Category Archives: Preferences

Post-Christmas treats

Christmas has gone by so quickly that I can hardly believe it was even here in the first place. This year, it was very relaxing and we enjoyed a nice break with each other and our friends. On the second day of Christmas, I made cinnamon rolls – one of my favourite desserts. I came across a delicious recipe on whatscookingamerica.net. These cinnamon rolls are the perfect addition to any meal as a dessert or a wholesome breakfast.  The best part is that they are very easy to make, and you can save some by freezing the dough and using it at a later time.  Click here for step-by-step freezing/thawing instructions. Bon appétit!

Harvest Cinnamon Rolls

Dough
1 cup milk (heated approximately 1 minute in microwave)
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs room temperature and beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)*
3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast

Add all ingredients in the bread machine or mixer, and mix until an elastic dough results.  
Cover and let rise in a warm place for approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until doubled in size (after rising, rolls should be touching each other and the sides of the pan).
After dough has risen, roll and stretch the dough into approximately a 15 x 24-inch rectangle. Brush the cinnamon filling over the top of the dough with a spatula or a pastry brush.

Sprinkle Cinnamon Filling over the butter on the prepared dough. Starting with long edge, roll up dough; pinch seams to seal.

With a knife, lightly mark roll into 1 1/2-inch section. Use a sharp knife or slide a 12-inch piece of dental floss or heavy thread underneath. By bringing the ends of the floss up and criss-crossing them at the top of each mark, you can cut through the roll by pulling the strings in opposite directions. Place cut side up in prepared baking pan, flattening them only slightly. T
he unbaked cinnamon rolls should not touch each other before rising and baking.

Cinnamon Filling

1/2 cup butter, melted or softened
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
4 to 5 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 to 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
Soften the butter; set aside. In a bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon; stir in chopped nuts (optional).

Cream cheese frosting
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract or oil (optional)

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon extract or oil until well mixed and creamy. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use and then bring to room temperature before spreading.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Spread frosting over the cinnamon rolls while still warm. Best served warm, but room temperature is also great!




Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for approximately 20 to 25  minutes or until they are a light golden brown.

Chocolate frozen yogurt…too good to be true

Once you discover Greek yogurt, you can’t really go back to the regular yogurt.  Greek yogurt has a very thick and creamy texture. According to wisegeek.com, the principle difference in creating Greek yogurt is that after the milk is heated and cultured, it is allowed to sit in muslin or cheesecloth bags, so that the whey filters out of the yogurt. In Canada, Liberté is one of the few brands that produces Greek yogurt and luckily it is fat-free. Since I’ve purchased my ice-cream maker, I’ve tried a few recipes, mostly fruit-based frozen yogurt. They tasted OK but nothing out of this world. I even checked the recipe book that comes with the ice-cream maker, but most of them rely on eggs, milk and/or whipped cream which are way too heavy for me. A couple of months ago, I discovered a great recipe on Chocolate & Zucchini and never looked back. Now, I’m making this once a week…it’s heavenly and really addictive. It is great on a hot afternoon which has been the norm in Toronto since the beginning of the summer.

I’ve actually adapted the recipe a bit, used less sugar (approx. 60 grams or half), substituted crème fraiche with 5% table cream and used 500 grams yogurt as opposed to the 300 grams called for in the recipe. It still tasted amazing…I can’t rave enough about this recipe. You seriously need to try it…Bon appétit!

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini

100 grams good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
100 grams  cream (heavy, table cream, I used the lower-fat version 5%)
60 grams sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
a good pinch of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
500 grams plain Greek yogurt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler,  a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. In the meantime, place the cream in a medium mixing-bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until no lump remains.

When the chocolate is melted, whisk it into the cream. Whisk the sugar mixture into the chocolate cream. Add the vanilla and yogurt, and whisk until well blended.

Cover and refrigerate for an hour, until chilled (you can skip this step if your ingredients are chilled). Whisk again, and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Spring Fashion Alert

Over the years, fashion has proved that some trends never go out of style and others are more prominent than others. That is the case for the 1950s era that seems to have come back in style, at least for this spring.  When we think about the 1950s, we realize how much femininity fashion has lost throughout the years. Women used to dress very “smartly” and feminine on every occasion. Wearing a dress was a given whether it was for  work, a casual get-together or a special soirée.  Dresses were almost always accompanied by heels, gloves and stylish purses. The most popular styles were the swing (right) and pencil (left) dresses.

                                   

The idea was to look “every inch the lady” and, with the help of dresses/skirts women achieved the hourglass figure.  Below are some images from Vogue and Women’s Journal that illustrate the most popular trends for this era. There is a certain glamour,  nostalgia and a ‘je ne sais quoi’ that take us back to a time where women  looked feminine and delicate yet sophisticated.

                

Anthropologie’s newest collection proves once again that the ‘soft’ side of fashion is here to stay. Some of the outfits I love include the librarian look, college girl meets cute ensemble and flirty skirts and tops. Happy shopping!

Autumn Fashion

I like fashion and could spend hours in front of the computer checking out various websites. My favourite stores include Banana Republic, Tristan & America,  Club Monaco and a new store I’ve discovered recently, Anthropologie. Here are some outfits I like from Banana Republic.  Did I mention I’m in love with Anthropologie’s new collection?