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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

20 Feb

Coffee Cake

Did you ever have adventures at grandma’s house? When I was a kid, my grandma’s house seemed like a magical place full of mystery and adventure. Going down to the basement was like visiting a 1920s’ speakeasy. Going up to the attic, trying on all those old dresses felt like fashion shopping in France. Piggyback rides on her massive German Shepherd were like riding a grand horse. Playing with the cousins upstairs was top-secret spy business. We usually stayed out of trouble.

But.

There was this one time at my grandma’s house that we tried to stuff me down the laundry chute. All in all, it was a terrible idea. At the time, we thought it was a great idea. And it had to be me to go down the chute because I was the smallest cousin. “Like riding a really exciting slide,” they convinced me. Luckily for me, we got caught in the act of stuffing me in. I probably wouldn’t have survived three flights of a dead drop. But it was exciting. Another adventure at grandma’s house.

Coffee cake screams grandma’s house to me. Fragrant cinnamon and moist crumb cake. Definitely grandma’s house.

This recipe comes from the Joy the Baker Cookbook. A welcome addition to anyone’s recipe library has got to be coffee cake. Any excuse to eat cake for breakfast, right?

Coffee Cake

Stir together your crumb topping. Set aside for now.

Coffee Cake

Stir together your yummy cinnamon filling layer. Set aside.

Coffee Cake

Mix together your butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs.

Coffee Cake

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Coffee Cake

Prepare your sour cream and milk combo. Whisk ’em real good.

Coffee Cake

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture in 2 additions.

Coffee Cake

Spread half of the cake batter on the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon filling layer.

Coffee Cake

Spread the rest of the cake batter evenly on top of the cinnamon filling layer.

Coffee Cake

Make a few swirls with a knife.

Coffee Cake

Top with the crumb topping and bake for 55 to 60 minutes until golden brown and crackly.

Coffee CakeLet rest for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing and serving. (more…)

Carrot Bread

19 Sep

I’ve always envied stick-straight perfect hair. When you have curly hair, people love to tell you, “Oh NO, trust ME, you’re SO lucky to have curly hair, blah blah blah.”

Girls with perfect hair make me feel sick. How is it possible to have straight, voluminous hair that can still look good after riding in a convertible or after three days of no washing? This just baffles me.

You know what else makes me feel a little sick? Carrots. They are one vegetable that really grosses me out. I hated them as a kid, and I still hate them to this day. So how can I bear to cook with them? How can I bring myself to make bread with them? Well this bread tastes nothing like carrots, and that’s the very best part of it.

This bread definitely reminds me of zucchini bread. It is ultra-moist and filled with tasty cinnamon. (And just in case you forgot, it doesn’t taste like nasty vegetables!) It’s a sweet bread, and since this recipe makes for 2 loaves, feel free to share with a friendly neighbor or hoard it all for yourself. I won’t judge.

Start with your eggs and sugar.

Whip ’em up real good.

Add your dry ingredients to your wet ingredients.

Mix ’em real gently.

Fold in your carrots. (Don’t gag!)

Divide the batter between your two pans.

Bake until golden and crisp on top. Test with a knife if ya want. No jiggles allowed!

Cut into slices and feed those hungry masses. (more…)

Chocolate Cream Puffs

22 Jun

I was a hyper kid. I always had trouble winding down. My real problem was that I couldn’t stop laughing. (And mostly I found myself hilarious.) The family would be sitting around having a jolly time, and I would start getting silly. Inevitably something would crack me up, and I would start laughing. At first, it was no big deal because everyone else was laughing too. But then the laughter would all die off, except for mine. And of course I found this even more funny. Times like these would end in tears. Laughing for a straight 10 minutes is bound to cause a bodily reaction, and I would usually be gasping for air as tears rolled down my face. Like I said, I had trouble winding down.

I was always the hyper one—that is, until my little brother came along. He is 14 years my junior, and the caboose of the family. I went home last weekend and have since decided that we are twin souls. He cracks up at himself and can’t stop laughing for the life of him. He was laughing so hard at one point that he yanked his shorts down and starting doing the underwear dance. Crazy kid. Again, twin souls. Twin silly souls.

I made these chocolate cream puffs after some begging from my mom. They aren’t silly. In fact, I’d say these are the opposite of silly. But sometimes you gotta balance out the silly with serious, mature treats such as these.

The chocolate filling is by far the best part of these. It has a rich chocolate flavor, and I’m not opposed to eating it alone like a bowl of decadent chocolate pudding.

Stir together the water, butter, and salt until it begins to boil.

Add all of the flour, and stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Use a 1/4-cup scoop to drop dough balls onto a cookie sheet.

It’s fine if they all look a little different. It adds character.

Bake until puffed and golden brown.

This is how your baked puffs should look.

Cut off the tops and pull out the doughy insides. Now make the chocolate filling!

Heat the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, salt, and milk, stirring constantly. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to boil.

After adding beaten eggs, return to heat and stir constantly until mixture thickens and begins to boil.

Mixture should be very thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Pour filling into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the chocolate to prevent a film from forming.

Now fill the puffs with thick chocolate filling.

Dainty chocolate cream puffs. (more…)

Mother’s Day Cinnamon Rolls

12 May

This is me and my mom circa 1993. Honestly, she hasn’t aged a day. (She’ll tell you otherwise, but it’s simply not true.) She still has that radiant smile and silky, luminous dark hair. She still listens to me talk for hours on end. She still rubs my temples when I have a headache, and she still brings me ginger ale and a piece of buttered toast when I have a tummy ache. She still loves to take care of me, and I still love to let her.

If I were at home this year for Mother’s Day, you’d better believe I’d be up at 5 a.m. to make these cinnamon rolls for my mom. They are her favorite, and she always begs me to make some when I’m visiting. Instead, I made them for myself, and I’m torturing her with the pictures. (That’s almost as satisfying, right?)

Let’s make these in honor of our moms this year. You’ll feel all warm and fuzzy when you’re eating them.

Sprinkle yeast into warm water. Let it get all foamy.

Whisk to dissolve the yeast.

In another bowl, combine the butter, pudding mix, milk, egg, sugar, and salt. Then add the yeast mixture.

Mix in 2 cups of flour.

Knead with the dough hook and form into a ball.

Let rise until doubled.

Roll it out into a big rectangle.

Spread with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.

Roll it up like a jelly roll.

Cut into 16 pieces.

Let them rise in the pan, and bake.

Meanwhile, whip up some light cream cheese frosting.

Spread it all over the gooey rolls. Eat your heart out. (more…)

Weekend Challenge: Hamburger Buns

28 Apr

In a lot of ways, I still feel like a 12-year-old girl. I still think, act, and even kinda look like a 12-year-old girl. One of the most obvious manifestations of my preteen-ness is my choice in movies. I still love those sappy, fairy tale, falling-in-love chick flicks.

After weeks and weeks of anticipation, I began begging Ryan to go and see The Lucky One with me. (For those of you not up to speed on this movie, it has Zac Efron in it—total teen heartthrob.) Ryan wasn’t caught off guard because he is very well aware of my taste in movies. He tried to convince me to ask one of my girl friends to go see it with me, but I just couldn’t bring myself to muster the courage. I could think of at least five girl friends who would politely decline (and internally roll their eyes and think less of me).

In the end, he consented to see it with me. It was pretty standard sap. Nothing out of the ordinary. Translation: I loved it.

(more…)

Banana Bread

23 Apr

I swear my mail lady only delivers my mail every other day. Now I know what you’re probably thinking. Do you remember that mail isn’t delivered on Sundays? Have you considered that you might not get mail every single day? To those questions, I answer, Yes, of course, I’ve considered that. Thing is, I know when my mail lady has been here.

Every time she comes to my door to put mail in my mailbox, it scares the life outta me. It’s completely quiet, and then all of the sudden I hear what sounds like a voice inside my house. That’s right, INSIDE my house. She’s always on her bluetooth, which is great, you know? I’m totally cool with you gossiping with your mom about Jared’s new soccer coach, but it also freaks me out that I can hear these details. AND it also proves my point. Because she isn’t gossiping inside my house every day. Only every other day. No, I have not set up a camera and documented her comings and goings, although that could be a worthwhile activity. (more…)

Flour Tortillas

19 Apr

A friend of mine called me the other night. I hadn’t talked to her for quite some time, so when I saw her name pop up, I immediately thought she was calling me by mistake. See, my name starts with the letters Ad, so I am often at the top of people’s contact lists. This makes for a lot of mistaken calls. It’s really embarrassing when you see someone’s calling you, you answer all excited, and either a) they say, “Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to call you” or b) they aren’t even there, and you listen to them having lots of fun with their real friends while you’re stuck in their purse. Needless to say, I answered the phone with a bit of trepidation. She actually did mean to call me, though! (Huge self-esteem boost.) I relayed my no-one-wants-to-actually-call-me fears, and she said she feels the same way sometimes. Sigh. I am not alone in this world. (Granted, her name starts with an A, too, but we’ll move on.) (more…)

Pizza Dough

17 Apr

Ryan loves pizza. He really loves it. And when I say love, I mean we order it at least once a week, he asks for it three times a week, and we keep an emergency boxed pizza in the freezer in case of, well, a pizza emergency. (more…)

White Sandwich Bread

10 Apr

 

I remember when my grandma used to give me bacon sandwiches with a healthy heaping of mayo on white toast. It was one of the only things I would consent to eat for lunch as a kid. Nowadays, I don’t think I could stomach such a sandwich (seriously, Grandma?? bacon AND mayonnaise? perhaps hoping for a heart attack from your favorite pickiest eater?), but I do occasionally crave that nostalgic taste of a BLT or grilled cheese on white bread.

Now we all know white bread gets a bad rap these days. While some of the criticism is justified, and we recognize whole wheat bread is better for us, there are occasions when you just need white bread instead of wheat bread. (My husband would protest that you need white bread EVERYDAY, but I don’t give in that easily.) Sometimes, though, I do give in. And if you are still buying white bread for your own picky kids, this will come as quite the joy. (more…)