Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Sometimes we all need to eat something so decadent that you gain weight by just looking at it. Cinnamon rolls are my first choice of instantaneous weight gain food. There is something so comforting about those warm, fluffy rolls drenched in icing. You can clearly see that I do not delicately drizzle the icing.

After making this recipe, I'll never use another! There are so many cinnamon roll recipes out there with cream cheese icing but this recipe actually incorporates cream cheese into the dough. The tart cream cheese icing clearly comes out in this dough. Furthermore, this dough is brioche-like which means that it is fluffier and not so bready like so many cinnamon rolls.

This is not the easiest recipe, but every minute is worth it! One of the best things about this recipe is that it allows you to refrigerate the dough overnight and bake it in the morning.

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls
adapated from Saveur
I don't have a Kitchen Aid mixer, so I adapted this recipe to not use one. The original does however make life easier with the use of a Kitchen Aid mixer.
makes 8 rolls

1/4 cup of water
1 (1/4-oz.) package active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted, plus more for kneading
3/4 tsp. fine salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fine salt
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 tbsp. maple syrup
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 cups confectioners' sugar
¼ cup buttermilk

In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 tsp. of the sugar, and 1/4 cup water heated to 115°F. Stir to combine and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining sugar, milk, light brown sugar, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Whisk together until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt. Stir together until the dough just comes together. Knead dough with your hands for 5 minutes. Add the butter gradually and continue kneading until dough is smooth and no longer sticks to your hands, about 10 minutes. Don't worry, the dough does come back together with the kneading. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 ½–2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Combine the sugar, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cloves in a large bowl; stir to combine. Set filling aside.

Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently knead the dough until it's no longer sticky, adding more flour as necessary, about 1 minute. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10" x 10" square. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese with a rubber spatula until it's smooth and spreadable. Spread the cream cheese evenly over the dough square; then fold square into thirds as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope. Take the open ends of the resulting rectangle and fold into thirds again, to make a smaller dough square. Invert the dough so that the seam is face down and, using the rolling pin, gently roll into a 10" x 20" rectangle.

Turn the dough so that the short sides are parallel to you. Brush the top of the dough with the 2 tbsp. of melted butter. Then brush the maple syrup onto the dough. Sprinkle the reserved filling over the dough, leaving a 1" border at the edge farthest away from you. Using your hands, lift up the bottom edge of the dough and roll it forward into a tight cylinder. Place dough cylinder, seam side down, on a cutting board and, using a thin, sharp knife, trim off the ends; cut cylinder crosswise into 8 equal-size slices. Nestle the slices, cut sides up and evenly spaced from one another, into a buttered 9" x 13" light-colored metal baking pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 375°. Uncover the rolls and let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. The rolls will have not risen; they will rise in the oven. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the rolls comes out clean, about 30 minutes. 

Make the icing: While the rolls are baking, whisk together the sugar and buttermilk in a small bowl until smooth.

Transfer the pan of cinnamon rolls to a cooling rack; brush with 2 tbsp. of melted butter. Let cool for 5 minutes. Drizzle or drench the rolls in the icing. Enjoy!

Shared: here, herehere, here, and here. Thank you!
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Remember this? I have been wearing Kayla's necklace all the time! It has just never been photographed. I'm not sure why. This delicate necklace has tons of personality. 

As for this color, I think that I can learn to love orange. Most of my clothes are neutral. This was "out there" for me. Yes, I'm adventurous! Anyhow, the cardigan tones down the color quite a bit.

These loafers deserve love! I wear them almost everyday. They are comfortable and practical. It helps that they match nearly everything.

*Gasp* No cardigan! ;)

Shell: LOFT
Cardigan: Target
Jeans: Tommy Hilfiger
Shoes: Eastland

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lazy Days

This is my ideal lazy day outfit. I love how the pants are comfortably slouchy and loose. The top insures that the outfit is not too casual.

Shell: Banana Republic
Cardigan: Gap
Pants: Tommy Hilfiger
Shoes: Target

Shared: The Pleated Poppy
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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scarves Here, Scarves There, Scarves Everywhere!

Spring is coming! I love to wear scarves in the spring when I don't necessarily need them, but dislike them in the winter. Necessities are never as fun as frivolities. Still, spring scarves are not so bulky and chunky. They are usually more delicate. 

Anyhow, I've been seeing adorable scarves everywhere! I've gathered up some of my favorites. The first two even have versions that won't break the bank. Go ahead, thank me ;)

click on the number to reach the link
These scarves are lovely, but even lovelier is the fact that there are some versions of them that won't damage your wallet quite so much.

1. Is this one not self explanatory? I certainly can't resist polka dots. In fact, I'd go as far as claim you can never have too many polka dotted (a word?) items!


2. Target's version of the above scarf is just as adorable for a fraction of the price! The dots are a little bit larger, but both scarves are rectangular with gently fraying edges.


3. Maps are one of my obsessions! I love it on most everything from stationary to umbrellas. Actually, I already own a scarf printed with a map. This is unique in its square shape though.


4. Notice a pattern? Once again, Target has come to the rescue! Target's version is navy blue and white. The colors are still ones I love, but they do differ from Madewell's pale green and black.

click on the number to reach the link
These last scarves are just as lovely. I simply can't find a version of them that will offer a better value.

5. Kate Spade's rectangular scarf has an image of the roads of New York with some blocks colored. First of all, I love New York. Secondly, the muted colors are perfectly balanced with some bursts of pink/red.


6. This crossword puzzle scarf is perfect! I'm afraid of color; well, at least I have difficulty wearing it. This scarf makes it so easy to wear though! The pops of color are not too overwhelming. Plus, look at what phrases are found in the puzzle. He loves me. He loves me not. It's too cute!


7. Animals are another print that I would fall for in a heartbeat. Flamingos aren't something you see too often. This alone makes the scarf worth it!


8. Madewell's square scarf has a colorfully diagram of the different city blocks in New York. This is similar to number five, but suited for those who prefer color. This bold and vibrant scarf is sure to be noticed!

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Lilly in Watercolor

All around there are trees ready for their first green leaves to unfold. Flowers prepared to bloom. Grass all set to be rid of their brown and yellow blades.

I would readily agree to join those plants in their eagerness for spring. I'm more than happy to trade winter in for sunshine and warmth! Sadly, there's still two months left of bleakness. I needed a way to usher in spring early.

There's nothing that I associate with spring and summer more than Lilly Pulitzer. Her prints are vibrant and bold. I look forward to wearing her clothes as much as I look forward to the unfurling of those first leaves in their fresh young green.

Then, I spotted a great idea here. It was perfect; Carly used watercolors to paint some of her favorite Lilly prints. I tried my hand at watercolors with Lilly prints in mind also. The experience was more or less successful. It was lots of fun however.

I'm certainly no artist, but it was pretty fun to go out of my "boundaries". Do you ever try to do anything new and unexpected?

shared with 123, & 4. thanks!
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Tidbits

It is finally Friday! I've had a miserable long week. Let's just get to the catch.

1. I am obsessed with rain boots! We have just moved to Virginia at the start of this school year from Texas. Rain was not exactly a problem in Texas. It's a whole different story here. More recently, it has been raining often. Too often. I shudder to think of the spring. The rain might bring gray skies and dreariness, but I'm absolutely sure that it would all be tolerable with a pair of adorable rain boots! 

2. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely is my most current read. It provides insight on humans' tendency to behave irrationally though we consider ourselves rational creatures. There are certain things that just make us tick. As a result, humans' irrational behavior is predictable. Mr. Ariely's writing is not only illuminating, but humorous and enjoyable to read as well. I highly recommend this one!

3. A certain package made my week so much better! Thank you yet again. 

4. Valentine's day celebrates love. In all truthfulness though, it mostly ignites my love for chocolate! Ever since the swap, I was introduced to Riesen chocolates. A chewy carmel center is surrounded by rich dark chocolate. It's a better Rolo. At least for me, seeing as I prefer the dark chocolate and chewy carmel. Thanks Kayla! Now if I can only stop eating them.

5. Finally, I feel so blessed! This week I've been reminded of how wonderful my family and friends are. They listen to me even when I'm pretty sure I should have shut up already. They remind to keep perspective in mind. They even support my crazy ideas. Needless to say they are invaluable!

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Personalized Mug with Sharpies!

I have been seeing these adorable personalized mugs all over Pinterest. When I signed up for Caroline and Alissa's Valentine's Day swap that was mug themed, I knew that I had to try this!
First, the perfect mug had to be found. Thank you Target! This one was my favorite, because I adore the feminine details. The scalloped edge, rounded shape, and the handle are the things that make this mug special.

I chose to use colored sharpies instead of black ones. Also, a pencil was necessary to trace the outline of the design.
This would be the failed attempt to show the pencil. Instead, I painted it on in Photoshop so that you can get the basic premise of it.

I bake it for 30 minutes at 350F and that's it! 

I actually forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Thankfully, my swap partner, Kayla, posted some pictures of the finished product. Thank you!
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V-Day Mug Swap

I signed up for Caroline and Alissa's Valentine Swap that was mug themed. It was my first, and I'm so glad that I did. I was paired with the lovely Kayla from Love Sparkle Pretty! We contacted each other through e-mail; I enjoyed getting to know her. She is amazing, seriously. Check out her adorable shop here.

The box arrived!

She sent me an owl mug, a precious necklace from her shop, a card, and hot chocolate. It was perfect; Kayla was so generous. Thank you so much! Thank you Caroline and Alissa for hosting this swap!

See the theme? Blue, my favorite color.

Words cannot describe how much I adore that owl! Look at those eyes. I know, the lighting. Oh artificial light!

A detailed shot of the necklace.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

One Dress: Three Ways Valentines Edition

Do you have nothing to wear yet again? Or at least nothing you like? Try using different accessories and such. This will grant some of your old favorites new life!  A simple dress is best for this. I chose a blush pink dress with a sweetheart neckline and a flared skirt in honor of Valentines Day.
This look is the most simplistic. It incorporates a few basic accessories that can be changed up each time. Variation is still easy.
Dress: Express
Belt: Express
Bracelet: Necklace wrapped around many times
Flats: old

This particular rendition is a more casual and relaxed version. Dressing down a dress can easily be achieved be wearing a top over the dress. I tied it at the waist to define my waist. With some pumps and jewelry, the look is complete.
Dress: Express
Top: H&M
Bracelet: Necklace wrapped around many times
Pumps: Calvin Klein

This final interpretation has a more romantic, feminine feel. Get comfortable with a flowy cardigan. The ruffles are a perfect way to make it dressier.
Dress: Express
Cardigan: Macy's
Bracelet: Necklace wrapped around many times
Flats: old

Thank you Meredith for the awesome heart braid! Divide your hair into two parts. Start a french braid on each side. Then, stop the french braid and braid the rest of the hair straight. Tie the two ends of the braid together.  Now you have heart braids!
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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cream Puffs

If any food deserves the glamour shot, it is the cream puff. Each one is unique with its own "markings". I would have never stopped shooting more photos if they weren't calling me. There is not enough will power in a person to resist these delicate pastries.
You definitely won't regret taking the effort to make these gorgeous cream puffs! Each bite melts in your mouth, as you admire the puffs. Not too sweet, not too dense. Don't underestimate their power though. You'll  come back for another and find that they have disappeared all together!

Cream Puffs with Whipped Cream
makes about 24 large or 50 small puffs

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, at room temperature

Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp  confectioners' sugar

To Make Cream Puffs

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Bring the milk, water, butter and salt to the boil in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan.  When the mixture is boiling rapidly, add the flour all at once, reduce the heat to medium and, without a second's hesitation, start stirring the mixture like mad with a wooden spoon.  The dough will come together very quickly and a slight crust will form on the bottom of the pan, but you have to keep stirring - vigorously - another 2 to 3 minutes to dry the dough.  At the end of this time, the dough will be very smooth.

Turn the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or, if you've still got some elbow grease left, you can continue by hand.  One by one, add the eggs to the dough, beating until each egg is thoroughly incorporated.  Don't be discouraged - as soon as you add the first egg, your lovely dough will separate.  Keep working and by the time you add the third egg it will start coming together again.  When all the eggs are incorporated, the dough will be thick and shiny and, when you lift some of it up it will fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.  The dough will still be warm - it's supposed to be - and now is the time to use it. 

Using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each puff, drop the dough from the spoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each mound of dough. 

Slide the baking sheets into the oven, bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back.  Continue baking until the puffs are golden and firm, another 10 to 15 minutes.  Transfer the cream puffs to a cooling rack.

To Make Whipped Cream

Place a large metal bowl into the freezer for 15 minutes. In the ice cold bowl, whip the cream with vanilla extract and confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. The whipped cream should form a bent over peak when the whisk is removed. Be careful not to over whip the cream as this will result in a clumpy, butter-like mixture.

To Assemble
After the cream puffs have cooled, cut off with a sawing motion the top third of the cream puff. Pipe or spoon in the whipped cream. To finish, dust confectioners' sugar over the filled cream puffs. 

Shared: hereherehere, and here. Thank you!

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

All American

It's finally Wednesday! Let's just say I've had a long week. I am super excited to be participating in The Pleated Poppy's What I Wore Wednesday for the first time. Anyhow, my photographer (a.k.a my sister) was out of commission. That explains these photos. 
I have been looking forward to wearing this adorable button down embroidered with red dachshunds. During the winter, I normally wear button downs under sweaters, but how could you stand to hide these precious pups? It was finally warm enough today for a button down alone. No coat, no sweater! I am so thankful that it has been warmer this week; thank you Virginia! 

Unintentionally, the outfit is entirely red, white, and blue. It is paired with jeans, a red bow belt, and a braided rope bracelet.  In keeping simple, the dogs were the star of the show. 

Shirt: Tommy Hilfiger 
Jeans: Gap
Belt: Express
Bracelet: Kiel James Patrick

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Wonderland

The experience of watching snow fall is mesmerizing. Delicate flake after flake dances gracefully down. As everything becomes blanketed by the pure snow, you attempt to capture the mental image of an immaculate world. Snow crunches under your feet. A wisp of hair blows astray. Inhale the crisp air. If only for a moment, everything is unblemished. Take it all in. After all, the sun won't wait. 
This past week it has snowed a couple of times! We received quite a few inches in fact. For Virginia, this is not an every day occurrence. Needless to say, I had to take the opportunity to capture the gorgeous snow. I can't guarantee that my shoddy photography skills do the snow any justice though.
the first snow fall

greeted by the radiant morning
my facial expression is priceless!

How is the weather where you live? 
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Thomas Keller Oreos

In the month to diet, I choose to make oreos; not just any, but the incredibly rich, chocolatey TKOs. Rebel! C'mon now, no one is perfect. We all need a splurge sometimes. Why not on oreos? 

Thomas Keller's version from his bakery, Bouchon Bakery, features the rich chocolate flavor. Salty cookies are bound together by a delicious whipped ganache. It doesn't sound too appealing; however, the elements combine to create my dream oreo. The sweetness is toned down while the chocolate is intensified. Indeed, it is just a grown up version of the original treat. 

Homemade TKOs
adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

3/4 cup sugar
15 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt

White Chocolate Ganache Filling
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
8 oz. white chocolate, chopped

For the White Chocolate Ganache Filling
Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl with the butter. Bring the cream to a boil in a pot. Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Let it stand for a minute. Then, whisk the mixture until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature and thicken. It should take six hours. Refrigerate if you need to speed up the cooling process. Afterwards, whip the mixture until it is aerated and holds it shape. Refrigerate until needed.

For the Cookie
Preheat the oven to 350F. Using an electric mixer, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy with a paddle attachment. The rest of the dry ingredients need to be sifted together in another bowl to remove any clumps. Add this to the creamed butter and sugar. Divide the dough into two pieces. Wrap the dough up in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough to 1/8" inch thick between two large pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Cut the cookies and place them 1/2" inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes and allow to cool. 

To Assemble
Pipe the filling onto one cookie and top with another cookie. Otherwise, spread the filling onto one cookie with a knife and top with another cookie if you do not have a pastry bag. If the filling has become runny, refrigerate the finished cookies for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

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