White Mini Cinnamon Rolls

It’s the holidays, so this is when I try to take some extended time in the kitchen to play around with recipes… and this holiday season was no exception.  I knew that my husband would love it if I could come up with a way to make his favorite breakfast of Cinnamon Rolls, so I started with a basic bread recipe and played from there.

The recipe I started with is one that came from The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna German.  This is a link to an Amazon page where you could purchase any of her #1-4 cookbooks… I have cookbooks #1, #2, and #4.  She has some amazing recipes and I love looking through her books for inspirations.  I found her recipe for a Cinnamon Swirl bread and started from there.  WhiteMiniCinnamonRolls

Into my bread machine, I put the following, in order: 4 oz water, 1 oz white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio, but you can simply replace this with more water), 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 cup4s flour, and 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast.  I then set my machine on the “quick dough” setting and began to collect the remaining ingredients.

I warmed some butter (about 4 Tablespoons) in a ramekin and added a dash of salt and a drop or two of vanilla, whisking all together before setting this aside.

I then collected about 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a bowl and added a dash of salt, a tiny amount of nutmeg, and a few teaspoons of cinnamon.  I tossed this together and set it aside.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray your mini cupcake tin with cooking spray.  NOTE:  I like to put the pan on a baking sheet covered with foil so I don’t have to worry if the filling cooks over the edge and so it doesn’t drip onto the bottom my oven.  I love easy cleanup!  I also like to put a small amount of the brown sugar mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup. It’s only about 1/4 teaspoon, but it seems to bake into a yummy topping in the end.

Once the bread machine had done it’s work and the dough was ready, I rolled it out on a board, into a large rectangle.  Take your vanilla butter and spread it evenly all over the dough.  Sprinkle all the spiced brown sugar over top and then begin to roll the dough into a log, length-wise, starting with the area closest to you.  Cut the log into 12 even slices and put each slice into a muffin cup.  I also like to press the rolls down lightly to push them into their individual cups.  Bake your cinnamon rolls for 17-20 minutes or until the rolls are nicely browned and puffy.

While your rolls are baking, you’ll want to make your frosting.  You can make yours any way you choose… use a prepared frosting, make a cream cheese frosting, or make something as simple as a blend of butter, milk, and confectioner’s sugar. I added a wedge of laughing cow light cheese to some butter, milk, and confectioner’s sugar… this is where your creativity can have fun.  You can add some orange juice instead of the milk if you want a little citrus taste… if you have some evaporated milk left over from a recipe you could use that instead.  It’s really all about what tastes good to you.

Once the rolls are baked, I like to turn them upside down on a rectangle platter and slather as much frosting as I can load onto these little yummy morsels.  You’ll want to serve them warm with milk or coffee… they are fabulous!

Wishing you sweet, delicious mornings and a very Happy New Year!

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Recipe: Red Breakfast Hash

I’m sending this recipe to The Today Show for a segment by Joy Bauer on healthy apple recipes. The writing below is a bit different than my typical babbling about how to make something (I thought this might sound more professional) but I wanted to share this recipe with you all first.  It’s just so darn tasty… I hope you agree!

I make a Red Breakfast Hash that is a great brunch recipe – full of flavor and color!  I’ve put a few variations on my wine blog (www.fromthebottomofawinebottle.wordpress.com) but this is one of my favorite offerings.  The recipe can be increased or decreased as needed and it uses up any leftover baked potatoes or extra veggies left in your fridge, so it’s healthy AND a good value.RedBreakfastHash

Basic Ingredients for two:

*1 tablespoon butter

*one baked potato, diced

*one onion, diced

*one apple, cored and diced (I like to leave the skin on)

*Red Wine (I use whatever is in my fridge at the time)

*Salt/pepper to taste

*2 eggs (plus some white vinegar to poach eggs)

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet and saute’ potato, onion, and apple until browned and a little crispy.
  2. Add red wine to your skillet and give your potato mixture some time to soak up all that flavor and color. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. While you’re working on #1 and #2, boil some water with some white vinegar added and drop the eggs in to poach just before your wine is totally absorbed.
  4. To serve, divide the red potato mixture onto two plates, top with the poached eggs and break the yolk to share that yummy goodness with the rest of your food.
  5. ENJOY!

I came up with this recipe while working at a winery in VA.  There’s an old joke that goes “what do you call a meal without wine?  Breakfast”, so I decided that I had to fix that problem.  This can be made healthier by using more of the onion/apple mixture, but I really like using a 1:1:1 ratio so the flavors are easily recognizable.  You can also add sautee’d peppers into the mix, if you’d like.  If you’re not a “poached egg fan”, feel free to fry the egg or simply use Fat-free egg substitute as your egg choice.

Note:  the photo mashup I included was created on Picmonkey, using iPhone photos of the food in various stages of creation.  I like to use these on my website to entice people into trying to make my recipes, since they tend to be fairly easy and enjoyable to make.

Leftover Recipe: Leftover Breakfast Hash

Dinner recently consisted of roasted potatoes, chicken tenders, shrimp, bacon, and a few other items but I ended up with enough leftovers to play a bit with breakfast the next morning.  As you can see in the photo, this is a rendition of my previously posted Breakfast Hash recipe.  I didn’t have to run to the store for anything and it was a great start to my day.  Hopefully, you’ll find this to be a recipe that you can re-create for your family.

LeftoverBreakfastHash (1)

I started by sauteing a singe leftover piece of bacon (honest… it really was left over) until it was crispy.  I then added a cup of leftover roasted potato and allowed it to crisp a bit.  The “fun” addition here was a bit of James River Cellars Petit Verdot red wine and some frozen pieces of peppers (red, yellow, and green).  Once I let the wine incorporate into the potato and the peppers cooked, I added 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute and tossed that with everything so the cooked egg would end up all over the recipe.  The final addition was 1/8 cup of 2% milk shredded mild cheddar cheese.  Once the cheese melted, I plated my breakfast.

This was a fun and tasty way to use up leftovers.  Chopped peppers freeze very nicely, so it’s easy to have them on hand for a touch of color in a dish.  This is something that I’ll be incorporating more often, since I love seeing the bright additions to dishes that can sometimes become a bit bland.

Next time someone tells you the old joke, “what do you call a meal without wine… Breakfast”, feel free to share this idea for a yummy turn on using wine in your cooking.  Enjoy!

 

Recipe: Re-Made Cinnamon Rolls

I love to pick up a package of pre-made Cinnamon Rolls and turn them into something a little different.  Turning something that’s already fairly “perfect” and changing things up can be a lot of fun and give you a whole new perspective on an old tradition.  Here’s what I did this morning with our breakfast.

CinnamonRollRedo

I started with a standard package of cinnamon rolls.  Any brand works well – this one just happened to be a huge package that was supposed to make only 5 rolls.  Great idea, but there are two of us and I didn’t really feel like picking up an entire roll to eat it.  I know that sounds goofy, but I really like using a fork to eat things like this so I can eat them in little pieces and not get my fingers dirty.  Girly girl… right?

Anyway, I had thought about baking the rolls in traditional muffin tins, but they just didn’t fit… too darn big!  At this point, I’d already sprayed the muffin tins with baking spray, so I really wanted to use them.  Instead of just cramming them into 5 of the muffin tins, I sliced each large roll three times (creating 6 rolls sections) and divided them equally into the 6 muffin tins.  Once they were all fairly even (it really did make 6 muffins this way, which is much simpler math than 5 divided by 2.  I popped the pan into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes and set about playing with the icing that came with the cinnamon rolls.

IMHO (in my humble opinion), there’s never enough icing in these packages.  I’m sure there’s enough for “normal people”, but we really love icing, so I always plan using The Force on this part of most pre-packaged breakfast foods.

I started with the icing that came with the rolls and added 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, some Blue Bee Apple Juice, and a wedge of Laughing Cow light swiss cheese wedge (tastes like cream cheese to me).  I whisked all this together and added a little more confectioner’s sugar to get the consistency I wanted.  Remember, I use The Force when I cook, so this is always the way I make icing.  I start with something and then just keep adding things until it turns out the way I want (or close enough that it’ll work).  As you can see by the photo, there was plenty of icing and it really did taste amazing.  The apple juice from Blue Bee was a great addition – I could also have used a light white wine (and have on occasion) but the apple juice was a great touch.

Totally unique twist on an already yummy product… and a fun way to let me stretch a “single serve” item into something we could have used for 3 or 4 people.  Yea!

Have a great time playing with your food!

Recipe: Stephanie’s French Toast Bites with Blueberry Wine Sauce

I have to start this recipe by saying that I love breakfast foods.  Eggs Benedict… pancakes… french toast… hash browns… sausage… waffles… bacon… you get the picture.  I could have breakfast-for-dinner at least once a week (although my husband much prefers to limit breakfast foods to “breakfast/brunch time”).  Because of this love affair I have with breakfast, I enjoy creating different sorts of recipes that showcase some of my favorite options, especially when I can incorporate wine into the mix.  The best of both worlds, right?

This recipe was created for my dear friend, Stephanie, who’s having a difficult time eating full-size servings of food these days.  To tempt her into eating breakfast one day, I came up with the idea of having small crouton-size bites of french toast that she could eat with her fingers or dip into a fruity sauce.  It was a big success, so I thought I would share this special recipe with everyone here.  I’ve named this recipe in her honor because without her, I wouldn’t have thought to make this delicious breakfast dish in such a unique manner.

I started by cutting up a few slices of whole wheat bread into bite-sized cubes.  Using my memory, I blended an egg (you can absolutely use egg substitute if you prefer), some milk (I like using almond milk if that’s on hand), some white wine (I used Vidal Blanc last time but use whatever you may have in your fridge… just decrease the amount of sugar if you’re using a sweeter wine), a sprinkling of sugar (as desired), a touch of vanilla, and a dash of cinnamon (to taste).  Using a wire whisk, beat the egg mixture until it’s just becoming frothy.  I wanted something that would taste light, so I opted to whip the mixture until it was light and airy.  I then tossed the bread cubes in the egg mixture until all the cubes were soaked with the egg-y-yumminess.  When you’re ready to cook the toast bites, melt a pat of butter (and a touch of olive oil if you’d like) and transferred the toast bites to a very warm saute pan to cook.  Note: don’t crowd the pan, so feel free to do this in two sections if necessary.  

Stephanie'sFrenchToastBites

In the meantime, using a small saute pan (or sauce pan), melt a pat of butter and add a handful of blueberries,  Feel free to use whatever berries you have on hand or prefer.  We had quarts of blueberries in the fridge, so they were the natural choice when I was creating the sauce to go along with these toast bites.  As the berries begin to warm and pop open, add some red wine (I went around the pan twice with a lovely Pinot Noir… again, because that’s what was in the fridge.  If I’d had a different red wine available, I might have changed to that one instead.  Use what you have and what you enjoy!) sprinkle some sugar to sweeten the sauce, and I decided to add a dash of cinnamon, to mirror the taste from the french toast bites themselves.  Allow the sauce to cook until it reduces and thickens.  If it gets too thick, add a little more wine… if it’s not thick enough, feel free to add a little more sugar.  This is a Use The Force sort of recipe… make it your own!

You’ll notice that there are also some bites of sausage on the serving plate in the photo – we had turkey sausage that needed to be used (and it was a good source of protein), so I browned the sausage until it was crispy and delicious.  It’s not a prerequisite… just another flavor to temp my dear friend into eating more than she had planned.

Sometimes, you’ll find that you need to expand your horizons when it comes to feeding your loved ones.  If someone isn’t feeling particularly well, feel free to play with your recipe to tempt them into eating something tasty and good for them.  It’s not about who’s doing the cooking or even about how they’re cooking… it’s about the love that is conveyed by the simple act of feeding people.

As you cook, may you enjoy the challenge and turn it into an expression of love.  That’s what it’s all about…

Recipe: Healthy Bread Pudding

Ok… I’m probably pushing it by saying this recipe is “healthy”, but it’s certainly got more healthy ingredients included than some of my recipes, so hopefully you’ll forgive this slight.  In any case, I think this bread pudding recipe is fabulous… I’ve made it twice now and it’s only tasted better each time.  If you’re not a huge fan of bread pudding, then feel free to skip this one.  If you like bread pudding at all, this is definitely one to try!

HealthyBreadPudding

This recipe makes a single serving, so if you’re planning to make this for more people, just increase the ingredients as needed.  I made my recipe with the following ingredients:  2 cups of cubed ciabatta bread,1 mini-box of raisins, 1 Tablespoon of chocolate chips (I chopped mine), 1/4 cup fat-free egg substitute, 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/4 cup white wine, 2 teaspoons Chia Seeds, 2 packets of Equal (feel free to use your sweetener of choice), and some cinnamon to taste.  I also sprinkled the pudding with regular sugar just before popping it into the oven.

I started by assembling all my ingredients, pre-heating my oven to 350 degrees, and spraying my baking dish with Pam cooking spray.  Note:  I neglected to spray my baking dish the first time I made this recipe and it took ages (and some serious elbow grease) to get the dish clean.  I put the bread cubes into the baking dish and then mixed the remaining ingredients in a measuring cup.  I then poured the liquid (and the raisins/chips) over the bread and, using my hands, mixed and mashed the liquid into the bread cubes until they were sufficiently soggy (see the lower right photo).

Once the bread was heavy with the egg/milk mixture, I sprinkled a bit of sugar on top and popped the baking dish into the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center came out relatively clean.  I let the pudding rest for 10 minutes, til the dish was cool enough to hold, and dug in with a spoon.  It was heavenly, in my opinion, with tiny bits of chocolate and plump raisins found throughout the dish, with a very faint back note from the wine.

This recipe was wonderful and a great example of comfort food to me.   The reason I called it “healthy” was the use of Fat-free Egg Substitute (in place of eggs), Almond Milk (in place of cow’s milk of any sort), along with the use of Chia Seeds (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) and raisins with a small amount of chocolate.  Even with the wine, this recipe came in under 275 calories, which was a definite plus in my book.  Another plus?  This is a dish that you could serve to company as a dessert, simply by adding a hard sauce or ice cream to top each serving.

I hope you’ll try this recipe out sometime.  Call it whatever you like, it’s simply delicious to me!

Recipe: Wine’d Up German Pancake

I was making breakfast this morning and thought I’d play around a bit with one of my favorite recipes.  The recipe is called “Jan’s German Pancake” but since it’s originally from my Aunt Jody, I honestly am not entirely sure who “Jan” is.  Jan is not one of my aunts… not one of the people that I remember meeting when I would visit her… not a close relative, that I know of… so the name simply lives on in the recipe.

That being said, I’ve been using this recipe for decades.   It’s a simple recipe that is easy to decrease or increase, depending on the size crowd you may be feeding.  I typically use a half recipe when feeding 2-3 people, unless those three are my husband and sons… then I make a full recipe just for them.  Given my preference for using The Force, you’ll be surprised to see that this post is in “recipe” form… enjoy it, as it doesn’t happen often!

Ingredients:

2 cups milk (I use skim, since that’s what we always have in our house)

4 eggs (you can use FF egg substitute if you prefer)

2 cups flour (I like white flour – wheat flour doesn’t “poof”)

1 teaspoon salt

*2 teaspoons dried egg whites

*1/4 cup James River Cellars’ Hanover White

4 Tablespoons of butter or margarine (to melt in the pan – I use 2 T of butter and 2 T of margarine)

Directions:

WinedUpGermanPancake

I preheat the oven to 400 degrees and slide a 9×13 pan with butter/margarine inside to melt.  While the pan is in the oven, mix eggs and milk together with a whisk until very frothy.  Add dried egg whites and wine and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.

Once all the “wet” ingredients are combined, add the salt and then begin to whisk in the flour, half cup by half cup.  Make sure that your batter is thoroughly combined and smooth… lumpy pancake doesn’t tend to rise nicely.

Once the batter is made (the fat is melted) you’re going to pour the batter into the “smokin’ hot” pan.   Do this quickly so your pan doesn’t have a chance to cool at all.  Bake your German Pancake for 30 minutes and hope to see a “poof” in the middle (see large photo).  This will deflate when you pull it out, but the resulting dish will be lighter than if it doesn’t poof.

In my opinion, this is a breakfast that needs some sort of topping… my guys like to simply use pancake syrup, but I’ve been known to use jam, fresh fruit, or even a combination of cream cheese with some jelly.  A sweetened cream cheese would work nicely as well.   It would be tasty to add some sort of breakfast meat along side, if you’re feeding a crowd that wants “more”.  Bacon or sausage, links or patties, anything that sounds delicious to you works well.  This is a “tame” breakfast that can easily handle those savory additions.

Note: The ingredients that have an asterisk (*) are ones that I added to this morning’s recipe.  You can absolutely delete them if you’d prefer and the dish will come out beautifully.  It’s entirely up to you…. and isn’t that the point of being the chef?

Enjoy!