Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are my idea of the perfect breakfast. I don't know how I've been blogging for this long without posting a cinnamon roll recipe, but I'm going to change that today. I absolutely love cinnamon rolls; tender sweet dough swirled with spicy cinnamon and rich brown sugar. Top with  a simple powdered sugar glaze, a rich and buttery cream cheese frosting, or even a gooey combination of butter and brown sugar, they are all so good. 

This time of year I'm always drawn to pumpkin cinnamon rolls. I love the beautiful golden color that pumpkin gives to the dough, along with lots of moisture to keep the dough tender and not at all dry. Adding some of the spices directly to the dough really amps up the flavor and makes the finished product just that much more delicious. These rolls are simple, tender and delicious, not to mention beautiful. A perfect early winter breakfast for a lazy weekend morning or a wonderful addition to any Christmas brunch spread. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thomas Train 2nd Birthday Cupcakes

Just a couple of weeks ago my nephew turned 2 years old. It's amazing how fast he's grown. (Check out his first birthday here). All of a sudden it seems like he is talking nonstop and running around everywhere, it's so much fun, and super cute! My sister-in-law Lindsey once again asked Lara and I if we would be willing to make some cupcakes for his birthday party. Of course I said yes! It's only one of my all time favorite reasons to bake. I love baking cakes and cupcakes for birthdays and other special occasions. They are so fun to make, and can be so festive and celebratory. 

Since the theme of the birthday party was going to be Thomas the Tank Engine she asked that we just make a couple dozen cupcakes of any flavor and frost them simply with red and blue frosting to match the theme. This was simple enough to do of course. I just went to my trusty Martha cookbook, Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and picked out her yellow and a chocolate cupcake recipes and whipped them together. Simple and delicious! Lara frosted them in the Thomas blue and red and then Linsey finished them off with some super cute Thomas flags. I think they turned out adorable, and at the party Lindsey had them arranged as the cars of a Thomas train, super cute. It was a wonderful party and a great way to celebrate Tyce's second birthday!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pumpkin Cornbread

I think every good meal should have a starch of some kind, whether that's some kind of bread, pasta, rice, potato, you know what I mean. When I had my brother and sister-in-law over for lunch a few weeks ago I decided to make chicken fajitas and even though I had already made some soft flour tortillas, that was more of the main dish and I decided that we needed something else on the side, some kind of starch. I have had this pumpkin cornbread pinned for a while now, and since it is fall and I'm in the pumpkin spirit it sounded like the perfect thing. 

It was the perfect thing. I thought this cornbread was absolutely delicious. I'm a big cornbread fan in general so it wasn't too big of a jump for me to love this recipe too. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that it is fairly healthy as cornbread goes. I like my cornbread sweet and moist, I am not a big fan of the leaner, dry and crumbly cornbread that some people like. A lot of recipes (my favorite Cornbread Muffins included) are nice and rich, full of butter, milk and sugar. All good things but sometimes I want something a little leaner and this recipe fit the bill. 1/4 cup oil is the main fat, and I think next time I'll see what happens if I replace some of the oil with yogurt. Some sugar and a few eggs round out the main ingredients, and the pumpkin too of course, a nice amount of it for a good amount of moisture. They all come together to create this perfectly delicious, and beautifully golden cornbread, good as a simple side dish with any meal all year long. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I truly do love all holidays, but there is something special about Thanksgiving. Everyone gets together on the same day every year and stuffs themselves with turkey and all the trimmings. The camaraderie makes me smile, and the fact that the main focus of a lot of people (myself included) is the food makes me love the day even more. For one day I am not the only one doing all of the food talk. 

My sister Lara and I made the Thanksgiving meal for our family again this year. We have such a fun time doing it and have been thinking about it and preparing for weeks. Instead of going full out and roasting an entire turkey we decided to do something a little different this year. One of my biggest pet peeves about Thanksgiving is that the turkey hogs the oven for the entire morning and I can't use it for anything else. (I am jealous of everyone who has more than one oven in their house.) We decided to utilize the grill instead. And for a different spin on the traditional we skipped the whole turkey and decided to grill up a whole bunch of turkey kabobs. 

It turned out great! I loved not cooking an entire turkey, and it was fun to use the grill while standing in a bit of snow. An experience for sure. We tried to keep the sides simple and light as well because that's how we like to eat. Everything went off without a hitch, we were so happy with how it all turned out. I would definitely do it again next year!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chocolate Cocoa Nib Biscotti

It's time for another biscotti recipe. One of my favorite baked goods to make. I love the transformation from long, flat log of dough, into cute, crunchy little cookies. It amazes me every time. I also love how long they last in an airtight container in my cupboard. This is one of the few baked goods I make that I don't freeze right away. Because they are completely dried out they don't really go stale or lose their texture, at least not very fast anyway. 

This chocolate cocoa nib biscotti turned out perfectly. I decided to add a few cocoa nibs to the dough and I loved the combination with the chocolate chips. The cocoa nibs add a different flavor and texture to the cookie that really help them stand out. A hint of espresso powder in the dough complements the chocolate and brings all the flavors together into a perfectly balanced treat.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sour Cream Banana Bread

Sometimes that going back to the basics is just what I need. There's something amazingly comforting to me about a slice of good old banana bread, plain and unadulterated. My mom used to make it all the time growing up, and it was always a favorite. She never seemed to stick to the recipe and ended up adding way more bananas then it called for. This meant she always had to bake it for way longer than the recipe said, and even then it didn't seem to quite cook through. But that was okay with everyone, we all love the slightly gooey top part of undercooked banana bread, yum!

I had a little bit of sour cream left over a little while back and was looking around for some way to use it up. I can never let things like this go bad, it seems like such a waste, and it gives me an excuse to bake. What a problem, I HAD TO bake something! I found this banana bread and it was the perfect way to use up the little bit of sour cream I had left - only 1/4 cup needed. Other than this, the recipe is pretty basic; butter, flour, sugar, eggs. It turned out a simple, yet wonderful bread that used up my sour cream, as well as some of my super ripe bananas. Broiled in the oven until the edges are just crispy and then smeared with a little peanut butter, topped with some cinnamon sugar, breakfast is served, and it is oh so delicious. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Salted Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies, always a winner and my go-to dessert when I'm stuck in a rut and can't decide what to make. Even though I think I have dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes, and I think they are all delicious, it's always fun to try something new. When I saw these cookies they just called to me. The addition of a hint of espresso as well as some whole wheat flour sounded like the perfect combination of bitterness and nuttiness to help these cookies stand out. And I was right, another winner for my chocolate chip cookie collection. They turned out slightly soft and gooey in the center with a touch of crunch around the edge. I love the combination of espresso and chocolate that brings a bit of sophistication and complexity to a simple cookie.