Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cream Cheese Glazed Cinnamon Rolls!

Hello everyone! I can't believe I haven't posted in practically a month now! I'm very sorry about this. You probably thought I disappeared! But I promise the recipe I'm sharing with you today was worth the wait!

So, who loves a soft, fluffy, sticky, and gooey cinnamon roll first thing in the morning? I do! Who loves eating a soft, fluffy, sticky, and gooey cinnamon roll on snowy morning? I do! There is just something special about eating a yummy cinnamon roll on an icy, cold morning. Now that I've finally had the chance to bake, that is exactly what I did!

If you know me well enough, you know that I hate getting up early in the morning. I am definitely not the person you'd want to talk to at 6:30 am. But hey, I know I'm not alone on this. Plenty of people are not morning people, and that's ok! Because of this, I went searching for a cinnamon roll recipe that could be baked in the evening and still taste amazing in the morning. I know that if you aren't a morning person, you are not going to want to get up and bake a batch of cinnamon rolls. Many baked goods like cinnamon rolls tend to become dry and dense if not eaten the same day they are made. But these cinnamon rolls taste absolutely divine even after you heat them up the next morning! 

Another factor that causes people to shy away from making cinnamon rolls is yeast. So many people are scared of working with yeast dough, but they shouldn't be! The only hard part of working with yeast is waiting for the dough to rise, which can take up to two and a half hours all together. The process of making cinnamon rolls is actually quite simple, and I think this recipe is pretty darn fool-proof! Unless your yeast is dead coming out of the package of course, which has happened to me a few times. You begin making these cinnamon rolls by combining some flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter, and an egg into a large bowl. Next, you have to heat the milk over the stove. To be honest, this is the part that always scares me the most. If the milk is too cold, your yeast won't activate. But if its too hot, you'll kill your yeast! Yikes! Most recipes call for your liquid to reach 120 degrees. Since I don't have a thermometer, I just use my finger to see if I think it is warm enough. I removed the milk from the stove once it felt like hot tap water. Not scalding hot, just a little warmer than warmer! I suggest frequently sticking your (clean)finger in the milk to ensure that it does not become too hot.  

Once your milk has been heated, add it into the bowl with the flour, sugar, salt, butter, yeast, and egg. Beat it together using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. I personally liked to use the hand-held mixer because I feel like I have more control over the dough. This mixture will look pretty smooth, with a minimal amount of lumps. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in enough flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. When I say gradually, I mean it! Keep in mind that when you knead the dough in the next step, more flour will be incorporated. Too much flour will lead to a tough, dry, cinnamon roll. And nobody wants that, right? 

Next, sprinkle a flat surface lightly with flour. Again, this flour will be incorporated into the dough when you knead it! The less flour you use, the better! You will knead the dough for about five minutes; this activates the gluten to the point of allowing your dough to rise! If you aren't sure how to knead, all you do is fold the dough in half, give it a strong push outwards with the heels of your hands, quarter turn it, and repeat! Fold, push, turn, repeat! See, making cinnamon rolls even gives you a workout! Or in other words, an excuse to eat two cinnamon rolls :D 

Now its time to let your beautiful dough rise for the first time! Just spray a large bowl with some non-stick cooking spray, place the kneaded dough in the bowl, turn the dough around to give it a non-stick spray coating, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in an airtight place to rise. I heated my top oven so the bottom oven would be slightly warm and placed the bowl in the bottom oven. If you do not have two ovens, simply place the blow in the oven without heating it. My dough took a full hour and a half to rise until it was doubled in size(which is what you're looking for). 

Take your risen dough out of the oven and give it a good punch to deflate it. I know its hard to punch your gorgeous dough that you've made with love, but you have to do what you have to do! Even if it does mean putting your dough through a little pain. 

Sprinkle a flat surface with a small amount of flour again. Roll your dough into a 15"x10" rectangle. I found it easiest to stretch the dough into shape with my hands and than roll it out to smooth it. Yeast dough is very springy, so sometimes rolling it just isn't enough. Now take some softened butter and spread it over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border on the dough without butter. I also used my (clean)hands for this step. I know it sounds yucky, but the heat from your hands makes the butter more spreadable, and using a knife could tear the dough! Once your dough is all buttered up, sprinkle on a thick layer of brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon! Roll the dough up tightly starting form the 15" side and cut it into about 1" slices.  I got about 17 rolls when I cut the dough.

Place the rolls in a greased 9"x13" pan. Its okay if they're a little snug! Now they will rise for a second time. It took 1 hour for the rolls to become doubled in size. As soon as they've risen, you can finally bake them up! Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool before packing them up in an airtight container(I just used a large Zip-lock bag).

Just look at how roasty-toasty and pretty these are! 

As appetizing as they look, no cinnamon roll is complete without a glaze. For the glaze, you will make it over the stove. I know that sounds strange, but I've learned from Sally at  Sally's Baking Addiction that if you cook a glaze rather then just mixing it, it will have that "crackled" effect once it sets. I didn't allow the glaze to set on my cinnamon roll, though. I have no problem with a sweet and sticky glaze! If you're going to eat the cinnamon rolls the following morning, simply transfer the glaze to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Now when you wake up, all you'll have to do is heat a cinnamon roll(or 2) for 25 seconds in the microwave and slather on the glaze! 

I hope you really enjoy these wonderful cinnamon rolls. They are moist, fluffy, stuffed with cinnamon, and perfectly sticky! 



3 1/2-4 cups all purpose flour 
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt 
2 packages fast-acting dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp) 
1 cup milk( I used skim, but any type of dairy milk will work)
1/4 cup(1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1/4 cup brown sugar 
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 cup butter 

2 tbsp low-fat cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar 
1-2 tbsp milk(I used 2% for this) 

Yields: 15-17 cinnamon rolls depending on how large you slice them

In a large bowl, stir together 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Add in the butter and egg. 

Heat the milk over medium heat until it feels very warm to touch. Add the milk into the large bowl with the butter, egg and flour mixture. Beat this on low speed with a hand-held or stand mixer until just fully incorporated. With a wooden spoon, stir in a 1/2 cup of remaining flour at time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Remember: you will incorporate even more flour when kneading the dough. 

Sprinkle a flat surface lightly with flour. Turn out the dough onto the floured surface. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, sprinkling more flour onto the flat surface just to keep the dough from sticking. Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray and transfer the kneaded dough into the bowl. Turn the dough in the bowl so all sides of the dough are coated with non-stick spray. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm, airtight place(an unheated oven will work). Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size, between 1-1.5 hours. My dough took a full hour and a half to rise. 

Once the dough has risen, punch it down in the bowl to deflate it. Lightly sprinkle a flat surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and shape the dough into a 15"x10" triangle. I stretched my dough into shape with my hands since it tended to spring back when I only used a rolling pin. Spread the softened butter onto the dough, but don't spread it within a 1/2 inch of the edges. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture onto to the buttered dough. Tightly roll the dough up, starting from the 15 inch side. Cut the roll of dough into 15(1 inch) slices. 

Spray a 9"x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the cut cinnamon rolls into the pan and cover it loosely with plastic wrap. Put the pan in a warm, airtight place for 30-60 minutes until the rolls are doubled in size. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the rolls for 27-35 minutes or until golden brown. 

While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make the glaze: heat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla over medium heat and whisk until smooth. Remove the glaze from the stove. If you are making the cinnamon rolls and glaze ahead of time, allow the glaze to cool and store inside an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Once the cinnamon rolls are baked, immediately remove them from the pan and transfer them to a cooling rack. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes and drizzle them with the glaze. 

If you are making the rolls ahead of time, allow the rolls to cool completely and store them in an airtight container until you are ready to eat them. Heat the rolls for 25 seconds in the microwave and drizzle them with the glaze. 

*Please read the post above for further important details regarding the recipe. 

Recipe Adapted From: Betty Crocker 
*Please do not take this recipe or photos from my blog and use them as your own. If you do wish to post my recipe on your blog, please ask for permission by emailing me. Thank you. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mom's Candied Nuts


Hello! Long time no see! I apologize for the huge gap between this post and my last, I try hard to post every other day but with school, band, and Christmas prep I sometimes don't even have time to check my email!

But let me tell ya, this recipe is well worth the wait!

After you make these once, they will definitely become a Christmas baking tradition in your home forever! My mom makes these wonderful sweet-and-salty nuts almost every Christmas. She always gives them as gifts, if we don't eat them all of course! There has been only one Christmas that she didn't make them, and we missed them so much!  These aren't the usual cinnamon-sugar coated candied nuts you smell all over the mall(which I absolutely love). They are a mix of pecans and walnuts covered in a crunchy, toasted, meringue/marshmallow topping. The salty nuts and the oh-so-sweet, toasty coating are like a match made in heaven! Not only do they taste amazing(and are highly addictive), but the scent of them baking is DEVINE! Don't you know the tempting smell of the cinnamon-sugar nuts that floats throughout the mall during the holidays? These nuts smell just as good or, in my opinion, even better! If I could bottle it up into a perfume bottle and spray it everywhere I would! I can see the bottle now at Bath and Body Works: Mom's Candied Nuts Eau De Perfume. The wonderful smell of butter, sugar, and toasted nuts is the best! To make these even BETTER(I know, how could that be? They're already perfect!), they are soooooo easy to make!

You only need a few simple ingredients: Pecans, Walnuts, Butter, Sugar, Salt, and Egg Whites. First, toast your nuts on a pan lined with foil.

Next, put your egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. You will add the sugar gradually, while beating the egg whites on high speed. The mixture should look like this by the time all the sugar is added and you beat it for awhile: 

You will know to stop beating when you turn your mixer off and the lines made from the whisk don't fade. However, it will not form stiff peaks like a true meringue. Once this step is complete, remove the foil from the pan with the nuts on it. By doing this, you won't leave behind any salt used on the nuts. Dump the nuts into the bowl with the "meringue" and gently fold in the nuts. 

(P.S. My mom surprised me with that super cute spatula from Michael's earlier last week. Thanks Mom! :D)

Put 1 stick of unsalted butter on the pan used for the nuts(without the foil) and place it inside the oven until it melts. Remove the pan from the oven and scoop the nuts onto the pan so it forms a heap. It is very important that you heap the nuts onto the pan because they will burn if the are spread out. Bake the nuts for 15 minutes. They will look like this: 

Look how pretty! It's like a toasted marshmallow cloud!

After they bake for 15 minutes, give them a stir and bake them for another 15 minutes. This time, the nuts may be spread out so they get a coating of butter. Take them out of the oven and remove the nuts from the pan with a slotted spoon onto a sheet of foil or parchment paper spread out on your counter or table to leave behind any extra melted butter. Some of the butter may be burned; that's OK! Let the nuts chillax for about one hour on the foil so they crisp up. Then... DIG IN! You won't be able to keep your hands off them! I dare you to try and hold yourself from eating all of them...



1 1/2 cup pecans (not salted) 
1 tsp salt
2 cups walnuts 
2 egg whites 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Yields: about 8 cups 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Toast The Nuts: Spread the nuts onto a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkle them with the salt. Toast them in the oven for about 5 minutes, stirring them frequently so they don't burn. Remove them from the oven and set aside. 

Make The Coating: Add the egg whites into a bowl of an electric mixer. Beat the egg whites on high speed, very gradually adding in the granulated sugar. Beat the egg whites and sugar until the lines left from the beater(s) do not fade. 

Coat The Nuts: Remove the foil with the toasted nuts from the baking sheet and dump the nuts from the foil into the meringue mixture. Fold the nuts into the meringue mixture until they are all coated

Melt The Butter: Place the butter in the center of the same baking sheet used for toasting the nuts, this time not covered with foil. Put the tray into the oven and allow the butter to melt. Periodically check on the butter so it does not burn. Once the butter is melted, remove the tray from the oven. 

Bake the Nuts: 
Scoop the coated nuts onto the baking sheet with the melted butter. Make sure they are in a tall heap so they don't burn. Bake the nuts for 15 minutes. Stir the nuts around in the pan to coat them with butter. This time, they may be more spread out on the baking sheet. If the butter looks like it is burning, don't worry! Bake the nuts for an additional 15 minutes after stirring them in the pan and remove them from the oven. Spread a sheet of foil or parchment paper onto a countertop or table. Remove the baked nuts from the baking pan with a slotted spoon onto the foil or parchment paper. Let the nuts cool for about an hour until the become crisp. Store the cooled nuts in an airtight container. 

Recipe From: My Mom
*Please do not take this recipe or photos from my blog and use them as your own. If you do wish to post my recipe on your blog, please ask for permission by emailing me. Thank you. 

Before finishing this post, I would like to send out a special thank you to my Mom! Thanks so much for allowing me to post your beloved candied nut recipes on my blog! You are the best mom and blog supporter a girl could ever ask for! I love you! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Skinny-licious Blueberry Muffins!

Hello everyone! Personally, I don't know anyone who doesn't love a good old blueberry muffin.

 Especially one with a red polkadot liner :)

If I walked into a bakery and had a choice between a chocolate or blueberry muffin, I would definitely go for the blueberry! I know, I know. It may sound insane that I would choose blueberry over chocolate. But who could pass up a cupcake-like muffin bursting bright, juicy, blueberries?! I can't. However, I try to stay away from blueberry muffins despite my love for them. They are usually very calorie and fat laden, which is fine once and while. But why eat something unhealthy when you can make a healthier(and very tasty) version of it yourself? Once you make these blueberry muffins, you will never guess that they are healthier than normal blueberry muffins. They are fluffy, moist, bursting with blueberries, and have a super high muffin top! Which, if I do say so myself, is the best part of a muffin! In this recipe, you use low-fat sour cream to replace a good bit of the butter; there is only a 1/2 stick of butter in the whole recipe! Trust me, replacing some butter with sour cream does save a TON of calories, but does not sacrifice any flavor whatsoever. I really don't believe in making healthy recipes with unfamiliar, hard-to-find, expensive ingredients. I mean, who has protein powder in their cabinet all the time? I sure don't. Who wants to buy a whole package of expensive artificial sweeteners if you are only going to use it once or twice? Not me, especially because artificial sweeteners are worse for you than regular sugar. The ingredients for these wonderful muffins are super simple, and you probably have most of them lying around: butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, sour cream, flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and blueberries. What makes this recipe even better is that if you don't have blueberries, you can put whatever you want in them! Cranberries, raspberries, apples, nuts, a dusting of cinnamon-sugar, chocolate chips, or maybe even stuffed with peanut butter ;) This recipe is a perfect, skinnier, blank canvas for your favorite muffin flavors! So go ahead, indulge in a blueberry muffin and feel better about eating it too! 



1/4 cup(half stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar(plus some extra for sprinkling on top of the muffins) 
2 eggs, room temperature 
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream( I used Daisy Light)
2 tbsp water 
1 tsp vanilla 
1 3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour 
2 1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh blueberries 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and spray them with non-stick cooking spray. Spraying the cupcake liners is necessary. Your muffins will stick to the liners and tear if you do not spray them. 

Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs until completely combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the sour cream, vanilla, and water. 

In a small bowl, toss the blueberries and flour together until the blueberries are coated. This prevents the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffin when the muffins are baking.

In a large bowl, gently whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Gently stir the mixture together until just combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries. The batter will be slightly lumpy, and that's OK

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups until they are almost full. Sprinkle some of the extra sugar on top of the batter. 

Bake the muffins for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Once baked, remove the muffins from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack. 

*Please do not take this recipe or photos from my blog and use them as your own. If you do wish to post my recipe on your blog, please ask for permission by emailing me. Thank you. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Not Just Any Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi everyone! I hope you had an awesome weekend :). As a part of my blog, I want to share with you some of my favorite "basic" recipes. These are the recipes that everyone needs to have. Sugar cookies, brownies, vanilla/chocolate cake, frosting, aaaaaand (drumrollllllll) chocolate chip cookies!

However, I would not exactly call these cookies "basic". As much as I love chocolate chip cookies, they have to be right in order for me to eat them. I am extremely picky-choosey about the chocolate chip cookies that I eat; they have to be soft, chewy, flavorful, and homemade. Homemade cookies are so much more special than the store-bought variety. For one thing, you don't always get them. You can buy store bought cookies any day, but homemade only come once and a while; they are exclusive! And, you can eat them hot out of the oven! Which is the best ;) 

These particular cookies are moist, thick, and oh so soft! Hard cookies are NOT ALLOWED in my kitchen. Unless they are my mom's amazing biscotti, of course. I promise, these cookies will definitely be a staple recipe once you give them a try. They get their awesomeness from these components: shortening, brown sugar, an extra egg yolk, cornstarch, and chilling. I know, I know, you may be shaking your head at the fact that there is shortening in this recipe. You're probably thinking that these cookies lose flavor because there is less butter. But, my friends, they don't! See, I use half butter and half shortening in my chocolate chip cookies. You get all the butter flavor, but none of the spread that makes cookies crisp and flat. Using shortening reduces their spread in the oven, therefore, making thicker and puffier cookies. This recipe calls for more brown sugar than white sugar. Brown sugar provides flavor and moistness because it contains molasses, rather than white sugar which does not. In addition to a whole egg, you will need an extra egg yolk.  Adding an egg yolk adds moisture and richness without making the cookies "cake-y". Now, here is the ingredient that you may not always see in chocolate chip cookie recipes: cornstarch. There is only a little bit of it in the cookie dough, but boy does it make a big difference! I would't make my chocolate chip cookies without them, and I bet you won't either once you try these! Cornstarch keeps your cookies soft and thick, not flat and crunchy. The last thing that allows these chocolate chip cookies to be so wonderful is chilling the dough. We all like to chill-ax sometimes, don't we? Well, it turns out that your cookie dough does too! I personally like to chill my dough overnight, but an hour and a half will be sufficient enough. Chilling the dough, along with corn starch and shortening, produces thick cookies. The colder the dough is, the less the cookies will spread. Even though the cookies have to chill for awhile, the only bake for 8 minutes! 9 at the max. They will look very under baked. However, they won't be! Once you remove them from the oven, you let them sit on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes. The cookies will continue to bake during this time, allowing your cookies to be soft but not raw(even though I have no problem with eating raw cookie dough ;)). Keep in mind that even though these cookies are anything but "basic", the dough itself makes for a great blank canvas! You can add so many different things to this wonderful dough: nuts, white chocolate chips, raisins, chopped candy bars, M&M's, anything your cookie-craving heart desires! 

Now, go buy some chocolate chips and get baking! Everyone needs a good old chocolate chip cookie once and a while :)



3/4 cup light brown sugar 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 egg and 1 egg yolk, room temperature 
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1/3 cup shortening(Crisco), softened 
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder 
1 cup + 3 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Yields: 22-24 cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper. 

Cream butter, shortening, and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until completely combined. Stir in the flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. 

Chill the dough for at least an hour and a half. 

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-9 minutes until the bottom edges of the cookies are golden. Remove them from the oven and allow them to rest on the baking sheet for 3 minutes. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. Store the cookies in an air-tight container to keep them soft. 

Recipe Adapted From: Betty Crocker's Baking Classics  
*Please do not take this recipe or photos from my blog and use them as your own. If you do wish to post my recipe on your blog, please ask for permission by emailing me. Thank you.