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Kid Approved


Cinnamon Twists

Pickmonkey Cinnamon Twists

When I was growing up, both my mom and grandma took us to a grocery store called, The Fresh Market.  To my knowledge, they are across the United States, so I’m sure you are probably familiar with it.

Apart from having organic food items, they had and still do have an  AMAZING Bakery!

Well,  it was considered AMAZING to a little child growing up.

We all had our favorite things we loved and pretty soon those things became something we couldn’t live without when we would go to there.  At least that is what we would tell anyone who took us, in hopes we could sweet talk them into buying something for us.

We weren’t spoiled, right?

I remember my sister’s favorite were the Chocolate Eclairs.  Mine were whatever Sugary Confection looked good that day…… (I never have met a baked good I didn’t like).  AND…….My brother’s were the Cinnamon Twists!  (Which also, eventually,  became my favorite as well)

Well, when my brother and I moved away from Raleigh, we moved to an area that didn’t have a Fresh Market.  Well, at least not initially.

Within a few years of living here, they actually, to our surprise, built one, not too far from our house!  I was literally in heaven!  Nothing will get this girl more excited than when a new awesome grocery store hits town!  The first thing on my list to buy there were going to be……. you guessed it,


However, that wouldn’t happen.  🙁

I went to the store and didn’t see them.  After asking an employee where they were, he told me that I must have been a Fresh Market customer for a LONG time, because they stopped making them years ago.??????????

WHAT?!?!?! , I thought?

I guess I hadn’t gone that often when I still lived in Raleigh, because I reckon I would have known this!?!?

They had some “other version ” of them now.  But Y’all!!!!  Let me just tell you…….

“Other Versions” just don’t cut it when you want the REAL VERSION of something.  Not when you grew up having One Version of it and One Version only.  Uh uh!

So, long story short…..  (TOO LATE!)

I decided to make my “OWN VERSION”!

So, I hope you like them.

Here is what I did:


I took one sheet of Puff Pastry.  I used Pepperidge Farm’s, but use whatever brand you like.  I only had one sheet, so the recipe will be based off that.  If using 2 sheets, and I definitely recommend doing that, because you will want MORE!……. just double the rest of the ingredients.


Lightly dust a counter surface with flour so that you can work with the pastry sheet and it will not stick to the counter.  *You honestly don’t need much.


Mine came lined with sheets of parchment paper, so I thought it would be a great idea to use this as a “ruler” of some sort or at least something that would give me a straight edge to cut the strips with.  Using a pizza cutter,


I cut several strips of the puff pastry.  Make sure to cut an even amount, as you will twist two together.  *NOTE:  I would go back and cut the strips thinner next time.  They don’t have to bake as long when they are thinner.  However, these did just fine and tasted great!


Then, I took a very small amount of milk and brushed it lightly on the strips to act as a “glue” for the cinnamon and sugar.


I mixed together 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with a 1/4 cup of sugar.


I heavily sprinkled the cinnamon and sugar mixture over all of the strips.  Then, I turned them over and did the exact same thing to the other sides.


Time to TWIST!  Take two strips and cross them at the top, pinching together.  Taking both strips, I twisted them all the way down and pinched them again at the bottom to seal.


This is what they look like when twisted.  Then, I cut them in half and made sure all the ends were pinched together as well.


Smaller cut strips getting ready to go into the oven on 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes.  (*Thinner ones will be less)


And VOILA!  Make sure to let them cool completely.  As they cool, they will become stiffer and will in turn have this “crunch” to them that is simply DIVINE!  That is exactly the way they used to be at The Fresh Market too!  🙂

I have to say that I was proud of myself.  I surprised my brother with a few and I really hope he liked them!  If he didn’t he can give them back because I know a few peeps around these parts that will gobble them up!


When the kids came home from school, they devoured them.  Even my oldest, who is not a big sweet person (not sure she is really my kid……)  LOVED THEM!

Then, both her and her sister decided that they would go best with Apple Cider.  If you haven’t seen my Cider Recipe, you can check it out here.

Until next time…….



Recipe:  Cinnamon Twists

– Flour for dusting

– 1 Frozen Puff Pastry Sheet, thawed

– 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

– 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar

– Small amount of milk for brushing Pastry



– Take a small amount of Flour and lightly dust a counter or cutting board surface.  Take Puff Pastry sheet, and lie flat on lightly dusted surface.

– Using a pizza cutter or knife and straight edge, cut strips in puff pastry sheet, remembering to do an even number for twisting purposes.  Cutting thinner strips may work better.  However, wider ones work just as well.  Line strips on working surface.

– Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the Cinnamon and Sugar.

– Using a pastry brush, lightly brush surface of pastry sheets with milk.

– Heavily dust each strip with Cinnamon/Sugar mixture.  Flip strips over and repeat on other side.

– Carefully, take two strips and criss-cross strips on one edge.  Proceed to wrap strips around each other and secure other end just like the beginning.

– Lay strip down on cut in half, remembering to pinch the cut edges together so that they will hold their shapes.  Repeat steps with remaining strips.

– Lay strips on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until puffy and golden brown.  Sprinkle with additional Cinnamon/Sugar mixture if you wish.

– Allow the strips to cool completely.  *If you do this, they will become crispier and fantastic!  If you eat them to soon, they will not be as crispy!


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Cajun Stew

Cajun Stew

(Recipe:  Courtesy of Martha Stewart’s “One Pot” Recipe Book)

I’m soooooooo happy to share this post with y’all!  I found the “Holy Grail” of fast Gumbo recipes!

Not too long ago, I made Gumbo for the first time ever.  It was FANTASTIC! ……………..  It also took me 4 1/2 hours to make!

Now don’t get me wrong.  Gumbo…….. “authentic” gumbo just can’t be duplicated completely in only 50 minutes.   But it can definitely come in at a close 2nd!

I bought Martha Stewart’s new cookbook the other day and couldn’t wait to start trying out the recipes!

I did what I usually do when I get a new cookbook………………..

I attacked it!


……………With Post It Notes!  😉

I fully recommend this book and depending on what recipes you choose to fix, only because certain cuts of meat are more expensive than others, it can be really reasonable to cook these recipes.


Most of them only have 7 to 10 ingredients and considering that most of those ingredients include staples like oil, salt/pepper and spices………  I don’t thing that is a lot.  It surprised me because most of her stuff seems to take forever and involves a ton of steps and ingredients, but not this book!

Considering that everyone is pressed for time and wants good, wholesome, quick meals for their families and themselves, I think this recipe book is a WINNER!


This recipe only took 50 minutes to make, which half of that time was really just contributed to simmering so I definitely wasn’t standing at the stove that entire time.

My kids loved it.  The girls went back for 2nds and even 3rds.  My littlest only ate his sausage and shrimp, but he is also going through his “picky faze”, and the hubster near about made himself sick on how many extra servings he got.  Even with all that eating, we still had leftovers for lunch the next day.

I decided to serve the Stew over Cheese Grits and OH BOY!  So good!

Recipe:  Cajun Stew


– 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

– 2 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour

– 1 Red Onion, thinly sliced (*I used pre-chopped red onion from the produce department b/c red onion is not nice to my poor eyes)

– 2 Garlic Cloves, minced

– 2 Celery Stalks, coarsely chopped

– Red or Green Bell Pepper, coarsely chopped (*I used red)

– 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

– Coarse Salt

– 1 Can (28oz.) Diced Tomatoes

– 1   1/2 Cups Water

– 3/4  lb. Andouille or Kielbasa Sausage, sliced into 1/2 in. thick rounds (*I used Kielbasa)

– 2 Cups Frozen Sliced Okra (from a 12 oz package), thawed

– 1/2 lb. Shrimp, peeled and deveined  (*I used a whole lb. because my family wouldn’t have forgiven me for only using 1/2!!!!!  LOL!)



– Heat a large skillet (*I used my large cast iron) over medium heat.  Add oil and flour; cook, whisking constantly, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

– Add onion, garlic, celery, and bell pepper; cook until crisp-tender, about 7 minutes.  Add cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

– Stir in tomatoes (with their liquid), the water, and sausage.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, until slightly thickened, about 25 minutes.

– Add okra and simmer 3 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque, 3 to 4 minutes more.

– Season with salt.

– Serve either over white rice or cheese grits, like I did.


*And here is just one more pic to make your mouth water…………………


I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family and I did!

Can’t wait to try some of the rest and share the best ones with y’all!

Enjoy your Tuesday, friends!



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Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables and Gravy

I haven’t found many people out there who don’t love a good Roast Chicken.

I have tried it myself by cooking the whole thing (Thanksgiving Style), just sitting in the pan.  Maybe doctured up with some butter and salt and pepper.

Nothing too great.  I may have even tried to add some type of citrus to it a time or too, but still nothing that great.

My chicken always had some spot in it that might still look a little pink or God forbid, bloody (GASP!), and my kids would get totally grossed out!!!

So, you can probably guess where the rest of that story goes….

I decided to make it a different way about a week ago and I have to say that I will probably never make Roast Chicken another way again.

This is by far, the easiest way I have EVER cooked Roast Chicken.

First, I took some Carrots, Onions, and some Sweet Potatoes.

I roughly cut them into about 1 to 2 inch pieces.  You don’t have to be precise, as they will cook down.  In fact, the more UNprecise you are, the better.  It gives it a “rustic” look.

Then I drizzled some Extra Virgin Olive Oil over them, tossed, and added a little salt and pepper.  Then tossed again.

Then I tossed them aside.  Well, not really.  More like slid them.

Now, back to the chicken!

I cut the backbone out, and pressing down, skin side down, pressed until I heard a pop.  This “butterflies” your chicken.

Before you say, “Oh, I can’t do that”……  Let me just tell you, YES YOU CAN!

I used to always buy my chicken already cut up from the store, which by the way cost more than a whole chicken you can cut up yourself.

My mom tried to show me how to cut one up myself, but I was never interested.

(F.Y.I.: I plan on doing a tutorial later on how to cut a whole chicken up.)


Just turn it over, find the area that looks literally like a backbone (I do not mean to insult your intelligence).

  Start at the top, and going down both sides of it, cut.

This can be done with a knife, but I found it easier to do with kitchen shears.

If I’m not grossing you out yet, read on. : )

I salt and peppered the chicken and then I used my “Herbs de Provence” Pampered Chef seasoning mix and sprinkled it on it.

This is it below.  You can also pick this up at your local Grocery Store in other brands.  I just happened to have that one on hand.

By the way, this is a great mix to use on Chicken, Pork, Vegetables (you name it!).

Then I coated my Cast Iron Skillet with a couple of tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Put the whole Butterflied Chicken in skin side down and seared it on medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, until it was golden brown.

Flipped it over………

And added all the vegetables to the pan.  It may look like the pan is too crowded, but it isn’t.  These will cook down and the chicken will cook just fine as well.

I sprinkled the vegetables with a little more Herbes de Provence.

I popped it in the oven for about an 1 hour and 15 minutes and this is what it looked like when finished.

It will literally fall off the bone!


There’s MORE!

I removed the chicken and the vegetables to a platter and covered with aluminum foil to keep warm.

I couldn’t just let all these juices from the meat and vegetables go to waste!

Couldn’t let the little bit of wine that was left in this bottle go to waste either.  (“Waste not, Want Not!)  Right?

There was about a cup left in the bottle and it all went into the pan.

I let it simmer for about 8 or 9 minutes until it had reduced by half.  Then I added a tablespoon of butter.

Stirred in until butter had melted and Voila!

Yummy gravy!  In fact, it was so good, I caught Z drinking the rest of it after we were cleaning up the table.  YES!  I said DRINKING IT!

Oops!  Maybe I shouldn’t have told you that.

Well, he won’t know if we don’t tell him.

If you try this recipe, please let me know what you think.

This is a definite “KID APPROVED” meal.

The sweetness from the onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes cook into the chicken and make it soooo good!

By the way, this is a great easy meal to entertain with or if you just want to share with your family.



RECIPE:  Roast Chicken w/ Root Vegetables and Gravy


– 1 Whole Chicken ( 3 to 4 lbs.)

– 2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence, divided

– Salt and Pepper

– 4 tablespoons Olive Oil

– 4 Carrots

– 4 Sweet Potatoes

– 2 Sweet Onions

– 1 cup White Wine, I used Chardonnay OR if you prefer, you can use Chicken Stock

– 1 tablespoon Butter


– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

– Cut Onions, Carrots, and Sweet Potatoes roughly into 1 to 2 inch cubes.

– Combine vegetables and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper.  Toss to coat and set aside.

– Use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone of the chicken.

– Lay chicken open, skin side up, like a book.  Flatten the chicken with your hands, pressing down until you hear a pop or crack noise.

– Sprinkle chicken with Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper.

– Heat a 12 inch or larger size cast iron skillet on medium-high heat.  Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to skillet.  Add chicken, skin side down, and sear 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown.

– Flip the chicken over and add vegetables to open areas around chicken.  It’s ok if it seems overcrowded.

– Roast chicken 1 hour and 15 minutes or until an instant- read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.

– Remove chicken and vegetables to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and keep warm.

– Add the wine to the pan and stir with a wooden spoon loosening any brown bits in bottom of pan.

– Allow to simmer for 8 to 9 minutes or until liquid has reduced by half.  Stir often.

– Add tablespoon butter and stir until melted.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  You won’t need much, if any.

– Carve chicken, set on platter with vegetables and serve with gravy.


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