Oatmeal.

I don’t have too much to say other than it’s high time we had some more oatmeal-type recipes on this site.

Isn’t that introduction enough?

I probably eat oatmeal at least 4 days out of 7 each week. It’s a bit of a combination of 1) it’s easy and 2) it’s healthy. Most days though, I dig into the store-bought packets, but every once and a while I like to make a nice batch of small-sized oatmeals because let’s face it – anything you make at home just tastes better. Oatmeal isn’t any different. Plus, a recipe for oatmeal is sorta like a recipe for granola bars – you can modify it almost any way you want and it will still taste good, so that way you never get bored with the same ol’ thing every single morning.

I get that some of you just don’t like oatmeal. That’s fine, I suppose, but I’ve always been an oatmeal-kinda person. For some, the texture is just too gooey, which never makes sense, because those same people seem to just love grits. For others, it just isn’t their thing. But for me? Breakfast is one of those times that I really just can’t be bothered to whip up fancy stuff.

Plus, I like to start my day eating decent ingredients, even if I end it by shoving a bowl of ramen into my face.

In my land, that’s called balance. And last time I checked, a little balance in life is never a bad thing.

Baked Fruit & Nut Oatmeal
adapted from Inquiring Chef via Pinterest; makes 8 individual servings

time commitment: 45 minutes

printable version

ingredients
1 & 1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c nuts, coarsely chopped (I’ve used walnuts and almonds)
1 & 1/2 c fresh or frozen fruit (I’ve used frozen blueberries and fresh strawberries)
1 & 1/2 c milk (any type; I’ve used soy and almond milk with good results)
1 large egg (lightly beaten)
2 T honey or any other sweetener
1 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt

instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl combine the oatmeal, nuts, and fruit. In a seperate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, honey, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.

Fill 8 small oven-safe containers (or an 8×8 baking dish) evenly with the oatmeal mixture. Pour the liquid evenly over the oats in each of the containers.

Place the containers on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the fruit is bubbly and the oats are crisp and golden.

Allow the oatmeal to cool slightly and serve warm.

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Real Life

I’m going to tell you a little about how things go down around these parts when the weekend rolls in. Don’t get too excited – it isn’t nearly as fascinating as I’m suggesting it is. But that doesn’t stop me from talking about it, so here goes.

We generally kick things off as soon as we get home on Friday. Chris has the luxury of getting to sneak out early which means we get home around the same time as one another. Whoever gets home first picks out a bottle of wine, opens it up, and gets to relaxing. Sometimes that also means I’m cooking something that signals it’s weekend time, which typically involves pasta. I’m not sure why, but pasta dishes always seem appropriate on Fridays. Last Friday was no different.

While eating said dinner and wine-ing, we proceed to catch up on a couple of tv shows or watch a movie. At approximately 10:00, 10:30 on a “late” night, I’m passed out on the couch, usually right in the middle of a show. Yup, real life.

This Saturday probably wasn’t the epitome of a typical Saturday, but it certainly was a good one. I started it off with a little run through Panhandle Park and after burning a few calories, I got down to bizness. I re-learned how to use my teeny tiny plastic sewing machine, and I proceeded to – wait for it – make seat cushions! Dang, I felt crafty as all get out. They aren’t finished yet, so I can’t quite call myself Martha Stewart, but even so I’m feeling the need to make sure a lot of people know that I made. a. freaking. seat. cushion. With my bare hands (sort of). Two of them. Hot damn!

Amidst the excitement of cushion-sewing, I broke out the lard and the butter as well as one of my favorite Rick Bayless cookbooks and went to town on making empanadas. I had some leftover fresh pumpkin from a pumpkin curry dish I made the other night and figured it would make a mighty fine filling for the rounds of doughy goodness, and I did not lead myself astray. The empanadas turned out to be pretty tasty, and perfect for a little Mexican-style get together later that night at Liz & Kevin’s place.

So all in all, it was a fun-filled Saturday, and I felt like I’d gotten a decent amount of stuff accomplished.

Meanwhile, as anyone I’m friends with on Facebook already knows, Chris spent his Saturday protecting the citizens of Arkham City, which essentially means he sat on the couch with a set of headphones on and a game controller in his hand. He kept on his typical Saturday attire (workout pants and either a Northwestern or NC State hoodie, depending on what’s clean) until I forced him away from Arkham City and into the shower. (I’m not complaining here, either, just poking fun. His free time is well-deserved, plus it gives me time to play with lard.)

We then headed over to Oakland where Liz & Kevin whipped up a ton of awesomeness, including guacamole and flank steak tacos. We made the mistake of suggesting a trivia game, and as a result we left their house feeling about 10 times dumber than when we’d arrived. My only saving grace was the fact that I brought the empanadas, so I was thankful for that and considered it time well-spent in the kitchen that day.

Sunday rolled around and we were rewarded with an extra hour of sleep, which we took full advantage of. We spent the morning walking over to the farmers’ market, grabbing brunch at Nopalito, and doing regular Sunday errands and such. We watched our regular Sunday night shows, The Walking Dead and The Next Iron Chef, and before we knew it, it was time to call it a night and get the whole week started, all over again.

See what I mean? Nothing earth-shattering over here, that’s for sure. But truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How was your weekend?

Pumpkin Empanadas
Adapted, barely, from Fiesta at Rick’s; makes 24 empanadas

time commitment: ~3 hours (1 hour, 45 minutes active time)

printable version

ingredients
pumpkin filling
2 c pumpkin puree (canned or fresh*)
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1 1/2 t g Mexican cinnamon
1/2 t salt

empanadas
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 c white spelt flour
1/2 t salt
2 t sugar
1/2 c chilled lard (yum!)**
1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter
2/3 c ice water

glaze
1 egg beaten with 1 T water

instructions
combine all pumpkin filling ingredients into a 2-quart saucepan; cover and set to medium-high heat. stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved, then uncover and simmer until mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. move to small bowl and cool to room temperature.

while the filling cools, make the dough. add flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor and pulse to combine. cut lard and butter into small 1/2-inch pieces and scatter over the flour. cover and pulse about 8 times. uncover and pour half of water into processor. pulse 3 more times, then add in the remaining water and pulse a few more times. at this point, the dough should clump together, but if it doesn’t just add 1 T of water at a time, pulsing until it does come together. dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and bring into a ball. divide in half, wrap each half in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour. (you can also do this whole part with a pastry cutter or two forks, but that takes a long time and the processor is sooooo easy.)

take one of the halves of dough outta the fridge. flour a flat surface, and roll dough into a rectangle about 12×16 inches (or thin enough in any other shape to cut out 12 4″ round empanadas). using a 4-inch circle or cookie cutter, cut 12 circles out. working with one at a time, brush the outer edge lightly with water and place ~1 tablespoon of filling in the center. fold the dough over the filling and press the ends together to seal. you can crimp with the tines of a fork or make them into crinkly ends or twist the ends like I did (although I can’t really explain how I did that other than say that I pulled a tiny piece of one end out and constantly twisted the dough around itself until I got to the other end…. and that doesn’t help, does it?!).

transfer to baking sheet and place in fridge for at least 15 minutes. meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 F and repeat this process with the remaining half of the dough.

bake empanadas for about 15 minutes, then remove them and brush the lightly with the egg wash and bake another 5 minutes. cool and serve. (you can also freeze them; I froze half of them by putting the sheet in the freezer for about 15 minutes then dumping the pre-frozen treats into a plastic ziploc bag. to bake frozen empanadas, add 5 minutes to the cook time and cook straight from the freezer – do not thaw.)

*to make fresh pumpkin puree, take about 4 cups of cubed fresh pumpkin and boil in a large pot for about 10 minutes, until soft. drain pot, and mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth
**if you’re afraid of lard, Rick says you can also use shortening (same amount) OR I’m sure you could just omit and double the butter if you really want

The New Staple

There comes a time in all of our lives that we eventually have to grow up and start fending for ourselves. Specifically, we have to feed ourselves; the days of coming home to mom and dad’s fresh-baked meatloaf, fried chicken, and steak n’ potatoes fade into the past, quickly becoming memories as opposed to everyday life.

For many of us, we have college as a “buffer” from the inevitable days of reality. We have the dining halls serving up lukewarm pizza, cereal in bins with pitchers of warm milk at the adjacent counter, and last but certainly not least – yesterday’s leftover fruit, usually a lot of honeydew melon and grapes. And let’s not forget the $.10 ‘oodles of noodles’ (chicken flavor! Oriental flavor!) that saved me from ordering Gumby’s pizza on many the occasion.

Eventually, the dining halls also fade into the background as we are forced to get “real jobs” and become part of a functioning society. Takeout still serves its purpose, but there becomes a point sometime after college that the pounds start to pack on a little more quickly, and walking from the dorm to lecture hall no longer constitutes the requirement of exercise. Oof.

Despite what some of you might believe, my time in the kitchen was not always spent with perma-grin. I was not “born to cook”, and I didn’t grow up begging to wash dishes, or wait impatiently in hopes of being allowed to add paprika to the deviled eggs at Thanksgiving. I didn’t even want to learn how to make my gramma’s pound cake – as long as she had one waiting for me every Sunday I was as happy as a pig in pooh.

But even so, I had a “go to” dish – spaghetti. I’d get home and quickly throw some noodles into a pot of boiling water, and I’d cook those noodles until they nearly fell apart (I didn’t have a freakin’ clue what al dente meant until probably 4 years ago). Usually, I’d have a jar of Newman’s Own marinara sauce in the pantry and I’d toss some into the microwave and dump it atop my pasta with a nice hefty shake or two of the Kraft “parmesan”. If I was feeling fancy, I’d put some red pepper flakes in the sauce, but otherwise that was it.

I’ll bet you have your go to dish as well. My problem, if you can call it a problem, is that I don’t have that go to recipe anymore. I make a dish once usually, twice if it’s really good and it’s posted here (which means I still have the recipe), and then I’m finished with it. I can’t seem to shake the habit, but maybe it’s just because I’ve never found a replacement for the spaghetti dish from years ago.

Until now. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for weeks (remember the curry meatballs?) – weeks! I never read through it, and I simply assumed it would take a long time and we haven’t had any nights where I had a long time to cook in the last month or so. But this past weekend, I picked up the book again and went straight to the page of this dish. It looked easy! It sounded amazing, as it always has, and I knew I’d be giving it a try. All I needed to do was procure some amchur (dried mango powder – duh) and I was set.

I promise you – it took me 30 minutes, and there is limited prep, limited chopping, and lots of goodness. Honestly, it tastes just as good as the restaurant versions. For serious. It’s gonna get made a whole helluva lot around here, now that I’ve realized these facts. And the only problem with this new plan? I’ll have to find another staple dish to order when we want Indian takeout, because I’m not quite sure I’ll be able to pay $10 for a dish I can make in 30 minutes, with 4 servings, for much less than that. Something tells me that isn’t much of a problem either, though.

 

Chana Masala
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s An Invitation to Indian Cooking; serves 4 as a meal

time commitment: 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
3 T coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 t cumin seeds
1 large onion, diced
1/4 t g cinnamon
1/4 t g nutmeg
1/4 t g cloves
1 t g coriander
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 t grated ginger
4 T tomato paste
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cans chickpeas (save ~ 4-5 T of liquid)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon amchur*
1 c uncooked basmati rice
garlic naan, for serving
cilantro, for garnish

instructions
Heat coconut oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and once they begin to darken (will happen quickly), add onion. Saute until starting to brown (about 8 minutes).

Turn heat to low and add cinnamon through coriander. Mix together, then add garlic and ginger. Turn heat up a little and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes.

Add chickpeas and the saved liquid. Add salt, cayenne, and amchur. Mix well, cover, and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir gently every couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, cook basmati rice and warm garlic naan in the oven. Once chana masala is cooked, garlic with cilantro and serve atop some rice and with naan.

 

*amchur (or amchoor) is available at Indian markets and here. Jaffrey says you can sub in 1 T lemon juice if you can’t locate it.

For Everyday Life

I’ll confess – I meant to leave you with a sweet treat before heading out for vacation, I swear it. Because I knew that when I got back, I’d be cutting back on the sweets for a while. The truth is, I totally forgot to, and there’s really no excuse other than that. I opened up this here site after another week of being away from it and saw that I’d started this post, meaning I’d added the pictures and the recipe according to my usual system of doing things, but that was it.

Funny how things like that happen, eh?

Anywho, we’re back from the weirdest vacation I think I’ll ever take (in a totally good way) and I’ll tell you all about it once I get the chance to clean up the pics and sit here for a while. But the summary is this: we had a bunch of quick, fun trips from the Midwest through the Deep South, and I’m not kidding when I say we ate our way through each and every stop. You won’t be surprised to hear that we even found a few wineries along the way.

But we’ll get to the rest later – promise.

Today, I wanted to finally share these gingersnaps, since I didn’t manage to pull through last month. More ginger cookies? Why, yes. Sure, we have graham crackers and triple ginger cookies already, but can you have too much ginger? I think not. Plus, they’re all just a little bit different. Graham crackers? Well, silly, those are for s’mores (there’s a gluten-free version, too!). Triple ginger cookies? Those are for eating over the Holidays with a mug of spiced (or spiked) cider at the fireplace. Gingersnaps? These are for everyday life.

These aren’t nearly as crisp as the ones in the goldenrod bag that you buy from the snack aisle in the grocery store. These are crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle. They remind me of a cool, fall Chicago morning – those mornings you wake up to and just know they’ll be perfect. They’re meant to be eaten on a day when the leaves are falling, crisp and brilliantly colored – brick, burnt orange, and pumpkin-tinged. For days when the sun glistens through the trees and reflects brightly off the windows, but the breeze around the corner provides that perfect counter-attack against the heat that is slowly waning for the year. Man, I miss those mornings some kinda bad.

If you’re like me, and perhaps those sure-fire signs of Fall aren’t quite lining up for you the way you’d like, that’s fine too. Summer in October suits me just as well, truth be told. Either way, gingersnaps are a welcome addition to any day – warm, breezy, and fall-ish or sunny, clear, and reminiscent of July.

Gingersnaps
from David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert; makes 60

time commitment: 2 hours (includes 1 hour for the dough to chill)

printable version

ingredients
3 c all purpose flour
2 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 1/2 t g cinnamon
2 t g ginger
1 1/2 t fresh g pepper
1/2 t g cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 molasses
1 t vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temp
turbinado or regular granulated sugar, for coating the cookies

instructions
in a medium bowl, combine flour through ground cloves and whisk until mixed well.

in a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar, mixing on medium until smooth. mix in molasses and vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. add flour mixture and mix until completed combined.

divide the dough into four pieces. lightly flour a surface and roll each piece into an ~8″ log, then roll up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour (alternatively you can freeze for less time).

preheat oven to 350 F. pour coating sugar into a small bowl. working with one log at a time, slice into 1/2″ cookies, and press one side of each cookie into the sugar, then place the other side down on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. bake for ~10 minutes. if using two sheets, rotate sheets halfway through to even cooking of each sheet. remove, let cool for a few minutes, and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

ps – you can store the dough in the fridge or freezer if you want to bake sections off at a time. or you can do it all at once – whatevs. 

Bear Down

I would imagine, firsthand if I were a mother to something other than a cat, that feeling proud of your children when they accomplish something is probably one of the best feelings on earth. I would imagine that, when they finish college, or get married, or when they land the job of their dreams, it’s probably a bit too much to bear – that fullness you might feel inside, that beaming, happy feeling that has you grinning from ear to ear.

I’m not a mother, and won’t be anytime soon, but I know that feeling still. I’m sure it’s a little bit different, but all the while, I am definitely that ‘happy, proud, beaming from ear to ear’ person I described.

Chris (aka Hubs), after somewhere between 3 and 4 years of crunching numbers on Excel, working with probably 20 different groups (some good and downright horrible), and all the while working full-time at a job that has been much less than rewarding, has finished school – once and for all. I was definitely proud when he got into Northwestern’s MBA program, but I’m infinitely “prouder” (and relieved) now that he’s completed it, and with honors.

When I finished culinary school, he took me to Alinea – and I’ll never forget that experience. For a long while, I’ve wondered what I’d get him for his (final) graduation – to not only celebrate his fancy new degree, but to also celebrate the fact that we, both of us, are finally. finished. with. school. forevah. It’s a big deal, I think.

And while I didn’t go the “you finished graduate school therefore I should buy you something professional, like a leather attache case or nice tie so you can look spify when you interview for new jobs” present, I swear I hit the nail on the head this time. I realized that, after almost 7 years of living in this city, we have never forked out the Benjamins (yes, plural) to watch the Bears in action at Soldier Field. And for years, season after season, we’ve promised ourselves to one day, one year, suck it up and buy the tickets. So I did.

Let’s just say that I definitely picked the best game of the season to watch in person – the December 12th Bears vs. Patriots game, the day Chicago got pummeled with snow & extra-frigid temperatures what with the windchill and all making the “feels like” temperature hover solidly in the single digits. The day that left my hands and feet feeling so numb for so long that even a bucket of hot chocolate and “complimentary warming stations” couldn’t remedy – those were the tickets I bought.

And despite all of it, he loved it. And I loved it because I knew he did. It felt good, frigid temperatures and all – watching someone grin with excitement, and that someone being someone you are so incredibly proud of, admirable of, and in love with all at the same time – that’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words.

Ever since that game, the horribly played game, I’ve been craving some more hot chocolate. I had some at work the next day – the kind that comes in the box with the fake marshmallows – and it wasn’t half bad, to be honest. But I’ve wanted to make my own, and I finally did. There isn’t much not to like about a hot chocolate full of all those awesome Indian spices, and it’s definitely a warmer for all the cold days and nights that are sure to come. Having a mug of this at home during a Bears game, a game the Bears are winning (since we are officially division title holders, again)? Priceless.

Oh, and Happy Holidays. Stay warm and stay safe out there, kids!

Chai Hot Chocolate
chiknpastry recipe; makes 2 servings

time commitment: 10 minutes

printable version

ingredients
2 c 1% milk
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips OR 6 T sipping chocolate (like Theo)
5 green cardamom pods
1/4 t whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 t g ginger
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
marshmallows, optional

instructions
Combine first 8 ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; simmer for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. steep for 10 minutes with cover on. add in vanilla extract.

strain hot chocolate into 2 mugs. top with marshmallows, and snuggle ;).

Shooting the Moon

“You’re making chocolate chip cookies? That means there’s a stash of chocolate chips for me to munch on.”

“No, babe. I’m making snickerdoodles.”

“Even better. Where are those Snickers bars?”

You see, this is what my life’s like. This is the guy I live with, cook for, clean up after, and love more than I ever thought humanly possible. But I bet he’s not unlike a lot of you out there, is he?

For one, not only does he think about the finished product of the dish in progress, but he also thinks about the steps leading up to said finished product, and what can be snacked on along the way. I find no fault in this thought process, actually.

Second, he thinks that snickerdoodles are cookies with bits of Snickers candy speckled throughout. C’mon – he isn’t the only one, is he? I mean seriously, I thought the same until less than exactly five years ago. I can’t tell you how many times I proclaimed (silently) that my snickerdoodle holiday coffee did not taste one iota like Snickers and come to think of it, really just tasted a lot like cinnamon.

Now that I finally get it, I still don’t completely understand the name behind the cinnamon-laden holiday cookie, but I’m ok with that. Maybe there’s no explanation other than the fact that someone wanted a persnickety name for a simple cookie? (Also, I love the word persnickety. Persnickety. Persnickety. Persnickety.)

Third, he is one competitive guy, and this has nothing to do with these fine cookies other than the fact that they were made as a snack during a night of Hearts and tostadas with Jennifer & Jon. Hubs always wins when we play Hearts, even against my pops, and he’s been playing Hearts since the 60’s. Two of my lifelong goals are related to the 52-card deck – to beat Hubs at cribbage, and to beat him at Hearts (without cheating, of course).

I’m still workin’ on the former (although I swear I’ve beat him before, although I just can’t remember when!), but these cookies and the fact that I ate exactly 8 of them (give or take) must have made me lucky, because by golly I ‘shot the moon’, took him out, and never looked back. Add in a couple of victory-laden snickerdoodles, and the food coma fast approached – my excuse for being unable to successfully defend my title the second time around.

Gluten-Free / Dairy-Free Snickerdoodles
Adapted from Eat the Love via Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef; makes ~48

time commitment: 1.5 hours

these cookies are gonna be good gluten-free or not. i put what i did first and in parentheses what you can do differently if you don’t need a gluten or dairy free recipe {the vegan butter makes them dairy free and the flour substitutions and addition of xantham gum make them gluten free}. i also didn’t have enough eggs, so i used a trusty (and healthier!) substitute – 1 T ground flax + 3 T water for each egg. you can cut out the flax and water and instead use 2 eggs (plus the yolk of a third, as in the recipe) if you have them.

printable version (cookies and gf ap flour recipe)

ingredients
1/2 c (1 stick) vegan butter spread (or regular butter)
1 T g cinnamon
3 T + 1 1/2 c sugar, divided
2 T flax seed
6 T water
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1 large egg yolk
2 t vanilla extract
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1 t xantham gum (leave out if not making gf)
465 g all-purpose gluten-free flour, recipe below (or regular ap flour, ~2 3/4 c)

instructions
Cut vegan butter or butter into 1/2″ pieces and add to bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the cinnamon and the 3 T of sugar together in a shallow bowl. Put aside. In blender, grind flax seeds until fine; add water and blend until a smooth paste forms (i did this in a spice grinder, using 1 T flax and 3 T water at a time; it was a little messy, but the spice grinder probably grinds the flax better). Pour into small bowl and sit aside (if you’re using eggs, omit this part, obviously).

Add shortening to butter and mix on medium until well-blended. Add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the flax paste (or 2 eggs, one at a time beating after each addition), the egg yolk, and then the vanilla, beating and scraping down the sides with a spatula after each addition. Add the cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and xantham gum into the butter mixture and beat well. Add the flours and beat until all ingredients are incorporated and the dough is smooth.

Roll 1 T amounts of dough into balls and roll around in the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Place onto baking sheets about 2” apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until the tops of the cookies start to crack a little. Let them cool on the sheet for 3 minutes and then move them to a rack to cool.

Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
Adapted from Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef; makes 1000 g of ap flour

i’m definitely NOT a gluten-free expert, but Shauna certainly is. in the past, I’ve somehow managed to avoid making my own gf ap flour, but i finally caved in and did it, once i realized i had a decent amount of gf flours on hand. if you’re only cooking gf for someone occasionally, you may be better off buying a pre-made gf ap flour (like Bob’s Red Mill) which will usually work just fine. however, if you make a lot of gf stuff (or don’t but like the challenge AND hate that your gf friends get left out way too often), making a batch of gf ap flour using Shauna’s suggestions will serve you well. but remember, it isn’t just about using gf ingredients – you have to be sure your cleaning surfaces, etc are gf too. if you’re unsure about something you’re making for someone who eats gf, just ask them – they are (usually!) more than happy to talk about it and give you pointers.

this recipe is one i made using Shauna’s suggestion of 60% starch flours, 40% whole-grain flours. visit the link above for suggestions if you don’t have these exact flours on hand (and for her tried and true ap version, which i’m sure works better than mine!). you’ll notice the flours are all in grams – precision is key here!

printable version (flour only)

ingredients
225 g brown rice flour
175 g sorghum flour
250 g sweet rice flour
200 g potato starch
100 g arrowroot
50 g tapioca flour/starch

instructions
weigh each flour out and mix together  in a large container, preferably one with a lid. once they’re all in there, whisk them together for a few minutes, or snap the lid and shake the hell outta the container until well blended.

How to be Awesome

Do you ever have those moments, rare as they may be (or often, if we are daring enough to admit it), when you say to yourself, “I am so flippin’ awesome!”? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and admit to you, every last one of you, that I definitely have those moments.

Like when I (with a load of help) pulled off a surprise party for Hubs’ 30th last year. That was awesome.

Or when I discovered that when my CTA tracker says the #72 is coming in 6 minutes, I have exactly enough time to toss on my coat, take the elevator (down all 2 floors), and walk 1 block east to grab the Red Eye before the bus gets there. Yep, me = awesome!

I even feel awesome at work sometimes. I can’t remember any specific examples right now, but I’m sure it happens occasionally. For certain, I’ve constructed some genetic revelation or come up with a rare diagnosis for a patient, or found a billing loophole, or whatever. And I’m sure, if those things happened, that they were awesome.

And not to toot my own horn (because I haven’t done that at all in this post…), but these cinnamon rolls aka sticky buns – they are fan-flippin’-tastically awesome. I’ve patted myself on the back enough to leave a mark, I’m afeard.

I’ve had this recipe for a couple of months now, and have needed a good excuse to make these gorgeous sticky buns. Why not Iron Chef Battle Cinnamon, you ask? Well, I thought it would have been too obvious. And given the 25% of scoring that goes to originality, I opted out. I should’ve, though.

So I blame this bout of awesomeness on my student, who just finished rotating with me this week, as well as my tradition of making something for them at the end of their rotation.

These lil’ sticky buns are intimidating at first, but actually quite easy and fun to make. You mix the dough and rest it. You roll it out real long and thin and you spread the filling (which is easily adaptable, by the way) in an even layer. You roll that lovely filling up like a stuffed pretzel, cut them so they look like extra-large gnocchi, and rest again. You bake, and douse them in the silky, rich, buttery Jamaican rum glaze and dump some just-toasted pecans on top. Then you dig in, and bask in your glory.

Because they are awesome. Just like me, and just like you ;).

Buttered Rum Sticky Buns
Adapted from Food & Wine, January 2010; makes 12

printable version

F&W has some really choice desserts. Remember the baklava? They use butterscotch as their glaze, which I’m sure would be lovely. I didn’t have any Scotch whisky, so I improvised and made mine with Jamaican rum, which I think is a perfect substitution. But you there, do whatever you want, and if you try any different versions, let me know how they turn out.

ingredients
dough
3/4 c 1% milk
1 T + 1/2 t active dry yeast
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (6 T softened, 2 T melted)
2 eggs
4 c all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 t kosher salt
1 c light brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 c chopped pecans, toasted

glaze
1/2 c dark brown sugar
5 T unsalted butter
3 T dark Jamaican rum
2 1/2 T sweetened condensed milk
2 T water
2 T light sour cream
1 1/2 T corn syrup
1/4 t salt
1/8 t vanilla extract
1/8 t baking powder

special equipment: stand mixer (preferred but not required), standard muffin tin, brush

instructions
Make the Dough: In a glass measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave until warm, 1 minute. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the warm milk and the yeast. Add the granulated sugar and the 6 tablespoons of softened butter and mix at medium speed until the butter is broken up, 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and salt and mix at low speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and mix the dough for 2 minutes longer. (Note: for me, my dough practically jumped together and I barely mixed at all, and definitely didn’t need to scrape down) Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 9-by-24-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, mix the light brown sugar with the cinnamon. Brush the 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the dough and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Beginning at a long edge, roll up the dough (into a log) as tightly as possible and pinch the seam. Cut the log into twelve 2-inch pieces and set them in the muffin cups cut side up. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Set the muffin pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the buns are golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, rum, condensed milk, water, sour cream and corn syrup to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla and baking powder.

Unmold the buns. Pour the glaze over the hot buns and sprinkle with the pecans. Let stand until the buns have soaked up some of the glaze and are cool enough to eat, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.