Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Do not be fooled by the title.  Yes, these cinnamon rolls have sweet potato in them. No, these cinnamon rolls are not healthy. Slightly more nutritious with the sweet potato and whole wheat flour that I added, but in no way less caloric or sugary.  Regardless, they are wonderful.

I have this recipe that I pulled out of the January 2007 Southern Living magazine that was the "Grand Prize Winner."  Grand Prize Winner of what, I'm not sure. I would initially have said "Grand Prize Winner of Cinnamon Rolls" but on the back of this page is a "Finalist recipe" for Mexi-Texi Bistec Pedazos.  That has nothing to do with cinnamon rolls.

I'm pretty sure when I first made these cinnamon rolls, I made them over and over again for a good couple of months. Then I got sick of them and retired the recipe.  I remembered them being very, very sweet, but very, very good.  Today, Nelly wasn't feeling so hot so I decided to spend the day at home...baking.  I had sweet potatoes already and every other ingredient.  Fabulous.

These rolls do take some patience, but time was all I had today.  The dough came together easily and it rose perfectly.

Now if only I had taken pictures of the rolling out and rolling up and slicing.  And the "before going into the oven" picture.  I'm learning.

The filling was easy....brown sugar, cinnamon, nuts and butter.
The recipe uses a food processor to make them, I used my pink mixer.

And now, the finished product.
Mmm...I remembered them needing more time in the oven than the recipe calls for so I baked them an extra 5 minutes....I may have overbrowned them. :)
Delicious, none the less.
Yum. See the caramel sauce on the bottom of the plate? Yes, please.
I did make a few changes to the recipe myself.  Instead of all white flour, I used half whole wheat flour.  I also made my own buttermilk with vinegar and milk.  The texture with the whole wheat flour is a little more "grainy", if you will, but is still really nice and you can see specs of sweet potato.

I found the recipe online for Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls for everyone to try, that way I don't have to type it all out.  Hope you'll try it and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Hoppin'" Mother's Day

Mom's are special and so I obviously wanted to make something special for my mom this Mother's Day.  You wouldn't believe the thought that I put into choosing a dessert for my mom.  I brainstormed her favorite flavors, thought about what I had made her in the past, thumbed through cookbooks, picked a recipe, changed my mind, picked another recipe, made a grocery list, picked a different recipe, scratched out the grocery list, made new one, then right before going to the store for ingredients, found the perfect recipe...and made a new grocery list.

Originally, I had decided to try to make a Sweet Lemon Tart for her from Dorie Greenspan's Baking cookbook.  It was relatively simple, used whole lemons, and the filling sounded tart and refreshing with an almond crust.  I had already gone to Williams-Sonoma to pick up a 9-inch tart pan...and microplane zester, just because, before I changed my mind on the tart. Still unsure, I pulled out my Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather and looked through that. 
And there it was. Grasshopper Pie. Oreo cookie crumb crust with Creme de Menthe filling topped with hot fudge. Pefect. My mother's favorite girl scout cookie is Thin Mints and she loves York Peppermint patties.  Mint+Chocolate=happy mom. At first glance, the recipe seemed simple enough, little did I realize, it would actually be very, very time-consuming, but totally worth it.
I didn't have any of the ingredients it called for, except for butter (yay), so a trip to the grocery store was in order.  Only thing I forgot to pick up was a candy thermometer, but it worked out okay.  My local grocery store didn't have "Creme de Menthe" so I substituted Pure Mint Extract and added a little green food coloring.
You start by whipping the egg yolks with one whole egg. While those are whipping, you make a simple syrup with sugar and water and simmer it until it reaches a soft ball boil stage.  This is where a candy thermometer would have come in handy.  However, I've made caramel many times and just used the ice water method that I use for caramel and when the syrup rolls into a soft ball in the ice water, it's done. Voila!
Now, you carefully stream the simple syrup into the whipped eggs. Complicated much? Now add marshmallow fluff and mint and gelatin. And now, beat heavy whipping cream until it makes soft peaks and fold into mint mixture. Whew. Then the easiest step...put it into the crust and into the freezer.

All of these steps were totally worth the outcome.  The pie was creamy and delicious. The only change I would make, would be to either use a deeper pie crust or just make less crust. The crust was kind of thick and when it was frozen, very hard to cut with a knife and your fork.

I drizzled melted chocolate chips on top of mine for decoration then a dollop of hot fudge when serving. I made two pies. One for my mom and one for my boyfriend's mom.  Each mom equally enjoyed their pie.

The recipe is pretty long, but I found it online on google books, so you can try Grasshopper Pie yourself. Enjoy and I hope everyone had a very Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

30 Day Challenge Success

At long last, my 30 day challenge is OVER.  Whew! I am so excited to start baking again and try some of the recipes I've been bookmarking for the past month.  For my first recipe back in the baking world, I chose something super simple and that would use up the rest of my dulce de leche from my oatmeal cookies.  A friend from work brought in these oatmeal, chocolate, caramel bars a long time ago and I printed off the recipe but had yet to make them. Instead of using caramel like the recipe said, I used my dulce de leche.  Pretty similar, right?

Not going to lie. These guys are pretty sweet and very rich.  Might have something to do with all the butter.  Maybe.

Absolutely delicious! At least they have oatmeal in them. They've got something healthy going for them. :)
I added a few things to the recipe myself. For instance, using dulce de leche instead of caramel.  I also added vanilla and cinnamon. Perfect additions, I think.

Oatmeal Caramel Bars
Adapted from

1 1/2 c butter melted
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 c oatmeal
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces chocolate chips
1 c caramel ice cream topping (or dulce de leche)
4 tbsp flour
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 pan.
In a medium bowl, combine butter, flour, baking soda, oatmeal, brown sugar, and salt.  Stir to combine. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake for 10 minutes. Cool slightly.
Combine caramel topping (or dulce de leche) and tbsp flour. Sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Drizzle caramel topping over chocolate chips and crust. Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over the top of the caramel.
Bake for 15 minutes. Let bars cool before cutting.

I have a couple of things planned for Mother's Day so be sure to check back.  Also be sure to check out my other blog Food for Fuel.

Banana Nuts

Once again, I am being a bad blogger.  It's taken me entirely too long to put up another recipe and post.  I honestly can't wait for my 30 day challenge to be over, because then I can go back to making sweets! May 4, let's go. Bread is too boring for me and while I could experiment with other things obviously, like scones or muffins, I just feel like those might go to waste.  I'm pretty set on my oatmeal for breakfast, so I don't know where I would fit in scones and muffins, etc. :)  In any case, I did make some banana bread this weekend with 4 overly ripe bananas I had sitting around along with some stolen borrowed nuts from my mother.

This recipe for banana bread was given to me by my mother. I'm not entirely sure what cookbook it came from...Fannie Farmer, maybe? But it's delicious. Unfortunately, I may have overcooked it in the oven, but it still tasted pretty good.  Note to self: bake less next time.

Banana Nut Bread

2 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg (lightly beaten)
2/3 c mashed bananas (2 medium)
1/2 c chopped pecans
3 tbsp buttermilk or plain yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour before measuring. Resift with baking powder, soda, and salt and set aside. 
In another bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add in egg, bananas, and pecans.  Add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with buttermilk.  Mix only until blended.  Pour into well-greased 8x4 loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour.

I took pictures of the finished product but not of a slice of it so you could see the texture and inside. Fail. Just trust me and make it. You will like it.

I also experimented with making my own Almond Butter.  I had to borrow a food processor from my mother in order to make this and it's kind of an old food processor, so maybe the almond butter would have turned out differently with a brand new high powered one, I don't know.

I got the recipe from Edible Perspective for the Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter. Her's looks fantastic and creamy. Mine was delicious but not as creamy and it took forrrrrrrever. The food processor also made a lot of noise so I was very self-conscious about running it in my apartment.

Next up, I want to try making my own coconut butter. But I may have to invest in a food processor of my own before doing that. :)