Cold weather seems to lead to more cooking. If you’re like me, there are only so many novels you can read before you start thinking of how to get up out of the comfy chair and do something creative. For a lot of home cooks, that means heading to the kitchen and wondering what’s new to try.
Two calls last week had me searching for recipes for readers who were getting a bit of cabin fever.
Mary Ellen from Collinsville said she had seen a recipe on Facebook about making round miniature cinnamon rolls. Grandkids were coming over this weekend and she wanted to surprise them with a new breakfast treat.
I’m pretty sure she was talking about a copycat recipe for Cinnabon Balls that I’ve seen floating around the Internet. You’ll find one here that uses refrigerated flaky cinnamon twists, which I’m unfamiliar with but have seen in the supermarket alongside other refrigerator roll products.
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The rest of the ingredients are what you’d typically have at home. The directions are easy, too.
The second call was from Bill, who lives in Belleville. He and his wife like to make stew during the winter, but want to go beyond the beef and chicken dishes they have been making for years. Anything new to try? Since I already had cinnamon on my mind, I suggested lamb stew because the spice is a classic pairing for lamb. Plus, the meat is so tender after simmering in a nice rich broth.
You can do some substituting, too. No nutmeg? Skip it. You can even drop the cinnamon if you don't have any or don’t like it. A half teaspoon of cumin or allspice is a nice addition, too, to give it a little kick.
Correction: Last week in a story about winter soup, an error was made in the recipe for Chicken, Mushroom, Smoked Gouda Soup on the front page. In the list of ingredients, it should be 1/2 cup flour, not 2 cups! Not sure how that got by me, but it did and I apologize.
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Copycat Cinnabon Balls
These cinnamon roll balls have a crunchy coating of cinnamon and sugar on the outside with a melty surprise inside. They're loaded with creamy frosting.
1 package refrigerated flaky cinnamon twists with icing
1/4 cup white frosting
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
Optional: 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping, warmed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Open the package of twists and unroll each one. Cut each piece of dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll into a ball between the palms of your hands.
Add the melted butter to a small bowl. Add the cinnamon and sugar to a separate small bowl and stir to combine.
Dunk each ball of dough in the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon and sugar. Place on the baking sheet.
Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Let cool 10 minutes.
Fit a piping bag with a small tip. Heat the frosting in the microwave for about 10 seconds, just to soften it enough for piping. Fill the piping bag with the frosting.
Stick the tip into the top of each ball and squirt in the frosting until you can feel the Cinnabon ball puff a bit.
Top with caramel sauce, if desired. Makes 24.
Simplest Cinnamon Lamb Stew
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder (or other stew meat), cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thin
2 medium carrots, diced
2 whole celery stalks, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of parsley, chopped
Place the lamb in a glass bowl or baking dish and toss with the salt, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cover and place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours if you have time, or continue making the recipe as below.
In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and brown the pieces of lamb on all sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you may have to work in batches. When all of the meat is browned, add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, until vegetables start to soften. Add the tomatoes, wine and bay leaf, and stir.
When mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 2 hours, or until meat falls apart when tested with a fork.
Serve the stew on its own, or over couscous or rice. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6 to 8.