Cinnamon Buns Just Like Cinnabon or Cinnzeo!

>> Tuesday, February 2, 2016

 
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and although most find it to be a cheesy Hallmark holiday. I still enjoy celebrating it! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend more quality time with the special man in my life. Celebrating can consist of anything from just hanging out together to eating at a fancy restaurant. If you’re like me, Valentine’s Day typically involves food in one form or another.

Recently I was requested by my husband to bake him some cinnamon buns for his birthday instead of a cake. After trying out the recipe that was recommended online that it supposed to make copycat cinnzeo cinnabons, I realized that there was just something still missing from that recipe. The gooey factor wasn’t quite there. So I tweaked the recipe a bit and really enjoy the changes that I’ve made (eg. Lowering the amount of flour used and increased the wet ingredients in the recipe).

I know that I typically stick to pretty healthy recipes and have a healthy version of the cinnamon bun on my site already but every now and again I do indulge and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. I believe this is would be great for Valentine’s Day
because it’s decadent and indulgent, a perfect way to celebrate a sweet holiday!

 
Dough Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk
2 1/4 tsp, active dry yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs

Assembly Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

Icing Ingredients:

1 pkg 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-3 cups icing sugar, to taste – based on your sweetness preference


Preparation:

In the warm milk, measure in the active yeast and let sit for 10 minutes to activate. Make sure the milk isn’t too hot or else it will denature the yeast and the dough will not rise. If you’re using instant yeast you don’t have to wait for the 10 minutes for it to dissolve.

In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, sugar, salt, softened butter, eggs and milk. Mix until everything is combined and let the dough sit for 5 minutes to allow the ingredients to settle.

If you’re using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and let it mix for 10 minutes. If doing this by hand (my favorite method) knead the dough either in the bowl or on a lightly floured counter top for 10-15 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky. Make sure not to use too much flour on the counter top or else it’ll make the dough slightly more dry.

Once ready, put the dough back in the bowl, cover with either a wet paper towel or cloth and let sit for at least an hour or until it’s doubled in size. I let mine rest for up to 2 hours.

 
While you’re waiting for the dough to rise you can prep the icing.

In a medium sized glass bowl, soften the cream cheese in the microwave. Beat on low until all the lumps have been removed.

Add in the softened butter and beat until combined. Add in the milk and vanilla and continue to mix.

Slowly add in the icing sugar, be careful when you turn on the beater so that the sugar doesn’t get stirred up. I typically add in 1/2 – 1 cup at a time and taste until my desired sweetness is achieved.

When ready, cover the icing and refrigerate until ready to use.


Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside. Butter a 9x13 baking pan and also set aside.

Once the dough has risen to double its size. Place some flour on the counter top and roll out the dough to roughly 16” by 20” rectangle.

Spread the softened butter over the entire rectangle. Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Pick up one end (long edge) and slowly roll it over. Cut the roll in to 12 equal pieces and place in the baking pan. Cover the dough with a dish towel until they have risen to double their size.

Preheat the oven to 350F for 25-30 mins or until they start to brown on top.

Spread the frosting on the rolls when they’re still warm to allow the icing to melt in to all the nooks and crannies of the cinnamon buns. Save the extra icing for later when you’re ready to eat them.


Enjoy!

Recipe makes 12 large cinnamon buns.

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Restaurant Review: Chefbar

>> Friday, January 22, 2016


There’s a little hidden place off 11th that I’ve been visiting on and off over the last couple years called Canvas. Recently they’ve changed owners and I was curious to see what the new restaurant was all about and I’m glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I tasted at Chefbar (not to be confused with Charbar).

Atmosphere: Small intimate dining room for those who’s looking for a romantic evening out.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

Food & Wine: We started the evening off with lots of veggies including the Kale Caesar which came with a runny poached egg on top, smoked bacon, toasted brioche and shaved grana padano cheese. It was a nice twist to your conventional caesar salad. The hearty kale held up well against the creamy dressing. The runny yolk and brioche provided different textural contrasts which I really liked. I highly recommend it to those who are looking for something different.

 
We also had the Roasted Cauliflower tossed in smoked paprika oil and topped with capers and parsley. You don’t see cauliflower on the menu often and I feel like it’s an under used vegetable. It was a surprise to see it highlighted here. The cauliflower itself still retained a nice crunchy texture and was paired well with the tangy capers and smoky paprika.

For the main we shared the Braised Short Ribs served over risotto with lots of delicious jus. This dish screams comfort food to me, while still remaining elevated with the use of risotto rice opposed to plain rice or vegetables. The short ribs were fall of the bone tender, coupled with all that delicious jus, it was exactly what I was hoping for and more with the risotto being a big bonus! This dish was their special of the day and I’m really hoping they put it on their menu!

 
I decided to have Mojito that evening opposed to my go to red wine. The server mentioned that their bartender made a kickin’ mojito and how could I possibly refuse? It was definitely a refreshing drink and perfect for those looking for something sweet without it being cloyingly so.

My Pick: Braised Short Ribs

Overall: The food truly does speak for itself but aside from their delectable offerings, I really enjoy the space of Chefbar. It’s intimate and cozy perfect for those nights where you’re looking to go out but wanting something a little quiet, but I guess now that I’m letting the cat out of the bag, it’s not going to be hard for me to find a table there!

Chefbar
602 11 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
(587) 353-1299
Website: chefbar.ca

Chefbar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Quick and Easy Succulent Italian Style Meatballs

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Happy New Year Everyone!! I can’t believe it is 2016 already! At this point I probably sound like a broken record at the beginning of every year, but I am truly shocked that it’s 2016. With the beginning of a new year I typically like to share a new healthy recipe. This year’s recipe sounds indulgent but is actually quite healthy due to the fact that we’re using lean ground beef and lots of herbs to provide that kick of flavour.

These meatballs are also quick and easy to throw together for days when you’re on the run and really don’t have much time to prep for dinner. It tastes even better if you make the mix the day before and let it marinate overnight. However it still works if you need to make it the day of.

A lot of recipes say to sauté the onions and garlic etc before cooking but if you’re in a time crunch, I find that throwing everything in to the mix and letting it cook in the oven is just as tasty. Also, I didn’t use any breadcrumbs in this recipe, I know lots of people believe they help provide moisture but I found that adding the moisture aka water right in to the mix and upping the egg ratio also works. Here’s my recipe and hopefully you enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 lb Lean Ground Beef
1/2 lb Ground Pork
1 medium Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Eggs
1/3 cup Water
1 tbsp fresh oregano – can substitute dried herbs if required
1 tbsp fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper – if you like more of a kick

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with tin foil set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients, beef, pork, onions, garlic, eggs, water, oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper if using. Mix thoroughly with your hands until everything is well combined.

To test the mixture, make a 1 cm ball and place in the microwave. This is my test on whether there is enough salt in the mixture. Adjust as required. If you find it’s bland, add salt, if it’s a bit too salty, add some water. It’s definitely easier to recover if the mixture is on the bland side to start and you can slowly adjust the taste.

Once ready and if you have time, I highly suggest letting the meatballs marinate for at least an hour or even overnight. The longer time it has to marinate the better the flavours will have to meld penetrate the meat.

When ready to cook. Roll the meatballs in to 2 inch round balls and place them about 1 inch apart from each other on the sheet pan.

Place in the oven and cook for roughly 15-20 mins. Remove and you can cut one open to check to see if they’re cooked.

I suggest serving them with a yummy tomato sauce for dipping or even throwing them in to your spaghetti. Either way they’re delicious!

Serves 3-4 people.

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Restaurant Review: Starbelly

>> Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Nothing gets me up on the weekends faster than the idea of brunch. Now with Christmas and New Years just around the corner, meaning more get togethers with friends and family a great alternative to the dinner ritual is a brunch get together. Plus, with time off from work it allows me the leisure to visit some locations beyond my typical spots. Earlier this month Starbelly recently launched their new brunch menu and we were luckily enough to be invited down for a taste!

Atmosphere: Open concept kitchen and dining area with contemporary décor. They also feature a beautiful private room for special events.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s


Food & Drinks: With all the delicious choices on both their brunch and lunch menu, it was hard to decide what we wanted to eat. So we started off with some drinks, the mimosa and sangria were on special that day and they tied us over while we looked over the menu.

Finally we both opted for delectable sounding brunch dishes. Considering I’m not a huge sugar fiend, for some reason I always tend to go the sweet route when it comes to brunch and the French Toast was calling my name that day. Made with soft brioche bread, topped with cream cheese icing and berry compote it was hard to pass by, especially since it also came with a side of bacon! Be still my heart, both savoury and sweet, how could I resist? Brioche is the quintessential choice for french toast (with sourdough coming a close second), the buttery bread is the perfect vessel for soaking up all that gooey eggy custard. I found the berry compote and the cinnamon cream cheese to be a really nice addition, I thought I would need syrup, but didn’t miss it at all.


The hubby decided to go with savoury and ordered the Pastrami Hash with smoked pastrami, aged cheddar, potato hash, sunnyside up eggs, pickled peppers and smoked tomato. At first glance he thought that there wasn’t enough pastrami but as he kept eating it was surprised at how well balance the dish was and actually commented that anymore pastrami would have thrown the flavours off. That’s a first folks! Everything just worked in this dish and nothing overwhelmed the other making for a memorable hash.

I had a massive craving for their Russet Fries. It must be the use of fresh cut whole potatoes because they’re addictive. Each fry is perfectly crispy and nicely salted. I could probably eat a whole plate full of them. Luckily for me I just ordered the small!

My Picks: Pastrami Hash, Russet Fries


Overall: Although it’s quite a trek for us to visit Starbelly, we were both glad that we did. It was some of the best brunch we’ve had in the city and considering we’ve been brunching all summer, that’s definitely saying something. Sometimes more isn’t better, balance of flavours is key and it takes a deft hand to be able to hold back. At Starbelly, they’re on to something great and I hope they continue to come out with more fantastic dishes!

Starbelly
220 19489 Seton Crescent SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 570-0133
Website: starbelly.ca

Starbelly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Restaurant Review: Wurst

>> Monday, December 7, 2015

 
When you think of German cuisine the first things that often pop in to mind are bratwurst sausages and pretzels with a big stein of beer, which are all delicious. Here in Calgary we’re lucky enough to have Wurst, where you can both get the full on Oktoberfest experience or enjoy a nice quiet meal of elevated Bavarian cuisine.

Atmosphere: Depending on which level you choose to spend the evening. Wurst offers both elevated dining experiences and good ol Bavarian times – think Oktoberfest.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20+

 
Food & Drinks: We’ve had to opportunity to visit Wurst a number of times, both in their basement bar area and their dining room upstairs. Both floors definitely project a different atmosphere so where you want to dine really does depend on your mood. Since we were there for a quiet dinner that evening, we opted to stay upstairs (not sure if downstairs is open Monday to Thursday).

After looking at the menu, I knew we had to start with the Big Pretzel which is served with house sweet, hot and grainy mustards as well as butter. I’m a carb fiend so starting a meal without bread just doesn’t seem right. I was amazed at the size of the pretzel when it arrived at our table. They weren’t joking around when they said big. This pretzel was enormous and perfect for sharing! I loved the chew and texture of the bread and the fact that they gave you so many different types of mustards to dip in to. Not to mention it went perfectly with the German beer that we ordered on the side. Their caesars are always a good choice too if you're looking for something besides beer.


We stopped by on a Tuesday and it just so happened to be buck a shuck oyster night! We had to get ourselves a dozen. We wanted more but knew there was a lot of food coming still. The oysters were served with sides of mignonette and hot sauce. What’s better than freshly shucked one buck oysters?

Normally we would order the Franzel’s Mixed Grill which has mixed sausages, house cured pork, meatloaf, schweinshaxen, spätzle, dumplings and more! However, we opted for something different that evening. I decided to try the Pacific Perch which is served with roasted barley galettes, apple celery root slaw, pine nuts, pumpkin seed oil. The fish was nicely cooked with a crispy outer layer. I really enjoyed the slaw. Definitely different that the typical meat heavy platter that we would have ordered.


The hubby decided on the Steak & Frites, which is a 10oz New York strip with lots of wurst truffle duck fat fries and a red wine jus. The steak was well cooked and had good flavour, but the star of this dish were those truffle fries! They were crispy and full of flavour due to the use of duck fat for frying. They also give you literally a mountain of fries which was perfect for me since that meant I could keep picking them off of his plate.

We also ordered a side of Fritz’s Spatzle because I’m a huge fan of spätzle essentially German style noodles. This version came with ham, gouda and spinach and reminded me of mac and cheese, but this would be spätzle and cheese? It was a good sized portion and didn’t taste overly heavy. Worth a try if you’re looking for something different.


To end the night we decided on the Spiced Pear and Apple Strudel with crème anglaise and vanilla bean ice cream. The strudel was lightly sweetened, perfect with the ice cream. It was a lovely way to end our meal.

My Picks: Big Pretzel, Franzels Mixed Grill

Overall: Not just a great place if you’re looking to enjoy the night on the town, but also a nice location for a group dinner or even quiet meal. I just love the flexibility of Wurst where you can find it all in one location.


Wurst
2437 4 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 245, 2345
Website: wurst.ca

Wurst Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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