Happy Holidays!!

In our family, rather than race to the tree on Christmas morning, we always raced to the kitchen table where we knew Grandma's caramel rolls would be waiting for us when we woke up. Probably because we knew our stockings would still be there after we indulged, while there was only one center caramel roll. And once it was gone, it was gone until next year! I am a very sensory-oriented person: smells and tastes register memories instantly and perhaps more intensely than anything else for me. And smelling and tasting these caramel rolls is like an instant time travel to Christmas at Grandma's. You, of course, may not time travel to my grandmother's house upon eating these, but I'm sure you'll be impressed and want to start a tradition of your own with them!

Grandma's caramel rolls

sweet dough

2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 packages of active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
7 to 7 1/2 cups flour, divided (2 cups, then 5 to 5 1/2 cups)
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

caramel sauce

1 1/2 sticks butter
2 cups cane brown sugar
1/2 cup white Karo syrup
Pecans, if desired

Combine the lukewarm milk, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl and let stand for five minutes. Add eggs, butter, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix well. Then slowly add 5 to 5 1/2 cups more flour until the dough is well formed and doesn't stick to the bowl. Place in a large, greased bowl and cover with a greased plate or greased plastic wrap. Let rise until double, about an hour. Punch down, then let rise again until doubled, also about an hour. Make the caramel sauce while the bread is rising by melting 1 1/2 sticks of butter in a sauce pan and then adding the brown sugar and white karo syrup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Take off the heat and pour into four greased cake pans. Add pecans to the pans, if desired. Let cool while the dough finishes rising. After the second rising, turn out onto a large, floured surface. Divide dough in half, and roll each half into a ~12X16 rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll up and cut into 3/4" pieces. Place on top of cooled caramel sauce. Let rise again for about 25 minutes and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Turn over onto a plate and serve warm- they are amazing warm. You can also turn out onto a piece of aluminum foil and wrap up for easy storage. Enjoy!!


How is it already approaching the end of December?! I cannot believe how quickly this fall has flown by. I think the unseasonable weather has got us all confused. We actually set a record here in Baltimore last weekend with highs in the seventies! As much as I wince at the thought of global warming being responsible for these warm days, I do have to say I've been appreciating them. I've actually been surprised to find how much these warms days have been affecting what I've been eating. Usually by December I've switched to a diet consisting of mostly everything besides fresh fruits and vegetables. But this year, I'm still really into fresh farmer's market finds! It probably helps that the farmer's market near my place runs until mid-December, unlike the farmer's market I used to go to in my old neighborhood. So, I'm still cooking and eating things that I once only thought of as summer favorites. Don't tacos just make you think of warm, bright, sunny days? That's what I think of at least. So maybe it's the weather, or maybe I just needed a taco kick:)

carnitas tacos with stewed black beans

3 1/2 to 4 pound pork shoulder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup salsa
1 jalapeño, sliced

1 red pepper, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced

1 can black beans, mostly drained but a little liquid reserved
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste if you like it spicy!)
1/2 teaspoon salt

corn tortillas, sour cream, and avocado for serving

Place the pork shoulder in the crockpot. Mix the spices together in a small bowl and then rub the mixture all over the pork shoulder. Pour the salsa over the seasoned meat, add the sliced jalapeño, and turn the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. The meat is ready when it is easily shredded with a fork. Once ready, remove the meat from the crockpot and shred with two forks. Remove the liquid from the crockpot and place in the refrigerator for a couple hours or overnight so that the fat can separate out. Scoop off the top layer of fat and discard. Return the remaining liquid (though, it will likely be a little jello-y) to a saucepan and simmer for about 20-30 minutes while you prepare the tacos. Meanwhile, add the can of beans to another small sauce pan with the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and salt. Let simmer while you prepare the peppers and onions. Sauté the sliced peppers and onions over medium heat until nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Layer the meat, sauce, beans, and peppers and onions over a tortilla and top with sour cream and avocado (and cheese if you want!) to serve!


I am a breakfast person. Not necessarily the pancakes and syrup on Sunday type, but definitely the breakfast is the most important meal of the day type. I'm usually pretty habitual (and some may say boring) with my daily breakfasts: oatmeal it is! Plain, too! No nuts or berries or cinnamon or brown sugar. Every once in a while I'll jazz it up with one of those ingredients, but for some reason I just always enjoy it most when it's plain (but with a little drizzle of soy milk, of course!). Oatmeal has been my go-to breakfast for years... and now that I think of it, it's been my go-to for so many years that I should probably just replace "years" with "my entire life" haha. But apparently I have a hidden interest in experimenting with breakfast lately, given the fact that the last two recipes I've posted have also been breakfast recipes! Hopefully that's not breakfast overload?! At least there's some variation since I started with a savory cast iron skillet quiche and then moved to a sweet pumpkin bread french toast and now I'm back on the savory side of things with this amazing hash! I guess I just hadn't thought of how breakfast has just as many creative kitchen possibilities as any other meal of the day until now. This hash takes a bit of prep work, but it is very easy to make and is a perfect winter weekend breakfast. It's even good enough to make me switch up my faithful Monday-Friday oatmeal routine, and that's saying something!

chorizo, sweet potato, and red potato breakfast hash

1 green pepper
1 onion
2 sweet potatoes
10 1 1/2" red potatoes
~3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 package chorizo
1-2 eggs/person (this recipe should serve 4)
avocado for serving

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Roughly dice the onion and the green pepper into 1/2" pieces and toss on a cookie sheet with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Roast for 10 minutes, flipping half way. Meanwhile, slice the sweet potato into 1" chunks and quarter the red potatoes. Combine the potatoes in a large bowl, toss the potatoes with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and sea salt. When the green peppers and onions are done, take them out of the oven and add to a serving bowl. Spread the potatoes over two cookie sheets and bake for 25 minutes, flipping half way. The potatoes should be nicely browned on multiple sides and easily pierced with a fork when done. While the potatoes are roasting, cook the chorizo according to package directions. I left it on the stove probably 3 minutes longer than suggested just to brown it a little bit. Once everything is done roasting/browning, make a sunny side up egg by cracking an egg over a greased skillet over medium heat. Turn down to low and let cook until the tops of the whites are set but the yolk is still runny, about 3-5 minutes. Now you can either mix everything together or plate it separately, but either way, definitely serve with a fresh avocado! You can also wrap it up in a corn tortilla for a breakfast burrito if you want! Here come lotssss of pictures. It was so beautiful, I had to!