Foodie Blog Roll 2

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nutella Hot Cocoa

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I love nutella. LOVE! Nutella is a creamy spread made from roasted hazelnuts. It also has cocoa and lots of sugar in it. It's divine! I've been craving nutella and since it's cooling down a little bit, I decided to whip up some hot cocoa with this sinful stuff.

Nutella Hot Cocoa

By the way, I looked up the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa. It turns out the hot chocolate is liquid heated with bits of chopped chocolate or liquid chocolate and hot cocoa is liquid heated with cocoa powder. Well, this is kind of a cross between the two. It's Nutella Hot Chocolate Cocoa. Or Nutella Hot Cocoa Chocolate. Whatever. It's Nutella Totally Good!

So, here's the line up.

The first time I ever had nutella was on a visit to Brazil with my family. It was not really commonly sold in the US yet, so it was extra special to me! If you have never had it, turn the computer off and go get some!

Nutella Hot Cocoa
     serves 2
2 C milk
3 T Nutella
1 tsp Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

In a small sauce pot, start heating the milk. Once warm, add Nutella and whisk together until smooth. Add cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Whisk and cook until it starts to boil. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows.

The more marshmallows the merrier. Who said less is more? Sometime MORE is more. You know what I mean?

Also, don't forget that dash of salt. It may not seem important, but it is. It's just what the cocoa needs to send it "over the top," as my father in law would say.

This is the most rich, delicious warm drink. It almost makes me want to skip fall and Halloween and go straight to Christmas. Almost.

For other scrumptious nutella recipes, check out Bella Nutella. They have soooooo many yummy things sent in by other foodies. You can sip on your Nutella Hot Cocoa and browse other fantastic photos and drive yourself crazy for a while! {sigh}

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Sugar

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I have a sweet, homemade gift for you to make! But first, do you use sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar or sweetener of any kind? Ok, good. Then this recipe is for YOU!

Actually, it's not a recipe at all.
All you need is the granulated substance of your choice, some vanilla beans, some jars and a sharp knife.

For this "recipe," I used Madagascar vanilla beans, but you can use whatever you like.

I'll get down to the question you are probably asking; "What can I do with vanilla sugar?" Good question.

There are several things you can do with vanilla sugar, vanilla brown sugar, vanilla sweetener, and vanilla powdered sugar. The first, and most obvious thing is to use them in coffee, just like you would regular sugars. The flavor is not going to knock you over with vanilla. It is light and mild and it smells wonderful! Here are some other uses for vanilla sugar. Put it in, on or add it to: snickerdoodle cookies, sugar cookies, vanilla cakes, homemade granola, cut up fruit, oatmeal, homemade kettle corn, pies, custards, frostings, yogurt, simple syrups, hot cocoa, teas, and as I already mentioned, coffees.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar
12 oz mason jar
1 1/2 C sugar, brown sugar, powdered/confectioners sugar or sweetener
2 vanilla beans (I used Madagascar)

There is no right or wrong equation for the vanilla vs. sugar, but I'll show you the method I used.

Get all your jar, sugars, and vanilla beans out so you aren't running back and forth to the cupboard. I wasn't sure how much sugar my jar would hold, so the first thing I did was take my 12 oz mason jar and filled it with sugar, almost to the top. 

It was exactly 1 1/2 cups. Next, pour the sugar in a large bowl. Cut 2 vanilla beans length wise with a sharp knife and gently scrape knife across the bean to get the vanilla flecks off. 

Add the vanilla to the bowl of sugar and mix. 

Put the two vanilla beans in the jar.

Pour the vanilla sugar over the beans, and seal tightly.

Now it's just a waiting game. Let the vanilla sugar sit for two weeks before using to get the maximum flavor.

Repeat with the sweetener, brown sugar and powdered sugar. 

After two weeks, you can use your vanilla sugars, or repackage them for gifts. 
I found cute little glass jars/pots at Hobby Lobby that have a good seal. They each hold 1/2 a cup of sugar, so each mason jar makes 3 small gifts. Now comes the fun part!

Get your sugars, small jars, ribbons and tags out.

Take 1/2 a cup of either the vanilla brown sugar, powdered sugar, sweetener or regular sugar and pour it into one of the small jars. You can transfer a vanilla bean over to the small jar if you like. I think it makes it look nice. Wrap ribbon or twine around jar and attach gift tag.

You could also attach a small tag with ideas for use.

Repeat with vanilla brown sugar, vanilla powdered sugar and vanilla sweetener. 

And that's it! Homemade Madagascar Vanilla Sugar. Aren't DIY gifts the best? They are so heartfelt and sincere. 

Oh, by the way, your kitchen will smell amazing after you do this! It's like a homemade air freshener for a day or so. :)

So make someone's day with this sweet gift. Or get a jump on Christmas gifts or homemade stocking stuffers! These would also make really nice party favors. Here are some other fun food gifts!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Happy first day of fall, y'all!!! What comes to your mind when you think of fall? Pumpkins? Halloween? Leaves changing colors? Me too. But the #1 things that comes to mind when I think of this lovely season is football!

When I think of football, I think of tailgating. And when I think of tailgating, I think of.......

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Here are the cast of characters for this addictively cheesy dip.

I like to use chicken that I have cooked my self and then shred it, but you could always use 2 12.5oz cans of chicken and drain the liquid out. Rotisserie chicken would be great too. You have all probably had one version or another of this dip, but mine's the best. Just kidding. :)

Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 large chicken breasts (about 24 oz) cooked and shredded
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1/3 C hot sauce
1/2 C ranch
2 C shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, hot sauce and ranch together.

Add the chicken and stir to combine.

Add 1 cup of cheese and stir.

Pour chicken mixture into a 9X13 baking dish.

Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese on top.

Bake, uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove and drool cool slightly before eating.

Serve with chips, pretzels, celery sticks, or other veggies or crackers.

Or if your in the mood for something fun or you just want to get rid of leftovers, try these Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pockets! Those babies are pretty good!

Here are the specific things I use in my dip to make it a little healthier, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I use fat free cream cheese, fat free ranch, and 2% cheddar cheese. I don't find anything funny about the taste and it knocks off a whole bunch of calories. I also use Louisiana hot sauce, and I use chicken that I have lightly salted and peppered, baked then shredded. YUM!

Give this cheesy, zesty dip a try. I have several other buffalo recipies on this site too; pasta, wraps, tacos, pretzels, pizza, yeah you could say I'm obsessed! Can you blame me? It's sooooo good!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Double Red Pepper Hummus

This is a super simple recipe that packs a BIG flavor punch!

Double Red Pepper Hummus
This hummus combines two types of red peppers. The first if roasted red peppers. Now, you can buy these in a jar already roasted, or you can do it yourself! It's really easy and you can do a lot at once and freeze the rest for other recipies.

The second red pepper in here is a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Here is what can looks like.

I choose to only use one large pepper and make the hummus, and then try it before adding more. I didn't want it knock me over, but I did want it to have a little kick. One pepper was perfect!

Also, I don't want to brag or anything, but Hunter Hann said it was the best hummus I've ever made. {I think he has food amnesia. Especially when he's hungry.}

Double Red Pepper Hummus
1 can chick peas, juice drained into a bowl
1/2 C chopped roasted red peppers
1 large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
Juice from 1 lemon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 T tahini paste
1 T olive oil
About 1/3 C juice from chick pea can

In the food processor, add chick peas, roasted red peppers, chipotle pepper, lemon juice, salt, garlic, and tahini. Give it a few pulses, then give it a whirl while streaming in the olive oil. Add as much chick pea juice back in as needed. Use spatula to scrape down the sides and buzz until desired texture.

I like to use less oil in my hummus so it cuts down on the fat and calories. If this recipe seems a bit daring for you, try my classic hummus!

I always was good at math! :)

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Healthy Lemon Basil Pasta with Italian Skillet Chicken

I decided a light, healthy meal was appropriate after all that delicious carrot cake last week! This is a quick and simple meal and the flavors are nice and bright. Remember that basil plant I got a few months ago at the farmers market? It's still alive!

It you know anything about me, well, that's a huge accomplishment. I once managed to kill my sisters orchid plant in one weekend when I was supposed to be taking care of it. Who does that? Needless to say, I've never been asked to plant-sit again!

Healthy Lemon Basil Pasta with Italian Skillet Chicken
     serves 4-6
3 large chicken breasts
1 T Italian seasoning
1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 T olive oil
About 15 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Parmesan cheese for topping

Start by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Coat chicken breasts with Italian seasoning and cook in skillet until cooked through. Let chicken rest on cutting board for a few minutes once cooked so the juices redistribute and the chicken will stay moist.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to box directions (I find that adding pasta to boiling water and cooking for 7 minutes will give you the perfect "al dente" bite). Drain pasta and pout into the skillet that the chicken was cooked in. Add olive oil, lemon zest and juice and stir to combine. Slice chicken and add to skillet. Add basil and give everything a quick stir. Plate and serve warm.

Thinly slice or grate Parmesan cheese on top of pasta. Use spent lemon and extra basil for plating (optional).

I love the little flecks of the lemon zest resting on the pasta. YUM!

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