Cinnamon Cafe Au Lait with Spiced Whipped Cream

This September a major hurdle has come in my life – both of my boys are in school full time. Like most moms I have had days when this day couldn’t come soon enough and I have also dreaded this day like you can’t imagine. Someone once told me, “the days go by slow, but the years go by fast” and boy is that true. I remember tripping over countless squeaky toys while stressing out about whether or not my newborn infant was getting enough tummy time to have a strong neck and how will I ever get them to sleep through the night. Now, it is so much different. Will they be OK at recess? Will they have someone to play with? If they fall, who will kiss their scrape and hold them?

My babies are growing up and I have some sad days. Today was one of them, so I decided to make myself a special treat to warm my insides up. It is a Cinnamon Café au Lait with Spiced Whipped Cream. It was nothing close to having the arms of one of my boys wrapped around me, but for now, this will have to do – and it is pretty, darn good.

Cinnamon Café Au Lait with Spiced Whipped Cream

1 ½ cups low-fat milk
3 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
4 cups strong coffee
2 T sugar + ½ T. Sugar
1 ½ t. pure vanilla extract + 1 t. pure vanilla extract
1/3 c. very cold heavy whipping cream
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg

Bring the milk, cinnamon sticks, and cloves to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the milk mixture to steep for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture, discarding the spices and bring it back to a simmer. Add the brewed coffee, 2 T. of the sugar and 1 ½ t. of the vanilla, and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar melts and the flavors are blended, about 5 minutes. It will look like this:

Meanwhile, beat the cream, nutmeg and remaining sugar and the remaining vanilla in a bowl, just until soft peaks form.

Pour the hot coffee into the heated mugs and add a dollop of the spiced whipped cream. Garnish with more nutmeg or cinnamon if desired.

Also, I had to add a picture of the angels I miss so much. They are the best…

Easiest Bread Ever…

I LOVE bread. Never once did I think I cold ever do one of those low-carb diets. It simply is not in my DNA. I NEED unrefined, processed, bleached flour. Preferably with butter. Unfortunately my efforts to make bread haven’t been very successful. It is not from a lack of trying, but if I do end up with a worthwhile product, often times I can’t honestly say it was worth the effort. I mean really – you can pick up a good loaf of bread at most grocery stores now days with zero effort. All this has changed now with this recipe…

Seriously, it takes TIME (you know the dough rising and all that), but in terms of actual hands on time, it is maybe ten minutes for the whole recipe. You dump everything in your mixer, let it mix for a few minutes, then let it rise, covered with a cloth overnight (in the same bowl – no transferring the dough to an oiled bowl or anything). The next morning shape it into a loaf, let it rise for one hour and then pop it in the oven for thirty minutes. Voila! Crusty, warm, homemade bread. Delicious!

Country Bread
Adapted from King Arthur’s Flour

1 1/2 cups water (temperature doesn’t matter, you don’t need to proof the yeast – LOVE THIS!)
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax (if you don’t have this, just up the whole wheat flour up by another 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. active dry yeast


Stir together all of the ingredients in a stand mixer with the dough hook. The dough will come away from the sides of the bowl and look like this:

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a cloth and let it rest overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into the loaf shape of your choosing on lightly greased sheet pan. Let the dough rise for 1 hour. It will look like this:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for about 25-30 minutes until the bread is golden brown. That’s it – how easy was that?!

Saturday Morning “Donuts”

I woke up on Saturday morning with this ridiculous urge for donuts – homemade donuts. Fresh, hot and right out of the oil. I couldn’t resist the urge and dug up an old recipe for some Zeppole, that are known as italian donuts.

I love this recipe because there is no rolling and they go straight from your saucepan to the hot oil without the mess of a rolling pin or a floured board. The result is a light, airy donut, zeppole, whatever you want to call it. To me and my family they are just fabulous. Unfortunately for my husband, he was golfing Saturday morning and there was only one left when he got home. Maybe next Saturday he will be around to enjoy some straight out of the oil…

Saturday Morning Donuts

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cottonseed or vegetable oil for frying*
Cinnamon Sugar (1/4 cup sugar plus 1 T cinnamon) or Powdered sugar for Dusting

In a heavy 2-quart saucepan (non-stick), combine sugar, salt, butter, and 1 cup water. Bring to boiling: butter will melt. Quickly add flour all at once; beat with wooden spoon until flour is moistened. Cook over medium heat, beating vigorously until dough forms a ball and leaves side of pan. Remove from heat.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating with electric mixer at medium speed after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth, shiny and satiny and forms strands that break apart. It should hold its shape when beater is slowly raised. Beat in vanilla. Dough should be fairly stiff, but sticky.

In electric skillet or large, heavy skillet, heat 1 to 2-inches of oil to 375°F (185°C) on deep frying thermometer. Using a small ice-cream scooper or 2 small spoons, carefully drop about a tablespoon of the dough into the hot oil, frying in batches. Turn the donuts once or twice, cooking until golden and puffed up, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Toss with cinnamon-sugar or powdered sugar. Arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

Chocolate Rosemary Shortbread

I love a delicious cookie that I can whip up in a snap. Even more important with recipes like this is knowing that I will always have the ingredients on hand. Such is the case with my favorite shortbread recipe. Not only is it easy, but the recipe is incredibly versatile. In this version I combined chocolate and rosemary, however you could also switch it up by omitting the rosemary all together or using white chocolate. Some orange zest would be amazing as well. Ooooh, I may try that one nex time.

Chocolate Rosemary Shortbread
adapted from Melissa D’Arrabian

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened to room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Cream the butter with sugar using a handheld mixer. Mix in the rosemary, salt, and flour, 1/4 cup at a time. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips, and stir by hand until well-distributed. Gather the dough into a ball. Cook’s Note: If the dough begins to soften or feel greasy, chill the dough for 15 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle of 1/2-inch thickness and cut into rectangles about 1/2-inch by 2-inch. Place the dough on a cold ungreased baking sheet. Prick the top with a fork. Bake the shortbread for 25 minutes, or until the dough starts to turn a golden color. Remove the shortbread from the baking sheet and let cool completely on a rack.

My Son’s Favorite Cookie

Growing up my mom stayed at home and I have many fond memories of walking into a house that smelled of fresh baked cookies. There was a sense of peace I got everytime I walked into the house after school that I will never forget.

Several decades later I like to do the same for my boys. My youngest sons favorite is the standard chocolate chip cookie with both chocolate chips and M&M’s. However, my oldest son enjoys the Almond Roca cookies that I am going to share with you. Not only are these delicious, but they are easy, quick and only have a handful of ingredients.

Almond Roca Cookies

1 sleeve of graham crackers (you may not use all of them)
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate, but use whatever variety you like
1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9″x9″ with non-stick cooking spray and line the pan with graham crackers. Set aside.

In a sauce pan melt the butter and brown sugar on medium heat and cook until the butter and brown sugar have melted together and the mixture is bubbly. This should take around 7 minutes. When mixture is bubbly pour over graham crackers and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes.

When you remove the cookies, the mixture you should be bubbly. As soon as you remove the cookies from the oven, sprinkle with chocolate chips. Wait a few minutes and spread the chocolate evenly over the butter/brown sugar mixture and sprinkle with almonds.