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!