Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

Happy Friday! Today I brought in this delicious recipe to share with my co-workers. This bread is so easy to make and it smells divine. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the aroma of cinnamon and vanilla throughout your home. I truly love that this quick bread is moist and not overly sweet, and has the right amount of cinnamon in it. When the bread comes out of the oven there should be a cinnamon sugar crust on top. The recipe also calls for buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can easily make it by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a “1 cup” measuring cup and fill the rest of the cup with milk. Let it sit for 10-12 minutes and you’ll see it start to curdle. Voila, there you go. Instant buttermilk. The recipe is for 1 loaf, but you can double it to make 2 loaves.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

CINNAMON SUGAR

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter, 3/4 cup sugar, and egg

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk

5. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar to make cinnamon sugar

6. Pour a third of the batter into a greased (use baking spray or butter generously bottom and sides) 9×5-inch loaf pan (TIP: Use a measuring cup to evenly distribute batter)

7. Sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar on top of batter

8. Repeat layers twice

9. Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean

10. Cool in pan for 10 minutes

11. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely

 

 

Macaroni & Cheese with Buttery Crumbs

Some days you just want some comfort food and for me, macaroni and cheese is pretty much it. Ever since I started making this recipe, I can’t even stomach the idea of eating Kraft’s Mac n’ Cheese. Food & Wine Magazine sent me this cool little booklet titled “Our 20 Best Recipes Ever” and when I saw this recipe, I was in love. I’ve only made this recipe two times before, so I made it last Thursday and I made the Panko Crusted Chicken Thighs to go with it on Saturday.

The reason why this recipe is so good is that it uses two kinds of cheese: Sharp Cheddar and Colby Jack (the actual recipe call for Colby, but since I couldn’t find any, I used Colby Jack and it works excellently) that are cut into 1/2-inch cubes. One half of the cheese gets melted to make the sauce for the noodles, while the other half gets added to the dish prior to baking, so when you eat it later, you get these chunks of cheese mixed with the macaroni. So so so good.

INGREDIENTS

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk

1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 pound Colby Jack, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (or use 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg if you don’t have fresh nutmeg)

Pinch of cayenne pepper (I used 1/4 tsp)

Salt and freshly ground pepper (1/4 tsp each)

1 pound elbow macaroni

3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used Panko instead)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan. Add the the flour and stir over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the half-and-half and cook, whisking, until thickened (about 3 minutes). Add half of the both the cheddar and Colby jack cheese and stir over low heat until melted. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg, cayenne, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Cook the macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the macaroni very well and return it to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and the remaining cubed cheese. Spread the macaroni into the prepared baking dish.

3. In a small bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper, and stir until evenly moistened. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the macaroni and bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Here’s a picture of the Panko Crusted Chicken Thighs with a serving of the Macaroni and Cheese:

Beignets + Coffee = Breakfast of Champions

Earlier this week (on Monday), my friend and I went to Target and World Market on our lunch break. Can I just say how much I love World Market. I could walk around in there all day and just browse everything. They carry all sorts of items from home furnishings to food and drinks.

As I was in the food section, there was this great display for Cafe du Monde‘s coffee….you can’t miss those orange cans….anyway, along with the coffee, they had beignet mix. Impulsively, I grab a box. At $3.99, why not? (If you don’t have a World Market near you, and you’re in the mood for some beignets but don’t want to bother making your own mix – you can order it online from CDM’s site.) But if you do want to attempt making them from scratch, here’s a great recipe to try.

What is a beignet? Fried delicious dough. Um, yep, that’s a pretty accurate definition, but in all seriousness, the beignet (pronounced Ben-YAY) is French for fritter and and the state doughnut for Louisiana. If you ever visit New Orleans, beignets are served everywhere. They’re traditionally fried dough squares that are sprinkled generously with powdered sugar – best served while they’re hot and with coffee.

So all week long, the beignet mix has been sitting on my kitchen counter. I knew I’d be making them this morning. The directions on the box makes 2 dozen beignets…but I only made half of the recipe (I didn’t need to tempt myself!). All you need to do is add water to the mix and roll the dough (liberally adding flour as you roll) to about 1/8 inch thickness, then cutting them into 2 1/4 inch squares.

I used a frying pan and put about an inch of oil in it. (There’s really no need to have them drown in oil as you fry them.) Once the oil is hot enough, add the dough squares and as soon as they puff up, they will rise to the surface of the oil. Turn them once or twice so they’re evenly golden. It’ll take no more than 2-3 minutes to cook them. Once you take them out, drain them on a paper towel and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy!