Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sunday Cinnamon Rolls

It's been almost a year since I've ventured baking something bread-like. For those who don't know, I'm not a huge fan of baking. However, when I made these I was highly motivated for them to turn out well - I was grumpy because the weather should have started to warm up but hadn't, and I'd been eating healthy all week and was simply craving a huge helping of 100% refined, white, and doughy carbs...... So lets just say it was really easy to become a 'baker' for an afternoon.

I found out in the making of these that my Mr. Animator apparently loves cinnamon rolls. He was a big supporter of me making these.

These smell heavenly as they bake. The rich, sweet scent of baking bread gives way to the aromatic wafts of cinnamon with a subtle hint of nutmeg. The scents become tastes as you pour over the soft buttery icing for it's final touches and eat them before they fully cool. Because lets be honest - cinnamon rolls are best when they're warm.

Here is the warning that comes with these - predetermine who you will share them with! They have more than an entire cup of butter in them, are sinfully good, and will impress just about anyone. These are great to take to a brunch, potluck, movie night, or new neighbors, etc, etc, etc.... Whatever you're reason for making them, you've been warned - if you don't have a predetermined reason to share, you are in danger of eating them all by yourself. We almost did.


4-5 cups flour (bread flour is the way to go on this, but not totally necessary)
2 packets OR 4.5 teaspoons dry yeast (I use quick acting)
1/2 cup salted butter - melted
3/4 cup milk (almond milk is OK)
1/2 cup water
1/2 sugar
1 egg

1/2 cup butter - melted
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

1 1/2 cups powder sugar
2 Tablespoon salted butter - melted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons hot water

Make the dough, roll the dough, fill the dough, roll the dough, cut, bake, ice (as in icing), eat.

To make the dough - mix the flour, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, and set aside. Then warm the butter, milk, and water in a small sauce pan until it reaches 120º-130º F, stirring constantly to make sure the butter is melted. Pour the warmed milk mixture into a standing mixer (KitchenAid or the like), add the egg, and beat until combined. Start mixing in the flour 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is doughy, but not overly gooey. It will be sticky, but you don't want it too dry or too wet. Think a texture similar to canned biscuits, but a little more doughy.
Mix/kneed dough for about 1-2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (I turn my oven on to 350º for 3-4 minutes, so it's nice and warm, but not anywhere close to 350º, then I stick the dough in there), and let rise until dough is about double. Maybe 20 minutes if you're using fast-acting yeast.

Meanwhile, prep the filling by mixing the sugar and spices together, and melting the butter in a separate small bowl.

Once doubled, turn down out onto a clean, well floured surface. **If you've never floured a surface before, you basically sift/scatter a bunch of flour on your counter top. Your goal is to not have the dough stick to your hands or your counter.**


Gently kneed the dough into a ball, then roll into a large flat rectangle. The thinner it is, the more spirals you'll have. I roll mine to about 1/4 inch.

Spread the melted butter for the filling evenly over the dough, then the sugar filling. If you need more filling due to added surface area, don't hesitate to make and add more!

Then roll the dough into a giant log, long side to long side. Using dental floss or a large, sharp knife, cut into 2" wide circles. Place circles loosely into a large 9x13 baking pan lined with parchment paper. You don't really want then touching, as they'll expand during cooking. Given them about a 1/4-1/2 inch 'personal space' bubble, and once they cook, they'll have grown into that space. You can also divid the circles among two large cookie sheets so they stay perfectly round and separate as they cook. I personally like them mushed into a pan together.

Bake at 375º F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on the parts not covered with caramelized. cinnamon and sugar.

Meanwhile, make the icing by mixing together all the icing ingredients until smooth.

Once the rolls are done, and cooled slightly, top with icing, and serve while warm!

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Fruit purees are something that I love about the warmer months. They not only satisfy a sweet tooth, but they cool you down and give you a serving or three of fruits (and sometimes veggies if you can sneak those in).

This strawberry frozen yogurt is tart, sweet, and extremely satisfying. It's also pretty darn easy. Because strawberries are naturally both sweet and tart, you don't need to add much extra sweetener. Also, the greek yogurt adds a nice creamy texture to this tasty frozen treat, without having to pile on the dairy or calories. A huge plus for me.

As shown here, you can mix and match fruits for additional flavors (Strawberry Mango has been my favorite so far!), but the idea is the same - blend the fruit and enjoy it frozen.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before you start:
  • Resist the urge to add liquid to help it blend better! Just keep mashing down the frozen mixture until it starts to blend. Then blend until smooth. 
  • Before you start, pick out a resealable glass container that you'll put the finished product in. If the frozen yogurt can go into a pre-chilled bowl, it will harden up faster and not melt as fast when you take it out to serve.
  • Add sweetener as you go. You can't undo it if you overdo it, but you can always add more until you're happy. Agave Nectar, honey, sugar, even maple syrup are all decent options. 


6oz Plain or Vanilla Greek Yogurt
4-5 Cups Frozen Strawberries*
Sweetener to taste (2 Tablespoons Honey and 2 Tablespoons white sugar is what I use)

*Strawberry Mango: 2 cups frozen strawberries, 3 cups frozen mangos


Blend frozen strawberries, yogurt, and sweetener in food processor until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Freeze for 30 minutes, and remove at serving time. 

Be quick, this tasty treat melts fast!