Short and sweet musings this week brought to you by these darling goat cheese and sun-dried tomato stuffed baby eggplants:
Last week Scott and I paid a visit to the local farmer’s market where I stepped outside of my comfort zone and bought these lovely baby eggplants without any concrete cooking plan (an unusual move for me). This evening trip, replete with live music and a delicious Mediterranean quinoa wrap made with vibrant veggies from the farm, was just the push I needed to try this tangy, herb filled appetizer with a new (to me) vegetable. We hope this little blurb inspires you to try a new vegetable today!
- 6 baby eggplants
- 4 oz. goat cheese, slightly softened
- 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, oil drained and reserved
- 1 tablespoon reserved sun-dried tomato oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 ˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Score the bottoms of each eggplant with an “X” extending about halfway through. Set aside.
- To make the filling, place the goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon reserved oil from the tomatoes, garlic, and thyme into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until sundried tomatoes are minced and other ingredients are well combined. (Alternatively chop and mix by hand.) Place the filling into a piping bag (or ziptop bag with tip cut off). Push the tip into the “X” of each eggplant and fill.*
- Place stuffed eggplants onto baking sheet, and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until flesh has softened. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then serve.
- *If you are having a hard time filling the eggplants, consider slicing them in half and spreading the filling in like a sandwich.
Sorry for the silence folks. While we have been busy experimenting and photographing some lovely recipes in the From Scratch Stat kitchen, between the seemingly endless research writing, essays for honor societies, and residency applications, I have been plain old written out. Much has happened since our last chat. I fell in love with Ob/Gyn, became a published author (all that research writing paid off!), and took my last exam of medical school. Meanwhile, we celebrated our second wedding anniversary, booked our flights to Sydney, Australia to ring in 2017, and became aunt and uncle to a beautiful baby girl! So much to be grateful for!
In medicine it is so easy to get caught up in what’s next–be it acing the next big board exam, publishing the next research project, or preparing oneself for residency +/- fellowship. It’s natural to want to move quickly when you feel like a perpetual college student, and it seems like those around you are effortlessly moving forward in their personal and professional lives. I urge you to stop, savor the moment, and to find time for things you love. Many of us live with the feeling that life starts once training is over, but that is far from the truth. Take more photos, get messy, and laugh often. It’s now or never!
Our favorite meatballs are finally here, and I am kicking myself for not writing about them sooner. I typically write the post in my head while I am cooking, but it’s been so long since these photos were taken (and used verbiage without the passive tense) that I had an unusually tough time getting started.
Although this particular photo sports our favorite simple red sauce, I am typically a plate separatist in true Italian form. Luckily these meatballs are too juicy for their sauce, freeze wonderfully, and will make your hands smell like an Italian grandmother. (Whether you like it or not). One of the big tricks to achieving that perfect texture is to be careful not to over mix. The harder you beat the mixture, the denser the finished product will be. For more detailed tips and tricks to achieving those restauran-style tender meatballs check out this post. This is our no-fuss adaptation of one of our favorites, but the original version boasts of a pork-beef mixture, juicy pancetta, and chicken stock infused gelatin if you are so inclined.
- 4 ounces fresh white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 unpacked cups)
- 1/3 cup milk (or buttermilk), plus more as needed
- 1 medium onion, minced by hand or with food processor
- 8 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, minced
- 4 teaspoons (18 grams)* kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 pounds ground beef (at least 25% fat) (or a 1:1 mixture of ground beef and ground pork if you are feeling fancy)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together bread and milk. Let stand, tossing occasionally, until bread is completely moist, about 10 minutes. Preheat broiler and set oven rack in upper position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Add onion, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, salt, pepper, egg yolks, and oregano to bread mixture. Fit mixer with paddle attachment. Starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, beat bread mixture until thoroughly blended. Add half of the beef mixture and mix on low until meat is fully incorporated.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer and add remaining beef. Using a clean hand, gently mix meatball mixture, teasing apart ground meat with your fingers, just until thoroughly distributed throughout; avoid mixing any more than is necessary for even distribution. At this point, scoop a small bite of meat onto a microwave safe plate, and microwave for 30 seconds or until fully cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
- Lightly roll meatball mixture into 20 meatballs and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Broil meatballs until browned on top, about 7-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them! Browning times vary dramatically based on type of broiler and size of meatball. Freeze here or continue to next step.
- Heat tomato sauce in a medium pot until simmering and add meatballs. Simmer until meatballs are just cooked through and register about 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.**
- * When measuring salt by volume, it is important to use the type of salt specified in the recipe. We list weight here because if measured by weight, the saltiness will be consistent regardless of the type of salt used.
- **Alternatively, you could flip meatballs and continue to bake until fully cooked, another 5-10 minutes.
Whenever Scott gets back from a long business trip, he always pleads for a week of “healthy meals.” Many of our husbands are like garbage disposals, which does come in handy for those recipes that didn’t quite make the cut into the blogosphere. Not so handy when you are trying to McGyver a filling meal out of mostly greens. I grew up with a compose heap instead of a garbage disposal, so I’m no expert, but I do have a few tips for feeding yours healthy meals whether he begs for them or not.
- Orange is the new green (or black).
- Mexican-anything. All garbage disposals appreciate a good fiesta. If not, you ought to consider taking it back. It may be faulty.
- While we’re on the subject of fiestas, a shot of tequila is a wonderful distractor. Exhibit A: Tequila guacamole
- Use a super hero reference (correctly). Think Thor, not Popeye.
- Wrap it up. In lettuce. Obviously.
So in light of the garbage disposal’s recent return from blizzardsville, we are incorporating all of the above things into our menu this week.
- Starting with a Mexican salad replete with this sweet potato guacamole.
- Our favorite meatballs (recipe coming soon) on zucchini noodles and simple red sauce.
- A hearty lentil salad with grilled veggies and goat cheese. As an aside, I’m 90% sure Thor eats lentils. How else do you think he grew that hair?
- A take on our favorite shrimp and grits burger.
- Lettuce wraps inspired by Joanne’s Vegetarian tofu Banh Mi Sandwiches.
- Eggplant involtini. Trying my hand at homemade ricotta this week. Thankfully, the grocery store is only a short walk away.
- Finally we are going to try to keep it together while rolling our first ever veggie-filled spring rolls. Tips RE dodging divorce and dipping sauce ideas welcome.
So back to this sweet potato guacamole. It’s jalapeño-lime infused flavors are to die for warm, but leftovers are great cold with tortilla chips, on salad, mixed with cream as a Mexican-themed pasta sauce. Don’t be tempted to fancy this one up with cumin and the like. It’s the simple flavors and the contrast between the smooth potato and crunchy macerated jalapeño-shallot mixture that truly makes this dish.
- 2 lbs. (about 4) small sweet potatoes
- 1 jalapeño, minced, seeds optional*
- 1 large (3 tablespoons) shallot, minced
- 2 limes (3-4 tablespoons), juiced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 ˚F and line a baking sheet with foil. Drizzle lined baking sheet with a bit of olive oil. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and slice in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on baking sheet and drizzle tops with additional olive oil. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until flesh is completely tender.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the jalapeño, shallot, lime juice, and salt. Allow to macerate for 30 minutes while sweet potatoes cook.
- Remove sweet potatoes from oven and cover with foil for 5 minutes. Peel and discard skins (or chop them up and throw them in). In a medium bowl, mash sweet potatoes, add shallot mixture, and stir to combine. Add the 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and cilantro. Taste, and add additional salt, lime, or oil, if necessary.*
- *Don’t be tempted to add cumin or other extras. This recipe is best left simple.
On an uncharacteristically cold day a big bowl of homemade soup is really the only solution. In light of the feels-like-a-snow-day we are having down here in Florida, my lunch plans went out the window, and I impulsively high-tailed it to the store for an obnoxious amount of obscure (for me) Asian ingredients. All in the name of cozy, QUICK HOMEMADE RAMEN. Was it worth it? Absolutely. This quick meatless ramen noodle soup for two, boasts of a deeply Asian-flavored, beef broth base, with shiitake mushrooms, copious amounts of green onions and then whatever toppings your heart desires. Today my heart desired edamame, runny eggs, black sesame seeds, thinly sliced cucumbers, and salty seaweed strips, but this recipe would be great with pulled pork or bite-sized cubes of tofu if you are so inclined.
I would even venture to say that this recipe would work great for a packed lunch. Simply make the broth ahead of time, toss in the whites of the green onions and cooked shitakes and refrigerate. Pack up that golden block of ramen, refrigerated broth, and your toppings of choice. When the lunch bell rings, microwave the ramen according to package directions in your homemade broth instead of water, stir, add your toppings, and enjoy! (I wouldn’t recommend cooking the ramen noodles ahead of time, as they will soak up most of the broth overnight).
This ramen noodle soup was almost as easy as its store bought counterpart and SO adaptable. If you wanted to go the whole hog, you could even make homemade beef broth. Alternatively, you could substitute veggie broth (and omit the egg) to make it vegan. The world is your oyster—or block of ramen if you will.
P.s. Scott’s birthday is fast approaching (February 13th), and I finally decided on his “cake.” Stay tuned for more details over the coming weeks!
- 2 eggs, soft boiled
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 ½ ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced and tough stems discarded
- 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can low sodium beef broth
- 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 1 block dried ramen noodles, seasoning packets removed
- 2 green onions/scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts divided
- ½ cucumber, thinly sliced*
- 2/3 cup edamame, shelled
- Black sesame seeds, to taste
- Nori (dried seaweed), sliced, to taste**
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil, to garnish (optional)
- To soft boil your eggs, bring a pot filled with 3 inches of water to a boil. Cook eggs at a low boil for 5 minutes. Remove eggs from boiling water and set in ice bath to cool before peeling.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and garlic, tossing to combine. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and juicy, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, bring the beef stock to a simmer. Stir in the soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Add ramen block and white parts of scallions then remove from heat. Let noodle mixture sit covered for 3 minutes, or until soft, before stirring. Distribute noodle soup into two bowls and add toppings as desired (green parts of scallions, cucumber, edamame, sesame seeds, nori, peeled soft boiled eggs). Garnish with sesame oil, if desired. Serve immediately.
- *Use a mandolin or veggie peeler for this task
- **Use a pair of kitchen scissors for this task
Well Deb’s off and done it again. This decadent dark hot chocolate is exactly what it sounds, both rich and deeply chocolate-y, without being excessively sweet. Which brings us to my husband’s first comment of the day (while always an amusing reel, this one takes the cake): “Jeeze, your hips feel like…the holocaust.” A comment some would deem terribly inappropriate, others funny, and others yet downright politically incorrect. But I smiled and ran with it. And by ran with it I mean high-tailed it to the kitchen to make a cup of this decadent dark hot chocolate. You see, much like the proceedings of World War II, this week all started with a series of unfortunate events (does anyone else remember that book series?)
Chapter 1: Eva does a number on her finger while cutting a slice of stale bread, while waiting for “just one more cup of coffee” to brew. She holds pressure for about an hour, then high-tails it to the urgent care clinic to get stitched up. (An opportune week for outpatient psychiatry one might add.) Chapter 2: Eva heads to Panera for lunch because she can’t really be expected to cook in this state, can she? Chapter 2.5: Later that day, Eva comes down with a nasty bout of food poisoning that knocks her off her feet for the next two or three days. While many are chanting New Year’s, New You this weekend you can find me in the kitchen nose deep in a mug of decadent dark hot chocolate without shame. Holocaust hips or not, I think you’ve earned it.
Sob story aside, this particular recipe heralds from Cooks Illustrated. So you know it’s just a shot of bourbon short of perfect. Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist subbing in some vanilla pod-infused sugar from Libbie Summers’ new book (clearly still swooning) to up the ante. Feel free to substitute plain granulated sugar—the results will still be sublime. While the season for holiday gifting has come and gone, this does also make an excellent gift from the kitchen. The mixture will keep in an airtight container at temperature for about 2 months.
- 1 fresh vanilla bean
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup (100 grams) vanilla-infused granulated sugar*
- 1 tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
- 3 oz. (85 grams) semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- ½ cup (40 grams) dark chocolate cocoa powder, or any kind you like
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt or ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Run a 1-quart jar with tight fitting lid through the dishwasher to sterilize. (I used two mason jars). Using a sharp knife, cut a slit down one side of the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and bean in the jar. Fill the jar with 2 cups of sugar, screw on lid, and shake until combined. Top jar with remaining cup of sugar. Set aside for 2 weeks in a cool, dry place. You may keep adding more sugar to the jar as you use it. One vanilla bean should last for 9 cups of sugar and sugar will keep indefinitely.
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a powdery consistency is achieved. Alternatively, chop or grate the chocolate as finely as possible, and stir into remaining ingredients. May store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.
- Heat one cup of milk of choice (cows’, soy, coconut, almond, etc.) in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy. Add 3 tablespoons of hot cocoa mix. Simmer over heat for 1-2 minutes, whisking until mix is completely dissolved. Pour into mug, top with extras of your choice, and enjoy!**
- *May sub for ½ cup granulated sugar combined with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or the seeds from a tiny segment of fresh vanilla bean.
- **For a less sweet mocha treat, make hot chocolate as directed. Combine one serving hot chocolate with your usual cup of coffee. Taste and add sugar if necessary.
There is something very precise about American cooking, perhaps because grocery ingredients are so standardized in this country—a luxury that I so often take for granted. However, Italian cooking is a different beast all together. Many of my cherished Italian recipes from family and friends call for a q.b. or quantobasta (which literally translated means how much is enough), a handful, or my personal favorite, an eggshell full. There is something very comforting about letting the measuring cups/ spoons sleep in on a lazy, rainy Sunday morning while you whip up a batch of meatballs and red sauce. While made frequently in our house, many of those recipes often go un-shared in this virtual space. For one, while all from scratch, they are certainly not stat, because that would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it? And for two, readers, including myself, crave reliability. Every once in a while I do write down the proportions, but they are rough estimates and hardly suited for the food blogosphere. In Italian cooking, as in medicine, there is a subtle transition point where one moves away from thinking about everything one is doing, to simply just doing it.
More candidly put, Italian cooking is like love— Messy but beautiful. No one can tell you exactly how to do it (but they can show you). Furthermore, although everyone insists that their way is the best, only those who are wise truly understand there is no perfect way to go about it. And lastly, in order to succeed you must throw your heart into it, fail a few times, and try again. And after all of that, if it still doesn’t taste quite right: it is undoubtedly a pinch of salt that you are missing.
While I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, I have resolved to work on my interpretation of quantobasta every week. You see a lot of Italian cooking is trial and error. And while we do make a lot of this type of food at home, you don’t see much of it in this virtual space because well that’s the point. The goal of From Scratch Stat is branch out of my comfort zone, and Middle Eastern/Italian cuisine is my comfort zone. Kale in pasta? Well that’s outside my comfort zone, and may or may not offend your Italian grandmother.
So for evenings you don’t have time to spend hours basking in the aroma of a slowly simmered red sauce, I bring you this quick kale and pumpkin seed winter pesto. Perfect for the pesto junkie that just can’t give it up come winter time. Although the real solution here is to freeze your summer batches, there is something to be said about the wintery depth that the kale and roasted pepitas bring to this take on the traditional. While traditionally pesto is hand chopped to yield flecks of deliciousness of varying sizes, do yourself a favor and whip out your food processor on that busy weeknight. Your Nonna will forgive you (some day), I promise.
- ½ cup toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed*
- 2 cups densely packed chopped kale leaves
- 1 cup moderately packed fresh basil leaves
- 1½ oz. (¾ cup) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
- ½-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ⅓-½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lb. whole wheat pasta, such as linguine**
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pepitas, garlic, kale, basil, Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely ground, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the olive oil in a slow stream with the food processor running and continue until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving ¾ cup of the pasta water.
- Return the pasta to the pot. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to the pesto, then toss the pesto with the pasta. Add the remaining water as needed.
- *Alternatively, if you are not a big fan of raw garlic, you may toast the cloves (skin on) until lightly browned, turning as needed. Then remove from heat and peel when cool.
- **This pesto keeps excellently in the fridge or freezer, but leftover pasta dishes are never so great. To avoid this, we like to halve the pasta amount and store the remaining pesto for later use.
It’s From Scratch Stat’s one year blog-a-versary (give or take a few days)! Today I’m sharing this slow cooker creamy chicken tikka masala and my top ten favorite recipes that we have cooked up through the beginning of this blogging adventure. Are you ready?
I have a deep-seeded slow cooker aversion, likely instilled by my mother’s infamous pot roast. (Sorry mom.) Thanks to the afformentioned dish, I vividly remember the slow cooker’s religious revival. I don’t love dark meat (or most meats), so slow cooker recipes aren’t my usual style. Also, it’s usually just enough time to be too much time to let it go all day, and not enough to throw it together after work. While this recipe isn’t quite authentic (traditionally chicken tikka masala is marinated, then roasted, then slowly cooked), this is a perfect bowl of comfort for your slow cooker. And chances are you have all if not almost-all the spices needed on hand.
On a separate note: Maybe I’m rusty? Maybe Indian food is gloriously non-photogenic? Maybe this is what I get for not serving traditional birthday fare? Either way, as the holiday season comes to a close, I can’t help but be wholeheartedly thankful for this blog baby, those family and friends who have helped me make it to the beginning of the end of this medical school journey, our sweet brindle bundle of joy, Claudia, and the means to take part in a stellar holiday meal. What are you thankful for this holiday season?
I’ll give you a second to think. Meanwhile, let’s count down our top-ten favorite dishes this year:
10. This roasted tomatillo salsa converted me into a jalapeño lover.
9. The Middle Eastern flavors in this lentil burrito are TO DIE FOR.
7. Speaking of Thai: this pad thai peanut salad dressing is so simple, but so tangy and versatile.
5. There is always a batch of this whole wheat pita bread in our freezer. It’s perfect for sopping up anything from tzatziki sauce to runny egg yolk.
4. Speaking of runny eggs, if you are up for a challenge, this lemony eggs florentine dish is oh so worth the effort.
3. Mediterranean-inspired sweet potatoes converted me from a sweet potato hater to a sweet potato lover.
2. Espresso dark chocolate chip cookies were a huge hit with coffee and non-coffee lovers alike.
1. We made a version of this champagne truffle oil pasta with homemade pappardelle pasta that knocked everything else out of the water.
And that’s all folks. Welcome home 2016. Grab a blanket (or a bowl of this too easy chicken tikka masala) and get cozy. It’s going to be a wild ride.
- 2 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
- 1 1/3 cups (about 2 small) yellow onions, finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream (may sub half of cream with plain yogurt)
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- Cilantro or parsley for garnish
- In the bowl of the slow cooker, combine the onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, ginger, jalapeno, all of the spices, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine. Add the raw chicken and mix until thoroughly coated with sauce. Cook on lowest setting for 3-5 hours, until meat is cooked through.*
- Twenty minutes before the tikka masala is finished cooking whisk together the corn starch and heavy cream until smooth. Add cream mixture to slow cooker and stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. (We added ¾ - 1 more teaspoon of kosher salt). Replace the lid and finish cooking stirring occasionally. The longer the mixture sits, the thicker it will become.** Serve with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley and rice or naan.
- Serves 6
- * If cooking on high, check after 2 hours, and continue checking every 30 minutes thereafter. It should only take between 2 and 3 hours.
- ** If necessary raise heat to high.
Libbie Summers’ latest book, Sweet & Vicious is well what it sounds: fabulous, fearless, and reminds me to brunch with abandon and savor my eggs—poached not fertilized. Although this particular cinnamon roll recipe happens to appear on her gorgeous blog Salted and Styled, with recipes like Post-Coital Chocolate Pie, Salty Pumpkin Spice Cake, and Kickin’ Cornbread, I promise that you need the entire book in your life. Its outstanding wit, gorgeous photos, and occasional dose of sass make it the perfect coffee table book or Christmas gift for that fearless baker in your life. (It does in fact reside on our coffee table between uses.)
Just like Libbie’s wonderful book, these spicy overnight cinnamon rolls with pumpkin cream cheese frosting are not for the faint of heart. They are sweet, seasonal, and slightly sassy, boasting of a warm pumpkin glaze and a kick of cayenne for good measure. Libbie’s original recipe called for caramel cream cheese frosting, which is superb (by the spoonful). That being said, it is “winter” down here in Florida, so at the very least a pumpkin-spice twist was in order. This particular pumpkin cream cheese frosting is adapted from a book written by the folks at Alice’s Teacup—one of my favorite spots from my first visit to New York City, many years ago. As far as Sunday brunch is concerned, this pumpkin cream cheese frosting does not disappoint.
You may have keenly observed that even half a batch of these spicy overnight cinnamon rolls do feed a crowd (Christmas breakfast anyone?), but they also freeze wonderfully for baking in small batches later. After slicing the log, lay individual rolls flat in a ziptop bag to freeze, instead of refrigerating before the second rise. Allow to defrost in fridge overnight, and in the morning complete the second rise and bake as directed.
Don’t fear the heat. Take the risk. I promise your tastebuds and/or tablemates with thank you.
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
- 1 cup warm milk
- ¼ cup warm water, more if needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 5 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 4 tablespoons (¼ cup) ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground cayenne
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup pumpkin purée
- Butter the inside of a large mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix the milk, water, vanilla, 1 stick of butter, yeast, eggs, salt, sugar, and flour for 4-5 minutes, until a soft elastic dough has formed. The dough should be slightly tacky to the touch.* Once the desired consistency has been achieved, knead the dough for another 5 minutes, until smooth.
- Transfer the dough to the buttered mixing bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Meanwhile place spicy filling ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Butter two 9 x 13-inch round pans and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 16 x 24-inch rectangle. Using your hands, spread the remaining 1 ½ sticks of butter on top. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the butter layer. Starting at the long edge, loosely roll the dough into a round log.** Pinch the seam to seal.
- Using a serrated knife gently cut the log into twenty four 1-inch rolls. Space the rolls on the greased baking pan, without allowing them to touch. (At this point the dough can be covered and refrigerated overnight).*** Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F. Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile make the pumpkin cream cheese frosting.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat on medium speed about 1 minute, or until fully combined.
- Reduce speed to low, slowly adding the sugar/spice mixture. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the pumpkin, and beat at medium speed until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.
- *If the dough is too dry add more water one tablespoon at a time. Conversely if the dough is too wet add more flour one tablespoon at a time.
- **Libbie notes that rolling too tightly will make the centers of the rolls pop up while baking.
- ***At this point, rolls may be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. 1 ½ hours before baking, remove cinnamon rolls from the refrigerator and allow to rise at room temperature.
My favorite holiday dinner (and/or dessert) food: cranberry sauce. Hands down. When given the choice between Christmas cookies and a spoonful of cranberry sauce for dessert, the cranberry sauce always wins out. Now a spoonful of Nutella vs. my beloved cranberry sauce makes for a much tougher choice, but we’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it…
Somehow over the last 3-4 years my in-laws have designated me the cranberry sauce chief. (GO NOLES?) Probably, because year after year this cranberry sauce knocks our socks off. It is laced with a little bit of citrus and the vanilla bean adds that je ne sais quoi, balancing the bright orange notes perfectly. Although I’m easily pleased in the cranberry sauce department, this recipe has held strong as a family/ friend favorite year after year, and every year it takes all my will power to not eat it all standing right over the pot! Last year I made double and froze the leftovers, and this year I defrosted it the night before Thanksgiving on a gamble. I was fully expecting it to be terrible texture and taste-wise, but the bright orange-y notes and warm vanilla swirl were in FULL force, and it tasted just like it was fresh off the stove! Not that I am advocating that you leave this in the freezer for quite as long as I did… (Do as I say, not as I do). In light of this last minute success, I insisted on snapping a few photos just before the gang sat down to eat Thanksgiving lunch—in bratty food blogger style. You know, just in case. The lighting isn’t perfect, but the taste is on point. Once the bowl was licked clean, I knew that bad photos were a poor excuse not to share!
Although sometimes during the holiday cooking frenzy opening a can of cranberry sauce is just about all we can muster, I challenge you to try something new this year! Even the most elaborate versions of homemade cranberry sauce require very few ingredients, often have less sugar, and are incredibly easy to make. Not to mention, this recipe will make your house smell HEAVENLY. But don’t just take my word for it, try this citrus and vanilla laced homemade cranberry sauce today!
- 2 (12 oz.) bags fresh cranberries
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon (pinch of) salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
- Scrapings from ½ vanilla bean*
- Zest and juice the oranges. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the water, juice, granulated sugar, brown sugar and salt. Stir continuously until sugars have dissolved. Add the cranberries and stir until cranberries begin to pop.** Cook cranberry mixture, for about 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has thickened and the cranberries have cooked down, remove from heat and add orange zest and vanilla bean. Stir to incorporate. Cool to room temperature then store in the fridge until ready to eat (or for about three days).
- *The vanilla bean is optional, but oh so worth the splurge!
- **If you aren't sure if the cranberries are popping yet, then they probably aren't. It's quite loud and you'll know it when it happens! Just keep stirring patiently.