Sticky buns are sooooo last week.

For this Saturday’s indulgent breakfast, I prepped a batch of cinnamon buns! The recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs, Sprinkle Bakes. The original recipe isn’t for overnight style buns, but I did a slow rise in the fridge overnight so I could bake them fresh this morning.

I prepped and shaped the dough following the recipe, then put them in the fridge overnight (where they could slowly rise), and then picked up the recipe where I left off the night before. If you want to do this, just take the buns out of the fridge while the oven is preheating, and they are good to go. Let’s be honest… No one has 2.5 hours in the morning to make the recipe from start to finish all at once. This ain’t no bakery where the baker wakes up at 3 am, yo.

Cinnamon Buns

The cinnamon buns turned out great! The bread was very light and fluffy and the middles of each roll were so gooey with cinnamon sugar. I was only planning on eating one, but the gorgeous slathering of frosting glaze lured me back in for seconds.

Find the recipe here.

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Southwestern Enchiladas at Chuy’s in South Park.

Chuy’s brings in some fun, festive TexMex color and flavor to South Park. The restaurant chain from Texas has hit the Queen City and it’s causing quite a commotion. From the vibrant colors and fake palm trees, to the “junk in the trunk” nacho bar, people are eating it up! A Wednesday dinner at 6:30 pm included a wait for a table. Had I arrived any later, I would have been facing a long night of hanging out with a crowd of fellow hungry people clutching blue buzzers. It looks like this joint has the luck of its neighbor Cowfish – always bustling and hopping with diners (which include couples [who look like they may be on dates] and many families of rugrats.

Most on the menu is under $10. Most impressive is that all the tortillas are handmade in restaurant. The free chips brought to the table are extremely light and crisp, reminiscent of Indian papadum. The salsa is pico de gallo style – fresh and spicy.

Another reason to arrive early besides avoid the wait, is to get in on the trunk of nachos. No joke. Chuy’s offers a FREE, yes, free, nacho bar served out of a remodeled car trunk from the hours of 4 to 7 pm, Monday through Friday.

art room

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enchilada menu

menu

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Chuy’s :: 4310 Sharon Rd,  Charlotte, NC 28211 :: http://www.chuys.com

Gooey Cinnamon Sticky Buns

These little gems come from a recipe from…

OPRAH!

Who knew the queen of yo-yo weight loss and healthy living would feature such a sinfully delicious recipe in her O Magazine?

These Gooey Cinnamon Sticky Buns are the best I’ve tried yet. Unlike past buns I’ve made, these aren’t hard hockey pucks with stick-to-your-teeth, pull-out-your-cavities goo. These are soft and pillowy. Gooey and warm. Caramel-y and crunchy.

Each bun comes out swirled with a gooey dose of baked cinnamon and brown sugar, then glazed with the sweet, sticky mixture and pecans which makes a bun, a sticky bun.

Make these at night, let them sit overnight in the fridge, and pop them into oven in the morning. Voila! Your kitchen will be instantly transformed into a gourmet bakery.

Gooey Cinnamon Sticky Buns

Servings: Makes 15 buns

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup warm (105° to 115°) water
  • 1 package (1/4-ounce)  active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest [I opted to omit this]
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans

Directions

To make dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, salt and 3 cups flour and mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low, slowly incorporate 1 cup remaining flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding last 1/4 cup flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. Remove dough from mixing bowl, shape into a ball and place in a large, greased bowl. Turn to coat and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. After dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.

To make filling: Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter; keep separate.

Roll dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 15 slices.

To make topping: In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey and corn syrup over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan and sprinkle pecans on top.

Place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping. Crowd them so they touch. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.

From the February 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine

PHOTOS: The Peculiar Rabbit

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Pictured: The Peculiar Rabbit Burger (fried egg, pimento cheese, lettuce and a CAB patty with fries // the pork chop special (with collards and mashed potatoes, and two giant onion rings) // the Elvis (Honey peanut butter ice cream sandwiched between slices of chocolate chip banana bread, topped with bacon and caramel sauce)

The Peculiar Rabbit, located in Plaza Midwood, is a Jackalope Jack’s restaurant. The farm-to-fork theme is carried out in the modern American menu. Three stories tall, each floor has its own bar. The vibe is casual hipster chic. With great views of the Charlotte skyline and an interesting menu, it’s worth a visit. Get the Elvis (pictured above). You know you want it!

The Peculiar Rabbit: 1212 Pecan Ave  Charlotte, NC 28205 :: (704) 333-9197

Dexter returns for its last season tomorrow night (Sunday, Jun 30, 2013) on Showtime. To celebrate this momentous occasion, some friends and I are throwing a killer pre-show Dexter-themed dinner party complete with a fake hand with painted nails.

For a sanguine dessert, I came up with these Crime Scene Cupcakes. They’re definitely not for the faint of heart. Red food coloring makes for some pretty great faux blood splatter!

The cupcakes themselves are vanilla cake. I cored out the middles and filled each with one amarena cherrry and red berry preserves. A pure white almond buttercream is the the perfect backsplash for the bloody splatter of red food coloring applied with a basting brush.

Crime Scene Cupcakes

Crime Scene Cupcakes

To make these cupcakes, use your favorite white or yellow vanilla cupcake recipe. I used THIS one from Glorious Treats.

Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled, use a cupcake corer or a small paring knife to remove the middle cores of the cupcakes (not all the way to the bottom). Save the cores of cupcake.

Fill each with cherry (I used amarena cherries, but feel free to use maraschino cherries too) and your choice of red berry preserves, then plug a bit of core back to level off the tops of each cupcake.

Once stuffed, you can frost your cupcakes with a simple buttercream. I used the recipe below.

To create the red splatter, squeeze a few drops of red food coloring onto your basting brush. Use your fingers to spray the color off the brush. I used my forefinger to fan out the brush bristles, causing a spray of color. (Warning: You will end up with some red fingers, so use gloves if you so choose. Right now I look like a serial killer with my red fingers.)

Display the cupcakes on a surgical tray (aka baking sheet), or a plate wrapped in plastic, Dexter style.

Almond Buttercream

Yields 2 cups

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter – room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 pounds confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar, 10x)
2-3 tablespoons cold milk

Method
Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the extract and combine well. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, begin adding the cold milk, one tablespoon at a time, combining very well after each addition (mixer on medium-high to high speed) until you reach the desired consistency.

Growing up in New England meant going apple picking every fall…which then meant eating fresh apple cider doughnuts from the apple orchard farm!

Unable to get my paws on some fresh apple cider doughnuts here in Charlotte, I took matters into my own hands.

Here we have an Apple Cider Doughnut CAKE. It’s like the doughnut version, but just a lot bigger… and not fried. (Booooo.) But despite the lack of artery clogging oil, it’s pretty good. Rubbed with a cinnamon sugar blend, the cake looks just like the doughnut version and is tender and apple-y. I used extra apple cider and cooked it down a bit longer to intensify the apple flavor.

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The recipe comes from Serious Eats. (I used buttermilk in place of the milk that is called for in the recipe. Real apple cider doughnuts use buttermilk.)

The Capital Grille’s Generous Pour Summer Wine Event is going on now. For $25, guests can enjoy unlimited pours of nine wines to accompany their meals. The highly-allocated wines, each hand-selected by The Capital Grille’s own Master Sommelier, George Miliotes, can pair with every dish and every course – from appetizers to dessert. Need help pairing wines with your meal? Expert servers are there to help. The event only goes on until September 2, 2012, so go while you can – it’s a delicious deal you don’t want to miss!

New bakery Sweet Lorraine Bakeshop is now open on East Boulevard in Dilworth (near 300 East restaurant).

The official grand opening will be held on Saturday, July 14 from noon to 2 pm. The event will feature free tastings of all their items which include a variety of cookies, tarts, cupcakes, bars, and chocolates.

Sweet Lorraine Bakeshop

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Turn your Rice Krispy Treats into a fun summery snack. With a couple round cake pans and some food coloring, it’s easy to mold the “batter” into faux watermelon slices.

I made two mini batches of batter, one at a time (each using about 4-5 cups of rice cereal and 4-5 cups of marshmallows). I dyed the first batch green and molded it into a ring inside two well buttered cake pans, and dyed the second pink and filled the rest of the pans with that. (Tip: make sure your hands are well greased! It gets sticky!) To make the seeds, I just pressed a few mini chocolate chips into the top of the RKTs before turning them out and slicing them into wedges.

… or rather, people dressed as cows.

Stop by a Chick-fil-A on Friday, July 13 for their annual Cow Appreciation Day.

Any customer dressed “head to hoof” in cow attire will receive a FREE Chick-fil-A meal (entrée, side and drink). Wearing a black and white cow-printed accessory will get you a free entrée.

If you need a costume, go to www.cowappreciationday.com to download a cow outfit.