April 28, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls

I love the smell of St. Cinnamon's or Cinnabon. If I'm in a mall, the smell is just arresting and makes me crave the delicious, soft, gooey and moist cinnamon rolls. I rarely enjoy this treat, but yesterday I had a lazy day and decided to get my hands dirty and take a stab at making my own.

Our whole loft smelled de-li-ci-ous. The cinnamon wafted through our home, creeping into every nook and cranny; it was wonderful! The cinnamon rolls themselves were really good and now I have an understanding just how easy they are. With the rise times, they do take awhile, but you can prepare the dough a day in advance and then slap on the butter, let them rise for a bit and then throw them in the oven in the morning for a brunch treat. So delicious and extremely impressive.


  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm homogenized milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup butter cut into 12 pieces
Cinnamon Butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup pecan halves, toasted, if desired
  • 1 ½ cup icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp whipping cream


Prepare the dough. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside.

In the mixer bowl, stir together the yeast and milk. Let stand until the yeast begins to foam – about five minutes. Add eggs. Mix in flour mixture ¼ cup at a time until combined.

Using your dough hook, add butter, one piece at a time, incorporating each piece before adding the next. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Cover and let dough rise for 1 ½ hours until doubled in size.

Prepare the cinnamon butter. Place brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and mix until smooth.

Uncover dough and punch down several times to work out air bubbles. Turn dough onto a floured surface and roll into an 18x11” rectangle.


Spread cinnamon butter over surface evenly and sprinkle with ground pecans.


(I didn't have any pecans, but this is where you'd add them)

Starting with a long side, roll dough up jelly roll style and cut into 12 equal pieces and place cut side up in a pan.


(um, they didn't all work out!)

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes until doubled in size.


Bake at 350 degrees until rolls are golden brown – about 35 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and whipping cream. Add water until desired consistency is achieved.

Drizzle glaze over cinnamon rolls.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from The Mixer Bible

Download a printable version of the Cinnamon Rolls recipe

April 26, 2010

Roasted Chicken

I have never successfully roasted a whole chicken in a crock pot. We've tried at least three times and each time, a flavourless chicken with soggy skin came out.

Last week though, whole chickens were on sale so I decided to give it one last shot. I scoured the internet for a good recipe and merged a few based on what I had on hand. This one rejected the crock pot and that soggy skin and instead instructed me to put the chicken in the oven. A novel idea.

It was easy to make, smelled delicious and most of all, tasted great with moist meat and crispy skin. I prepared this in advance and T put it in the oven when he came home from work. When I got home, our whole condo smelled delicious.

It was tough to not cut into it immediately when it came out of the oven, but I think the most critical step is letting it rest for 15 minutes so all the juices can be reabsorbed making the chicken moist, instead of running all over your cutting board.

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • fresh garlic cloves
  • spices -- I used a tsp each of dried oregano, basil and rosemary, though I'm sure fresh would have been even better, and this is just what I had, so go ahead and try other combinations
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil

Put spices in a small bowl and add oil. Mix together.

Cut lemon in half, rough chop the onion and peel and smash garlic cloves. You won't be eating these, they're just for flavour while the chicken is cooking

Rinse chicken and stuff with lemon, onion and garlic

Pour oil and spices over chicken and rub in with your hands

I used the twine that came on the chicken to tie his legs back together, but it wasn't necessary

Place on a baking sheet and let this sit in the fridge for a bit to marinate

Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 1 hour, 15 minutes

Important: once you take it out of the oven, let it sit for 15 minutes while all the juices reabsorb into the meat, making it truly melt in your mouth

I have no good recommendations for how to cut a chicken well, but know that it's a bit messy but still delicious

April 18, 2010

Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

This recipe looked right up my alley: you can't go wrong with peanut butter and oatmeal and I was right!

These cookies were pretty simple but look impressive so you could easily make them for a party. If you were doing that though, you'd probably want to make them smaller because it is a lot of cookie and cream -- but that's not always a bad thing.

Printer-friendly version of recipe


For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup quick oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • scant 1/4 cup butter (really, more like 1/8)
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp heavy cream

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and mix to combine.

In a mixing bowl, mix together the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until smooth.

Add the egg and vanilla.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients (not the oatmeal yet) and mix until combined.

Fold in the oatmeal.

Next, roll into small balls and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Leave space between each ball so they can spread out. Mine were about the size of timbits, but I found them a bit large for the sandwich cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and let cool on wire rack.

While they're in the oven, you can make the filling. In a mixing bowl, blend the peanut butter, butter and icing sugar. Slowly add the heavy cream one tablespoon at a time. You want the consistency to be like icing, so not too thick and not too runny.

Spoon the icing into a piping bag or even a ziploc bag. (in the ziploc, cut off a small tip in the corner). On half of the cookies, pipe the icing on.

Place another cookie on top and press down so the icing oozes out to the sides. 

Grab a glass of milk and enjoy!

Perfect Salad Dressing

I love salad. We eat it all the time and often as a side for our dinners for a light alternative -- plus, it's the easiest side to make.

For Christmas, I got a salad dressing mixer along with my aunt's favourite recipe for a delicious, go-with-everything vinaigrette.


  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • pinch of sugar
  • Mix!
Our favourite salad is this dressing with mixed greens, craisins, pecans, goat cheese and sliced pear or apple. Fancy enough for company but easy to make for two. Mmm!

April 13, 2010

Jumbo Stuffed Shells with Spinach and Ricotta

I'm becoming more flexible in my cooking. For example, I thought I was going to make lasagna rolls until I realized I didn't have lasagna noodles. So I used what I had -- jumbo shells -- and dinner still turned out great!

This is a great meal to make in advance for a couple of easy weeknight dinners.

  • 1 box jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 tub ricotta cheese
  • 1 box frozen spinach
  • 1 cup parmesan
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta in salted water until al dente.

Rinse with cold water and let cool off.

Thaw spinach and press well to drain water out.

In a separte bowl, mix together ricotta, spinach, garlic, egg, parmesan, salt and pepper.

Pour a thin layer of tomato sauce in a lasagna pan.

Stuff pasta shells with a spoonful of mixture. Now, the shells are closed like a clam, so it may look challenging to stuff, but if you put it in your hand lengthwise, squeezing your hand will help open it up to stuff. It doesn't have to be neat.

Arrange in lasagna pan.

Cover with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. (I also didn't realize that I didn't have mozzarella cheese...)

Cover with tinfoil and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes until cheese is bubbling.

Mocha Buttercream Chocolate Cake

I have had the same birthday cake my whole life. Chocolate cake with mocha buttercream icing. It's simple, delicious and a classic cake.

The cake we make is extra moist. It's the Duncan Hines Extra Moist Chocolate Fudge, and then, unlike on the box, we add one box of Jello instant vanilla pudding (4 serving), 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of oil and 1 cup of water.

But it's the icing that makes this one special, so here is our family's secret recipe:


  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 squares of semisweet baker's chocolate
  • 6 tbsp cold, double strength coffee
  • 1 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt

In a small bowl, melt chocolate squares on low heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together butter and icing sugar.

Add egg yolks, one at a time.

Add vanilla, chocolate and salt, mixing until combined.

Slowly add coffee, one tablespoon at a time, mixing very well, especially around the edges.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Slowly add egg whites, one dollop at a time, back into icing.

Cut your cake into three sections -- I use thread for the neatest cut. Take a really, really long piece of thread and fold into four sections so it's still about 2 feet long. 

Hold it at the back of the cake and slowly bring your hands together until they cross. 

Separate the layers and using an icing knife and a offset spatula to ice. Use 1/4 of the icing for each layer and 1/2 for the whole cake.

April 5, 2010

Three Cheese and Garlic Scalloped Potatoes

Do you like cheesy, garlicky, creamy, heavenly carbohydrates like I do?

If so, these three cheese and garlic scalloped potatoes are for you! I served these with ham at Easter and they were the perfect side dish.

Ingredients (this made enough to fill my lasagna pan)

  • about 10 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 cups of old cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices of provolone
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of cream (I used 2/3 10% cream mixed with 1/3 skim milk)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I used jarred garlic and used one heaping tablespoon -- mmm...garlic)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Grease a casserole dish (note that I used a lasagna pan, so adjust the recipe accordingly for your size of container)

Layer 1/3 of the potatoes slices at the bottom of the dish. Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Drop garlic over the layer. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cheddar cheese over the layer and then add salt and pepper.

Repeat two more times (three layers in total)

On top, place the sliced provolone.

Cover with tinfoil and bake for an hour.

Then sprinkle parmesan cheese over top and bake for another 30 minutes until cheese is bubbled and brown and it's easy to stick a knife through the potatoes.

When you take these out, you may want to use a paper towel to seep up some of the oil from the cheese.

I forgot to take a final picture, but trust me, they were oozing with deliciousness!!! And the whole pan was eaten by only 10 people! That's the sign of a good side.

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake


This dessert is A-W-E-S-O-M-E. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and definitely worth the work.

I served this after a pretty heavy Easter dinner and while it was utterly decadent, it is a light dessert that didn't leave you feeling full.

Yes. It's a lot of chocolate.
Yes. It's a lot of whipping cream.
Yes. It's a couple of hours of work.
But. It's definitely worth it.


Bottom Layer:
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped finely)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • pinch table salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
Middle Layer:
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons hot water
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (chopped finely)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • pinch table salt
Top Layer:
  • 3/4 teaspoon powder gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 6 ounces white chocolate (chopped finely)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream


Bottom layer

Melt butter, chocolate and coffee in double boiler.

Cool for at least 10 minutes and mix in egg yolks and vanilla

In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy (about 30 seconds) and then beat on high with brown sugar until soft peaks form (a few minutes)

Slowly fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. Pour batter into greased springform pan

Bake at 325 degrees in the middle rack for 13-18 minutes until middle is just set but still soft to the touch. 

Cool for at least one hour before putting next layer on. Note that it will collapse while cooling.

Middle Layer

First, mix the cocoa with the hot water in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt chocolate in double boiler and let cool for another 10 minutes.

In a clean bowl, mix the whipping cream, sugar and salt at medium speed until the cream begins to thicken. Then, mix at high and whip until soft peaks form.

Whisk cocoa mixture into chocolate mixture, then fold in whipping cream until no white streaks remain. 

Pour on top of first layer, gently smoothing top with off set spatula. Put in fridge for at least 15 minutes while preparing the next layer.

Top Layer

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water. This will make an odd paste, don't worry!

Bring 1/2 cup of cream to a simmer and mix gelatin mixture in and stir until fully dissolved.

Pour over white chocolate in another bowl and mix until fully melted. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Beat the rest of the cream until soft peaks form. Fold into white chocolate mixture.

Pour over second layer and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for 2.5 hours.

Next, make chocolate curls and arrange over the top.

Next time, I would clean the knife after each cut to avoid that chocolate run in the white chocolate.

I'd also like to learn how to make really big chocolate curls as mine were more like shavings. Any ideas?

Overall, an amazing dessert and well worth the work!


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