Monday, December 31, 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Bread


It rose slightly. :o\ 

 In lieu of melted better, I was starting to spread "sunbutter" on top of the loaf. (See below for "sunbutter.")

 Side loaf view

 It looks pretty gross with the sunbutter, huh? Next time, I'll just leave the top alone!

 What it looks like towards the middle of the loaf.

Tastes great with apple butter!

I got this recipe from a friend of mine who's trying his hand at baking. Another selling point is that my dad really likes cinnamon raisin bread. A third selling point? This type of bread goes great with apple butter. :o)

To make one loaf.

1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup warm water (between 110-115 degrees) - I added 1/4 cup more warm water.
2 (1/8 ounce) packages active dry yeast (aka 3 tsp)
1 egg
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1.3 cup raisins
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour - To compensate for the additional water, I added one more cup of flour.
2/3 Tblspn milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1 Tblspn ground cinnamon
2/3 Tblspn butter, melted


1. Warm 1/2 cup milk in a small saucepan on the stove until it just starts to bubble, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm, about 120-125 degrees.

2. Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside until yeast is frothy, about 10 minutes or so (make sure your water is at the correct temperature or the yeast won't activate). Then, mix in the egg, sugar, butter, salt, and raisins. Stir in the cooled milk slowly so you don't cook the egg. Add the flour gradually to make a stiff dough.

3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes until smooth. Place in a large, buttered mixing bowl and turn to grease the surface of the dough. Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rise until doubled, usually about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle 1/2 inch thick. Moisten dough with milk and rub all over dough with hands. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle mixture evenly on top of the moistened dough. Roll up tightly the long way.

5. Place loaf into well-greased 9x5 inch pan and lightly grease top of loaf. Let rise in warm place, uncovered, for about an hour.

6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and let cool on rack. Take melted butter and spread over top of loaf.

[I didn't really understand why melted butter had to be drizzled on top of the loaf. This ended up being messy for me because I stored the loaf in a gallon-size Ziplock bag. However, if you're going to store it another way that doesn't hinder the top of the loaf, by all means, keep the melted butter. Whenever I make this again, I'm going to skip this step.]

7. After 20 minutes, lay loaf on its side and remove from pan. Allow to cool before slicing.


Canton Cooks

Seafood noodle (big bowl); I'm guessing the small bowl doesn't come out soupy like the big bowl does. We should have ordered the small bowl. O_o



I remember going to Canton Cooks when I was much younger. They always have good food and they're open late! I met up with some of my younger siblings to have a "sibling" date if you will. We had dinner (the pork dish was off-menu), then we stopped by Perimeter Mall to peruse a few stores. We ended up at Brunswick Zone in Norcross for unlimited bowling for $5 per person plus $1 per person for shoes. It was a pretty fun night overall. :o) I love sibling time!

Oak Street Cafe

The Bragg - Smoked salmon, scrambled egg and cream cheese on toast with fresh fruit as side 

I met up with an old friend at Oak Street Cafe in Roswell. I had never been there before, and it was equidistant to us (hopefully). I was fortunate to meet his girlfriend, whom he had spoken highly of for a while now. :o) So happy to meet her! We waited for a table but that was all right because we had some catching up to do. The coffee was really good - I was surprised! The food and service were equally excellent, so I'd definitely go back for more. I felt like I was eating so healthy that day, haha.

The Bakery at Cakes & Ale

Sadly, I did not take any pictures of the macaroons from the Bakery at Cakes & Ale. :o( But I can assure you they were delicious! GO GET SOME! And enjoy the wi-fi while you're there. ;oP

Brick Store Pub

Sweet potato curr"ey" - Sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, cilantro, traditional Indian spices, basmati rice, pita 

I haven't been to Brick Store Pub in a few years! And even then, I was there for a MeetUp of some kind. I don't even remember the details now. Anyway, I came here with a couple of friends for a late dinner. Since it's cold outside, I opted for something "soupy" or as soupy as you can get at Brick Store. My friend recommended the Sweet Potato Currey, and it was a great choice. :o)

The soup was quite chunky (how I prefer it!) and the spices were so flavorful. It was a nice change of pace from the fare I had been consuming lately. It also reminded me that I have been sorely missing Indian food from my diet. :o( Hopefully, I will correct that soon! I definitely recommend this dish. I couldn't even finish it because it was so filling. Hmm... maybe I can make my own version... ;o)

Crawfish Shack Seafood

Meal #2 - 10 large shrimps, 2 hush puppies, cajun corn on the cob, and cajun red potatoes

Hopefully you know by now that a friend of mine owns Crawfish Shack Seafood off of Buford Highway. Hopefully you also know that there will be a wait whenever you go (both to take your order and to deliver your food), so you should try to make it during off-peak times. I ordered the ten shrimp meal and it took a while to get it. The employees share the blame with the small kitchen, which is ill-equipped to keep up with such high demand. Unfortunately, at this time there are no plans to expand the kitchen. There are, however, rumors that the owner is scouting a second location. Crawfish Shack has a fairly active Facebook page - check it out here. Food's still great - I still like eating here. You just need to budget time for the meal.

Kozmo Gastro Pub

Parmesan Truffled Tempura Mushrooms with lemon aioli

Shrimp Tempura Fish and Grits with Andouille sausage, Gouda grits, and tomato fume

Vanilla Lava Puffs with caramel and chocolate sauce

 Creme brulee

One day while making lunch plans with a friend, I stumbled upon Kozmo Gastro Pub using Google. We decided to go elsewhere for lunch, but I remembered the name when a HalfOffDepot deal came up for it. [Use discount code: 75off for an additional 75% off the purchase price!] The fine print says the voucher covers two entrees and one appetizer.

My friend and I opted for the parmesan truffled tempura mushrooms which were delicious! Oh my goodness... very light and full of flavor. I wish I could say the same about the shrimp tempura fish and grit. O_o I think the fried fish sticks were overkill. The dish would've been fine with just the shrimp, sausage, and grits. At any rate, I had to save room for dessert. I thought the voucher would cover the dollar amount and not just the two entrees and one appetizer, so we ended up paying out of pocket for the two desserts. You've been warned!

The vanilla lava puffs were basically a fancy name for fried cream puffs, haha. But they were SOOO good! I liked that the caramel and chocolate dipping sauces weren't drizzled on top. They almost look like doughnut holes when you get them. ^_^ The creme brulee was, well, creme brulee. This is one of those desserts that you just can't mess up, really.

Two cons about the restaurant: (a) it's hard to find! It's in the same shopping plaza as Yogurtini, which is more visible from the street; (b) the restaurant has valet parking! What the?! Really? Valet parking in the suburbs? Ridiculous.... I got lucky and arrived when there was a free spot available. Some parking spots are for Yogurtini customers only. What an absurd idea... Overall, I really enjoyed eating at Kozmo. The service was excellent and the bartender was cute. ;o) I'd go back with a voucher.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pumpkin Gingersnap Cookies

The mixture sat in the fridge for about two days.

I had some leftover pumpkin puree from the pumpkin cheesecake brownies I had made over Thanksgiving, so I found a recipe that would use the rest. :o)


1/2 cup of butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling the cookies
1/2 cup of pure pumpkin (I used 1 cup of pumpkin puree to finish the can.)
1/4 cup of molasses (I substituted honey.)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger (I substituted allspice.)
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy and smooth. Add the pumpkin, molasses (honey), egg, and vanilla extract, mix until well combined.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least 1 hour. The dough can be chilled for 2-3 days.

[I simply combined all wet ingredients together, then added the dry ingredients in a little at a time, stirring to ensure that everything combined smoothly. Looking back, I should have added more flour to compensate for the extra 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree.]

3. When are you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place sugar in a small bowl. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of dough in sugar until well-coated and place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies look cracked and set at the edges. The cookies will still be soft. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes after removing them from the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

[I was too lazy to do tablespoon-sized balls of dough, which is why the cookies look ginormous and disfigured. ;oP I used wax paper but did not coat it with cooking spray, so unfortunately the cookies stuck to the wax paper. I always seem to forget that aspect of wax paper. Anyway, I went through a lot of trouble removing the cookies, so they better get eaten!

Due to the extra pumpkin puree, the cookies came out more cake-like in texture than cookie-like but they still tasted great. I would recommend crumbling them in vanilla yogurt or ice cream. ^_^]


Mercier Orchard

I needed to get away from Atlanta for a bit, so I ventured into north Georgia to visit a different orchard. I had gone to BJ Reece some months ago and had heard afterwards about the superiority of Mercier. I can safely say, YES, Mercier Orchards is much better! We didn't go apple-picking, we just wanted to buy apples and have a look around the store. I ended up getting three pecks of golden delicious apples for my stepmom and her co-workers, a half-peck of pink lady apples for myself, and apple butter and blueberry pie ($10) for my dad. Even though we drove up in the middle of December, there were plenty of apples available for sale. Awesome! I really enjoyed perusing the store and having lunch in the cafe. On our way back to the city, we stopped by the North Georgia Premium Outlets. Not sure if it was that busy due to Christmas coming up, but there were several people there shopping in horrendously tacky Christmas-colored outfits. O_O No pictures of the Outlet experience... thank goodness.

My favorite variety! I discovered this variety when I visited a friend in Baltimore some years ago. She had taken me to a nearby farmer's market where there were several apple varieties to choose from.

There's a tasting station in the back of the market. Smart - you're making people walk through all these aisles of products just to get to ya. ;o) Likewise, people have to walk through the same aisles to get to the registers near the front door.

Inside the doors and to the right, there is a small cafe. My friends and I had lunch there. Everything was pretty reasonable in terms of price and quite tasty. Three of us ordered soup and sandwiches and one of us got chili and a sandwich. I ordered the chicken salad sandwich croissant with ... uuhh... I want to say it was a spring asparagus soup. ^_^" I thought the cafe menu would be online... but it's not. The only complaint I have about the sandwich was that it was too small. :oP

One of two hard cider options - Not as sweet as we were expecting...

The second hard cider option - Sweeter than the first... but not that sweet.