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Cinna-buns

I had such a big craving for cinnamon buns last week and it’s been over a year since I made some so I decided this past weekend was a great time to continue my search for the best cinnamon bun recipe. This on is from King Arthur flour and definitely did not disappoint. The dough was really easy to work with as well, which really made a difference when rolling out to the correct size. It seemed like there was a ridiculous amount of butter and filling but I went for it. Everything was going great but I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t use my oven thermometer to make sure the temperature was perfect, and I forgot to set the timer so I ended up guesstimating how long they were in the oven. They got quite brown on the bottom and sides but it seemed like the middles were a bit too doughy so I put them in for 5 more minutes on 350 instead of 400 and I think it helped. Taste wise they were great. Lots of filling and the icing was fab. This one is definitely worth a second shot, and an attempt at making the dough the night before. I’ll post an update at some point I’m sure.

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Cinna-buns

Note: There was some discussion on bakingcircle.com about whether or not these buns should be refrigerated, due to the cream cheese in the icing. I got around this by adding the icing after the buns were separated, just before eating. The buns on their own can be frozen and defrosted, then warmed and frosted. 

Dough
1 cup (8 ounces) lukewarm milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut up
4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) Mellow Pastry Blend OR 4 1/2 cups (19 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

Filling
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 1/4 ounces) brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) ground cinnamon

Icing
one 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) glazing or confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Manual/Mixer Method: Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl, stirring till the mixture becomes cohesive. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and knead it for 5 to 8 minutes, till it’s smooth. Or knead it in an electric mixer, using the dough hook, for 4 to 7 minutes at medium speed. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 60 minutes, till it’s nearly doubled in bulk.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (usually, liquids first, yeast last). Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. After about 10 minutes of kneading, check the dough’s consistency; it should be fairly smooth, not too sticky, not dry and “gnarly.” Adjust its consistency with additional flour or water, if necessary, and allow the machine to complete its cycle.

Assembly: Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 16 x 21-inch rectangle. Spread the dough with the 1/3 cup butter. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle it evenly over the dough.

Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a log, and cut it into 12 slices. Place the buns in a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover the pan with a proof cover or plastic wrap, and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake the buns in a preheated 400°F oven until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. While the buns are baking, make the icing.

Icing: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla. Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm. Yield: 12 big buns.

Nutrition information per serving (1 bun, 146g): 502 cal, 18g fat, 8g protein, 37g complex carbohydrates, 40g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 84mg cholesterol, 364mg sodium, 200mg potassium, 181RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 4mg iron, 71mg calcium, 101mg phosphorus.

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIII, No. 4, Spring 2002 issue.

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti

I made this dish last year and apparently I forgot to blog about it. I wrote a review on Pinterest and saved it in my kid-friendly meals folder, then didn’t give it another thought. What a shame. It remember it was quite good and even Miss M. liked it. I didn’t have any “french fried onions” so I just left that out but it was still really yummy. The cream cheese really elevates this dish. I wouldn’t call this a diet recipe that’s for sure, but it would be a nice treat once in a while. You could probably get away with using light cream cheese but I’m not a big fan of the stuff. Go big or go home! :D

Photo from “Life.Family.Love” blog

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti

1 lb. ground beef
8 oz. spaghetti, cooked to al dente, drained and set aside
1 (26.5 oz) jar spaghetti sauce (I used Ragu Garden Veggie)
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened
2 TBS. milk
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 small can French Fried Onions

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a skillet, brown ground beef with salt and pepper (to taste), onion and peppers. Add spaghetti sauce and warm through. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and milk. Add mushrooms. Spray an 8″ x 12″ baking dish with cooking spray and assemble dish beginning with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce, followed by cooked spaghetti noodles. Spread cream cheese mixture on top of noodles.Top with remaining spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese (to taste). Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Add French Fried onions and bake 5 more minutes.

Frozen’s Elsa Birthday Cake

It was my daughter’s 4th birthday mid-month and we had a little party for her with two of her best buddies from daycare.  For weeks leading up to her birthday all she could talk about was having an Elsa birthday cake like the one she saw on Youtube. The person baked two cakes – one flat and one rounded and put them together to make the bottom of Elsa’s dress. Well we only had 7 people total at the party so I decided that much cake would be way too much. I modified the idea by making one bundt cake. I wrapped Elsa’s bottom half in plastic wrap, then stuck her in the hole of the cake, and wrapped her and the cake in blue fondant. It was my first time using this silicone bundt cake and my first time working with fondant. Things did not go as planned. First the cake stuck to the pan, and then I had a terrible time trying to roll out the fondant. It’s super stiff and my guy friend had to help me roll it out. It was still quite thick and I didn’t have the correct shape to go around the doll and cake properly. It was enough to make it look half decent in the front, and still made Miss M. happy and that’s what matters most. :)

The cake recipe can be found here. Just bake for 45-50 minutes and cool for 15 before unmoulding. Mine took closer to 55 minutes to bake and turned out very soft and moist. I left it upside down in the pan for over an hour. Could this have been a bad idea? Was it wrong to butter and flour a silicone pan. Any tips would be welcomed. The ladybug cupcakes turned out well though. You can see Miss M. decorated one  herself :)

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I should have anchored her feet with some icing or something. So sad but I can’t help but think of the song “Lean Back”! lol

Great Beef Fajita Marinade!

I bought two of Weber’s Grills cookbooks from the dollar store a couple of weeks ago and decided to make fajitas over the long weekend. I think I may have halfa$$ed making fajitas a few years ago but I haven’t tried it since, until now. A great marinade makes all the difference in the world! And you have to choose the right cut of meat. We used skirt steak and marinaded it for 30 minutes, but I have also seen recommendations to marinade 3 hours to overnight. The meat was cooked in my cast iron skillet, but I am always afraid of super high heat and I don’t think I heated the pan enough. It took forever to cook to medium doneness. The outside got charred quite a bit but its mostly the caramelization of the marinade and it was delicious! I’m quite pleased with my cookbook find as well. It goes through all the steps to barbecuing beef, and includes a lot of recipes for marinades, rubs, sauces, and grilled sides. I have a feeling I will keep coming back to this book.  This one’s an all-star. Weber’s on the Grill: Steak and Sides

(I didn’t bother making the salsa and used store bought instead.)

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Skirt Steak Fajitas with Jalapeno Salsa

Marinade:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp kosher salt

2 lbs skirt steak, 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick, trimmed of excess surface fat, cut into foot-long pieces

Salsa:
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped ripe tomatoes
2 large Hass avocados, diced
1/4 cup roughly chopped, fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp finely chopped green onions (white part only)
1-2 jalapenos, minced with seeds
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp Tabasco
kosher salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

2 large yellow onions cut crosswise ito 1/2 inch slices
2 large red peppers, cut into flat slices, ribs and seeds removed
vegetable oil

8 flour tortillas (10 inches)

1. In a small bowl whisk the marinade ingredients. Place the steaks in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinate. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly. Turn the bag to distribute the marinade. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning the bag occasionally.

2. Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat (450 F to 550 F).

3. In a medium bowl combine the salsa ingredients, and season with salt and pepper.

4. Brush the cooking greats clean. Brush the onions and pepper slices with oil and grill them over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until they are lightly charred and softened, 6-8 minutes, turning once or twice. Remove from grill and allow to cool. Roughly chop the onions, and slice the peppers into 1/4 inch strips.

5. Remove the steaks from the bag, allowing most of the marinade to drip back in to the bag. Discard the marinade. Grill the steaks over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until cooked to your desired doneness, 4-6 minutes for medium rare, turning once or twice (if flare ups occur, move the steaks temporarily over indirect heat). Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes.

6. Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm over direct high heat, about 2 minutes, turning once. Cut the steaks across the grain into thin slices. Serve with the onions, peppers, tortillas, and salsa.

Serves 4-6.

Fruit Cocktail Cake

This is yet another recipe I’ve been meaning to make since I watched the cookbook review on Anna and Kristina’s Grocery bags. The Best of Bridge cookbooks are very popular here in Canada and I’ve even had an older lady tell me at the second hand shop that I should get this particular edition because it’s the best. Despite their initial misgivings about this recipe, A&K admitted they really liked the cake. Kristina said it was better than many restaurant desserts she’s had. I don’t know about that, but I’m a little biased as I am a chocolate addict rather than a fruit/berry dessert person, but I really liked this nonetheless.  I know it doesn’t look like much in the pic but check out that glorious, glistening syrup! With all that deliciousness seeping into the cake, how could it not be good? It’s also very easy to make and feeds a crowd. Bonus!

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Fruit Cocktail Cake

Ingredients:
Cake
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 – 14oz. can fruit cocktail with juice 398mL
or crushed pineapple
2 cups flour

Sauce
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla or 2 Tbsp. rum is a superb substitute!

Instructions:
To make cake: Beat eggs. Add all ingredients, except flour, and mix. Add flour and mix again. Grease a 9 x 13” pan or a bundt pan and pour in mixture. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

To make sauce: Heat sugar, milk and butter in saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over hot cake. (Makes a lot, but use all of it! The cake will absorb it.)

Serve warm with whipped cream or frozen vanilla yogurt. Keeps for several days refrigerated (if no one knows it’s there).

Book Reference – The Best of the Best – Vol. 1 (Page: 297), The Best of Bridge (Page: 160)

Crab Cakes – Barefoot Contessa

I don’t know what my deal was last week – I had the weirdest craving for crab cakes and I don’t normally like sea food. (And NO I’m definitely NOT pregnant!!!!) I recently checked out the book by Glamour Magazine editors called “100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know” and A&K had reviewed it on their show, stating the crab cakes were some of the best they ever had. But …the dipping and dredging thing didn’t appeal to me, so I thought I’d go for another time tested favourite – the crab cakes by Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa). I don’t know if I should review this recipe or not because I didn’t follow it to a T. I just used two peppers instead of measuring out the amount, and I didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried. As I result, I think the mixture was a bit too wet. The vegetable mixture seemed to have a lot of oil and butter in it that pooled at the bottom of the bowl. The cakes still cooked well and tasted delicious! Next time I will really take my time with it and I have a feeling they will be even better.

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Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup small diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 1/2 cups small diced celery (4 stalks)
1/2 cup small diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/2 cup small diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
For frying
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

Place the 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons oil, onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, salt, and pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, break the lump crabmeat into small pieces and toss with the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the cooked mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into bite-sized crab cakes.

Heat the butter and olive oil for frying over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the crab cakes and fry for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until browned. Drain on paper towels; keep them warm in a 250 degree oven and serve hot.

Fudgsicles!

Martha Stewart posted this on either facebook or twitter and when my 3 year old decided she wanted “chocolate popsicles” it was perfect timing. I didn’t have heavy cream or whole milk on hand so I combined 5% cream and 1% milk to make something close to whole milk I’m assuming (I suck at math)! The fudgsicles were pretty good. They did have some ice shards in them, probably because they had more water and less fat, but they were still creamy and tasted great. Miss M loved them. :)

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Fudge Bars

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch and 2 tablespoons milk until smooth; whisk in remaining milk, cream, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high, stirring constantly, and cook 1 minute.

Transfer to a large liquid-measuring cup and stir in vanilla. Pour into ten 3-ounce ice-pop molds and insert ice-pop sticks. Freeze until pops are solid, about 6 hours (or up to 1 week). Just before serving, briefly run molds under hot water to release pops.

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