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Archive for December, 2011

I hope everyone’s holiday is going well. I have a two day work week this week and then a three day weekend for the new year! Woohoo! We had family come up to visit after Christmas this year. I decided to make some cinnamon rolls the night before so they would be easy to pop in the oven in the morning.

I used a recipe from Alton Brown; I can always trust him for some good food. This method is a little more difficult than the Pillsbury cans of cinnamon rolls, but so worth it. They were delicious.

Cinnamon Rolls
Dough:

  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 whole egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 package rapid rise (instant dry) yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbps melted butter, for brushing on dough

Icing:

  • 1/4 cup softened cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a stand mixer, wisk together eggs, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add 2 cups flour along with yeast and salt, wisk to combine. Replace wisk with dough hook, add another cup of flour and knead on low for 5 minutes. Check dough and it should be soft and moist but not sticky. I ended up using another cup of flour to get my dough right. Knead for another 5 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for about 30 seconds. Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it, cover the top of the dough with oil as well. Cover and let rise for around 2 hours. I used a damp paper towel and a dish towel on top of that.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt filling in a separate bowl. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and shape dough into a rectangle, with the longest side closest to you. Using a rolling pin, roll into a large 18×12-inch rectangle, i just estimated. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving about a 1/2 inch at the top edge. Spread filling mixture out over the dough, leaving that top edge clear. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll the dough tightly and pinch the seam to seal the dough. Reshape as needed to make the roll even. Using a serrated knife, make 12 even cuts, about 1 1/2 inches each. Arrange in the baking dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator overnight.

When ready to bake in the morning, place the rolls in a cold oven, don’t turn it on! Fill a pan with boiling water and place it below the rolls in the oven. Close the oven and let rise for around 30 minutes. Remove both pans from the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

When heated, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Mix cream cheese and milk on medium speed with a mixer. Add powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Spread over hot rolls and enjoy!

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During the holiday season I always look forward to a steaming glass of Glühwein. A traditional German mulled wine, Glühwein is always a treat for me. While spending time family on Christmas, while outside caroling with friends, or watching Twelfth Night in Regent’s Park open air theatre (the first place I had Glühwein), who doesn’t enjoy warmth, wine, & spices?! Yes please.

I have made Glühwein lots of different ways, most often with orange, cinnamon, whole cloves, and sugar. I decided to take a slightly different approach this time around. As I usually don’t like my wines overly sweet in general, I decided to cut the added sweetness for this recipe.

Instead of sugar, I used honey, and in place of the orange juice and peel, I used a little bit of apple cider we had in the fridge. And for easy measuring I used a white wine glass.

Glühwein or Mulled Wine

  • 1 wine glass of water
  • 1/2 wine glass apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 bottle red wine (I think I ended up using less since I was pouring it out of one of those huge bottles and didn’t want to use all of it)

Bring water, cider, honey, cinnamon and cloves to a simmer in a sauce pot on the stove. I let it reduce and simmer together for around 15 minutes.

Turn the heat to low and add the bottle of wine. Let it heat up until steaming. Don’t let the mixture boil; we want to keep all of that wonderful alcohol! When hot, remove from heat and place a cover on the pot. Let flavors meld together for another hour. I’ll admit, I didn’t actually do this, it tastes pretty good right away! Enjoy!

Happy Boxing Day!

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Merry Christmas to all

And to all a good night.

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I really hate milk. Nothing sounds more disgusting than drinking a nice cold glass of milk. No, not even with warm chocolate chip cookies.

I have never liked milk. When I was a kid, I drank orange juice with calcium because I wasn’t getting any like everyone else did from milk. Full disclosure, I did, however, kinda-sorta like chocolate milk. Especially when it came in a little plastic bag in elementary school. It was always a challenge not to poke the straw all the way through the bag, and therefore spill it everywhere.

A while back, there was a story on NPR about chocolate milk of all things. School food reform advocates want to get rid of chocolate milk served in schools because of the added sugar and calories. On the other hand, chocolate milk has been gaining popularity among athletes, especially runners, for recovery. Some recent studies found that the protein in milk speeds up muscle recovery and can help boost endurance. As an occasional runner, I can say with total confidence that milk is the last thing I want to drink after a long run, but who knows, maybe one day!

And on that note, here’s to you milk, on this Christmas Eve. And here’s a recipe for some frozen hot chocolate I made this afternoon.

Frozen Hot Chocolate

  • 3 oz chocolate, chopped into pieces; whatever kind you prefer
  • 1 packet powdered hot chocolate mix
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • whipped cream for topping

Place chocolate chunks in a double-boiler over medium heat and stir until melted. Add the hot chocolate mix and stir until combined. I used Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate mix that we had gotten as a gift. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup milk and stir until smooth. Bring chcolate mixture to room temperature.

Add chocolate mixture, the rest of the milk, and ice cubes and blend until smooth. Serve topped with whipped cream. This makes about two large cups of frozen hot chocolate.

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A few days ago, I went with my sisters to an LYO alumni Christmas get together. It’s always so great to see old friends in town for the holidays! It was a tacky sweater theme and we did a white elephant swap with silly little gifts we all brought; it was actually pretty hilarious.

Something just as hilarious was in the front lawn of a house in the neighborhood where we were. They had, from what we could see, at least 20 inflatable Christmas decorations in their front lawn. It was just craziness!

Last night as part of our Christmas together, Cainon took me to see the Washington Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre downtown. I hadn’t seen the ballet, or any ballet, in so long. It was a great way to celebrate, I’ve always loved all of the music and the dancing was beautiful.

Afterwards, we went to dinner at Zaytinya, where neither of us had been before. It was so yummy. I need to make some of my own Htipiti soon; it’s a Greek feta dip; theirs was amazing!

Happy Holidays!!

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After work on Friday I went with four lovely friends to see the National Christmas Tree! It was a little underwhelming but still fun to see. We stopped at Chef Geoff’s to wait for a drink at happy hour. It’s pretty great.

On our way over to the mall, we stopped for a few photos near The Willard. Woohoo!

We stopped to have a couple take a group photo of us (which I don’t have), & then we returned the favor. For some reason, I love this photo:

Hooray National Christmas Tree!

Yes, this ornament was on Vermont’s state tree, but I couldn’t help myself! GO HOKIES!

Washington Monument & mini state trees.

& on the other side, the White House.

The big bonfire to warm ourselves up.

And then we stopped in Santa’s workshop to say hi and ask for lots of presents since we all have been very good this year:

Merry Christmas!

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It’s mid-December and you know what what means! My sisters are home from college! My middle sister, Emily, came home late on Wednesday night and we decided to cook a few things up on Thursday.

Emily decided to make one of her holiday favorites, Cracker Toffee! This thing goes by a few different names, so you might call it something else: saltine toffee, white trash toffee, etc. etc.

It starts out with a sleeve of club crackers spread out in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet.

Then comes the cooking of the caramel. Melt together one cup butter and one cup brown sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Let it melt and cook over medium heat until bubbly and gaining the consistency of caramel. Make sure to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn or stick!

After everything melted and ready, quickly pour the melted toffee over the layer of crackers.

It looks awesome. Then spread out the toffee over all of the crackers.

In a 350 oven, stick the cookie sheet in and let the caramel and crackers cook and solidify for about 8-10 minutes.

After the cooked toffee and crackers come out of the oven, you spread chocolate chips all over the top. Make sure that this is done pretty quickly after you take the toffee out of the oven to make sure they all melt!

After they’re on the toffee, give it a second and then use a spatula and spread out the chips as they melt to cover all of the sugar and crackers. After the chocolate is melted and spread out, sprinkle the Heath bar pieces all over the toffee. Stick it in the fridge and let it cool down and totally solidify for a few hours. You really could top this with almost anything.: candy cane pieces, more chunks of chocolate, coconut!

YUM! Seriously this stuff is so good. Sweet, salty, chocolatey. Cheap, simple, delicious. What more could you ask for?

Thanks for making me treats, Em!

 

Cracker Toffee

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
  • 1 sleeve club crackers or saltines, whatever cracker you prefer
  • 20 crushed up mini Heath Bars

Heat oven to 350. Spread the crackers out over a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Melt together butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until the mixture is thickened.

Pour the caramel mixture over the crackers and spread out to cover all of them. Place cookie sheet in oven and cook for 5-7 minutes. Keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn’t burn!

After it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the bag of chocolate chips over the toffee. Let it melt for a minute or two and spread out to cover all of the toffee.

Sprinkle the crumbled toffee pieces over the top and place in the fridge for several hours until hardened. Break into pieces and enjoy!

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