Thursday, October 24, 2013

Apple Cranberry and Pecan Sticky Buns

Apple Cranberry and Pecan Sticky Buns

It's another month of Pass the Cook Book Club and I am very excited about the cookbook chosen for this month! Three recipes were chosen from Sunny Anderson's Sunny's Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life. I am a big fan of Sunny Anderson. I love her name, and she seems like someone you just want to hang out with!

Sunny's cooking focuses on home cooked meals that are easy and non-intimidating for anyone to prepare. The recipe that I chose to make from Sunny's book exemplifies her focus on making easy meals... sticky buns! How intimidating do sticky buns sound, right?!? Sunny has an amazing idea to use puff pastry instead of making your own dough. You literally thaw out the puff pastry, roll it out a little bit, slather it with goodie, roll it, slice it, and bake it! I'm not very good at rolling cinnamon rolls so I was unsure of how these would come out because my filling was literally falling out (that's how bad I am!), but these rolls were very forgiving! They looked beautiful and smelled delicious!

I chose to use dried cranberries instead of golden raisins because I had the cranberries on hand and I'm not the biggest fan of raisins. I think the use of cranberries was a great decision because it complemented the apples and pecans beautifully!

Also, don't leave out or get freaked out by the cardamom in the recipe! The cardamom flavor is very mild and adds a little bit of a floral flavor to the dish. I think the cardamom actually makes the recipe! I'm wondering how well these flavors would transfer into an apple pie dish?? Gonna have to give that a try one of these days.

If you're interested in learning more about the Pass the Cook Book Club, click the link or the banner below! I'm already looking forward to next month!

Apple Cranberry and Pecan Sticky Buns
slightly adapted from Sunny Anderson's Sunny's Kitchen: Easy Food for Real Life

For the Pan & Pastry:
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
Kosher Salt
2 frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed

For the Filling:
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. pecans, chopped
1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 Tbs. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
Kosher Salt

For the Glaze:
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 Tbs. orange juice
1 1/2 cups to 2 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Grease the sides and bottom of a round 9-inch cake pan with 1 tablespoon of softened butter. Line the bottom with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the brown sugar, pecans, diced apple, dried cranberries, lemon zest, orange zest, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom and a pinch of salt. Mix well. Set aside and get ready to prepare the pastry.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter with a pinch of salt.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry and brush with the butter on all but a 1-inch border along one long edge. Repeat with the next puff pastry sheet. 

Sprinkle the filling evenly over the pastry sheets, making sure to leave the unbuttered edge of each sheet free of any filling. Starting from the long buttered edge, begin rolling the pastry tightly. Tuck and press as you go – but make sure to keep everything as even as possible. When you reach the unbuttered edge, roll the pastry onto itself and pinch to seal. Repeat the process with the second puff pastry sheet.

Trim the edges and cut 6 equal slices from each log with a long serrated knife. Place the spiral side up of each slice in the prepared cake pan. It's okay if the edges touch but it's better to work from outside in and do the center at the end.

Bake until the pastry is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

While the pastry is baking, make the glaze. In a small pot over low heat, melt the butter. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and orange juice. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar using 1/4 cup measurements until the glaze thickens. Season with a tiny pinch of salt (if needed) and remove from the heat.

When the sticky buns are done, remove them from the oven and drizzle this glaze over the top.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creamy Pasta with Truffle Oil

Creamy Pasta with Truffle Oil

I've been waiting far to long to share this recipe with you! This Creamy Pasta with Truffle Oil is one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes. It may not look impressive and it doesn't photograph very well, but do not let that fool you; this pasta is a marvelously decadent treat courtesy of domestic diva, Nigella Lawson.This pasta is incredibly simple and sinful and fast, and it's made for one! I think this is one dish everyone should make. This dish is something to make when you either want to spoil yourself or if you need to bury your head or bury your woes into a deep dish of pasta. Or if you just want to curl up under a warm blanket with a hot bowl of this pasta, which sounds wonderful now that it's fall and it's getting cooler!

I rarely have heavy cream in the house, but when I do, I always look forward to making this dish. The last time I bought heavy cream, I bought a larger container solely for the purpose of having enough left over in order to make this pasta. I also highly suggest only using heaving cream and quality parmesan cheese when making this dish.

This pasta dish reminds me of carbonara if you take out the bacon and add in the truffle oil. (If this is carbonara, it seems absolutely wrong to omit the bacon right?) One of these days I might make this with some bacon or some leftover chicken; however this dish doesn't need any alterations and is simply perfect as it is. It's a truffle-lovers dream! If you find that you didn't make enough noodles, whip out some bread and sop up the leftover goodie at the bottom of the bowl!

If you feel like spoiling someone else or feel like sharing, you can easily double or triple the recipe. The first time I made this dish, I doubled the recipe and made it with gluten-free pasta for Joe's birthday last year. It's an easy dish to whip up for special occasions, whether it's a sole celebration or an accompanied celebration!

Creamy Pasta with Truffle Oil
Slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson's "Nigella Kitchen"

4 oz. dried pasta (preferably a long pasta) (You can use a gluten-free pasta here)
1 egg
3 Tbs. heavy cream
3 Tbs. freshly grated parmesan (you can use more!)
1/4 tsp. truffle oil (any kind, white or black)
salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. butter

Cook pasta according to package directions. Before draining, reserve some pasta water (you'll need 1-2 Tbs.)

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the egg, heavy cream, parmesan, truffle oil, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste. (I like to add truffle oil until I get to the point where I can really smell the truffles.)

Turn off burner and return the pot to the stove. To the empty pot, add in the butter until melted. Then add in 1 Tbs. of the cooking liquid and stir to combine. Then add in the egg mixture and stir until all the pasta is coated and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. (I like to add a good amount of salt, I find it really brings out the taste of the truffles. Also, if you're using a gluten-free pasta, you may need to add an additional Tbs. of pasta water if the mixture gets too thick. It just depends on the pasta.)

Pour into a large bowl. Eat and enjoy!

Makes 1 large and decadent serving.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars with Banana Chips and Dried Cranberries

This post was sponsored by the National Peanut Board and Latina Bloggers Connect, but as always the recipe and all opinions contained in this post are my own.

For many years, my standard breakfast in the mornings was a granola bar and a banana (and sometimes a cup of yogurt). It was an easy breakfast for me because I could just grab them on my way out the door or keep them stocked in my office. It made mornings a little easier because I was usually late for work and didn't have time for making breakfast; it made for a convenient and healthy breakfast for me while on the go.

Today, I am presenting you a little bit of a homemade throwback of my old breakfast staple. It takes a standard chewy granola bar recipe and amps it up with a triple punch of peanuts (peanut butter, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut butter chips) as well as some banana chips and dried cranberries. I was actually going for a peanut butter, banana, and jelly sandwich flavor combination but the flavors are much more subtle than an in-your-face PBB&J.

Some tips for this recipe? They get better as the flavors meld together and are definitely better the next day. When making these, when you press down the mixture, make sure you press down are hard as you can that way the granola bars stay together. Also, make sure to keep the granola bars in the fridge because they will soften as they warm up.

Another cool thing about this recipe? It's no-bake, so the prep time for these bars are incredibly fast! They cool and set in the fridge so you can go about your busy day. This recipe makes about 16 granola bars, which is perfect for preparing for the entire week as part of your family's breakfast or a snack during the day. They are perfect for grabbing on your way out the door or packing up for a sports game or hike. Everyone can use a little help to make their days easier, and these granola bars do just that. They're cheaper than buying store bought, you know exactly what your family is ingesting, and they're fast to prepare.

Because peanuts contain 7 grams per serving, peanuts provide more energy boosting protein than any other nut. Peanuts are also considered a superfood because they provide more than thirty essential vitamins. These granola bars will help provide lasting energy to get you through your day.

I made two batches of these granola bars over the weekend and they are ah-mazing! I have a feeling that these will become a staple in our house.

To learn more about the benefits of peanuts, please visit the National Peanut Board.

Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars with Banana Chips and Dried Cranberries
A Tortillas and Honey original recipe

Dry ingredients:
2 c. oats
1/2 c. Rice Krispie cereal (gluten-free) or Chex (corn or rice flavors, crunched up)
1/2 c. banana chips, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. honey roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 c. peanut butter chips

Wet ingredients:
1/4 c. butter (1/2 a stick)
1/4 c. brown sugar (dark or light works)
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. peanut butter (smooth)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Line a 9x9 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray, then set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.

In a saucepan, add all of the wet ingredients EXCEPT for the vanilla. Over medium-low heat, mix together the mixture until it melts and comes to a low boil. When the mixture comes to a low boil, stir constantly for two minutes. Remove from heat, then add the vanilla. The vanilla will bubble up, but continue to stir until combined.

Add the syrup mixture to the dry ingredient mixture and stir well until all of the ingredients are well combined. Add the mixture to the prepared baking pan and press down firmly using your hands. (It helps to spray your hands with non-stick cooking spray. You also can you the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to help press down too-- make sure that you spray the bottom of the glass/cup with non-stick spray too.)

Set the baking pan in the fridge to cool and to set for about an hour. Cut into 16 equal-sized rectangles and store in the fridge. These are better the next day!


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