I made focaccia bread the other day and it made the whole house smell awesome. It also tasted great, which was a plus. It was from a box mix I got at Aldi, so it was really easy to make, and cheap. Never bad.
Well, I spent the entire day at the library slaving away on a paper and other various assignments. When I got home, I was starving and freezing. All I wanted to was curl up on the couch with a blanket, a good movie, and the smell of fresh bread. Alas, no fresh bread, and no movies.
That didn’t stop me though. I was determined. Thus, I created this bread recipe - Just look at that melted cinnamon bubbling..yum.
SIMPLE CINNAMON SUGAR BREAD
3 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1½ c. water
¼ c. oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix. Next, add the wet ingredients and mix. The dough should be sticky, not firm. If too sticky, however, add small amounts of flour until the dough is the right consistency.
Oil a bread pan well. Take half of the dough and lay it out on the bottom of the pan. Next, mix together small amounts of white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl (I didn’t measure this part, just added some together). Coat the layer of dough with the sugar mixture, and top with the remaining dough.
Put the bread in the over for 40 minutes. After about 20 minutes in the oven, coat the top of the dough with butter and place back in the oven. When 30 minutes have passed, mix some butter into the sugar mixture, and spread on top of the bread. Place back in the oven for the remaining ten minutes.
You'll know it's finished when the top of the bread is a little brown, and the sugar is caramelized. Voila! Take it out and let it cool, you're done!
This bread definitely made the house smell wonderful! It was more like a dense, fudgy type of coffee cake. But either way, I’m happy with the way it turned out. It tastes great.
I found a box of pumpkin cake mix in the pantry and decided to do something a little different with it. Last time I was home, I was admiring a mini Bundt cake pan. It is essentially a cupcake tray except instead of cup cakes it makes individual Bundt cakes. I like it because there’s a hollow in the cakes that you can fill with goodies.
The cake pan alone inspired this dessert and I’m so glad it did. It turned out great! And, as a bonus, it’s a really easy way to make boxed cake mix fancy. You’ll be sure to impress your friends.
PUMPKIN CAKE WITH CARAMEL APPLE COMPOTE
1 pkg. pumpkin cake mix
¼ c. oil
3 large eggs
1 apple, diced
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. apple pie spice
Cream cheese frosting
Preheat the oven to 350. In a mixer, combine the cake mix, oil, and eggs and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Lightly grease the pan, and fill with the cake mix. Bake for about 15 minutes. Then set the cakes aside to cool.
In a pan, add the sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a caramel forms. Mix in the apple pie spice. Heat the diced apples before adding them to the caramel mixture. Adding the apples in cold will cause the caramel to seize up and form a hard glob (yes, I learned this the hard way). Once the apples are hot, slowly add them to the caramel sauce while stirring constantly. Then, fill the cakes with the apple compote and drizzle with cream cheese frosting. Your taste buds will thank you.
I always cook for my boy friend and his typical response to every thing I make is, “this is pretty good.” However, after feeding him this, he said, “this is pretty awesome.” So that’s a step up! I am waiting for the day when I get a simple, “this is good!” without the “pretty” beforehand. One day…*sigh*
While I was home for fall break I went to Ikea with my sister. She wanted to find cabinets for a bar area she plans on remodeling in her house. You can’t just walk to the section of the store that you want; you have to look at EVERYTHING. And that’s the joy of Ikea.
We found ourselves in the kitchen area and I saw an adorable moose cookie cutter. It was part of a set that included a fox, snail, squirrel, and porcupine. My sister said she’d buy it for me as long as I promised to make cookies and take pictures of the results. Thus, I bring you, cut out cookies!
…but like, real simple, not time consuming, and cheap ones. I’ll save the real cut out cookies for when I’m home for Christmas.
CUT OUT COOKIES
1 pkg. sugar cookie mix
½ c. butter
1 tbs. water
1 large egg
5 tbs. powdered sugar (plus more for dusting the counter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 tbs. water
Prepare the cookie dough as the package tells you too. The bag I bought said to mix the package with ½ c. softened butter, 1 tbs. water, and one large egg. Once it’s mixed and forms a dough, pat it into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about an hour. Keeping the dough in the fridge will make it easier to handle when rolling it out.
Preheat the oven to 375.
After the dough is firm, use powdered sugar to dust the counter to make sure the dough doesn't stick to the counter. Roll it out to about ¼ inch thick, and begin cutting.
Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 7 minutes.
I let my cookies cool over night, and then this morning I made up a glaze for them. In a small bowl, combine the 5 tbs. powdered sugar with the extracts and water. Mix well. After the glaze is mixed thoroughly, use a spoon to lightly coat the cookies. The cookies are already pretty sweet, so I just wanted to do a light glaze to not over power them with sugar.
A few weeks ago when I made those caramels, I mentioned how I have a problem with impulse grocery shopping. Well, while I was out buying the ingredients for caramels, I happened to stumble upon a section with international foods. Kitchens of India makes a curry paste and it was only like, $2.00. I bought two different kinds to try, and I made one up last night.
It was surprisingly good. I’ve tried a lot of different Indian food recipes and premade Indian food, and am always left disappointed. Either the flavor is somewhat off tasting, or it’s just plain gross. However, the butter chicken curry paste turned out great and it was simple to make. It was creamy, and buttery, and spicy. All good things.
I had actually made it with the intention of having my boy friend over for dinner, but he couldn’t make it so my roommate ended up eating his portion. Luckily, it made a ton of food. Both of us ate two huge bowls full, and I still had plenty for leftovers. Just thinking about those leftovers is making my mouth water—So hungry. All the time.
1 lb. chicken, diced
2 c. water
3 tbs. butter
1 pkg. Butter Chicken Curry
½ onion, diced
1/3 c. cream
½ c. peas
I strayed a bit from the package directions, and added a couple extra things to the recipe. I melted the butter, and browned the onions. After the onions were cooked down, I added the water, chicken and curry paste pack. I kept the heat on medium, and slowly mixed everything together. The curry paste comes out of the package in one solid square, and looks pretty disgusting. Luckily, it breaks downs pretty quickly in the water, and everything looks much less gross.
I let the mixture simmer over the heat for about 20 minutes, until the chicken was thoroughly cooked through. I then added in the cream, and mixed it in. I made this up around 12, and let it sit in the pot on low heat until about 6:00. I wanted the flavors to really mix and absorb into the chicken. However, you can totally skip this step and just let it cook on high for the 20 minutes, and call it a meal.
I served it up with rice that I mixed up with peas. That’s how my favorite Indian restaurant serves their rice, so I copied. I can’t reiterate enough how impressed I am with this product. It was so cheap, made tons of food, and was delicious. Really can’t beat that.
I had fall break this past weekend, so I got to go home for a few days. And boy was it a needed few days. Between stress and issues with a friend, I haven’t been super happy this semester, so it was really nice getting to go home and see my family. I also got to have tons of snuggle time with my dogs. I’ve missed my baby so much!
While I was home, I did plenty of shopping, TV watching, and cooking. My favorite comfort food is my mom’s cheese chowder recipe. It’s cheesy and delicious, and reminds me of when I was little. I used to ask for it every year for my “special birthday dinner.” I realize now that I probably should have been asking for steak, haha. Oh well.
3 tbs. butter
1½ c. celery, finely chopped
1 c. carrot shredded
½ c. onion, finely chopped
2 cans cream of potato soup
16 oz. chicken broth
½ c. water
2 tbs. parsley
5-8 dashes hot pepper sauce
2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
13 oz. can evaporated milk
3 tbs. sherry
In a big pot, melt the butter and cook celery, carrot and onion until tender but not brown. Add the potato soup, broth, water, parsley and hot pepper sauce and cook until the mixture boils. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add and stir in cheese, milk and sherry. Heat through, but be careful not to boil it. And finally, sit down and enjoy it while cuddled up under a blanket—it’s the best.
I'm Kirsten. Big time foodie, all around goofball, and freelance marketer.