Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns, Because Yummy Shouldn’t Be Laborious

Too good to eat only one. And made so quickly, too!

Cinnamon Buns! I love them. I eat them. I used to hate making them, because of the long process: make the dough, let the dough rise, punch it down, let it rise again, roll it out, roll it up, cut it and let it rise, and fiiiiiiinallly bake it and eat it. And that’s not including all the steps for the filling. Ugh. Am tired just thinking about it. Generally, if I wanted cinnamon buns, I had to make them in the morning for dessert in the evening, or at the very least, make them the night before.

But no more!

I came up with a super-easy short-cut version! In my version, there’s only one rising of the cinnamon buns before baking, and frankly, you *could* skip that too (the buns would just be much more dense and not as fluffy).

The secret?

Start with my Easiest Pizza Dough in the History of Ever! Then you spread cinnamon butter all over it, roll it up, pop it in a pan to rise (only 1x!), and bake it. I can start these before dinner and have them for dessert! 

Short-Cut Cinnamon Buns

  • 1 batch pizza dough
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened to just beyond room temperature

Make the dough. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before rolling it out into a lasagna pan sized rectangle.

Mix softened butter with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla until it is properly mixed and essentially a cinnamon spread. Spread butter on rolled out dough.

Roll up dough, length-wise. Use dental floss to cut roll into two inch slices (see technique below).

Place in a lasagna pan and let rise in a warm place until the dough has expanded and the side of the buns are sticking together.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Let sit until cool. If you like icing, mix up some icing (icing sugar, milk, vanilla extract, cream cheese is optional) and drizzle on top. Eat and enjoy the sticky, yummy, cinnamon buns!

Don’t they look yummy! (Spoiler alert: they ARE yummy!)

KITCHEN HACK

How to cut delicate doughs (or soft cheeses)? With dental floss! Yup, you read that right! You slide the thread underneath the dough/cheese and cross the end of the string overtop, and then pull. It slices easily and without compressing the dough or cheese all flat. I first did this when I made swiss rolls as a teenager, and it is such an easy technique to get perfect slices! Obviously, you don’t use flavoured floss, and the thinner the floss, the better. Try it out yourself!

KITCHEN HACK #2

Want to make fluffier cinnamon buns? Add in a tablespoon of corn starch to the dough when you’re making it, as in this recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Buns. The corn starch takes up space without sticking to itself as flour does, which makes the dough that much more tender. This technique is good for all sorts of baked goods!

But back to my cinnamon buns. You could make these cinnamon buns taller and more like commercial buns if you make them in a 9×9 pan as opposed to a lasagna pan, and cut them in 4 inch buns (i.e. taller). Personally, I’m happy with the small buns, because…portion control. Of course, that just means that I need to eat two servings, amirite?

Next Post: A Memories of Meals Past post, combined with a Salads I Have Known and Loved post. That’s right, we’re about to get all ancient grains up in this blog!

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday, Nifty Thrifty SundayClever Chicks Blog Hop, The Art of Homemaking, and Happiness is Homemade!

Dutch Chocolate Pudding (& How to Clean a Burnt Pot without Scrubbing)

Elegance, thy name is chocolate pudding. Now let’s chow down!

I’ve been craving dairy recently, and if you’re a returning reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m always up for some chocolate. So I decided to combine the two and make a batch of my grandmother’s chocolate pudding.

My Oma (Dutch for grandmother) gave this recipe for Chocolade Vla (chocolate pudding) to my mom and my mom made it for special occasions, often topping it with whipped cream and chocolate eggs to make chocolate pudding nests for Easter. I think any day is a great day to eat chocolate pudding, so I’ve made this dish three times in the past two weeks. And since the DH isn’t fond of chocolate, I’ve eaten it all! I have no regrets though. It’s quick to made, and I think it’s actually not that unhealthy. It’s basically thickened, sweetened, flavoured milk. You doubt me? Check out this recipe!

Dutch Chocolate Pudding (Chocolade Vla)

  • 2 1/3 c. milk
  • 3 tbsp. corn starch
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Heat 2 c. milk to just-before-boiling in a double boiler (around 170 degrees). In a bowl, mix the corn starch, cocoa, sugar, and salt together, and add in the remaining milk and stir until blended. Whisk into the heated milk, and cook on medium heat until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour into bowls and let cool. Serve with whipped cream (if that’s your thang) and chocolate shavings (definitely my thang!).

Pourable pudding, poured into a glass custard cup, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. And a Dutch (Delft!) teaspoon to boot!

FYI, “vla” is *slightly* different from traditional North American pudding (or even British-style custards), in that it’s slightly more liquidy. If you prefer a thicker pudding, add an additional tablespoon of corn starch. Oh, and definitely use a double-boiler to make this! It’s what my Oma recommended, and she was a smart cookie.

As for me, I have little patience for things like double boilers. I mean, they’re useful, I should use them, but…they take so long to boil! Ugh. Just like when I’m heating milk for yoghurt, I tend to turn up the burner to high to get to the cooking part more quickly. Should I? No. Do I? Yes. Does it burn on the bottom? Unfortunately it does, all too often.

Which is when I pull out my little kitchen trick. That’s right, it’s a…KITCHEN HACK!

HOW TO CLEAN A BURNT POT WITHOUT SCRUBBING

Boil a little water in the pot with a bunch of baking soda. The burnt bits will float right off, and the rest will wipe off with no scrubbing! That’s right, that’s all. It’s really just too simple!

So I do recommend using a double-boiler, or cooking the pudding low to medium heat. Yes, it takes a few minutes longer, but it saves you a burnt pot. As for me and my house…I suspect I will keep turning up the heat and cleaning those pots! Ah well. At least I have chocolate pudding!

Next Post: Maybe something healthy? Or should I post my Shortcut Cinnamon Buns recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Using Up Leftovers & How to Make Whoopie (Pies)

Plate o’ yumminess! *om nom nom* Oh, did you want some?

Whoopie pies. Ever made them? Ever eaten them? Ever even heard of them?

I’ve always read about whoopee pies (usually in novels set in Amish country) but never actually tasted one. They’re basically two super-puffy, cake-like cookies sandwiched together with some buttercream/marshmallow-y/fluffy icing-type filling. It’s always sounded rather unhealthy to me. Surely one cookie, sans icing, is healthier? (Not that I eat one cookie at a time. But theoretically speaking, it would be healthier, yes?)

Despite my love of health, healthiness, and moderation (except when it comes to chocolate), I decided to make some whoopie pies recently.

Why? Well, I had some leftover buttercream sitting in my fridge, and I really hate wasting food. I’m such a #wastenotwantnot sort of person. This even spills over into other areas of my life. The DH calls it ‘clutter’; I call it ‘crafting supplies’, and am forever whipping up pretty and useful things from leftover scraps of this and that. Which is sort of what happened in this case.

I had a whole pastry piping bag full of mint buttercream, leftover from various delicious baking sessions, and was brainstorming ways to use it up. Cupcakes? Did that recently. Mini cupcakes? Also did that recently. Frosting for soft cookies? Eh, doesn’t travel well, and I can’t eat a whole batch of cookies (well, obviously I could, and quite happily would, but my scale would be tsk-tsk-ing at me and I try to avoid that).

Then I thought…what about whoopie pies?!?!

It was the perfect opportunity to play around in the kitchen, bake something yummy, and use up that buttercream!

I made the cake/cookie part twice, just to make it was perfect. Not because I wanted to eat them. No, no, the second batch was purely for blog research purposes. (The happy tummy was just a happy coincidence.)

Choco-minty goodness!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Buttercream Frosting

Depending on whether you want large or small whoopie pies, spread heaping tablespoons or heaping teaspoons of the dough onto a silicone baking mat or a greased cookie tray. Be sure to spread the dough out, as it will bake up super-high.

Bake according to directions, or until top is springy, but not tooo firm. Let cool.

Pipe buttercream between two cookies and squish together. Let sit (or chill in the fridge) to let the cookies suck some of the moisture out of the buttercream and really stick together.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder or icing sugar for a fancy touch just before serving, or wrap in wax paper if you’re packing them for lunches/snacks/picnics, or just bring a container of them to work (as I did) and watch them disappear.

They’re pretty delicious, aren’t they? I was told by a co-worker that the consensus was that from now on, I have to bring at least three servings per person whenever I bring any baked goods to work. I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂

These whoopie pies are easily customizable, obviously. Switch up the fillings! Wouldn’t some vanilla-orange buttercream with flecks of orange zest be delicious in these? Or perhaps stirring in a bit of leftover mince-meat with some vanilla buttercream for yet another #wastenotwantnot taste adventure?

I mean, cookies and buttercream. How can you go wrong?

Next Post: Memories of (Lunchtime) Meals Past, or my grandmother’s Chocolate Vla (Pudding) recipe. Should I go healthy or nostalgic? Vote in the comments!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

A Simple & Sassy Side Dish: Apricot & Zucchini Couscous

Only three ingredients, and ready in a jiffy!

Ok, it’s winter. Let’s talk soup.

So, I tend to cook a lot of soups. This is for several reasons: I can make it when I have time and stick it in the fridge for the next day, soups are easy to make, and I only have to make one dish if I serve it as a main course. Because side dishes? Such a pain to manage the timing of the cooking of all the different elements of a traditional meat-and-two-veg dish.

And then I came across this side dish!

Super-quick to make, it fits all my soup-er (ha!) criterion: I can stick it in the fridge and pull it out the next day, and it’s an easy way to add a side that a) delicious and b) healthy. It’s low-fat, has only three ingredients, and is chock-full of healthiness!

And did I mention it’s tasty? Because it’s tasty. 🙂

I’ve served this as a side dish, and I’ve also served it as a salad with a little balsamic dressing on it. (Hey, you do you!)  Honestly, it was MUCH quicker to make than you’d think. Try it, and see for yourself!

Apricot and Zucchini Couscous

  • 1 c. coucous (I bought mine at a local bulk food store)
  • dried apricots (also bought at the local bulk food store)
  • 1 zucchini

Boil 1 c. salted water. Add couscous and let sit for 5 minutes with a lid on the pot, until water is absorbed. Meanwhile, grate zucchini, and chop dried apricots into small chunks (1 apricot equals say, 8 to 10 chunks). Once couscous is rehydrated, stir in grated zucchini and chopped apricots. Let sit until flavours meld/the rest of the meal is done/the table is set. Bam, done!

The heat of the couscous will partially cook the zucchini, and the zucchini will release some water which will rehydrate the dried apricots.

Now isn’t that a quick side dish? And it’s a welcome change from my soup diet!

Next Post: Speaking of soup, should I post a soup recipe? Or those chocolate mint whoopee pies I was talking about before? So many delicious things!

Linking Up at Meal Plan Monday!

Candy Cane Redux Cookies & What Happens When My Baking Cred is Challenged

Leftover candy canes? Now in cookie form!

Hello dear blog readers!

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging (or baking) as much over the last few weeks. Between some health  issues (now resolved, whoot!) and trying to cut down on my baking so that the DH could lose some weight (it’s hard to watch your weight when your wife is always making delicious things), plus some technical challenges (*shaking fist at combination of mailchimp, hellobar, and sumome apps, plus at self’s lack of technical know-how*), well, the result is blog bog.

I’ve been making and photographing some healthier treats (cough*salads*cough) lately, so those will show up on the blog soon. In the interim…let them eat sugar! Or at least cookies.

Because the DH came home yesterday and handed me a giant container of candy canes. I looked at him. He said that his coworkers had mentioned the recent dearth of delicious baked goods, and challenged me to use up the leftover candy canes lying around the office that no one would eat.

Well.

Challenge accepted!

I went on pinterest, I googled different search terms, I experimented with baking different things (did you know that you can bake and shape candy canes?), and came across some interesting options for leftover candy canes.

I told the DH, I bet that if I turn it into candy cane vodka, it’d be gone in a snap!

He agreed. (I mean, obvs!)

I decided to try something else instead, as I’m pretty sure that however laid-back the DH’s office culture is, the higher-ups would frown on a workforce giddy on peppermint vodka.

So, cookies it was! This is a basic cookie base, with the addition of ground candy canes. It’s really not that minty; it just gives a hint of flavour to a buttery, crunchy, sweet cookie.

Candy Cane Redux Cookies (adapted from www.momvstheboys.com)

  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. white sugar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. crushed candy canes (I crushed mine with a mortar and pestle, but I think a sturdy plastic bag and a rolling pin would work just as well)

Mix butter, eggs, sugars, and vanilla together until creamy-looking. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt, and stir into butter/sugar/egg mixture. Once mixed, stir in crushed candy canes.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes. They will harden as they cool, so take them out of the oven when they’re still a little soft. Let cool on the tray for two minutes (so they don’t fall apart), and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Eat, drink, and be merry! (Makes about 50 cookies.)

These cookies are much easier than you’d think, and really are a great way to use up those candy canes that are festive in December and mere unwanted calories in January. Best to turn them into delicious, wanted calories, yes? Tee hee!

Next Post: More minty goodness, with chocolate peppermint whoopie pies! Or…faro salad with baby spinach and roasted greens? Hmm, choices, choices.

Linking up at Meal Plan Monday!