Thursday, April 30, 2015

I like big (cinnamon) buns and I cannot lie

Trust me.  You are going to like them too.  

Hope your week has been going well for you- we are finally in the home stretch of the reno.  We primed last night, and as I type, tiling has begun.  Hot dog!  I hope to do a bathroom post next week, I doubt it will be finished (cause that is just the way things go) but a progress post nonetheless.  I also went and grabbed my paint this morning- but I forgot to get ceiling and trim paints, so back to the store I go again.  Oh well, at least I'm getting the paint, not just trying to decide on it still!

Last time I blogged, I shared some birthday ideas with you as my kids' birthdays were coming up.  We had their family "party" last Sunday, and that spy/kittie party is this Saturday (I'll share that one soon, I know you're all just DYING to know about spy parties)

The last two years we have had the family over for breakfast for their birthdays.  We really like doing that- all of us are big breakfast lovers (and breakfast for dinner too!).  Eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, fruit and this year a big old cinnamon bun "cake".  It's not a cake, it's really a giant cinnamon bun.  We had 14 people eating, and 2 didn't get a piece.  (sad faces for my sister in law and my son, but we all know, if you snooze, you loose)  Needless to say, it went over really well.

I had come across this recipe before on Pinterest, from Sally's Baking Addiction.  Click here to go to her recipe- I did tweak it a bit for myself.  Her technique for the yeast never works for me- I always find I have to proof it.  And I added a tablespoon of flour to the cinnamon mixture- I know I read that in some kind of Cinnabon copycat recipe many moons ago.  It just changes it ever so slightly, but I like it.

I hope you enjoy it- I've made it twice in a week.  I need to stop, or I really am going to have big(ger) buns myself!

GIANT Cinnamon Bun

adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (I use Fleischman's)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk  (I used 1%, but it doesn't really matter)
3 Tablespoons butter
1 egg


3 Tablespoons softened butter
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour


1 cup icing sugar
1 Tablespoon milk or cream
1 Tablespoon maple syrup or 1 Teaspoon vanilla

In a measuring cup, heat the water, milk and butter till warm- not hot about 110 degrees F.  Add in 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the yeast.  Let it sit for about 15 minutes.  It will get all foamy.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, remaining sugar and salt.  Once it's combined, pour in the yeast/liquid mixture.  Mix it and once it's fairly well combined, add in the egg.

If you're using a mixer, let it go and mix and knead until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and it is nice and smooth.  If it's sticky- add a bit more flour.  The dough shouldn't be sticky, but it shouldn't be dry either.  You can do this by hand too- mix it up with a wooden spoon or stiff spatula, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it by hand, about 5 minutes or so until you feel the dough is in a nice firm, not too sticky ball.

Oil up your bowl (I just use vegetable oil) put your dough back in and cover the bowl with a tea towel.  Place it in a warm area and let it rise, at least 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

For the filling- mix all the ingredients together.  You want to incorporate as much of the sugar, cinnamon and flour into the butter as you can.  Make it into a paste, it will be easier to spread later.

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it out into a large rectangle.  (Or if you're like me, some sort of rectangular-ish shape)

Pour your filling onto the dough and spread it around with a butter knife.  Spread it as evenly as you can, getting close to all edges and corners.

Using a pizza cutter (or if you don't have one, you can use a knife) cut the dough into strips.  Make them about 2 inches wide if you can.

Butter a pie plate or a round cake pan.

Take a strip of dough, use one of the middle strips, and roll it into a spiral. 

Place it in the centre of your pan.

Take each strip and wrap it around the spiral, building the bun out as you go.  Use the middle ones first and the ones with less filling as you get to the end.

Any filling that has fallen out, sprinkle on the top of your bun.

**At this stage you can wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight.  You will need to take it out and let it rise for at least an hour the next day before baking.

Cover the bun with a tea towel again, and let it rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.  Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how warm your house is.  

(I like to rise mine in the oven, I preheat it to 200, then shut it off and pop it in- I have a cold, cold house)

Preheat your oven to 350.  Place the pan in the middle to upper half of your oven.  Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Check it at 20 minutes and if the top is getting too brown, cover it with foil for the remaining time.

To make the glaze, mix your icing sugar with the milk or cream and flavouring.  If it's too runny, add more sugar, too stiff, add more cream- but just a little.

Once you take the bun out, let it cool for 5 minutes before you put the glaze on.  Drizzle it all over the bun- make sure you get it even or you'll hear complaints (I did!)

Cut it into slices and serve.

 Or put candles in it and blow them out first!

Please let me know if you try it.  My entire family loved it.  My friend Leslie would have loved it too, had I brought her a piece in to work.  I'm terrible I know, but I can live with it.

Have a fantastic day!

If you're on Insta, check out my reno updates or take a peek into my ideas on Pinterest the boards master and bath will give you an idea of where I'm trying to go.

Monday, April 20, 2015

birthday ideas for kids

Hi everyone- well past the middle of April, and I honestly don't know how that happened!  I sure wish winter went flying by as quickly, but alas, it doesn't.  Neither do renos.... just sayin'.

April is birthday month at our house.  Both kids are April babies- 2 years and 2 days apart.  We couldn't have planned that worse better.  Actually right now, it's not a bad thing.  No one gets too bent out of shape over gifts, cause they're getting them at pretty much the same time.  What's not so awesome is a week of birthdays- treats, cakes, parties.... I get a little burnt out by the end of it.  I go all in, but by Elise's birthday, I'm so over it.  Poor girl.

This year, she's turning 5 (SHE'S TURNING 5!!!) and she gets the friend party.  I am not one to throw a friend party every year- Max had one at age 5, so that's what she gets too.  I haven't decided when the next milestone age is, that along with when you can get video games- I keep sliding the age further and further up the ruler when they ask.  I've heard it said that I'm a mean mom, surprisingly though, not by my kids.  I can deal.

Now that I'm blogging, I'm taking pics as I go, getting ready for her Spy Party.  What's a spy party?  I know, that's what I asked her when she said that was what she wanted.  It's spying mom, we're spies having a party.  So there you go.  It is also a spy party with kitty invitations- oh yes.  If you want a sneak peek at those little gems, hop on over to Instagram- they're pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

But today, I'm going back into the Laura files and sharing with you some of our past birthday ideas.  Sorry for the poor photos, these were all pre-blog days.  Hope you enjoy- I got a little teary going through these, my babies have grown up so quickly, it's not even fair!

Mickey Mouse cupcakes
These are so easy.  I baked some cupcakes and iced them and sprinkled Oreo crumbs on top.  For the ears, I inserted toothpicks into the creamy filling ;) and spiked them onto the cupcakes.  Oh and red cupcake liners are a must - Mickey's got to have his pants.

Princess Cake
Another easy one.  Seriously, sprinkles and a tiara.  Anyone can do it, and it looks like a million bucks.

Birthday breakfast
This is the only picture I have of a birthday breakfast.  I usually try to do something special for them.  I figure start celebrating right when you get up.  That's what my parents always did for us, and I loved it so that's what I'm doing for my kids.  Here I made them birthday donuts, just a muffin recipe baked in my donut pan.  Easy peasy.  I've also done sprinkle pancakes and sprinkle waffles.  Sprinkles are fun. That is all.

Dirt and worms
For this one, we were already sick of cake, so it's a pan of brownies iced and sprinkled with cookie crumbs.  I think they were Oreos- we are big Oreo fans over here.  Elise especially.   I then added the gummy worms and the little cupcake topper, which you'll see in the next photo.

Superhero Cupcakes
Nothing special about the cupcakes- but I did print out superhero logos and mounted them on craft foam and toothpicks.  (April birthdays work well in the barn- the ladders are such a nice piece of decor)

Avengers Cookies!
I don't know who was more geeked out over these cookies, Max or me.  I think I was squealing when I was making them. The cutters were from Williams Sonoma, my awesome parents picked them up for us in Florida that winter.  I'm not great with icing, so I coloured my dough instead.  Less mess and just as cool.

Hello Kitty pops
Elise has had these for the past two years for her daycare birthday treats.  Oreos (see what I mean) dipped into pink candy melts with a Hello Kitty icing dec on the top.  I used to have to truck up to Michael's to get the decs, but our Bulk Barn has them now so it's not such a pain.  They are pretty cute though.

Minifigure Heads
These were Max's treats last year, and again, I got super geeked. I was so happy with how they turned out.  I jumbo marshmellow- dot some melted chocolate on top and attach a Smartie or M&M.  Dip it into yellow candy melts.  The faces I did with just a tube of black icing gel.

Candy Cake/Fruit Cake
These were our cakes from last year.  Easter was pretty late last year, so we had a ton of candy left over.  I had seen the cake on Pinterest many times, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.
It wasn't too difficult, but I did need that ribbon to hold all of those Kit Kats on there.  And when you cut it, you get the candy avalanche to top all candy avalanches.

The fruit cake was a labour of love.  I so wanted to try it.  I love how it turned out- and of course it was really yummy. But- it's TIME CONSUMING.  Now I was also making this while Max and his buddy were at the house bickering like the Odd Couple and I thought I was going to loose my mind.  So that may have influenced my memories of making this.

Happy kids
To me that's my birthday success.  If my kids are smiling and having a great day, I'm winning.  It's shocking to me how quickly they've grown.  I know I'm going to blink and they're going to be teenagers but I want to make sure we celebrate every step on the way there.  Their birthdays are a gift to me too- one I would never return for all the stars in the sky.

Hope you've got some ideas and inspiration from our past birthday bonanzas.  If you have any questions or comments, let me know, I'd love to hear from you.  I'll be back with some reno updates next week and a recap of the kitty/spy party- whatever that turns out to be!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Green-a Colada Smoothie

Hi everyone.  Hope that you are all enjoying your weekend.  It's sunny and bright here, a little chilly, but I'll take it. 

With Easter, the kids and I have an extra-long weekend (Friday - Monday, woo hoo!) I should probably be using that time to do chores around the house and get piles and piles of work done.  I hope you really clued in on the SHOULD in that sentence.  I've done a few things, but I am really just enjoying a super slow pace with the fam.  I did put a Pokemon ban on for the rest of the weekend, I just can't take that show- it's the school child's Caillou- and you DO NOT want me to get started on Caillou. 


Also with Easter comes the food, my friends.  Chocolate, candy, hot cross buns- all kinds of carbs that call out to me and then take up residence in my tush.  To try and inject a little healthy eating into this weekend, I thought I'd share one of my new favourite smoothies.

I am not a huge smoothie fan.  I have a problem with the texture, much like pudding. Blech.  But this one, with the addition of some yummy coconut, is good.  

For your smoothie, your going to need:

1/2 banana
1 cup mixed frozen mango and pineapple
1 cup fresh washed spinach 
1 cup coconut milk (or milk of your choice)
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
splash coconut extract
sprinkle of shredded unsweetened coconut

Pour your fruit into your blender (I have a little single serve smoothie blender from Superstore, after I burnt out the motor on my third blender, grrr)

Toss in your handful of spinach.  (I usually use PC Organics, but my store was all sold out.  Boo.)

Pour in your milk.  (Sweet action shot- plus garbage can photo bomb.)

Spin-a-rama time!

Now for this one, I added a few ice cubes for temperature and texture.  If your banana is frozen, you don't have to do that.

I'm not a huge protein powder fan- but I had just come in from a run and I'm not a huge protein eater, so I thought I'd throw in 1/2 a scoop.  I like this brand- it's not too bad.  Still fake vanilla-y taste, but the next step hides that.

Yup, some (Imitation) coconut extract.  I'm not a huge one for imitation extracts (pure vanilla, people. please!) but I like the taste of coconut, and for a Pina colada, you need it.  And I'm not putting coconut rum in my morning smoothie.   So put in a nice big splash. You're getting that coconut-y flavour and hiding that protein powder taste with this, so make it a good one.

Blend it up again- make sure you shake the blender around a bit too.  I can't stand lumps of powder in my drink.  Then I'm done.  No more smoothie.  I may be a little fussy in this respect.

Sprinkle in a little coconut and whiz it quick one more time. 

Pour your green-y goodness into a glass, or a mason jar (that is KILLING my mom right there) and top it with a little more coconut.

It's really good and it's healthy too.  It's no mini egg, but it's yummy too.  It gets her seal of approval.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend friends.  We will be looking for eggs, heading to church to celebrate and then heading to my parents to enjoy the wonderful family we've been blessed with.  I hope you get to do the same.