The Classics: Cinnamon Rolls

I want to start this off by thanking everyone who participated in the giveaway last week! The response was overwhelming and totally humbling. Thank you for taking time out of your day to leave a comment! What’s more, you guys didn’t just leave one worded messages, but instead gave me all of the details. I loved that! I enjoyed reading them all, because I definitely did take the time to read every single comment, from beginning to end. In fact, it was the highlight of my week, so thank you. It was also the highlight of my mom’s week, because she read them all too. I’d get a call from her every hour with, “Jon did you read that one comment?! Awwww, this one comment is great you should pick this one! These comments are so sweet! Jon can I pick the winner, huh huh huh can I? Can I?” It was a great experience over all, so thank you for making the first Candid Appetite giveaway such a success. You guys rock! There will definitely be more giveaways in the very near future, now that I know you guys like free stuff. I mean who doesn’t?!?! So in the end there could only be one winner (bummer I know), and my mamma ended up pulling out of a hat, Emily S. from Durham New Hampshire with her favorite dessert being the classic brownie! Let’s all give her a round of applause. Your book is on it’s way! 

Anyhow, enough about that. It’s time for another installment of my favorite new series called, The Classics. This time around it’s brought to you by the biggest cinnamon rolls you ever did see. They’re as big as my head and I can’t get enough of them. I’ve recently decided to declare today National Eat As Many Cinnamon Rolls As You Can Day, and I think we should ALL celebrate by eating as many cinnamon rolls as we can possibly fit into our faces. I know for sure I can eat six giant rolls without a problem. Don’t ask me how I know this….I may or may not have eaten all of these myself. And I regret nothing. 

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice before (maybe a million times) of how much I love cinnamon. It’s my favorite spice in the world, especially in the fall. There’s just something so great about it this time of year. Sure, it’s still a million degrees outside here in Los Angeles, and sure it still feels like a never ending summer, but in my mind it’s totally autumn and I’m spending my nights in front of a fire drinking lots of hot cocoa topped with a mountain of whipped cream and dusted with lots of cinnamon, eating a giant cinnamon roll. In my mind that’s how it’s happening. In real life, it’s so hot, I’m eating them in front of the air conditioning vent. Someone save me. 

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Pesto-Spinach Muffins

Whenever I decide to bake up a batch of muffins, some of the flavors that come to mind are blueberry, chocolate, banana nut, and perhaps bran (if I am in a healthy mood, which is practically never). The idea of savory muffins are somewhat new to me. I must admit that I have an inclination to think that muffins should only be sweet. Shame on me. Perhaps it is because this is all I am used to. I am a creature of habit and I do not normally eat or encounter, for that matter, savory muffins on a regular basis. Sweet muffins doused with sugar and made with tart fruit or rich chocolate chips is what I have become accustomed to. It is what I constantly surround myself with. I have recently learned that muffins can be savory as well, and in fact, they are even more delicious than sweet muffins. Forget everything you think you know about muffins. Put those blueberries, bananas, and chocolate chips on the back shelf and take out the cheese, the basil and the spinach; your life is about to change.

It might come off as quite a shock that I actually prefer savory over sweet. Do not get me wrong, I love dessert just as much as the next person, but I would much rather have a second helping of dinner than to save room for a sweet treat at the end of the meal. The idea of enjoying something cheesy, crunchy and salty is much more appealing, exciting and inviting than something that is creamy, sugary and chocolatey. There are few things in life that are more satisfying than warm, freshly baked bread. Now take that bread and mix it with homemade pesto and shredded mozzarella cheese, bake it until golden brown and you have yourself quite possibly the world’s best muffin. Ever.

The undeniable truth of this whole matter is that I really just wanted an excuse to eat green colored food. Green happens to be my favorite color and I will literally jump at any chance I am given to eat something that looks like it came out of one of Dr. Seuss’s books. Or something that Popeye himself would serve at his house. If I could get away with it, I would just add green food coloring to all my food. That however, does not sound too appetizing so I resist the urge everyday to reach into my pantry for the bottle of coloring. These muffins just so happen to get their green hue naturally from homemade pesto which is a double win because if you do not feel like making pesto-spinach muffins, well guess what, you now have a recipe for pesto that you can easily double and toss with cooked pasta. Weeknight dinner anyone? I think so. I think so.

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Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

The air is still and there is no sound to be heard anywhere. The dead silence, that of which would normally instill fear, is actually quite comforting. It is a different kind of silence. One that is alluring and peaceful. The sun has yet to make its presence this Sunday autumn morning. Bluish-gray shadows are cast throughout the sleeping house. The hour is far too early for anyone. Yet I awaken and get dressed. I wrap myself up in warm clothing. A heavy coat and scarf. I step outside into the chilly morning air. It hits me like a razor cutting my face, and it takes me a minute to register how cold it actually is. For a split second I rethink my idea. The warmth of my bed and the prospect of more sleep calls back to me. That second passes and I leave my home, a destination in mind, my family still sleeping. Still dreaming. I walk at a brisk pace, mostly because I have long legs therefore I naturally take long strides, but mainly because I am freezing and I figure walking fast will fix this problem. There is no doubt in my mind that fall has arrived. The leaves have changed their colors to those of an orange, yellow, red and brown hue. They have begun to fall, swirling through the air and gliding as with a purpose. A purpose to die. I marvel at how autumn makes everything look so beautiful. In my head I tell myself, “Jonathan, autumn makes everything look so beautiful.” Even small ordinary things that I would never have noticed before seem to stand out during this season. I glance around taking in my surroundings. The houses lining the streets seem so peaceful and festive with their pumpkin littered porches. Halloween decorations appear every now and then and I get excited. An excitement that appears during this time of year. Halloween is almost here, one of many holidays to come.

I walk through a park, a path of trees with nothing but nature on both sides and an empty playground. The leaves crunch under my feet as I continue towards my destination. The light begins to warm up and I stare up off into the distance and there like a beacon of hope, the sun has begun its decent. Through the mountains and the clouds, the trees and the leaves, the bushes and the grass, rays of sunlight creep through each crevice and hit the ground. The shapes and shadows that the light creates onto the fallen leaves brings back memories of elementary school. The days when life was so carefree and I knew nothing about worries and work. As a child, I’d throw myself on the ground, onto the grass and the leaves. I’d roll around and play without disturbance or burden. Life was so simple then and I am reminded of how one must cherish every moment in life, for it does not always last. I snap out of my trance and I remember of my goal this morning. I start up again, exiting the park and back to civilization.

I approach a small local mom and pop convenience store. Nice to see that they too are not immune to autumn and halloween. The glowing fluorescent light through the glass doors and windows invite and entice me. I walk up the steps onto the porch and I reach for the door. I enter—bell ringing—repeating the same words in my head, “Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese. Eggs, milk, potatoes, orange juice and cream cheese.” I repeat it over and over so as not to forget. I could have just written it down but I was far too lazy this morning. After all it was early. I gather my groceries and check out, bidding a thank you and good day  to the “I-would-rather-be-sleeping” clerk. Mom and pop decided to sleep in apparently. I exit, the bell jingling once more. I make my way back home, groceries in hand. I hold on to them tightly hoping that I do not have a Home Alone moment where the bags rip causing my groceries to fall on the floor. Luckily I make it home without such a travesty. I walk in and remove my scarf and coat. I hang them on the wall, taking off my shoes and schlepp the groceries to the kitchen. My domain. I put away my recent purchases and begin to rattle around through the cabinets. I take out a few skillets, turn on some music on low, and I begin to cook. As I put breakfast together, the house begins to awaken. I hear movement upstairs, the girls starting their routines. I’m greeted with one sister who has now entered the kitchen and begins to set the table. We hear a car pull up and it can only mean one thing, our sister has come for Sunday breakfast. Sure enough a familiar “hello,” echos through the house. My older sister holding her coffee—she has to bring her own as none of us drink coffee in our house—and the Sunday Times. It would not be sunday breakfast without the reading of the horoscopes.

Mom comes down just in time, at the precise moment when the bagels hit the table. Warm and aromatic, cinnamon raisin bagels that I made the day before. The girls stare at them with anticipation, for they know all too well what I was making yesterday. The long process had forced them to wait until this morning to eat one. However they are a perfect addition to the morning menu. Bagels are not as complicated as one might think. They do have various steps that need to be completed throughout an entire day or a two day process but for the most part, they are fairly simple. I often tell people that if I can do it, anyone can do it. We sit around the table, music still on, catching up on the weeks’ occurrences and the news that needs to be shared. I look around at the delicious food, and my beautiful family and I am filled with a joy that cannot be described or explained. Autumn is all about sitting around a table and catching up with family and friends. The fall seems to bring people together and it forces us to appreciate and thank those in our lives who make a difference. I am thankful for these women who have made my life so incredible and for all that they have taught me. The youngest in a family full of women is not always easy but it sure is fun.

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Irish Soda Bread

Nothing in this world is more terrifying than the thought of a bread-free existence. When an ingredient such as this, has taken over your entire life, and has been a part of you for as long as you can remember, how can one possibly think of living without it? Bread has been such an important staple, ever since we were children. All those endless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, growing up.  Opening our lunch bags and seeing those two heavenly slices of white bread with globs and globs of pb&j in the middle. Bless our parents for packing us lunch. We loved them so much, we ate them everyday. But that was just the beginning. As we got older and evolved, so did our sophistication for bread. Gone are the days of peanut butter and jelly, and here are the days of roast beef, oven roasted turkey, caramelized onions and dijon mustard sandwiches. We welcome them. We embrace them with open arms.

Bread is no longer just a vehicle for sliced meats, cheese and vegetables. It is now also a utensil for dips, spreads and flavored oils. It is something we snack on to get us through the day. It is toasted and chunked to make salads taste better and soups heartier and more substantial. Bread is made into crumbs and used as a coating to make things crispy. It is used as a side dish to numerous dinners and lunches. Big events like Thanksgiving wouldn’t be complete with our bread, in the forms of rolls. So why is bread so undeniably irresistible?

Well the answer lies in its ability to change and adapt. The beauty of bread is that it is unique and versatile. It is the one thing that ties so many countries together. A common thread, we all share. Whether it be croissants, pita, scones, tortillas, naan  or fry breads, we each have a bread that is a specialty in our homes and in our hearts. Ireland, for instance has soda bread. A hearty and rustic loaf made of white flour, buttermilk and often flavored with ingredients, such as currants. Whatever language we speak in and outside of our homes, there is one language we all understand, and that is bread. Fresh out of the oven, warm with delight, bread. So let’s lift a slice to all those bread makers out there. And to all who think that making bread is just too difficult, why don’t you try this one? It’ll make you look like a rock star.

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Cheddar-Dill Scones

Under the covers, you sleep. In a warm bed, cozy as can be, you dream about all the things that do not seem possible when you are awake. Not only are these situations and abilities attainable but they happen with such ease and precision that it seems unnatural. In sleep, you are transported to magical places. With each dream, such fantasies and tales come to life. They spiral out of control and shoot up straight to the sky. The unpredictable takes place and you somehow forget about all your troubles and fears. There is no place or room for nightmares in your dreams. Luscious lands, abundant with riches and love are all around  you. In dreams, you are never without. Food is piled high, like something right out of Willy Wonka. Oh how you dream about obtaining a golden ticket of your own and eating your way through chocolate rivers and edible hills and valleys. All the while short orange people with green hair are dancing around you as you devour everything and anything in sight. Food, food, food galore. Bubble gum that tastes like all the meals you love so much. Plants and trees that are not only edible, but deliciously delectable.

Suddenly, you begin to hear something. You cease from drinking the chocolate river. Put down the candy flowers and leaves, and stop to listen. You can’t quite make out what this peculiar sound is. The noise is somewhere far off in the distance, muffled and yet you cannot shake the feeling that you’ve heard it before. This particular sound has stopped you in your tracks and cemented your feet to the ground, rendering you immobile. Try as you might you cannot move. All of a sudden your body feels like it’s being pulled upward, stretching, and vacuuming you through a portal. Everything around you, the chocolate river, the candy plants, trees, leaves, and dancing oompa lumpas are just a blurred spiral, now. A vision that once was, but no longer there, just blurred streaks of color. As everything is moving rapidly, the sound is getting closer. Louder and louder, you make it out to be an annoying buzzing sound. But what in the world can it be? BUZZ. BUZZ. BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. BUZZZZZZZZZZZZ. BUZZZZZZZZZZZ. You start screaming, tossing and turning, using all of your body strength to stay with Charlie and his new factory.

Your eyes open, to the bright light that is filling your entire room. You start to familiarize yourself with all your belongings. You’re entangled in your soft and warm bedding. You realize that you’ve been laying down, head on a pillow, and it all starts to make sense; you’re awakening from a deep slumber. Angry at the alarm clock for waking you up from such a lovely dream, you hit it with an unnecessary force to make the noise stop. Silence. You’d like nothing more but to stay in bed, snug as a bug in a rug dreaming about tasty landscapes and chocolate rivers, but alas you must get up. You begin to think about how in the world you’ll get through the  day when all of a sudden your nose catches something distinctive and enticing. The smell of baking bread. You jump to your feet, and run out of the room like a bat out of hell. Stumbling and tumbling, you make your way to the staircase and take two at a time to get to the bottom. Your nose follows the wafting smell and places the source at the kitchen. You enter the kitchen, enthusiastically and lively, and make a B-line for the oven. Your heart starts to jump for joy as you realize that cheddar-dill scones are baking away, and what’s more, they are just about done. Glancing at the timer, you see that one minute is left, so you reach for a plate and a fork. 5-4-3-2-1-ding. With oven-mitted hands you carefully remove your newly discovered treasure, plate yourself two and go off into the sweet oblivion that is just-baked morning scones. Somehow your day has started off on the right foot. Yup, it doesn’t get any better than that.

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