Tuesday, March 24, 2020

One-Hour Cinnamon Rolls


While I'm at home all the hours of the day now I want to learn new things. Most of my learn new things goals center around cooking and baking. I have never made cinnamon rolls, so on my birthday yesterday, I decided that was a good new thing to learn.

However, I also wanted rather immediate gratification since I decided this at 8 am. So I found this recipe for one-hour cinnamon rolls and they turned out wonderfully. There are a lot of other cinnamon roll versions out there that proof for a long time or require overnight resting and rising. Maybe one day I'll try those too. But if you want cinnamon rolls quickly, this is the recipe for you.

Homemade cinnamon rolls are really much easier than you might think. This is yet another example of thinking something is hard, and then being surprised when it's not! This recipe doesn't even require a mixer. I didn't use one, but you certainly could, especially if you want your mixer to do the kneading. After your dough has been kneaded, roll it out and then cover it with butter and cinnamon sugar.


Roll it up, slice it, and place in a pan. (Doesn't this make you want to sing "Patty cake, Patty cake, Baker's men!" ???)


Bake


and glaze,


and when your teenagers stumble out of their rooms after noon, they will be ecstatic to find this treat. (Note: for said teenagers, the rolls warm up nicely in the microwave -- about 20 seconds.)


What are your cooking and baking goals in this strange season?

Find more great ideas at Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Tasty Tuesdays.


One-Hour Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup oil
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
5 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Filling:
5 Tbsp. butter, melted, divided use
1 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar

Glaze:
1/4 cup warmed milk
2-3 cups powdered sugar

For the dough, in a large bowl, mix sugar, yeast, and oil with warm water until dissolved. Cover and let stand in warm place for 15 minutes. (Heat your oven to 170, turn it off, then put the bowl inside.)

Whisk eggs into the yeast mixture. Add salt to flour, then gradually add to yeast mixture to make a very soft dough. (You may not need all the flour; I had about 1/4 cup leftover which I used to flour my kneading surface.)

Knead dough for 5 minutes on lightly floured surface, or use the dough hook on your mixer. Roll dough into rectangular shape, about 1/4 inch thick.

Brush dough with melted butter, reserving 1 Tbsp. for the glaze. Combine cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over dough.

Roll up dough the long way and slice into 12. I first slice it in half, then half again, then in thirds to get 12 pieces. Place in a greased 9x13 pan. Let rest 10 minutes.

Bake at 425˚ for 12-17 minutes or until nice and brown on top--it's easy to under bake this recipe, so if you're unsure, bake for another minute or two.

Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, for the glaze, combine the warm milk with the reserved melted butter (it's ok that it's slightly solid now!) with a whisk. Add the powdered sugar gradually, whisking as you go. Add more powdered sugar as necessary to get the consistency that you like. Drizzle over the warm rolls and serve.

Recipe Source: Adapted from The Food Charlatan

Monday, March 9, 2020

Pork and Green Bean Stir Fry


I have many favorite things, but one of my very favorites is a simple meal with extraordinary flavor. That's what this stir fry is. This dish needs only a few ingredients to pack a flavor wallop. Besides flavor, it has a couple different textures (always a plus in my book) and lots of color from the gorgeous green beans. The "secret" to this dish is charring the green beans. Do you see the beautiful char? It adds so much flavor.


Unless you have the most gigantic pan ever, you will likely have to do this in batches, but don't worry, it is still extremely fast. Put some rice on to cook before you start the stir fry, or you may end up waiting! The secret to the char is to be patient - let the green beans sit in the hot pan without stirring it. That pretty much goes against the title of this recipe - STIR fry - but it will be worth it. As with all quick dishes, be sure you have all your ingredients chopped and ready to go before you start.


This was a huge hit with my family and we fought over the leftovers. I won. That's what happens when you can pull the "cook card."

Find more great stuff at Inspire Me, Inspire Me2, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul.

Pork and Green Bean Stir Fry

2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
2 tsp. sugar
2-3 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1 pound fresh green beans
2 1/2 Tbsp. sesame or peanut oil
4-6 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 pound ground pork (not sausage)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped


In a small bowl or measuring cup, combing the soy sauce, wine, sugar and chili garlic sauce. Whisk well and set aside.

Trim the green beans, then chop into 1" pieces. Heat 1/2 Tbsp. oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until the oil smokes. Add a layer of green beans so they are covering the bottom of the skillet but are not overlapping. Leave for 1 minute. Stir, then let sit another 30 seconds. Repeat one or two more times until beans are charred but tender crisp (not withered and floppy). Remove to a bowl. Repeat this process until all the beans are charred (it took me three times with a pound of beans and a large skillet.)

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp oil to the pan, then add onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for 1 minute until edges of onion are golden. Add mushrooms and cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Add pork and cook, breaking it up as you go. Cook for 2 minutes until the pork is cooked through, then whisk the sauce again and add it to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds, then add beans and stir for another 30 seconds.

Serve over rice or cauliflower rice.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Creamy Shrimp Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms


First the good news: This is a restaurant-worthy dish that you can easily make at home. And now, more good news: It's super fast. Even more: Only dirties two pans. And finally: Super delicious.

Start the pasta water boiling, and you'll have plenty of time to whip up the creamy shrimp and mushroom mixture. The asparagus cooks right with the pasta, so you get two things done at once. Get someone in your family to whip up a salad, and you will have a fantastic dinner in no time.

I typically used cooked shrimp for the convenience factor, but if you use raw shrimp, simply peel and devein, then add to the sauce before the pasta so it can cook in the sauce for a couple minutes.

If your family loves shrimp, they'll love this fantastic pasta dish. I love that it uses ingredients that I usually have on hand. Winner all around!



There are more excellent ideas at Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Inspire Me, Full Plate, Tasty Tuesday.


Creamy Shrimp Pasta with Asparagus and Mushrooms

12 ounces small pasta shapes
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil
12 ounces cooked shrimp
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. basil
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese shredded


Cook pasta according to package instructions, adding cut up asparagus in the last minute. Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and garlic. Add mushrooms, basil, paprika and red pepper flakes and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes, occasionally stirring, until mushrooms become soft and release juices. Sprinkle with salt part way through cooking.

Immediately add 1 cup half-and-half. Bring to a simmering boil.

Add half the cheese. Bring to boil, and immediately reduce to medium-simmer. Cook, constantly stirring, until the cheese melts.

Gradually start adding the remaining cheese, stirring constantly until all cheese is melted.

Add pasta and asparagus to the skillet and stir in the shrimp. Stir well to coat all the pasta.

If the cream sauce is too thick, add the reserved pasta water in small amounts to the cream sauce (while the sauce is simmering on low-medium heat) until you reach desired consistency.

Season with more salt and add more crushed red pepper flakes and basil, if desired.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Winter Squash Soup {Instant Pot}


It's only mid February, which means we have plenty of cold weather still ahead here in Minnesota. So there's plenty of time to enjoy a wonderful soup like this. This soup is pretty close to the soup of its namesake at Panera, which I adore. So I'm glad to be able to make a big batch at home - and it's SOOO easy using the Instant Pot! Throw everything in the pot, let it do its magic, and then blend it up at the end. Easy peasy!



The hardest part about this, as with all butternut squash recipes, is cutting up the squash. Buying it precut or frozen is an option if you just can't hack it. Sorry for the pun. Sorry, not sorry.


This Winter Squash Soup is great for your Meatless Monday. It can also easily be made vegan by using vegetable broth, maple syrup and coconut milk. Or use honey, chicken broth and half and half, or whatever combination of these you have on hand, if your diet is not restricted.


Winter won't seem nearly as long with delicious soup to eat!

Find more great stuff at Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Hearth and Soul, Fabulous, Full Plate.




Winter Squash Soup

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small sweet onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed, about a 3 lb squash
15 oz pumpkin puree
2 cups apple cider
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk or half and half

Turn instant pot on and set to "saute" function. Once hot, add oil and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Press "cancel" to stop cooking process.

Add remaining ingredients (except coconut milk or half and half) and gently stir to ensure that all ingredients are submerged in liquid. Secure lid and set valve to the sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.

Once the soup is done cooking, do a quick release. Add coconut milk or half and half. Use an immersion blender, or transfer in batches to a high-speed blender, to puree until smooth and creamy. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, if desired, and serve warm.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tuscan Chicken Pasta {Instant Pot}


It's well documented here that risotto is my favorite thing to cook in the Instant Pot. But I think pasta dishes would have to be a close second. And I was such a skeptic at first! How on earth does it work to put raw pasta in and it cooks to perfection alongside the other ingredients? This is never going to work, I thought. Sure enough, I was wrong. It works wonderfully!

And in this recipe, it's not only the pasta that gets fully cooked, but RAW CHICKEN. This Instant Pot is da bomb. If you don't have one yet, what are you waiting for??? Yes, this dish could easily be made on the stovetop. (Note: you would have to adjust the amount of broth so don't go trying it as written!) However, I love the convenience of throwing everything in the IP and having a few minutes to set the table, make a salad, etc. Or just to sit. Sometimes a person just needs to sit for a minute.


In any case, this is a delicious dinner that my family happily ate, and asked for the leftovers. I increased the spinach pretty significantly because my kids happily eat spinach in pasta, and the more the better, in my opinion. It wilts down so much that it won't seem overwhelming, I promise. After the main ingredients cook in the IP, you stir in softened cream cheese to get that nice, creamy pasta texture, all the spinach and then parmesan cheese. This dish has complex flavor due to the sundried tomatoes, and it's so easy it can become a weeknight staple. Plus, all the spinach.

Enjoy!

Find more great ideas at Inspire Me, Inspire Me 2, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul.



Tuscan Chicken Pasta

4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
12 oz uncooked campanelle pasta or your favorite shape (rotini, etc)
8 oz fresh baby spinach
1 (8 oz) pkg. light cream cheese, softened, cubed
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

In an instant pot insert stir together broth, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic.

Add in chicken and pasta, pushing the pasta pieces down into the broth.

Secure the lid in place, and set the valve to sealing position. Select the "manual" setting or high pressure and set to 5 minutes.

Do a quick release, then stir well. Add in cream cheese and stir until combined, then add in spinach, a handful of a time, until it's all wilted. Finally, stir in the parmesan.

Let rest for about 5 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with fresh or dried basil and additional tomatoes.


Recipe source: Adapted from Betty Crocker

Monday, February 3, 2020

Black Bottom Coconut Bars


If you need a special treat for Valentine's Day, or for any day that ends in "y," look no further than these delicious bars. I've made these several times now, and just recently realized I had never posted them. So many apologies that you didn't have this recipe sooner.

If you're a fan of Mounds Bars, or of coconut and/or brownies, you will love these. A rich, fudgy base is topped with a chewy coconut layer; these are decadent, and worth every calorie.


Show your love this Valentine's Day (or any day) with these fantastic coconut topped brownies. Everyone will be singing your praises!


Find more great ideas at Inspire Me Monday, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul, Full Plate.

Black Bottom Coconut Bars

Brownie layer:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Egg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup flour

Coconut Topping:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1-7 oz. package sweetened shredded coconut


For brownie layer:

Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl; microwave at 50% power for 1 - 1 1/2 minutes until melted. Add sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in a 9" pan that has been lined with nonstick foil. (Alternatively you can grease the foil.)

Bake at 375 just until sides begin to pull away from edges of the pan, 10 to 15 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool slightly while preparing coconut topping. Keep oven on for topping.

For coconut topping:

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla. Reserve 1/2 cup coconut. Gently mix in flour and remaining coconut.

Drop mounds of mixture over the chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup coconut. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container 3 to 4 days.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Curried Lentil Soup with Chicken Sausage and Toasted Almonds


Wow. Two dinners featuring curry two weeks in a row. Many years ago, I didn't think I was a fan of curry. Think of how many good meal opportunities I wasted. Now I have to make up for that time. So, more curry it is.

This delicious soup is like "nothing you would ever expect," according to my family. "It's so different, and SO good," exclaimed one. And I'm glad they loved it, because it's full of healthy goodness like carrots, celery, lentils and chicken sausage. It also has white beans, but since my family is not a fan, I tricked them (!) and pureed them first to add body to the soup. You can leave them in whole, just as easily.


Whatever you do, don't skip the almonds. I know, it seems really weird to eat almonds on soup. But it works! So don't skip it thinking it would be better without the almonds. It won't be. Just believe me.


This is a great soup for these long winter days and chilly nights. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine did!

Find more ideas at Inspire Me, Fabulous, Hearth and Soul.


Curried Lentil Soup with Chicken Sausage and Toasted Almonds

1 Tbsp. oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1-2 large carrots, peeled and small diced
1-2 stalks celery, small diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 can white beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 pound precooked chicken sausage, diced
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a large pot or Dutch Oven, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, curry powder, salt and pepper. Saute for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften, stirring often.

Add the broth and lentils. Bring to a low simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, but not mushy.

Stir in the sausage and beans (either whole or pureed) and heat through. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm with slivered almonds and cilantro.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe
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