Archive | 2011

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes

I have been on a mission to find the “perfect” homemade cinnamon roll recipe.  I have tried 3 for sure, and none of them would rise.  I saw this recipe on Pinterest.  That led me to  On her blog, it said it was adapted from Beantown Baker, originally from La Fuji Mama.  Wherever it came from, it is delicious.  My dough actually rose and they taste great!  The only thing I did differently was that I placed the rolls in a square baking dish, because they were too big to fit into my cupcake holders.  I got two cupcakes to fit and the rest went into the dish.  I love the cupcake idea, so next time I will just cut them a little skinnier.  And the cream cheese frosting is to die for!  Completely awesome!

Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes:

1 pkt dry active yeast

1/2 cup white sugar, divided

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)

2 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 tsp salt

4 1/2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 T cinnamon

1/3 cup butter, melted

8 oz cream cheese, soft

2/3 cup butter, soft

1 – 2 cups powdered sugar

Dissolve yeast and 1/4 cup of the sugar in the warm milk.  Let stand for about 10 minutes.  Mix in the eggs, butter, salt and other 1/4 cup of sugar.  Add flour and mix well until the dough forms a ball.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 5-10 times.  Place in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for at least 1 hour in a warm spot.  After the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon.  Melt 1/3 cup of butter.  Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners and lightly spray over the top of them with cooking spray.  Roll dough into a 12×22 inch rectangle.  Pour 2/3 cup of melted butter over.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix.  Roll up dough and cut into 24 (or so) rolls.  Try to fit the rolls into the cupcake liners.  Cover and let rise again for about 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake rolls in oven until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Let cool completely before frosting.  To make frosting, mix cream cheese and butter using a blender until mixed.  Slowly add the powdered sugar until desired consistency has been reached.  YUMMY!

Elf on a Shelf – Our Version

I’ve seen this Elf on a Shelf idea many years now, but have never felt the need to do it.  This year I found a knock-off version of the elf at the local store for $2.50.  My twins are 4 years old and sadly need all the help they can get when it comes to making sure Santa doesn’t put them on the naughty list.  I know the official Elf comes with a book and a whole story, but our version goes like this:  Elffi shows up every morning in a new place, doing something funny and the boys have to find him.  Elffi then calls Santa every night to tell him if they are being naughty or nice.  I don’t think it has made much of a difference, but they boys are having fun none the less looking for him every morning and laughing at how funny he is.  And my oldest son, who doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, still has fun helping me come up with Elffi ideas and setting him up.  Here are a few days worth of what Elffi has been up to:

Goodie Plate Fun

I had a great time yesterday putting together my Christmas goodie plates.  This is my second year doing this, and I’m learning something new every year.  I had a great friend help me this year, we kind of both brought our ingredients together and worked from my house.  This years plates included:  buckeyes, spiced rum balls, cookies and cream chocolate truffles, pretzel kisses, cinnamon sugar palmiers and caramel and chocolate covered pretzel rods.  We used 10 lbs of chocolate, 300 hershey kisses, 6 lbs of pretzels, 3 lbs of caramel and maybe a few shots of Captain Morgan.  The spiced rum balls were by far my favorite.  Next year, we are going to start with those (if for no other reason than to start the afternoon of cooking off with a few shots).  What I thought would be the easiest and best, the pretzel rods, turned out to be the bane of my existence.  Took the longest, was the most work and the ones I did looked terrible.  They tasted fine, but were definitely not pretty to look at.  My good friend Kristin’s looked great, she had much more patience than I did 🙂  I’m already looking forward to next year!  Let me know in the comments section, do you do goodie plates and if so, what do you put on them?

Balloons and Snow

I had so much fun taking my twin boys out today for an impromptu photo shoot in the woods.  I threw on the boys new Christmas outfits, went to the dollar store and bought matching balloons and we headed to a friends house that still had snow on the ground.  The boys were so well behaved and they had lots of fun.  Winter fun on a sunny day!

Pear, Blue Cheese, Pecan Pizza

Hello all!  It’s been a crazy busy holiday season, but I’m finally getting around to a new post.  I was in the mood for another “different” pizza for lunch today so I threw this together.  I had seen a recipe for pear pizza in an issue of Cooking Light, but when I went to look for it today I couldn’t find it.  So I made this from memory, or as much as I could remember.  It is very similar to the Apple Gorgonzola Pizza post I did a couple months ago and I also stole the sauce drizzle from that recipe to drizzle over this pizza again today.  It just really gives it a great tangy taste.  And once again, I ate half the pizza myself in one sitting, licking the plate clean at the end.  Yummmmyyyyyy!!!

1 Boboli thin pizza crust

1 T olive oil

1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese

1 can artichoke hearts

1 can mushroom pieces

1/4 cup pecan bits

1 pear, pealed and sliced

1 c blue cheese crumbles

1 lime, juiced

2 T Dijon mustard

3 T honey

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Brush olive oil on crust.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over crust.  Arrange artichoke hearts and mushrooms over pizza.  Arrange pear slices around pizza.  Sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles.  Sprinkle with pecan bits.  Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.  While baking, mix the juice of one lime, the mustard and honey, whisking until well mixed.  When pizza is done, slice and plate.  Once plated, drizzle the honey mustard sauce over pizza.  ENJOY!  This is a great, easy, quick dinner!

Baby Owen {3 Month Session}

Baby Owen is 3 months old already!  I was blessed to be able to work with this family again this year and take some 3 month pictures of this precious little guy and also a few family pics for a Christmas card.  It feels like we just did newborn shots of this little man, and here we are at 3 months old already!

Christmas Cookie Decoration

The day after Thanksgiving, my sister and her kids came over and we decorated Christmas cookies.  My kids have so much fun and so do us big girls.  The kids start with about 5 cookies, of which they eat 4 right off the bat.  By then, they are somewhat bored and wander off, leaving my sister and I to finish the remaining 50 cookies.  But it was fun, always a favorite part of our Christmas season!

Fine Art Cyber Monday Sale

Are you looking for a great gift for someone, but just can’t figure out what to get them?  These are the fine art prints I am selling this holiday season.  There are basically two ways to purchase, one copy has wording and a border, the other copy is the original shot.  These prints will be sold as a 16×24 gallery mount and only one copy of each will be sold.  Each gallery mount is signed and dated on the back.  Gallery mounts come ready to hang, with a beveled edge, instant art for your walls.  Please contact me with any questions you might have.  They can be drop shipped right to your home for no extra charge.  Normal investment cost is $250.  Huge sale starting on Cyber Monday and running through the entire holiday season with 20% off all fine art sales!  Happy shopping!  And I feel I have to state the obvious…my studio logo will NOT be on the purchased product.  This is just put on for copyright sake while online 🙂

Apple Tart Pie

I found this recipe in a recent issue of one of my cooking magazines.  The photo in the magazine made it look so beautiful and I thought I’d bust out my mad cooking skills and try this for Thanksgiving lunch.  Unfortunately, I threw away the recipe yesterday because I did not think this was all that great.  It’s basically just an apple pie.  It also called for a vanilla bean that is scrapped out.  And yikes, these cost $15 for two beans!!  It tasted great, just a fancy apple tart.

Apple Tart Pie:

1 refrigerated pie crust

3 T. apple jelly, melted

2/3 c. brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out

1/2 t. nutmeg

5-7 large granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt apple jelly.  Brush half of the mix over the bottom of pie crust.  Mix brown sugar, vanilla bean seeds and nutmeg.  Sprinkle 1-2 T. over jelly in bottom of pie crust.  Take apples and place in a ring around the bottom of the crust.  Sprinkle 1-2 T. sugar mix over this layer of apples.  Continue with apples around again, filling pie crust.  Brush the remaining jelly over top layer of apples.  Sprinkle remaining sugar mix on top.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until apples are tender.  Enjoy!

Crusted Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries with Caramelized Onion Sauce

I’ve been wanting to make this sauce for the past couple of weeks, but with the holiday and eating out I just hadn’t found the right meal to make it with.  Tonight I decided to make fried crusted chicken breasts, sweet potato fries with caramelized onion sauce and fresh sweet corn from this fall.  This meal was really easy to throw together and I do admit I did not make everything from scratch.  I grabbed the corn out of my freezer, always great to have fresh corn from the cob.  I used two large chicken breasts for the three of us.  I cut the chicken breasts into strips.  I then crusted them and fried them in olive oil.  The sweet potato fries were a spicy variety that I actually found in the freezer section of Target.  I’m sure there are other varieties at the grocery store or you could be adventurous and make your own.  The dipping sauce is what makes them so good.  This I did make from scratch, but it was very easy to make.  All together, it was a great meal!  Enjoy!

Crusting Mix:

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

salt/pepper to taste

1 t. cayenne pepper

dash of hot pepper flakes

Caramelized Onion Dipping Sauce:

2 T. butter

1 medium sweet onion, sliced

2. T. apple cider vinegar

2 T. honey

2 T. Dijon mustard

1 c. mayonnaise

Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat, add onions.  Cook onions, stirring occasionally until they caramelize, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat and place onions, vinegar, honey and mustard in food processor and process until fairly smooth.  Mix in the mayonnaise.   Store in refrigerator until ready to use.