Friday, June 22, 2012

Cinnamon Ribbon Breakfast Cake

Making cupcakes started my love for baking. In order to get people to like me, I decided to regularly supply people in the residence halls with home, er, dorm-baked cupcakes. My beginnings were somewhat rudimentary as I fiddled with an old/uncalibrated oven, measured with individual plastic pudding containers and mixed my batter with a fork. The cupcakes were ridiculously moist, (the box states there is pudding in the mix, and I interpreted it as a suggestion to ADD pudding to the mix...), which made up for the numerous lumps of flour that would end up baked into the finish product.

From there, I started making variations on simple cake mix cupcakes. I'd use the mix batter to create Oreo cupcakes, peanut butter surprise cupcakes, and other recipes from the Cake Mix Doctor, but as I started to follow more baking blogs, I realized I needed to say goodbye to my boxed friends.

Which leads me to this coffee cake. I would always make a breakfast cake by said Dr., but the recipe called for yellow cake mix, and instant pudding mix, blah blah blah. I just knew that there was a better way, and thanks to HowSweetEats, there is!

 *timing is approximate as I let mine bake for an hour and ended up with a slightly over-baked edges and a very dark cinnamon stripe as seen here. When in doubt, start testing with your handy dandy toothpick when the top is golden brown. 

Cinnamon Ribbon Breakfast Cake
Adapted from HowSweetEats

for the cake
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk

for the filling
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

for the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small mixing bowl combine the 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and the 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. Set aside. Prepare a bundt pan with nonstick spray, and drop the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts into the bottom of the pan, (which will then position them at the top of your cake).

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the 2 1/2 cups of AP flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder and the 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the 1/2 cup of softened butter with the 1 1/2 cups of sugar. When the mixture is light and fluffy, add one egg at a time, combining well between each addition. Incorporate the 2 teaspoons of vanilla.

Next, you will add half of the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Stir together before adding the cup of milk. Stir again, and add the rest of the dry mixture, combine well.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared bundt pan over the walnuts. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling into the pan forming a layer over the batter. Add the remaining cake batter making sure to spread it out evenly. Bake for 50-55 minutes, turning once halfway through.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edges to make sure the cake will not stick to the pan as you flip it. Flip onto your desired surface and cool completely before adding glaze.

To prepare the glaze, sift the cup of powdered sugar into a small mixing bowl. Add the milk and whisk together, add the teaspoon of vanilla. Reach desired consistency by adding powdered sugar to thicken or more milk to make the glaze runnier.

Pour glaze over the top of the cooled bundt cake allowing it to drip down the sides.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cranberry Chicken Salad

When I was younger, I had a passion for mayonnaise. I used to eat mayonnaise sandwiches as a child. I just enjoyed the taste, and especially on warm toasted bread. I think my mom's chicken salad sandwiched had a similar effect, except this time there was actual food between my bread.

So even though my mom made me shred chicken, and even though she put mixed vegetables in her chicken salad, (gah, Lima beans!!), she made up for it by adding rotini, or other short spiral pasta. Mmm.... pasta sandwiches, I had greatly advanced from my mayo days.

These days, I'm not putting pasta in my chicken salad. I don't put pasta between bread and call it a sandwich, either. Sometimes, I add fruit to my chicken salad instead of veggies.

Call me crazy, but sometimes change can be refreshing, delicious, and when walnuts are involved, there's a nice crunch too. Salad or sandwich, this one's a winner.

Cranberry Chicken Salad
adapted slightly from AllRecipes

2 cooked chicken breast halves, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 green apple, diced
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
salt and pepper, to taste

Shred the 2 chicken breasts into a medium mixing bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and the 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts. Cut 1/2 of a tart green apple into small square pieces and add to the chicken mixture, stir well.

Measure out the 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and add to the chicken, stirring together so that the mixture gets coated evenly. Crack fresh pepper and salt onto the chicken. Add the 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill. Stir until well combined.

Serve over a bed of shredded lettuce, or enjoy in a sandwich.

Rosemary Boule

Before my senior prom, a group of friends and I went to my (then) favorite restaurant, Romano's Macaroni Grill. I loved the paper tablecloths, (and writing on them with crayons), I loved the funky ties on the waiters, (and how they all had mastered the skill of writing their name upside-down), I loved the Italian language tape playing in the bathroom, but most of all I loved their bread.

I went a couple of times as a senior, and a couple more times as I visited home the following year. I dragged friends and coworkers along wanting them to enjoy the experience I had come to love. 

After my sophomore year of college, I didn't go home as often, and thus stopped going to the Macaroni Grill. For some reason, my college friends preferred another similarly themed restaurant...but to me it just wasn't the same.

The following year, I convinced my beau to join me for dinner at the Macaroni Grill, and since his mom's family is Italian he was unimpressed. The food just wasn't as good as it could have been, and since we were cooking up our own delicious pastas, Romano's just couldn't compete. It was clear we wouldn't be going back.

While I don't miss going, I do have moments where memories of the warm delicious bread get in my brain and there's no escaping them. For that, I have created my own version of their Rosemary bread.

Rosemary No Knead Bread
makes 1 loaf (about 2 lbs)
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day


1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water (about 100 degrees F)
3/4 tablespoon granulated yeast (1 packet)
3/4 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon rosemary
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup bread flour
1 cup of water (for baking)

Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into a large plastic food container/bowl with a non-airtight lid. Add yeast and salt to water. Add 1/2 tablespoon of Italian seasoning and 1 tablespoon of rosemary to the water mixture.

Measure the 3 cups of AP flour and add it to the container with the water. Add the 1/4 cup of bread flour. Mix with a wooden spoon, or a heavy duty stand mixer with the dough hook, until the mixture is uniform. If scraggly bits of the flour refuse to mix in with the dough, using wet hands, you can press the mixture together. No need to knead.

When the dough has come together, and there aren't any dry patches, you may leave the dough in your container and place the lid on top. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen and begun to collapse, prepare a cutting board with a coating of cornmeal. Sprinkle the surface of your dough with flour, and pull up the ball of dough into your hands. While holding the dough ball, add a little more flour to make it easy to handle. Gently form into the shape of a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating, and applying this step to all four sides.

Rest the loaf and let it rise on the prepared cutting board for about 40 minutes.

20 minutes before baking the bread, preheat oven to 450 degrees F, with an upside down baking sheet (or baking stone) on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray on the bottom rack.

Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash 3-4 cuts (1/4-inch deep) across the top of your loaf.

Slide the loaf off the cutting board and onto the baking sheet. Pour the cup of water carefully onto the broiler tray and close the oven door. Bake for about 30 minutes, until crust is brown and firm.

Cool completely on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

Friday, June 15, 2012


It's finally summer break.

No more waking up at 6 am.

No more commute.

...and more time for things that really matter.


Fluffy Pancakes
adapted from Kris

3 oz. heavy cream
3 oz. water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 cup AP flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray

In a large mixing bowl, combine the 3 ounces of heavy cream with the 3 ounces of water and the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to thicken and sour.

In a medium mixing bowl sift together the cup of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, the teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt.Whisk ingredients together.

Beat the egg into the cream mixture. Add the 2 tablespoons of melted butter and stir together. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and combine well.

Heat large skillet and coat with cooking spray. Heap large tablespoonfuls of pancake batter onto the hot skillet. Cook until the surface bubbles, flip and cook until both sides are browned.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chicken and Eggs

Chicken for dinner, eggs for dinner, it's all fair game.

Curry Spiced Chicken
Was my lazy take on Gourmet's Tandoori Chicken. I took thai red curry paste and combined it with Greek yogurt to create a marinade for the chicken thighs. After marinating for 2 hours, I broiled the chicken for about 20 min.


Chicken Tacos
I poached the chicken similarly to my enchiladas. Assembled the tacos by layering shredded pepper jack, chicken, lettuce and diced tomato inside the shells.

Fry your taco shells at home for crispy perfection.

Eggs Benedict

Made Alton's Hollandaise Sauce. Definitely worth the work!
Invite friends over, serve brunch as dinner, have a great time.

And, if you need dessert, you can try these Strawberry Brown Butter Bettys from Smitten Kitchen