Also known as cinnamon rolls to all you non Swedish speaking people. If I had been more on top of things I would have made these on Kanelbullar Dag (Cinnamon Roll Day) October, 4.  Oh well, January 30 will just have to do.

I got this recipe from a Swedish cookbook that my sister bought for me in Sweden a few summers ago.  Thank the Lord that they were selling it in both Swedish and English.  I do not read or speak much Swedish, so I would have been in a heap of trouble trying to bake in Swedish.

Despite the book being in English, I still managed to run into a little snag due to the cultural differences.  For example, many of the measurements are in grams.  No problem!  I will use my trusty food scale.  


Another snag.  Who uses deciliters?  The Swedes, that’s who!  So, I had to test my math skills (and use an online converter) to convert to cups then to grams.


The dough came together nicely, and smelled wonderful thanks to the cardamom.  

After flouring my counter I split the dough in half and rolled it out.  It rolled easily and didn’t give me much trouble as far as sticking goes.


The filling was pretty crumbly, so I will probably melt the butter, or at least soften it more next time.  That way it will make more of a paste and less of a crumb mixture.

When I ate these in Sweden they were so adorable.  Instead of the typical American cinnamon roll which is slathered in icing, these rolls are simply twisted and knotted, then sprinkled with sugar.  I had a little bit of trouble with the twisting and knotting method.  The filling kept falling out onto the counter, again, I think my filling should have been less crumbly.  So, my knotted rolls weren’t as cute or as neat as the Swedish rolls.  



I made half of the rolls using the twist and knot method.









 The other half of my dough was rolled out, spread with the remaining filling, then all rolled up…more like an American roll I guess.  cinn6Then I cut the log into 1 1/2 inch slices and placed them in an 8×8 inch greased pan.  I left a little room in between them so that they had room to spread and rise during baking.  I was able to fit 9 rolls in the 8×8, so I used the remaining dough to see how they fared in a muffin tin.  The baking time varied a bit in the 8×8…maybe 5 minutes longer or so, but the muffin tin took about the same as the twisted rolls.


The verdict.

If you would rather do without the supersweet icing, then these rolls are for you!  The focus is on the bread, which is soft on the inside with a nice crisp crust.  The filling is delicious and adds just the right amount of extra sweetness to the rolls.  The only complaint is that the filling that escaped made a rather sticky mess on the bottom of each roll.  This is not a problem for me since I like the flavor and crunch of caramelized sugar.  Be careful of the baking time, or this caramelized goodness will become burnt nastiness!  This mistake was made on just one batch of rolls, but the rest were great.  

Here is a great shot of one roll rising above the rest.  I will type up the recipe soon!


The Daring Bakers: Tuiles


This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Baking Soda and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf.
They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Last night I was perusing food blogs and came across a recipe from a past Daring Bakers challenge…Oh No!!  I forgot about the challenge!!  What’s a girl to do?  I can’t miss another challenge since I missed the Yule Log in December.  I checked the site and realized that I still had another 48 hours or so to post.  A sigh of relief.  Also, I had all the ingredients required.  So, this afternoon I began the challenge of the tuile.

The challenge required some type of tuile cookie paired with something light.  There were various batters recipes given, even a savory one!

I chose to make the plain tuile and piped some chocolate flavored batter onto a few of the cookies.  I didn’t make a stencil.  I just traced some circles onto the back of the parchment.  


I also free-handed a few hearts, stars and ovals.  I had some strawberries and bluberries on hand, so I made a quick salad with the fruit and some vanilla sugar.


tuile4The combination of the cookie and fruit was lovely.  A little whipped cream would have made it extra special…but would have defeated the purpose of a lighter and healthier dessert.

I like these sweet, crisp cookies as a garnish or a way to deliver another sweet treat.  I plan to make the savory ones next time.

Here is the recipe!

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

  • 65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
  • 60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
  • 2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
  • 65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.1/4 ounces sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
  • Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

Snow and Spinach Lasagna

We had snow in Amarillo!  The high yesterday was 21…today it’s going to be 50.  Gotta love 30 degree temperature swings!  I made a spinach lasagna for dinner.  Cold weather calls for warm, filling food.  The recipe is at the bottom of the post.

snow4  This is my “Oh my goodness!  It snowed!” face.







snow3The backyard.








Taken from the front porch.










Poor ice covered tree in the backyard.



















Spinach Lasagna

  • 1 pound lasagna noodles
  • extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 1/4 pound fresh spinach
  • 3 zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound low fat cottage cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 cups lshredded part skim mozzarella
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 large egg, beaten 
  • 4 cups tomato sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.Boil lasagna noodles 6-8 minutes. Drain.

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat until the garlic begins to brown. Add the spinach, season with salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted and cooked down.  Remove spinach to a plate to cool.

Add a teaspoon of oil to the same pan.  Add zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and saute until zucchini is soft, 5-8 minutes.

Mix the cottage cheese, cream cheese, parmesean, 2 cups of the mozzarella, egg, cayenne, and cooled spinach in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Cover the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch casserole with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Cover with 3 of the noodles, top with a 1/5 of the cheese mixture and about a half cup of tomato sauce.  Layer 1/4 of the zucchini over sauce.  Season lightly with salt and pepper. Repeat to make 3 more layers. Cover lasagna layers with remaining noodles, sprea remaining cheese mixture on top, top with remaining tomato sauce, sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake, uncovered, until the lasagna is hot and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let lasagna stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Basa with Tomato Caper Sauce

Ben and I ate this meal a few nights ago and we both agreed that it was tasty.  It’s fairly healthy, and I also found the recipe to be quick and easy.  A quicky, easy, healthy and tasty meal!  I served the fish with whole wheat cous cous, also quick, healthy and easy.  I’ve started cooking my rice and cous cous in low sodium, low fat chicken broth instead of water.  It makes for a richer flavored side dish without adding a lot of fat or calories.  

The orginal recipe called for halibut filets, but at $19.99 a pound I needed a replacement fish.  The nice guy at the fish counter suggested basa.  It is quite a bit thinner than a halibut filet, so I had to adjust the cooking time.  I only seared the fish for 2 minutes on the first side, then baked it for  about 5 minutes.  I got this recipe from Fine Cooking.  I highly reccomend this cooking magazine over Gourmet or Bon Appetit.  There aren’t nearly as many ads, so your time is much better spent.  I don’t think that there are quite as many recipes, but they usually give you a basic recipe and then give you tips on making variations on it.  So, really, there are an infinite number of recipes!!


Seared Roasted Halibut with Tomato Caper Sauce


1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 Tbs. capers, rinsed and chopped
1-1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
1-1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb. thick skinless halibut fillet (or other mild white fish, like cod), cut into 4 even pieces
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes, capers, oregano, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

Season the fish with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and dredge it in the flour, shaking off the excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch (preferably nonstick) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the fish, evenly spaced, and cook without touching until it browns and releases easily from the pan (check by gently lifting one of the corners), about 3 minutes. Flip the fish, sprinkle the garlic around it, and cook until the garlic just starts to brown on some edges, about 30 seconds. Pour the tomato mixture around the fish and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the fish is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 6 minutes.

Let the fish rest for a couple of minutes and then serve with the tomato mixture spooned over it.

Zen 721


After a successful work day, Ben and I decided to celebrate with a dinner out.  There aren’t many options for “fine dining” here in Amarillo, but we’ve  located a few of the better, locally owned restaurants.  I feel a bit guilty about already having dined at 2 of the nicer establishments.  Maybe we should have waited for an especially special occassion for a fancy dinner?   We should know where to take and where NOT to take guests.  Afterall, I have to get people to visit Amarillo a second time.  Second rate dinner doesn’t help to ensure second visits!  Therefore, I will make the excuse that I’m doing this for others, and a little bit for me.  Ok, so anyway…dinner.

Downtown Amarillo reminds me of downtown Waco.  It’s growing, and it has a lot of potential.  The older buildings are neat so I hope that more businesses decide to open there.  Zen 721 is downtown on “the strip” as one local put it.  It is an Asian inspired restaurant.  They serve sushi, but we didn’t try any tonight.  

We ordered the Rock Shrimp Tempura as an appetizer.  It was an impressive dish.  Not minimal in presentation.  I wish I’d taken a picture!  It looked like a fancy plate of chili cheese fries, but it tasted much better.  Tempura shrimp and green beans over a bed of spring mix drizzled with a spicy unidentifiable sauce, grated carrots garnished the top.  I first thought the carrots to be grated cheddar cheese, which made the cheese fry comparison even more convincing.  Thankfully, it was not cheese.  The tempura batter was crispy and the ratio of batter to shrimp and to green bean was nice.  Yummy and enough for 4…at least.

Ben ordered the pepper seared strip steak served with broccoli, sauteed mushrooms and scallions.  Served rare just like he’d asked, the steak was fanned beautifully on the plate and it was good.  The pepper was a strong and identifiable flavor, but not overpowering.  The vegetables were also nice, and didn’t seem to be drowned in butter, oil or sauce.  








I had the mahi mahi special; a seared mahi filet served a top mint Israeli cous cous and sauteed asparagus.  The menu claimed that this dish was drizzled with a coconut vanilla sauce, which intrigued me.  I could not taste either ingredient in the sauce, but the dish was delicious nonetheless.


The restuarant is long and narrow with tall ceilings.  There is a bar that seats maybe 15 people with a few tall tables near the front.  The dining area has roughly 10 tables, some seat 4 and others 2.  There is also a curtained off room near the back which is lounge-like containing a small red sofa and a round 8 top.  Nice for a private little evening with a group of friends.  The bar and dining area are separated by a tall screen wall making the dining room seem more intimate.  The decor and lighting is simple.  Nothing to distract from your meal or your company.  On a thursday night at 8 the place was almost full.  There was a table near us that was empty, but other than that it was well attended.  We did not have to wait for a table, so that was refreshing.

The CZ Rating is as follows, on a scale of 1-10-

Ambiance: 8

Food: 7

Service: 8

Baking in Amarillo: Cranberry Pecan Shortbread Cookies

We just moved to Amarillo!  This means a new town, new people, new house, new job, and most importantly…a new kitchen!  It took some time and some trial and error to get the kitchen organized.  I’m sure that you can identify with the importance of placement in a kitchen.  If your baking utensils, ingredients, pans, etc. are not in an easily accessible and logical place, then it makes for a very frustrating and unenjoyable time in the kitchen.  I finally got a chance to bake the other day.  Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we have a gas oven now.  It seems to bake more evenly than my electric oven.  So far I am liking the gas.

I wanted to bake something that really said “Amarillo”!  So, I googled “Amarillo cookies” and didn’t really end up with anything impressive or distinctly Amarillo.  Now that I’m writing this I’m thinking that Cowboy cookies would have been a good choice, or maybe something that resembles cow poo to pay tribute to the numerous stockyards in this area. 


I came across an article in the Amarillo Globe News from this past December.  In the 2008 Cookie Contest, the cookie I decided to make placed 1st!  The recipe for Cranberry Pistachio Cookies can be found here.  Here are the changes I made.

  1. I replaced the pistachios with an equal amount of chopped pecans.
  2.  I opted not to roll the dough into logs.  I just pressed all the dough into a greased 11×7 jelly roll pan.  I chilled it in the fridge for 2 hours, then cut the dough into 1 1/2 inch squares and baked them for the same amount of time.

I used almond bark to dip some of the cookies and drizzled the rest.  Next time I would drizzle all of them.  Dipping the cookies created a thick coating that distracted from the cookie flavor.  The cookie itself is not too sweet.  The texture is very similar to shortbread.  The tartness of the cranberry creates a nice flavor contrast.



Cranberry Pistachio Cookies

First Place Winner


3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dried cranberries (or any dried fruit)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pistachio nuts (or any nuts)

2-3 squares almond bark candy coating

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder and slat; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in fruit and nuts. Shape into 2″ logs; wrap in waxed paper then place in an air tight container. Chill for one hour or until firm.

Slice dough into 1/2″ cookies; place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake! Cool on wire racks. Melt candy coating in microwave proof cup; dip end of each cookie to evenly coat. Let harden on wire rack.