Happiness Project#51: Cinnamon Roll Crumb Cups!

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Guess what, my friends. Sometimes even I mess up a recipe. Sometimes quite tragically. Enter the Cinnamon Roll Muffins that I had foolishly attempted at 10pm last night, while I was what I like to refer to as being “stupid tired.” You know that tired which overcomes you at 8pm when you’re a Mother of a 23mo Toddler, after being pulled out of bed at 7 in the morning by little hands that want to go, go, GO? THAT tired. Where I tend to just kinda loose all sense of rhyme or reason. And willpower. Must not ever forget the general lack of willpower. You hear me, Mamas?

Anyhow, so last night. Cinnamon Roll Muffins. Fail. Not so much in the taste department but tragically & irreversibly in the prettiness department. To the point where I almost wanted to toss the whole batch. Until I actually tasted one of them, that is. Which, fortunately, saved this entire recipe. Because guess what? These sad, flat-toped muffins still tasted very, very good! Can I get a Hallelujah?! Hallelujah! Which got me thinking. About (my favorite) white coffee mugs. And spoons. And drizzle. Because let’s be real here, photography prettiness really does matter and can be JUST as important as the actual recipe itself. Truth.

Hence, this re-invented Cinnamon Crumb Cup recipe! Which became one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made thus far in my many kitchen adventures!

Cinnamon Roll Muffins (which will become crumbs very soon):

2-1/2 cups cake flour plus 2 reserved tablespoons

1 cup granulated sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 cup butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons fresh ground cinnamon

For the Icing Drizzle:

1-1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350D. Butter and lightly flour a 12 cup Jumbo Muffin Pan, tapping out the excess flour from the pan.

Firstly, in a small bowl, combine the fresh cinnamon and the 2 reserved tablespoons of flour. Mix and set aside.

In a 2nd (large) mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Whisk to fully incorporate.

On a stand mixer, in another large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar at medium speed, for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in each egg, one at a time until fully incorporated, followed by the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Drop the mixer speed to a lower setting and gradually add in the flour mixture. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Lastly, add in the whole milk, a half cup at a time, until just incorporated.

Onward to the swirly part! Using a Tablespoon, drop 2 tablespoons of the muffin batter into each muffin round. Drop in a large pinch of cinnamon on top of the muffin batter. Followed by, again, dropping in another 2 tablespoons of muffin batter on top of the cinnamon layer. Now grab a butter knife and gently swirl the batter and the cinnamon layer together. This will create a messy marbled look. Key word: messy.

Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 21-23 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the muffins center come out clean.

The resulting muffin tops will look slightly flatter than a traditional dome shaped muffin (due to using cake flour instead of all purpose flour). Let cool in the pan for a few minutes before gently extracting each of them onto a wire rack.

Now here’s the part where I became a tad bit creative. Even though I could have just eaten up those flattened muffins as is, the photographer in me wanted something a bit more ascetically pleasing. Which meant crumbling up each muffin, with my fingertips, and then spooning those lovely crumbs into my favorite coffee mugs. Followed by drizzling each of those lovely cups of crumb with a super messy glaze.

Because drizzle, people! Drizzle! How can you not have a cinnamon roll without it’s glorious sugar topping?? You. Can’t.

And this powdered sugar glaze is ridiculously easy to create, too! So no excuses!

To create the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and the whole milk into a medium size mixing bowl, and whisk a couple of minutes until a shiny glaze forms. And then, drizzle!

Ha! So there you have it. Mix, bake, drizzle and serve. A mistake well worth anyone and everyone’s breakfast table!

Happiness Project#50: Funfetti Bundt Cake!

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I’ve been having a very difficult time recently, being alone everyday, particularly as a Mom. Before I had my Baby Girl, I loved being alone & spending more time at home than anywhere else. I was content with my husband and my books and my favorite tv shows. It was ME, then. The NOW me, though, is very (surprisingly) different than that once-comfortable house hermit. Mostly because of my Daughter. Who has changed me, in the best of ways. Thanks to her, I now understand the importance of getting both out of the house and out of my normal comfort zones. For once, I truly enjoy long walks in the sun. And going to the local zoo. And chasing birds. And riding carousels. And simply taking our time while doing whatever it is that we’re doing. Because, yes, my friends, children change EVERYTHING. Something that I am eternally thankful for.

Anyhow, even though I’ve discovered a new found appreciation for expanding my daily boundaries, up until recently, I felt perfectly at peace with it being just my Daughter & I. Going out and about and exploring the world (all over again for me) together. Even when we were traveling down south, every month, to see my older sister and her three boys, once a month seemed perfect. Until now. Now, I want to be around my sister and nephews all the time. For myself and my Baby Girl. The connections that both Ari & I have with my sister and her boys are unlike any that we have here (even with the Family that we have within our immediate area). The experience of being a Family with a child, while being with another Family with a child, or children, is incomparable to anything else. With my sister and her boys, I KNOW love. Constant, empowering, comforting love. Where we play and sing and dance and laugh and truly enjoy every moment together. Even when we’re out running multiple errands. Even when we’re saying nothing at all. So whenever that one magical week ends and my Daughter & I drive back home, I end up feeling how I am today. Sad, alone and little lost. Like a huge piece of my Heart is missing and the day is a little less bright without it. A feeling that I sometimes have for days. Which gets worse at night, when the house is quiet and everyone else is asleep. When I have nothing else to think of but memories.

So to always commemorate the memories that my Daughter and I have created with the Cooper Family, I’ve decided to share one of my favorite cake recipes. A recipe that always reminds me of my sister and her three loving, affectionate, absolutely amazing boys. All who I love and adore like no other. With one of the happiest candies ever created: sprinkles. Because how can you not see rainbow sprinkles and feel Love?

From my heart to yours, may this bright and cheerful bundt cake always bring you happiness, my friends.

For the Cake:

2-1/2 cups cake flour, sifted

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter and flour 1 fluted bundt cake pan. Depending on what type of bundt pan you use, the bottom part of the cake will reflect how light or dark the cake pan is. Hence, since I used a very dark bundt pan, this particular cake ended up being quite brown on it’s bottom (shown in the above featured photo).

In a stand mixer, on medium speed, beat together the flour, sugar, oil, baking powder, vanilla extract and salt, until gently mixed throughly. Drop the mixture speed down to a slower speed and add in each egg, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Now, slowly add in the 1 cup of whole milk, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, once or twice to ensure that the batter doesn’t become lumpy or unmixed. Mix for 1 minute until thick and smooth.

After taking your bowl off of the stand mixer, gently fold in the 1 cup of sprinkles. Followed by pouring the funfetti batter into the well buttered & floured bundt pan.

Pop your bundt pan into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry. Let cool on a wire rack, still in it’s pan, for around 30 minutes to an hour until the cake is cool enough to unmold from the pan.

Now here’s where you get to be choosy. Vanilla Glaze or Dusted Sugar? Such a difficult dilemma. *wink* If you end up wanting to apply a thin vanilla glaze versus a fine dusting of powdered sugar, for the glaze you will need:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

In a medium sized bowl, add in all three ingredients and whisk together until you’ve reached a desired consistency. If your glaze is too thin, add more powdered sugar for thickness. If your glaze is too thick, add in a couple of tablespoons of milk to thin it out. And then, drizzle! Drizzle away!

Oh and don’t forget to sprinkle. Again. Because there’s no such thing as too many sprinkles. Not in my life =)

P.S. After creating this blog nearly 3 years ago, THIS is my 50th recipe post! Exciting!

Happiness Project#49: In-A-Pinch Chicken Chili!

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Chili. My husband is the KING of all things chili! Both sides of our Family request his chili dish, whenever the weather starts to bring in some chill, without fail. But since I’m the one cooking dinner dishes, more often than not now, I decided that it was high time to create my own kind of chili bliss. Nothing like my husband’s traditional dish, either. There’s no way that I would ever want to mess with such a tantalizing culinary masterpiece! That’s how good his chili is! But here’s the thing, good chili recipes tend to have A LOT of ingredients. Like an entire grocery cart full of ingredients. Which is NOT good for my weekly grocery budget. Unless I’m willing to sacrifice my favorite granola cereal or favorite apple or worst yet, coffee. Needless to say, the thought of going coffee-less (even for a day) leaves me close to tears. So no, NO chili then.

Until now, my friends! Thanks to some Pinterest inspiration! With chicken, instead of meat! And the loveliness of whole, uncrushed bay leaves, which I rarely find a chance to use correctly! And best yet? I’m going to show you the “secret” short-cut to creating this super fantastic slow cooker dish, in-a-pinch! So that you don’t need to wait 5 or so hours to wrap your taste buds around this lovely Winter soup! Particularly if you’re a parent with little time to spare. Like me. So here you go…

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed

3 chicken bullion cubes

2 cans Great Northern Beans, drained

1/2 white onion, peeled and finely diced

2 whole bay leaves

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1-1/2 cans gold & white corn, drained

3 cups chicken broth

1 (1-ounce) packet Ranch dressing mix

pinch or two of salt for taste

You’ll be multi-tasking for this one, so get ready!

In a medium sized pot, with about 2 cups of water, over medium-high heat, drop in two pinches of kosher salt, followed by the 3 thawed chicken breasts. Let cook until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Drop the heat to low and add in the two whole bay leaves. Let cook for another 5 or so minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the 3 cups chicken broth, bullion cubes, onion, oregano, cumin, chili powder and ranch dressing. Let slowly incorporate for 8-10 minutes.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, drain and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes before you shred each chicken breast into long pieces.

Now the pretty part! Plug in your slow cooker machine, set on high, and pour in both cans of the beans and corn. Then add in the shredded chicken (which will smell ridiculously fragrant, indeed). Followed by the entire skillet full of the mixed broth and spices. Let sit in the slow cooker for 30 minutes before stirring up all of that lovely chicken chili together!

And serve! With a dollop of sour cream, for an added bit of creaminess!

So. SO. GOOD. So good that I might make this dinner dish at least once a week! Winter or not 🙂

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