30 November 2011

cookie time

Pin It It's hard to not share people food with the pups, but it's not good for their little bodies.  These cookies are delicious and kind to the little babies' digestive systems.

Arf!  I'm Digby!  I love Christmas and cookie time!

I couldn't find my dog bone cookie cutter, so they got little stars.  I don't think they noticed.  

Recipe for Peanut Butter Doggie Treats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup peanut butter

Mix all ingredients together.  Roll out and cut into shapes.  Bake at 375F for 15 minutes!

27 November 2011

An easy, elegant diner party...

Pin It Hazelnut was picked to be featured in this month's 24x24 celebration by Foodbuzz!  Twenty four bloggers from around the globe are chosen to have a dinner party on the exact same night and all blog about it the next day. What better guests could have been in town for such a special occasion than my parents!

I knew I had to do something special.  After all, these are the people who served me steak dinners on sundays, chicken chimichangas every year on my birthday, and fed me salsa by the spoonful when I was still in a highchair.

I knew they would be happy with anything, but I took a risk and made something I had never made before: rack of lamb.  I also made sure to do the majority of prep ahead of time so I could really enjoy the time with my special guests. 

With a fire in the fireplace and some beer and wine (except for Brian, who drank brandy... fancy pants!),  we started off with some antipasto.  I picked up some dill havarti, sopressetta, and stuffed olives at Whole Foods, which kept everything deliciously fancy and simple.  

For the second appetizer course, I introduced my dad to goat cheese.  

Goat Cheese Crostini with Caramelized Red Onions.

I caramelized the onions the night before, so all I had to do was slice up some baguette, toast it in the oven for a few minutes at 375, and top it with some goat cheese and re-warmed onions.

I also marinated the lamb the night before by poking holes in the fat and stuffing them with smashed garlic.  With some sprigs of rosemary, salt and pepper, and generous amounts of olive oil, it sat in the fridge over night and just had to be popped in the oven at 375F for around 30 minutes (or when the meat reaches 145F).  I just put it in with the potatoes that were baking, about half way through.

When the meat and potatoes were done roasting, I layered them on a plate with some spring mix lettuce tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

After dinner, we relaxed with a game of hearts and finally made our way to dessert.  I had been soaking some sliced pears in brandy and sugar for a few days, so the morning of the dinner party I layered them into some pie crust.  For four people, you only need about 3-4 pears worth.  I rolled out my dough to about a 1/2 inch thickness, laid the pears in, and folded the sides up around the edges.

After brushing it with egg wash and sprinkling it generously with brown sugar, I baked it at 400F for about an hour.

Cut into triangles and served up with some local maple ice cream, it was the perfect way to end the evening.  Pears and buttery pastry layers? Always a good idea.

All in all, we had a great evening.  I wish that I could eat and play cards with my parents all of the time, but this made for an extra special evening.  Thank you Foodbuzz for funding such a wonderful night with some really great people.  The only thing missing?  My two smelly brothers.  I will be seeing you on New Year's Eve!

25 November 2011

pie pops!

Pin It I had some leftover pie dough after making a brandied-pear galette (recipe coming soon!), so I thought I'd make these cute little pie pops for the cute little tykes I'd be seeing at Thanksgiving.

If you have some extra pie dough laying around, or are looking for a cute gift for someone, make these!  They are super easy and perfect little pie portions.  I filled them with some blueberry compote I had been meaning to use up, but you can use any pie filling.  The only other thing you need are the lollipop sticks, which you can get at any craft store for really cheap.

Use a cookie cutter to stamp out some circles (or hearts would be cute).  Take half of them and lay them on on your baking mat or parchment.  I rolled these a little so I could have room to seal them up.

Gently press the sticks in and add your filling.

Place the second layer on and seal them up by crimping the edges with a fork.

Brush them with some egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar...

and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes!

Who doesn't like pie on a stick?  I mean, come on...

23 November 2011

it's here!

Pin It Oh man... Thanksgiving is tomorrow.  I sure all of you are totally prepared and ready to make whatever you were planning on, right?  I'm sure none of you are as last minute as I am.  Luckily, I am eating at someone else's house so almost all of the pressure is off, but I can't possibly show up empty handed!  Juuuust in case you are in a situation like mine, here is a collection of past recipes for you to bring or add to your Thanksgiving menu!

All of these are tried and true recipes, sure to impress any guest or host!  I will keep you posted on what I randomly pull together tonight.... what are you making??

20 November 2011

Rag Pasta with Chili Tomato Sauce and Brie

Pin It Years ago, we stopped through Charleston, West Virginia for a night and ate at a little bluegrass cafe.  I couldn't remember if it was the bliss and excitement that I felt about traveling through the mountains with a new(ish) love or if the food was really as great as we remember.   After recreating this dish over four years later, I know that it was the love that made me swoon, but this rag pasta dish definitely didn't hurt the situation.

The original included a sauce made with piri piri peppers.  Unfortunately, these aren't that easy to find.  I subbed in some red hot chili peppers, and besides the fact that they made me hum the tune of Californication all night, they worked great and made for an amazing sauce.

I chopped off the stems and removed most of the seeds before tossing them in a pan with some olive oil and garlic.  

When they got all wilty, I smashed 'em a little with my spatula and adding some fire roasted diced tomatoes and some shredded beef.


After letting it simmer on low for a good forty minutes, I started cooking some pasta, which I cut into inconsistent "rags".  I was lucky enough to have some fresh pasta left over from another night, so this helped me out tremendously.

When the pasta was done, I quickly melted some brie on top of my sauce layered it all on top of my raggies.

It ended up being kind of sweet and a little spicy.  A great combo for all taste buds involved.

Recipe for Rag Pasta with Chili Tomato Sauce and Brie

1 lb beef, braised and shredded
1/2 lb fresh pasta, cut into "rags"
8 red hot chili peppers, stemmed and seeded
2 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
8 oz diced fire roasted tomatoes
4 oz brie, roughly cut into sections

Sautee peppers, garlic, and oil until wilted and browned on medium heat.  Add tomatoes and brown sugar and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add beef and simmer for another 40 minutes.  Close to the end of the 40 minutes, cook your fresh pasta.  When you are almost ready, add the brie to your sauce and cover for a few minutes to melt.  Layer sauce onto pasta and try to not sing Californication.

16 November 2011

Flat Roasted Chicken

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In my kitchen adventures, I had yet to roast an entire chicken.  I've always been a boneless, skinless type of girl, but I've been embracing my meat eating ways and decided it was about time I do a little butchering.  

True, this is a a real life, no hiding in the dark approach to preparing meat.  But with free range, organic chicken and you as the butcher, it is much more humane(and delicious) than eating one of those prepackaged "chicken" cutlets.  

Don't be afraid... own your meat eating habits, if you have them.  If you don't, look away... because we are about to remove the backbone of this little pal.  

mmm buttery

Doesn't this look worth it?  Serve it up with roasted potatoes and greens.  

Recipe for Flat Roasted Chicken (adapted from Martha Stewart)
3-4 lb Whole Chicken
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 lemons, halved
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F

With kitchen shears, remove backbone.  Melt butter in dutch oven on stove and lay the chicken in the pan skin side down.  After about three minutes, flip the chicken over, add garlic, and put in the preheated oven.  Let roast for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165F.  Remove and let sit 20 minutes before squeezing lemons on top.  Deconstruct chicken and serve with lemon halves, roasted potatoes, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

14 November 2011

crispy tortillas with black beans and avocado

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This may look like a baby food mess to some of you, but my fellow black bean and avocado lovers (like Tracy from shutterbean!) will understand the swoon-worthy nature of this meal.  

While crisping up a few tortillas in a 400 degree oven, I heated some refried black beans on the stove and mashed up some avocado with lime.  

The whole process only takes a few minutes before you are ready to layer it all on.

Don't forget some hot salsa and non-fat yogurt! 

If I was single, I could only imagine how often I'd be eating this.  Heaven.

13 November 2011

chocolate chip pecan drop cookies

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This cookie recipe is SO easy.  It's one of those minimal effort, minimal mess, one bowl projects that yield pretty awesome cookies.  You can leave the pecans out and just make them regular chocolate chip, but the pecans really class up the joint.  Trust me.

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Pecan Drop Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

Melt butter in large microwave safe bowl, about one minute.  Whisk in both sugars.  Add salt, vanilla, and eggs and whisk to combine.  Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda and stir with spatula.  Fold in chocolate and pecans.  Cover with saran wrap and chill 30 minutes.  In the meantime, preheat oven to 350F.  After dough has chilled, scoop onto baking sheets and bake 12-15 minutes, or until edges are brown but center is still light.  Remove, let cool, and eat them suckas!

A day in the life...

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It's rare that Brian and I both have the day off.  It's even more rare for both of us to be off on any holiday or special occasion.  SOMEHOW we both ended up having our 5 year anniversary free of responsibility and were able to spend the whole day together doing absolutely whatever.  We agreed to a no-pressure, no-nonsense day.  

A good chunk of time was spent at antique stores and weird rummage piles.

I decided to spread the love to this lonely mannequin...

 & I found this awesome beauty queen trophy.

Which, I totally would have snagged... but it cost $200.  Then, it started raining...

so, we just went home and kept it real with spaghetti and meatballs.  Couldn't be finer.

09 November 2011

dark chocolate studded zucchini bread

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Yes... more vegetables in your baked goods.  Embrace it.

Recipe for Dark Chocolate Studded Zucchini Bread
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or any kind)

Whisk sugar, oil, and eggs together in large bowl until smooth.  Add vanilla and zucchini and whisk for a few more strokes.  In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, a cinnamon and toss together to evenly distribute.  Add to wet ingredients and whisk together gently until smooth.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Pour into 2 greased loaf pans (or muffin pans!) and bake at 350 for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 minutes.

Let cool to manageable temperature and serve!

cheesy ham and potato soup

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Oh, cold weather.  You've done it again.  As much as I love your changing seasons and holiday bringing, I despise your cold mornings and sniffle inducing winds.  I live for your wardrobe, but die when I get your energy bills.  I thank you for encouraging the masses to buy baked goods, but curse you with every two inch mini apple pie I carefully prepare with my cold fingers.  My fuel to sustain me through your trials?  Soup.  Lots and lots of soup. And chicken pad thai... but that's for another day.  

Today is all about potatoes and ham.  And cheese.  Plenty of cheese.

This soup will warm up any cold body and bring a smile to almost any face, especially that of the male variety.  Vegetarian?  Omit the ham and sub vegetable stock for the chicken stock.  Ease.

Recipe for Cheesy Ham and Potato Soup
8-10 medium sized potatoes (I used red)
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced, cooked ham
1 cup shredded cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
green onions and extra cheese for serving

Scrub potatoes and peel 3/4 of the way.  Dice and boil in large soup pot until mostly soft.  Drain and remove half of the potatoes.  Mash remaining potatoes. Add chicken broth, milk, and butter to potatoes still in pot.  Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer.  Blend with immersion blender (or transfer in batches to regular blender).  Roughly chop potatoes that have been removed and add back to pot.  Add ham, cheese, and salt and pepper and let sit on low for 20 minutes.  Serve with chopped green onions and shredded cheese.

03 November 2011

easy palmiers

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It's that time of year again.  Your life is hectic,  it's a freezing hell outside, AND you have to attend holiday parties, all the while avoiding a nasty flu.  I don't know about you, but I'm already exhausted thinking about it.