Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon RollsOh. Man. I CANNOT wait to tell you about these Christmas morning cinnamon rolls! I am so excited that we will, in fact, be having these Christmas morning! It’s like a present to me. I’ll have to remember to write myself a thank you card…

Cinnamon RollsThis is our first Christmas as a family of 3 and Travis and I decided this year we needed to start some traditions of our own. First of all, we are traveling A LOT over the holidays. Or at least it feels like that. I’m pretty sure it just seems like we’re traveling more than we are because we need to pack a truckload of stuff with us now that we have a little one. Either way, we made it a point to actually be at HOME for Christmas day. I don’t think we’ve ever actually been home for Christmas day as a couple so this will be fun!

Another new tradition is apparently shopping online because we have no time to shop anymore. I’m starting to feel old because I know I’m totally late to this online shopping thing. BUT, with a baby, online shopping is the best thing since sliced bread.

Cinnamon RollsHowever, as Travis and I discussed traditions we pretty much focused most of our attention on food. Doesn’t it always go that direction?? Isn’t it wonderful?? As I thought about past family holidays, I remember the decorations and presents and snow and fun that we had. None of that was lost to me, but what I remember most is gathering around the table with family and enjoying a meal full of love and traditions. So this was like a BIG deal to come up with our own family traditions.

Cinnamon RollsSome of my most cherished holiday memories come back to baking with my grandmas, mom, and sister. Luckily, my family will be doing a little baking when we visit them so that tradition lives on! I still needed to do a little baking of my own though! That’s where these rolls come in. These cinnamon rolls are actually my grandma’s yeast dough recipe (passed down to her from her mom) that we usually would use to make bobalki (another amazing concoction for another day) and poppy seed rolls (like cinnamon rolls, but with poppy seed filling).

All you Slovak or Polish folks know what I’m talking about when I refer to poppy seed in terms of sweet treats. Most people think of the gross dry poppy seeds they find on bagels. No. Just no. This poppy seed filling I refer to is sticky and sweet and delicious. I think they take the poppy seed and engulf it in a tub of sugar and corn syrup and it comes out magical. So when you make these cinnamon rolls, I dare you to replace the filling with just a can of Solo poppy seed filling. I’m salivating thinking about it. *Warning, it may take some time to fully enjoy the amazing goodness of poppy seed filling if you haven’t grown up with it. Travis is not quite there yet…My brother-in-law is finally in love with it, but he has a few years on Travis in the poppy seed tradition.

Cinnamon RollsTravis agreed that we can make poppy seed rolls as part of our usual tradition on Christmas. However, since we were just figuring things out we landed on the cinnamon roll version for this year. And it’s hard to complain when you land on something so delicious. So I’ll share some of my poppy seed creations later. But for now, enjoy these cinnamon rolls! They will surely help make my Christmas morning so, so wonderful!

Christmas Morning Cinnamon Rolls
Yields 24
Gooey and sweet cinnamon roll treat perfect for special occasions!
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Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
3 hr 40 min
Prep Time
3 hr 20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
3 hr 40 min
Yeast Dough
  1. 1 1/2 cups milk
  2. 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  3. 2/3 cup white sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons salt
  5. 2 packets regular yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
  6. 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 6 1/2 cups flour
Filling
  1. 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  2. 1/4 cup cinnamon (4 tablespoons)
  3. 1/4 cup butter, melted
Icing
  1. 1 cup powdered sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  3. 2-3 tablespoons water
Instructions
  1. Scald the milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the vegetable shortening until melted. Stir in the sugar and salt. Set aside to cool to lukewarm (about 10 minutes).
  2. While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let the yeast sit about 5-10 minutes (until the milk mixture is cooled).
  3. Add the milk mixture and eggs to the yeast mixture. Add in 3 1/2 cups of the flour and mix well. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and knead until the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes.
  4. Cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
  5. Grease two 9" round cake pans.
  6. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
  7. Divide the dough into 2 and roll one of the halves out on a well floured surface until it is 12x18 inches. Brush a thin layer of melted butter over the dough and sprinkle on half of the filling.
  8. Roll the dough, so you end up with a log 18 inches long. Cut into 12 pieces. Place pieces in cake pan, with a little space around each roll so it can rise again.
  9. Repeat with the second batch.
  10. Let the rolls rise about another hour.
  11. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12. Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
  13. Combine icing ingredients. Once the rolls are slightly cooled (about 15 minutes), you can drizzle the icing on the rolls.
Notes
  1. To help the dough rise (especially when it's cold), I turn my oven on to the lowest temperature for about 5 minutes then turn the oven off. Then I put my dough in the oven to rise. Make sure to take it out before you preheat the oven to bake!!
  2. You can freeze the rolls once they are cooled but before you put the icing on. To do this, remove the rolls from the pan after they are cooled and wrap in plastic wrap (I also wrap with aluminum foil after the plastic). To serve, defrost in the refrigerator and top with icing. If you want them warm, you can reheat them in the microwave or in the oven prior to topping with icing.
  3. Rolls are best eaten fresh, but can last a couple of days (but they really won't make it that long!).
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dressing

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Would I call this a dressing? A Sauce? Yummy stuff I would eat by the spoonful straight out of the jar? Um…I mean I would never do that. I’m way too ladylike. WAY to ladylike *cough, cough*.

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Whatever the case, and whatever you would like call this recipe, just make it. This creamy avocado-y yogurt-y goodness is totally worth trying at least once in your life. And then you will realize that once is not enough and decide it’s worth trying at least 1000 more times. More or less.

Creamy Avocado DressingThis recipe is loosely based off of a ranch-style dressing so it’s perfect for salads (I *love* this on a taco salad!). I also put it in a buffalo chicken wrap. Incredible way to cool down a spicy wrap! This would also be amazing as just a sauce for spicy grilled chicken or fish. OH MY! Anything spicy should automatically be paired with this dressing/sauce. No questions asked.

Creamy Avocado DressingMy recipe has buttermilk in it (since, like I said, it’s kind of based off of a ranch dressing), but you can totally up the amount of yogurt or olive oil if you don’t have buttermilk. I just love the buttermilk to give it that extra creamy, decadent texture. AHHH, I made this awhile ago and just talking about it makes me want to make it again. Like right now. SO GOOD!

Creamy Avocado DressingLet me get to dreaming about what to put this dressing on next. I expect to hear soon what you used this avocado magic dressing on (that’s what I should have called it…magic dressing). Yum!

Creamy Avocado Yogurt Dressing
Creamy, ranch-style avocado dressing
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium avocado
  2. 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  3. 1/2 cup buttermilk
  4. 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons lime juice (or juice from about 1 lime)
  6. 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  7. 1 tablespoon diced fresh chives
  8. 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. olive oil, optional, to reach desired thickness
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients (except the olive oil) in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add olive oil (about 1 tablespoon at a time) and blend if the dressing is too thick.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI’m approximately 0% Italian by blood. My husband is also 0% Italian I’m pretty sure. We are both pale, blue-eyed, and blonde-haired. I’m cool with that. However that doesn’t stop me from channeling my inner Italian to cook dishes like this spinach and cheese manicotti that are oh so *delizioso*. Yeah. That was my inner Italian coming out. Sorry.

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiI actually didn’t have manicotti to make this manicotti recipe because that’s how I roll. BUT, I was able to make some homemade lasagna noodles that I rolled up with the filling inside and it worked great! You certainly can buy manicotti or use store-bought lasagna noodles cut in half. Honestly, I couldn’t find manicotti at the store after I put everything else for this recipe in my cart. Since I’m too lazy to go to another store or ask where the manicotti may be, I made the noodles. The truth comes out. 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiYou are also more than welcome to make your own pasta sauce for this recipe. I often do have homemade sauce in my freezer but for this recipe I took the easy way out and bought a nice store-bought sauce. It did the trick! 

Spinach and Cheese ManicottiOne thing I love about this otherwise cheesy and carb-filled recipe is that it does sneek some veggies in there! Apparently now that I have a little one I think about hiding vegetables in food. Such is life. The little guy’s only a couple months old though so he pretty much has a one track mind and it’s focused on milk right now.

Spinach and Cheese Manicotti
Manicotti stuffed with a 3-cheese and spinach filling and topped with your favorite pasta sauce
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces frozen spinach
  2. 15 ounces ricotta cheese
  3. 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  4. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  5. 1 egg
  6. salt and pepper, to taste
  7. 10 manicotti, cooked*
  8. 24 ounce pasta sauce (homemade or store bought)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook the frozen spinach according to packaging (I microwaved mine in a microwave-safe bowl). Place the cooked spinach in a kitchen towel and let drain. Squeeze the excess water out by twisting and squeezing the towel.
  3. Mix the spinach, ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese (the remainder is for the top), Parmesan cheese, egg, and salt and pepper together in bowl. Transfer to a zip top bag. Seal the bag and cut a corner off to create a piping bag.
  4. Squeeze the cheese mixture into the manicotti. This is easiest to pipe a little from each side to make sure you get the mixture all the way through the noodle.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a lasagna pan. Place the manicotti in the pan, top with the remaining pasta sauce and reserved 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. *I used homemade whole wheat lasagna noodles that I cut in half and rolled up once I put the filling in them. Either way works!
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Adapted from The Cooking Jar
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Roasted Kohlrabi and Potatoes

Kohlrabi and PotatoesHaving a newborn has completely changed my view of food. My food thoughts these days consist of things such as: “How can a little baby pack away that much food? He must be a magician,” and “I’m SOO hungry…I will eat anything. Seriously. Anything.” (Breastfeeding moms, are you with me there? I can eat all day and still be hungry). Oh, and my favorite recently pondered question is whether or not I have somehow turned from human to milk-making machine. Because sometimes I feel like that’s my new job. Actually, that is my new job along with professional cuddler, diaper changer and swaddler. I’m learning on the job. I think my client is happy but he doesn’t talk yet.

Kohlrabi and PotatoesAlong with these very deep and profound thoughts (hey, they’re profound if you’ve been sleep deprived), there’s just no more TIME! I was always the person that used cooking and baking as my calming factor after a busy day. Kind of like yoga for someone who can’t balance on one foot. No joke, I made a hot dog the other day on an indoor electric grill and was proud of myself for the amazing feat I accomplished…I don’t even like hot dogs! Well, except for at a good summer cookout. But that was one good hot dog because I made it myself! One step at a time…I’ll get back to making full meals I’m sure!

So I guess where I’m going with all this rambling is that despite the fact that the next several recipes I’ll post, including this kohlrabi and potato recipe, are fairly simple and 100% delicious, I was smart enough to stock up on recipes and photos prior to baby’s arrival. I don’t feel like you all would be impressed with a recipe on how to make a hot dog. Just a hunch.

Kohlrabi and PotatoesBack to the reason you’re here…I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of potatoes so let’s jump right to the kohlrabi. Kohlrabi is a mystery ingredient for many. I must admit I had no clue what it was or how to use it prior to acquiring this fine specimen from VanScoy Farms awhile back (again, I made this before the little guy arrived). After some research, I found a simple recipe and was on my way. I personally think kohlrabi kind of tastes like brussels sprouts a little. You can disagree though. I won’t take it personally.

Kohlrabi and PotatoesTo prep the kohlrabi, remove any stem or leaves. Slice it into quarters and cut the core out. Peel the kohlrabi through the outer fibrous layers (if you have a bigger kohlrabi like I did, make sure to get through all the outer layers to the completely white part or you’ll end up with tough sections. I learned from experience). After that, you’re ready to dice and use!

Kohlrabi and Potatoes

Roasted Kohlrabi and Potatoes
Serves 4
Simple and tasty roasted vegetables
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 kohlrabi, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  2. 1 pound petite potatoes, halved if large
  3. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. zest from 1/2 lemon
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1.5 teaspoons fresh)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1.5 teaspoons fresh)
  8. 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  9. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place diced kohlrabi and potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, herbs, salt and pepper over the top and toss. Spread out vegetables into a single layer on the baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, toss, then bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender.
Notes
  1. You can use larger potatoes, such as red potatoes. Just cube them into pieces the same size as the kohlrabi.
Adapted from Sweet Phi
Adapted from Sweet Phi
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Broccoli Stalks and Big Baby News

Broccoli StalksIf any of you have been wondering why I’ve been MIA this past month or so, I swear I have a good reason. I went on a last minute cruise around the world…oh wait. This just in: that actually didn’t happen. That was someone ELSE I saw going on a cruise around the world in travel magazine. The REAL reason is *even* better! Travis and I met our handsome baby boy! He decided to come a couple weeks before his due date. Just like his dad–always on time and a little early, just in case. For any parent out there, you know what a whirlwind the first month is (little guy will be a month old already!). I’ve been SUPER busy with dirty diapers and feedings and keeping the guy happy but it’s all been more than worth it! I get to see him grow a little every day, which makes me so happy. I can already tell we’ll have so much fun together!

Broccoli StalksSo with that said, I have had little time to shower (no joke, unfortunately), let alone time to think about blogging. Bummer, right? Well I thought I’d kick things back off with a very simple, but delicious tip about broccoli. Yes, who knew there could be a broccoli tip?  The vegetable seems so straight forward! But I’ve been lacking in my knowledge of broccoli for years it turns out. 

As an adult, I’ve always loved broccoli (not so much as a kid but I just didn’t know any better). I went about my cooking using the broccoli florets like it was my job, throwing away the seemingly useless broccoli stalk. For awhile, I bought just the broccoli “crowns” at the store because I started to wonder why I was paying for the stalk that I just threw away. Just recently, I realized that I could actually use the broccoli stalk in stir fry recipes and basically any other recipe that calls for broccoli. Am I late to the game? Probably. But my mind was blown nonetheless.

Broccoli StalksThe broccoli stalk is just as amazing as the florets! And I hear it’s also good for you, but since I’m not a nutritionist I won’t even try to tell you why. You may wonder how to prep those stalks because they seem so tough and inedible. Here’s how I do it:

  1. Cut off the florets and use as normal. Yum!
  2. Cut off the top and bottom so you have a nice thick section of stalk to work with.
  3. Cut off the thick outer layer of stalk. I cut off 4 sides so it looks like a square cylinder (see above picture since “square cylinder” really makes no sense otherwise). 
  4. Cube, slice, dice, shred, etc. the remaining inner section of the stalk.
  5. You’re done! Use the broccoli stems in any recipe that calls for broccoli!

Broccoli StalksI used the cubed stalks from the pic above in some fried rice and it was oh-so-yummy. You could use the stalks in stir fry recipes, coleslaw, salads, etc. Opportunities are endless! I could get at least an extra cup of cubed stalk out of a large bunch of broccoli. I feel so sad knowing that I threw away all that good broccoli in the past! Here’s to learning something new every day! 

Talking about learning something new, the little guy teaches me something new every day. So now back to diapers and learning new things. Hopefully another recipe will come soon, if the little guy cooperates! Wish me luck with that!