Sweet Cornmeal Scones

Sweet Cornmeal Scones5

Smoked paprika. Onion powder. Worcestershire sauce.  Hoisin sauce. Onion soup mix.

This seems like a random list, I know. But in my private little world of cooking and baking, it totally makes sense.

There are certain ingredients that I have a slight obsession with. If you’re a cook, you’ll know what I mean. No matter what, you always have to have them in your house/kitchen. You search for excuses to put them to use. You’ll swap them in recipes that don’t necessarily call for them, because YOU know from experience that they serve their own unique purpose. I’ve certainly found that to be the case for me with the above mentioned ingredients.

I used to think paprika was pointless. It gave dishes a reddish hue but I never could distinguish a prominent flavor in regular paprika. I still can’t. But the day I discovered smoked paprika? Whooooo. I was hooked. The earthy smokiness is a flavor that will work with just about ANY savory dish, especially Latin and Middle Eastern ones. I freely admit to dumping entire tablespoonfuls of smoked paprika in braises and spice rubs. The tastebuds of the people I’m feeding always thank me later–and if you start using it generously in your food I promise that the tastebuds of the people you feed will thank you as well.

I’m gonna keep it 100 with you guys: I depend on onion powder in seasoning my food even more than I do salt and pepper. Yes. It’s that serious. I’m really sitting here trying to think if there is ANY savory dish that I make where I don’t use onion powder…….yeah, no. There’s not, and that’s because onion powder makes everything taste better. Worcestershire sauce and Hoisin sauce kinda go hand in hand. If you’re making a beef or pork dish and you want to add a deeper, richer layer of flavor to your sauce, then I highly recommend you keep them handy. A tablespoon of hoisin  and few shakes of Worcestershire sauce in a beef stew will REALLY give it that extra boost: trust me on this. lastly, If you think you’re really bad at making gravy–or you’re not bad at it, but you need to make some fast in a pinch, then using dry onion soup mix combined with beef broth is a quick & easy way to get good results.

I left one ingredient off that list on purpose, because it’s largely centered on today’s recipe.  Here’s the thing, guys: I have a slight obsession with cornmeal. I love it. I search for ways to put the stuff in everything, in both sweet and savory applications. I’ve shared two cornbread recipes on the blog already (my grandma’s recipe included which is made of more cornmeal than flour). The fried chicken recipe I shared a few weeks ago was posted alongside a recipe for biscuits that had cornmeal in them. I’ve made several yeast breads that have cornmeal in the dough–heck, I just made one yesterday that I’ll be sharing soon. There’s even a cookie recipe I tried with cornmeal that I really liked. I even sometimes put a sprinkle of cornmeal in my stews, chilis or braises to both thicken the liquid, and give it a subtle corny flavor.

And now, just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be yet another cornmeal recipe I could throw at y’all, here I am… throwing another cornmeal recipe at you.

You only have to take a brief glance at the Recipe Index to figure out that I’m kinda fond of scones.Every so often I get a crazy craving for one that I just have to appease, whether it means finding a coffee shop with a good selection or just making them myself. This time, I went with the latter and decided to see what would happen if I made my favored breakfast pastry with one of my favored ingredients.

This is what happened, and I gotta say: I like it. Cornmeal does admittedly add a coarser, grittier texture to ANY dough you make so if you’re searching for a light and fluffy scone, this may not be the one for you. However, these still do have layers and a flakiness to them that I think the cornmeal adds an interesting and different texture to. They’re somehow flaky and bready at the same time. Flavor-wise, you taste the sweetness from the light brown sugar then the subtle sweetness of the corn-y flavor and somehow, the two just really work together. Oh, and did I mention these were made even better smeared with butter and jam? Cause they were.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted this week by Petra @ Food Eat Love and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Sweet Cornmeal Scones

Recipe Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen, plus more for brushing
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling, optional

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal salt, baking powder, baking soda and brown sugar with a fork.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to divide the rectangle in half, then divide the halves into thirds or fourths squares (depending on what size scones you want).

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the cut scones on it. Freeze them for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, fill a shallow pan with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.

Brush the scones with melted butter and the turbinado sugar, then bake in the oven on the middle rack for about 15-20 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Serve warm, spread with butter or jam.

 

Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Chocolate Donuts4

I’m annoyed guys. Know why? I’ve been having tech issues.

My computer’s been on the fritz.

About 2 and a half weeks ago I got this email from Microsoft offering me a free upgrade to Windows 10. I hate Windows 8 (I don’t know what the developers were thinking with that abstract ‘home screen’ that pops up whenever you push the start button), so I agreed to take the scheduled upgrade and told them to email me when it was ready.

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The appointed day came around. I let my laptop stay open that night, and went to bed. The next morning, I looked through the new interface and was pretty satisfied with what I saw. No more stupid, ugly home screen on Windows 10.

But there was a problem. Two actually.

Now, my computer won’t go to sleep. When I shut the screen down, it does go dark, but the keyboard stays lit and the actual machine keeps running as if it’s still awake. Then when I open the screen, it won’t turn back on. If I want the screen to work, I have to shut the computer off completely, then turn it back on.

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Which brings me to the next issue: now, the ‘Shut Down’ command in my start menu won’t shut down the computer. If I want to turn off my laptop, I have to press down on the power button and manually shut it off. Which, of course, isn’t good.

I’m currently paying for a subscription/protection plan with Geek Squad so, when I first noticed the issue, I scheduled an appointment at my local Best Buy and took the laptop in and left it with them to fix. The next afternoon, they called and told me that the problem was fixed.

Something about a BIOS update that my laptop needed- whatever that means.

I am by absolutely no means, tech savvy. So, I took their word for it, thinking to myself, “Hey, they’re the ‘ex-perts’ here. They know what they’re doing.”

Apparently, this was a mistake.

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Because less than a week after I picked the laptop back up from Geek Squad, lo and behold, it’s back to having the exact same problem.

There could be any number of reasons for this, I suppose. Maybe there’s another BIOS update that my laptop needs (though I still have NO idea what BIOS updates are). Maybe Geek Squad didn’t really fix the problem in the first place. Maybe it’s a new issue.

Or maybe Windows 10, like it’s predecessor, also sucks.

Regardless, I now have to schedule another appointment with the tech guys at GS and hope that they get it right this time. I’m pretty pissed off about it. But rather than focus on that, I’d prefer to focus on something else. Something much more pleasant than malfunctioning electronics and the paid experts who don’t do it right the first time.

Chocolate Donuts5

Like donuts. Glazed chocolate donuts.

There’s something about a thick, soft glazed chocolate donut that can just hit the spot and make everything all better.

There’s a place called Quality Dairy in my area that bakes wonderful chocolate donuts. The only ones I’ve ever been able to eat to be honest, as typically I prefer plain glazed, or apple cider. I’ve wanted to make ones on my own for a while. King Arthur Flour’s recipe for chocolate donuts looked very doable, I just had to make a few adjustments.

First, like every other chocolate baked good that I make, I added a tablespoon of powdered instant coffee to the batter. Interestingly enough, the coffee flavor doesn’t come through- but it does give a REALLY big boost to the chocolate flavor of just about anything. So stick that in your bag of tricks. Second, I had to coat mine in a powdered sugar glaze- only way to go.

The result, as you can see, is marvelous.

I’ll be taking my donuts with me to the Fiesta Friday #82 party, co-hosted this week by Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Sarah @ Sarah’s Little Kitchen, where hopefully I can continue to commiserate about my tech woes with all of you sympathetic people. After all, we’re all bloggers here- we all understand how annoying tech problems can be, right?

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Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/2 oz.) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 oz.) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (about 2 lbs.) vegetable oil or shortening (2 1/2 lbs.), for frying

Glaze

  • 3 1/2 cup (350 grams ) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) hot water

Directions

In a small, heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Cover with plastic wrap and melt over simmering water or at medium power in the microwave. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter/chocolate mixture with the eggs and sugar and mix until light. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, cocoa and instant coffee powder. Add to egg mixture and stir to moisten. Add buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just enough to bring dough together. Gather dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.

To make doughnuts, heat oil or shortening to 350F in a Dutch oven that will hold at least 1 1/2 inches of oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll out chilled dough to a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut into doughnut shapes with a doughnut cutter, or with 2 biscuit cutters-a large for the outside, a small for the hole. Fry the doughnuts 2 or 3 at a time; cook for 90 seconds on 1 side, turn, and cook for 90 seconds on other. Remove donuts from oil with slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels.

To make glaze, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip each donut into the glaze, making sure they are covered completely. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.

Curried Ginger Scones

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The coffee shop near my job is really kinda depressing to me for several reasons.

First, their coffee usually just isn’t that good. Believe me, I’ve tried giving them the benefit of the doubt several times. I’ve bought multiple items on their menu just in case it was a fluke recipe; lattes, cappuccino, hot chocolate. NONE are really worth writing home about- or the $3.00 + change they charge for them. They’re not disgusting just…blah. Bland. However, since they’re the closest thing available to me, and more importantly because I have to feed my coffee addiction (or else bad things happen) I do still get a drink from them on the regular.

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I had to mix things up, though. The barista there and I have a special understanding; she swaps out the regular vanilla syrups used in one of the lattes on their menu (it’s not good) with butterscotch syrup just for me, which really makes the drink taste a world of a lot better.

I kinda wish they would give me the credit for the new drink. Name it in my honor and put it on their menu or something. I feel like I did them a major favor. It actually tastes like it should cost $3.18 now.

Curried Ginger Scones4

Second thing about the coffee shop that depresses me? There’s no hot barista guy working there that I can flirt with in the morning to shake me out of my boredom. Y’know, the guy who gives me the extra shot of espresso free of charge with a commercial-worthy wink “just because” and calls me by my first name and always asks me how my weekend was or what my weekend will be like.

This should be basic elementary coffee shop stuff 101, amIright?

But even more depressing than the just-below-average coffee and absence of a hot barista guy named Wes in the coffee shop are their “baked goods”. The quotation marks were intentional. I’m really not even sure if I should call them that- seems like an insult to be honest. There’s nothing “good” about them. It’s that bad, you guys. I almost don’t even know where to start. They over bake EVERYTHING. I mean, good Lord. Whoever they’re paying to be their baker/pastry chef needs to be fired. or at least they should let me sit down and talk to them about some basic fundamentals of baking.

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Cookies shouldn’t be completely flat and sunken in the middle when they set up. And they should not, should not, SHOULD NOT be dark brown across the top. That’s a burned cookie. It will crumble- and not crumble like Chips Ahoy, either. It’ll crumble like sawdust. Gross.

The scones are really what make me want to burst into tears though. Those poor, poor scones that never did anything to hurt anyone. Those poor scones that just wanted to be great. Those poor scones that have go through such cruel and unusual punishment. They’re over baked to the point where the inside of the scones looks like biscotti. They’re way too brown, I feel like if I squeezed it, it’d crumble into sawdusty crumbs. You’d never be able to tell that there was any butter layered in that overworked, over cooked dough. It’s a travesty.

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Scones are one of life’s greatest joys. They deserve better. They deserve to BE better.

They deserve to be these Curried Ginger scones. I so wish I could sit down with the baker at the coffee shop near my job and teach him or her how to make these. I feel like I could change their life.

Curry and ginger is a marvelous combination; there’s just enough bite, spiciness, and sweetness in both to balance off of one another. Pair this up with a cup of coffee, and you’re more than good to go. You’re ready to face the world.

I’m taking these scones to Fiesta Friday #70, co-hosted this week by newbies Dini @ Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau. See you guys there 🙂

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Curried Ginger Scones


Recipe Courtesy of The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream

Directions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the ginger, mixing to distribute, then the curry and sugar. Cut in the butter till the mixture is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream), stirring till the dough just holds together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat it into a 10-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick.

Cut the dough into triangles, and transfer them to a lightly greased baking sheet. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the dough to firm up (this will also make the scones rise higher)

Bake the scones in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes, or until they’re golden. Remove them from the oven and paint them with ginger syrup, if desired.

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Scones1

Jas and I are self-proclaimed, unapologetic coffee addicts. We need it. We crave it. We have to have it. Every morning. Or else.

The sad thing is I was ‘clean’ for going on 3 years. I had truly kicked the habit- but one rotten morning I had at work a few months ago made me cave back into the urge and from then on, I was right back where I started: hopelessly devoted to coffee.

It can expensive if you’re like us and like the gourmet stuff. Plus you constantly have to invest in buying special, also not-too-cheap whitening toothpaste. It’s the devil in a red dress, I’m telling you.

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In my area, we have two major ‘coffee corporation giants’; for the sake of subtlety I’ll call one Bucksstar and the other Bybigs. (I know, I know; REAL subtle there Jess.)

Over all the years of our coffee connoisseurship, Jas and I have worked out our own special theories about the strengths, weaknesses and similarities between Bucksstar and Bybigs. And since we’re self-proclaimed addicts that go to all and any lengths to get their fixes, you should just take our word for it. Cause we’re pros and we just know what we’re talking about.

When it comes to straight hot coffee, with little to no bells and whistles, Bucksstar wins. It’s fancier and you really can taste the difference in the quality of the ingredients. However, when it comes to hot lattes and cappuccinos then we do tend to lean more towards Bybigs. Plus, the caramel apple cider they sell in the autumn is truly out of this world.

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The funny thing about Bucksstar’s lattes is that they taste much better cold than hot to us. In fact, the iced lattes and frappuccinos at Bucksstar’s are the stuff of dreams. The ones at Bybig’s just can’t compare.

Interestingly enough, Jas and I think that the biggest difference between these two coffee giants is NOT their coffee, but their baked goods. There’s just SUCH a huge difference. Want to know what it is? Here’s the answer, direct from us to you:

Bucksstar’s baked goods rock. Bybigs suck.

Seriously. I’m not being overly dramatic or just trying to straight out diss Bybig’s. I’m just being honest. I don’t know who it is that formulated their recipes for pastries- but whoever it is, should probably get the sack. The cookies are flat and cardboard-like in texture. The muffins taste like something the Little Debbie company churned out. The bagels are tough hockey pucks.  The rice krispie treats don’t have enough marshmallow creme and butter. And don’t get me started on those friggin scones; they’re drydryDRY with little to no flavor.

Pumpkin Scones4

Now Bucksstar? They’ve got this thing on lock. Everyone, EVERYONE knows that Bucksstar baked goods are delicious. I can’t remember the last time I went into one to buy coffee and didn’t end up walking out of there with some kind of pastry. The banana bread is thick, soft and fragrant. Their croissants are flaky and buttery. The cookies are sublime. Even their breakfast sandwiches are the bomb.com.  And the scones? Dude. Their SCONES. I think they must put crack in those scones. It’s the only explanation for their being so addictively awesome, right?

Although I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan, I gotta admit that my favorite scone to get from good old Bucksstar has always been their pumpkin scone. There’s just something about the blend of all those autumn spices that goes SO well with a cup of hot coffee. So when I saw this recipe posted on Bonappetit.com, I jumped at the chance to try it out. It’s really VERY delicious, whether you decide to ice them or leave them plain- I did both and honestly can’t decide which is better.

Scones are so easy to put together and they yield such marvelous results. They also give me an excuse to drink more coffee- and you know I’ll always find ways to do that.

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Pumpkin Scones

Recipe Courtesy of Beauty and Essex via BonAppetit.com 

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup canned pure pumpkin
  • ¼ cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

 Directions

1. Whisk granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, cloves, baking soda, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl.
2. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate in butter, tossing to coat in dry ingredients as you go; toss in cranberries. Mix in egg, pumpkin, and ¼ cup buttermilk.

3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into a 1½”-thick disk. Cut into 8 wedges; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, 25–30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400°. Brush scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until golden brown, 25–30 minutes

Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts

Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts1

Welcome to the 2nd Annual 12 Days of Christmas Series on Cooking is My Sport! Baking goodies is one of my all-time favorite ways to get into the Christmas spirit, so I thought that I would share some of that spirit with you guys in case anybody out there needed some inspiration for baking ideas, or a way to get that ‘Scrooge’ out of you- because no one can resist food.

It’s funny the way that you can hold onto Christmas memories like no other kind of memories. I’ve certainly found that to be the case for me; whether the memories are pleasant, unpleasant or just flat out embarrassing, when it comes to Christmas I can retain an awful lot. When I sat down to write this post, there was one Christmas memory that kept surfacing in my mind over and over again.

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I was five. It was Christmas time and our church was holding the annual Christmas pageant that all of the kids participated in. It was kind of a big deal- or at least it seemed that way to five year old me. The Preschoolers and Kindergarten kids had one ‘big number’ in the pageant. It was a song called “C’mon and Ring Those Bells”. As such, all of us would be holding little bells to shake while we sang along with our teacher. We’d been practicing it for several weeks and by the time that the day of the show came along, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, I could actually sing on key, I knew how to shake my bell to the actual rhythm and beat of the song (which was a lot more than I could say for the boy that stood next to me). This performance was gonna be a lock….or so I thought.

The Big Day of the Christmas pageant finally came around. Now listen guys; it would be one thing if we had just been performing in front of maybe a hundred people- but we weren’t. My church wasn’t all that small. Quite the opposite, actually.  The auditorium could seat a few thousand, and on that night it happened to be full. Take a five year old and suddenly put her in front of a few thousand people and what do you suppose it gonna happen? She’s gonna start getting a little stage fright. Even as nervous as I was, I was still determined that I was gonna own this song. Like, totally own it. I have a very clear recollection of not wanting to embarrass my mom and my grandparents who were in the audience watching. So butterflies or no butterflies in my stomach, the show was going to go on.

My mom had dolled me and Jas up in our brand new, stiff, uncomfortable (and in retrospect extremely ugly) Christmas dresses and Black Mary Jane shoes. I had a shiny gold bell on a green cord. And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up in the very front row. Everything started off just fine. I had a momentary rush of anxiety just before going on the bright, decorated stage, but it was gone after a few seconds. The house lights were down so I couldn’t see the audience, but I was still determined to make my family proud of me. When the music started and we began singing, I was ready; SO ready. I began shaking my bell-holding hand up and down furiously.  We were about a quarter of a way through the song- when suddenly, without any warning…the unthinkable happened.

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I.dropped.my.bell.

Guys. There are no words to describe the panic…the horror…the trauma, of what my poor little 5 year old self felt at that moment. I felt absolutely certain that everybody; my mom, my grandparents, the pastor, EVERYBODY in the audience had noticed my mistake. I had ruined the enormous, beautiful Christmas pageant. Skip that, I felt like I had ruined Christmas. If I close my eyes right now, I can STILL see that darn bell on the green cord sitting on the ground by my feet. It seemed like it was staring at me for the rest of the song, taunting me for completely blowing my huge stage debut.

“But Jess,” You all are probably thinking, “Why didn’t you just pick the bell up?”

Guys, you don’t get it. I was in the front row. In front of two thousand people. I couldn’t break the formation of the children’s choir line by bending down. If I bent down, everyone really would notice that I had done something wrong. All the other kids would simultaneously stop singing and laugh at me Peanuts-Gang-Style. I’d get in trouble afterward. My teacher would never let me be in another pageant again. My family would be disgraced.

(These were actual thoughts I had in that moment; I’m so not kidding.)

So I endured the remainder of the song while simply holding my hand and shaking it back and forth as if the bell were still really there; hoping, praying, begging Jesus to please let me not get into too much trouble when this entire ordeal was over. When the Christmas pageant was over, I took my twin sister Jas (who had been standing right next to me) aside and asked her if she thought something terrible would happen because I dropped me bell. You know what she said?

“Jess, what are you talking about?”

Apparently, she hadn’t noticed a thing.

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Yesterday, I posted a recipe for Cranberry Clementine Sauce as a prequel to the First Day of Christmas in our series. When I wanted to use up some excess sauce, I got the idea in my head to use it in a recipe for homemade toaster tarts. Because let’s face it: most Pop Tarts taste awesome, but the contents of the ingredient list on the side of the box are…not so awesome. With these, you know exactly what’s in them: sweet and tart cranberry/clementine filling in buttery flaky pastry.  I added a simple icing to them to make the tarts look as festive and Christmas-y as possible, but honestly they do taste good enough to eat plain.

I’ve got quite a few, so I’ll also be taking them to this week’s Fiesta Friday #46, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Margy @La Petite Casserole and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. C’mon over guys, I’ve got plenty of tarts to spare.

Also, be sure to stay tuned: The 12 Days of Christmas on Cooking is My Sport will be continuing tomorrow with another great recipe 😉

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Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts

Recipe Adapted from Anne Burrell & Wilson Sonoma

Print: Page 1 and Page 2

Ingredients

For Tarts

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup cranberry clementine filling (recipe follows)

Filling

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 6 clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. of milk
  • 1-2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • Sprinkles (optional)

 Directions

1. For tart filling: In a small saucepan combine fresh cranberries, clementines, orange and cranberry juices, sugar, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the dried cranberries and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Set aside, cool completely.

2. For tart dough: combine the flour, confectioners sugar, salt in a bowl. Add the butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add milk and egg yolk and mix together, just until dough comes together. (You may need to add a bit more milk here. I did, adding just enough until it held together in a ball.) Wrap dough ball into two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, divide dough in half and form each into a rough rectangle. Roll 1 rectangle until it measures about 16×9 in. Using a ruler and pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 small rectangles, each about 3×4 in.

4. Lay half the rectangles on the work surface and lightly brush with the beaten egg. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the filling into the center of each, spreading it over the dough but leaving a 1/2 inch border.

5. Top with a plain dough rectangle, crimping the edges together with a fork– try not to let any filling ooze out.

6. Preheat oven to 375°. Place 6 tarts on each baking sheet, spacing them out evenly. Lightly prick the tops with a fork to create steam vents– be careful you don’t prick through both layers so the tarts don’t leak while baking!

7. Position 2 racks evenly in the oven and bake the tarts for 15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

8. To decorate, combine all ingredients (except for spinkles) together in a small bowl, adding additional milk if glaze is too thick to spread. Spread or drizzle glaze over tarts, topping with sprinkles is desired. Allow to set up and harden, about 15-3o minutes.

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls

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Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeeeen!!!

What’s everyone’s plans for tonight? Anyone going out with kids for trick or treating? Got a Halloween party you’re going to? What are you dressing up as?

I’ve always liked dressing up for Halloween and although I haven’t gotten to do it very often, I still have some ‘Wish-List’ costumes that I’d love to be able to do someday.

1) A 20’s flapper is definitely something I’d like to be- with the bobbed hair, flashy dress and pearls to go with it.

2) I’d LOVE to dress up in a fancy Venetian Masquerade ballgown and mask, with an elegant hairdo.

3) I’d love to be Harley Quinn, as long as I could have a guy go with me as the Joker.

4) One of the “Grease” Pink Ladies.

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5) Black Widow- because that cat suit Scarlett Johannson wore in “The Avengers”  was everything.

6) I’d love to be one of the fairy tale characters like Little Red Riding Hood or the Queen of Hearts. (And no, I don’t mean one of those costumes that make you look like you should be standing on a street corner, if you know what I mean. I think that there are plenty of ways you can make a costume beautiful and tastefully done without it being too slutty.)

7) If I ever get a boyfriend, I am GOING to be Christine and make him dress up as the Phantom of the Opera. He will have absolutely no choice or say in the matter. It’s a prerequisite if he wants to date me.

Unfortunately, I’m not doing anything special in particular like dressing up or going to any parties. But I am staying in my kitchen- which is plenty ‘special’ enough for me.

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I’ve known for a while now that I was going to make this dish for Halloween. Cinnamon rolls have been on my Cooking Bucket  List for a while, and I had a can of pumpkin that was languishing in my pantry, without very much to do. That set the perfect stage for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.

It was my first time making cinnamon rolls, and I think they turned out pretty good for a beginner like moi. I walked away with a few things to keep in mind for next time: roll the dough VERY tight so the sugar filling doesn’t leak out while the dough is going through their second rise, and don’t be afraid to place them pretty close together in the pan so that they can rise higher up rather than further out.

Aside from all that, the taste is really spot on for these. For one, they make your house smell like every yummy Autumn pastry imaginable while they’re baking. The pumpkin flavor admittedly isn’t very overpowering, but I’m actually okay with that as sometimes the taste of pumpkin can be a little abrasive. I know that crystallized ginger isn’t the cheapest spice to buy, but if you can afford it I gotta strongly recommend that you don’t leave it out. It gives spiciness to the filling that balances the sweetness of the sugar, while the dried cherries give it an acidic tang. I iced my rolls almost as soon as they came out of the oven so that the icing would melt into the crevices of the dough rather than just sit on top of it in thick globs. Tastes better that way. Also, these save very well in the refrigerator; when ready to eat another one just wrap it in paper towel, sprinkle with a few drops of water then microwave for about 15-20 seconds. It’ll still taste pretty fresh.

These rolls are going to this week’s Fiesta Friday #40, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by Margy @La Petite Casserole and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. See you all there.

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Halloween is one of my absolute favorite times of year, but not for the reason that you may think.

It’s not that I don’t like dressing up in costumes. I do. It’s not that I don’t like candy. I definitely do. But the arrival of Halloween marks the arrival of something infinitely more thrilling and exciting for me than costumes or sweets (and if you know me, then you know that that’s really saying something).

I look forward to October 31st because it marks the final day before I officially begin my countdown to Christmas.

Me and my twin sister are obsessed with Christmas, and as such, we try to get in our Holiday spirit as soon as is reasonably possible. I know that other people wait until Thanksgiving, but that’s way too late for me. I like the extra month to start listening to my Christmas playlist on my mp3 player and Pandora radio stations, and start planning all the wonderful goodies that I’m going to make for the 12 Days of Christmas series on Cooking Is My Sport.

Speaking of which, I am willing to take special requests for that ahead of time. I need 12 recipes for 12 Christmas goodies to post on the blog. Suggestions? Don’t be shy 😉

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Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Rolls

  • Servings: 9-12 rolls
  • Time: 3 hrs 25 mins. to 5 hrs 10 mins.
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin or squash
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup minced, crystallized ginger
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

For the Glaze

  • 1 cup glazing or confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk, or enough to make a “drizzlable” glaze

Directions

1) Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, fairly smooth dough.

2) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until it’s almost doubled in bulk.

3) Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll it into a 14″ x 22″ rectangle; the dough will be thin.

4) Mix the cinnamon and sugar. Spread a thin layer over the dough, leaving one short edge free of filling.

5) Sprinkle with crystallized ginger or dried fruit (or both), if desired.

6) Starting with the short end that’s covered with filling, roll the dough into a log.

7) Cut the log into nine 1 ½”-thick rolls.

8) Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9″ x 9″ pan that’s at least 2″ deep. Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy.

9) Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and feel set.(Internal temp should be about 185-190 degrees F) Remove them from the oven, and set them on a rack.

10) To make the glaze: Heat the butter and milk together till the butter melts. Whisk into the sugar.

11) Drizzle the rolls with the warm glaze. (For a thinner layer, spread with icing almost as soon as you take them out of the oven. For a thicker icing, let them cool for about 15 minutes, then spread with icing.) 

Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

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When was the last time you had to do something that required a whole lot of effort?

I can think of several things in my life that I’ve had to do that really forced me to go the extra mile and push myself to the limits to make sure that I got the job done.

Example? Well, let’s take the ISP (Integrated Physical Sciences) course that I took when I was still an undergrad student at Michigan State. It was a requirement for every student to take one before they could graduate. By the time my fifth year came around (‘Super Senior Year’ is what we called them), I still had to get mine out of the way. Now before you get all judgmental on me for that, just hold your horses for one collard-pickin minute and let me explain:

I had a personal goal to keep a very good GPA throughout my undergrad career. This is not easy to do when you’re trying to juggle two jobs (at one point, I had three because I was crazy). Additionally, I’d witnessed one too many other people attempt to get all of their requirements out of the way when they first got to campus freshman year,then witness their GPAs plummet at the subjects they weren’t very good at. This wasn’t going to happen to me. Nope. That’s why, by the time my first year of college came around, I had my strategy all planned out.

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Whereas most freshmen took the  required classes that they thought they would struggle in the most first-I did the complete opposite. I took all the classes I knew that I would do very well in first. Turns out, this was a pretty smart idea because there’s a little secret that they neglect to tell Freshmen about concerning the GPA: it’s very VERY difficult to build back up once it goes down. You’re much better off starting off strong, then gradually allowing it to drop little by little rather than making it plummet right off rip then try to rebuild it back up. Which is exactly what I did. I waited until the last couple years of my undergrad years to take my math and sciences classes- which were still extremely challenging.

I ended up having to take one Math class 3 TIMES. (Don’t ask,it’s still too painful to talk about). My second math class is a blur to me-all I remember was that I did a lot of praying and drank more coffee than was healthy for me. And I swear that my Statistics class was specifically designed to shave off 5 years of my life.

The only reason I passed my Biology course was because I did every single extra credit assignment that my professor assigned- and I really, really REALLY didn’t like him. He was one of the most arrogant jerks I’d ever met and getting up at 8:00 am every Monday morning to listen to him lecture (literally)was just NOT  fun. He was one of those teachers that liked seeing students fail his tests because it made him feel smarter. Just thinking about him now is putting me in a bad mood.  I couldn’t stand him to the point where Hell would freeze over before I gave him the satisfaction of not passing his class. I definitely did.

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My Physics class was the last one that I had to take. It was a summer course, which meant it went much faster than normal classes during the Fall and Spring semesters.It was also an online class, meaning that we never even saw the professor besides the lectures videos he uploaded to  a website.Our assignments were submitted electronically and we all had to go into a lecture hall on campus to take 3 tests, and that was it. The cool thing about the tests were that the professor allowed us to have one double sided cheat sheet that we could use.

That was all I needed to hear.

Looking back, the effort I put into my cheat sheet was kinda ridiculous. I wrote as small and tiny as I possibly could to make sure I could fit every single piece of information on the paper. And just to make sure I didn’t waste time during the test looking for the colossal amounts of information i was writing down, I eveen color coded the cheat sheet according to specific topics. I wasn’t leaving ANYTHING to chance. I was GOING to pass that class.

And I did. Rather well, actually.

And my GPA when I graduated? 3.527…like a Boss.

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Like the cheat sheets from my ISP class, these sticky buns require a little bit of extra effort. But like the cheat sheets, they are also SOOOO worth the end result. My twin sister had been asking me to make them for weeks before I finally gave in and decided to give them a go. I’ve heard of this recipe because of the extreme popularity of the bakery, Flour that they originally come from that’s run by Joann Chang. People supposedly line up and wait hours for these sticky buns…and I can’t say that I blame them. The verdict from my family was unanimous; they’re fantastic. What really sets them apart from your typical sticky bun has gotta be the ‘goo’ that they’re topped with. It’s thick and gooey, but not overly sweet. The dough is what requires the extra mile, as it’s supposed to set up overnight in the fridge, but like I said, you’re not going to regret it. It’s golden, buttery and tender brioche at its best.

I’m taking these sticky buns to the Fiesta Friday #29 hosted this week by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and cohosted by Jhuls and Selma.  I certainly hope you’ll be there to join us at the party to get one….because these babies just aren’t gonna last that long.

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Flour’s Famous Sticky Buns

Recipe Courtesy of Joann Chang

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION (PAGE 1, PAGE 2, PAGE 3)

Ingredients

Goo

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks;)unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Basic Brioche Dough, recipe follows
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Brioche Dough

  • 2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups (340 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce fresh cake yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks;) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar & cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok).

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, &salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

3. Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use. On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

5. Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

6. Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

7. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top. The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

Brioche Dough:

8. Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

9. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

10. Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

11. Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.