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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls

All of my kids are huge, okay not huge (poor wording choice), enthusiastic fans of cinnamon rolls. They will happily eat cinnamon rolls of any kind, whether they are homemade or the type that you buy in the dairy department-you know the ones I am talking about, the kind that are in a can.  

These puff pastry cinnamon rolls are a sort of compromise;  the puff pastry is light and flaky so they aren't ooey and gooey like traditional cinnamon rolls, but they sure are quick and easy to prepare.

For me, the hardest part about making these cinnamon rolls is remembering to take the puff pastry out of my freezer so it can defrost!

Today's Playlist
  • "The Denial Twist"...The White Stripes
  • "Short Skirt/Long Jacket"...Cake
  • "Dope Nose"...Weezer
  • "She"...Green Day
  • "My Hero"...Foo Fighters

Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls
Printable Recipe

For the rolls:
  • 1 package puff pastry (2 sheets)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (1/4 cup for each sheet of puff pastry)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
flour, for dusting your prep surface

For the frosting:
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons light cream

Gather your ingredients for the rolls.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the brown sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl.

Stir to combine.  This will be your filling.

Dust your work surface with the flour, to prevent the pastry from sticking.

Unfold one of the sheets of puff pastry.

Sprinkle with half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Spread it around to evenly distribute it, and press it into the puff pastry with the back of a spoon.

Roll the puff pastry.

Cut the roll in half.

Cut the halves in half.

And finally, cut in half again so that you have 8 rolls!

Place the rolls onto your parchment-lined baking sheet.

Repeat with the other sheet of puff pastry, using the remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Place all of the rolls onto your baking sheet.  Bake in your preheated 400-degree oven for 18 to 21 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and lightly browned.

While the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting.

Gather your frosting ingredients.

Place the confectioners sugar into a small bowl.

Add the vanilla extract.

Add the cream.

Stir to combine.

You may need to add a bit more cream or more confectioners sugar, depending upon how dry or runny your frosting is.

I can't help but ponder why the frosting is too runny or in this case, too dry, when I always use the same amounts of ingredients.

If you do need to add more cream, add it in 1/2-teaspoon increments.

Here is the frosting, 1/2 teaspoon of cream later.  Perfect.  You want it to be thin enough to drizzle, but not watery.

The rolls will be all puffy and the cinnamon will be oozing out when they are finished baking.  You will know the rolls are ready when they are just starting to brown.

Drizzle the frosting over the warm rolls and serve immediately.

If you have leftovers, you can reheat the rolls individually in your microwave; 10 seconds on HIGH and they will be perfectly warm.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Cooking Show: Tailgating, Part II !

We filmed another cooking show last week.  Maureen joined me, and we came up with a few more recipes to add to her tailgating repertoire.  

When we filmed our last tailgating show, we focused on more traditional recipes like chili and wings.

This time around, we focused on recipes that are easy to prepare in advance as well as transport easily.  And since Maureen draws dozens of fans (they may say that they are football fans but I'm betting that they show up week after week because they are even bigger fans of Maureen's cooking), we wanted to prepare foods that can also be made in huge batches to feed a crowd.

(Click on the following titles to be taken to the recipes.)

We started with this and by the time we finished our cooking we were lucky there was any left to photograph!

I think it took me longer to wash and cut up the celery sticks for dipping than it did to throw the dip together.

Oh, my, this is one of my favorite salads ever.  It will be perfect for tailgating because Maureen can prep all of the ingredients in advance, pack each ingredient in its own container and let her tailgaters create their own salads.  And douse it with the yummy balsamic vinaigrette.

We proceeded to top it with vanilla bean ice cream, but for ease of travel Maureen can use whipped cream.

Whether you tailgate or not, I hope you give these recipes a try.  Happy Cooking!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Apple-Bacon-Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I think this is the most perfect salad ever.  

I'll give you five ingredients why.  In no particular order:

1. Balsamic vinaigrette.  My most favorite dressing ever.
2. Grilled chicken.  Turns a salad into a meal.
3. Apple.  Love the sweet crunch it adds.
4. Toasted almonds. Love the nutty crunch it adds.
5. Bacon.  Because it's bacon.  'Nuff said.

Today's Playlist
  • "Soul To Squeeze"...Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "That Time Is Gone"...The dB's
  • "She's A Genius"...Jet
  • "Fell In Love With A Girl"...The White Stripes
  • "Let It Die"...Foo Fighters
  • "Semi-Charmed Life"...Third Eye Blind
  • "It Goes On And On"...The Avett Brothers

Apple/Bacon/Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette (4 to 6 servings)

Printable Recipe

For the salad:
  • 8 cups assorted salad greens ( I used spinach and romaine)
  • 2 large grilled chicken breasts
  • 1 to 2 honey crisp apples
  • 6 thick-cut bacon slices
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
For the dressing:
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Gather your ingredients.

Prep all your ingredients.

Cut the bacon into pieces approximately 3/4".

Heat a medium-sized skillet or pot over medium heat.  Put the slivered almonds in to toast.  This only takes a few minutes.  Stir them a bit...

you will know they are done as soon as they start to get some color.  Remove them from the pan and set aside to cool.

Add the bacon pieces into the same pan.  Cook them, stirring occasionally, until they are crisp.

While you're waiting for the bacon to cook, assemble the salad and prepare the dressing.

Place the greens into a bowl.  I like to use a combo of spinach and romaine, but you should use whichever type of greens you like best.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  1/3 cup olive oil...

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar...

1 tablespoon dijon mustard...

and one clove of garlic, crushed directly into the bowl.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and whisk to combine.  Set aside.

Your bacon should be finished now.

Remove the bacon from the pan and onto a paper towel to drain.

Continue with your salad assembly.

Slice the grilled chicken.

You can prepare the chicken in advance using your favorite grilling method.  If you need grilling instructions, here is my favorite grilling method:

-Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, the juice of 1 lime and 1 tablespoon grilling spice (I used McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning---yeah, I know, STEAK seasoning for chicken, but it's my all-time favorite grilling spice)
-Marinate the chicken breasts for 10 minutes, then grill over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until thoroughly cooked

Arrange the grilled chicken slices on top of the salad greens.

Slice your apple.
I simply slice off the 4 sides, throw away the core...

and roughly slice the 4 sides into bite-sized pieces.

Throw the apples on top of the salad.

Sprinkle the bacon on as well.

Then add the toasted almonds.

And finally, drizzle about half of the dressing on top.  Serve the rest of the dressing on the side.