My Grandma’s Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are in my blood.

I mean it: I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s butter and sugar running through my veins. I didn’t take many science classes in college, though, so I can’t confirm if that’s actually possible or not (ugh). But, you get the idea.

I grew up making cinnamon rolls with my Grandma. She’s famous for them! And I’m lucky to be able to learn her ways. When I was younger, I rarely paid attention to the technical aspects of it. I just waited for my turn to spread butter and sprinkle cinnamon and roll!  Now, I’m practicing my cinnamon roll baking skills like crazy.

My Grandma always brings pans of cinnamon rolls whenever she visits. She brings them on family vacations, or to people’s houses in times of need (like when the neighbors had twins, AGAIN).  You just can’t go wrong with classic cinnamon rolls. They’d make the perfect homemade housewarming or holiday gift: pair the rolls with a little basket of mugs, coffee beans or tea and dish towels.

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They also freeze really well. So, make a big batch, and then transfer over the rolls you want to freeze into a different pan (like a tin or tupperware, something you won’t miss for a while). When you’re ready to eat them, they defrost the best slowly at room temperature. Just leave them out on the counter overnight. And, while they’re frosted before you freeze them, you can always add another layer after!

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Classic Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 2-3 pans

Sweet Roll Dough:

  • 2 T yeast dissolved in l/2 cup of warm water (let stand 10 min. then add along with milk)
  • 3 eggs
  • l cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1  1/2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 T salt
  • 6 to 8 cups flour

Filling:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • Lots of cinnamon – sprinkled evenly throughout

Frosting:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 t milk
  • 3-5 cups of powdered sugar

To make the dough, mix in the ingredients in the order listed.  The key is to not make the dough too stiff, so add flour until it just begins to not be sticky.  It should feel light when you work with it. Then, pat down the dough in the bowl. Lightly spray it with cooking spray and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it stand until doubled in size (usually within an hour it is to the top of the bowl).

Next, preheat the oven to 350. Divide the dough in half and roll it out into a long rectangle shape. Spread the first half with an even layer of butter and brown sugar, and then sprinkle cinnamon all over the top. Roll it up into a long log, then cut to your desired thickness. Place the rolls into a greased cake pan or pie plate. Repeat these steps with the other half of your dough.

While the rolls are baking, whip up the frosting. This recipe is an approximation, but I always start with 1 stick of butter and vanilla and milk. Then, add powdered sugar until you get the desired thickness. In this case, you want the frosting to be a little more fluid so that it ices over the rolls.

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Menu August 4

How perfect does this summer pizza look?

I want to make it every night this week… while drinking this Green Tea Peach Bellini. And then, I want to make this Ginger Peach Galette with Almond Crust.

It took so much restraint to keep from buying a giant carton of peaches at the farmer’s market yesterday. But, we’re going out of town this weekend and I couldn’t bare the thought of wasting any. So instead I just got a few (while huffing and dreaming of all of the peachy possibilities) and am saving the 5+ pounds purchase for next week. After I’m 25 (eek!).

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Weekly Menu August 4

Monday: Tex-mex Chicken Tenders with Garlic Avocado Dipping Sauce and Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Tuesday: Crock Pot Beef Carnitas Tacos 

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken with Ina Garten’s Panzanella Salad

Thursday: Spicy Shrimp and Veggie Skillet

Friday: Summer Pizza: Grilled Chicken, Peach, Blackberry + Basil

White Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

When someone says the word “chocolate,” does white, milk or dark chocolate come to mind first?

As you can see, I am all about asking the tough questions today. It’s pressing matters like these that are constantly circling my train of thought and need addressing. Because who can focus on work when there are so many types of chocolate to be examined!

I, for one, rarely think about white chocolate. I have just never been a fan, unless it’s paired with lots of other delicious items like coconut and candy and nuts.

And apparently, I’m not alone! I did a little digging and discovered that in an EatingWell poll, only 6% of people said that white chocolate is their favorite. Dark chocolate won, with 64% of the votes, and milk chocolate gathered 28%. Of course that isn’t exactly the most scientific poll, but still interesting to consider.

I also found a fun article on Kitchen Daily: “What Your Favorite Type of Chocolate Says About You.” I couldn’t decide on my favorite, since peanut butter chocolate wasn’t an option, so I’m somewhere between dark chocolate and chocolate caramel.

The description for a chocolate caramel lover is: “People who prefer caramel-filled chocolate are happy and impulsive. They typically have high self-esteem and are considered thrill-seekers. Caramel chocolate lovers good-natured and easily satisfied.”

Find your description here.

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And then, go make these delicious white chocolate chip coconut cookies! I knew that if I – someone who isn’t even a big fan of white chocolate – loved this recipe, then it had to be shared.

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White Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Via Babble

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup coconut oil, or 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter or coconut oil with the white and brown sugars. Stir until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix.

Next, add in the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Then mix in the white chocolate chips and coconut. Drop by the tablespoon on a cookie sheet and bake for (approximately) 10 minutes.

Weekly Menu July 28

It’s a Pioneer Woman kind of week.

I have spent far too much time on her blog lately. Her recipes are delicious and classic – and many are ideal for quick weeknight meals! Plus, her funny comments always make me smile. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so now.

But, I can’t forget about the amazing photo below! Bev Cooks is another favorite of mine… for both her recipes and her darling baby pictures. This coconut basil chicken really makes me wish I could keep a basil plant alive (ugh). For now, I’ll have to schlep down to the store to buy it.

P.S. How is it almost AUGUST already?

basil

Weekly Menu July 28

Monday: Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan with Pasta and Roasted Veggies

Tuesday: Coconut Basil Chicken with Rice

Wednesday: Chipotle Steak Salad

Thursday: Grilled Chicken with Corn + Cheddar Quinoa

Friday: Shrimp Scampi 

Chicken & Veggie Peanut Noodle Bowl

Why can’t every meal include peanut butter?

Besides the obvious sweet union of peanut butter and chocolate, there are plenty of other ways in which to incorporate this divine creation we call PB into our daily lives. For example, peanut butter toast or peanut butter pancakes for breakfast. Lunch? Easy as PB & J. Or, a healthy smoothie with nut butter.

Dinner isn’t always as obvious, but thanks to the inventive (weird) minds of Americans, it’s now socially acceptable to ask for peanut butter ON YOUR BURGER. I’m not sure what to think about that one. I’ll just stick to my peanut noodle bowls for now!

I love any type of Thai/spicy peanut sauce, and often whip it up to dip our grilled chicken in. The combination of that sauce with chicken, fresh vegetables and noodles takes it to the next level! This dish is the perfect lightened comfort food for all seasons.

It’s not super authentic – not even close! But it’s an easy weeknight recipe that tastes amazing.

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I ate a big bowl of this for dinner. And then I continued taking bites right out of the pan as Ryan was trying to put it away in a tupperware. And then I alternated talking about how good it was and complaining about how full I felt for a solid hour. Hello, grown up life.

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Chicken & Veggie Peanut Noodle Bowls

Adapted from EatLiveRun 

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb chicken breast, cubed
  • 8 ounces noodles (of your choice)
  • 2 mini bok choys, blanched and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T ginger, grated
  • 2 t honey
  • ½ t red pepper flakes

Directions:
In a large skillet, cook the cubed chicken in about 1 T olive oil over medium/high heat. Get the water boiling and cook the pasta around the same time.

After chopping the bell pepper and carrot, blanch the mini bok choys (stick in a pot of boiling water for roughly 30 seconds). Remove, and then chop as well.

To make the sauce, mix all of the ingredients together in a food processor or blender.

Once the chicken is done, combine it with the cooked and drained noodles and veggies in a big pot. Mix the sauce in with everything (pour in increments to test the amount desired). Enjoy!

Weekly Menu July 21

I can’t even think about dinner right now.

I’m far too busy dreaming about the cookies I made last night: a mix of chocolate and coconut! They almost give the chocolate-and-peanut butter duo a run for their money. ALMOST.

And speaking of the best chocolate treats, apparently Snickers is the most popular candy in the country. Surprised? I clearly would have voted for Reese’s (which came in at third place).

Now that we’ve started Monday off on the right (sweet) note, we can discuss more substantial food like spaghetti squash with meat ragu and tequila lime shrimp. I have to admit that it’s been really difficult for me to leave soup off the menu the past few weeks. I mean, we are experiencing crazy high temperatures here, and I spontaneously made soup last week. Um, what? Poor Ryan was sweating while eating it. I guess my soup/stew/chili obsession from the winter is still lingering!

But aside from soup, I can’t wait to make the chicken tikka masala this week. I really haven’t experimented with cooking any Indian food, because the long list of ingredients usually scares me away. But this simplified version sounds so good!

Fruit and veggie salad

Weekly Menu July 21

Monday: Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Ragu Sauce

Tuesday: Quick Chicken Tikka Masala

Wednesday: Tequila Lime Shrimp Skewers with Quinoa

Thursday: Grilled Chicken with this Fresh Fruit & Veggie Salad

Friday: Baked Pesto Rigatoni

Watermelon Rice Krispie Cake

I can’t think of anything that screams SUMMER more than a watermelon cake.

Unless it’s a watermelon ICE CREAM cake,  I guess.

So never mind on the above exaggeration. I can think of one thing. That’s it!

Anyway, when my mom sent me the picture of the cake (below) she made for my little sisters birthday party last week, I knew I had to share it! This watermelon rice krispie cake is the cutest idea for a kid’s birthday or even just a summer BBQ. It’s super simple to put together – and you don’t even have to turn on the oven!

She went all out with the watermelon theme and decorated the party with pink and green balloons and candies, and then sent everyone home with cute labeled mason jars full of goodies.

These watermelon slice cookies would have been a great addition as well! Take a look at my Sweet Tooth board on Pinterest for more sweet summer inspiration.

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Watermelon Rice Krispie Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 10 oz bag marshmallows
  • 8 cups Rice Krispies
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Salt to taste
  • Food coloring: pink and green
  • Chocolate chips

Directions: 

Microwave the butter and marshmallows in a big bowl for one minute, stopping to stir. Continue with thirty second intervals until it is all melted and mixed together. Add in the vanilla and salt. Then, BEFORE adding the rice krispie cereal, divide the mixture in half, into separate bowls. Put 6 or 7 drops of green food coloring in one mixture, and 6 to 7 drops of pink food coloring into the other. Ensure that you have the right color before moving on to the next step. Add four cups of rice krispies into each bowl and mix.

Once both are the right color and consistency, press the green krispie treats into the outside area of a round spring form pan with greased hands. Leave the middle open for the pink krispie treats. Press the pink mixture into the middle, and smooth it all down with a greased spatula or parchment paper. Cool it in the fridge for a few hours so that it comes out of the pan more easily and holds its shape better. Press chocolate chips into the top to look like watermelon seeds! Cut into wedges to serve.