Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls

There's nothing better than Cinnamon Rolls for a great weekend breakfast. I rarely make them, but that's what makes them special. I got this recipe from someone who used to work at The Biltmore. I guess this is how they make their cinnamon rolls as well. This recipe makes a lot of cinnamon rolls (like 2 dozen) so I recommend cutting it in half (or only making it if you have a party to go to)

Ingredients for the dough
  • 1 1/4 oz dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
Ingredients for filling
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter
Ingredients for icing
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp sat
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  1. Dissolve yeast in milk in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour to form the dough. Mix well and knead dough until smooth. Let dough rise until doubled (about 40 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing the cold butter, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside until ready to use. It should be grainy, not smooth
  3. After rolls have risen, roll out dough into a rectangle. Spread filling over the surface (you can add nuts or raisins if desired) and roll dough into a spiral. Cut into individual rolls and place, on a baking sheet to rise again.
  4. After dough has risen, bake at 350 for 20 minutes until done.
  5. Meanwhile, mix all ingredients for icing until smooth. Spread on cinnamon rolls as soon as they come out of the oven.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Banh Mi Sandwiches with pickled carrots and daikon

So I never ate Vietnamese food until I went off the college. I didn't know what I was missing and it's now one of my favorite foods. I love the South East Asian/French fusion with so many herbs, pickles, spices and delicious ingredients in general. I loved the first time I had Vietnamese sandwiches at this great bakery and they cost $2. Now that they've become popular, they're often $6 or more at a nicer, hipster restaurant. I don't buy them from those places. I only buy them from my cheap sandwich shops (though I've raised my budget to $3... sometimes you have to)

The next time you want a different sandwich, give this one a try. It's refreshing and delicious.

Ingredients for pickled vegetables
  • equal parts carrot and daikon, julienned on a mandolin
  • rice vinegar
  • white sugar
  • salt
  1. Add vinegar, sugar an a big pinch of salt to a pan on the stove. Bring to a boil and taste to make sure it's balanced. Add more sugar if needed.
  2. Pour vinegar mix over vegetables and place in the refrigerator for several hours until pickles are done and cool
Ingredients for Sandwich
  • Small French rolls
  • Pate
  • Tofu/chicken/beef/pork marinated in fish sauce, lime and chili
  • Cilantro, mint and basil
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Fresh sliced jalapenos
  • Cucumber
  • Mayonaise
  1. Place rolls in the oven until slightly toasty. Let cool before slicing in half.
  2. Spread mayo and a thin slice of pate on the bread. Add pickled vegetables, herbs, desired meet, cucumber and jalapenos.
  3. Add sriracha if desired and enjoy.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Almond Biscotti

There are certain recipes I change (I'll put my own spin on them, I'll tweak them, whatever) and certain ones that I don't mess with. Almond biscotti is one of those recipes that needs no tweaks. It's just a perfect, crunchy cookie that I love with morning (or afternoon) tea. I don't drink coffee any more save after meals (the acid upsets my stomach too much) but I love a good cup of tea at all hours of the day. 

I like the chocolate ones (sometimes) but plain ones are great too. My husband likes the plain ones best but we only have chocolate pictured. Didn't even give it time to dry, just enough time to put the chocolate on.

I ended up making these biscotti for my coworker's birthday. She's not much for parties or celebration, so this was just the thing for someone who doesn't want cake or candles or obnoxious singing coworkers. Give this recipe a shot the next time you want biscotti (best of all, these last forever... that is, if you can stop yourself from eating them).

Almond Biscotti
  • 1 cup whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cup AP flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder
  3. Mix sugar, eggs and extracts together until sugar is dissolved and eggs come up in ribbons when beaters are pulled away.
  4. Add sifted flour and mix until just combined. Fold in almonds
  5. Press dough into a log 12" x 3". Bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove log from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Slice into biscotti and place, cut side down, on the sheet pan. Lower oven temperature to 325 and bake for 20 more minutes, flipping biscotti halfway through.
  7. Top with chocolate if desired, eat with coffee, etc.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Blueberry Oatmeal Yogurt Muffins

It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again. As you all know, members of Secret Recipe club make another member's recipe and reveal it on a give day. It's great fun, lets you explore another blogger's recipes and lets you remember some recipes from long ago that you might not have made in a while. Everyone is super supportive and it's just a fun way to do something different.
This month, I had Cook with Sara. Sara is a woman from the Midwest who keep a blog of all her tried and true recipes. She has so many recipes on her blog that I didn't know what to choose. She has a great assortment of everything, but it seemed like a larger number of the recipes were quickbreads and desserts. I was debating between the Black Bottom Banana Pie and the Apple Fritter Bread but one day my husband was in the mood for muffins. I made these delicious Blueberry Yogurt Oatmeal Muffins instead and they were fantastic. They were hearty from the oat and filling (normally you don't just want one muffin, but these were perfect). They freeze wonderfully too and I was able to pop one in the microwave for 20 seconds before work in the morning and actually eat breakfast.
These are semi sweet but lack the usual amount of sugar most muffin recipes had. They also seemed to have less fat than usual but were still very moist and flavorful. My husband loved them (though he did not just have one muffin)
Excellent job Sara! So glad I picked this recipe for this month's Secret Recipe Club posting. I only made a couple tweaks, but no big ones (I always do 50/50 flour blends for breakfast breads... it just makes me feel better about myself at the end of the meal)
Blueberry Oatmeal Yogurt Muffins
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 or 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flours, oats, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry.
  3. Fold in blueberries and place into prepared muffin cups.
  4. Bake muffins 20-25 minutes until golden and springy. Enjoy with a nice cup of tea for breakfast.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes (with Funfetti Cake Conversion)

I've been looking for a great vanilla cake recipe for several years. They've always been good, but they've never been great cakes.  I must say, this cake is one of those great cakes (though it is better as cupcakes... not quite sure why). It's soft, springy and has a strong vanilla flavor. It is the perfect vanilla cake and can easily be turned into a funfetti cake for a great birthday. The cupcakes at the bottom were made for my husband's League of Legends party last year (don't ask, it's a nerdy video game thing that I don't quite understand, but I indulge him anyway).
Next time you need a great, simple vanilla cupcake recipe, try this one out. It may seem a bit liquidy for a cupcake recipe, but it turns out wonderful.

Perfect Vanilla Cupcake Recipe (adapted from Cupcake Project)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, pulp removed and mixed with the sugar
  • 1 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 milk
  • 2 Tbsp sprinkles (if making funfetti cake)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix sugar and vanilla bean together until no large pieces remain.
  3. Mix together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Add sugar and butter and mix until it is the texture of fine crumbs.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, vegetable oil and vanilla extract until smooth.
  5. Add egg mixture to the flour and mix until just combine.
  6. Slowly add milk while mixing until just combined. Add sprinkles if using.
  7. Pour batter into papered cupcake pan or prepared cake pans and bake until done (about 14 minutes for cupcakes... maybe 20 for cake. Test with a cake tester to make sure it's done)
  8. Let cool completely and frost with desired topping

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Watermelon Jello Shots

For Memorial Day weekend, I made an awesome dessert. Can you call jello shots a dessert, or is a drink? Who really knows.

I must admit, I'm a little old for jello shots, but I saw this amazing post on buzzfeed with a recipe for making jello shots in a hallowed out watermelon rind so the slices look like slices of watermelon. That sounded like the cutest idea ever for a great summer bbq and I knew I had to make it to bring to our friend's house.

There's something so fun and so trashy about jello shots. I thought I had grown out of them in my college days, but these almost seem like grown up jello shots. Don't get me wrong, they taste boozy and strong, but they seem classy. And, just like the jello shots from your college days, they still give you a monster hangover (especially if you mix this with beer and sunburns and time by the pool).

I've had problems with jello shots not solidifying in the past, but the addition of extra unflavored gelatin really helps. Give this recipe a try the next time you're having a grown up party. This recipe makes half a watermelon.

Watermelon Jello Shot
  • 1 watermelon (12 lbs or so, hollowed out)
  • 2 3oz boxes of red jello (watermelon on cherry)
  • 1 box (4 envelopes, 1 oz total) unflavored gelatin
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups vodka
  1. Hollow out a watermelon.
  2. Mix together flavored and unflavored gelatin. Add hot water, stirring the whole time so no lumps form
  3. Add vodka and pour into watermelon half.
  4. Let set completely and slice with a long, sharp knife. Eat in moderation
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