Brittany wrote this on 26 October 2015
You may have already noticed that I don’t have a recipe on this blog for caramel rolls or cinnamon rolls. After several years of posting recipes, I decided to remedy that fact. Honey Buns are the closest I have come, and as good as they are, sometimes you just need a good, gooey, caramel laden treat.
These are those. Or this is them. Or that is thus. Caramel laden treats. Right here.
I haven’t always been a baker of Monkey Bread. I didn’t grow up eating it, and had no idea of its existence until college. However, sometime in the last few years, after seeing various kinds plastered all over Pinterest, I figured I better find a master recipe to keep in my menu arsenal. Nothing fancy, nothing pumpkin spice or that trendy salted caramel, and no crazy amount of extra steps. Just a straight up, classic and easy recipe.
Ok fine. To be completely transparent with all of you, I am going to have a house full of guests at Christmas and I really wanted to get this dish down pat so that I can serve it with ease to a crowd. Ulterior motives, yes, but it all leads to the same thing. Really good Monkey Bread.
I tried several (Oofdah! Recipe testing for this was tough!) and made adjustments as I went based on personal taste and preference. For example, most recipes call for canned biscuits as the bread in here, but the texture of actual bread dough is SO much better and much less salty. It is just as simple to use, but less expensive, and you get a better quality to your food. So in the end, I just kind of went with the basics and kept it simple. Turns out that is what makes this the best.
Fresh out of the oven and ready to be turned out! Careful! Its hot!
Classic Monkey Bread
2 lbs (loaves) frozen bread dough, thawed
1 c granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c (1 stick) butter
1/2 c brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a bundt pan and combine the white sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut each bread dough loaf into 16 pieces and toss the pieces in the cinnamon and sugar. Shake off the excess and place them evenly in the bundt pan. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, warm the butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 c of the leftover cinnamon/sugar mixture. Heat over medium heat until it JUST comes to a boil. Immediately remove and carefully pour evenly over the bread dough pieces. Bake for 30 minutes until risen and evenly browned. Remove from the oven and carefully invert onto a deep plate or platter to catch the extra caramel! Let cool a bit and enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 23 October 2015
When it comes to holidays, Halloween and all things spooky and ghoulish are my least favorite to celebrate. I have never really been into the decorations and the costumes and mannequins with fake blood. Its entertaining, but you won’t find me hosting a costume party or visiting a haunted house anytime soon. Go ahead and call me a party pooper, but you know those people you see that are really into Halloween? Well I am just…not. Please tell me I am not alone in this…
That said, if it involves food, you can count me in as an avid supporter! 🙂 My kids are obvious fans of any event that gets them closer to candy and like most households at this time of year, we have a huge glass pumpkin filled with festive colored, individually wrapped sweet treats on our entry table. We live in the middle of nowhere and thus, will receive no trick or treaters, but the bowl of candy sits like a sugared little sentry, hospitable and ready for visitors.
This year, as part of a never-ending effort to be just a smidgen healthier than we were the day before, I decided to make family treats that were a bit less junkfood laden, yet festive enough to satisfy the most ardent of Halloween enthusiasts. I was going for a green and orange theme, so pistachios would be an awesome substitute for the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in this recipe. The dried fruit and nuts can be found at Nuts.com and the site even has a special page for healthy snacks! You can find that by clicking here, and while you are browsing, jot down ideas for your own family!
As for my own kids, they were thrilled to see the candied eyeballs staring up at them from their chocolate. One piece is a nice little treat and SO much better for them than, say, a fun-sized candy bar. This plate is also fun to set out for guests this time of year. It screams Halloween! No fake blood required. 🙂
Fruit & Nut Halloween Bark
This keeps for a week, in the fridge, in an airtight container. That is, if you can keep your hands off! I even tucked one piece each in my kids lunches as a special treat!
1 bag, good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli
pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or chopped pistachios
whole almonds, roughly chopped
dried apricots, chopped
dried mango, chopped
In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until JUST MELTED! Don’t overheat! Meanwhile, place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. When chocolate is melted, pour in the middle of the sheet pan and spread gently and slowly to a rectangle about the size of an 8X11 sheet of paper. This makes the chocolate thin enough that it won’t be too sweet, but thick enough not to fall apart! Sprinkle with however much of the dried fruit and nuts you prefer. Its totally a matter of taste. Place a few candied eyes around the chocolate! Chill, uncovered in the fridge until firm. Because the chocolate is good, and without the stabilizers that cheaper chocolate can have in them, it will melt if handled too much! Cut with a sharp knife into irregular shapes and keep it stored in the fridge to prevent meltdown disasters! Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 19 October 2015
As I type this post, I am sitting at my dining room table and gazing out the window. Now that hurricane Joaquin is gone and the rain has stayed away from South Carolina for a week, we have dried out a bit and the leaves are starting to turn. I could sit here and stare at the trees all day, provided there were plenty of snacks within arms reach. There is quite a nip in the air (a bit odd for this time of year in the South), but this Minnesota gal is thrilled. My friends, it actually feels like fall here right now and I am positively giddy.
While some people crave cozy casseroles, hearty soups, and pumpkin spice lattes at this time of year, I have been craving granola.
Is that weird?
I’m not sure why, but every time I have seen it in the store, I commence to drooling. Its embarrassing really. I see those toasted oats and nuts studded with colorful dried fruits and it sets my stomach to growling. I refuse to buy it because I can make it so easily, but I haven’t had time. This past weekend I was sure to MAKE time, and after a lot of experimentation, I made exactly the kind of granola I have been yearning for.This version is crispy, but not so crunchy that it will shake loose a filling. Its spiced, but just enough to add a fantastic warmth to the food, not enough to overwhelm. And the maple? Gaaaah. Its lovely. When you bake this it will smell like your house has been invaded by a stack of syrup drowned pancakes, but the end result is much more subtle.
If you have never made granola at home before, I highly recommend giving it a try. It is ridiculously easy and you can customize it to your own tastes. In addition, it is just fun to share with people. Throw it in a jar with a ribbon around the top and VOILA! Instant gift. It would be a fantastic thing to bring to the host or hostess of a party this holiday season instead of the usual bottle of wine. Personally, I would rather have granola under the tree than a reindeer sweater so consider sending some to long lost relatives. It travels well and smells so good, it will make the security dogs at the post office go berserk! 🙂 Because nothing says ‘I love you’ like crunchy, nutty, cinnamon-y food. Right? I thought so.
Several weeks ago we made homemade almond milk here at our house. We had quite a bit of ground almonds leftover after draining off the ‘milk’ so we dried them out in the oven and stored them in the freezer until we could decided what to do with them. They were PERFECT in this granola, so keep that in mind if you make your own almond milk!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
In a large bowl, add:
2 c rolled oats
1 c ground almonds or almond flour
1 c sliced almonds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 c brown sugar
Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly blended.
In a glass measuring cup, combine:
1/4 c coconut, canola, or grapeseed oil
1/3 c pure (real) maple syrup
1/2 tsp maple extract
Mix and pour over oat mixture. Combine well, making sure the moisture is evenly distributed. This will take a bit. Dump onto a dry, unlined sheet pan and spread out into an even layer. Toast in the oven for 15 minutes, stir well, toast for another 15 minutes, stir, and toast final 15 minutes. The granola should be dry and crunchy and slightly browned. Remove and let it cool on the pan. It will continue to crisp a bit as it cools. Once cool, feel free to add the dried fruits of your choice. Cranberries are especially fantastic with this. Store in an airtight container.