Cinnamon Rolls Made Easy

Last weekend, I was craving something sweet to serve for a Saturday brunch that was easy to make and wouldn’t make a mess of the kitchen.  I decided to try a recipe for cinnamon rolls that did not require yeast.   At first, I was pretty skeptical about not using yeast, and I was worried that without yeast, it would compromise the quality of the rolls.  However, these cinnamon rolls were perfect and my guests raved about them.

Cinnamon Rolls (Adapted from Recipe Girl)

Filling:

4 tbsp. softened unsaltened butter

1 C. Light Brown Sugar (you can use dark brown sugar, per the original recipe’s instructions)

3 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (original recipe calls for cinnamon, but I used what was available)

Dough

2 C. All-Purpose Flour  (make sure you have some more for rolling)

2 tbsp. sugar (the granulated stuff…no Sugar in the Raw, just rely on the Domino or whatever’s available)

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. unsalted softened butter (room temperature)

3/4 C. Milk

1 egg, beaten

Glaze

1 C. Powdered Sugar

2 tbsp. milk (or more depending on the consistency)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray your muffin tin with nonstick spray.

Prepare the filling:  Combine filling ingredients with a fork until a crumble like mixture is formed.  Set bowl aside.

Let’s work on the dough:  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  With clean hands (or that wonderful tool known as a pastry blender…man, I miss mine.  It got lost during a move), work the butter into the flour mixture.  Add the milk and egg, stir to combine.

Now comes the *fun* part:  Roll the dough out onto a floured surface into a large rectangle.  Sprinkle the filling over the surface of the dough (make sure it’s even).   I promised you the fun part, which is roll the dough into a roll.  Cut the rolls into 12 pieces.  Place the pieces into the muffin tin.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While the rolls are baking, let’s go over the glaze.  It’s easy peasy to make this glaze.  In a small bowl, combine the sugar, milk, and vanilla.  Stir until the glaze turns into a frosting consistency.   After removing the rolls from the oven, move the rolls onto a plate, then drizzle the glaze over them.

Totally yummy and the kitchen…well, it was a bit messy!  Cleaning is the fun part of cooking, right?

Beautiful Mornings…

I love when the birds are chirping,  the weather is warm (especially in March), and enjoying freshly baked blueberry lemon muffins with a cup of coffee.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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I must admit the wrappers are pretty sweet.  After all, you can’t beat monkeys and bananas.  The muffins are the star of the show, and there is no doubt you can tailor these to your dietary needs.

Introducing Blueberry Lemon Muffins (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line your muffin tins with cute liners (you could use the plain ones, but that is no fun…is it?).  Put those to the side.

In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a small bowl combine egg, milk, oil, and vanilla extract.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir until moistened.

Now comes the fun part…fold in 3/4 cup of frozen blueberries (you can use fresh) and the zest of half a lemon. 

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filing two thirds full.  Note:  I love big muffins, so I always go three fourths full and bake a little longer.  Also, I use nine liners instead of twelve.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over muffin batter (I use Penzey’s Spices Cinnamon Sugar, because it rocks).  Bake in a 400° oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden.  Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from cups; serve warm.

Totally delicious…and it pairs well with black forest bacon. 

Lemon Meets Blueberry: A Love Story for Foodies

This morning, I looked in the pantry for breakfast food, only to come out disappointed as there was nothing. I had the coffee, but nothing good to accompany the taste of a bold Italian Roast. Off to Starbucks I went…since I was running late for my friend’s bridal shower. At Starbucks, I broke away from my diet for a Caramel Frappuccino and a slice of Very Berry Coffee Cake. The cake was amazing and sent me dreaming of a recipe for tomorrow’s breakfast. I was craving blueberries, and since I had lemon in the fridge, I started thinking of a quick bread involving the two ingredients.

After my friend’s bridal shower, which was lovely and based on a tea party (not the political type), I came home with a quest to find a recipe. Enter Lemon Blueberry Muffins, a recipe that I found on Pillsbury.com.These muffins looked yummy, and since I had two of the ingredients available to me here at home, it was off to Trader Joe’s for the rest of them. They had a great selection of organic blueberries and they looked fresh (which can be hit or miss for my local store). I picked up blueberries.

I figured fixing these muffins would brighten my spirits, since I was in the midst of preparing my taxes. Baking always is a good therapy for a bad mood (and so is a glass of good wine). I adapted the recipe slightly from the original recipe, but they were scrumptious.

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Lemon-Blueberry Muffins

1/3 C. Milk
1/4 C. Canola Oil
1 Container Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 3/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/4 C. Sugar
1 tbsp. Grated Lemon Peel
1 tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. Blueberries (I used fresh, but you could use frozen)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottom of the muffin tins or use paper liners.

Combine all of your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt). In another bowl, combine lemon peel, lemon juice, milk, oil, greek yogurt, vanilla and egg. Whisk well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until well mixed, then fold in 1 c. blueberries.

Place muffins in the oven for 16 minutes. After you remove the muffins from the oven, let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Place on a nice serving dish and drizzle with lemon glaze.

Ah yes…I didn’t mention the glaze. After all, presentation is key…right?

Lemon Glaze

2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. sugar

In a small bowl, combine the two ingredients until smooth looking. Drizzle over warm muffins.

So, here is the story how lemon met blueberry, thus creating a sweet and sour medley for the taste buds. I can’t think of a better way to wake up on a weekend morning.

Cranberry Scones with White Chocolate Rum Glaze

When I arrived back from my Christmas visit on Sunday, I went straight to the kitchen to quell my boredom. When I get bored, I bake. I made my famous Peppermint Bark, and I decided to bake a breakfast treat to use up dried cranberries. The first thing I did was to soak the cranberries in some sweet vermouth to add some zing to them before adding them to the Scone mixture later.

I adapted a scone recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. After all, this cookbook has produced some pretty awesome recipes in the past and I expected the same. I tried one scone and knew that this recipe was a winner.

Now, I love to up the wow element in anything that I bake. Since I had some leftover dark rum from a Chocolate Hazelnut Cookie recipe I made before Christmas, I figured that this would add a different dimension to the white chocolate glaze that would be drizzled over top of the scone. This glaze not only added a wonderful butter rum hint…it only added some flavor to the bland white chocolate.

Cranberry Scone

2 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. brown sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cold butter, cut into pieces
2 beaten eggs
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. dried cranberries, soaked in sweet vermouth, drained

In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in center of flour mixture, set aside.

In another medium bowl, combine beaten eggs, whipping cream, and cranberries. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing dough for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges.

Place wedges on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush wedges with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-14 mins. Let scones cool a little.

Meanwhile, fix the White Chocolate Rum Glaze.

In a microwaveable safe bowl, melt 1/2 c. White Chocolate chips on high power for 30 seconds. Stir, and place back in for another 20 seconds. The mixture will be clumpy, so add 1 tbsp. dark rum and a little milk. Stir until it reaches a creamy consistency. Drizzle over the scones.

Christmas Cookie Season Begins!

December always brings out the cookie sheets and creativity.  Every year, we always try to out-do the year before by creating new recipes and traditions or relying on the old stand-bys to bring cheer.  It is always a good time to bond with family members and loved ones.

Every year, my Mom would make a lavish spread of cookies for family.  These cookies included the traditional standards of cut-out sugar cookies, gingerbread men, “What’s in a Kiss?” cookies, and the infamous chocolate chip cookies.

So…this year, I decided to try my hand at creating my own twist to Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.   The idea was to add an additional ingredient that would make my cookies have a taste of their own.  First, my Mom always adds pecans or walnuts to her cookies.  While I love her cookies, I wanted to do a version with crushed Heath bars while keeping the cookie moist.  Lastly, I made my cookies larger than Mom’s by using an ice cream scoop.  The cookies were big, but they offered more of a great tasting product.

Crushed Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks butter (1 c.) softened

3/4 c. Granulated Sugar

3/4 c. Packed Light Brown Sugar

1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs

2 1/4 c. All-Purpose Flour

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Salt

2 c. (1 package) Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1 c. Crushed Heath Bars

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl using an electric or stand mixer until creamy.  Add eggs; beat well.  Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and crushed heath bars.   Using an ice cream scoop or teaspoon, drop onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool slightly, and place cookies on wire rack.  Cool completely.

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