Sunday, January 23, 2011

What the morning brings. Cinnamon Rolls

I guess morning means different things to different people.  And as many of us know~ not everyone is a morning person.  Me~ I'm a morning person.  I love the quite morning hours before everyone else in the house is awake, getting the pot of coffee on, the sounds and smells as it brews, that first sip.  Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy an occasional morning of sleeping in, but mostly I am a morning person.

The day of the week and the schedule ahead might play a big part in the morning routine.  I have to confess on most common week days I don't tend to make breakfast and the kids really aren't breakfast eaters, I know I know... breakfast is the most important meal of the day!  We just aren't typically hungry first thing in the morning, (maybe its that we're not big cereal or quick breakfast people) but on weekends it's a whole other story.  We love the weekend breakfast or should I say brunch (just because of the time) it can be anything from pancakes, biscuits & gravy, breakfast casserole the list goes on...

Another confession I have to make is I am notorious for eating non-breakfast food for that first meal of the day, leftovers is big on my list of breakfast foods.  I know I know... with so many wonderful options, but I've always been like this- what can I say!!

With a new week around the corner and  being pretty excited about new beginnings I'm about to venture into, I had to bake something.  I love baking!!  I didn't know what to bake, but than I remembered these delicious looking cinnamon rolls I had seen made on a t.v program a few nights ago.  So I went searching for the recipe, checked my frig and pantry to make sure I had all the ingredients and started the cinnamon rolls. 
This was a perfect recipe for today, while the dough sat to rise for 2 hours, I was able to do a few things around the house & also run a few errands. When I got home I was all excited to see my dough and start on the next steps.  Cinnamon rolls...

All baked up & ready to ice!!

Wow they really did smell good baking in the oven.  Here's a few more pictures:

dough in the mixer


rolling it out

sprinkling on the sugar & spice

let rise 2nd time

in the oven
icing the first time
All done.. yum look at the melted sugar & cinnamon
So what does the morning bring?  Well it's a brand new day!  I know sometimes we get in to a routine and it doesn't seem so... but if you're in one of those moods; I suggest baking up a batch of these delicious cinnamon rolls. (recipe below)  I'm excited for my week... I have a brand new adventure ahead of me and well now I have a batch of delicious cinnamon rolls waiting for me, my coffee pot is prepared to brew my coffee right before my alarm goes off... no left overs for me tomorrow & my whole family is excited for Monday morning & cinnamon rolls!  We only had a 1/4 of one each... we're waiting for morning!  What a great way to start a Monday.
Hope everyone has a wonderful week!!

Ultimate Cinnamon Buns
Recipe from Cook's Country

In step 2, if after mixing for 10 minutes the dough is still wet and sticky, add up to ¼ cup flour (a tablespoon at a time) until the dough releases from the bowl. For smaller cinnamon buns, cut the dough into 12 pieces in step 3.
Makes 8 Buns. 
3/4     cup whole milk , heated to 110 degrees
1     envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
3     large eggs , room temperature
4 1/4     cups all-purpose flour
1/2     cup cornstarch
1/2     cup granulated sugar
1 1/2     teaspoons salt
12     tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into 12 pieces and softened
1 1/2     cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2     tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4     teaspoon salt
4     tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
4     ounces cream cheese , softened
1     tablespoon whole milk
1     teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2     cups confectioners' sugar

      1. For the dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, shut off. Line 13- by 9-inch baking pan with foil, allowing excess foil to hang over pan edges. Grease foil and medium bowl.

      2. Whisk milk and yeast in liquid measuring cup until yeast dissolves, then whisk in eggs. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add warm milk mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and add butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes. Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in warm oven. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
      3. For the filling: Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Following photos 1 and 2 in the related step-by-step, roll dough into 18-inch square, spread with butter, and sprinkle evenly with filling. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll dough into tight cylinder, pinch lightly to seal seam, and, following photo 3, cut into 8 pieces. Transfer pieces, cut-side up, to prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
      4. For the glaze and to bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Discard plastic wrap and bake buns until deep golden brown and filling is melted, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and top buns with ½ cup glaze; cool 30 minutes. Using foil overhang, lift buns from pan and top with remaining glaze. Serve.
      Make Ahead: After transferring pieces to prepared pan in step 3, buns can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 24 hours. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove plastic wrap and continue with step 4 as directed.

My personnel suggestion after the 1/4 I had was maybe add a little more of the sugar & spice mixture to the dough before rolling... but that would have to depend on how sweet you like them.  I'll have to see after the morning what I think, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bubble Gum Bubble Gum

Oh man I have been having some serious blogging withdrawals and baking withdrawals!!  My family really is on a sugar overload still coming off the holidays and the two huge batches of cupcakes we made for the contest.  But I did however bake up some sugar cookies.  I ran across this contest for decorated cookies and got a little excited.  The cookie has to contain a heart somewhere in the design of it.  So....

I started to think, hmm what can I design that will be cute, unique etc...  I ran a few ideas by my family, looked through my cookie cutters and really racked my brain for some creative ideas.

I looked over to the left of me in my living room & had a complete ah hay moment!!
A Bubblegum Machine

I goggled for a cookie cutter with no luck, so I broke out a pen and paper and started to sketch & may I add I am not the best at drawing.  But I came up with what I think is a cute idea.  Immediately I wanted to get to baking and hand cutting out the little cookies... but I waited because I wanted some baking supplies I didn't have.  Luckily I had a few errands to run last week that put me in the neighborhood of a baking supply store that has tons of fun things.  I was on a little of a time limit at the store due to having some other errands to run, but I could really spend all day in that store.  I picked up a few new cookie cutters, sprinkles, adorable bags and really wanted some red and pearl luster dust.  My creativity was ready to go... however the lady at the store was insisting that the luster dust wouldn't work on my icing (that it was only for fondant) and talked me into getting edible glitter.  I still got the pearl luster dust figuring I'd give it a try.
And really kicking myself in the bootie now because I really am not liking the way the red glitter looks on my cookie and loving the pearl luster dust that did indeed work beautifully just the way I had envisioned.  Man why did I listen??  Oh well~ trial and error right?  The more cookies I decorated the better they got.  But I know I want the red luster dust and will have to bake another batch before I submit pictures for a contest.
Plus, honestly I am still so novice to all this cookie decorating stuff~ some people are just absolutely artists.  Amazing!!  But with error and practice will come experience and beauty.  And in the meantime, they are still cute cookies & if I do say so myself delicious!!

I really do love my red bubble gum machine, I picked it up at an antique store a few years ago, funny thing is I've actually never filled it up with bubble gum.  I have put a few different candies in it for my nephew to put change in and get candy, he loves my bubblegum machine too.  I should really fill it up with some bubblegum for him... he would be in heaven~ my sis on the other hand probably wouldn't be so happy with me. ha!

Honestly who doesn't like bubblegum?  It's such a cheery thought.  Bubblegum ice cream is one of my all time favorites.  With this batch of cookies I also tried an experiment with putting in a little bubblegum flavoring in my icing in substitute of the vanilla~  it was pretty good.  Will work on perfecting that recipe and will share it with anyone else who is a bubblegum lover too!

And I got to use my bubblegum machine like a cookie jar :)

Remember the playground rhyme: 
Bubblegum Bubblegum in a dish how many pieces do you wish 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.... 
Wow just had a flash back to when I was young. 

And I have a few more ideas running in my head with the bubblegum machine design/concept.
So stay tuned!!  And I promise to not go so long again between posts... I have some fabulous pictures of some bread my mom baked~ just waiting on her recipe.  So come back & visit!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Love Like That

This weekend I attended an absolutely beautiful wedding.  There's just something about weddings that makes you think about love- obviously~ two people are beginning their lives together.  Seeing a beautiful couple exchange vowels, dance their first dance, witnessing such love creates that warmth in your heart. 
Now I know a wedding evokes different emotions for different people.  During different parts of the ceremony I thought back to my wedding day and the love I share with my husband.  Words spoken during the ceremony spoke loudly to my heart. While other parts made me think of the future and hoping that my children will one day experience this kind of love.  I guess that's a big wish for any parent for their child~ to find happiness & love.

During a part of the reception the DJ called up all married, engaged, &/or dating couples to the dance floor to dance ~ the objective of this was to see who's been married the longest.  It was amazing to see so many people still remained past 10 years (me & my husband will celebrate 10 this year), 20 years, 30 years, the dance floor started to clear up a little after 30 but amazingly enough still quite a few.  Ultimately 2 couples continued to dance even after the music stopped & then ONE remained.  The grandparents of the bride... married 64 years (& 7 months the couple added).  64 years & 7 months!!  That is absolutely inspiring.
They shared the secret with us of what makes a marriage last so long while they still continued to dance.

I thought to myself "how old they must of been when they married" imagine all the things a couple living during those days had gone through together.  Honestly you can't think of anything else than, "I want a love like that".

I shared the story with my children;  my daughter thought "how cute" especially when I explained how they continued to dance even after the music stopped.  My son, who is a teenager, was amazed~ and said "that's the kind of love I want to find one day".  That really is an everlasting love~ and it spoke volumes at the wedding.  It was like the saying "all because two people fell in love".  I'm sure they've been through their share of ups & downs but through it all they've been together.  Knowing the family I can say I've seen how close they are- unconditional love of parents, support from family and lots of long time friends.  Wonderful people.  Again~ "all because two people fell in love".  The power of love, giving, sharing, caring for one another and imparting those values to your family.

Now as I sit here and type I think to the future again and my children. As a parent there really isn't any bigger accomplishment or joy in life than having raised loving, caring, polite and successful children.  To see them happy and share that happiness with them.  One day (in the future) I hope to share such a beautiful day with my children and also be celebrating a big anniversary!  Calculating in my head- we won't be near the 64 years like that couple~ but as long as its "a love like that"... it won't matter the years but just that we're together.
 Now with love in the air from a wedding and all the Valentines Days stuff out on display, I couldn't help but think of love, cute couples, hearts, candies & cookies!!  And I wondered what type of cookie should I make... what shape??  And I realized it was obvious the first recipe & the first cookie for me to share is one of my favorites and my families. (my friends know this as the signature cookie I bake for my holiday cookie exchange parties)

White Chocolate Cherry Cookies
(recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens) 

6-10 oz jar of maraschino cherries, drained and finely chopped
2-1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
1/2  cup  sugar
1  cup  cold butter
12  ounces  white chocolate baking chips, finely chopped
1/2  teaspoon  orange extract
2 -4 drops  red food coloring (optional & depending on the color you desire)
2  teaspoons  shortening (you can also use white chocolate candy to dip cookie in & eliminate need for shortening)
    White nonpareils and/or red edible glitter (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread cherries on paper towels to drain well.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in drained cherries and 4 ounces (2/3 cup) of the chopped chocolate. Stir in orange extract and, if desired, food coloring. Knead mixture until it forms a smooth ball.

3. Shape dough into 3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar, flatten balls to 1-1/2-inch rounds.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Cool for 1 minute on cookie sheet. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

5. In a small saucepan or bowl, combine remaining 8 ounces white chocolate and the shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. If you use white chocolate candy melts follow the directions to melt just enough in a microwavable bowl (about 1 1/2 cups).  Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, allowing excess to drip off. If desired, sprinkle edges in nonpareils and/or edible glitter. Place cookies on waxed paper until chocolate is set. Makes about 60.

6. To Store: Layer cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
And as I finish this post, as my husband sleeps on the couch snoring, I think to myself; years from now if it is just like this~ it will be
"A Love Like That".

Friday, January 7, 2011

Along the Way We'll Meet Some Friends

I often like to think of life as a journey~ sometimes we may not know which direction to go, but one thing we must always remember is that we're not alone.  You never know who you'll meet along the way.  
You should greet everyone like they're a potential friend~ a smile can brighten up anyone's day, a single word of kindness can mean more than a long talk  Be sincere, be kind ~ in these days we're often so rushed we forget that a simple act can make a huge impact.

For along the way we'll meet some friends.

With today's technology we have endless possibilities with communications & keeping in touch ~ even connecting with people we'd otherwise never have met ~ or touching base with an old friend. Infinite opportunities to share your passions and creativity~ perfect example~ my blog!  Which I am absolutely loving.  I have been thinking about so many ideas and things to share... this really is exciting!

My fridge is currently overflowing with sweets from the holidays & cupcakes from the contest~ so I'm currently trying to be good and holding off on baking anything else~ it's killing me~ but I've been pretty good at practicing patience lately so... I'll be good.  But I will be baking up something soon to share.  In the meantime...

I'd like to introduce you to another blog; Sweetapolita it really is a charming site ~ I love her blogs & I must say she's got some of the cutest little girls I've ever seen.  So again today I did a few clicks through my favs and came across Sweetapolita's new post including an exciting giveaway & a recipe I am dying to make.  And let me say the title absolutely caught my eye:  Country Vanilla Pie & IceMilk Apron Giveaway doesn't it sound delicious??  Mmm mmm Yum!! 

The aprons are simple yet elegant ~ reminds me of days passed when times were much simpler ~ days of our Grandmothers, mothers or maybe even your youth.  I can't say which one is on my wishlist...

images from IceMilk Aprons website
Sweetapolita is giving you a chance to win a beautiful apron from IceMilk Aprons.  I mean honestly a beautiful apron for the kitchen is like a necessity isn't it?  Plus, finding new & exciting ideas can be like making a new friend.  Enjoy & Good luck!  Thanks Sweetapolita for all your inspiration.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pick Me Pick Me!!

Well if you've read my 2 previous posts, you'll recall how I've made mention of having a few favorite fabulous blogs I like to take a peek at for inspiration & ideas. (if you haven't read them- why not? Just kidding- glad you're here now) Well yeah honestly it may not be just a peek, cause that would mean I briefly take a glance & I'll confess it is like an addiction.  There are so many talented people sharing so many fun ideas & delicious recipes.  You never know what you can create when you let your imagination take control. But that's a whole other post, back to the point.

One of the blogs I've come across is called Sugar & Meringue it has some really cute ideas.  The whole blog is just cute- I love the design & little pictures.  It's saved as one of my favorites.  Anyhow, last night after I finished my post I decided to take a few peeks at my favs and visited Sugar & Meringue and saw  that she has a fun giveaway.  Honestly who doesn't like a chance to win something free??  Honestly!

I loved this for 3 reasons:  1: I love the chance to win something free.  2. I think the dress is beautiful.  3.  I have been looking for new websites with vintage inspired clothing especially dresses. And now I've found one: Shabby Apple  4.  I would love to win this dress.  OH wait, I said 3 reasons didn't I?  And I already mentioned... oh well! 

The fun thing is...
You could have a chance to win this dress too!!  Just click here if you haven't already clicked on one of the other links (I know you may have gotten excited) and read how you can enter for a chance to win. 
Again, honestly who doesn't like to be a winner?  And even if you don't win, you've discovered a cute blog Sugar & Meringue and a new store to shop at Shabby Apple.  Really I just love both those names don't you?  
And your already a winner in my book!
I love giveaways!!  Can't wait to have my own~ oh yeah, I'll be having some giveaways~ I love giving away gifts~ the package & bows.  So keep a look out for my first giveaway!!  But in the meantime, GOOD LUCK with Sugar & Meringue's Shabby Apple Dress Giveaway.  Sugar & Meringue PICK ME PICK ME!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Adventure in Cupcakes

Have you ever seen Cupcake Wars on Food Network?  Well let's just say that's how my Sunday felt.  I love a good challenge and was already starting to feel nostalgic over the holidays ending and no more holiday baking, no more adorable snowman cookies, or gingerbread families.  So what did I do to ease that sad feeling of saying goodbye to holiday sweets baking and treats?  I sat down at my computer and started to look for some new inspirations.  Many of the blogs still had their holiday posts, however Bakerella had a post about this cupcake contest.
Yep- it caught my eye, so out of curiosity I clicked the link and read the details.  At first I think I was half kidding when I mentioned it to my husband, I mean honestly it was already after 10pm and the contest deadline was the next day by 11:59pm what could I be thinking?  However my husband went along with my
ideas.  Maybe he was just humoring me, but he got me excited & my wheels started to turn.
I dreamt of cupcakes that night & in the morning I was still unsure but oh so excited at the possibilities.  To be honest I had never created a cupcake recipe from scratch and especially using some very out of the ordinary ingredients.    So with a list in hand of the 14 adventure ingredients and yep no solid plan still, off to the store I went.  I wasn’t in a hurry I was with 2 preteen girls in a shopping center & I even peeked in Anthropologie.  But once I got home & unpacked the goodies, it all started to fall into place, it was now or never.  

The 14 Adventure Ingredients:
stout beer (oatmeal, chocolate, imperial or any other stout); ricotta; buttermilk; coconut butter, coconut milk or coconut cream; saffron; molasses (light, dark or blackstrap); adzuki bean; fresh beet; sweetened condensed milk; fresh or whole dried chili pepper; bee pollen; meyer lemon; almond flour; and Sumatra coffee bean

You were required to use at least one of the adventure ingredients.  So what did I choose??  I ended up with two cupcake ideas, I couldn’t resist- but would I have time?  After a few kitchen blunders, mind you I love to bake & cook when I have time & actually find it quite calming, but I was now on crunch time.  

My husband remained calm, collective & helpful- he does insist that I flinged icing at him- however I insist it got on him when I was tossing spoons in the sink.  I was moving quickly the clock was ticking.  I had to get these cupcakes baked/icing made & we had to taste them, there was no time for trial & error & I absolutely hate to waste food.  It just had to work!  And we made it, the second recipe was submitted without a minute to waste.  I  felt like I was starring in an episode of Cupcake Wars right here in my own house & honestly I LOVED it!!

So again what did I choose?  Well….

Cupcake #1

 Chili Daze  
(my husband came up with this name)

In this cupcake we used the Chili pepper & ricotta in the batter while the icing had the ricotta, meyer lemon & chili.  It isn't hot, but has a delightfully light bite with the ricotta and delicious Scharffen Berger Chocolate lightening up any bite or spice of chili.  While the icing isn't overly sweet but just simply refreshing.  It's a chocolate cupcake with a twist.

Cupcake #2
 With Every Beet of my Heart
(the first name I came up with when I read beets as an ingredient) 
  Yep one of the ingredients is in the name... beets!  Now I know what you're thinking, but honestly back during a time forgot, people use to grow sugar beets for well SUGAR.  Amazing huh?  But honestly if you tasted it you'd have absolutely NO idea that beets were an ingredient.  Actually the beautiful color added almost makes it appear to be like a Red Velvet cake and again the delicious chocolate makes this another delightful cupcake.  Because I know the fact that a beet is an ingredient, I didn't tell my teenage son before he ate it, while eating it I heard the sounds of a very pleased boy (m mm yum) he even told me "Mom these are delicious, these are the bees knees" (another cupcake name maybe?).  Once I knew it had his seal of approval, I disclosed the ingredient, he replied that he couldn't tell.  He's never had beets before now that I think of it, but I showed him the beet and he wasn't interested in eating that.  He's a teenage boy so believe me he has his opinions, he loves his momma's cooking, but there is certainly things he does not eat (ie: asparagus- however we have found a way to get him to eat it- I'll post that recipe one day when I can convince my hubby to make it).  Even my daughter loves the cupcakes, she likes beets actually but happens to not be a huge sweet tooth or cupcake eater.  She wanted to share one last nigt, but ended up eating it all.  I love it!
So  the ingredients in   'With Every Beet of my Heart' : mashed beets in the chocolate batter while the icing had Chocolate Stout beer and bee pollen added gently in the end.  I could just eat a bowl of icing- it's yummy.  Topped with a candy beet (however my picture doesn't show that, I dressed these today).

This is a competition and I was not going to enter something that didn't amaze me and believe me I was amazed. So I'll be waiting patiently to see if the creations made along side my wonderful husband amazes the judges.  They called for the use of adventure ingredients and a sense of adventure in the recipe, well it sure was an adventure.  I will forever remember that night, no matter the results..... BUT still wish me LUCK!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

How Cracked Eggs & Spilled Milk Came to Be

Let’s just say it wasn’t a sudden ayah moment it has been a moment’s thought here & there, a should I could I, do I dare. And then today with a few days into the New Year, I told myself I have nothing to fear. So here I am with just a few plans- a rhyme and a rhythm for you my friends.

But enough of that, I’ll just cut to the chase and give it to you straight. I have had some extra time on my hands to focus a little on a few of the things I love to do- writing & baking. Honestly I can’t tell you which I love more- guess it just depends on the moment. With the extra time I have also come across some amazing and inspirational blogs- that well inspired me. So over a course of time I played with the idea of creating a blog of my own to share some fun recipes, stories and pictures- things that inspire me & will hopefully inspire you.
The name came to me after seeing a picture of cracked eggs and then I thought- life is kind of like cracked eggs and spilled milk at times. As is being in the kitchen- whether you love being in the kitchen or hate it or have a love/hate relationship- we have all had that moment of frustration, when we felt like we could cry over the cracked eggs and spilled milk. When you’re trying a new recipe and nothing seems to be going right, or you have company coming over on short notice & you’re not sure what to serve, or you drop an egg and it was the last one left, or the milk spilled all over the counter. Yeah that’s life- it happens to us all, those little blunders. But as with each bite of a delicious meal or dessert that just melts in your mouth. Life has those beautiful moments’ ones you’ll cherish forever. And we mustn’t fret over things we have no control.
So with a start of a New Year I decided it was time to make some plans and stick to them- I don’t think I want to call them resolutions because well, honestly I don’t think anyone ever really sticks to those. So we’ll just call it; a list of “to-do’s”- I think I can make a list and feel accomplished when I cross a few off.

Create a Food Blog 1/3/11
Enter a Cupcake contest Created 2 cupcakes recipes in less than 6 hours whew. 1/2/11
Finish my Script & learn Final Draft
Drink more water
Read more
Write more of my children’s story
Bake More
Take more pictures
Start & finish a scrap book

I won’t bore you with a complete list of my to-do’s- I’m sure you have your fair share. I hope one of them is to come back to my blog to check for new entries. I promise to share a combination of fun things- if it’s not completely homemade I’ll show you a few tips and tricks to dress it up pretty (honestly they’ll never know then). And if you have any suggestions or requests send them my way- life is about the adventure & I am willing to try new things and share.