Sunday, April 29

Pineapple Walnut Sticky Buns

Things that I learned this weekend:

1) Just because the cab company says they will be outside in 15 minutes, doesn't mean they're even coming. Not even in 30 minutes. Not even tomorrow.
2) Cabs won't go near my neighborhood at 4 PM on a Friday.
3) When you miss your bus to DC it's probably a blessing in disguise because now you have to take the train that you were too cheap to just book in the first place.
4) Amtrak is $94 to DC from Philadelphia and it's probably worth every penny. Despite being ridiculously over priced.
5) Saki bombing with awesome people is a really good way to forget about all of this nonsense.
6) It's not really summer yet. Joke's on me. Brr.
7) Pancakes that are made with oats and yogurt taste like little circles of oatmeal. Adding berries doesn't help. Covering them in syrup does.
8) I should have just made this for breakfast instead.
9) Silver cleaning really is a smelly process.
10) Being that I should be vacuuming right now, I think I really do have procrastination issues.
11) Having a clean house and warm sticky buns is a really great feeling. I am so domestic.

The thing about making sticky buns is that you shouldn't do it if you want to leave your house. It should be reserved for those special Sundays when you're going to stay home doing laundry anyway and you really need to vacuum.

It takes around 3 hours to make sticky buns. 4 if you're like me and you get distracted. It's not all active time; the dough has to rise of course. But there are 3 components to make (dough, filling and topping) and you have to shape and roll the buns.

And then of course, you'll want time to devour them.

Pineapple Walnut Sticky Buns
Makes 15 buns


1/3 c sugar
1tsp salt
4 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
1c very warm milk
4 c ap flour
1/4 c butter, softened

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 tsp corn starch
1 1/2 c chopped pineapple (if you are using frozen, defrost first and drain)
1/2 c chopped walnuts

2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 c chopped walnuts
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the dough: In a large bowl, combine yeast, salt and sugar. Pour warm milk over top and whisk to combine. Wait 5 minutes. You won't see bubbles as is typical for activating yeast, but you will be able to smell and feel the warmth of the yeast activating. Add flour, butter and egg. Stir until combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or knead with a dough hook for 2-3. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hrs or until it has doubled in size.

Towards the end of the dough rising process (I waited about an hour), melt 1 c brown sugar and 1/2 c butter over low heat. Add corn starch and pineapple. Raise the heat to medium, then bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour into the bottom of an ungreased 11x9 pan. Add 1/2 c chopped walnuts. Set aside.

Mix together 1/3 c brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Set aside.

After dough has fully risen, punch it down, then turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle about 15" x 10". Coat the rectangle with melted butter then spread the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture out on top. Sprinkle with the remaining walnuts.

Starting with the longer (15") side, roll the dough up tightly into a spiral. Cut the roll into 1" pieces. Arrange these pieces in the 11X9" pan, setting slightly apart. Cover the pan and buns loosely with plastic wrap and allow the buns to rise for another 30 minutes.

During this time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once dough has risen the 2nd time, bake the rolls for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to set for a few minutes. Then, turn the rolls out onto a serving platter (I used a spring form pan, this way I could put sides back on it for storage). Best served warm. Or snacked on throughout the day.

Sunday, April 22

Dark Chocolate & Dried Apricot Oatmeal Cookies

I'm sooo guilty of procrastination right now, it's not even funny. I hope you don't feel too used. I've got this one thing I have to do. And I just can't bring myself to do it.

It's not laundry. Though usually it is.

So instead, let's just think about cookies. What is there to think about? Making them.. eating them... eating them....


Actually maybe I do have something to say. It's about butter. And how important the temperature of the butter is to making a perfect cookie. It's so important, that my man Alton Brown has dedicated an entire episode of the best show ever (Good Eats) to the cause.

Cue the adorable monster's explanation of the importance of fat in P.1 at 4:17.

To continue watching the tutorial, follow this link. Highly recommended. Shockingly enough, you will find that for "chewy" cookies, the optimal fat is melted butter. Along with some other tweaks of course. Using bread flour allows the recipe to absorb the additional liquid (it contains more proteins than regular flour) and brown sugar for the molasses content will also aid in making a chewy cookie.

For most standard cookie recipes, butter should be just at or just below room temperature. If it's too warm or parts of it are melty, the cookies will spread very thin. If it's too cold, you can't cream it as easily and you could end up with cookies that don't spread at all. 

This is what Betty Crocker has to say on the subject:

"Why use softened butter?

Temperature is everything when working with butter. Cold, hard butter will not work as well for creaming ingredients. Neither will melted butter. When a recipe calls for softened butter, you want butter that is soft, yet slightly firm. Touch it lightly with your finger. It should leave a slight indentation."

It might seem obvious then, that it's important to not allow the butter to melt at all before the cookies enter the oven, but there is one mistake that I've made a few times and I know is pretty common. It's really important to use room temperature cookie sheets. This means don't leave them on top of the oven while it preheats. Don't put them on top of the oven while you spoon out your dough (guilty...). AND if you're going to reuse the sheet for a 2nd round of cookies, you can cool it first by rinsing the back side with cold water, then drying it off.

And this is why baking is so much fun! It's as close to science as I get nowadays. Well, I guess it really is science. The fun part. Not the physics formula memorizing part. Honestly if we had done more of this in high school, I might have dreaded science class a whole lot less. Someone should install ovens in high schools across the country. Bad idea? Maybe. Best idea ever? Definitely.

I hope you are as interested in butter temperature as I am. It's important to cookies, so it should be important to you!

And now, I'll finally get to the point and share a recipe for a delicious oatmeal cookie with decadent dark chocolate and chewy dried apricots. Butter just at room temperature is ideal here. The original recipe says that you could use quick oats, but I think it's important for the best texture to use old fashioned oats. I also used all butter for flavor. If you'd like to know more about why shortening would be used in a recipe this page weighs the pros and cons.

Dark Chocolate & Dried Apricot Oatmeal Cookies
Yield 3 dozen cookies (or a little less if you are as heavy handed as I am)
Adapted from Betty Crocker

2/3 c sugar
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1 c butter, just below room temperature
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
3 c old-fashioned oats
1 c ap flour
1 c dried apricots, chopped
1/2 dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. 

In a stand mixer or large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until thoroughly combined (start on low speed and increase temperature to medium as things work together). Add baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder, salt and eggs. Mix together.

Add oats and flour and mix again, starting on low and gradually increasing. Add apricot pieces and chocolate chips and now mix on low until combined.

Spoon teaspoonful sized scoops onto an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are browning on the outside, but look slightly just under done in the center. Cool on the cookie sheet for ~3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.

Tuesday, April 17

Apple and Spinach Stuffed Chicken with Fresh Beet and Cucumber Relish

Can I just start by saying that all I really want this week is to be Carrie Underwood in this video?

Would that really be so much to ask?

I guess I could settle for access to the closet that contains those uhhhmazing get ups though. Thanks.

Do you know what is always an interesting feeling? When you expect to really like something, but then you don't. You get all amped about it. And then you realize it kinda sucks. It's like reading Tina Fey's book Bossypants or a meringue that just comes out way too runny. Liiiike when you're excited for a 90 degree day in April, but then you quickly remember that 90 degrees is actually really uncomfortable.

This chicken is the opposite of that feeling. I was pretty skeptical of the relish. I wasn't sure how the granny smiths would hold up in the oven. And I've never in my life paired bbq sauce with a beet. But to my surprise these things marry together pretty well. Very well in fact.

As always on my site, very simple prep. This smells amazing in the oven and dude, the colors.


Apple and Spinach Stuffed Chicken with Fresh Beet and Cucumber Relish
Serves 4

4 medium sized chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and pounded 1/2 in. thick
4 handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/2 medium granny smith apple, peeled and julienned
1/2 c your favorite bbq sauce
1/2 c fresh beet, peeled and diced
1/2 c cucumber, diced
1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt & Pepper
Cooking twine

Preheat the oven to 350 degress. 

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the 4 chicken breasts. Add a handful of spinach and 1/4 of the apple slices to each. Roll up so that the long ends are touching and tie with twine.

Place the breasts of chicken into a 13x9 pan. Baste on all sides with bbq sauce, leaving the open side up.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and baste again. This time, leaving the open side down. Bake another 10 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, combine the beets and cucumber in a medium bowl. Toss with vinegar and sugar.

Remove the string from the chicken once they are finished cooking and serve each breast topped the relish.


Tuesday, April 10

Ground Turkey & Mexicorn over Fresh Spinach

I think Target's bathing suit sizing is out of control, off the charts, and unnecessarily unflattering. The bottoms run so goddamn small. Orrrrrrr maybe I'm just not ready to commit to bathing suit season yet. 

But today, as I looked at the medium bottom pinching me in all the wrong places (the day after I got over a stomach bug when I was feeling otherwise slender) and thought about trading it in for a large, my inner narcissist took over and I bought a nail polish instead. And people wonder how we ended up with 00 sized clothing. Go ahead, roll your eyes at me.

I know it doesn't really matter. But it's totally something that happens in my head. I never understood small, medium, large sizing anyway. Why can't clothing just be sized by measurements. So that I don't have to check a size chart when I shop online. And no one has to call themselves "large" or double zero. And it makes sense? Pfttttt.

Cue Whatshouldwecallme...

Anyway I hope that brought about some laughs. And if I've made you feel nice and uncomfortable as well, you can rest easily knowing that this recipe is not for bacon s'mores cookie bars or dark chocolate peanut butter bacon truffles. It's refreshingly healthy and tastey. A good dish for feeling a little like you want to change the way you eat for the next month or so. Or a good dish for feeling like you want to eat something light, yet flavorful. It's sweet with a touch of spice. It's the way I really like to eat dinner during the week. It won't weigh you down or take up too much of your time either. (Super quick... as always!)

And relax! We look great.


Ground Turkey & Mexicorn over Fresh Spinach
serves 3-4

1/2 tbsp EVOO (I used jalapeno-infused EVOO; regular is fine though)
2 lbs ground turkey
1 c. chopped sweet peppers (I bought a bag of minis for color variety)
1 can sweet corn
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chipotle seasoning
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp agave (or honey if not available)
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
juices of 1/2 lime
baby spinach
cheddar cheese, grated for topping (optional)

Heat 1 EVOO over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add turkey, season with some salt and pepper, and cook, breaking apart with the side of a large spoon, until completely browned. 

Add the corn and sweet peppers and season with cumin, oregano, chipotle, chile powder, paprika and agave. Continue to cook another 3-4 minutes, until heated through. Add tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat.

Dress with lime juice and serve over a bed of baby spinach. Garnish with shredded cheddar, optional.

Gift from Becca at DPC
Ah! Look at this gross little invader!

Sunday, April 1

Bacon & S'mores Cookie Bars

Hello there.

I thought long and hard about what to say about these cookies.

And everything I did want to say felt somehow overshadowed by these three simple words..




So yea. I shut up....

Bacon & S'mores Cookie Bars
Adapted from this amazing and creative idea for S'mores Cookies on Always With Butter

2 packages graham crackers
2/3 c butter, softened
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 package of dark chocolate chips
6 crispy strips of thick cut bacon, chopped finely
1 c mini marshmallows
1 giant hershey's chocolate bar, broken into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (the cookie sheets with sides) with parchment paper and spread the graham crackers out in rows.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Add baking soda, salt and flour.

Using a spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, bacon and mini marshmallows.

Drop the dough around the cookie sheet. Place the balls close enough together that, when flattened, they will bake into a large cookie, but don't flatten them yet!

Bake for 5 minutes, them remove from the oven. Using a sheet of parchment paper (or cling wrap sprayed with nonstick), press the cookies down so that they become one large cookie sheet. Decorate the top of the cookie with Hershey's bar pieces (leave the words face up).

Return to the oven for another 7 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely before cutting.