Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sweet Potato Hash

A little off the main drag of Gradon's home town in Sandy utah sits a greasy spoon called the Belgian Waffle. Although the waffles are nothing to sneeze at, its real speciality is the “garbage hash.” It aint pretty, but it sure is scrumptious. Gradon douses it in tabasco sauce and nearly licks his plate clean every time.

Now that we're living on the other side of the country the poor man has been deprived. So I set out to mimic the famous dish, and according to Gradon i've managed to do it!

Since Gradon's birthday falls in October, I incorporated fall flavors by making a sweet potato hash. It turned out quite delicious! It's a wonderful pairing of sweet and savory. I knew I had succeeded when Gradon refused both ketchup and tabasco sauce. He said he didn't want to overpower the flavors. Say what? This is a man obsessed with sauce folks. Like he likes a little pizza with his ranch.

Enjoy this as an autumn breakfast! Or dinner for that matter. I topped it with fried eggs and served it alongside pumpkin biscuits.

Sweet Potato Hash
Adapted from Sunny Anderson
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces each) peeled and diced
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (I used Lawry's seasoned salt)

In a large pan (I used my 12 inch iron skillet) over medium heat, add the bacon and olive oil. After a minute or so, add the sweet potatoes and spread out as much as possible and let them rest in one layer. Leave them to cook until browned about 5 minutes. Then toss and let stand until most of the potatoes are browned and the bacon bits are crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes longer.

You will have uneven browning, but that's what gives it a nice rustic look! Using an iron skillet will also add a nice crust to your hash, ensuring a deep flavor. But if you don't have one, it'll still be great. Add the onions, garlic, jalapenos, cumin and salt and pepper. 

Allow everything to heat for another 2 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

I like to think that I planned a pretty sweet 26th birthday for Grades this year! I made him this delicious hash as well as a heart shaped tiered spin off of a "better than anything" birthday cake. Gradon has a special love for sweetened condensed milk so the cake was pretty much drowning in it. Still, he may have been able to handle more! I'm so pleased that my hubby has a sweet tooth. 

Although the cake was very tasty, the birthday highlight had to be seeing Eric Church in concert! We both LOVE country music so it was a real treat--and so lucky that his appearance landed right smack dab on G's birthday! It was very cool to sing some of our favorite songs along with him and the rest of the crazy crowd. And also nice to only need to walk across the street to the John Paul Jones Arena instead of having to sit in traffic. Other birthday fun included ordering colossal burgers at Boylan Heights and opening a few presents. What a grand day it was!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

I've been keeping secrets from you. Big, warm, doughy delicious secrets. But I did it for your own good. You see, I was saving this recipe for you so you could have it just in time for Thanksgiving!

These pumpkin rolls are a lovely compliment to your Thanksgiving spread. They are soft, plump and perfectly spiced.

The dough for these pumpkin rolls drives me wild! The color is rich and magnificent, and studded with little hints of spice.

Try them with this incredible fluffy honey butter and they will certainly contribute to your post-Thanksgiving coma. In a good way!

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Adapted from The Sister's Cafe

  • 4 tsp active dry yeast, or approximately 2 envelopes
  • 1/4 cup milk (not skim)
  • 5 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 15 oz can of pure pumpkin
  • egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tbsp of water)
Heat milk in the microwave until it feels warm (but not hot) on your finger and pour into the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir in the active dry yeast, and let stand for at least 5 minutes. Be sure that it fizzes at least a little. If it doesn't fizz, your yeast is dead, so please start again!

Combine the flour, spices and sugar and mix well. In a separate large bowl, lightly beat the two eggs, then stir in the melted butter, and the pumpkin. 

After the yeast has been activated, add the wet ingredients directly into the bowl of your stand mixer, and stir to combine. Then add 1/2 of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar & spices) from the other bowl, and stir to mix the dry and wet ingredients together. After it is well mixed, add the remaining 1/2 of the dry ingredients and mix again. Using the dough hook, let the stand mixer knead the dough until it is smooth and still somewhat sticky (3-5 minutes). Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let rise (preferably in a somewhat warm place) for approximately 1 hour (it will double in size).

Lightly grease a large baking dish or two, if needed. Then, remove the dough from the bowl, place it on a lightly floured surface and use your hands and a rolling pin to shape into a rough rectangle. Use a pizza cutter to section into 16-20 little squares. 

Then use your hands to shape into rolls, pinching the edges and placing the pinched sides face down into the pan so they are just barely touching the sides of one another. They will keep expanding during the second rise and in the oven as well.

After your dough is shaped, cover the baking dish loosely, and let it rise for another 1-1 1/2 hours.

Once your bread is ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and brush the top lightly with the egg wash. Bake bread for approximately 30-35 minutes. Slather with honey butter if desired!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Skillet Apple Crisp

I'm not an apple pie kinda girl. I could take it or leave it.

I have somewhat of a beef with pie crusts in general. Don't know how it happened, because my mom thinks it's the best part of the pie. Blasphemy! It's without question the ooey gooey inside. Am I right?

What I do go gah gah over is an awesome apple crisp. And this is it folks. This is the apple crisp that trumps all others. It involves tender (but not mushy gushy) apples enveloped in a dreamy syrup and covered in a perfectly sweet and crispy crumble.

Ice cream is not optional here! If you're a whipped cream kinda person you can substitute that. Drizzle a little caramel on top and prepare to be delighted beyond all reason.

The iron skillet is the secret to perfection here. I'm starting to think my iron skillet has been my best investment ever. I use it weekly. If you have yet to discover the wonders of the iron skillet, please go and get one! I got mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond for like 15 bucks. And it has repaid itself 100 fold by now I'm sure.

But back to this blessed crisp. I made this when my dad-in-law came to Cville all of the way from Utah last week and he couldn't get enough! In fact, all of us ate so much that we got sick off of it and spent the remainder of the night moaning and groaning in pain. So just make sure you have a few others to share this with, or you'll end up with a stomach ache. It's just so easy to keep scraping a little bit more out of the pan until well, it's all gone.

Skillet Apple Crisp
Adapted from: Brown Eyed Baker & Cooks Illustrated
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Topping:
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ¾ cup finely chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
  • 3 pounds Golden Delicious apples (or any sweet variety like crisp, pink lady, gala, fuji—do not use granny smith in this recipe) peeled, cored, halved, and cut into wedges
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Start with the Topping. Combine the flour, pecans, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the melted butter until the mixture is moistened and crumbly. Set aside.

For the filling, toss the apples, granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside. Bring the apple cider to a simmer in a 12-inch ovensafe skillet over medium heat. Cook until reduced to ½ cup, about 5 minutes. Transfer the reduced apple cider to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

Heat the butter in the now-empty skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add the apple mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples begin to soften and become translucent, 10-12 minutes. (Do not fully cook the apples) Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the apple cider mixture and toss to coat the apples.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool until warm, 5-15 minutes, and serve with a big scoop of vanilla (or in my case cookie dough) ice cream. To. Die. For.

Grades and I had the most marvelous couple of days spending time with his dad. We saw all of the sights, from Jefferson's Monticello, to Oriole Park, to Washington, D.C. It was a bit exhausting--we must have walked a million miles in D.C., but I wouldn't trade any of it! We're so delighted that he made the trip. It was an unforgettable experience having him here with us. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chicken Prosciutto Rollatini

Chicken can be super cute. These rollatinis are stuffed with prosciutto, cheese and red onion. My husband hates red onion but somehow loves these, so if you're not an onion lover, never fear! I'm willing to bet you will love these. 

Buy the thin chicken cutlets at the grocery store—otherwise you'll need to slice a regular chicken breast in half or pound it.

I resisted the urge to cover these rollatinis in an indulgent sauce and used lemon juice as a substitute for some of the oil in an effort to keep it on the lighter side.

Chicken Prosciutto Rollatini
Modified from Skinny Taste & Julia's Healthy Italian

Servings: 8
Serving Size: 1 chicken rollatini
Old WW Points: 4 pts
Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 168.6
Fat: 6.4 g
Protein: 22.1 g
Carb: 4.6 g
Fiber: 0.7 g
Sugar: 0.0 g


  • 8 thin chicken cutlets, 3 oz each
  • 4 slices (2.8 oz) thin lean prosciutto, sliced in half
  • 4 slices Sargento reduced fat provolone or mozzarella, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • olive oil non-stick spray
Combine breadcrumbs and grated cheese in one bowl and olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper in another bowl. Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.

Dip the chicken in the lemon-oil mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs mixture. Place each cutlet on a cutting board and lay 1/2 slice prosciutto, 1/2 slice cheese and a few slices of red onion on one side of the chicken cutlet.  

Roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish. Secure with a toothpick if needed. Repeat with the remaining chicken. When finished, top with remaining crumbs and spray lightly with oil. Bake 25 - 30 minutes and serve immediately.

It's been a while since I recapped on recent events, and I'd better put first things first. I'm late on this, I know, but on May the 12th, my dear friend Lisa Beth Jones was wed to her high school sweetheart, Christian. 

I can't express just how much I love and cherish her—my best friend since second grade—my lunch buddy, dance partner and co-founder of the buttercrunch cookie club at Kingsville Elementary. My fellow sun worshipper by the pool and at the beach in the summer time. And my partner in crime while playing hookie at the gunpowder river in high school. Her family is like my family, and I just wouldn't be the same without her.

She is kind, sensitive, adventurous and a free spirit. Oh, and she's totally gorgeous, as you can tell!

Here are some shots of her special day taken by Shelby Leigh Photography. She did a beautiful job capturing the spirit of the day.