Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cinnamon Rolls Aren't Just for Breakfast If You Try Hard Enough...

I believe in things like breakfast cake and breakfast pie. So if I can have dessert for breakfast, why can't I have breakfast for dessert? These are truly deep thoughts I consider on an almost daily basis. I realize I am slightly ahead of (or completely perpendicular to) my time when it comes to things like this. But I did finally solve that problem about breakfast for dessert, and you are reaping the benefits, my loyal readers...
Cinnamon rolls and cookies all in one? You say madness, I say yumminess.

This all came about because of that scent burner I bought before cleaning my oven last week. I was finally able to acquire a non-broken light bulb to fit in the burner (how such a simple task could turn into returned orders to Amazon and lots of disappointment in my local Lowe's, I'll never fully grasp), and along with that, vanilla sugar scent cubes that once melted, smell exactly like cinnamon rolls. Much like Pavlov's poor dog and that damn bell, about a half hour after I would turn on the scent burner  my mouth would get all watery and all I wanted was a friggin cinnamon roll. Specifically, a Cinnabon, because when I dream of calories, I dream big. My overachieving truly has no limits. So I did a little Pinteresting and found a recipe for Cinnabon cookies. The mouthwatering started again shortly after reading the recipe, so apparently I've classically conditioned myself into a corner...thanks, Pavlov.

I won't lie to you, these cookies are as time consuming as they are hard not to eat during the baking process. Muster up that willpower, and start by mixing together your dough:
  • Cup of love/butter, all nice 'n soft
  • 1/3 C of my other favorite ingredient, sugar
  • 2 1/4 C flour
  • 3/4 C cocaine powdered sugar
  • Tsp of "the good stuff," a.k.a., vanilla extract
  • 2 Tsp orange zest (I am lazy and used the kind from a jar)
  • 1/2 Tsp of artery clogger (salt, as if you had your doubts)
  • 1 Chicken embryo (I am told these are commonly referred to as "eggs")
Mix everything except the egg and flour together until well combined. My mixer was being extremely temperamental after months of neglect, so this took turning it off and scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Since this recipe goes against everything I believe in and you don't add the chicken embryo first, I still recommend cracking it open into a bowl first to make sure you've got a "good egg."  If it hasn't gone bad (in the spoiled sense, not the crime spree sense), dump it in and mix well. Slowly add in your flour until you've got a nicely mixed dough. Now comes the fun part...
Kitchen utensil brutality.
I put down parchment paper and then plopped my dough in the middle before beating it repeatedly to start to flatten it out. If you choose to slowly roll out your dough to flatten it first, you're really missing out on a legal way to let out your frustrations. Phone company spray painted a section of your white fence red? KAPOW! Work sucking the youthful spirit and hopefulness of educating a new generation out of you? WHAMMY! Hedgehog feeling under the weather and being unable to help her making you realize you're not as all-powerful as you thought? SPLAT! I mean, it has been a pretty shitty week around here, so this rolling pin may have saved me a trip to jail. I pretty much want to beat/roll out a large square-like shape. I beat/rolled mine out to a 16" square-like shape. Square-like is really a generous term for how my dough ended up looking. But you want it to be very large so you get the pretty spiral effect from your filling. To make that cinnamon-y goodness you need:
  • 6 TBS of love/butter (also soft and squishy)
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 1 TBS cinnamon
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp of light corn syrup (I couldn't unscrew the lid and had to stab my way in)
  • 1/2 Tsp of the good stuff/vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tsp of artery clogger/salt
Just mix that together until it gets blended thoroughly after a few minutes. I then took my large angled spatula and spread out the filling to the edges of my dough:
I hadn't licked the spatula at this point...I swear.
At this point, I thought about just making it a cinnamon roll pizza.
You better believe I licked my spatula clean, and I did not have one single regret other than my large angled spatula couldn't be an even larger angled spatula. Now, if you choose not to go the cinnamon roll pizza route, it is time to start rolling in up the dough.
Start by picking up your wax paper
and rolling the edge of the dough down very slowly.
Once you've got the rolling started,
pull your parchment paper down in the same direction you've started rolling.
Like water off a duck's back, gravity,
the magic of boy bands, or other things that are infallible,
you'll find the roll will naturally fall where it needs to.
See, told you so. Now just repeat this until you're at the end of your log.
Ugh, now I wanted to cook it like this because it looked like a giant cinnamon roll burrito.

But instead I rolled it around a few more times in my paper so there weren't any air bubbles (no farting cinnamon rolls, if you will), and then folded up my edges and smooshed them up a bit so they weren't so flat they couldn't yield a cookie when cut.
Keep your dough wrapped up and put it in the freezer for a half hour. I had a flat edge on my dough log (almost ate that "as is" before stopping myself with will power I didn't know I had) since it was placed on to a baking sheet when it was in the freezer. I was totally fine with this; I just wanted to hurry up and get to the good part. I suppose you could rotate it while in the freezer if you're craving a perfect circle over quicker oven-to-mouth time. I had my virgin-clean oven preheated to 375 and cut my log into individual cookies. Thickness is up to you. I like a thicker cookie, so I went for about a half inch per slice and threw them in the oven for 6 minutes, rotated, and cooked for 7 more minutes. The result, you ask?
Glad I stuck with cinnamon roll cookies and not cinnamon roll burrito or pizza.
The cookies will be blonde, but the cinnamon roll goop will bubble up and out a bit once done. These cookies were surprisingly not overly sweet, so I may or may not have had one (read: three or four) before I even realized how many I had crammed down my gullet. Like Spritz cookies during Christmas season- all love (read: butter) and a sprinkling of sweetness. Once these bad boys have cooled off, it is time to frost with the cinnamon roll icing, which will add just the perfect amount of sweet to finish them off. Mix together:
  • 1 Tsp of agua (water, you non-bilingual soul)
  • 1 Tsp of the good stuff/vanilla extract
  • 2 TBS of light corn syrup
  • 1/2 C cocaine powdered sugar
Mix all this together and wait for your cookies to cool to room temperature. Now you can see why I accidentally ate a few of these before frosting them...I am impatient and I don't care if you're judging me right now...I'm the one with the cookies; therefore, I am the one with all the power. I chose to just take a spoonful at a time and drizzle my cookies. To completely glaze, I suppose you could put the goop into a piping bag or dip them in the goop, but you'd need to make a lot of goop for this to happen. I may double my goop recipe next time just to have goop to dip my cookies in to. Goop is a really unappetizing word now that I think about it. Apologizes, the term 'goop' does not do this sweet frosting justice. Dripping sugar crack? That's more like it.
There goes the mouth watering...
I finally ended up having to replace my vanilla sugar scent wax cubes with something less edible...plumeria blossom. House smells good, and I manage to make it through the kitchen without eating ten of these cookies. I am trying to ration them out, but I'm not sure I really understand the definition of the word "ration" so well because somehow justifying eating these three at a time just doesn't seem that "rational." Til next time, my fellow eaters!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Treat Ovens as You Would like to Be Treated...

You know, turned on regularly, left alone to cool off when fuming, and cleaned of dirt and grime. You really should be expecting this kind of ridiculousness from me by now. This week was back to school week, so I was busy actually working (but still not being paid..ahh, such a noble profession) and did not have time to do any baking. I did, however, have time to clean out my absolutely filthy oven. Seriously, thing was dirtier than my language after a couple glasses of wine. The wine isn't necessary for my colorful lingo, I just enjoy a good glad of Pinot Grigio. Anyway, with the amount of baking and regular cooking that goes on here, my oven builds up crust I somehow fail to notice until I turn on the broiler and the whole thing starts smoking. Apparently my OCD turns a blind eye to chores I know will suck and take up most of my day. So I tried an oven cleaning experiment my mother did a few weeks ago with massive success..I am happy to report this method not only worked for me, but also only took me about thirty minutes of overall scrubbing to complete. It went from nasty and gross, to so clean I'd eat off of it. Or cook off of it?
Light bulb still doesn't work, but look how cleeeeeaannn!!
Now the only problem is I never want to use it. So pristine and new looking! But let me tell you how unbelievably easy this cleaning method is. You only need two glass baking dishes, a cup or two of boiling water, and a cup or two of ammonia. If you're like me and have skin so sensitive that if someone even just looks at you the wrong way you break out in rash, hives, or acne, I recommend wearing gloves when handling the ammonia.
No, I'm not heating up lemon-lime Gatorade in my oven...But you can see how gross the racks and oven itself were.
While you're waiting for your water to boil, preheat your oven to 170. Once your water boils, pour it in to one of the glass dishes, and pour the ammonia into the other. The moment your oven yells at you (yes I am still personifying my inanimate oven) after it is finished preheating, turn it off. Now, place the water on your lowest rack, and the ammonia on the middle rack, and close. Then walk away. Leave it alone. Don't peek because the fumes may make you go blind, or  give you a killer headache that might make you question whether your skull is going to split open and another appendage is going to grow out of it as a result. Extreme case, I know, but you get the gist. Leave your oven alone overnight, and windows open until the end of time. Seriously, have you ever smelled ammonia at room temperature? Imagine what boiling water and a hot oven do to it...

While the smell may not be the greatest, if you don't open the oven, only your kitchen will smell like you're trying to clean up a toxic waste site. Also, if you have smelly good candles or a scent burner, this will help. I'd recommend a citrus-y scent to offset the bitter ammonia smell (with a nose this large, I'm like a scent sommelier, trust me). I bought a scent warmer just for this occasion from Wal-mart only to bring it home and the bulb inside the packaging was broken, so I was operating without a safety smell net. Neither the dog nor hedgehog appreciated this, as both huffed off in separate directions and retreated to the comfort of their beds. Well, P.B. hustled back into her castle to continue hating everything else about life PLUS the smelly kitchen, and Hank looked absolutely betrayed that the warm treat dispenser could ever smell so foul as he slunk back to the bedroom.

The next morning, open the oven door a bit to let the last of that lovely smell waft away, and then be pleased your kitchen doesn't smell like robots peed everywhere anymore and remove the racks. All you need now is a small bucket or large bowl of soapy water and a sponge or steel wool. Soak your scrubber and then wash away the walls of your oven and the oven door. Here is where I got SUPER happy..
Before: Glass was caked with grease and specks of..stuff.
After: A few swipes of the sponge and grease be gone! Also, mystery specks are no more. Look at it, like a friggin' mirror!
I then took my oven racks and scrubbed them off in the sink. I'm fairly certain there was twenty-year-old food particles caked on those things. Don't ask me how that's even possible considering this house is only ten years old.
Yes, that is a hedgehog potholder, thank you. But you can see how cruddy the racks were.
And now they're mostly shiny and less crusty! Always nice when things you cook with aren't crusty.
It is literally sparkling clean.
When all is said and done, I'll take one night of a weirdly off-putting smell in my kitchen for an oven that practically cleaned itself. I now wonder what things I can use ammonia for other than oven cleaning and brain cell killing. I'm thinking this stuff could be a real game changer, and it has been a few days since the oven was cleaned, so I'm hoping I'm thinking this with fully-charged, non-ammonia riddled brain cells again. I really should've listened to my mom when she told me not to open the preheated oven after putting the ammonia into it, but I just had to make sure nothing was going to boil over, and without an oven light, I was left with Sophie's no choice. I highly recommend having a working oven light when you use this method, and not letting curiosity kill your nostrils. But for how easy this was, I say go for it because you know its been years since you've cleaned your oven, and she really deserves a good bath like anyone else (of course ovens are female...they're temperamental and hard working). Now that the dust has settled after week one of the semester, I will be baking this weekend. Yes, my oven will be losing its cleaning virginity. I promise I'll stop personifying my oven now. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

S'mores Cupcakes: The Best Food Mash-Up EVER.

Food mash-ups seem to be a pretty popular thing fruit pizzas, ice cream sandwich churros, or my personal favorite- Trader Joe's waffle butter cookies slathered in cookie butter. What's that? I couldn't hear you over the size of my waistline expanding. Anyway, I was truly surprised I hadn't heard of this spectacularly awesome thing known as S'mores cupcakes until my mom blew my mind and decided she was going to bake some so I had treats on the road. You wish your mom was my mom, but I'm not sharing. I also didn't share the cupcakes. Ate 'em before I even got to my sister's house. Long car trips are extremely boring, and since I was the driver I couldn't exactly take a nap to pass the time. Google, when you gonna make a car that drives itself? You spent years making those ridiculous Google Glasses that no one would ever be caught dead in instead of a self-driving car...really? Not a wonder my phone's preferred search engine is Bing...
Not a self-driving car, but still pretty friggin' spectacular.
My mom was in charge of the baking for this batch of cupcakes while I worked on the frosting. She questioned if I can't, shouldn't, or don't blog about baked good that come out of the box, but I totally can, should, and do. Considering most of my cakes are simple box cakes with several alterations made to make it not taste like a box cake but a day's worth of slaving in the kitchen, I find boxed cupcakes perfectly acceptable for human consumption (I save the fancy stuff for Hank and his pupcakes).
I mean, it says 'premium' right on the box...
So, we followed directions, but this recipe does take some careful paying attention to so that your layers turn out properly, and the box directions were kind of convoluted. I won't bore you with the ingredients list because not only can you buy these at your grocery store, but also do you have any idea how hard it is for me to wittily write out an ingredients/measuring list? I give it my all every week, and since I'm dealing with Clovistan breathing issues again, I just don't have it in me. I'm pretty sure the only thing in me right now is a gallon of snot and that Oreo I had a minute ago. I'm bad at snacking like an adult, don't judge me.
Start with your graham cracker crust, which you have previously mixed after reading the directions because I honestly can't do everything for you...who do you think you are? One of my students? Geesh. Anyway, these are made with a ton of love...which you all know really means "crapton of butter."
Then pour a small bit of the chocolate cupcake mix on top of your crust. I know we're not supposed to eat the batter, but c'mon, that looks so good. I've never died from eating batter or cookie dough with raw egg in it. So I say, go for it. But if I do somehow end up dying from eating raw batter, make sure to kinda brush that fact under the rug and say I went out in a blaze of glory trying out the self-driving car I made because Google can't get their crap together.
On top of the chocolate batter, squeeze a little of the marshmallow mix into each cupcake. The packet does come with the mix, but if you really like your marshmallows, I suppose you could add in more marshmallow fluff or top the cupcakes with a marshmallow when there is a few minutes of baking time left. Have I mentioned I really like marshmallows? Even just spelling the word marshmallows makes me happy. Nonsensical and fun, thanks marshmallows. Can we check with Guinness World Records and see if this is paragraph uses the word marshmallows in it more than any other written form? Marshmallows, marshmallows, marshmallows.
Finally, top with the remaining chocolate batter. Do you see the deliciousness left in that bowl? That could have been my dinner!!  Then plop these bad boys into the oven at whatever the hell temperature the box says for however the hell long the box says. Stupid box, always demanding we follow its instructions.

End result! Of course, if a cupcake doesn't have a frosted top, isn't it just a muffin?
Naturally, I had to frost those tasty little morsels. Baking is fun, but decorating is my bread and butter. Or is it my piping bag and frosting? Whatever. I have done the 1M-tip rose at least a kajillion times, and though it is pretty, I always kept wondering how the hell people got such peaked roses out of them when mine were always kinda flat. Turns out, they didn't. To get those beautiful peaked roses every stock photo uses, you need a completely different tip. Thanks for filling me in on that, internet. This is also somehow Google's fault.
You need the 2D tip to make that shizz extra fancy schmancy.
So fit your bag with a 2D tip to become the winner you know you were born to be. That's how I felt anyway, and I'm sorry if you don't feel the same way when you try this because it is exhilarating. OCD makes for really interesting personality traits, apparently. You follow the same motions as when using that old mimic-y 1M tip and start by piping a bit of frosting on the inside and slowly wrapping your way around until you reach the edge of the cupcake.
While the chocolate frosting does make it a bit harder to see, these are clearly very intricate roses compared to those done with the 1M tip. Clearly also very tasty.

I mean, really. This was so perfect I almost didn't want to eat it. Espresso brown roses should really be a thing. Not just the dead kind, but living ones.
But I totally did (as if you had your doubts). The frosting turned out awesome, but once unwrapped, the layers made these cupcakes just that much prettier to look at. From the graham cracker crust bottom to that utterly delectable marshmallow center, everything about these were just so damn right. I was happy to be able to bake with my mom one last time in that kitchen before I left and they move away. That kitchen is the kitchen dreams are made of..I mean, it is gorgeous, and there's actually enough space to probably store a few small ponies in there. Don't ask me why you'd have ponies in a kitchen because even as I wrote it I know that's totally not sanitary (could be fun, though), but it was the best example my snot-filled head could come up with.
My mother, cupcake maker and cupcake modeler extraordinaire.
Anyway, while the two cupcakes I took with me on the road were spectacular, the frosting kind of slid off of them in transport so I may or may not have been licking the inside of a small Tupperware to glean it all when I got to my hotel on Saturday night. Desperate times...

I am blogging from the comfort of my own living room now, back in hot NM. At least it isn't surface-of-the-sun hot like Denton was, so that's nice. You should never be sweating at 7 a.m. by just standing outside getting the dog to go to the bathroom. However, I was away from my house so long that birds had taken over my front door/porch and my poor, poor Freudrick the bear from Ruidoso had literally gotten his head covered in shit. I apologized to him profusely while spraying him down. I was also away from my hosue for so long that I forgot how nice it was. I felt like I was walking into a stranger's very well-decorated abode. Go me, with the good taste in food AND decor. Apparently I do not suffer much from modesty, though. While it is nice to be back in my own bed, I already miss the scenery of Michigan and spending time with my family. We put the fun in dysfunction.  
And we also take our land pirating very seriously.
I go back to real work on Monday (laaammmeeee allleeeerrrttt), so I am not sure when my next blog will be involving cakes, cupcakes, cookies, or yuppy puppy treats. But I can guarantee you that I will have plenty of stories to share with you that will leave you asking yourself, 'Wait, people can't possibly be THAT dense, can they?' Yes, yes they can. Like my previous students that didn't know the sinking of the Titanic was a real thing and not just Leonardo Dicaprio's breakout role into the hearts of tween girls everywhere. I was also once asked if we lived in the Middle East...we don't even live in the Middle Eastern part of the United States. I honestly question my own sanity and patience level at least seventy times during a regular work week. Til next time, my fellow eaters!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pupcakes for the Yuppy Puppy and My Michigan Wrap-up.

Because I am one of those people who calls her pets "Fur Babies," I think it will come as no great shock I made Hank a batch of pupcakes for his birthday August 1. 
Is it wrong that I totally wanted to try one of these?
I enjoy my dogchild because the most extensive thing he is ever going to ask me for is a longer walk or an extra helping of kibble. He's really polite like that. Even when he sasses me it is adorable. Where an actual human baby would have me ripping out my hair at the crazy things it does and questioning my sanity, my fur baby finds me laughing at the crazy things he does and wondering if I should get him a sister. Dogs: The babies for people who don't really want babies. I'll tell you how you too can turn your pooch into a bone-afide (got jokes for days, people) lush puppy with these simple, cute, and tasty pupcakes after I take care of a little thing I like to call a "truth session," which when it occurs without wine is really more just "bitching without a slur."
Pictured: Katy's Perfect Day in Huron. A cool 70, breezy, sunny, and on the water...paradise.
 My time in Michigan has unfortunately drawn to a close. I have sincerely enjoyed getting to spend time with my family in the house I spent a very cold 2009-2010 in before moving to New Mexico with Derek. Between the cool temps, absolutely amazing shopping, and general fun had with my folks, I am sad to see it end. I really don't want to have to go back to the rural suck after getting a taste of life near a metropolitan area again (even if that metropolitan area is Detroit). I'm going to be leaving here kicking and screaming, which could be pretty dangerous considering I'm driving. I love Hank, but I just don't trust that dog behind the wheel. So, I will be driving home with my grumpy face on, while thinking of crappy things I'd rather do if it meant I got to be in a ten-mile radius of a Target or Ulta again over going back to Eastern NM. That being said, here's a list! Don't look so surprised, you know how much I love organizing things...

 Things I'd rather do than go back to Clovis:
1. Wear Crocs in public.
2. Spend an entire day with children.
3. Listen to Justin Bieber's music anthology in full.
4. Have to stub the same toe each morning in the same spot for a full month.
5. Be locked in a room with cats for a week (bonus- allergic reaction would render me mostly deaf so #3 wouldn't be so bad).
6. Do my taxes.
7. Do other people's taxes.
8. Live in a house where all the wall art was crooked and wasn't able to be fixed. If you understand OCD, you know the struggle. I get twitchy just thinking about it.
9. Be a literal human punching bag.
10. Listen to a vegan explain the merits of becoming a vegan without punching them in the face.

I guess in all fairness, I should mention a few things about Michigan that I will never, ever miss:
1. The startling number of people here who believe socks with sandals are an acceptable fashion choice.
2. The  fact that left-hand turn lanes and left turn lights are practically nonexistent. I hate anyone who is anti-lefty. Throwing major shade your way, planning departments of Michigan.
3. No Blue Bell ice cream. GET IT TOGETHER. It is 2014...if you distributed Blue Bell ice cream to all of Detroit, I bet people there would be a lot more happy and a lot less stabby.

Whew, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. When as naturally prone to sarcasm and self deprecation as I am, you just gotta let the bitch flag fly sometimes, ya heard? Now, back to the regularly scheduled baking blog and less of the crazy woman on a rant blog. PUPCAKES!
The line up: One egg (obviously), 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 2 TBS veggie oil, 2 TBS of honey, 1/3 C milk, 3/4 C flour, and 1/4 C of dog's biggest weakness (also commonly referred to as "Jif peanut butter").
For the icing, grab a tub of whipped cream cheese.
I tried to find fat free, but even the people at Philadelphia were like,
"Um, what would be the point of that? Seriously."
This recipe is really, really easy. For one because it is for a dog, so even if you don't get the ingredients precisely right, it's not like the dog isn't going to eat the damn thing anyway. Dogs are probably the best creatures in the world to bake for because as far as they're concerned, every scrap you give them could be manna from Heaven. For two this recipe is simple because you just throw the ingredients listed in photo one into your mixer and let it blend for a couple minutes. It will be thick and sticky because honey and peanut butter mixed together is nature's equivalent to super glue. This makes six cakes, so line a muffin tin with six cupcake papers and pour evenly into each. Throw into the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. Your kitchen will smell delicious and when they come out of the oven you will have to remind yourself this is for the dog, not you about five or six times while they cool.
Good enough to eat! But seriously, don't, they're for your dog.
I'm still on a trying-to-load-my-piping-bags-in-clever-fashions kick, so I tried the old "bag in the glass" method this week:
Travel coffee mug, you're the perfect kitchen tool...
The hardest part about this method was finding the right sized glass. Travel coffee mugs fit the bill. Fit your piping bag with the tip of your choice (I used a French tip), and then line it into the cup. Plop the bucket of whipped cream cheese in, and then mix it up for a bit to get rid of the air bubbles. Walla- you're ready to frost!
So, I may have tried the frosting. It was good, but then it left me wanting a whole pupcake...
 Starting from the outside, just circle in overlapping a bit with each circle and you get these cute little traditional cupcake tops:
Only I would want to make sure a dog's treat was this pretty.
I placed some cute dog treats in the shape of steaks on top, and then we put a candle in one to further torture the dog and prevent him from eating the treats he had been smelling all afternoon. Poor, poor Hank...heavy sarcasm. In all seriousness, cut these up into bite-sized pieces and give them to your pooch. Hank really appreciated it, and let me know with lots of cuddles and licks after he was done eating.
Licking the plate clean..he truly is my son.
Not only did the dog absolutely adore these (again, what dog wouldn't, not a hard crowd to please), but they also did not give him any tummy troubles. So this recipe passes my standards, and will definitely be used again the next time someone else wants to throw their dog a birthday party. Call me. Really. Do it. I like baking for dogs because those are calories that aren't going to end up on my ass. It's like the safety net of cooking when you're doing it for a dog. Genius. Til next time, my fellow eaters!