Good morning, friends!
A couple weeks ago, Matt and I were debating what to do for Valentine’s Day. The past couple years we’ve gone out to eat, so Matt suggested doing a throwback to our early dating years and staying in and cooking this year. Sounded good to me!
It is so awesome that Matt enjoys cooking. He came up with a secret menu and headed off to the grocery store for provisions while I hit up the gym and randomly had an awesome treadmill workout (I usually HATE the treadmill). I ran 4.5 miles at about an 8 min/mile pace, varying speeds for most of it to challenge myself. Win! I think I was just so happy to be doing a flat run that it went by quickly! All my runs lately have been SO hilly!
By the time I came home, the kitchen looked like a bomb went off and the dinner preparations were in full force!
I showered, cracked open a bottle of wine, and watched the action unfold. And yes, there’s flour/dough on the wine. You’ll see why shortly. 😉
Sidenote — I LOVE this wine. This is our third time buying it and I never usually buy wine at the grocery store more than once! It’s a blend but tastes like a Pinot Noir — very smooth. I have no idea if it’s distributed all over or not, but if you ever see it, try it.
Before too long, it was time to feast! For our appetizer, Matt made a delicious butternut squash soup.
It was REALLY good. Matt said he basically winged the recipe based on a few he found online, but he sautÃ©ed some onions, celery, and garlic in butter, then added them to a pot with chicken broth and cubed butternut squash. He simmered the mixture and then used my immersion blender to make it smooth. I was impressed — it tasted just like a restaurant soup! Very flavorful. He said he added a number of herbs to the mix as well, and garnished it with some fresh cilantro.
If you guys are interested I can try to get a more specific recipe from him!
Next up was the main course — parmesan encrusted pork chops and sautÃ©ed green beans and cherry tomatoes!
Major yum. For the pork chops, I think he dredged them in a milk/egg mixture and then used Italian bread crumbs and parmesan cheese to coat them — probably with some herbs as well. He seared the chops in a pan with olive oil just for a minute or two on each side and then stuck the whole pan in the oven to bake them for the rest of the time. This is a trick we picked up at a meat cooking class we took in DC ages ago — it really keeps meat juicy! Great for cooking steak.
And now — for dessert! Matt is a big fan of cooking but never usually bakes; he apparently found this recipe for cinnamon roll muffins (!) on a friend’s gchat status earlier this week and was inspired to make them! I’m not really into chocolate or cake (I know, weird) — but cinnamon rolls? YES PLEASE!!
When I came home from the gym and Matt asked “Do we have a rolling pin?” I knew that dessert was going to be good. But then I realized… we don’t own a rolling pin. I know, I know. And I call myself a food blogger. Clearly I never do any complicated baking.
Good thing wine bottles are multi-purpose.
Matt followed the original recipe for cinnamon roll muffins almost exactly, except that we used a little less brown sugar and butter than it called for in the layer (because our dough wasn’t as thin/wide as it should have been since our cutting board isn’t that large). We also added a lot more cinnamon since you can never have too much cinnamon.
It was fun watching the whole process — apparently making cinnamon rolls is easier than I thought — no yeast or dough rising or anything involved, at least in this recipe.
I loved that these were made in muffin form — just slice and pop into a muffin tin!
We baked them for 20 minutes, but probably should have stuck with 15 to get the more gooey/raw texture that cinnamon rolls usually have. Either way, they were AMAZING.
The recipe also included icing, which Matt made a variation of — I think he followed the recipe but also added a little butter (since there was still some left in the pan) — and, of course, cinnamon!
SO good. We were both saying “mmmm” the whole time and went back for one more to share since they are pretty small.
What a delicious dinner. I was so impressed! Thanks, Matt.
The only downside? When we were done… we had THIS waiting for us.
It’s even worse than it looks, since the rest of the kitchen was a mess, too. Matt hasn’t exactly perfected the art of cleaning up as he goes so between the soup, the entrÃ©e, and the cinnamon rolls… it was a hot mess.
This is my new favorite photo, lol:
Hehe. Don’t worry — with a little teamwork (he washed, I dried/stored leftovers, etc.) the kitchen was good as new in 20 minutes.
I hope you’re all having a wonderful Wednesday, friends! Time to get some serious school work done, perhaps with a walking break thrown in there somewhere — it’s GORGEOUS out today in Chapel Hill!