Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Topped Coffee Cake with Vanilla Glaze

I love brunch. Egg dishes of all kinds, fruits, bacon, sausage, muffins, bagels, bread...you name it - I love it. But brunch wouldn't be brunch without coffee cake, right?


So, today I'm sharing with you my new favorite version of coffee cake: brown sugar cinnamon topped coffee cake with vanilla glaze.

Oh boy.

I made this coffee cake this past weekend for brunch with friends. Thankfully, it was a hit! 

The cake and glaze recipes are both from Averie Cooks. The original glaze recipe that goes with the brown sugar cinnamon coffee cake was a cream cheese glaze...but I decided to use Averie's buttery vanilla glaze instead. She uses that for her blueberry and jam buttermilk coffee cake (another recipe I'd love to try sometime!).


For the brown sugar topping:

-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
-1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
-3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. cinnamon

For the cake:

-1 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1 Tbsp. cinnamon (not a typo - yes, 1 TABLEspoon :))
-1 tsp. ground nutmeg
-pinch of salt
-1 large egg
-1/2 cup buttermilk*
-1/3 cup Greek yogurt
-3 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
-2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the glaze:

-1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
-1 cup confectioners' sugar (sifted)
-3/4 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with cooking spray and set aside. For the brown sugar topping, combine all four ingredients in a small bowl, mixing with a fork until crumbly (some lumps will remain and that's okay).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring with a spoon or spatula until just combined; do not overmix. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar topping evenly over top of the cake batter. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake and place on cooling rack, cooling for at least 30 minutes before glazing.

For the glaze, melt the butter. To start, add about 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and the vanilla, and whisk to combine. Continue to add the remaining sugar and whisk until desired consistency is reached. If too thick, thin out by adding milk or cream, one half teaspoon at a time. Drizzle glaze over cake just before serving. If not serving entire cake immediately, only drizzle the glaze over the portion you are serving, and wait to drizzle the rest until closer to the time it will be eaten. If have any cake leftover with the glaze on it, store in the fridge. Makes 9 servings.

*For the buttermilk, if you don't have regular buttermilk, you can make your own with a few different methods:
Use buttermilk powder; add the powder with the dry ingredients and the water with the wet ingredients.

So if you don't have actual buttermilk on hand, have no fear! You have a few other alternatives.

Several months ago, I bought King Arthur Flour's dried buttermilk powder, and I love it. It has completely solved my problem that occurs when I buy a quart of buttermilk when really all I need is a cup...and then if I don't have time to bake something else, the buttermilk goes to waste. :(  Anyone else had that problem?! Powdered buttermilk is definitely a great solution! If you bake a lot, I highly recommend it.

Back to this cake though...  It's full of flavor, moist, sweet but not too sweet, and so, so easy to make.

This cake would make an excellent addition to any brunch table. Or, it would be a wonderful, simple breakfast on a lazy weekend morning. Served with a hot cup of coffee, I'd call this coffee cake "perfection." :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sweet Potato Carrot Quinoa Soup

I've made this soup four times now. Finally, I am blogging about it and sharing it with you all. 'Bout time, I'd say! This soup is a real winner. It's easy, healthy, and filling...and oh-so-perfect for this brutal cold, snowy winter we're having!

The recipe is from Cookin' Canuck, a delightful blog with beautiful photography. If you want to see really lovely photos of this soup, check out her blog post about it!

Since I've made this a few times now, I've adapted the recipe slightly. The ingredients below are what I typically use when I make it. If you decide to make this, be sure to read the recipe through all the way first. You'll want to keep in mind that the recipe calls for a cup of cooked quinoa. So, you could cook the quinoa as the sweet potatoes are roasting, or if you have leftover quinoa from another meal, keep it and use it for this soup!


-3 medium sweet potatoes
-1/2 large onion (or 1 medium), diced
-3 or 4 large carrots, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock (low sodium)
-1 cup water
-salt and pepper, to taste
-3/4 tsp. dried herbs de provence
-1 to 1 and 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
-shredded or grated cheese (your choice) to garnish, if desired
-pumpkin seeds to garnish, if desired


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and peel if desired (I do not peel them because I like the skin). Dice into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes. Do the same with the carrots (although I do peel my carrots). Place both sweet potatoes and carrots on large baking sheet and drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes.

With about 5 to 10 minutes remaining in the roast time for the sweet potatoes, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until tender. Add the potatoes and carrots to the pot, and slowly pour in chicken broth, water, and herbs de provence. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender. If using a hand blender, blend soup right in the pot until vegetables are pureed. If using a regular blender, add soup to the blender but let it cool for 10 or 15 minutes before blending to puree it. If you find the soup to be too thick for your liking, add a little bit of water at a time and continue to blend. Return soup to pot over low heat and stir in cooked quinoa. Taste, and add salt and pepper, if desired.

When ready to serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with shredded (or grated) cheese and/or pumpkin seeds, if desired. Serve with your favorite crackers, bread, or just have the soup by itself! Makes 4 to 6 servings.

If you have time, I bet it would be yummy to toast your pumpkin seeds a bit too! We like to top our soup with both cheese and pumpkin seeds. :)


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spinach, Broccoli, Mushroom, and Ricotta Calzones

I have another delicious dinner recipe for you! The last one I shared was my crock pot sweet potato beef chili (in case you missed it, you should probably check it out ;)), and now I have a calzone recipe for you. 

We made these calzones last week on a night when our weekly meal plan said "pizza or calzones." Well, we haven't made calzones in quite some time, so they won out! And I'm glad they did.

The recipe I semi-followed is from Two Peas and Their Pod for kale, mushroom, and ricotta calzones. I ended up adding a couple more veggies to the mix when I made these, but in general, I followed their technique for the most part. It's definitely a versatile recipe. Add whatever vegetables (and perhaps meat?) that you and your family like! The ingredients below are roughly what we added when we made our calzones.


-1 pound fresh pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
-1 Tbsp. olive oil, plus additional for brushing
-1/2 yellow onion, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 cups fresh baby spinach
-8 oz. sliced white mushrooms
-1/2 large red pepper, diced
-1 small head broccoli, florets cut in halves
-1 cup ricotta cheese
-1 cup shredded three-cheese blend (asiago, fontina, parmesan)*
-1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
-1/2 tsp. dried herbs de provence
-1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
-small pinch crushed red pepper flakes
-all-purpose flour for rolling pizza dough
-marinara/tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, for dipping


Make sure pizza dough is already at room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the calzone filling, saute olive oil and diced onion over medium heat on stove, 3 to 4 minutes. Add minced garlic. Add the mushrooms, red pepper, and broccoli, sauteing for 5 to 7 more minutes. Add the spinach and cover pan; cook for 2 more minutes or until spinach is wilted. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, shredded cheese, and pecorino romano. Stir in the vegetable mixture, and then add all the spices.

Divide the dough into four equal portions and shape each portion into a ball. On your workspace, sprinkle flour. Roll each ball of dough out into a circle or oval, about 7 inches in diameter (just do the best you can with this!). Lightly brush the edges of each circle with water. Place desired amount (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) of cheese/vegetable mixture on half of each circle, leaving an inch around the border. Gently fold the dough over so the edges meet, and press down around the edges with your fingers or a fork. Pierce the top of each calzone with a fork, and brush the top of each with a little extra olive oil. Repeat until the filling is used up.

Bake calzones for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving with warmed marinara/tomato sauce or diced tomatoes for dipping.

For dough, we used Whole Foods' whole wheat dough, which we love. We also love their multigrain dough, but they were all out when I went to buy it. Use whichever dough is your favorite - store bought or homemade! And you can certainly use your own favorite types of cheeses as well. The original recipe calls for shredded mozzarella, but we used a three-cheese blend that we buy at Whole Foods all the time. I do think that the ricotta is a necessary type to add to the calzones though. It made the calzones feel much more authentic to me for some reason...

Also, I did not do the best job ever of shaping the pizza dough to be as thin as I would have liked. As you can see in the pictures, the edges of the dough were a bit thick in spots. As I said above though, just do the best you can with your dough. These calzones will taste excellent, no matter the thickness of your dough! Pizza dough is pretty great in any size, shape, or form, in my opinion!

Adding some marinara sauce for dipping the calzones is a great idea. The reason I used diced tomatoes for dipping is simply because we had some leftover from a different dish we'd made earlier in the week. We definitely liked the addition of some tomato "sauce" for dipping and would highly recommend it. Although, as you can see from the photos, we didn't really dip...we put the tomatoes on top of our calzones... You get the idea though. Tomato "sauce" + calzones = a good thing. :)

Such an easy weeknight meal! We served these with side salads and were completely satisfied. I can't wait to make them again!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Soft and Chewy Brown Sugar Cinnamon Cookies

When I was a kid, I used to loooove brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts. I mean, LOVE. Although my pop tart eating days are long gone (I can't even remember the last time I ate one), I still adore the flavors of brown sugar and cinnamon together, especially when they're in a homemade baked goodie. :)

This recipe for brown sugar cinnamon cookies is from Sally's Baking Addiction. I've made several of her recipes before, as you may know, and they are always wonderful!


-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1 and 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. salt
-3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
-1 and 1/4 cups dark brown sugar (light brown is okay)
-1 large egg, room temperature
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/3 cup granulated sugar (for rolling)
-3/4 to 1 cup cinnamon baking chips (optional)


Melt the butter and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter and brown sugar until no brown sugar lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix together with a spatula or large spoon. If using, mix in the cinnamon chips. The dough will be soft and thick. Cover the dough and chill for 2 hours or overnight (or up to 3 days). You must chill the dough; do not skip this!

Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 or 15 minutes if you've had it chilling for 2 hours or more. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Pour granulated sugar into a shallow bowl. Take 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball, and then roll in the sugar until coated. Place on cookie sheet. Continue until all the dough is used. Bake cookies for 8 to 9 minutes; remove from oven and press down very slightly with the back of a spoon or your fingers (this will help create a crinkle on top of your cookie). Place back into the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes. The cookies might look slightly underdone, but that's okay. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes before placing on cooling racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Cookies will keep for 7 days. Makes about 20 to 24 cookies.

These cookies are SO soft and chewy! Oh my goodness. And they practically melt in your mouth too. I think we finished these within 4 days, and by the fourth day, they were still super soft! 

A few notes for you if you make these...  The 3/4 to 1 cup of cinnamon chips is the amount I'd recommend for the entire batch of dough (Sally's original recipe did not call for the chips). I, however, made half of my cookie dough without the cinnamon chips and half with them, so I used closer to 1/2 or 2/3 cup, probably. Also, the original recipe only calls for 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, but Sally recommends upping the amount to 1 tsp. if you like cinnamon. And since I love cinnamon, I added a whole teaspoon. Obvi. ;)

Finally, my cookies turned out to look quite a bit flatter than Sally's, and I can't figure out why that might be! I chilled the dough for a day and a half before baking it, so I don't think it's that. Hmmmm. Anyone have any thoughts for me??

Oh, and I highly recommend getting your hands on King Arthur Flour's Sparkling White Sugar. Love the stuff! I use it whenever I make cookies or goodies that are rolled in sugar. The bigger granules are awesome. And they sparkle too. What's not to love? :)

If you're snowed in this weekend or just don't want to go outside because it's soooo cooooold, I suggest you stay inside to bake these cookies. You'll be glad you did!