Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fatty Friday: Flour Sticky Sticky Buns

All these Healthy Snack Wednesday posts have got me craving a little sugar! Enjoy this Fatty Friday post as a little treat! 

On a trip to the bookstore last week, I noticed a delicious looking book on the corner of a table by the register. I didn’t expect to see it there, but as soon as I saw it I knew I had to bring it home. The book? Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and CafĂ©. Since the book came out, I’ve been seeing pictures of all the beautiful creations being made in kitchens across the internet.

I brought the book home and couldn’t decide where to start. I narrowed it down to breakfast treats and asked the hubby to pick a page number between 40 and 102. After the first pick that landed on a story page, the second pick was a definite winner. Page 85 is full-page color spread of the world famous, Throwdown winning sticky sticky bun.

I studied the recipe, and the required basic brioche recipe, and planned my baking schedule. When you add in the brioche making, proofing, rolling, rising, and baking this is quite a time commitment. I broke up the recipe into a few different steps. First, making the goo (unbelievably delicious caramel sauce). Second, making the dough and letting it proof overnight. Third, making half into a brioche loaf and setting it aside to rise. Fourth, rolling and assembling the sticky sticky buns and letting them rise before baking. Finally, baking the sticky buns and then the brioche loaf a few hours later. Rather than repost the recipe, you can find it over on the Food Network. Instead, I’ll show you how much fun I had tackling this baking challenge!

For daily cooking I usually add a dash of this and a splash of that. But for a recipe like this I wanted to be as precise as possible. My new digital scale came in handy for measuring all of the dry ingredients for the dough. I did my best to follow the well-written instructions and the results were fantastic.

Not too much to report on the aptly named goo. A few sticks of butter along with brown sugar, honey, heavy cream, and a few other ingredients makes for a dangerously addictive substance. The goo is sweet, salty, rich, and just plain delicious.

I measured out all my ingredients for the brioche dough and fired up the KitchenAid Mixer. What the book fails to mention is that your mixer might seem like it’s going to catch on fire as you work the dough. The sturdy dough gave my trusty red KitchenAid quite a workout and I stood and watched it to make sure it didn’t burst into flames! I set the dough aside to proof overnight in the refrigerator and got some rest before the big baking day.

The next morning I took out the dough and split it for the recipes. Using a rolling pin and all my upper body strength, I rolled out the sticky sticky bun dough into the appropriate size and thickness. Then, I coated the dough with a mix of sugar, brown sugar, and toasted pecans.

I surprised myself by how well I was able to roll the dough into a tight log. A few quick slices with a sharp knife and the rolls were ready for another rise.

While the rolls puffed up in the dish, I got in a pre-sticky sticky bun workout. I followed the baking and cooling instructions and patiently waited for the buzzer indicating it was time to eat. I think I actually drooled over the sticky sticky buns as I put them on a serving platter for photos.

This was the most incredible sticky sticky bun that I have ever eaten. So incredible that I saved one to take to work and packed the rest for the hubby to take to work. These could easily wipe out the results from Healthy Snack Wednesdays.


Whenever I bake, I always pack up a piece or two for our letter carrier, Dennis. We still get our mail delivered to a box right next to the front door. When we first moved in four years ago, Dennis introduced himself and told us that he had been on the route for over 20 years. He knows the ins and outs of the neighborhood and is around when we're at work. When you've got someone like that, you want to treat him right. I leave him Halloween candy, brownies, cookies, or whatever else I’m baking. He usually scribbles a thank you note on the back of a piece of junk mail, or says thanks when we see him on Saturdays. This week I left him a sticky sticky bun and a few napkins. Judging by the note I got in the box today, I think this baking project was a success!

Thanks to Joanne Chang for such a beautiful, well-written recipe (and book). I can’t wait to pick a random page and try out the next treat! Although I might skip straight to the cornmeal lime cookies I bought the last time I was in Flour 3.

P.S. The brioche came out fantastic too! I've been enjoying it for breakfast all week with a little goat cheese and a fried egg.

Feeling a little over-sugared after that post? Don't forget to enter the MultiGrain Cheerios giveaway! Winner announced next week on Healthy Snack Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Healthy Snack Wednesday: MultiGrain Cheerios and a Giveaway

We’re coming down to the wire for the office weight loss challenge! As I mentioned last week, I’m not going to take home the big prize, but I am happy with my progress. We haven’t had our official weigh-in this week, so I don’t have an update to report. But I’ve been working hard to add additional steps into my day and extra vegetables to my plate.

Trying to fit in all these changes could be overwhelming, but I try to keep my expectations in check. One of the challenges I’ve been working on is scheduling my meals throughout the day. Days are long and it’s no fun to be hungry and cranky. On a regular day, I leave the house at 7:30 a.m. and leave work at 5:10 p.m., getting home at 6:30 p.m. That means that it’s usually 7:30 p.m. by the time dinner gets on the table. On class nights, I have class from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. and get home around 10:00 p.m. On a regular night, that means that between lunch and dinner it could be 6 hours! That’s too long without a snack. On class nights, I eat a light dinner at 5 p.m. and even with a snack in class, I am pretty hungry by the time I get home.

One of the issues with planning a ‘late night’ snack is that it is so close to bedtime. I don’t want to eat anything too heavy and certainly don’t want to start cooking something at that time of night. For me, I’ve found that a good option is a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit. Growing up, whenever I couldn’t sleep or was just hungry for something after dinner, I often ate a bowl of Cheerios. For some reason it was comforting and I could always go back to sleep afterwards.

I recently received a box of MultiGrain Cheerios cereal, a gym bag, water bottle and cereal container from Cheerios (the product and information was provided through MyBlogSpark). In addition, the cereal box included and code to log on to the MultiGrain Cheerios & Biggest Loser website.

Being a traditional, and sometimes Honey Nut fan, I was interested to try this flavor. And since Biggest Loser seems to work for the contestants, it can’t hurt to check out their online tools. I’ve logged into the site a few times. The site offers recipes, suggested workouts, and a 7-day plan combining menus and workouts. If you have no idea where to get started, this would be a good resource.

I’ve also had a few bowls of MultiGrain Cheerios. I’ll be honest – my favorite is always going to be plain Cheerios. The MultiGrain cheerios are lightly sweetened (only 6 grams per serving) and have a good mix of whole grains to fill you up. I sliced up a banana and poured in low-fat milk to top it off. I found it a little too sweet for my taste. But if you love sugary cereals, this will definitely satisfy your craving. For me, I’ll make myself a custom cereal blend with MultiGrain and regular together (loved doing this as a kid!).

Cheerios offered to help one of my readers jump-start their Biggest Loser Challenge with a prize pack! The package includes a box of MultiGrain Cheerios with an online code, gym bag, water bottle, and cereal container. FYI - the bag, bottle, and cereal container are all purple (like the MultiGrain Cheerios box). The water bottle is huge - you'll never be dehydrated!


Enter through Tuesday, March 1 at 9:00 p.m. Winner will be announced next Wednesday.  Please leave a separate comment for each entry. You can enter up to three times.

Required entry: Comment on how you’ve incorporated healthy practices into your daily routine (or what you plan to try)

Bonus Entry 2: Follow @GoodCookDoris on Twitter or Like Good Cook Doris on Facebook

Bonus Entry 3: Blog or Tweet about this giveaway (be sure to include @GoodCookDoris in your tweet)

Disclosure: Cheerios provided the prize pack and information for giveaway via MyBlogSpark. All opinions belong to me. I received a prize pack, but did not receive any monetary compensation.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Beth From Denver: Vegetable Stock and Vegetable Chili

Enjoy this delicious guest post from my best friend, Beth! She lives in Denver and cooks up vegetarian meals for herself. Check out her previous posts here.  Enjoy this great winter warmer recipe!

On Mondays at work, we take turns bringing soup for lunch. After receiving "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman as a belated birthday gift, I was excited to really make soup from scratch for my turn this week. I started with making vegetable stock.

2 carrots, cut into chunks
1 onion, quartered
1 potato, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves
1 bunch parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

I was making soup for a large group of people, so I doubled the ingredients and combined them all with 12 cups of water in a pot. After bringing to a boil, I turned the heat down and let everything simmer for about 45 minutes. Then I strained the vegetables out (creativity necessary as I only have 1 pot that large) and put in a container to store in the refrigerator over night.

The next morning, I checked for all of my ingredients for the chili. Again, I doubled the recipe but since I only had large enough pots and pans for 1 batch at a time, I just repeated the steps. Here are the ingredients for a single batch.

1 zucchini, chopped
2 peppers, seeded and chopped (any color works, I used 1 red and 1 green)
2 portabella mushrooms, chopped
1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped as finely as possible
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped as finely as possible
2 cups black beans, cooked
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil

Modeled after Lara, I chopped all my vegetables and took out all my other ingredients and measuring tools before I started cooking anything. I sauteed the zucchini, peppers, mushrooms and onion using the olive oil.

In a different pot, I heated up a couple of splashes of olive oil and cooked the garlic and jalapeno for 3-4 minutes.

When the vegetables were sauteed, (I let them cook about 7 minutes until they were a bit soft), I added them to the pot with the garlic and jalapeno. Then I added the beans and let them heat up. Then I added the chili powder, paprika and a dash of salt and pepper. Next I stirred in the tomato paste and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Finally I added the vegetable stock and let the soup simmer. If this hadn't been for school, I would have added a cup of beer and reduced it for about a minute before adding the vegetable stock. Like I said before, I made 2 batches and combined them in my crock pot. It is a bit spicy, but nothing that a handful of shredded cheese won't balance out! I'm excited to share it with my co-workers!


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