be getting better at learning how to fence with his left hand.
  • Look, I like to oogle at the eyecandy that is Jon Snow more than anybody…but the truth is, that most of the time, I don’t care about what’s happening at the Wall. Same thing with Bran. If they could just meet up with some of the other characters elsewhere, I feel like I could get more into their storylines- but on their own? I just can’t get completely interested.

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Today’s post is of a recipe that I knew I wanted to do for a GoT series before I even decided that I would actually be doing a GoT series. The inspiration for it just seemed so perfect. When I first started watching the show, one of the things that really pulled me into it the plot was Sean Bean’s performance as Ned Stark. I just loved Ned (and no, it wasn’t just because of his looks, although they certainly didn’t hurt). I loved him as husband, father, lord, and overall person. He was certainly good for what ailed Robert Baratheon (albeit too late), and I think would have made a far better king. One of the best things I loved about Ned was that he was all about protecting his family, and preserving all that he had managed to build at Winterfell.

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I knew that I definitely wanted to do a bread dish for the series- the question was which characters would I take the inspiration from in choosing a recipe to use. I eventually decided on this one because of how much all the elements really reminded me of the elements of Winterfell to the point that I could see this really being served there for a meal. It’s rustic, dark and yet a sturdy, hearty bread. Gotta be the Starks to a T, right? However, this may not be the last bread recipe I do for the series- I may decide on a light brioche for the Lannisters, or maybe  even a fruit loaf of some kind, we’ll see…

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Okay, so can I be honest with you guys? This bread really reminds me of the delicious, dark loaf of bread that gets served at a certain popular steakhouse on a wooden cutting board with a knife stuck through it. If that’s not enough of a clue for you then think of it this way: it’s antonymous with the words, “In-Front.”

Think about it. Right. There you go.

So, yeah, it’s really very good. The rye flour gives it a really earthy, almost nutty flavor that I didn’t think I would actually like as much as I did. The molasses gives it a rich sweetness that isn’t too overpowering, along with the cocoa powder that also gives it that dark color that I was really looking for when I decided to make this bread. In short, it’s well worth the effort. One more thing: I would definitely recommend following the tip that I included below the recipe for a chewier crust- it’s the perfect crowning touch.

Stay tuned for next Sunday to see what else I cook up for the GoT Series 🙂

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Winterfell Brown Bread

Recipe Courtesy of Hodgson Mill.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

 Directions

1. Put water in a large bowl.  Add brown sugar and active dry yeast.  Let yeast develop for about 5 minutes.

2. Add molasses, rye flour, vital wheat gluten, cocoa and caraway seeds.  Beat well, then let sit for ten minutes.  Mix in melted butter and salt. 

3. Mix in 1 cup of Best For Bread Flour.  Stir in enough of the remaining Best For Bread Flour to make soft dough and knead for 8-10 minutes.

  4. Put dough in an oiled bowl, cover with damp cloth, and allow to rise in warm place for one hour or until doubled.

5. Divide the dough into two pieces.  Gently knead to work out air bubbles and form into loaves and place in two greased loaf pans. 

6. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise another hour or until the dough is nearly doubled.

7. Bake in a 400º preheated oven for 25 to 28 minutes.  Immediately remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

  Makes 2 loaves .

* Chewy crust – Place empty metal baking pan on bottom rack in oven during preheating process.  Directly after placing the bread in the oven, place ¼ cup of water along with a couple of ice cubes in empty metal pan and immediately close the oven door.  Doing this along with slashing the top allows the bread to rise a little more during the first few minutes of baking and leaves it with a nice chewy crust.

 

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Challah

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I’ve noticed that just about every blog I’m following has been making hot cross buns for the Easter bread. that’s cool, I’m loving everything that I’m seeing since I’ve always wanted to make hot cross buns. However, since I’m always the last one to the ‘party’ and it takes me forever to catch onto trends, I decided a while ago that this week on Cooking is My Sport would be centered around another particular recipe/ingredient. It happens to be challah. Which probably means I’ll be making Hot Cross Buns around…oh, probably the Fourth of July. Because that’s just how I am.

I’m sure most foodies already know about it, but for the ‘general’ and likely Non-Jewish reader, I can give an explanation of what it is. Challah is a traditional, braided Jewish egg bread. It’s hollow on the outer top, and light and fluffy on the inside. It’s not as soft and moist as say, brioche. But it’s also not as dense as French bread either. Challah’s religious significance can be found in the way the dough is  split into two rounds, then each round is rolled into 6 identical strands that are then braided together. The six strands in each loaf represent the 12 tribes of Israel referenced in the Torah/first five chapters of the Bible.  During the meals of the Sabbath- 2 loaves of bread are supposed to be served at the beginning of every meal- thus the 2 loaves of challah. I could go on a little bit deeper, but that’s the basic Judaic symbolism behind challah.

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Around the Foodie community, Challah is a recipe that I typically see pop up around this time of year, close to Easter. I actually find this to be pretty ironic/funny, considering that this type of year is also near the Jewish holiday of the Passover. During Passover, unleavened bread is typically eaten (like matzo). Challah, of course, has plenty of leavening agents. But whatever; I’m a non-denominational Christian, so Passover’s not something I celebrate anyway. I made this bread last year at Easter with surprisingly great results for my first time. I knew I wanted to do it again this year, but just bump things up a notch.

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So what you guys will be seeing for this, and the next two posts for this week is basically Challah done 3 ways: Regular Challah, a Sweet Challah, and a third recipe with Challah as a main ingredient…because I had to find some way to use all of the above challah up. Today I’m showing you the traditional Challah recipe that I first made about this time last year.

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Typically, challah is made as a long, braided loaf and baked on a sheet pan. If you guys read my Cornmeal Dinner Rolls post, then you know how I’m currently feeling about baking yeast breads on sheet pans. Long story short: I’m having ‘technical difficulties’ with that method. And although I did suck it up and do it for my sweet challah variation that I’ll be posting later this week, for my traditional Challah, I decided against it, and did something else. I still used the braiding method for both loaves, but one I braided and tucked into a round circle and placed into one of my 9 inch cake pans, while the other I braided and placed into one of my loaf pans that I usually use for quick breads. I was very pleased with the results. The loaves rose beautifully (take THAT sheet pans), and the bread turned out so fluffy and tender on the inside. My favorite part about challah? That hollow sound it makes when you thump on the shiny, egg glazed top of the loaves that tells you it’s done. It makes me feel like a huge Baking Boss.

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Challah

(Makes 2 braided loaves)

Recipe Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over barely warm water.

2. Beat in honey, oil, 2 eggs, and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after each addition, graduating to kneading with hands as dough thickens.

3. Knead until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Cover with a damp clean cloth and let rise for 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in bulk.

4. Punch down the risen dough and turn out onto floured board. Divide in half and knead each half for five minutes or so, adding flour as needed to keep from getting sticky. Divide each half into thirds and roll into long snake about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Pinch the ends of the three snakes together firmly and braid from middle. Either leave as braid or form into a round braided loaf by bringing ends together, curving braid into a circle, pinch ends together. Grease two baking trays and place finished braid or round on each. Cover with towel and let rise about one hour.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).Beat the remaining egg and brush a generous amount over each braid.

6. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 40 minutes. Bread should have a nice hollow sound when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a rack for at least one hour before slicing.

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Cornmeal Dinner Rolls

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I’ve never really played any real sports before (besides my high school gym class and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count). However if I had, I’m convinced that I would be one of those athletes that are very VERY sore losers. I’m very competitive when placed in a competition setting or facing something that I really want to win or perform well in. When I lose or don’t do so hot…it ain’t pretty.

Although I’ve never played sports, I can still know exactly what type of athlete I would be because as my blog so aptly puts it, Cooking is My Sport. When something I’m trying to do in the kitchen doesn’t go my way, or when I just plain mess something up…it ain’t pretty.

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The degree of my…distress (and that’s kinda putting it nicely) when having a kitchen fail mainly depends on the amount of time I’ve put into a dish and the amount/price of the ingredients I’ve invested into the project- probably about 90%. That other pesky 10% is composed of my ego- the part of me that refuses to accept that sometimes, I’m just going to mess up when cooking. It’s stupid, but there you go.

The latest monkey on Jess the Cooklete’s back is yeast breads and sheet pans. Let me explain. I know how to bake yeast breads, okay? Yeast used to scare the crap out of me, but I’ve practiced enough with it by now to know what I’m doing enough to make it a pretty regular occurrence in my house. However, even with all my practice, there is still an aspect of my bread baking that still trips me up: letting the dough rest and rise on half sheet pans.

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It doesn’t work for me. Seriously, it really doesn’t. And for the life of me, I canNOT figure out why. Every time I make a recipe that asks for me to let my dough rise on a half sheet pan, it never does- or if it does, it’s only a liiiiiitle bit.

How do I know that it’s the half sheet pans causing me trouble? Because I’ve used other dishes that have rims around them for the same purpose and have had beautiful results, that’s why. Right now, those alternates have been my glass Pyrex rectangular casserole dishes, my 9-inch cake pans, and my loaf pans- my dough absolutely blooms after resting in those. But the half sheet pans? I’m lucky if the dough will even rise in the oven while baking. I’m convinced guys: the half sheet pans are against me.

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This recipe was part of the reason that I came to the conclusion that the problem I was having wasn’t necessarily with me or the recipe, but with the flat, rimless vessels my dough was being put on. The first time I made it, I placed the dough on the sheet pans- the rolls didn’t rise. The second time, I rested them in my glass casserole dishes. Perfection. After that, every time I made these (as well as any other yeast bread) I refuse to use my half sheet pans. The result has been fluffy, round, and tender cornmeal dinner rolls that melt in my mouth and make me feel pretty good about myself as a Cooklete.

I’ve read so many articles on yeast baking to try and find the answer to this little problem I have with half sheet pan dough rising, but so far have had no solid answers. So what do you guys think? If there are any yeast baking experts out there, please feel free to give me some advice. Is it just that the sheet pans are against me, or do you think it may be something else?

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Cornmeal Dinner Rolls

Recipe Courtesy of Taste of Home Magazine

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°-115°)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 3/4-5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

Directions

1. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, sugar butter, cornmeal and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.

2. Reduce heat; cook & stir 5-8 minutes or until thickened. Cool in the freezer (until mixture reaches 110°-115°).

3. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, cornmeal mixture and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky)

4. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

5. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 15-20 balls. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover with a  clean kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

6. Uncover rolls; brush with melted butter and sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake at 375°for 13-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks; serve warm.

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