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Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category

Beautiful Breakfast: Violet Pancakes

Happy Friday, everyone!

What better way to ring in the weekend than treating ourselves to a lovely flower-filled breakfast? How do violet pancakes drizzled with violet-infused maple syrup sound to you? Hopefully the idea tickles your taste buds, because that’s just what I was in the mood for yesterday. I took some snapshots along the way and put together a little recipe for you guys, should you want to give it a go at home. There are lots of edible flowers out there, violets being one of them. The key to choosing healthy blossoms is to make sure that you chose flowers from an area void of pesticides, herbicides, heavy traffic, dog pee, or animal droppings. Piece of (pan)cake, right?

The wild violets (viola odorata) are at their peak right now, the sprawling mounds of attractive green leaves topped with a multitude of fragrant purple flowers. When the weather warms up, you can really enjoy their sweet scent… even more-so if you snip a few to bring inside where the warmth allows even a small bunch to perfume a whole room. When these little beauties are in full bloom, it’s hard to resist the urge to cook up a project or two centered around the delicious properties the wild violets naturally possess. Last year I cooked up a batch of violet syrup, but I felt that a new year calls for something fresh and different…

Pancakes! Yes! Who can say no to a plate full of pancakes?

I started off by bringing a small pot of maple syrup to a boil before tossing in a handful of violet flowers (trimmed as closely to the flower as possible and rinsed in water). I let the flowers and syrup simmer together for about 15 minutes before turning off the heat. One the syrup had cooled down, it was time to strain the liquid from the flowers and put it back in the fridge to sit. Even this short infusion time was enough to give the syrup a really pleasant violet aroma. Yum!

Then it was time to whip up a batch of pancakes!

My go-to recipe for American-style pancakes is: 1.5 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1.25 cups milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 1 egg. Mix the ingredients all together in no particular order before spooning small scoops into a greased and heated pan.

After you’ve spooned your batter into the pan, gently press the individual flowers on top of the batter. Be careful not to press too hard, because if they get covered in batter, they will disappear once flipped. Cook the pancakes thoroughly on the non-flower side before flipping the pancakes for just a moment. The idea is to give them some slight color while not over-cooking the flowers. For me, about 30 seconds over a medium heat did the trick.

Put them on a plate, drizzle with your violet-infused syrup… and, voila! You’ve got yourself a beautiful springtime breakfast that’s just as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the taste buds.

Just in case you’re curious, the violets in the pancakes don’t pack much flavor. The majority of the characteristic violet taste comes from the violet-infused maple syrup. It’s a nice and easy way to add the sweeten foods with a violet flavor… a simple alternative to violet syrup.

I hope you enjoyed our little Friday feast! If you have some violets growing in your garden, this could very well be worth giving a try this weekend :)

Whether you indulge in violet pancakes or not, I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

So Bad, They’re Good: Carmelitas

Good evening, fellow sugarholics anonymous!

Today’s recipe is all about butter, sugar, and cream… but, then again, how many tasty treats don’t involve these three essential ingredients? Trust me, you’ll want to forget about calories and let these melt-in-your-mouth delicious cookie bars take you away to pre-diabetic dreamland. Carmelitas are so bad, they’re good… or are they so good, they’re bad? Well, bad for your conscience, at least. But, nevermind about that… let’s just get down to the nitty-gritty and start baking! :)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 25 caramels (I used Werther’s Originals “Caramelts”)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 100 grams chocolate chips

Start by preheating the oven to 175 C (350 F) and greasing an oven-friendly dish (I used a medium-sized pyrex dish). Pour the brown sugar into a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter and stir together. Next, add the flour and rolled oats. Using a spoon, or your handy-dandy hands, combine all of the ingredients together until you have a chunky and moist dough of sorts.

Take half of your dough and gently pat it into the bottom of your greased dish. Place the dish in the oven and let the bottom layer bake for about 10 minutes, or until it turns slightly brown.

While your bottom layer is baking, it’s time to melt the caramels and cream together!

Stir frequently to keep the caramel from burning. Once the two key ingredients have melted into a luxuriously lavish liquid, you’re ready to move onto the final phase of preparation.

Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips before pouring the caramel-cream evenly over the entire surface.

Sprinkle the remaining half of your dough over the top and, once again, place the dish back in the oven. Let the carmelitas bake for about 10-15 minutes before removing them from the oven.

Now comes the really tricky part- you have to patiently wait for the caremelitas to completely cool and the caramel to fully set before you can dig in. To speed up the process, you can stick ‘em in the fridge… or, if you’re really impatient like me, pop them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Once they’ve turned from a molten chocolate-caramel mess into a solid mass, all you have to do is cut them into squares and enjoy! :)

These small squares of gooey goodness didn’t stick around for too long. Many were shared with visitors and friends, but I found myself cutting off tiny piece after tiny piece… which made me feel a little less bad about eating something so good. All I can say is that I sincerely hope that you’ll enjoy these easy and tasty treats just as much as I did! :)

My Funny Valentine…’s Day Cake

Happy Monday, dear friends!

Did you have a wonderful weekend? Anything exciting cross your path? I had the delightful opportunity of meeting up with three creative minds, the lovely ladies of Studio Yuki (Danny), Art for Happy People (Rakhee), and Deidre Dreams (Deidre). We had such a great time chatting, sipping tea, exchanging stories and giggling together. It’s always quite special to meet facebook contacts in real life, to make new connections and forge new friendships. In addition to socializing, we also did our fair share of eating… which gave me the perfect opportunity to use Danny, Deidre, and Rakhee as guinea pigs for a fun little Valentine’s recipe I’d been dying to try.

Red Velvet cake has become something of a family favorite since my sister first introduced us to it several years ago. It’s red… it’s chocolatey… and it’s sweet. What better batter to use as the basis for a very Valentine’s Day cake! :)

Ingredients

Batter:

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 60 ml red food coloring (or substitute half of the food coloring with 3 pre-cooked red beets)
  • 120 grams butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or add 1 teaspoon vinegar to 1 cup of milk and let stand for 5 minutes)

Icing:

  • 400 g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 100 g butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar

Time to get started guys, so gather up all of your heart shaped pans and muffin molds! Lightly butter whatever pans you decide to use for your red velvet cake and preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).

Mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix the food coloring with the cocoa powder. The recipe that I found said that this should result in a kind of paste… but mine didn’t.

I also didn’t feel totally comfortable using soooo much artificial food coloring. So, tada! I decided to use a few pre-cooked beets in order to add an extra pop of color.

In a blender, I improvised a bit and mixed half of the butter and the beets.

In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, I mixed the rest of the butter, sugar, and my butter-beet combination together. I added the eggs, one at a time, before adding the cocoa powder and half of the buttermilk.

Last but not least, I mixed in the flour, bit by bit.

Time to pour your batter into your pans and pop ‘em in the oven.

I baked the cupcakes for about 20 minutes and the cake for about 40 minutes (until a toothpick came out clean).

Thanks to the super flimsy silicone cupcake molds I used, the heart cupcakes looked a little bit wonky. The cake, however, turned out well.

For the icing, all you have to do is blend your butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy before slowly blending in the powdered sugar. Yum!

The internet assured me that the beets wouldn’t alter the flavor of the cake… but I would have to disagree. They definitely made the cake a lot denser and gave it just the teeniest, tiniest “earthy” flavor.

My guinea pigs seemed to enjoy the cake enough, even though it wasn’t particularly as bright red or light and fluffy as I’d hoped it would be.

Despite any shortcomings my red velvet cake might suffer, I hope you’ll enjoy giving this all-American treat a try sometime! :)

Nutritious and Delicious: Carrot Cake Muffins

Good evening, guys!

I hope both the weather and the workplace are treating you well in 2014. I’m sending lots of warm wishes to friends in the frosty parts of the US. Brrrr! I figured that it might be fun to get the new year off to a sweet start and warm up with a bit of baking. If you’re stuck inside, you may as well have something yummy to eat, right? :)

I made a variation of these carrot cake muffins as part of our New Year’s Eve brunch, and I found them so tasty that it’s taken less than a week to bake a new batch. They’re pretty packed with healthy fiber, they contain a generous dose of vitamins thanks to the carrots and orange, they aren’t overly sweet, and they are virtually fat free. Yippee! That being said, if you’re looking for your typical carrot cake cupcakes or dense, moist cake then I suggest you look elsewhere. If, however, “healthy” snacking is one of your New Year’s resolutions, then let’s go!

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):

  • 4 large carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup wholewheat
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or better yet, speculaaskruiden … a tasty combination of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk (or add 1.5 tsp vinegar to 2/3 cup milk and let stand for 5 minutes)
  • 1 generous cup of chopped walnuts (optional)
  • the juice of half an orange (optional)

To get started, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Finely grate your carrots.

Next, separate the egg whites from the yolk. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the egg whites until they start to foam.

Add half of your brown sugar, and continue beating until the mixture stiffens up. It might sound like a silly step, and you can certainly skip it if you’d like, but beating the egg whites really does help the muffins stay light and airy.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir until mixed well and clump-free.

Add the egg yolks, oil, apple sauce, and buttermilk and mix well. Next, fold in the beaten egg whites, carrots, and walnuts.

Spoon the batter into a lightly greased muffin form.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The muffins should be nicely browned on top but perfectly moist on the inside. If you have patience and discipline, allow the muffins to cool.

At this point, you can either enjoy them just the way they are (my personal preference) or choose to top them off with a dollop of traditional cream-cheese-powdered-sugar frosting.

I have a pretty killer sweet tooth in the morning and find these to be super delicious when accompanied by a cup of coffee… or tea… or hot coco. It’s great when something somewhat nutritious can satisfy the constant cravings of a sweet tooth, and boy do these guys hit the spot!

Hopefully you can all enjoy the subtle scents and flavors of carroty-cinnamony goodness, even if it is only virtual. Maybe you can take advantage of any wacky weather and bake up a batch of your own ;)

Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Christmas Cake

Good evening, everyone!

Last weekend I decided to give an age-old recipe a go and whipped up a super easy semi-homemade chocolatey chocolate chip cake. I stress the “semi” since the cake actually includes more than one ready-to-go mix. It’s a recipe that most everyone, especially you Americans, has probably tried at one point or another. For me, I remember my mom baking this tasty treat when I was younger, and, more recently, baking this bundt cake has become something of a Christmas tradition for my brother-in-law’s mom. It’s by no means my own innovative recipe, but I hope you’ll agree that this minor technicality shouldn’t stop me from posting it here on the site! :)

If you love chocolate even half as much as I do, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love this cake. Word for the wise: if you can’t polish it off for desert, it makes one heck of a breakfast of champions when paired with a creamy cup of coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package chocolate cake mix (or any pre-made cake mix will do, really)
  • 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 package of chocolate chips
  • and (optional) powdered sugar for a decorative touch of “snow”

If you ignore greasing the pan and preheating the oven to 350 F (175 C), this whole cake baking ordeal is really only a three step process: mix all ingredients together, stir in the chocolate chips, and bake for about an hour.

You can use either a bundt pan or, like I did, a cool-looking log pan snagged at a discount store. Sweet!

After generously sprinkling your chocolate chips into the batter and pouring the gooey goodness into your greased pan, place it in the preheated oven. Bake the cake for about an hour or until a skewer comes out dry.

The cake will probably rise to the point of making you worry, but don’t fret. Once the cake is done baking and you remove it from the oven to cool, it will sink back down to a normal level.

Even after about 1 hour and 15 minutes of baking, my skewer actually kept coming out a bit moist… but, seeing as the moistness of the chocolate cake is what makes it so special, I definitely didn’t want to over-bake it. I let it cool for about an hour before tipping it out of it’s mold, frosting it with “snow”, and serving it up with coffee.

It was admittedly a bit gooier in the middle than I’d remembered, but it tasted so great! Perhaps my heavy-handedness with the chocolate chips played a small role in the gooey center. Nevertheless, this will most definitely be on the menu during the upcoming holiday festivities… another excuse to indulge, tee-hee.

What about you guys? Has anything devilishly delicious made its way on to your holiday menu?

Cooking a Quiche

Good evening, friends, and welcome back into my kitchen!

I had grand plans for a forest walk this afternoon, but the weather didn’t want to cooperate. So, instead, I rummaged through the fridge, grabbed all of the veggies I could find, and decided to cook up a little garden quiche for dinner. Less of a full-blown recipe, and more of an invitation for you to join me in enjoying a slice of quiche… I’ll go ahead and give you a run through of the basic steps. I’m no master at making quiches anyway. In fact, I’ve only really ever made one quiche before. What’s not to love? The concept is pretty straight forward, the ingredients are limited only by your imagination, and you can pack a quiche full of veggies and vitamins… and cheesy fat.

Ingredients for my little fridge-full quiche:

  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry dough (bladerdeeg in Dutch)
  • 6 eggs
  • 100 ml milk
  • 100 ml cream
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 10 mushrooms
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper (although the yellow pepper is pictured, I chose to forgo it)
  • Several leaves of sage
  • 2 handfuls of grated cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Normally I’d go crazy and throw in some goat cheese, ricotta, or other fun ingredients. But, being pregnant, I’m keeping this one on the safe side. Don’t let me stop you from feeling free to experiment with any of your favorite flavors!

Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F). Defrost the pastry dough for about 10 minutes before lining your pie tin or spring-form pan with the layers of doughy goodness. I accidentally bought squares of puff pastry, which looked odd when getting started but turned out just the same.

Starting with the onion and sage leaves, it’s time to get all of your ingredients chopped and sliced. While you’re busy slicing the pepper, mushrooms, and tomatoes, saute the onions and sage in a bit of olive oil. This will soften the onions and bring out the awesome sage flavor.

Time to get your creamy-egg filling going! In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, and any other fun herbs or spices you’d like to toss in here. Fold in the chopped veggies before stirring in the shredded cheese.

Pour your mixture over the pastry dough. I added the sliced tomatoes as a finishing touch. Stick your pan in the preheated oven and let it bake for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how thick your quiche is). Mine was in a deep spring-form pan, so it took a good hour of baking before the filling was nice and firm.

With the help of a muffin tin, I even made a few little mini quiches out of the left-over dough and filling. These actually turned out tastier than the monster quiche… go figure.

Serve up slices to the folks lucky enough to sit at your dinner table and enjoy!

Thanks for joining me in the kitchen again. It’s always so much fun to “cook” for you guys :)

Autumn Eats: Pumpkin Risotto

Well hello there, fellow wanna-be chefs!

Just kidding, I don’t consider myself anything close to  chef… not even a wanna-be. While I often enjoy having fun in the kitchen, especially using ingredients freshly harvested from the garden, nothing that I cook is anywhere near the level of difficulty that you find in cookbook dishes, nor does it have the same aesthetic appeal. Nor is it quite as precise and accurate, for that matter. It does, however, usually taste pretty darn good!

Since a lot of these rotund, orange balls are overpopulating the farmer’s markets around this time of year, I thought that it would be fun to cook up a super simple yet flavorful dish together: pumpkin risotto.

Ingredients (easily feeds two with leftovers):

  • 1 small pumpkin, halved and de-seeded
  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Generous amount of vegetable or chicken broth, I’ll leave that up to you
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Several “glugs” of white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Small chunk of Parmesan or pecorino cheese

 

Lets get started!

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Leaving the nutrition-packed skin on your pumpkin, cut each half into relatively small-sized chunks. The smaller the chunks, the more quickly your pumpkin will bake. Place the chunks of pumpkin in a lasagna pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with freshly chopped thyme, and dash with the desired amount of salt and pepper.

Cover with aluminum foil, and let the pumpkin cook for about 45 minutes  or until easily poked with a fork. Once the flesh is soft and easily mushed, you can get started with mashing. You can use a potato masher, fork, or any other fun method you can think of… but meanwhile, while the pumpkin is in the oven cooking…

Get started with the somewhat slow process of cooking your rice. First things first, you’re going to want to melt your butter in a pan over a medium heat. Once the butter is melted, pour in your rice and coat evenly. When the rice has become somewhat translucent (after about 3 minutes of stirring), you can add a few “glugs” of white wine. Stir the rice often while it continues to cook and absorb the wine. During this initial cooking period, you can get your broth heated up in a separate pot.

After the wine has been pretty much fully absorbed, you can add a ladle-full of broth. Continue to stir your rice as it absorbs the broth. Once the liquid has cooked down, add another ladle-full of broth. Continue this process for about 20-25 minutes until your rice is cooked to your particular liking (some like it a bit more “al dente” while others like it ooey-gooey). Feel free to keep taking bites until you’re satisfied with the consistency.

Once the rice is done, grate your cheese and stir it into the rice. Now it’s time to add the mashed up pumpkin matter! Go ahead and stir in as much (or as little) as you’d like. Sprinkle with a  little extra chopped thyme as a garnish, and you’re good to go!

This is a great autumnal side dish that accompanies many main courses wonderfully… especially roasted chicken with herbs. Yum!

Everyone makes a big to-do about risotto, but it’s really quite easy… it’s just a matter of sticking around and stirring regularly. The end result is so worth it. Whether you dress it up with mushrooms, spinach, butternut squash or pumpkin, it makes for a nutritious and delicious addition to any fall feast.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you on Monday! :)

Super-Duper Deluxe Caramel Apples

Happy Halloween, all you ghosts and ghouls!

Do you guys have anything fun planned for this evening? Trick-or-treating? Or maybe you’re waiting for the weekend to don your costumes and party hard? I’ve got sad news to share… there will be no major halloween-ing for me this year. No cool costumes… no roaming house to house in search of tasty treats… no crazy parties. There was, however, a bit of magic happening in the kitchen. I pulled out my cauldron, got a special brew a-boilin’, and threw together some of the most scarily scrumptious caramel apples ever!

All you’ll need to recreate this magic potion are several super simple ingredients. In fact, I bet most of you witches and warlocks already have them sitting around your pantry: apples, cream, brown sugar, honey, and butter. Tada! This recipe substitutes honey for the standard high-fructose corn syrup. I chose to do this because A) we don’t have corn syrup here (that I know of) and B) I just don’t like using it. The caramel coating does end up tasting a bit like honey… so if this is a problem for you, go ahead and stick with the corn syrup.

Ingredients for super-duper deluxe caramel apples (makes more than enough to feed 8 hungry monsters):

  • 4 apples (I used Jonagold just ’cause they’re my favorite)
  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of honey (or corn syrup)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • Chocolate (optional)
  • Walnuts (optional)

As always, please feel free to add any other bits and pieces… everything from chocolate chips to peanuts, reeses pieces to shredded coconut.

First things first, dip your apples in very hot water for about 15 seconds before scrubbing them thoroughly with a sponge. This will get rid on any waxy residue that comes with nearly all store-bought produce. Since caramel sticks best to cold apples, allow them to sit in the fridge for at least an hour.

In a thick-bottomed pan, warm the cream over a medium heat. Add the brown sugar and honey, stirring regularly until the sugar has completely dissolved. Now it’s time to add the four tablespoons of butter. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly to avoid any crystallization and/or burning.

Your caramel will be pretty frothy at first, but after about 10 minutes of boiling and stirring, you should start to see a bubbling rich brown liquid that closely resembles the color and texture of caramel sauce. Once you reach this stage of the cooking process, you can start doing a nifty “cold water testing” method that I read about online.

The cold water testing basically eliminates any need you might have for a candy thermometer. Rather than rely on a thermometer for readings, you simply spoon a tiny amount of your caramel into a bowl of cold water, let it cool for several seconds, and then see if you can roll the caramel into a decently firm ball. If you cook your caramel too little, it will roll right off of your apple… too long and you’ll get something along the likes of peanut brittle. Once your caramel doesn’t just smoosh around in your hands and you can roll it into a nice ball, it’s ready for coating!

Butter a small square of aluminum foil before skewering your apples with anything you’d like… sharpened twig, chopstick, bbq skewer, magic wand. Once the caramel has stopped bubbling, place the apple over the pot of caramel. Spoon the warm caramel onto the apple until it is evenly coated.

If you want to add any extra goodies to your apples, now is the time to do it! While the caramel is still soft, roll the apples in your desired mixture (I used dark chocolate chips and chopped walnuts) before placing them on top of the aluminum foil to harden.

This next step is optional, but boy is it tasty! It makes me dream of the small caramel apple shop near my college campus in San Diego… *drool*. Once your caramel is completely hardened, melt about 1/3 of a bar of chocolate in a pan before drizzling it over the apples. I used milk chocolate… and white chocolate. But that’s because I’m a chocoholic.

Leave your super-duper deluxe caramel apples in the fridge for a few hours to harden before digging in! I find that these taste best (and are a whole lot less messy) when cut into slices before eating. So yummy!!!

So, instead of going door to door begging for candy, I’m comfy cozy at home enjoying a slice or two… or three of these creepily crunchy concoctions!

Stay safe, everyone, and have a wonderful time… whatever mischief you might be getting into :)

Monkey Bread or No-Fry Donut Holes?

Hey everyone!

Well, I’m back with another round of tasty baked goods. The blueberry coffee cake was such a hit that I figured I’d have another go at a recipe I’ve been dying to try… monkey bread! Who knows why it’s called monkey bread. I like to think that it’s because you eat it with your fingers while uttering monkey-like squeals of delight. Either way, it’s a cake pan full of cinnamon-sugary goodness that is sure to please almost any taste pallet.

This time I’ll preface my recipe by letting you know that my monkey bread did not turn out as planned. Who knows where I went wrong… but, while it might have looked a heck of a lot different than all of the pictures I’d seen plastered across the webosphere, it still tasted great! So great, in fact, that I’m going to go ahead and call my failed attempt at monkey bread a very successful attempt at no-fry donut holes!

What you’ll need (for the bread dough):

  • 1/4 cup warm water (around 100 F… any hotter than 110 F can kill the yeast)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup warm milk

What you’ll need (for the dippings and toppings):

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup walnuts (or pecans) roughly chopped

Serving size: Makes a “cake” plus 6 muffins!

Start by lightly greasing a bundt pan with vegetable oil. Be sure to use a solid bundt pan, since the ooey-gooey goodness of the cinnamon sugar liquid can easily escape through the cracks of a springform pan.

Put the yeast in a large bowl. Add the warm water and let the mixture stand for a coupe of minutes.

Add 1 cup of your flour and the rest of the dough ingredients (vanilla extract, salt, sugar, egg, butter, milk) to the yeast/water combination. Using either a handy baking tool or your hands, blend the ingredients thoroughly until you achieve a somewhat smooth texture. Continue adding the additional cups of flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead for several minutes.

I started with a hand-held mixer, but switched to using my hands half-way through. It’s a whole lot messier, but I found that it worked better.

Once you’re satisfied with the structure of your dough, cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit for about 30 minutes. After patiently waiting, your dough should have risen a fair amount (see photo above compared to photo below).


On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten the dough into a 1-inch thick pancake. Using either a knife or your fingers, break away small-ish chunks of dough and roll them into small balls. Put all of your balls back into your bowl for safe keeping.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Now it’s time to get the trimmings ready! Chop up your nuts, whisk together your brown sugar and cinnamon, a melt your butter over a low heat.

Time to get down and dirty, guys! Sprinkle some nuts around the bottom of your bundt pan. One by one, take a ball and dip it into the melted butter. Transfer it to the bowl of cinnamon sugar and coat generously. Once you’re happy with the sugar coating, plop it into your bundt pan. Continue this process, working your way around the pan, layering the sugary balls one on top of the other.

If you have any left overs, or if you’d like to keep the portion sizes a bit smaller, you can also make single servings in the form of muffins! You use the same process except you stick with 4-5 balls per muffin form.

Place your tins into the preheated oven and let them cook for about 30 minutes. Once the dough turns a golden brown and the gooey sugar mixture starts to bubble, the baked goods should be ready to come out of the oven. Let the cake cook for 10 minutes before tipping the tin onto a separate plate.

As you can see, my “cake” fell to pieces. Maybe I got a little over-eager and didn’t wait for the cake to cool properly? Maybe I over-cooked it? Maybe I didn’t add enough buttery sauce?

Either way, I’m pretty pleased with my cinnamon sugar donut holes! They taste great with a cup of coffee (or cinnamon tea, yum!), and will last forever (or not!). So, go ahead and give this recipe a shot. For all you know, yours will turn out perfectly and you can rub it in my face! If worse comes to worse, you’ll get a few dozen donut holes to share with friends, family, or coworkers ;)

Nutritious and Delicious: Blueberry Coffee Cake

Oh my gosh, you guys. Yum! Boy do I have a tasty recipe for you today! It’s nutritious and delicious… well… at least the blueberries and the whole wheat fiber are healthy. Just ignore the butter and sugar, and embrace the yumminess of baked berries :)

Over the weekend, while spreading a sprinkling of Lonely Bouquets throughout the local towns, I couldn’t resist picking up a basket of freshly picked blueberries from my favorite fruit vending machine. Baked blueberries happen to be one of my most favorite fruity treats, and I just so happened to have a few recipes in mind that I wanted to try out. First up… blueberry coffee cake with a browned butter drizzle frosting!

And, no, as a couple of my friends here in Holland have asked, coffee isn’t an ingredient in the cake. It’s simply a title meant as a serving suggestion. Yes, this coffee cake tastes delicious alongside a cup of coffee. I was surprised when two friends looked a little confused by my choice of baked goods… coffee cake? Umm… hmmm. When one asked, “can you leave the coffee out?”, I immediately understood their confusion. Ha! I had never stopped to think that the title of the cake might be a bit misleading.

What better way to spend a grey and rainy afternoon? Let’s get started!

What you’ll need (for the cake):

  •  3 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar (I used one cup white, 1 cup brown)
  • 1 cup room temperature butter (eek!)
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1 cup regular flour, 1 cup whole wheat fiber)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (light) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk (if you don’t have any on hand, you can curdle your own by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup of milk and letting it sit for about 5 minutes)
  • sprinkling of nutmeg
  • Generous cupful of blueberries

What you’ll need (for the icing):

  • 3 tbsp. of butter
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. milk

    *recipe adapted from Heather Christo’s recipe found on “A Cup of Jo”

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). First you’ll need to cream your room-temperature butter and sugar in a food processor or similar blending bowl. Once well mixed, add the eggs and vanilla extract and blend until nice and creamy. To complete the batter, add the yogurt and sour cream before blending one last time.

Next, mix all of your “dry” ingredients (flour, nutmeg, baking powder) before adding the combination to your “wet” ingredients in the blender. Add the buttermilk and mix until well-blended.

Pour the batter into a buttered bundt pan. Using a spatula, gently fold in the blueberries. Yum! Put your pan in the pre-heated oven and let the cake bake for about 50 minutes. Once the “toothpick test” comes out dry, you’re good to go! Let the cake cool for a while, maybe even overnight.

I let the cake cool overnight, and was surprised to find a chunk missing in the morning and a blueberry-toothed happy husband. Hmmm… suspicious?

Anywho, all aesthetics aside, the cake tasted great! Even without the frosting, it was super moist and flavorful.

But let’s just go ahead and finish up the recipe for good measure! For the icing, you’ll need to add the 3 tablespoons of butter to a small cooking pot. Over a low heat, allow the butter to turn a nice golden brown color. In a separate bowl, combine the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Pour the butter into the bowl and whisk until well-combined. Be patient, it might take a while for the icing to thicken and turn an opaque white color. It took me about 5 minutes to reach the right consistency. Feel free to thin out the icing with the tablespoons of milk.

Drizzle over your cake, and… voila!

Despite the large missing chunk, I was super happy with how the blueberry coffee cake turned out. So happy, actually, that it was already all gone by the time that Tuesday rolled around! Yikes!

Next time I might forego the icing and stick with just the moist cake… or maybe even give a crumble topping a try! :)