Easy Cinnamon Rolls

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I have been searching for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe forever. I found it.

The perfect recipe had to deliver soft, gooey rolls with just the right amount of cinnamon and icing.

Over the past few weeks I’ve made a lot of batches of cinnamon rolls, much to the pleasure of my husband who has been my eager taste tester. Have another roll babe, enjoy.

Anyway, I do not in any way claim to be the creator of this recipe. It is just slightly adapted from our beloved Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Believe me, I wouldn’t dream of messing with the Pioneer Woman. I’m pretty sure she can herd sheep and lasso bulls while simultaneously baking the perfect pie. Her recipe does make a ton of rolls, so I’ve cut it in half since we aren’t feeding a ranch. One for you to enjoy right away and another for the freezer. So here we go…

Easy Cinnamon Rolls
– adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 cups milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (heaping)
1/2 tsp baking soda (scant)
1/2 tsp salt (heaping)

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3/4 cup softened butter
1 cup turbinado sugar (or 1/2 cup brown sugar + 1/2 cup sugar)
4 tsp cinnamon

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2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
2 Tbsp melted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract

Start by combining the milk, coconut oil and sugar in a saucepan. Heat on medium until scalding (not quite boiling), stirring constantly. Set it aside to cool down for 45 mins or so until warm. Side note —-> I used coconut oil because I love it, but you could use vegetable oil if you prefer.

It’s important that the mixture is not hot when you add the yeast. Lukewarm or slightly warm is best, around 110 degrees if you are using a thermometer. Once the temp is right, stir in your yeast and let that sit for a few minutes.

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Then add 4 cups of flour. Cover and let it sit for an hour. It will do its thing. It should rise and look like this:

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Then add another 1/2 cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Now you should have a nice smooth, elastic dough. You’re ready to roll baby!

I take half the dough and roll it out into a rectangle onto a floured surface. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Now the Pioneer Woman’s recipe uses melted butter, but I found it easier to use softened butter so it didn’t ooze out all over my counters. So take 3/4 cup butter (yes, I cut out a bit of butter, mama told me to) and soften it in the microwave until it is spreadable. Take a couple of dabs of butter and spread in the bottom of your baking pans. Then take half of the remaining butter and spread evenly onto your rectangle of dough.

Then sprinkle with half of the sugar. I use turbinado sugar because I love the flavor, more rich and molassess-y. And it’s not processed as much as white sugar. But use whatever you like. Follow with a sprinkling of 2 tsp of cinnamon.

Start rolling ’em up! Start at the longer side and be sure to pull a bit while you roll to keep things tight. You don’t want to lose any of that buttery, sugary goodness in the middle. One you have it rolled up, slice and place the rolls in your buttered pan. I forgot to pinch the seam here. But it’s okay, you can forget steps like that and they will still turn out amazing.

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And repeat that process for the second pan. Side note —> this recipe would fill about three round cake pans, a 13×9 pan and another 8×8…however you can make it work. I did one big 13×9 and a round cake pan and it worked perfectly.

Once you have your gorgeous rolls ready to bake, cover the pans with towels and let rise for another 30 minutes or so.

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Bake @ 400 degrees for 16-18 minutes.

And I didn’t even remember to take a photo of them fresh out of the oven topped with icing. Because I couldn’t stop myself  my husband dove right in.

For the icing simply combine the four ingredients and stir until smooth, and drizzle over the rolls. You may want to add extra powdered sugar or milk, to get the right consistency. Super easy!

There you have it! A super easy way to get the perfect cinnamon roll, every time.

Nailed it.

Easy Crusty Bread

This bread is amazing. Seriously. It will blow your mind. Just a few ingredients and you’ve got a super yummy, fresh-baked loaf of bread. Never buy another loaf of artisan bread from the grocery store again!

This is not an original idea by any means. I have seen similar recipes on Pinterest and on various blogs. I used the recipe over at Simply So Good: Crusty Bread. I won’t go into all the details she does…but if you want more ideas on what to bake it in, or what other flavors to add, check out her post.

Here we go…you will need:

-3 cup of flour (regular white unbleached)
– 1 3/4 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp yeast
– 1 1/2 cups water

*The only thing you have to remember about this recipe is that you need to give it 12-18 hours to rise. So plan ahead! I like to mix mine up the night before and bake the next day, about mid-day.

Combine the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and mix together until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter, unrefrigerated to rise, 12-18 hours. It will be a big gooey mess, but that’s ok. Just walk away and let it do its magic.

After 12-18 hours it should have puffed up nicely and look very sticky. It’s perfect.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and once preheated, place your pot in the oven for 30 minutes. I used my crock pot insert because I don’t have a gorgeous Le Creuset (yet!) like she suggested. After putting your pot in the oven, dump out the dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape it into a ball. Let it rest (no kneading!) and put the plastic wrap over it. And you really don’t need to grease your pot, the dough doesn’t stick a bit.

Once your pot has preheated for 30 minutes carefully take it out (remember, it’s really hot!) and drop your dough into the pot. Put on the lid (or cover with foil) and bake for 30 minutes.

After baking, carefully remove the pot and using pot holders, remove the bread to cool on a wire rack. Admire your gorgeous work and how wonderful your kitchen now smells.

See? Could it be any easier?? We enjoyed this loaf with big bowls of soup on a cold night, and the next night sliced thin for paninis.

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Roasted chicken thighs with sage and pear

Savory chicken thighs with fresh herbs and the sweetness of pear. This is a perfect super-simple recipe for fall that fills your kitchen with the smell of comfort food. I also like this quick dinner because it literally takes a few minutes to prep, something I can appreciate as a mom of little ones.

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive or grape seed oil
3-4 fresh sage leaves
2 pears
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse chicken thighs and place in glass baking dish. Roll up sage leaves and slice, and run your knife through them again to dice. Combine oil and sage in a bowl, and brush over thighs. Turn once to cover chicken. Quarter pears and place around chicken in the baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast for 40-50 minutes, until meat reaches 165 degrees on meat thermometer.

How to cut an onion

A couple of years ago I took a knife skills cooking class and while I didn’t retain everything from the class (evident by the rather large cut on my finger from cooking last night), I use this little trick all the time.

It was explained that the “root” of the onion (the hairy end) releases and an enzyme when cut that causes the irritation. So if you save that part for last, you have less crying. Grab yourself an onion and follow along.

I started with this bad boy. Someone grew this massive thing in their garden! You have the pointy top, and the root on the opposite end.

Start by cutting off the tippy top.

With the root on the bottom, cut ’em in half right through where the pointy top was and through the middle of the root.

You’ve got two halfs. Lay one with the flat side down on the cutting board with the root away from you.

Start slicing vertically from the root to the other edge. PLEASE, for the love of God, don’t hold on to the onion like I am with my fingers out just waiting to be sliced. Knife skills 101 says curl those fingers under! How embarrassing.

And do not cut into that stinking root! Just start a little below it.

After you’ve worked your way around it should look like this. Purdy. If you want to dice instead of chop, make these cuts much closer together.

Now we’re going to slice going the other way. And stop before you get to that root! The root is our enemy people. Unless you need a good cry.

A bada bing! You have a perfectly chopped up onion with no (or at least minimal) tears. Now use all that onion for my Orzo with Grilled Vegetables.

Zucchini fritters

Last year our garden was buried in zucchini so I was constantly on the search for good recipes to use it up. I was ecstatic when I found these utterly ahhhh-mazing zucchini fritters over at Smitten Kitchen. They are flavorful, simple and were a hit around our dinner table.

I tweaked the recipe a bit tonight and they were yet again, fabulous.

First take a couple of zucchini or one big mama like I had. Grate it on a cheese grater or use your food processor like I did. I left the peel on.

Isn’t it gorgeous already?

The next step is to get as much of the water out as you can so they crisp up nicely later. The best way I found to do this is to put the shredded zucchini in cheesecloth and wring it out. You will see quite a bit of water coming out, this is good. Get it as dry as you can. If you don’t have cheesecloth around, try it with a paper towel using smaller amounts or put the zucchini in a colander and push the water out with a spoon.

Next you want to add some other things for flavor. I added a diced up leek for some kick and a couple of gloves of minced garlic. You could also add some chopped green onion or parmesan cheese.

Add about 1/2 cup of flour, 1 tsp baking soda and salt and pepper to taste and combine well. Now get out that frying pan.

You could use any oil, I chose grape seed oil to fry up these puppies. Heat on medium high heat and gently drop spoonfuls of the mixture into the oil and flatten a bit with the back of a spoon. Fry for a few minutes and flip when golden.

Smitten Kitchen recommends popping these in the oven for 10 minutes or so after frying to make sure they get perfectly crispy. Yummy! Top with a dab of sour cream and you’re in heaven.

Puffed Up Egg Oven Pancake

My Dad and I had a tradition growing up of cooking breakfast together on Sunday mornings. One of our favorite things to make was a puffed oven pancake that I called “the egg thing”. It’s a simple recipe but delicious, and perfect when you want to switch it up a bit. I like to make it when we have people visiting because it has a nice presentation when you pull it out of the oven – puffy, eggy goodness.

Puffed Up Egg Oven Pancake
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 egg white
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp butter

For topping:
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1-2 tsps powdered or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine first five ingredients until mixed and smooth. Heat butter in oven safe skillet over medium heat. Pour batter into pan and cook for 1-2 minutes until edges are set, without stirring. Move pan to oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until eggs are set and puffy, and edges are golden. Drizzle lemon juice over the top and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Alternatively, you can top with maple syrup, fresh fruit compote or even whipped cream. Cut into wedges and serve. Enjoy!

Frozen grapes


If you are craving something sweet and refreshing, ditch the ice cream for this guilt-free scrumptous treat – frozen grapes. Take a bunch of grapes (I prefer red grapes), rinse them off, and just pop ’em in the freezer for a couple of hours. So easy and they come out of the freezer frosty and refreshing.

Orzo with Grilled Vegetables

This is one of my go-to recipes. It’s so easy and versatile, and healthy! If you’re a carnivore and want to add protein, chicken sausage pairs nicely.

Orzo with Grilled Vegetables
3 cups chopped bell peppers (I used half of each of a red, yellow and orange, love the color)
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lb orzo pasta
4 scallions, minced
1/2 lb colby or monterey jack cheese, cubed

Dressing:
2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Toss bell pepper, onion and garlic with the oil, salt and pepper on a large baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees in the oven for about 40 minutes until brown, turning halfway with a spatula.

While the vegetables are roasting, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Once the vegetables are done, add them to the pasta and scrap all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, juice the two lemons and whisk with the oil, salt and pepper.

After the pasta and vegetables have cooled to room temperature, add the scallions, cheese, salt and pepper. Add the dressing and toss well to coat before serving.

Substitutions:

  • Add or substitute eggplant or zucchini for the vegetables.
  • Try with feta cheese instead of colby and sundried tomatoes instead of peppers.
  • Add a cup of two of fresh spinach to bump up the veggies.
  • Add sliced chicken sausage or chopped chicken.
  • Grill the vegetables on the barbeque

Enjoy!

Honey Lime Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a staple in our house. Thank God my husband isn’t a picky eater and doesn’t seem to mind having them quite often. I found a recipe for honey lime enchiladas and had to make them that night when my mouth started watering at the idea. These are so delish. Sweet, spicy and tangy all at once and so easy.

I tweaked the recipe to my liking. The one I tried had a pound of cheese. A POUND. I personally think pretty much anything is better with cheese, but not that much. Instead of using sour cream or half and half, I substituted greek yogurt which cut down the calories but kept them creamy and rich.

Honey Lime Enchiladas
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 garlic clove, diced
1 lb shredded cooked chicken
16 oz green enchilada sauce
4 cups Monterey jack cheese
10 flour tortillas
1 cup of plain or honey greek yogurt
1 bunch cilantro

Combine the honey, lime, chili powder and garlic in a bowl. Add chicken and marinade for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. Add 3 cups of the cheese to the chicken mixture and stir together. Fill tortillas evenly with chicken and cheese mixture, roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Add yogurt to the remaining enchilada sauce and pour over rolled enchiladas. Top with remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is brown and edges are crispy. Top with chopped fresh cilantro.