May 31, 2012

Homemade Nutella

Chocolate and hazelnuts. Whoever came up with that pairing deserves a super duper awesome award. If you’re a Nutella lover like myself, you will be thrilled to know you can make it yourself!

The rich chocolate flavor comes through beautifully in this recipe and it’s not tooth-achingly sweet like the storebought kind. It is delicious on bread, graham crackers, cookies, a spoon, your finger . . . you get the idea!


Homemade Nutella

Adapted from leitesculinaria

Makes approximately 2 cups

1 cup hazelnuts
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt (add more if you like)


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes (or until light golden brown), shaking the pan halfway through. While they are still warm, wrap them up in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. It’s okay if small amounts remain on the nuts. Let cool completely.
  • Melt the chocolate in a large glass bowl set on a saucepan of gently simmering water or in a microwave, stirring until smooth. Let cool completely.
  • Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until they form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt and continue processing until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. Add the melted chocolate, blend well. Taste and add more salt (a pinch at a time) if you like. The mixture may be a bit runny at this stage but not to worry as it will thicken nicely as it cools to room temperature. Store on the counter for up to 2 weeks.



P.S. The recipe says “Makes approximately 2 cups” because I’m not really sure how much I (and the eager taste-testers at my house) ate before I remembered to measure it!



Filed under: Food

May 24, 2012

Nasturtium Recipes

Remember the pretty orange “weeds” that I found growing beside my house? A lovely reader, Karen, informed me that these are not weeds but edible flowers called Nasturtiums! They have a tangy, peppery flavor. You can eat the flowers, leaves, stems and even the seeds.

I’ve never eaten a flower before, but I think I should take advantage of my unexpected garden! I found some amazing looking Nasturtium recipes while perusing the web, and I’m excited about how versatile of an ingredient it is! Now to decide which to try first . . .


 Spring Spinach and Nasturtium Salad - This looks like the perfect summer salad.

Stuffed Nasturtium Blooms - What a pretty and unique appetizer this would be!

Nasturtium Cookies - I kind of want to eat these by the handful.

Nasturtium Lemon Butter - Have you ever seen butter this colorful?

Nasturtium Pesto - I’ve been on a pesto kick lately so this looks awesome.

I’ll keep you posted on which recipe(s) I decide to make!






Filed under: Food

May 18, 2012

Strawberry Lemon Yogurt Popsicles

  I don’t know about you, but I will never be too old to enjoy a refreshing popsicle on a hot day. Especially if said popsicle has healthy ingredients like strawberries and yogurt in it! You only need 5 ingredients to make these and I promise they’ll put a big, popsicle-juice-covered grin on your face =). I used these molds to make them.

A few fun facts:

Fact #1  It is reeeaally hard to take pictures of a popsicle in front of a sunny window.

Fact #2  I actually didn’t mind that my subject insisted on melting, because that gave me no choice but to eat it!

Fact #3  I do not lick popsicles, I BITE them. This was about 6 bites in. Yum.


Strawberry Lemon Yogurt Popsicles

Adapted from theKitchen

Makes about 6 popsicles (depends on the size of your mold)

1 pint strawberries, quartered
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup plain yogurt

  1. Bring the strawberries, water, and sugar to a simmer in a medium sauce pan.
  2. Simmer for five minutes.
  3. Take the strawberries off the stove and let them cool for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Pour into a food processor or blender, add the lemon juice and yogurt. Puree until almost liquefied.
  5. Taste the mixture and add more sugar/lemon juice/yogurt if you like.
  6. Pour into molds and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.


Hope you have a wonderful weekend!


Filed under: Food

May 11, 2012

Quiche: You say succotash, I say soycutash . . .

What is it about quiche that places it so solidly in comfort food territory? Is it the warm, flaky crust? The all-star combination of eggs, cheese and milk? Or that you can pretty much add whatever veggies you feel like and it will still taste good?

I have made this quiche numerous times, and each time it results in me leaning back in my chair and patting my belly contentedly. I use Trader Joe’s Soycutash (edamame, red peppers, corn) but you can substitute traditional succotash (lima beans instead of edamame) or any combination of frozen vegetables you like. The edamame lends a subtle but nice bite to the texture and it’s mild flavor doesn’t overwhelm the quiche. I use garlic and herb goat cheese, but you can use plain goat cheese and just increase the amount of garlic and fresh herbs used in the recipe.

On a side note, I have a major love affair with garlic so I increase the amount of garlic in any recipe! If there are any other garlic lovers out there, you MUST watch this video showing how to peel an entire head of garlic in less than 10 seconds. It will blow your mind away. The hubby and I watched it and of course we had to try it immediately. Never mind that it was 11:30 at night and we didn’t need a single clove of garlic. It worked beautifully (and is quite entertaining)!


Soycutash and Goat Cheese Quiche

Adapted from Succotash and Goat Cheese Quiche, epicurious


1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
3 large eggs
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 & 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Soycutash, thawed and drained
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup crumbled garlic and herb goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Place frozen pie crust on a baking sheet and pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake until golden, and the center is set and looks puffed, about 35 minutes. Check on the pie at about 30 minutes into the baking time. If the crust is browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with foil and continue baking until done. Cool slightly. Serve warm.


Happy Friday!


Filed under: Food

May 1, 2012

Dreamy Tomato Basil Soup

There was a french restaurant down the road from me that served the most scrumptious tomato basil soup. It was bursting with flavor and oh so creamy . . . nay, dreamy!

Needless to say, I was distraught when the restaurant closed down. After many attempts to replicate this soup, I finally struck gold! It doesn’t taste exactly the same, but I think it might be a little better! And the icing on the cake (crouton on the soup?) is that it’s easy peazy.

Aside from one large can of tomatoes, and a bit of half and half these are the only other ingredients you will need:


Dreamy Tomato Basil Soup

Servings: 4

1 cup thinly sliced onion
2 large garlic cloves sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 large (1lb 12oz) can whole tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
2 whole cloves
1 handful chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4-1/2 cup half and half

  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic in the butter for 5-6 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes (with their juice), bay leaf, brown sugar, cloves, basil, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the cloves and bay leaf (it takes a couple minutes to find them but don’t give up!).
  • Puree the soup in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste and add more salt as needed (the amount of salt in canned tomatoes can vary by brand).
  • Add half and half and heat through.
  • Serve with your favorite grilled cheese sandwich. I love using havarti with dill — try it, it might change your life.





Filed under: Food

April 25, 2012

Strawberry Scones


Scones have a dear place in my heart. Strawberries live there too. Combine the two and I’m in deep trouble.

As much as I love scones, I have never tried baking them before. I’ve had horrible luck baking biscuits (people don’t enjoy eating hockey pucks, no matter how nice and warm they are), so I always assumed scones were out of the question.

A little while back I was googling something I could make with the surplus of buttermilk and strawberries in my fridge when I happened upon this post by Irene of Confessions of a Tart. It had all the magic words: “scones”. . .”strawberries”. . . and “anyone can do it”.

These scones came out beautifully on my first try. I may or may not have squealed and done a little happy dance. I then proceeded to burn my mouth because I couldn’t wait 2 minutes to taste one.Totally worth it. Fluffy with a moist crumb and just the right amount of sweetness. I’m talking, “close your eyes and savor it” good.


Strawberry Scones
Recipe by Irene of Confessions of a Tart

(makes 6 large scones or 12 minis)

1 cup strawberries (or other fruit)
3 tablespoons sugar (granulated)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, in cubes, slightly softened
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream or cold buttermilk

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.

If using larger fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle fruit with 1/2 tablespoon sugar; set aside. Be sure to make the pieces small, or they tend to fall out of the dough. They’ll still be plenty prominent in your finished scones.

Combine remaining sugar with flour, baking powder and salt. Add butter, using a pastry cutter or 2 knives to cut in butter (you may want to use your fingers to be sure butter is evenly mixed into flour). Stir in fruit; then add cream/half-and-half/buttermilk all at once. Use spatula to gently stir dough until it holds together.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to incorporate dry ingredients. Be gentle so you don’t break up the berries and don’t overwork the dough. Sprinkle dough with flour if it gets sticky.

Press (pat) the dough into a circle 3/4 inch thick. If any berries peek out, push them into dough. Cut circle into 6-8 wedges, then transfer wedges to the cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/2 inch of space between them. Bake 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sugar and bake 5-10 more minutes or until the tops are beginning to brown and spring back when you push them (this took another 15-20 minutes in my oven, but keep a careful watch and check every 5 minutes – you do not want dry scones!). (The sprinkling of sugar over the top for the last few minutes of baking creates a simple, sparkly topping.)




Filed under: Food