Lemon Zucchini Muffins

Muffins have become a staple in the house, well, frankly because I purchased a muffin pan this season and wanted to get my money’s worth :).  I probably rotate between muffin recipes every week with one of them being these lemon zucchini goodness.  I had some zucchini in the fridge and wanted to originally make some zucchini bread.  Instead, I stumbled upon this recipe with a lemon-y twist.  And I don’t know about you guys, but I love anything with lemon and zesting!  These were a good alternative to the bakery style banana and blueberry muffins I typically bake.

Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk (or buttermilk)
  •  Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • cupcake cups (optional, for easier cleanup)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease muffin pan and set aside.
  2. Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Beat 2 eggs and add oil and sugar in a smaller, separate bowl, and mix well.
  4. Add milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest to the wet ingredients.
  5. Fold in zucchini and mix evenly.
  6. Add the wet ingredients with zucchini to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Be careful not to overtax (as with pancake batter).
  7. Pour into muffin pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes (until golden).

Best cinnamon rolls ever…

I have perfected these cinnamon rolls over the past year by practicing repeatedly.  I have made these more times than I can count and they’ve been a hit every time!  Not tooting my own horn, but I think the recipe was very easy to follow, which helped make these become the success that they are.

And with the Holidays coming, cinnamon rolls make the perfect, festive treat/breakfast!

The night before I decide to make these I leave 500g of butter and 1 8oz package of cream cheese out on my counter to soften.  I also use Instant Active yeast packets, which have been the easiest for me to use when making anything rise.

Full recipe found on Pinterest here: http://www.letsdishrecipes.com/2015/01/best-ever-cinnamon-rolls.html

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You begin by preparing the yeast/dough.  You gradually add flour to a sugar, milk, eggs, and yeast mixture.

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Add the flour 1 cup at a time until dough forms and flour is all incorporated.  The recipe calls for 5 1/2-6c of flour (it takes me 6c or more usually).  The right consistency is when the dough is a little tacky but can be shaped (see below).

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Let dough rise for 2 hours in a greased bowl covered with a kitchen towel or foil.

After the first rise, roll the dough out like below:

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Spread butter:

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Cover in brown sugar-cinnamon mixture:

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Roll tightly and evenly.  Then slice the rolled dough in sections (you should be able to get 16 rolls)…I use a spatula’s edge for this part.

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Let the rolls rise another hour in your baking pan:

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And then bake until golden brown (20-25 minutes)!

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I make the cream cheese glaze while the rolls are baking in the oven.  I also don’t glaze the cinnamon rolls until they are ready to be eaten in order to preserve their freshness.

Enjoy!  🙂

The best fluffy pancakes! …

Pancakes are a staple in our household.  And with plenty of practice over the years, I’ve gotten to perfect my recipe based on an All Recipe recipe I found.  With pancakes, always start by mixing  your dry ingredients separate from your wet ingredients.  Then combine.  With this recipe, you can add bananas, blueberries, or even chocolate chips to make whatever pancakes you’re craving.  Sometimes I just add a little bit of cinnamon for a vanilla, cinnamon-y plain pancake. I made homemade whipped cream and topped with coconut shavings and berries for this recipe’s photos.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • room temperature butter (for cooking)

 

 

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs and butter into milk.  Add vanilla extract.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix until lumps are gone.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with butter.  Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour batter onto the skillet.  Brown on both sides.
  5. Enjoy!

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Oven baked ribs…

Given that we are rarely (if ever) afforded a grill in the apartments we’re provided in this overseas basketball life, ovens must suffice when cooking meat (e.g. steaks, and in this post, ribs).  Because of this, I was always a little weary of cooking ribs for fear that they would not turn out how my Dad’s always do: juicy, tender, and fall off the bone nicely.  Well, I took the plunge recently and I was so pleasantly surprised.  They turned out just like my Dad’s.

Ingredients:

  • A rack of ribs (or as many that is fitting for the amount of mouths you’re feeding)
  • dry rub (you can purchase a dry rub readily at the store in the seasonings aisle or create your own using salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, etc)
  • BBQ sauce of choice
  • baking tray
  • foil

 

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Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven at 300F (150C).
  2. Coat your ribs with the dry rub you’ve purchased or made.
  3. Wrap your ribs with foil covering all of your ribs, like creating a pouch for them.
  4. Place on a baking tray and leave in the oven for 3 hours.
  5. After 3 hours have passed, take your ribs out and uncover.  Brush the ribs with BBQ sauce on all sides.
  6. Change the oven to the broil setting and broil the ribs for another hour.
  7. With 15 min left of your hour broiling time, brush the ribs with more BBQ sauce and place back into the oven for the last 15 minutes.

 

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Easy snacking…

I love charcuterie.  Having lived in Italy, I grew to enjoy meats and cheese especially prosciutto and bresaola.  For afternoon snacking, a charcuterie platter is perfect snacking for us (and not to mention it looks cute and put-together).  Meat, cheese, and I often make my own tomato for homemade bruschetta.

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I take a fresh baguette, cut it up, and brush with some olive oil (or truffle oil) and toast in the oven.  I also prepare some fresh tomatoes mixed with basil, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar for the bruschetta.  And then just cut up some cheese (my favorites are parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella) and meat (prosciutto, bresaola, jamon, etc…).  And there you go…delicious snacks prepared!

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Enjoy!

Truffle Parmesan Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorites dishes to make because it’s time consuming.  Say whaaaat?!  Yes, because it requires more time and attention than your average dish, which I actually find relaxing.  I find satisfaction in slowly adding a ladle of broth, one at a time, until the rice is cooked to perfection, and enjoying some red vino the entire time.

There are many different risotto recipes.  This recipe is creamy, truffly, and perfectly cheesy.  When you feel like cooking with some love and actually have no time restraints, this is a perfect dish to try.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp. truffle oil
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese (as desired)
  • chopped parsley
  • truffle salt

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Directions:

  1. First, heat the chicken broth until hot but not boiling.  Once heated, change the heat setting to low for the entire cooking time. dsc_0321
  2. Using a medium saute pan, saute the garlic, butter, and olive oil over medium heat 2-3 minutes. dsc_0317
  3. Add the 1 cup of arborio rice to the saute pan, constantly stirring until all of the rice gets coated with the butter/olive oil and becomes “toasty” (5 minutes approx.). dsc_0319
  4. Add in the 1/4 cup of white wine to the rice until it has fully cooked out (evaporated).
  5. Once the white wine is all incorporated, start adding the chicken broth one ladle at a time until the rice is al dente.  I usually try a grain here and there to determine how cooked the rice is. You should be doing this for a while, until almost all if not all of the broth is used.  Don’t forget to sip on your favorite vino while doing so.  I always usually have my music playing as well.  dsc_0322dsc_0325
  6. Once the risotto is cooked to perfection, add in the truffle oil and parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately and garnish with truffle salt and fresh parsley.  dsc_0329dsc_0326

 

 

Tuscan Spaghetti Carbonara

Having had the opportunity to live in Tuscany in the small city of Siena, Italy I relished having the most amazing ingredients readily available to me.  I was still learning my way around the kitchen then (now 4 years ago) and learned an overwhelming amount that year.  We made lifelong friends who were born and raised in the city so I had the perfect opportunity to truly learn about what the city had to offer.  Those friends taught me how to make several Tuscan dishes that are staples in our household today (Matt loves pasta, so I make it almost every night).

Carbonara is famous around the world and made in different variations.  But the Tuscan (Roman) way of cooking it is quite simple and very addicting – a few bites are never enough.  I learned to create it this way:

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Ingredients:

  • spaghetti
  • pancetta (in cubes), or bacon bits
  • olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • milk
  • pepper
  • freshly grated pecorino (or parmesan) cheese
  • Minced garlic or garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Do some prep work by grating fresh parmesan or pecorino cheese.  You’ll need about 1.5 cups.
  2. I start by cooking the pancetta pieces with olive oil in a pan.  Set aside.  And keep the pan as is (with pancetta juices :)).
  3. Boil the water with salt and add a half box of spaghetti.  Cook until al dente.  DO NOT OVERCOOK THE PASTA.  Overcooked pasta is THE WORST.
  4. Meanwhile, beat two eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, add black pepper, and I add some garlic powder.
  5. When the spaghetti is al dente, strain, and transfer to the pan you cooked the pancetta pieces in and toss around in the juices.
  6. On low heat, add the egg-milk mixture.  Toss around.  Warning: the eggs may curdle but lee tossing and mixing with the spaghetti until well incorporated. 
  7. Slowly add the grated cheese.
  8. Serve immediately.

(Over the years I’ve learned to cook without measuring exact amounts, which is why some of my recipes (mostly go-to recipes) do not necessarily have exact measurements.  I eye everything, but I’ll do my best moving forward to provide some sort of measurements in the future).

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Bakery Style Blueberry Muffins

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I’ve been on a muffin kick lately…and this morning I tried Little Sweet Baker’s Bakery Blueberry Muffins.  This was the exact same recipe as the chocolate chip muffins I recently posted about except with blueberries and some streusel!  And they were delish!  Super easy and quick as well.

 

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Try her recipe here:

Bakery Style Blueberry Streusel Muffins (video)

Easy bakery style chocolate chip muffins…

(Since apparently I’m unable to install any plug-ins because I’m currently using WordPress.com instead of WordPress.org, the recipe for these muffins must be freehanded (no fancy recipe format).  UNTIL…I figure it all out and get it working…sigh.  Still trying to navigate all the features available to me so bear with me.)

Anyway!  These muffins were perfection.  I baked them simply out of boredom and they ended up being super easy, fast, and delicious – my kind of recipe!  I had never made muffins before because I’ve just never been a “muffin person.”  However, Matt is, so I decided to give it a go.  Definitely quick and easy…a recipe that you’ll most likely always have ingredients on hand for.

This recipe is off of The Little Sweet Baker site, which offers many delicious recipes btw.  I followed the recipe to the T except for the amount of baking time.  Every oven is different (I definitely learned this the hard way over the years), and my muffins cooked within 10 minutes (instead of the recipe’s recommended 13-15 minutes, if you cook or bake a lot you know there’s a difference even in just one minute of baking time).  Because I’m frequently moving year to year, and to a different country every year, my trust in ovens has been almost non-existent.  Therefore, when following recipes I tend to bake things for a few minutes less than the recommended amount of time and go from there.

 

These muffins will definitely become a staple this season and you can find the recipe here:

Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Muffins {video recipe}

Enjoy!

Go-to chicken recipe…quick, easy, delicious

My first season traveling overseas was the first time I learned how to actually cook, and cook with passion and a bit more skill.  Our home that year (now 4 seasons ago) was in the heart of Tuscany in Italy in a little city that stole my heart called Siena.   The world’s most amazing vino and pasta made this home culinarily perfect.  I had access to the freshest ingredients and met friends who were so willing to teach me their true Tuscan ways in the kitchen.  I learned amazing dishes that I cook time and time again.  One of these was this bone-in chicken recipe: rosemary, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh red onions.  As with all my go-to dishes, measuring how much of everything to add kinda just goes out the door.  I just simply eyeball everything depending on how much chicken I have.

And so here it is:

  • After rinsing your chicken, marinate (at least overnight) by adding balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt, and pepper.  (If you want to cup up red onions they add a little flavor, and I love how they caramelize as it bakes).
  • Bake the next day at 200C for 1:30.

Enjoy!