Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns surprisingly don't have that much cinnamon in them. Not the recipe I used anyways. There's very little to be changed in baking and this recipe had the reviews to back it up.

I made extra frosting - because, I know my people. Other than that, I don't have a bread machine so I did it the old fashioned way. I have a big old jar of yeast so I used that and I used butter instead of margarine. I did a bit of kneading with my hands but I used my kitchen aid mixer with the dough hook mostly.

Here is the tip from another reviewer:

"Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands dusted lightly with flour. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Then pick up with rolling out the dough. Hope this helped!"

When I let things rise I always turn my oven on to about 180-200 and once its heated turn it off - I then let the dough rise in the oven with the door slightly open. You won't get a better rise. Cover it with a damp cloth or towel though - it can get a bit crusty.

I baked mine at 350 for about 17 minutes - they turned out the same. We were in a bit of a time crunch and my oven takes a long time to heat. More than those extra 2 minutes.

This recipe is 100% fine on its own though - I've made it several times.

Clone of a Cinnabon

Monday, July 23, 2012

S'mores Brownies

I'm not a huge fan of chocolate. This is probably one of the only chocolate recipes I will ever post. But its definitely a good one.

The only thing I changed about this recipe was instead of buttering the baking pan I lined it with parchment paper. You probably don't need more calories than is in here already. In the pictures you can see I leave some paper hanging out. I do 2 sheets, one each direction, it makes it super easy to just pull out of the pan. And then there's pretty much no clean up at all! I also made this recipe at a later date in my two bite brownie pan and topped it with mini marshmallows.

This is a dense recipe, I recommend 16-24 bars over the original recipes suggested 12. I did put these into a calorie calculator (Feel free to look away, I'm about to ruin this recipe), making 36 two bite brownies each one is over 150 calories. They are a great addition to a dessert table though, so you maybe only have one or two!

The marshmallow is the best part, don't cover the brownie completely though or it will take soooo long to cook. I don't have a convection oven, so I assume that is why this recipe always takes me about an hour to bake. I would start checking it after the 30 minutes, it's always taken me at least 45. Even then, a cake tester will not come out clean. At least it hasn't for me. The two bite brownie pan only took 30 minutes.

These freeze well and everyone that I've ever made them for has loved them. Here's my adapted version of the recipe.

S'mores Brownies
(Adapted slightly from Williams Sonoma)

1 Cup unsalted butter

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/3 cups cake flour
3 Tbs. natural cocoa powder
6 graham crackers, roughly crushed with your hands
About 12 jumbo marshmallows or 50 mini ones for two bite


Preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 9x13 Baking Dish with Parchment, leaving ends hanging over sides. See Picture below.

In a saucepan (min 4 qt) over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring often, for about 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the granulated sugar and brown sugar. 

Whisk in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. 

Whisk in the vanilla and salt.

Sift the flour and cocoa over the chocolate mixture and, using a stiff rubber spatula, stir in until just blended.

Stir in the crumbled graham crackers. Pour into the prepared dish and spread evenly, or scoop with a portioned cookie scoop into Two bite pan (makes 36)

Bake for 20 minutes, and then place the marshmallows on the top of the brownie. This will give the browie a chance to cook with out the marshmallow insulation. 

Bake another 10 to 30 minutes, depending on oven. Start checking for doneness at 30 minutes total. 

Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let cool, then cut into squares. Makes 12-24 brownies depending on desired size.

Still Baking:


Finished Product:

Two Bite:

Key Lime Cheesecake

Cheese is my favourite food group. Well Dairy I guess, but cheese is truly all that matters to me in there. Cheese in desert? Yes please. This was my very first attempt at making Cheesecake. It turned out great. Other than the cracks, but if you can be sure of one thing with Cheesecake its that it will indeed crack.

I followed the recipe pretty closely - other than I used vanilla wafer cookies instead of the graham crackers. It took me 2 bags of key limes to get the amount of juice and zest I needed. I also added a squirt of lemon juice to balance the tartness and only used 1/2 cup of the lime juice as recommended by another reviewer. I would also recommend that you butter your pan and pre-bake your crust. Just 10 - 15 minutes at 300 degrees in the oven to set it and to help get it out.

We paired it with some ice wine. Just for fun!

Key Lime Cheesecake

Chicken Risotto

I had a date night with one of my best friends and she desperately wanted to learn to make Risotto. I'm a believer of the saying, "If you can read, you can cook" (the same is not true for baking). I'd never made risotto but I figured, Why not? It can't be that hard. And it wasn't.

I'm pretty sure I did this exact recipe except I only used 2 or 3 Chicken breasts (as I'm not the biggest fan), used onion flakes instead of an onion and used basmati rice instead of regular rice. But I don't think any of these things had a huge impact on the recipe itself. I also added spinach, because in my opinion you just don't get enough greens.

Chicken Risotto

Shepherds Pie - With Brisket

Since this is my most viewed recipe of all time, I decided to post it in full instead of just the links.

I work at a Williams Sonoma. Its great. I own every major cooking appliance, utensil, pot, pan, you name it - I've got it. It also gives me a great opportunity to work with trained chefs and to try some great foods without having to risk it myself first. One of the girls I work with made this and I was hooked. You'll never have regular Shepherds Pie again.

First you're going to want to cook your brisket. I say first because in a dutch oven or slow cooker this is going to take 3 - 6 hours. You need the jar of Brisket starter from Williams Sonoma. It makes it. But I'm sure you can do this with your own sauce just the same. I always do the oven version.

(Adapted from Braised Beef Brisket)

1 flat-end beef brisket, 3 to 3½ lb. or large flank steak
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 jar brisket starter*
12 oz. carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias


Season the brisket or flank steak (I used the steak) on both sides with salt and pepper.

Slow-cooker method: In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Sear the brisket until well browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a slow cooker and add the brisket starter and carrots. Cover and cook on high according to the manufacturer’s instructions until tender, about 5 hours.

Oven method: Preheat an oven to 300°F. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Sear the brisket until well browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Reduce the heat to medium, add the brisket starter, carrots and 1 cup water and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil, place the lid on top and transfer to the oven. Bake until the brisket is tender, about 4 hours.

Once your Brisket is done, follow the Shepherds Pie recipe below. You won't regret it.

Brisket Shepherd's Pie
(Adapted slightly from Shepherd's Pie)


2 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cup milk
2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
3/4 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
3 cups shredded braised brisket (see above)
2 cups sauce from brisket or 1 cup beef broth
1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme


In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the potatoes, water to cover and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain well.

Pass the potatoes through a ricer into a bowl, or mash in the bowl with a potato masher. Add the milk and 1 Tbs. of the butter, and beat with a wooden spoon or with a handheld mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Meanwhile, in another large saucepan over medium heat, melt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the peas, brisket, sauce and thyme and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, 7 to 10 minutes.

Preheat a broiler.

Spoon the hot filling into a shallow baking dish, I used the same braiser I cooked in originally. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the filling. Place under the broiler and broil until the potatoes are tinged with brown, about 1 minute. Serve directly from the baking dish. Serves 6-8.


Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

I make a lot of cupcakes. I share them, I freeze them, I gift them and I most definitely eat them. If you're dieting, this is not the recipe for you. The 24 cupcakes will have over 1 pound of butter in them, which of course adds to their greatness.

I doubled this recipe too. When I decide to bake, I bake a bunch. Its worth it to me. These cupcakes, this icing, they froze great - although were a little dry after thawing. But still tasted excellent.

I would probably make this recipe again - but separate. Maybe the icing with vanilla cupcakes or the cupcakes with Vanilla or Chocolate Icing. The were definitely good but I prefer a bit of mix when it comes to flavouring and these don't have an intense flavour. You could probably add more Dulce de Leche and get away with it. For those of you that like Vanilla with Vanilla - these are your cupcakes (a bit outside the box).

You need the thick, rich dulce de leche, the thin eagle brand might not cut it. I have't tried but if you're going to the trouble of this recipe you should invest (or make) the good stuff. I froze these cupcakes after they had been iced and they thawed and still tasted great. If you haven't made swiss meringue buttercream before, read through some of the other posts. This one worked really well for me, which was great since it was my first one. I think the thicker dulce de leche helped, the thinner flavour additive you use, the better chance it will look like it curdled and you may have some problems.

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
(Adapted from Tracey's Culinary Adventure's)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dulce de leche
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Dulce de Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups  sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 lb (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup dulce de leche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Whisk both flours, the baking powder and baking soda together in a medium bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the dulce de leche, continuing to beat until completely incorporated.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the oil and vanilla.  With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients (in 3 additions) and the buttermilk (in 2 additions), beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until incorporated.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans, filling each well about 2/3 - 3/4 full.  Bake the cupcakes for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites, sugar and salt together.  Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160 F on an instant read thermometer.

Secure the bowl on the mixer and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.  Beat the  mixture on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, and the outside of the mixer bowl is cool to the touch, about 7-8 minutes.  With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, waiting until each piece is incorporated before adding the next.  Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is thick and smooth, 3-4 minutes.  Mix in the dulce de leche and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip.  Frost the cupcakes.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Pretzel Bites & Beer Cheese Dip

I made these once for a New York themed party and they will now forever be a staple in my home.

I doubled the recipe which made about 2 Large Freezer bags full of these - OR 1 Large Freezer Bag and 9-1- Full sized Soft Pretzels. If you're going to double the recipe you either need to work in 2 batches or have a 6 or 7 Qt Mixer. My 5 Qt could hardly handle a single.

Every one loved these at my party and now I get so many requests to bring them to other parties, camping, ect. I changed nothing (except I used salted butter so I took out the salt). I love them. That simple.

Pretzel Bites

I did also make this Beer Cheese Dip below to go with them at one point - another hit. It also will work great as a fondue. Note that it will solidify and separate if not over heat or warm. Easy to bring back though through a double boiler or back in the sauce pan.

Here's the recipe:

3/4 pound Sharp Cheddar
1 TBSP Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Sweet Paprika
2 TBSP Butter
1 Clove Garlic - Chopped/Grated
3/4 Cup Ale or Pilsner
1 tsp Worcesetershire

Cut the cheese into Cubes about 1.5cm.

Toss the cheese cubes with the Cornstarch, mustard and paprika.

Melt Butter in a sauce pan, add the garlic until soft.

Pour in beer (I used Canadian) and Worcestershire and bring to a slow simmer.

Gradually add cheese until Melted.

Margarita Cupcakes

Dare I say these are probably my favourite cupcakes I've ever made? Yes.

My friends and I wanted to have a bit of a girls day and although I have a bit of an OCD about baking and cooking in my own kitchen I sort of let them help. Since there were 4 of us and we all wanted something out of this recipe we doubled it and made 50 cupcakes.

Be warned, this takes a long time- mainly the icing. And I'd highly recommend practising Swiss Meringue Butter Cream before you try it with other people. However - plain buttercream has NOTHING on this egg based recipe. I also had enough left over to pipe decorate a single layer cake after also doubling it. You probably don't need to.

Other than the doubling the only thing I did differently was tint the icing green for St Pats and added extra tequila - I'd suggest a decent one. Although you don't taste it heavily, it is there and you'll regret a foul tasting one. Truthfully, I'd probably add more if I made these again but they were pretty well perfect the way they were.

Here's the recipe: Margarita Cupcakes

And a photo!

I may have turned the speed on my mixer Waaaay up instead of locking it. If you look behind me you can see the mess on the counter.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes *ahem* Muffins

Maple Bacon everything has been popping up all over the place lately so I went on a hunt to find something I'd probably like. These are pretty great for breakfast but as I mention in my title they definitely turned to Muffins. They were alot heavier than any cupcake I'd ever had anyways.

I doubled the recipe and I did add a bit more Icing Sugar as suggested to the icing. It was still incredibly runny. I would not add butter - that is probably the best thing I've learnt about cream cheese icing. I also ended up with closer to 40 muffins with a doubled recipe - which was great as I was having a party. They were definitely a favourite among the boys.

I'll upload a picture soon!

Here's the recipe: Maple Bacon "________"

Chicken & Turkey Chili

This all started out as a friendly competition between my boyfriend and I, who could make a better chili? Surely I could? I sell all the ingredients to make it, sell all the tools to make it, how could I lose? I set out to find the best recipe I could find as a solid base recipe to alter to my tastes in order to win. The first site I obviously turned to was Allrecipes - a personal favourite of mine. The thing was, not only did I want to win (no question) but I wanted to make my chili a bit healthier. I decided on the fusion chili recipe below as a good base but I added a lot and changed alot.

Now the recipe calls for 6 pounds of meat. There was no way that was happening. I used 3 pounds and it was more than enough (unless you're cooking for 20, I got a solid 12 portions out of this). Instead of the meats listed I figured this was my chance to make it healthier (ish). I used 1.5 pounds of the Johnsonville Turkey Hot Italian Sausages - All turkey and spice. These are great on their own too. And 1 pound of lean ground chicken thigh. Thats the dark meat. It has more flavour and pretty much the same in the way of calories/fat. Not to mention its about half the cost. If you can't find (or don't want to spend) the Italian Turkey Sausages you can use plain old ground turkey - just make sure to adjust the seasoning.

Chicken and Turkey Chili
Slightly Adapted from Here

1 Can Chipoltes in Adobo Sauce
1.5 pounds hot Italian Turkey sausage, casings
1 pound ground Chicken
1 red onion, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1 cup diced celery
10 cloves garlic, grated
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 (5.5 ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine or espresso
3 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup hot sauce ( I Used Franks thick)
1 tablespoon Chipolte chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup honey
30-36 Ounces Beans, I used Eden Organic Kidney Beans
2 Ears of Corn or about 1 Cup


1. In a small food processor add contents of Chipolte Peppers in Adobo Can and puree until smooth.

2. Place turkey sausage (if using the sausages, cut the casings and squeeze out the meat) and ground chicken in a large, dutch oven, I used a 5 QT. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove meat from pan, and set aside. In the same pot, Heat meat drippings over medium heat, you may need to add a touch of oil depending on amount of drippings. Saute onions, celery and garlic until onions are soft and translucent. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in tomato paste, and allow to caramelize. Pour in wine or espresso to deglaze the pot, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom.

3. Stir in cooked meat, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce. Season with chili powder and cumin. Bring to a boil, then stir in blended chili mixture and honey. Add as much or as little of the chili mixture as you would like. I Added about 3/4 of it. Carefully mix in kidney beans pinto beans without breaking them. Cover, and simmer for 3 hours. Stir and scrape the bottom every hour or so

4. Just before you're about to serve, either broil the corn or roast it on the BBQ and stir in the cooked kernels.

As you can see it makes a pretty full pot. 

Serve with No Fat Greek Yogurt, Cheese and Chips or some Dinner Rolls.

I won the Chili Cook Off.

Szechwan Seafood

I wanted to make something that was more on the healthy side versus my usual red meat or pasta choice. I decided on some Seafood, with a kick. I bought the biggest scallops I could find - about 1 - 2 inches in diameter and some large (pre-cooked, deveined) Shrimp.

I made this exact recipe from All Recipes with the exception of I added in the scallops and used fresh ginger instead of from a spice jar.

Since my shrimp were already cooked I put them aside while I seared the scallops in a small amount of the oil, onions and garlic on both sides until they were a medium brown. While the scallops were cooking I took the tails off my shrimp.

After I took the Scallops out of the pan I added a touch of butter and put about 1/4 of the pan "drippings" into my basmati rice I had cooking. Helped marry the two together I thought - as I served the seafood on this.

I had taken a reviewers suggestion and premade the sauce, I put in a small saucepan - 1 to 2 qt let it come to a boil and then threw my Seafood in. I let it all simmer together for 3-5 minutes.

I served it on top of the rice with the extra sauce on top and beside a Spinach, Strawberry and Avocado salad. I paired this with the Grey Monk Gewurztraminer.

I will definitely make this again however I'll add more chili flakes and ginger for sure. I generally like my food a bit spicier.

Picture to follow.

Szechwan Seafood