Aunt Jill’s Cinnamon Rolls in the CROCK POT!!!

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My aunt Jill has a knack for finding great easy recipes. This cinnamon roll recipe totally won our hearts a few years back and I’ve been super obsessed with them ever since. This year, when researching recipes for Thanksgiving, I came across a cookbook of all sorts of crazy things you can make in a crock pot. It turns out, you can make cinnamon rolls in a crock pot! Who knew! And let me tell you, these things are awesome! They are also going to be the perfect home cooked breakfast over my mini Thanksgiving vacation 🙂

So you can use your favorite cinnamon roll recipe and throw it in your crock pot (lined with parchment paper), or you can join my family and try out my Aunt Jill’s cinnamon rolls 🙂

This recipe includes 2 tips & tricks… 1) I’m making the dry mix before I go and packing it in a ziplock bag, that way when I’m ready to make them, all I have to do is add the wet ingredients and roll them out, which brings me to … 2) Don’t have a rolling pin? Use some parchment paper & a wine bottle to roll it out just as thin as you like!

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And now for the recipe…

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 4 TBSP earth balance
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (to add at the end if you like your cinnamon rolls gooey)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Drop of almond milk

Directions:

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, salt & baking soda. Add the oil and almond milk and mix until a dough forms.
  • Roll out the dough to make it as long and thin as possible without ripping (about 1/4-1/2 inch).
  • Spread the earth balance evenly across the dough
  • Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle all over the the dough.
  • Roll the dough up long ways so you end up with a long snake, then slice in 1 1/2 inch slices.
  • Line your crock pot with parchment paper and place the cinnamon rolls on top. Cook on the high setting for about an hour and a half. You will likely see steam cover the inner lid of your crock pot. This happens more as the cinnamon buns are almost done. Just use a paper towel to wipe the lid periodically.
  • When the cinnamon rolls are done, you can either mix powdered sugar with a drop of almond milk to make a frosting to drizzle on top, or you can pour some almond milk on top all the rolls to make them nice and gooey, or you can do both!

*If you’d rather go the traditional cooking route, you can also bake these in your oven at 400*F for 15-20 minutes

Enjoy! And if you need more of a step-by-step here are some pictures to help you out 🙂

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After mixing the dough, roll it out… no rolling pin? No problem as long as you have wine 🙂 When I am not in a kosher kitchen, or when I don’t have kosher counter tops, I roll my dough out on a flexible cutting board and use parchment paper as a barrier between the bottle and the dough. This keeps the bottle mostly clean 🙂

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After rolling out the dough, spread the earth balance and sprinkle the cinnamon & brown sugar.

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Roll the dough up length-wise then…

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Slice the rolls and …

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Place in your crock-pot lined with parchment paper and heat on high for 1 1/2 hours

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If your crock pot gets steamy, wipe the lid and let the cinnamon rolls keep on cooking

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When they are done drizzle with frosting/glaze and enjoy! These are great hot, but they are also great cold so really, there is no going wrong here 🙂 Enjoy!

Tips & Tricks: Freeze Everything!

Okay… so maybe not everything, but there are many surprising things that you can freeze that make going home that much easier! Keeping a well stocked freezer can make cooking in a non-kosher kitchen a bit easier. If your family is okay with it, keep a few key things in your home freezer. If freezer space is already limited, freeze ingredients before you go home and then use them when you get there. In a suitcase many frozen meats will stay frozen for even 6-7 hours! When I am traveling with frozen meats/other ingredients I also try to pack them with an extra freezer pack just to be sure it will stay food safe when I get home 🙂

 

Here’s the short list of the things that surprised me…

  • Raw dough… think challah dough, cookie dough, pizza dough…skys the limit!
    • Some things to keep in mind:
      • braid challah dough before freezing, when you defrost follow similar directions to store bought frozen challah dough
      • spoon your cookie dough out on a flat tray and freeze overnight. Then you can throw your raw dough in a ziplock bag until you are ready to throw them in the oven… or eat them raw… no judgement
      • Dough in general… be sure to wrap it really well… dough freezes well but it can still get freezer burn so wrap that thing up!
  • Cheese… I wouldn’t recommend freezing all cheeses but, I haven’t met a shredded cheese that doesn’t freeze fantastically. I’ve even frozen fresh mozzarella (I know it ironic)! Freezing cheese is perfect because it can last up to a year… or possibly longer without going bad! This is especially helpful when getting kosher cheese to your family’s house isn’t the easiest, so you can stock up and keep that freezer packed!
  • Meat… this one is pretty obvious but here are some things to keep in mind…
    • Raw meat can only be frozen once… if you bought it frozen, keep it frozen. If you bought it fresh, freeze within 3-4 days for maximum freshness. When you are ready to use it defrost it (or don’t depending on your recipe) and enjoy!
    • Cooked meat… after meat has been cooked you can freeze the extras for easy meals that just need to be heated up. Be sure to wrap it well.. I generally try to eat cooked meats within 3 months
  • Soup! Soups generally freeze well and when you leave it in the fridge overnight, it’s ready to heat up quickly the next day!
  • Extra ingredients that are likely to go bad before you get a chance to use them… Think, ground fresh ginger, garlic, cooking wine, egg whites… you name it!

What not to freeze…

  • Cooked potatoes… I’m sure there are other things that are not good for freezing… but this is all that comes to mind 🙂

My new favorite Meatloaf

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Meatloaf is one of my favorite foods. This recipe is whole 30 approved (thank you baby sistah & brother in law!) and includes some tricks for when you have limited kosher tools 🙂 *Spoiler alert: ziplock bags!*

Disclaimer: I used two different ground meats because I had them and because as much as I like lamb, sometimes its a bit strong so I like to mix it with something lighter. You could easily make this with just ground turkey or ground beef. If you do make this with just ground beef, I might add more sweet potato… maybe, but that’s just me.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground turkey
  • 3/4 lb ground meat (I used lamb, you could use ground beef)
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & cut very small
  • 2 TBSP flax seed powder (or 1/2 cup oats)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce (I used Paesanna’s Sicillian gravy)
  • 2 Dates cut small
  • 1 Shallot finely sliced
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 5-6 dates cut small (or 1/4 cup brown sugar)
  • 2 TBSP dijon mustard

Tools:

  • One good knife
  • One paper plate
  • clear cup for checking egg
  • 2 Ziplock bags
  • Aluminum pan
  • Optional: parchment paper

Directions:

Using the knife and paper plate, start by finely chopping the sweet potato, shallots, and first two dates. In the first ziplock bag, combine the finely chopped sweet potato, shallots and dates with the two ground meats, flax seed powder, egg, 1/4 cup of tomato sauce and a dash of salt and pepper. Press out as much air as you can, then seal the bag up and squeeze, smush etc until you’ve got everything all nicely mixed up 🙂

Then line your aluminum tin with parchment paper and form two loaves from your meat mixture. Bake uncovered at 350*F for 45 minutes. In the meantime, take the second ziplock bag and add the remaining ingredients: 1/2 cup tomato sauce, finely cut dates and mustard. Close and mix in the same way you did the other bag. Try to get the date pieces as small and fully mixed in as possible so the flavor spreads more evenly. After the meatloaf has baked for 45 minutes, take it out and cut the corner of the ziplock bag with the sauce in it. Pipe the sauce on to both loaves and spread it so each is evenly covered, then put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

I am going to try to figure out the timing for making this recipe double wrapped in the oven for those who don’t have a kosher oven at your disposal… stay tuned 🙂

*UPDATE* When making this recipe, double wrapped in aluminum foil in an oven, add an additional 20-30 minutes. You will see that there is a lot more liquid in the pan, but it’s just as tasty!

Here is the picture step by step 🙂

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Look how tiny I cut the sweet potato! The last time I made this recipe I was home and was able to use my food processor… I think all things considered, I did a good job getting this guy pretty tiny 🙂

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Everything is in the bag now, all that’s left is to close and smush it all together!

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Pretty little loaves ready for the oven!

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After the first baking! Notice how the shallots are on top? Yea… I forgot to include them in the meat mixture… it’s never too late!

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Using my mixing bag as a piping bag… yay for no dishes! Hooray for ziplock!

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It’s all done! If you noticed that the cut loaf looks shorter than just the one piece that’s missing… you might be right… and I just might have eaten some… what can I say, I could’t resist! 🙂

Going Home? Here’s what you need to know…

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When you are a baal/baalas teshuva, going home *especially at the beginning* can feel overwhelming. You love your family, of course, but if your family doesn’t keep kosher, or don’t keep to your new standards, things can be a bit tense. That’s where these questions come in. With a little bit of planning, your visit home can be an enjoyable time to reconnect with those you love.

This set of questions is intended for you to use as a guide– really more of a conversation starter with your LOR (Local Orthodox Rabbi) or a mashpia/advisor. Having good people to ask questions will make things MUCH easier 🙂

1)What is the cooking situation in your families kitchen? What kind of stovetop do you have? What kind of oven? Are there ways to kasher these? How can you deal with non-kosher sinks and counter tops?

  • Many stove-tops can be kashered with some pretty easy steps, ovens that are self-cleaning are able to be kashered too. Is your family open to you kashering parts of their kitchen for the short term? If not, investing in an electric skillet could be a cheap way to make things easier. Talk with your LOR/Advisor about your options

2) Are there any issues with non-frum or possibly non-Jewish family helping you cook?

  • There are some pertinent halachos regarding turning on flames/ovens, there also may be things to be careful of such as not placing your cookware/dishes in the non-kosher sink. This question in particular is a great one to talk with an advisor about. Maybe even a friend who has been frum for a while and has some more experience- especially when it comes to finding the words to thank family for their help, while still staying true to halacha.

3)How long will you be home for?

  • For shorter trips home, sometimes its easier to bring mostly prepared foods/easy to prepare foods. For longer trips home it might be worth investing in some more cookware to be able to prepare more foods.

4)What kinds of kosher food will you be able to buy when you get home?

  • Is there a kosher grocery? If you keep cholov yisroel/pas yisroel/bishul yisroel do they have the products you would need? Are there any kosher restaurants near you? Do they have acceptable hechsherim?

5)What kinds of foods do you want to be able to have while you are home?

  • Based on what you know about your local groceries, what should you plan to bring with you from the frum community you are in? I often stock up cheeses, meats and wine. The good thing is, these freeze or keep well so I can keep my parent’s freezer well stocked and ready for future trips home. Especially for beginning trips home, it’s probably a good idea to write out a general menu for yourself- that way you will have an idea of what foods you will need to bring with, and what you can pick up once you are already there.

6)What kinds of ‘issues’ do you anticipate having with your family?

  • Does your family make a big deal about eating together? Do they care if you eat off paper plates for every meal (mine did… boy was that a surprise!) Are there any kosher treats your family might love? (I am all about bringing home the best that kosher has to offer… my family has always been pretty in to food, so bringing home some great bakery treats, fancy ice creams, those new caramels, that great new sauce… yeah, I try my best to impress them so they won’t care as much about all my new rules), Do they like to share? Should you bring extra food so you won’t feel like you are running out when your big sister is always staring longingly at your plate instead of her own?

7)What about shabbos?

  • Will you stay home? Is there a frum community or chabad house you can go to ?

 

Okay well, that should give you a good start. I know it can feel overwhelming, just remember that your family loves you, and sometimes a deep breath can go a long way. Also know, even if things don’t go the way you hope, they can and will get better and more enjoyable over time! Wishing you much hatzlacha and shalom bayis!

Peaches & Cream

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Peaches are the major highlight of my summer. But travel is also a big component of my summer so when ingredients are fresh, but I’m leaving town, I’ve got to figure out what can be eaten, what can travel, and what can freeze… and how to do all that in a way that leaves me with good food …

So here’s what I’ve learned about cream. Have you ever frozen cream? Freezing milk works for the most part, but cream… not so much. When you freeze cream, you might find it looks clumpy when you de-frost it. After extensive google research, I’ve read that it’s still edible, but you will notice a difference in texture, and that difference kind of takes the fun out of cream…after all, who wants clumps in their cream?

However, if you make something with your cream, you can freeze the product and and it works perfectly. This is obvious when it comes to making ice-cream, but you might be surprised to hear that making a basic whipped cream will work too!

Basic Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • Heavy Cream
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla

Tools Needed:

  • Electric mixer or you can try an immersion blender as long as you are careful not to over whip and turn your cream in to butter… although butter will keep well too 🙂

Directions:

In a large bowl, begin whipping the cream and sugar. I generally will add about 1/4 cup sugar for 2 cups of cream, but if you like it sweeter you can add more. Be careful when whipping the cream. You want peaks to form (meaning when you lift the mixer the cream will hold it’s shape a bit) but if you over whip, it will become butter.  Toward the end add a tsp of vanilla.

This cream will taste wonderful fresh, but if you are in a hurry to leave town, or don’t want to end up eating two cups worth of fresh whipped cream all on your own, then you can keep your whipped cream in the freezer. When you want to eat it, scoop it on to you favorite fruits, cakes, pies etc. and let it sit out for a few minutes to defrost. You should find that your whipped cream will quickly return to it’s light and fluffy texture in no time. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Rice

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Cooking in a non-kosher kitchen has it’s challenges. While it is ideal to kasher ovens or stovetops, sometimes that isn’t possible due to timing or family tensions. That’s where this handy trick comes in. If all you have available to you is a non-kosher oven, you may be able to double wrap your food in foil and then bake it- ask your local Orthodox Rabbi for more information. 🙂

This rice recipe is really easy and the rice comes out really nice and fluffy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of a rice of your choice (I used brown rice)
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. Oil an aluminum pan and add rice and water according to the proportions listed on the rice package. Wrap the bottom of the aluminum pan with a layer of aluminum foil and wrap the top with two layers making sure to completely seal the pan. Put in the oven and bake for about an hour- mine was done in an hour and 10 minutes. If you want to check on the rice lift the pan and tilt it to feel if there is still water loose in the pan. If you do open the foil and the rice is not done yet, be careful to fully double wrap it before returning it to the oven. Once the rice is done open it and fluff it with a fork and enjoy!

One Pan Egg Rolls!

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Egg Rolls are definitely one of those things you might think are hard to make and time consuming too… truth is, I threw some frozen Egg Rolls in the oven and started making these from scratch at the same time and these were done first, tasted better, and were much easier than I thought 🙂 Here’s the recipe- best part is, all you need is a flame and a single pan!

Ingredients:

  • Shredded Cabbage- many bags of cole slaw have a hechshire
  • 1 package of mushrooms
  • 1 package of tofu
  • 1 package of egg roll wraps- Nasoya is kosher
  • Soy Sauce or Tamari between 1/4 and 1/3 of a cup
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Oil- for pan frying

Directions:

Clean and chop the mushrooms and start to sautee them in a non-stick frypan over medium heat. Meanwhile squeeze the water out of the tofu and break it up with your hands and add to the frypan. Add the package of shredded cabbage and a decent amount of soy or tamari sauce and pepper. Stir every few minutes until the cabbage is soft. When the mixture is cooked turn off the heat and use a cutting board as a clean space to wrap the egg rolls.

Open the package of egg roll wrappers and follow the package directions to fill and roll them. Make sure to squeeze out any extra liquid from the cabbage mixture when filling the wrappers. Since my family’s counter tops are not kosher, I keep them clean and always put a cutting board or plate down to use as a work surface. Once you have used up all the filling clean and dry your frypan to get ready to fry. Add oil to cover the bottom of the pan and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot add one egg roll – if the oil is hot enough you will see it start to bubble slightly and you can add the other egg rolls. After a couple minutes when the bottom is brown, turn each egg roll to brown all sides. When done put on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the oil.

That’s it! The whole process should take less than 45 minutes and it makes a great dinner or appetizer for your whole family.