July 19, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

These cookies have been a big hit this summer, traveling to cottage country, Ottawa valley farmland, Mom's office, and a girls' night BBQ. They can be summed up very simply: cinnamon rolls in a cookie. It's a divine melding of cinnamon and walnuts mixed into a cookie!
They're a perfect match for a quiet cup of tea or coffee (guilty pleasure breakfast?) but are equally yummy when eaten around a noisy kitchen counter with a bunch of friends.

We found the recipe on "Canadian Baker Too", a blog we visit quite often. The original recipe comes from Martha Stewart. Before making these, note that they are refrigerator cookies, so they have to sit for a while - which means you need to set aside a few hours for baking.

Cinnamon Roll Cookies
Cookie Dough
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 eggs
  • Mix together butter, sugar, and orange zest on medium speed, until smooth. Beat in eggs.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add slowly to butter and sugar mixture, mixing on low speed until just combined.
  • Divide dough in half. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  • Roll dough onto well floured surface into a rectangle that's approximately 10x12 (ours was probably a bit smaller). Transfer the rolled-out dough onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • To toast walnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 5 minutes. You can also use a frying pan on the stove to achieve the same result.
  • Use a fork or spoon to combine the filling ingredients. Crumble the mixture evenly over the rectangles of dough.
  • Starting at the long edge, roll the dough rectangles into logs. Make the logs tight, because air bubbles will cause the cookies to fall apart when you slice the dough. If the dough doesn't seem sticky enough, let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes.
  • Wrap the logs in parchment paper and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  • Slice logs into cookies (just like you do with the Pillsbury dough) that are about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer onto cookie sheets.
  • Bake in 350 F oven for about 13 minutes, or until golden brown.
  • Let cool for a few minutes on pan before transferring to wire racks.
Make sure to remember the orange - it adds a little zip.

Mixing the dough.

Make sure to keep your rolling pin well-floured to avoid stickiness.

Spreading the filling evenly should make the
dough easier to roll into logs.

Roll it tightly!

Slicing the dough... try to keep them at
a uniform thickness.

Ready to bake!

July 4, 2010

Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp

There is still a little rhubarb left in our garden! We both seem to have childhood memories of an abundance of rhubarb all summer long, and our mom confirmed that our minds aren't embellishing things.... yet this year we're running out and it's only early July.

We were going to attach a "fruit" tag to this post, but a fun fact courtesy of Wikipedia set us straight: rhubarb is botanically classified as a vegetable! However, in 1947 a New York court decided that because it is used as a fruit, it would be called a fruit - which conveniently resulted in lower taxes on it.

Rhubarb, whether you want to think of it as a fruit or a vegetable, is very tart. We adapted this Martha Stewart recipe by adding raspberries (and reducing the sugar) to naturally sweeten the crisp.

Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp
Serves 12 (we cut the recipe in half, but the full amounts are below)
2 pounds rhubarb - sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Combine rhubarb, raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup of the flour. Put in 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
  • In small bowl, use a pastry cutter to combine remaining 1/2 cup of flour and the butter. Add brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon. Alternatively, use the "pulse" setting on a food processor to combine ingredients. Sprinkle this topping over the rhubarb mix.
  • Bake in 400 F oven for 35 - 45 minutes, until topping is golden brown and rhubarb is tender.
  • If you'd like, serve with ice cream or vanilla yogurt.
Rhubarb in the garden

The stalks are edible... but the leaves are toxic

Fresh or frozen raspberries can be used

Tossed in the sugar mixture

Before going into the oven -
note that the topping is blended but still crumbly

Out of the oven

Fruit crisps are yummy for a breakfast treat too!

July 1, 2010

Cinnamon-Topped Rhubarb Muffins

A tale of two muffins.
One of the major reasons we have this blog: to save the recipes we've tried.
We have a sisters-making-muffins afternoon not too long ago, each choosing a muffin and making them side by side. However - only one recipe is making it to the blog. Not because the other wasn't sweet enough or fluffy enough or moist enough... but because one of the recipes disappeared. We can't remember where it came from or where we put it.

Focusing on the positive, we do have a rhubarb muffin recipe that remains with us still.
We found it on AllRecipes.com.

Cinnamon-Topped Rhubarb Muffins
We halved the original recipe - feel free to double the amounts below.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk --> or regular milk with 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped rhubarb

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Combine egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Stir into the bowl of dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in rhubarb.
  • Grease muffin tins or use paper muffin cups to line the pan (that's what we did). Fill with batter.
  • Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins.
  • Bake at 375 F for 16 - 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Mixing up the now-mysterious almond muffins

This batter was thick!

A nice light golden brown

Sprinkling the topping
Did you know that "streusel" is from a German word meaning
"something scattered or sprinkled"?
However, streusel has flour in it, along with butter and sugar.

Fresh out of the oven

Zucchini and Ricotta Shells

A summery pasta dish!
Sometimes pasta feels a little heavy in the warm summer months, unless it's in pasta salad form. Instead of tomato sauce, this recipe relies on the zesty flavor of lemon. Canadian Living magazine suggests pairing the pasta with a Sauvingnon Blanc or an Italian Soave.

Although this dish could stand alone, we think it works best as an accompaniment to chicken or fish.
The recipe comes from the May 2010 issue of Canadian Living, and can also be found online. It's from their "quick and easy" series - and it lives up to that designation. Admittedly, it's not spectacular, but it is a quick, easy, and pretty tasty.

Zucchini and Ricotta Shells
Makes 4 servings
4 cups medium or large shell pasta
1/2 cup ricotta
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 zucchini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh mint
2 tablespoons fresh chopped onion
2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Cook pasta according to package. Drain, but save 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  • In large bowl, toss together pasta, ricotta, lemon rind, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water.
  • Quarter the zucchini, lengthwise. Cut away the core and cut (with a bit of diagonal flair) into slices.
  • Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat. Sauté zucchini for about 5 minutes, until tender.
  • Add zucchini to pasta, along with mint, green onion, and lemon juice. Use the remaining pasta water to achieve desired creaminess. Toss together to coat pasta.

Just wait until the end of the summertime
when zucchini overtakes gardens...

Sliced and ready to sauté

Fresh mint is incredibly fragrant

Next step: toss!