that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Posts Tagged ‘cinnamon’

jam on

Posted by culinaryneophyte on August 4, 2013

When people ask for my help moving, I typically carry odds and ends and leave the heavy lifting to the big dogs. But yesterday, one of my brothers bailed on helping my dad and stepmother move (and the other left for work with a decent amount to go), so I had no choice but to lift things up and put them down. (Please tell me you get that reference.) By the time I got home, it was that awkward too-late-for-lunch/too-early-for-dinner time, and I was too famished to wait more than five minutes for something small to cook, so I whipped up a sweet snack inspired by a post I saw on Instagram: cinnamon protein rice cake with strawberry jam and chia seeds.

cinnamon protein rice cake

enough for two rice cakes
♦2 brown rice cakes
3 tbs. plain Greek yogurt
2 tbs. whey protein
♦1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbs. cinnamon (or to taste)
Jam/jelly (any flavor, organic if clean)
♦chia seeds

Mix yogurt, protein, vanilla and cinnamon together. Slather on rice cakes. Top with a dollop of jam and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

Calories? About 120 calories per rice cake
Total time? 3 minutes
Cost? $1.29 rice cakes, $2.99 jam, $1 Greek yogurt
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. These rice cakes helped kill my hunger and give me a little boost after a strenuous morning. The health benefits of chia seeds are plenty, but in this case, the fact that they absorb 10 times their weight in water helped keep me full until dinner time arrived. I am usually a little iffy on yogurt-based things, but this protein “sauce” was delicious. The only point deducted came from how messy this was. This is the first time I’ve topped rice cakes with anything outside of my usual sunflower seed butter or the occasional avocado and cayenne pepper, so I’m excited to experiment some more.

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a new kind of M&M cookie

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 12, 2012

One of my friends always jokes about the “$100 Target tax,” meaning many of us have a hard time going into Target and not hitting triple digits at the register. Without fail, I paid the “Target tax” on my pre-Christmas shopping trip, throwing all sorts of unnecessary things into my cart and sorting it all out when I got home. Buried beneath the Hello Kitty nail polish kit (gift for my toddler niece) and Archer Farms pumpkin lattes (gift for myself) was a bag of Cinnamon M&Ms. Damn you, end caps!

I opened the bag that night and investigated. The M&Ms were about twice as large as original and came in brown and varying shades of red. I bit one in half. The cinnamon flavor was subtle, but present. I ate the second half, and decided I wasn’t crazy about them. One of the best parts of M&Ms is eating them by the handfuls, and these just don’t work like that. They’re too… plump.

I left the opened bag on the table, and there it sat — untouched — for the next few weeks until I had some friends over and wanted to make them a snackable dessert. I was dying to get rid of these M&Ms, and thought they’d be great in some cookies. I took to the Web, and not surprisingly, Picky Palate already had an oatmeal cookie recipe using these things, and she had a similar story with her blogging friend Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod. These cookies are taking over!

adapted slightly from Picky Palate
♦2 sticks of butter, softened

3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbs. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tbs. cinnamon
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
1 bag of Cinnamon M&Ms

Beat butter and sugars in stand mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and continue mixing. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to wet ingredients in small increments with mixer on low. Add cinnamon, oats, chocolate chips and M&Ms, reserving a handful to place on top of cookies before baking (for aesthetic flair). Line baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop dough. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Total time? 15 minutes prep, 12 minutes per batch.
Cost? $2.69 M&Ms, $2 oats (and the remainder of your “Target tax”).
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out of 10. My only complaint was that these cookies dried out a little fast, despite being kept in a sealed container. (I may have made them a little too thick.) Again, the cinnamon flavor is subtle, but good. They’re not teeming with oats, so you can easily sell picky eaters on these by leaving out that whole “full of fiber and kind of good for you” thing. (Some of my friends said they never would have known they were oatmeal cookies if I hadn’t mentioned it.) They weren’t overly chocolatey, so the non-sweets people will get in on the action, too. Hopefully, you passed these M&Ms during the holidays and your curiosity got the best of you because I’m not sure if they sell these Cinnamon M&Ms after Christmas. If you can’t find them in stores now, bookmark this recipe for next year’s cookie exchange. :)

(Oh, and good news: Between the doughnut disaster and the time I made these cookies, I was gifted two brand-new cooling racks!)

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pumpkin time

Posted by culinaryneophyte on October 23, 2011

Last I wrote, I was just moving into my new place and incredibly stressed. Living out of boxes is one thing; baking out of boxes is another. I’m only slightly more settled now, and coming off two crazy weeks of baked good orders. Just when it looked like I was going to be able to start writing again, my laptop — which had been clinging to its last life for the last six months now — took its very last breath. Worse still, all of my food photos from the last year+ are — err, were on there.

Fortunately, I came up with a new recipe (and new photos) to share while I work out this computer quandary: pumpkin spice oatmeal — the perfect breakfast for any fall morning.

♦1/2 c. quick oats
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. almond milk (regular milk works perfectly well, too!)
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbs. canned pumpkin
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1-1/2 tbs. brown sugar

Combine oats, water, milk and salt in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until mixture starts to simmer and thicken. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, and mix until well combined. Pour into bowl and let stand to thicken for one minute. Sprinkle brown sugar on top, and enjoy. Makes one serving.

Total time? 10 minutes.
Cost? $2.19 canister of quick oats, $1.59 can of pumpkin, $2.64 almond milk.
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. Whenever fall comes around, I buy a can of pumpkin and put it in just about anything I can think of. Given my newfound, not-so-secret love for oatmeal, it was only a matter of time before I was eating pumpkin for breakfast.  Didn’t disappoint, either. The brown sugar is a must because the dish isn’t sweet enough on its own, but you don’t have to overdo it. If you’re short on time in the mornings, drop this in a mug and take it to go.

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in need of some snickers…

Posted by culinaryneophyte on July 30, 2011

I had a little bit of a mishap the other day — not of the culinary kind, but the technological. See, I’m a bit of an organization freak, so when I find a recipe online, I don’t just ‘favorite’ it and come back later; I copy it into the appropriate draft in my Gmail box (one of about 57 running drafts), label it and index it based on categories and ingredients. This way, when I have excess of something like, say, green onions, a simple CTRL F gives me 10 useful recipes I was already interested in trying. When I make one of said recipes, that link and my notes on the execution end up in a different set of drafts. Easy enough, right?

But then tragedy struck. Upon recently entering a completed dessert recipe, I must have highlighted my entire draft and pasted in the new link and notes on top of it, thus unknowingly erasing everything in the draft except for that one entry. I hit ‘save’ and went on my merry way, not realizing until this week that I essentially deleted six months of desserts and my ‘memories’ of making them. Devastating. All that’s left to remind me what I made are my saved photos, so hopefully things will start to come back to me.

In perusing my pics, I found a little photo shoot I set up after slaving over some experimental snickerdoodle cupcakes. I figured if my exposition were subpar because of this draft debacle, at least the food would be pretty.

These cupcakes were really good. I adapted a few recipes I found (one was definitely Martha’s), and took three different approaches to the end product: one glazed, one frosted, one glazed and frosted.

♦3 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. baking powder
1 tbs. cinnamon
2 sticks butter
1-3/4 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 c. milk
Frosting (see below)
Light corn syrup (optional, see below)

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between each. Add vanilla. On low setting, add one-third dry mixture, then half the milk, and repeat. Continue beating until well combined, but do not overmix. Pour into cupcake liners, and bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes.

I uncharacteristically took a shortcut here and used store-bought icing (I was making these for a birthday gathering, and really didn’t have a lot of time to spare), but I encourage you to make your own. For buttercream, try this one sans the spices; for cream cheese, try this one.

For the glazed cakes, I combined 1 tsp. of cinnamon and a 1 tsp. of sugar in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, I poured about three tablespoons of light corn syrup, brushed each cupcake with the glaze and rolled the top in the cinnamon sugar. For the frosted cupcakes, I piped on the frosting and dusted each cupcake in the aforementioned cinnamon sugar. For the third lot, I combined the two techniques.

Total time? 20 minutes prep, 20 minutes bake.
Cost? $2 frosting (or related frosting-making materials), $1 eggs, $1.75 light corn syrup (optional)
Overall success relative to expectations? 7 out 10. From what I remember (no notes, grrr), these were a little more muffin-like than I would have preferred, but they were still tasty. Obvious point deduction for the store-bought frosting, but +1 for appearance. No one I made these for can remember which variety they preferred (frosted, glazed, both), but for a more cupcake-y dessert, you need the frosting. The recipe yields two dozen, though, so feel free to experiment like I did.

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vanilla chai granola

Posted by culinaryneophyte on June 21, 2011

And you probably thought I was going to have to give up my KitchenAid mixer.

I may have met my no-two-week-hiatus goal, but not within enough time for me to celebrate. I won’t bore you with all the details, but lately I’ve been too busy to breathe and too tired to function. This morning, I accidentally dumped some wintergreen mouthwash in my hands instead of hair gel. I need to either stop buying like-colored, dissimilar products, or get a few more hours of sleep per night. Either way…

I’ve been seeking quick-and-easy meals on the go during this hectic time, so I might as well share one of faves: vanilla chai granola.

I’m a little embarrassed about how long it took me to realize the gigantic canister of oats sitting on top of my fridge could be used for something other than oatmeal (or oatmeal cookies), but once I discovered how easy it is to make your own granola, I was hooked. So easy. So cheap. Endless possibilities!

For my first round of granola, I attempted to slice whole almonds into slivers, and shot shards of them all over my kitchen. If making things more difficult than they need to be isn’t your style, you can purchase sliced almonds at any supermarket. I used the same spice mix I did for the vanilla chai cupcakes with slightly different proportions, but feel free to experiment. Your house will smell amazing either way — well, as long as you don’t burn it.

♦4 c. old-fashioned oats
1/2 c. sliced almonds (can add more or less)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. honey
2 tbl. granulated sugar
1 tbl. vanilla extract

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and lightly coat with baking spray. Combine oats, almonds and spices in a large bowl. Over medium heat, bring oil, honey and sugars to a simmer. Remove from heat, add vanilla and coat dry ingredients with liquid. Toss around until completely covered. Spread contents evenly across baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes. IMPORTANT: Be sure to check on granola every 8-10 minutes, flipping occasionally for an even bake.  The granola burns easily, so don’t neglect it! Allow time to cool before eating.

smells prettier than it looks!

Total time? 10 minutes prep, 22 minutes cook.
Cost? Sliced almonds from Wegman’s self-serve candy/nuts area, less than $2, oats (obviously more than you’ll need), $2.
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out of 10. My expectations were low; I just couldn’t believe something that’s so expensive in the stores could be so easy to make… and make well. The flavor was outstanding, and this yielded enough to have in yogurt, with milk or by the handful every day for nearly a week. (Store in a Tupperware.) I like to keep my granola simple — just oats and almonds — but feel free to add in sunflower seeds, wheat germ, walnuts, etc.

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Totes McOats

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 18, 2011

I know so many people who say, “I’m not a breakfast person.” I’m not either — I find the options limited and my culinary creativity stifled with breakfast foods — but having a little sumthin’ sumthin’ in the morning gets my day going, so I’ll usually grab an English muffin and count the minutes until I’m hungry enough for some midday masterpiece. My breakfast-bitter brain was blown last week, though, when I embarked on a National Oatmeal Month celebration with LiveWell360’s peanut butter cup oatmeal (slightly adapted).

In addition to not being a breakfast person, I’m also not an oatmeal person, but this recipe looked simple and inexpensive (especially considering I “borrowed” a handful of oats from my roommate’s stash), so I gave it a go.

♦1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. water
pinch of salt
1/2 medium banana, sliced
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. peanut butter

Heat oats, water and salt oats in a saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering, stir in bananas and mix until thickened. Add vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder and sugar until mixed. Either pour mixture into a bowl and top with peanut butter, or — as I did, at left — mix peanut butter into heated mixture because you can’t gracefully get it off the spoon.

Total time? 10 minutes, start to finish.
Cost? $2 oats. $2 peanut butter, 45¢ banana
Overall success relative to expectations? 6 out of 10. The taste wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, — not like biting into a Reese’s — but I still enjoyed it. The banana is virtually undetectable, but helps create a nice, thick consistency. The cinnamon was a little strong, so I’d probably drop that down to 1/8 tsp. next time. If this isn’t your thing, but you’re still interested in celebrating the last two weeks of National Oatmeal Month, check out the 30-Day Oatmeal Challenge for all sorts of crazy concoctions.

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