FOOD | Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

I feel like any introduction I write to this post will be completely ignored in order for you to scroll down faster towards the recipe (and rightly so! Nutella is not to be ignored!). This has continued to be one of those simple + easy + constantly hitting it out of the park recipes that I turn to time and time again. I make these cinnamon rolls for brunches, play dates, and last week I made them for a staff breakfast at school. Everyone always loves them and I never have leftovers after making these scrumptious little bites (which can be viewed as both a good thing and a bad thing). I honestly feel a little bad that I haven’t thrown this recipe up on the blog sooner because it’s just that good. I promise that you will not be disappointed and those you make these sweet treats for will leave with satisfied, chocolate-filled tummies. So I won’t continue to bore you while I wax poetic about my love of buttery bread and melted, gooey, hazelnut chocolate and we can just get on with the show.

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Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients: 

  • 2  cans of refrigerated crescent roll dough (I use Pillsbury Original)
  • roughly 1/2 c. of Nutella (reserve about 2 tbsp for drizzling)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • powdered sugar to garnish

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (following the oven temperature on the cans of dough).
  2. In the microwave soften Nutella until it is almost runny – I usually pop it in for 10-15 second intervals until I get the consistency I desire.
  3. Spread out crescent roll dough on a lightly floured surface and press together seams of crescent roll triangles to make one connected piece of dough (I know Pillsbury made an un-seamed crescent roll dough for a while but I haven’t seen it in a while – this would be perfect for that!)
  4. Using the back of spoon spread out Nutella on crescent roll dough to make a thin layer. I’m always tempted to over do it and really lay that Nutella on thick but this is a case where less is more and makes it easier to roll up later on.
  5. Dust cinnamon and all spice over Nutella evenly.
  6. Roll up crescent roll dough length wise and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. I can usually get about 12 little cinnamon rolls per long roll of crescent dough.
  7. Space cinnamon rolls 1/2 inch apart on a lined baking sheet (either using a Silpat or parchment paper) and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
  8. Take out, let cool a bit, drizzle with remaining nutella and dust with cinnamon.

I have also made a vanilla glaze using confectioner’s/powdered sugar + milk + vanilla and drizzled that over the top of these rolls… I find that it makes it a little too sweet for my liking but it was still pretty good! I mean, you really can’t go wrong with carbs + chocolate in breakfast form, right?!

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Happy eating!

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FOOD | Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

One of my goals in this new year is to use our slow cooker more on Sundays. We have always had a pretty hectic evening routine on this particular day of the week because my husband and I both participate as band members for the youth mass at our parish. While this has been a part of our Sunday norm for almost nine years now we haven’t ever really had a regular Sunday night supper tradition.

In college, when it was just me singing at mass and going to the weekly Newman Catholic Ministry meetings on campus – pizza satiated my appetite on a regular basis. Then as a young working and engaged couple my husband and I both volunteered as Core members with our parish LifeTeen ministry so we always ate what the teens ate after mass. Then we got married and continued volunteering and it wasn’t until having a child of our own, and giving up other commitments after mass that I realized that we hadn’t established a Sunday meal ritual as a family. I also didn’t realize how important that was to me as a mother. I don’t want to give up our time singing and worshiping on Sunday evenings but I also want to provide a warm, delicious meal for my family to gather around as we begin a new week together.

Now here’s the kicker…after rehearsing songs, attending mass, cleaning up sound equipment, chatting with friends, etc. by the time we make it home it’s really hard to get the meal of my dreams on the table without someone getting hangry in our family (usually it’s a toss up between me and the toddler)…so in comes the wonderful, magical, fantastic invention that is the slow cooker. It’s a kitchen tool I use so often, yet I feel like I’m seeing it in a new light ever since mentally committing to making an effort toward Sunday night dinners. Seriously, it’s such a beautiful thing to be able to toss some ingredients together earlier in the day, give it a little stir, and then that evening be the domestic goddess I have always dreamed of being by serving my family a yummy meal. If I wore an apron and matching oven mitts while plating everyone’s food then I would really be achieving some major goals.

A few weeks ago we tried this fun little enchilada casserole/bake in the crockpot. I was inspired by this recipe that I initially found while browsing the wonderful world that is Pinterest. I really liked the idea of mixing it up a bit by using quinoa instead of rice when cooking a Mexican dish. I honestly was a little nervous to see how it would turn out or be received by the rest of my family but I can now say that the quinoa cooked perfectly and the recipe was an all around winner with both my husband and my toddler! We also had leftovers for dayssss so plan accordingly.

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Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Adapted from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen – Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Quinoa

Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed (I used Trader Joe’s Organic White Quinoa)
  • 1 15 oz. can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn (I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Frozen corn and it added some really good flavor!)
  • 1 15 oz. can of black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped medium yellow onion
  • 1 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 16 oz. jar of mild salsa (if it were up to me I would have amped up the spice a bit – but tried to keep this as toddler friendly as possible)
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cups Mexican Cheese blend divided (1 cup will be mixed in and leaving 1/2 cup for topping later)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish (optional – we opted out this time around and instead used up some halved cherry tomatoes!)

Instructions

  • Brown ground beef in a skillet until completely cooked through. Add ground beef and remaining fat in skillet to slow cooker.
  • Add the following ingredients to the slow cooker: quinoa, fire roasted tomatoes, frozen corn, black beans, garlic, yellow onion, green bell pepper, water, and salsa. Stir until completely combined.
  • Add spices: chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper to taste – mix once again until well combined.
  • Add 1 cup of Mexican Cheese blend and mix until completely combined.
  • Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 3 hours until liquid is absorbed.
  • Then stir casserole one more time to ensure there’s no liquid on the bottom of the slow cooker and to fluff the quinoa. Top with remaining cheese and put lid back on slow cooker for about 10 minutes or until ready to serve.
  • Plate by topping with cilantro for garnish.
  • This casserole can be eaten by itself or served with tortilla chips for dipping. It’s also really great the next day spread over a flour tortilla and cooked as a quesadilla!

Happy eating!

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DRINK |sparkling cider rum punch

Happy Friday! I think I need to come clean and admit that I’m having a bit of an unhealthy obsession (although I think it could be considered healthy because of their abundance of organic produce) with Trader Joe’s lately. I recently decided that the bulk of our grocery shopping is going to be done there because let’s be honest…they have a great selection, reasonable prices, nice employees and really great seasonal finds to inspire the average at-home cook like me. So, after that description I guess when I say “obsession” I really mean love affair. I love Trader Joe’s.

Anyway, last week while perusing the aisles I stumbled upon this Pear Cinnamon Cider. A friend of mine had mentioned it before and that it was one of their fall seasonal items I had to try. I picked up a bottle of that as well as a bottle of their Sparkling Apple Cider in the hopes that the two would come together to create something delicious. I am really having fun making these fall inspired cocktails as well as using up the handle of Captain Morgan in our liquor cabinet. I really think that you could add spiced rum to just about anything and it instantly will make any drink yummy. Enjoy this beverage while you unwind from the week and sit on your porch relishing in all that is October. As Anne of Green Gables says, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

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Sparkling Cider Rum Punch

Ingredients (makes one drink)

  • 2 parts Pear Cinnamon Cider
  • 2 parts Sparkling Apple Cider
  • 1 part Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (although any spiced rum will do)
  • .5 parts Orange Liquor
  • slices of apple + cinnamon sugar for garnish (optional)

Combine all of your liquid ingredients into your glass and stir to mix. Add a few ice cubes and your apple slices and enjoy! I sprinkled cinnamon sugar on one of my apple slices and wedged it on the rim of my glass. As I was drinking this scrumptious concoction I put sugary spiced apple into my drink and it just made it that more delectable. Totally optional, yet yet makes the drink that much more whimsical and who wants to skimp on whimsy?

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Happy weekend!

FOOD | cheese plate scramble

My husband and I have always loved entertaining people. Our first year of marriage we threw a few pretty excellent parties that resulted in some spectacular memories. We may have also been pretty close to going over the maximum occupancy in our apartment a time or two due to our abundance of guests…but who’s counting. While we love planning and executing bigger holiday shindigs we have also really come to love cooking for other people and throwing smaller dinner parties. The evenings we have friends or family over for dinner are my absolute favorite, because the day usually revolves around food. We wake up, make a pot of coffee, and start discussing menu options and recipes we want to try. Then we will usually make some sort of excuse to venture out into the land of the fancier grocery stores like Whole Foods or Central Market and wander around perusing all of the fun foodie finds the store has to offer as we pick up ingredients for that night.

Hosting a dinner party is always been a great excuse to pick up an assortment of cheeses, olives, prosciutto and a crusty loaf of french bread to snack on with our guests while dinner finishes up. I seriously love a good cheese plate and honestly this would be my dinner about 90% of the time if I were a single lady living on my own. We usually dive into the under $3 cheese bin and pick out a few small wedges so that we can try a good assortment and then hop on over to the olive bar and fill up a tub of salty goodness (which usually ends up being eaten by me but I’m not complaining). Then we venture over to pick up a package of prosciutto or salami. Well about a month ago we discovered that our local Whole Foods meat counter slices the larges pieces of prosciutto I have ever laid eyes on. I was pretty much salivating on the glass case as the man behind the counter handed me my package and sent me on my merry meat loving way.

The morning after hosting our little dinner get together we had tons of salty prosciutto and smoked Gouda left over. I decided to roll up the prosciutto and chop it up into ribbons, grate the rest of the smoked Gouda and scramble it all up with 4 eggs. Then I buttered a couple pieces of french bread we had left over and toasted them up on the stove as well. Needless to say it was the best + easiest breakfast invention of my life and now I have even more reason to host dinner parties;  now I know that breakfast the next day is assured to be as good as the dinner the night before.

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Cheese Plate Scramble

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 eggs (2 eggs per person being served)
  • 2-3 large thin slices of prosciutto rolled and sliced into long ribbons
  • approx 1/2 cup smoked Gouda (I have also used Parmesan and a sharp cheddar, so really whatever cheese you have)
  • salt + pepper + dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • a couple of slices of french bread buttered and toasted

Instructions: 

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet on the stove at medium-high. Crack and whisk your eggs together in a separate bowl (I used to think the whole separate bowl thing was a joke until I realized I ALWAYS get egg shells in my eggs…) and then put into skillet moving around with a spatula as they cook.
  • When eggs are about half way cooked add in prosciutto, cheese, and seasonings.
  • Scramble up until fully cooked.
  • Divvy up into bowls.
  • Use your already preheated skillet to toast your bread on both sides (I liked to sprinkle a little dried rosemary while I’m toasting my bread)
  • Eat + enjoy!

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Seriously one of the most solid + delicious breakfasts that never lets me down.

Happy eating!

new week, new recipe: mediterranean fried rice

A few Saturdays ago we were having a quiet night in and I was really craving some Chinese takeout. Namely that delicious fried rice that every little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant does oh so perfectly. Fried and tossed to perfection but not the most nutritious in terms of healthy eating. The three ingredients I knew we had on hand at the time were rice, eggs, and oil. In an effort to use up some produce I added zucchini, chickpeas, and red peppers… not your usual mix-ins but I thought I would give it a try and to my surprise it actually turned out pretty darn delicious! medfriedrice Ingredients: 

-2 cups brown rice

– cooked according to package (I usually have Minute Brown Rice on hand)

-2 eggs

-1 red bell pepper chopped

-1 medium zucchini chopped

-1 small red onion chopped

-1 can of chickpeas

-olive oil (next time I’ll probably try coconut oil)

-dash of sesame seed oil

 

1. Cook rice according to directions on the box – like I said, I usually have Minute Brown Rice/Uncle Ben’s because it’s the easiest and our rice cooker intimidates me.

2. Lightly coat bottom of skillet with oil and toss cooked rice for 1-2 minutes

3. Add in chopped zucchini, onion, red bell pepper and toss until cooked through (I personally don’t like completely cooked bell peppers and prefer a little crunch so I add them in last to ensure  the least possible amount of mushiness).

4. Crack two eggs into rice and break apart while continuing to toss mixture in the pan.

5. Add your sesame seed oil in last – this really rounded out all of the flavors and added a little extra something to a pretty simple dish.

5. Once your eggs are completely broken apart and cooked through – you’re done! Enjoy!

 

Happy eating!

new week, new recipe: southwest loaded sweet potatoes

I think I should start this post by being completely honest and admitting that I have never been one of those people who has been able to come up with a recipe off the cuff.

My creativity in the kitchen has always been limited to altering seasoning amounts or adding more chocolate chips than necessary when baking. I am always so jealous of those creative minds who so effortlessly create these amazing, healthy, delicious meals…without a book or Pinterest or family recipe to fall back on. Seriously people, how do you do it? I feel like I could pull the teacher excuse and safely say that by the end of the day all of my creative juices have been put towards making math lessons more exciting and breaking up tattle-tale fights…

Well, I’m not sure what happened but while grocery shopping this weekend I had a sudden burst of foodspiration in the target canned food aisle and came up with the following recipe all. on. my. own. Applause? High Fives? Please?

Anyways, I will say that I was somewhat inspired by Lauren’s Instagram and her super adorable blog that I just recently started following. I am always drooling when I scroll through her IG and am always wondering how she can make a sweet potato look so delicious in so many different ways!

So behold my Southwest Loaded Sweet Potatoes (while they may not technically considered “clean” I thought we got pretty darn close!)

Ingredients:

-1.5-2 Chicken breasts (I used about a pound and a half)

-Two medium sweet potatoes (I actually went ahead and made three so we would have leftovers)

-Plain greek yogurt (I used two single servings of 2% Fage)

-1 can of black beans – drained and rinsed

-1 can of whole kernel corn -drained and rinsed

-half of a yellow onion – diced

-1 green bell pepper – diced

-1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dip seasoning

-Sharp Cheddar Cheese

-Cilantro (unless you are one of those unfortunate people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap and for that I am very sorry…use parsley)

-A few glugs of olive oil

-Salt/Pepper

1. Ok, so start by chopping up your chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper and saute over the stove in olive oil. Like so:

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2. While you are cooking your chicken bake/soften up those sweet potatoes in the microwave. I poke a few holes in my taters, put them in the microwave for about 3 minutes, flip over and then finish them off for three minutes. Then they are perfectly cooked and ready to go.

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3. After your chicken is done remove it from the pan, add a few more glugs of olive oil and pour in your canned corn, black beans, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until onions are translucent. (I had already made this beforehand for another recipe).

4. In a small bowl combine your greek yogurt with your ranch seasoning to make your “sour cream.”

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5. Then load it on up! Slice open your potato, slather on your fake yet delicious “sour cream” concoction, spoon on your black bean/corn/onion/bell pepper mixture, some chicken, a little sprinkling of cheddar cheese, and a spring of cilantro (unless you lead a sad soapy tasting cilantro life – again, I’m so sorry for you!).

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Happy eating!

new week, new recipe

Last night we tried out the Lazy Bolognese by the brilliant folks over at Dinner a Love Story. I really can’t rave about their blog or cookbook enough. They are slowly but surely becoming one of my default resources when I meal plan for the week because their recipes are SO easy and never.ever.ever.fail. They speak my recipe love language and make things so easy to understand. Trust me. You’ll fall in love too.

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Variations I made:

-I used rotini pasta because it was on sale

-I also added some oil flavored olives to the sauce because they were begging to be used in something and to get off the shelf of our fridge (non olive lovers rejoice – the original recipe does NOT call for them:)

-I ditched the fennel seeds because… I honestly couldn’t find them at the store and I have never cooked with them before and the recipe still turned out delish #rebel