10 April 2013

Until next time...

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It's hard to write this post.  Hazelnut has been a part of my life for almost five years!  You have watched me grow, listened to me whine, and given me a place to figure out who I am.  Alas, the time has come for me to say goodbye, or at least a farewell for now.

I've moved onto a new adventure, coincidentally exactly where this hazelnut blog started: Chicago.  With a new start and a new life, Brian and I have decided to merge all of our creative outlets into one cohesive place. We have lovingly named it baker-builder and we can't wait for you to join us there.

The new site will still feature recipes.  It will also show us in the process of making a home for ourselves as we settle into what we hope to be some solid ground.  It will still consist of my take on the world, sometimes a little too dark and other times excessively hopeful.  We will now share our lives with you together, not apart.

Thank you to all of you who have read, browsed commented, or laughed a little bit while reading Hazelnut.  You've truly encouraged me to get through this whole finding myself thing and I can't wait for you to take this new journey with me.  Wish me luck and see you in Chicago!

06 March 2013

plan on a classic fudge bundt cake

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Since we last talked, I have:

-consumed almost half a jar of coconut & peanut spread
-day-tripped to Baltimore
-listened to endless warnings for the "great snowstorm of 2013"
-seen a whole lot of rain and very little snow
-rubbed my face with olive oil
-sold a piece of furniture to a semi-famous author in New York City
-finished Downton Abbey
-started Parade's End
-finished 3 loads of laundry
-made this classic fudge bundt cake

I have avoided:

-vacuuming the carpet
-going to the post office
-returning a few phone calls
-eating a sensible meal
-giving Mozart his weekly bath time spa treatment
-finishing the half-done project in the corner of my living room

I've done nothing that I had planned.  I've also spent hours on Craigslist, plenty of time sleeping, and a healthy dose of time fake planning our future.  

I'm a dreamer.  I'm also a worrier.  This inherently makes me a planner.  I sometimes wonder how much time I waste planning for things that will never happen when I could be planning for the real future. 

The thing is, how can you ever possibly know the difference?

I know what I want (or at least I think I do) and I'm determined to make it happen. No one is going to tap me on the shoulder and give me a beautiful house, a loving marriage and family, a healthy mind and body, and the financial freedom to work for myself.  

I suppose all I can do is control my direction.  As long as I am moving forward and becoming a little better, I will end up in a better place.  I will be happier knowing that I tried and that I am the reason for my success, not fate or some mystical force.

Who knows, my fake future plan might possibly become my real life plan before I realize it.  

In the meantime, it's the little things like a tunnel of fudge running through a bundt cake or finishing a mountain of laundry that will give me the courage to push through.  At least that's what I've got going for me today.

Recipe for Classic Fudge Bundt Cake adapted from Annie's Eats

To prep the pan:
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp melted butter

01 March 2013

winter and I are over.

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I've had it.  I can't take it anymore.  If I'm faced with another winter recipe full of roasted vegetables, I might just cry.

I've been known to get in a funk.  I tend to think that I do it on my own, that the world isn't really out to get me, but how could I really be at that much odds with my own self?

I know that I don't want to bang my knee, drop cupcakes, or grab scalding hot metal... but, here we are.

Luckily, I've surrounded myself with people that are entirely way too understanding.  So understanding that they don't seem to even notice the impending breaking point, the look in my eyes that if I smudge one more perfectly drizzled chocolate croissant with the back of my hand that I just might lose it.

Maybe they realize that calling attention to my wavering weakness will only crack me further, or they are just focused on the messed up croissant that is now up for grabs. Regardless, I'll blame winter.  That drawn out, end of the season, begging for a change of clothes winter.  And then I'll move on.

I'll move onto appreciating things like pumpernickel and radishes.  

Quick solo lunches like this make me okay.  Layering as many of my favorite things onto a piece of toast and eating it at the kitchen counter with NO RULES.  Avocado and apples.  Olive oil and goat cheese.  Power greens.  All reminders that I'm also on my side.

Recipe for No Rules Power Lunch, inspired by Honest Fare

1 slice pumpernickel toast
1/2 avocado, smashed
1 radish, sliced
1/2 apple, slice thin
a few crumbles of goat cheese
a sprinkling of favorite greens
olive oil, salt, and black pepper (to taste)

Layered as you wish.

17 February 2013

am i the only one?

Pin It Sometimes ya gotta get ugly to get pretty.  Slather that coconut oil all over your face and hair, throw everything up in a bun, wear the leggings, and do some pilates on the living room floor.  It's okay, your man isn't home.  You can quit the leg lifts after 100 and no one will know.

16 February 2013

vegan chocolate pudding

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You ready for this?  Vegan chocolate pudding.  Yes, vegan.  Pudding.  Vegan chocolate pudding.  If I say pudding again does the word start to look weird to you?

You know what's not weird?  Whipping up some avocado and chocolate.  Okay, maybe it sounds weird if you've never been there before, but so does Djibouti.  I assure you... it's a good place to go.  The avocado part.  I haven't been to Djibouti.... yet.

Yep.  I don't lie.

This is the simplest, no-bake, chocolate heaven dessert.  Ready in 5, just like a low maintenance chica. Whiz it all up in your blender or food processor and dig in.

Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Pudding, serves 1 generously (adapted from Out to Lunch)

1 avocado
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp almond milk

Combine.  Blend until smooth.  Easy enough, eh?

12 February 2013

red velvet whoopie pies

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Valentine's Day means some head spinning for me.  Pink cookies, heart shaped everything, chocolate covered strawberry demands, AH! Stop the madness!  I like the holiday, but I am going to be glad once it's over.

Luckily, I have a very low maintenance man.  All I have to do is bake enough sugary snacks to keep his belly full.  We're also sneaking in a little v-day time tomorrow night and having dinner together.

I made these heart-shaped Red Velvet Whoopie Pies for you guys, but Brian absolutely loves them.  He claims they taste like they are straight out of a Little Debbie's package.  I think this is a compliment?

These were kind of an experiment.  I was afraid the batter would be too runny to pipe into heart shapes, so I did a little tweaking.  They turned out PERFECT and I even made you a little video last night when I was up late watching Fashion Police.

Anyhow, if you are looking for an easy and super cute treat to make for this Thursday, these are it!  Adorable, don't need to be refrigerated, and taste like they are mass produced... what more could you ask for this Valentine's Day?

Recipe for Red Velvet Whoopie Pies  (makes 18), adapted from Annie's Eats

2 cups flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4  tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 oz red food coloring

(for the icing)
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375F.  Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in large bowl and set aside.  Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add dry ingredients, buttermilk, and food coloring and beat until thoroughly mixed (about 30 seconds).  Be careful not to over mix.

Pipe into 2in hearts onto parchment lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between each.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through.

For icing, beat all ingredients together until smooth.  If icing is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of milk (or water) and beat until proper consistency.

Pipe frosting onto half of the cookies and top with a matching heart.  Voila!  Happy Valentine's Day, you sap. :)

06 February 2013

inspiration juice

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I've logged in two days so far at the new store and so far things are looking up!  It's not necessarily easy moving into a team that is already established and trying to fit in, let alone trying to be a leader.  I'm sure they are all thinking I am insane, as my primary way of breaking the ice is dancing like an idiot and speaking in Spanglish.

Anyhow, you gotta start somewhere. I'm committed to raising morale.  Somewhere, deep in my heart, I've always wanted to be one of those inspirational leaders.  The teacher that everyone loves.  The motivational speaker that changes your day, life, week... whatever.  The magic that people like that possess amazes me.

After some soul searching, and a little bit of you-tubing; all I can definitively conclude is these people deeply care about others.  There aren't any motivational factors except the fact that they truly care about making a difference and they have a ton of energy.  Good thing the juice bar is right next door to the bakery.

Nothing gets me going more than juice like this.  Coffee, sure... I need it to step out the door in the morning.  Those little chocolate covered caramel hearts?  They get me jazzed for a minute or two.  But the juice?  A good, green, kale-filled, lemon-y, ginger juice?  Sustainable, clear-headed energy at its finest.

I made this juice at home this morning with some random fridge ingredients, more specifically: cabbage, kale, lemon, apple, ginger, carrot, & broccoli.

02 February 2013

If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

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So, I didn't do the juice cleanse yet, but I'm still on the healthy life train.  I've been writing down everything I eat, hitting the gym more, walking the dog, and trying to limit my stress.  I have committed myself to my own well being, which sounds selfish, but I think it might be my ticket to the good life.

I always wear myself out by trying to please everyone else.   This hardly ever works out the right way and I'm usually left tired and annoyed.  I'm learning that taking care of myself first is not selfish, it's actually the best thing I can do.  No one will be left picking up my pieces and anything extra will be because I want to, not because I feel like I should.

I know this might sound like a duh moment, but deal with me for a minute here.  I'm growing.

I'm learning that I can only commit myself to my own expectations.  If I make them clear and concrete, I can accomplish them.  If I take the time to care about myself enough to have that hour of quiet time, to let myself doodle in a notebook on a Tuesday night, or to treat myself to the $12 manicure that makes me feel like a million bucks, it makes me a much better person to be around.  And THAT is all anybody really wanted from me anyway, right?

So, I may not be able to fix everyone's problems, to make everyone smile at work, or to make it to every birthday party.  I might do my laundry before I do yours.  I'll make salad for dinner tonight, even though I know you'd rather eat a cheeseburger.  But on a Saturday morning when it's cold and snowy, I'll make you cinnamon rolls with lemon icing.  I'll do it because I love you and it makes me happy, not because I feel like I'm supposed to.

Recipe for Lemon-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls, makes 16

1 3/4 cup warm water (shooting for around 110 degrees)
1/4 + 2tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
5 cups flour

Cinnamon Sugar Insides:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 stick butter, melted

1 stick butter, melted
dash of salt
3 cups confectioners sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

28 January 2013

lemon bundt cake

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25 January 2013

shirataki noodle salad

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We have these annual biometric screenings at work where they take our "numbers".  Our body mass index, glucose levels, cholesterol... the works.  It's completely voluntary, but it's also free and comes with some perks.  I missed it last year, so this time I'm totally jumping on!

I have to admit I am a little nervous.  I know I'm young and have pretty healthy habits, but I could easily have some bogus cholesterol number.  WHO KNOWS?  Well, I suppose I will soon.

I've been trying to stay more on the healthy side knowing these screenings are coming up.  I'm even considering doing a juice cleanse for a few days if I can get my act together in time.  The goal is less fat,  less carbs, and trying to say no to sugar even though I have all of these Valentine's items brewing up in the bakery, just waiting for me to do quality control.

Anyway, I've basically been inhaling this shirataki noodle salad over the past two days.  If you haven't experimented with these "noodles" yet, you should give 'em a try.  They are low carb, low calorie, gluten-free, and almost entirely made of fiber.  They are pretty tasteless on their own, but throwing them in a stir-fry makes them amazing.  They fill me up for hours, cure my pasta craving, and are completely guilt free. WIN.

And the best part? This dish is really good hot or cold. Perfect for bringing with you to work or eating a few bites out of the fridge when you're in a rush!

Recipe for Shirataki Noodle Salad,  serves 2, or 1 if you're really hungry :)

1 head of broccoli, cut lengthwise into chunks
1 carrot, shaved
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 package shirataki noodles, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp canola oil
A few dashes of fish sauce (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp Sriracha Hot Sauce (or more if you're crazy like me!)
2 tbsp sesame seeds
A dash or two of crushed red pepper

Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.  Add broccoli and carrot and toss to coat.  Once broccoli turns a bright green, toss in noodles.  Add ginger, fish sauce, and sriracha to dish and stir together until evenly distributed.  Keep on stove for a few more minutes, letting the noodles heat up and absorb the flavors.  Turn off heat and top with sesame seeds and crushed red pep!