joyeux cuisine

a blog about good food, family, friends, and life.

turtle cookies.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in my life. Lots of things have been happening since mid-February. Midterms got in the way. I started going to a Zumba class to make a fool of myself in public. March showed up. Spring showed up for a few days and then left again. We had a snowstorm at school. And now it is Spring Break and I get to bake and knit and hang out with my cat to my heart’s desire. I also have a long list of things to do, but they probably aren’t gonna happen until Friday or Saturday.

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Big news! For graduation my awesome parents got me a stand mixer! I’m so excited about it that I can’t even put it into words. It’s ‘imperial gray’ which is one of my favorite colors. It’s so pretty and gorgeous and I am in love with it. (That’s cool, right?) I made cookies with it tonight. They were awesome. So was the mixer. I’m in love.

Sometimes instead of paying attention in class I write recipes. Two and a half hours is a long time to sit in class and not do anything, so my mind tends to wander. Or I fall asleep. It’s just real life. I can’t stay awake that long talking about….stuff that I can’t remember right now. It just happens and I feel no shame…okay. Maybe a little shame.

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These cookies are delicious. I thought of these cookies in my night class. There was also soup on my brain that night. That’ll come later this week. My family has this awesome cookie that we use all the time. My mom found it in a magazine forever ago and we just adapt it to different things whenever we want to. The chocolate cookie base is awesome by itself; cakey and chewy. But when you add things to it and it takes this cookie over the top. This one includes pecans, caramel bits, and some milk chocolate chips. Eat one right out of the oven and you will know. Amazing.

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When we lived in this tiny town there was this store called Country Cupboard. We used to go there all the time to buy Beanie Babies (because they’re awesome). They sold all these handmade candies and one of them was called the Mississippi Sliders or something like that. It was caramel and pecans covered in chocolate; basically a turtle. But my 12 year old self loved those things because I felt like such an adult for liking something so fancy. These cookies aren’t exactly fancy, but they take me back to those simple days where the only concern was which Beanie Baby to pick out. Now there’s real life to worry about. Scary stuff, man. I’m just going to eat a lot of cookies until everything seems okay.

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Make some cookies. Make a fool of yourself at Zumba. Get coffee with one of your best friends. Don’t fall asleep in class.

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Turtle Cookies
adapted from Quick Cooking 2000
makes about 3 dozen cookies

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups caramel bits (or just chopped caramels if you can’t find bits)
1 and 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix until fluffy then add vanilla and eggs one at a time. Mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir well in between each addition. Fold in caramel, pecans, and chips with a spatula. Using a medium sized cookie scoop spoon onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-11 minutes depending on the size of the cookies. After baking cool on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes and then move to a cookie rack to complete cooling.
Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

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homemade granola.

I’m watching the opening ceremony for the Olympics right now. Are you watching it? I guess the question right now would be: did you watch them last night too? Even though it just started, I am in awe. (People! Queen Elizabeth just jumped out of a helicopter. Well…at least her stunt double did. Still, awesome.) I love everything about the Olympics so I am in heaven right now. I downloaded the NBC app to keep up with all the coverage and I even went crazy and got the TV Guide app so I’ll know when everything is on. I’m crazy. But I think we all knew that by now.

I’ve been trying to make some healthy things to eat recently. Maybe to combat the fact that I bought a bag of mini Reese’s at Walmart today and then proceeded to eat half the bag. I have no self control when it comes to those. I’m really testing myself with the 10 dozen frozen cookie dough balls in my freezer right now. That number will reach about 17-18 dozen before too long. Hopefully that many will get baked too…we’ll see about that.

(Mary Poppins just destroyed some nightmares. I always knew she was the best nanny ever.)

Are you seeing every delicious thing right now? I’ll spell it out for you. Oats, coconut, pecans, walnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Oh man. This is awesome. These are good things. Not only for making granola but also for you. Walnuts and pecans are full of protein and fiber. Both are really good for you. Unlike the Reese’s I’m eating right now…oh well. You can pretty much put anything you want into granola. Dried fruit, chocolate chips, anything. Make it your own! That’s the beauty.

All that goodness gets drizzled with honey and butter for a sweet topping. Bake that up and it gets golden brown and some parts stick together and get super crunchy. The coconut gets toasted and the flavors meld together beautifully. The cinnamon and nutmeg get even more fragrant in the oven. This granola is perfect for a late morning or early afternoon snack. You can even enjoy it with some milk for breakfast. So make some granola, watch some Olympic coverage, and cheer for your favorite athletes.

Homemade Granola

4 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Place honey and butter in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Place oats, nuts, and coconut in a large bowl. Stir together and then mix in the spices making sure everything is dusted lightly. When butter is melted, drizzle half of the mixture over the oats. Stir to combine well. Divide the mixture between the 2 cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and divide the remaining butter mixture between the two pans granola. Drizzle each and stir again. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes until toasted. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Eat it alone, serve with milk, or even over ice cream.

Store your granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

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buttermilk cinnamon rolls.

Do you have a way of dealing with awkward situations? Do you comment on the awkwardness or just let it happen? I never know which one is better. I haven’t quite found a good way to deal with those awkward times yet…maybe soon. Usually I end up at home watching YouTube videos like Christina Perri, Colbie Caillat, John Mayer, etc. Is that what they call a coping mechanism? Who really knows. Let’s all just eat cinnamon rolls and be happy. Okay? Awesome. This is why I like you. (P.S. YouTube adds are the worst..)

I have a couple reasons for making these cinnamon rolls:
1. I bought way too much buttermilk and need a reason to use it up.
2. I currently have use of a Kitchenaid mixer, so I am taking advantage of it.
3. Cinnamon rolls are delicious.
4. I got off work early yesterday, so I had time.
5. It was Tuesday.
6. Cinnamon rolls are delicious.

These are all really great reasons to make cinnamon rolls. You know how much I love single bowl recipes that are really simple and fast. This is pretty much the opposite of that. But when you pull these out of the oven and immediately eat 2 of them you realize it was way worth it. (Also, I’m totally listening to the song “Realize” by Colbie Caillat right now….didn’t even plan that.) Plus, when the delicious yeasty dough is rising, there’s plenty of time to do other things like practice the oboe, start knitting mittens, or take a nap. The possibilities are endless!

I’m going to tell you right now that this filling is delicious. I found 2 different recipes for these and mixed them together. I love the idea of pecans in my cinnamon rolls. Love it. You can just see the deliciousness that is happening in that bowl right? It’s so good.

You should make these. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion. It can be Tuesday. You can share them with people you care about. That’s what makes them special. Friends are blessings. And so are cinnamon rolls.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

adapted from Mel’s Kitchen

makes 12 rolls

Rolls:

3/4 cup buttermilk, warm

6 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly

3 large eggs

4 and 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 and 1/4 teaspoons (1 pkg) instant yeast

1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt

Filling:

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup chopped pecans

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

3 Tablespoons butter, softned

Glaze:

1 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 Tablespoons milk, 2% or whole

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Starting with the dough: whisk together warm buttermilk and melted butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. With the mixer on low add the buttermilk and butter mixture and then eggs, 1 at a time. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and knead until the dough becomes sticky and elastic (about 6-10 minutes). If the dough still looks really sticky after a couple minutes of kneading add more flour a Tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to come away from the side of the bowl. When dough is ready, place it in a large lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
While the dough is rising make the filling. Combine sugars, pecans, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Drizzle the melted butter in and mix until everything is combined. Set aside. Grease a 9×13 pan lightly and set that aside as well.
When the dough is ready turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Press it into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter on the rectangle with a spatula. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the butter leaving an inch border along the long end farthest from you and gently press into the dough.
Starting with the closest long end, tightly roll the dough up. Pinch the seam closed and roll seam-side down. Make sure the diameter of the log is mostly even throughout. Pat the ends to even them up. Cut into 12 pieces and arrange, cut side down, in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
When ready, bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are lightly golden.
While the rolls are baking make the frosting. Mix the cream cheese and milk together in a bowl until somewhat smooth. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and whisk until smooth and your desired consistency is reached. When the rolls are finished baking drizzle the frosting over the top. Serve immediately, or at least while they’re still warm.

These rolls will stay fresh in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap for 4-5 days at room temperature.

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