Hunger by Roxanne Gay + Brown Sugar and Brown Butter Cinnabuns

Hunger. by Roxane Gay. It is raw and it is what the world needs. Thank you Roxanne.

In her book and in an interview on This American Life, Roxane Gay discusses the difficulties of living in a fat and “super morbidly obese” body. The categories of overweight and obese, invented by medical practitioners and healthcare professionals extend from overweight with a BMI between 25.1 and 29.9, obese with a BMI of 30 to 34.9, obesity class II 35 to 39.9, obesity class III a BMI of 40 and above.

Roxane points out that life is difficult for all fat people, but it is especially and particularly difficult for people with bodies like hers, bodies that would be classified as class III obese. And that is why she struggles with the body positivity movement and the notion of accepting her body. Because she doesn’t like her body as it is and often can’t accept it. She makes note of those she most often sees as advocates for the body positivity movement as women who might be classified as plus size models – those who wear sizes 10 to 14, women who might be classified as overweight but not obese. So what does the body positivity movement bring to people living in the size of Roxanne’s body? Accepting and loving your body are nice goals but for many people, a constantly real struggle, potentially much harder to obtain than someone living in a smaller body.

I have no idea what it is like to live in a body categorized as obese, or even an overweight that matter. One thing I can connect to with Roxane is not liking or wanting to accept your body. As a feminist, as a person who has struggled with eating and body issues for years, and as a person who desperately wants to believe in the body positivity movement.

One solution that I am trying on for size is body neutrality, which is actually what I think some people are talking about when they mention body positivity. The overwhelmingly popular image of body positivity is the idea that all bodies are good bodies and that we need to learn to love and accept our bodies for what they do for us. Easier said than done (particularly for those with additional barriers and marginalized bodies). So instead of running after yet another unattainable goal of loving my body, I’m trying not to think too much about my body. In other words, I’m trying to feel neutral towards my body and let it do its thing. We put unnecessary pressure on ourselves whether we want to lose weight or we want to desperately love our bodies. Body neutrality takes the desperation, pressure, and emotional work out of the equation.

cinnabun4cinnabuncinnabun10cinnabun13

Here is a recipe for some cinnamon buns slathered in brown sugar + brown butter glaze.

Cinnabun Recipe – adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 1/4 teaspoon yeast

3/4 cup buttermilk

3 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

4 1/4 cups flour

6 tablespoons melted butter

Filling:

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

Instructions:

In a bowl of a stand mixer, whisk eggs, milk, sugar, yeast, and salt.

Add 2 cups of the flour and the melted butter and stir.

Add all but the last 1/4 cup of the flour and knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes.

After kneading, dough should be moist and soft but not sticky. Add the rest of the flour if it feels sticky and knead for 5 minutes more.

Transfer dough to an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

After dough has risen, shape into a large rectangle (about 12 x 16 inches). Brush or dab dough with butter. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar together. Sprinkle evenly over buttered dough.

Starting from the long end, roll the dough up nice and tightly into a long cigar shape. Using a serrated knife, cut off 2 to 3 inches of dough, continuing until you have about 18 buns. Place into buttered cupcake tin or 9×13 pan. Let rise 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden toasty brown.

Brown Sugar, Brown Butter Glaze

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons half and half

Sea salt

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Keep stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until butter has turned a dark golden brown color and smells nutty and delicious. Let cool for a few minutes.

Add in brown sugar and replace saucepan over low to medium heat. Stir stir stir. The mixture will be separated at this point. Add in the half and half and keep stirring. The mixture will come together after stirring a few minutes.

Use a pastry brush or spoon to dab the glaze on top of the hot buns.

 

Toasty Coconut and Pineapple Layer Cake

cococake19.JPG

cococake3.JPG

 

cococake12.JPG

cococake10.JPG

This cake was inspired by a piña colada. I wanted to capture the flavor of the drink in cake form. I wanted to get the flavor of coconut throughout the cake without using an extract. That’s why I used coconut milk in the cake itself and whipped up coconut cream for the frosting. The pineapple jam just melts into the coconut cake creating a wonderful meld of flavors. I didn’t add any rum to the cake, but you definitely could!

Coconut Cake – recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

3 3/4 cup flour

3 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 sticks butter at room temperature

5 eggs

1 1/2 coconut milk or 1 can with cream removed

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8 inch cake pans.

Mix dry ingredients together.

In separate bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Alternate adding dry ingredients and coconut milk until batter is just mixed but not overmixed.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Pineapple Jam

1 fresh pineapple or 12 ounces frozen or canned pineapple

3/4 cup sugar

Instructions:

Cook pineapple and sugar on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the sauce is thick.

Cool and store in air tight container.

Coconut Cream Frosting 

1 can coconut milk chilled

1/2 cup cold whipping cream

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups toasted coconut

Instructions: 

In chilled stand mixer bowl, add the cream from the can of coconut. Add whipping cream. Beat with whisk attachment till light and fluffy.

Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix till just combined. Refrigerate.

 

Thoughts on Bodies + Pumpkin Cupcakes topped with Cream Cheese Frosting, Salted Caramel, and Chocolate Ganache

I was born with this body. And even when I was thinner, my body still more or less resembled its current state.

Like the myth of the American Dream, I too believed that if I worked hard enough I would have the body I wanted. But the body I wanted looked nothing like the body I have. Despite knowing this, I still tried to change my physical body to resemble my version of the perfect body.

We are born into our bodies and the truth is that we have little control over their shape.

When I thought I could control my body it ruined my life. Because I was chasing an elusive dream. The most freeing thing I have ever done is to accept. Accept that my body is just how it is. Accept that I don’t like my body. Accept and not wish or will away. It is the most difficult thing a person can do. We are taught that we can and should control our bodies, that they will bend to our will. We try the same thing a thousand times and we expect something different, that maybe this time our bodies will cooperate. And they never do. Because they aren’t meant to be controlled.

punkin2punkin14.JPGpunkin5.JPG

punkin

Pumpkin Cupcakes – recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 can of pumpkin

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl combine eggs, oil, sugar, and pumpkin. Whisk till well blended and homogenous.

Add in all dry ingredients at one time. Mix till just combined.

Spoon batter into cupcakes liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting – recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

8 ounces cream cheese

1 stick (8oz) butter

3-4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup chopped chocolate

Directions:

In a stand mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter till light and fluffy.

Add in cream cheese and mix till combined. Add in powdered sugar. Mix.

Add in chocolate.

Salted Caramel – recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon butter

sea salt

Directions:

Over low flame in a heavy medium sauce pan heat the sugar, water, and cream of tartar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Once sugar has dissolved, increase heat to medium and stop stirring.

When mixture starts to quickly turn a golden amber color, remove from heat and add in the cream and butter.

Whisk the mixture and return to the stovetop. Cook until the mixture reaches 248 degrees F. Remove from heat and let cool.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup chocolate chips

2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions:

Place chocolate and cream in a dry, heatproof bowl.

In a saucepan over medium flame, heat 1 to 2 inches of water.

Place bowl of chocolate and cream over saucepan. Chocolate and cream will melt together. Stir to help them combine.

To assemble cupcakes:

Use an ice cream scoop to scoop a ball of frosting on top of the cupcakes. Use a spoon to spread the frosting out a little bit and make an indent in the middle.

Spoon the caramel into the indent.

Transfer chocolate ganache to a piping bag with a very small hole cut out of the bottom. Drizzle across the top of the cupcakes.

Dinosaur Birthday Cake

dino6dino5.JPG

A funfetti dinosaur birthday cake fit for a wonderful friend.

This dinosaur cake mold has been hiding out in my pantry for a few years now and I was dying to use it. I made sure to grease and flour that pan like no one’s business. And luckily the cake came out just fine. The recipe I used for the actual cake is the Italian Cream Cake recipe. I make this cake all the time but I think next time I use this dinosaur mold I will use a sturdier cake recipe. The Italian Cream Cake is very light and delicate, not the kind of cake you want to be man handling. To make this dinosaur cake with the recipe linked above, add in about 1/2 cup of sprinkles and use cake flour instead of all purpose (unless you want a sturdier cake, then maybe try the all purpose).

Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the inside of this cake. But the outside is pretty cool. And I think that mini peanut butter cup for the eye was pretty clever of me.

The frosting is a simple American Buttercream. I never really use a recipe I just add a stick of butter to a stand mixer bowl, beat till fluffy, add powdered sugar, and a tablespoon or two of milk until I get that desired consistency.

dino3.JPG

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cone

pbcone9.JPG

icecream1.JPG

pbcone4pbcone7.JPG

My mom and I have taken quite a few trips together. After I graduated high school, she took me and my two younger sisters to Costa Rica and Guatemala. We don’t do vacations the easy way with my mom. Because the easy way is no fun. Instead, we rent a car, and we navigate via paper map (the trip to Costa Rica and Guatemala was before any of had iphones) and we stay and eat at local places. My mom is a seriously amazing trip planner. She was definitely a dope travel agent/ full time quilt maker in another life. I don’t know how she does it but she finds the most amazing sights, hotels, and restaurants.

I, being the only one of the family who spoke Spanish, was the dutiful designated translator. But I got tired of that real quick. My job, as we drove, was to roll down the passenger window and ask strangers (in Spanish) how to get to some obscure place. This never quite worked out as planned. At one point during the trip, we were staying in a Costa Rican jungle town when our credit cards stopped working. We drove to the local bank to try and figure it out. It was pouring rain and my two sisters stayed in the car while my mom and I went into the bank. Lo and behold my mom had forgotten to put the emergency brake on the manual car and the car had rolled forward and smashed into the metal beam directly in front of it. The people in the bank saw what happened before my mom and I did, as we were distracted and distraught over the money situation. So that happened.

Then a few days later, on the way to the airport, in the wrecked car, trying to make it to the car rental return in time to pay for the damage and catch our flight, we got lost. As the navigator, I had no idea where we were. We were freaking out. Now I love my mom very much as I hope is evident in this post, but I had just about had it and amidst arguing, I remember quite vividly yelling at her as she asked my where we were, “I don’t know where the f*** we are.” Sorry mom. It’s pretty hilarious looking back though, right?

I tell the above story because I’ve written about going on trips with my mom and how amazing they are, but they are also sometimes stressful. But let’s be real, all good trips are a bit stressful. However, a few years back, at the end of August, my mom and I took quite a peaceful trip to Key West. She was on a business trip in Naples and I flew there first and then we rented a car and drove to the keys. Despite never harboring a burning desire to visit Key West, it will remain one of my favorite destinations. So what was so great about it? We stayed in a hotel on the outskirts of town but we rented bikes and biked into town every day. We drank mojitos at the harbor as we watched the sun go down. We went to Ernest Hemingway’s house and it was filled with cats! We ate Cuban food and ordered key lime pie at every restaurant. We were there during the Lobster fest. The streets were filled with people grilling lobster tails and it was hands down the best lobster I’ve ever tasted.

And every day we stopped by an inconspicuous street stand to buy a peanut butter soft serve cone dipped in chocolate. That stuff was life changing. And I’ve since yet to find anything of the sort. So I made my own of course.

pbcone12.JPG

icecream5.JPG

Peanut Butter Ice Cream – slightly adapted from Design Eat Repeat

2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk eggs, sugar, and milk and 1 cup of heavy cream till mixture is hot and steamy. Remove from heat and stir in the rest of the cream, salt, and peanut butter. Stir until smooth. Refrigerate for 4 hours or freeze until cold. Process in ice cream machine.

Chocolate Shell – recipe from Serious Eats

1/2 cup refined coconut oil (or unrefined if you want it to taste like coconut)

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Instructions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt all ingredients. Once ingredients are combined and incorporated, remove from heat and pour into bowl for dipping.

To assemble: roasted, chopped peanuts and sea salt

Scoop ice cream onto your choice of cone. Use a knife or straight metal spatula to shape ice cream into a cone shape. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and dip upside down into bowl with chocolate shell. Immediately roll cone in peanuts and sprinkle with sea salt. It will take a few second for the shell to set. Enjoy!

 

 

Tropical White Chocolate S’mores

tropical3.JPG

I know s’mores have gotten a little out of hand recently. S’mores pies, cakes, s’mores poptarts, brownies, s’mores pudding cups, you get my drift. But I honestly love coming up with twists on classics. Inspired by some marshmallows on sale at Sprouts, I came up with this tropical s’more. The marshmallows are by a brand called Smashmallow and the flavor I bought was pineapple coconut – a pineapple flavored marshmallow covered in toasted coconut. What better to go with pineapple and coconut than macadamia nut and white chocolate? I used white chocolate Ghirardelli squares and whipped up a quick macadamia nut shortbread. Gooey, charred pineapple coconut marshmallow + Crisp and buttery macadamia nut shortbread + melty white chocolate = Island heaven.

tropical5.JPG

tropical10tropical18.JPG

Macadamia Nut Shortbread

2 sticks butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup roasted and chopped macadamia nuts

Instructions:

Beat butter till light and fluffy, add powdered sugar and beat 1 to 2 more minutes.

Add flour and salt and mix till just combined. Add macadamia nuts. Flatten dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from fridge and roll out into a large rectangle. Cut into desired size. I cut mine into 2×2 squares. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool.

To assemble: coconut pineapple marshmallows (I used smashmallow from Sprouts), Ghirardelli white chocolate squares

Doggie Banana Split

I firmly believe that dogs deserve to experience the good things in life – including banana splits. I made this for Panza the other night. We gave it to her in place of her dinner after a long walk. I know the ingredients have more sugar than dogs are really supposed to eat and doesn’t have the necessary nutrients dogs are supposed to eat in their meals, but getting a banana split once in her life for dinner isn’t gonna hurt her. The recipe requires a few steps and different ingredients. And maybe I’m crazy for making this or maybe I have too much time on my hands? Either way I promise your dog will be very happy with this for dinner.

nanasplit4.JPG

Doggie Banana Split

Banana Ice Cream

4 frozen bananas

1/4 – 1/3 cup coconut milk

Blend bananas and milk till smooth and consistency of soft serve. Freeze.

Coconut Whipped Cream

1 can of coconut milk chilled overnight

Open can of chilled coconut milk. Spoon out the coconut cream on top.

Place in bowl of stand mixer. Whip till light and fluffy. Refrigerate.

Strawberry sauce

1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries

2 tablespoons water

In a saucepan over medium heat, add strawberries and water. Cook 10 to 15 minutes until strawberries break down. Blend. Refrigerate.

Split open banana and place in dish. Scoop out some banana ice cream. Dollop on the coconut cream. Drizzle on the strawberry sauce. And garnish with strawberries, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, pitted cherries, grated carrot, or anything else safe for dogs to eat!