Honey Cardamom Cut Out Cookies

I’ve been making a lot of cookies lately. The reasons are varied, but as that’s just where things have been at in the kitchen, y’all can expect a few of the next posts in the coming weeks to be cookie-themed. Personally I think it’s impossible for there to be too many cookie-anything, but that’s just my opinion. And while you’re here, I might as well give another one:

Cut out cookies are the best kind.

What ARE cut outs?

Cut out cookies are cookies that are baked with the intention of holding a particular shape. Mostly, they tend to fall on the sugar cookie flavored spectrum. This is different than say, a drop cookie (like chocolate chip cookies), where the dough is dropped from an ice cream scoop or teaspoon. Most cut out cookie doughs are sturdy and durable in order to be able to withhold being rolled out by a rolling pin and pressed out by cookie cutters.Drop cookies are undoubtedly less laborious than cut outs, as you don’t have to bother with cutting out the shapes. Because sugar cookies tend to be my favorite, I still prefer cut outs. Provided you have a tasty flavored dough, I feel that they are worth the extra effort.

I’ve said it dozens of times before and I’ll keep saying it for anyone who may be reading this post and thinking that cut outs are too hard to attempt: it really does come down to how you treat the dough. Cut out cookie dough (heck, MOST cookie dough) requires very specific treatment in order to get the pretty, magazine quality aesthetics that you want. I’ve baked hundreds (maybe even thousands at this point) of cookies at this point in my baking adventures and I’ve been truly mortified to find that too many of the recipes out there omit what I believe is the most important step in cookie baking:

Chilling the dough.

I just don’t understand it. SO many cut out cookie recipes I’ve seen instruct you to bake the cookies just minutes after putting the dough together.

This is just…not good advice.

In the first place, the fat (butter) in the dough should be thoroughly creamed and softened by the time that you’re finished mixing it. This is what makes the dough sticky. Room temp, sticky cookie dough WILL produce cookies that spread, and spread a lot. This completely defeats the purpose of cut out cookies–the more that they spread, the more that the shapes you spent all that time cutting out will be warped by the heat of the oven. Even drop cookie dough that is baked when too warm will produce cookies that are flat as pancakes instead of puffy, craggy cookies that at least resemble domes. Ask me how I know.

Cookie dough should be VERY cold when it hits the oven. Not warm and sticky. Not cool. COLD. The colder it is, the easier it will be to cut out, and the better your shapes will hold up.Therefore, In almost every single one of the cookie recipes I share, I will tell you to refrigerate the finished cookie dough for at least one hour (but preferably overnight) in order to give the butter in the dough plenty of time to firm up. Additionally, whenever I make cut outs, I take it a step further and chill the cookies for a few minutes after I’ve cut them out. Excessive? Maybe. But I’d prefer to let the results speak for themselves.

I made these primarily because they were a departure from the usual vanilla sugar cut out cookie that I make and I was curious as to how they would turn out. They’re sweetened with both white sugar and honey, and spiced with cardamom and ground ginger. After cutting them out, I also sprinkled the tops with cinnamon sugar to give them a bit of texture. You don’t necessarily need to cut out the middles if you don’t have a tiny cutter, or if you just don’t want to. Just please give your dough the proper amount of chilling time in the fridge so that the shapes you cut them in will hold up.

These aren’t overly sweet, and the spices do most of the work flavor-wise. I also found that they also improve in flavor the longer that they have to sit, so they may taste even better on the second or third day after you make them then they do on the first. Just place a slice of bread in the container you store them in, and they’ll be sure to stay soft (that’s a tip from my bag of tricks that works for any baked cookie, actually).

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #222, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com.

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Honey Cardamom Cut Out Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

In a medium bowl combine the  flour with the cardamom, ginger, salt and baking soda with a fork. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld one) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolk, honey and vanilla and combine until just combined. Add the flour mixture in batches, mixing until just combined.

Scrape the dough out and onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a disc, wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Divide the dough into quarters, keeping the other 3 in the fridge while you roll out the one.

Sprinkle a clean work surface (like a pastry mat, wax paper or a cutting board) with powdered sugar or flour. Roll out the quarter of dough to your desired thickness (I wouldn’t go thinner than 1/4 inch) Cut into whatever desired shapes you like. I used a 2- to 2 ½-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into rounds and placed on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. I then used a ¾- to 1-inch round cookie cutter, and cut out the centers from half of the cookies. Reroll and cut the scraps as necessary. Also don’t throw away the centers, as they make delicious mini cookie bites.

Place the sheet pans in the freezer for around 10 minutes. Sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar, and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool on pans for 3 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.

Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

I have a confession to make.

I don’t think I’ve ever admitted it to anyone before. I’m pretty sure I’ve never even said it out loud. I considered keeping it to to myself and taking this huge, scandalous secret with me to my grave just because I know that it’s going to shock some (and maybe a lot) of you. You might even second guess or doubt my instincts for taste and good food. I’ve tried to deny it. I’ve tried to change it. But it’s just no good. This is just who I am. This is my truth and well, here it is:

I…don’t like the Little Debbie Honey Buns. At all.

I know, right? But calm down. Take a deep breath. Just let me explain.

When I was growing up as a kid, Little Debbie snacks were almost like a form of currency on the school bus, at lunch tables, lockers, the playground, etc. A few of my classmates and a drama teacher had full running ‘businesses’ hocking a pop up shop of candy, pickles and Little Debbie treats. Weird? Nah, not really. They made a killing off it because as it turns out, kids love candy, pickles and Little Debbie snacks. I remember being jealous of their profits. But I guess I just didn’t have the ‘entrepreneur’ knack…or more importantly, the start-up funds from my mom to kickstart a hustle of my own.

Don’t get me wrong y’all, I’m not knocking Little Debbie snacks entirely. There are several that I did and still DO think are tasty; the Donut Sticks for one.  Oatmeal Cream Pies for another. And Star Crunch. Terrible for you? Yes. Delicious? Double Yes.

All of the above snacks would be apart of the pop up stores, lunch room swaps and locker purchases in my childhood. But the biggest seller–I mean the one that was the *most* popular, hands down–were the Honey Buns. Everyone loved Honey Buns. For those that still don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, Honey Buns are yeast pastry buns flavored with ‘honey’ and ‘cinnamon’, then dunked in a thick layer of ‘icing’. I have my reasons for throwing the quotation mark shade, and they have everything to do with my distaste of the infamous Honey Bun that last to this day.

Like many other mass produced packaged snacks, Honey Buns are loaded with preservatives. I realize that this just comes with the territory but whatever the preservatives are that used to make them, they don’t gel with my taste buds. I’m just speculating here, but I’m pretty sure the amount of actual honey and cinnamon that are in a finished Honey Bun isn’t…much. And it shows.

And then there’s that icing. Oh God, that icing. The texture is what throws me off. It’s gloopy. It’s gelatinous. It’s…y’all I don’t even *know* what it is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. What I do know is that I find it yucky and it’s a large part of why I never liked Honey Buns and finally stopped trying to.

Look guys, if you’re a huge fan of Little Debbie Honey Buns, that’s fine. You’re not alone. Quite a lot of other people are.

But the way I see it, if you’re going to indulge in a Honey Bun, why not make it an actual…honey bun? Y’know, one where the dough is fresh baked and isn’t loaded with preservatives, where it can go beyond just a snack and actually act as a filling breakfast, a bun where there’s  more than just a thimble sized amount of honey involved?

Do I have a your attention yet? Good.

As you can see, these aren’t a thing like the Little Debbie Honey Buns, and frankly I think that’s a plus. The dough is soft, fluffy and chewy. They’re crammed with breakfast sausage that I browned then flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, pepper and (of course) honey. After that, they’re rolled up cinnamon bun style, but wait! Now we’re at the *really* good part: an ACTUAL HONEY glaze that’s lightly flavored with orange juice/zest is both brushed on top of the rolls as they bake, but also poured beneath them in the pan. What this results in, is a thicker,, stickier, syrupy glaze that you can drizzle and drag the rolls through once they’re finished. It’s everything.

I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better. I got a huge load off my chest and shared an awesome recipe with y’all all at once. That’s a great way to go into the weekend. Hope all of yours is a good one. Be easy.

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #198, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons.

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Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

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Ingredients

For Glaze

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 1 orange)

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Bun Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs

 

 

Directions

For Glaze: Melt the butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the glaze ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For the Sausage Filling: Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Brown the sausage in the skillet in crumbles. Remove from heat and drain well. Move sausage into a medium size bowl and stir in the butter, honey, cinnamon, pepper and brown sugar. Set aside and allow to fully cool.

For Buns: Heat milk in a 3-quart saucepan over medium until bubbles begin to form around the edge of pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine warm water and yeast in a 1-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top of the yeast mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbly.

Add yeast mixture, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar to warm milk; stir until relatively smooth. Place mixture in a warm place (85°F) until bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the shortening with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer) until fluffy. Add the 2/3 cup of sugar and beat together until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time. Gradually spoon in the yeast mixture to the shortening-sugar mixture, mixing on low in batches until combined. Add remaining 3 cups flour, in batches, beating just until blended after each addition.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook; beat dough on medium speed until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto  floured surface and knead with your hands for an additional 2 minutes. Grease/oil a bowl and place dough inside, covering with plastic wrap and  damp towel. Allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the honey glaze in the bottom of the dish, being sure to cover all corners (you can pour in more if you want a more gooey, sticky bottom on your buns). Set aside.

Punch dough down on a floured work surface to deflate air bubbles. Divide in half, place one half back in bowl and re-cover with plastic wrap. Roll out the other half to a rectangle, about  10- x 8-inches. Sprinkle one half of the sausage filling over the dough, leaving 1 inch border around. Starting from the long end, roll into a tight cylinder and pinch together to seal.  Cut off & discard the two short ends to create smooth, even buns. Cut cylinder crosswise into 4 to 5 (1 1/2-inch-thick) rounds. Place each bun cut side down in the baking dish. Repeat with second dough half and sausage filling. When finished, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap & a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on middle oven rack until golden brown on top, 55 minutes to 1 hour. (If buns are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil after baking 30 minutes.)  When finished, brush or drizzle some of the remaining honey glaze on top of buns.

Honey Whole Wheat Dinner (Sc)rolls

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I remember when I was first starting to learn how to cook and was struggling with a few dishes that came out less than successful. It made me mad and frustrated. My mom, because she’s very patient and quite a great cook herself, told me that I was getting worked up over nothing and that it would be fine. I just needed to get a grasp on a few fundamentals. By fundamentals, she meant some basic cooking techniques and methods, and most importantly, the flavor of  specific spices. Once I understood and grasped the ‘basics’ of cooking techniques and what specific spices/ingredients ‘do’, I would be comfortable enough to improvise and be able to make just about any dish and make it my own.

She’s a mom and a very good one, so of course she was right.

If I had to give advice to inexperienced cooks to where they should start if they do want to cook, it’d be my mom’s: learn the basics. Very little is worse than bland food; get comfortable with spices. VERY comfortable. Learn which ones ‘do’ what. (Your nose is a great resource for this: how they smell is very similar to how they will taste) Start with a basic, easy to follow recipe for what you want to make. Make it. Make it again. And again. Then, when you’ve started to feel comfortable with both the technique and the ingredients you’re using, start adding on & altering it to fit your own style and tastes.

Making adaptations and adding personalization to one’s cooking is one thing but I will say that doing it when it comes to one’s baking is another. It isn’t impossible, but it is different.

Why?

The simplest answer is that baking is a scientific reaction. Baking scientific reactions happen based upon individual elements that combine together and react to one another. If you alter the combination, it’s very likely that you’ll alter (or in this case ruin) the reaction. However, I have found with some practice that my Mom’s advice for cooking can work for baking as well.

I’ve found that when it comes to baking, you can get away with personalizing it so long as you don’t mess with the basic chemistry and ratio of wet ingredients to dry ones. That ratio is what mainly determines the chemical reaction that results in the dish itself, so unless you’re a food scientist I wouldn’t go messing around with that too much. Most of what I do when personalizing in baking has to do with two things: flavors, and shaping. The flavors are something you can adjust in just about anything: cake, pie, cookie dough, biscuits, scones, whatever. The shaping is something I’ve learned to play around with in my bread making.

Once I understood enough of the basics and got comfortable with making bread, I started branching out to want to make more than just a standard loaf or round balls of dough I baked in cake pans. Most yeast based bread dough is flexible enough to where once you get it past it’s first rise, you can shape it into just about anything you want and it will turn out fine. If you guys have been following my blog for a while then you’ve seen some of the ways I’ve been practicing my bread shaping skills with other flexible dough (Cinnamon Star Bread, Cornflower Yeast Rolls, Golden Santa Bread).

I’ve been using today’s recipe for a while now. It was one of the first bread recipes I tried. I was impressed with not only how easy it is to make, but how delicious the bread is. I’ve already said how much I like the combination of honey and whole wheat and these have a good amount of both honey & whole wheat flour in them, so that flavor isn’t lacking at all. Instead of shaping them into basic rolls though, I decided to do something a bit different: rolling them into scroll shapes. It was for no particular reason; I just wanted to see if it would work.

It did. It’s always nice when that happens.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #172, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living.

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Honey Whole Wheat Dinner (Sc)rolls

Recipe Adapted from Chowhound.com

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Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil, for coating the bowl
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), plus 1/4 cup reserved)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For Tops:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • About 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon yellow cornmeal

 

Directions

Combine the flour, yeast and salt together in the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk or a fork.

Melt 8 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the milk and honey, stir together until combined and allow to warm to a temp between 105 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit, about 2 to 5 minutes.

Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and add the beaten eggs. Use the dough hook attachment to stir together on low until just combined. Then, increase the speed to medium high and continue kneading until formed a smooth, elastic dough—about 10 minutes.  It’s okay if it’s sticky.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl and set aside. Grease the bottom of the bowl with vegetable oil, then place dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size.

Melt the 1/4 cup of butter in a small bowl. Deflate the dough and roll out to a rectangle, about 11 x 15 inches.  Brush the melted butter evenly over the dough. Using a bench scraper or knife cut the dough into individual rectangular strips. Roll the strips up into scrolls.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the scrolls onto the sheets, then cover with plastic wrap and a damp paper towel again. Allow to rise until double in size, about another hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl combine the beaten egg and water. Brush over the scolls, then sprinkle with the oats and cornmeal. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the bottoms and tops are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for about 1o minutes before serving.

Honey Yeast Rolls

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And just like that, October is over.

2015 is less than two months away from being completely over and I really can’t believe it. This has been one heck of a year. It seems like just yesterday we all were pooling together out summer recipes and now it’s getting to be about that time when we turn our thoughts to Thanksgiving and all the wonderful things we’re going to cook and eat.

As much of a self-proclaimed Christmas fiend as I am, I gotta say that I love cooking for Thanksgiving the most. There are just a set menu of dishes that me and my family ALWAYS eat on that day that we don’t usually do on other holidays when we get together to eat and I really do look forward to the tradition of it every year.

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Today’s recipe I think, would be a more than welcome addition to any Thanksgiving table.

Is it ‘easier’ to buy the commercial brands in the bread aisles? Sure, but I don’t think that they taste as good.

Plus, if you’re anything like me, you’d much rather be able to plop a tray of these babies on the table with a pleased-tad-bit-smug grin on your face as everyone oohs and aahs over them with questions of “Omg, did you actually MAKE these?!”

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Seeing the pleasure someone gets out of bread that I made myself almost always trumps the convenience of me buying it in the store. It just does. Plus, it really is cheaper.

(And to be honest, any cook/baker who tells you they don’t love flattery of their food is lying. Trust me on that. We love it when people praise our stuff. LOVE it.)

But to be fair, this recipe is one that I doubt anyone would be able to resist flattering someone for serving. I’ve made A LOT of yeast breads since i became serious about practicing my baking skills and sometimes the dinner roll recipes I try do have a tendency to blur together and in some instances, taste good but also pretty much the same.

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But let me tell you guys, this recipe DEFINITELY isn’t one of them. It stands out for a number of reasons, the taste being the most crucial.

These rolls are GOOD. Really good. The flavor of the honey really makes itself known, being in both the dough, and a friggin marvelous spread of honey butter that gets slathered on top as soon as they come out of the oven piping hot.

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And did I mention that they puff up to a ginormous size? Cause mine sure did.

Not that I’m complaining about that, though. The bigger the better.

(…that’s what she said ;-))

Happy Fiesta Friday #93 to all of our guests and of course to our lovely co-hosts  Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Kaila @ GF LIfe 24/7!

Enjoy my rolls guys 🙂

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Honey Yeast Rolls


Courtesy of  “Southern Living: 1001 Ways to Cook Southern”

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
  • 1 (1/4 oz.) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a small bowl and let stand 10 minutes or until mixture bubbles

Meanwhile, heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until 100° to 110°.

Stir together warm milk, eggs and next 3 ingredients in a bowl of a heavy duty electric stand mixer, blending well. Add yeast mixture, stirring to combine. Gradually add 5 cups flour, beating at medium speed, using paddle attachment. Beat 3 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 1 hour.

Uncover dough, and add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, beating at medium speed 5 minutes. (Dough will be sticky.) Transfer to a lightly greased large mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts , 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down. Turn dough out on a well-floured surface and roll into 28 ( 2 1/2 inch) balls (about 1/4 cup dough per ball.) Place balls in  2 lightly greased muffin tins. Cover and let rise in a warm place, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 400°. Stir together 1/2 cup softened butter and 1/4 cup honey.

Bake rolls at 400° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Brush tops with honey butter. Serve with remaining honey butter.

Vanilla Almond Butter Bars

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One of the best things about loving to cook is the desire I have to try new types of food. This wasn’t always the case for me, in fact when I was young, I was a pretty finicky eater. I had a specific list of foods that I knew that I liked, and it was pretty much all I was interested in eating.

Now that I cook for fun, I’m usually always up for trying new foods and new ingredients. The upside to this obvious, but the ‘negative’ part to it gets a little bit more complicated. See, when I find a new food that I like, I usually get somewhat addicted to it to the point where I feel like I HAVE to have it in a regular rotation for a while-especially when it’s something that isn’t too complicated to make.

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This year alone I’ve had a HUGE variety of ‘food phases.’ Heck, I’m still in some of them: buffalo wing hummus (which I could make by throwing the ingredients in the food processor),  oven roasted veggies, chicken schwarma wraps, Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal smothered in vanilla yogurt, bananas and peanut butter on toast, Shiritaki Noodle & Zucchini Lo Mein. I’m telling you guys, my cravings have no shame.

One of the cravings that has always stuck with me is the craving to have something sweet right after I’ve finished dinner. It doesn’t have to be something ‘too’ sweet or decadent like cake or candy or ice cream (not that those things aren’t ALL wonderful). I just want something that’s sweet enough to balance out the savory flavors from dinner, but still light enough to not be too heavy or put me in a food coma ( because I usually try to save those for the Holidays).

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I’d always been a fan of raw almonds, but before I started reading food blogs and cookbooks, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as almond butter. But since there seemed to be a lot of people that were fans of it, I decided to take the plunge and buy some for myself.

And I was hooked. That first jar of Maranatha started an obsession with almond butter that I have yet to get over (and honestly hope that I never do). Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always love my peanut butter (after all, it is EXTREMELY cheaper), but I find that almond butter’s flavor isn’t as assertive as peanut butter’s is, and sometimes when it comes to flavors, less is more.

I’ve heard of and seen lots of recipes for no-bake bars that feature peanut butter in them (I’ve tried some, and they’re great), but not so much for almond butter. This recipe’s my little contribution/homage to almond butter. It satisfies the sweet tooth craving I get after dinner without making me feel too full. I’m sure that I’ll be stuck in a phase where I have to eat one at least every day for the next month or two. Another plus side to it is that the ingredients are actually pretty healthy so far as sweets go. Make sure you don’t leave out the vanilla extract guys, it adds something really special to the flavor of the almond butter- plus I love vanilla flavored ANYTHING, so I’ll look for excuse to throw it in a recipe if I think it’ll work…and it did. Rather nicely, I think.  I used Honey Bunches of Oats cereal with the Quick Oats to give the bars some varying textures, but if there’s another cereal that you prefer, feel free to use it. The bars are pretty versatile and ridiculously easy to make. Seriously, I think they take less than 10 minutes to put together, and a few hours to harden. So that means you literally have NO excuse not to make them. Right? Of course right.

FEED(ME) BACK: What’s your favorite thing to eat when you have a sweet tooth?

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Vanilla Almond Butter Bars

Yield: 16 Bars

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy or chunky almond butter
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 2 cups of whole grain oats (either quick or rolled will work fine)
  • 1 cup Honey Bunches of Oats with Vanilla Clusters cereal, or Honey Bunches of Oats with Cinnamon Bunches cereal, slightly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

1. Combine almond butter and honey in a 2 qt saucepan and place over medium heat. Allow to simmer until almond butter has completely liquefied and blended together with the honey. Remove from heat.

2. Stir in vanilla extract.

3. Fold the oats and cereal into the almond butter and honey mixture until evenly combined.

4. Use a rubber spatula to press the mixture into an 8” square cake pan or baking dish, making sure to spread mixture into an even layer.

5. Cover pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight, or at least for one hour.

6. Cut into squares.

Texas Roadhouse Rolls

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There are a handful of restaurants and fast food joints that I like going to for one specific thing, and one specific thing only. Maybe they have other things on the menu that taste good. Maybe there are other things on the menu that aren’t so good. But either way, if I’m going to this place, I’m going to get that one specific thing, or the entire point of the trip is negated.

If it’s Cracker Barrel, I’m going for the pancakes.

A trip to Qdoba means I’m getting a chicken burrito with brown rice, corn, peppers and spicy salsa.

Coldstone Creamery? Cake batter ice cream with graham cracker bits and caramel.

Regardless of what city I’m in, if I’m eating at any Middle Eastern restaurant/deli, I don’t even need to look at a menu. I already know that I’m getting a chicken schwarma wrap with extra hummus.

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And then there’s The Texas Roadhouse.

You guys know where I’m going with this. Anybody (ANY-friggin-body) who has ever been to The Texas Roadhouse knows exactly where I’m going  with this. Don’t get me wrong, The Texas Roadhouse has other things on their menu that taste just fine. I have no complaints for the food in general. But for me, and I suspect for quite a few of you out there, there is but one thing that sets this place apart from all others.

No. It’s not the peanut shells that are littered across the floor.

Nope. I’m not talking about the caricature pictures of Dolly Parton and Willy Nelson on the wall.

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I’m talking about bread, guys.

THE bread.

The best bread to ever pass your lips. I’m not kidding. The first time that you try the Texas Roadhouse bread, you’re going to need a minute to yourself just to process what is happening. You’re not going to think it’s possible that something as simple as bread can taste so good. You’re going to wonder what the heck has been that crap you’ve been eating for years at other restaurants that they try to pass off as ‘bread’ (Unless you’re at Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse- they don’t count here). You’re probably even going to think that the chefs in the kitchen are slipping some crack in the dough.

Well, they don’t put crack in the dough (at least, I THINK they don’t), but the developers at the Texas Roadhouse were definitely onto something the day they perfected this recipe. It’s just that good. When me and my family go to eat there, we always request extra bread, whether we end up with leftovers from our entrees or not. If you go to the Texas Roadhouse and don’t take home a doggy bag of the rolls, then you’re either on a diet (in which case I’m not sure why you’d be going to the TRH anyway), or you have no taste buds (which must be pretty terrible).

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I’ve had this recipe pinned to my food board on Pinterest for a long time now, but never got around to making it. This weekend, I decided to just stop the procrastination and get baking. The recipe for these rolls has been posted on lots of other food blogs, but I decided to go with the one that I saw first, at Eat Cake For Dinner. I didn’t do too much to change it. My changes were to shorten the rising time slightly (as my rolls doubled in size once molded quicker than hers). Whenever I make rolls, I always give them an egg and honey wash on the tops before baking, as I love the crust it gives them, along with an added sweetness.

I suppose the main question on everyone’s mind is: do they taste like the rolls from Texas Roadhouse? Well…yes and no. From my own research on the subject, I’ve read that the authentic ones are made with a flour that has a kind of evaporated/dry form of honey sifted into it, and that they also do not contain eggs or milk so as to widen the restaurant’s audience to include allergy sensitive customers.  I can’t imagine how this is possible, but since my rolls do contain eggs and milk, and don’t have any mad scientist flour, it’s obvious that they aren’t going to be the exact same as the original. BUT….they ARE friggin delicious. And if you have a craving for TRH rolls and don’t have one in your town (or you just can’t stand listening to country music), then these will definitely do in a pinch. I’d make them again for sure.

FEED(ME)BACK: Name one food from any restaurant that you only go there to get, every time.

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Texas Roadhouse Rolls

Recipe adapted from Eat Cake for Dinner

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Yield: 24 rolls (Give or take, depending on how you shape them)

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cup milk, scalded & cooled to lukewarm
  • 3 tbl melted butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7-8 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3 whole eggs, divided
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 100° or lowest possible setting.

2. Scoop some butter or shortening onto a paper towel and grease 2 9 x 9 baking pans.

3. Dissolve yeast in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar; let stand until frothy.

4. Combine yeast mixture, milk, 1/2 cup sugar and enough flour* to make a medium batter (about consistency of pancake batter). Beat thoroughly.

5. Add melted butter, 2 eggs and salt. Beat well.

6. Add enough flour to form a soft dough, about a cup at a time, being sure to scrape the sides of the bowl in the beginning. When the dough pulls away from the bowl and is smooth to the touch, it is ready.

7. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Take a paper towel, and grease the mixing bowl with shortening or butter until it is well covered. Place the dough into the bowl, then turn it upside down once to make sure both sides are greased. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and place it in the oven for about an hour, or until the dough is doubled in size.

8. Punch the down, and turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper or cutting board you’ve sprinkled with flour.

9. Divide the dough into portions for shaping. Place rolls into greased baking pans and cover with plastic wrap. Place pans back in oven and let rest for an additional 30 minutes.

10. Remove plastic wrap from pans. Increase heat to 350°.

11. While oven is heating, whisk egg with honey in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, spread mixture over tops of rolls.

12. Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes in oven, or until golden brown. Baste them with butter as soon as they are removed from oven.

*If you have a sifter, I do recommend sifting your flour into the bowl before adding the other dry ingredients. The finer the flour is sifted, the softer and fluffier the dough will be in texture. It’s worth it. Trust me.