Chocolate Hazelnut Croissant Rolls

Chocolate that you’re supposed to spread as freely and as frequently as you would peanut butter and jam! Does it get any better? Uh, yes, when you make it a spreadable chocolate-hazelnut spread called Nocciolata!

nocciolata-toastMy daughter and I sampled Nocciolata from Rigoni di Asiago, a family-owned and operated business based in the Altopiano di Asiago, a mountain plateau in Northern Italy. Using certified organic ingredients free of GMO’s, preservatives, colors, additives, or artificial sweeteners, Nocciolata combines hazelnuts, cocoa and cocoa butter, natural vanilla extract and raw cane sugar. They also have a certified vegan, dairy free version, Nocciolata Dairy Free.

To give the spread an earnest try, we started and ended the day with Nocciolata because, well, any day is better that starts and ends with chocolate. In the morning, we spread it over whole grain toast. It went so well with a cup of coffee! Then, for dessert that night, my daughter asked if she could make her own creation, a take on a chocolate croissant. This is what she came up with:
Nocciolata Chocolate Hazelnut Croissant Rolls
Serves 8-10

1 can croissant/crescent rolls
Approximately ¼ cup Nocciolata chocolate hazelnut spread (Don’t use too much or it will be a gooey, yet delicious, mess.)

  1. Preheat the oven per the directions on the can. Spread the dough out on a cutting board. You won’t be cutting the dough along the pre-cut lines so press along those lines to smoosh them together a bit.
  2. Spread the Nocciolata evenly over the dough leaving about ½ an inch uncovered around all edges.
  3. Roll up the dough, tucking in the sides as you go and sealing the ends.
  4. Pick up the roll and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.
  5. Bake according to croissant directions.
  6. Cut the rolls into slices and serve on their own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
    nocciolata-rolling-new
    nocciolata-baked-roll-newnocciolata-finished-new
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Going Free-Form with a Fruit Galette

I don’t do double crust pies well. I just can’t get them to look nice around the edges, despite trying all the tricks. Then I thought of doing a Galette, a more free-form pie that has a “rustic” look. (I love the word “rustic” because it’s my excuse to be really imperfect and still sound like it was on purpose!) Pies, galettes and cobblers are a great way to use up fruit that has seen better days. When I made this galette, I had some rhubarb, blueberries and peaches. But you can use any fruit that you think would go well together including frozen fruit that has been defrosted and drained of extra liquid.

Ingredients:

Galette

Mix all of the ingredients of your filling together in a large bowl.

1 thawed pie crust

2 cups worth of diced fruit of choice

1 TBS Brown sugar (can add more)

1 TBS corn starch

Pinch of salt

1 egg, beaten with a splash of milk

1 TBS sanding or turbinado sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to temperature recommended on pie crust packaging.

Lay out the pie crust on a non-stick (like Silpat) liner on a baking sheet.

Mix the fruit, sugar, corn starch and salt together in a large bowl.

Spoon fruit mixture in the center, leaving about an inch and a half all around the edge.

Fold in sections of the outer edge of the crust you just left exposed, turning the galette as you go. There will be a large section of fruit filling showing.

Brush the crust you have now folded up with the egg wash.

Sprinkle the crust with the sanding or turbinado sugar. This isn’t just to sweeten it a bit, it’s to leave a crystalline effect that is very pretty.

Bake according to instructions.

Allow to cool 15 minutes or more. Cut into wedges, like a pie, to serve. It would be good served a la mode or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Galette

Leave a generous edge all around to fold in.

I’d love to show you a picture of the finished product, fresh out of the oven. It was lovely and golden brown. However we had company over and they all descended and topped their slices with vanilla ice cream before I could get a shot. I guess I’ll consider that a compliment!

galette-with-sugar-sprinkle

Pretty, huh? You should have seen it baked! Without letting it cool a bit, and while my back was turned, the family descended. The aftermath was a plate of crumbs and some happy tummies. 

4-Ingredient Mexican-Style Corn

A couple of years ago, I visited Santa Fe and had corn on the cob prepared in the Mexican tradition, coated with mayonnaise, seasonings and cheese. It was delicious but really messy to eat (or maybe it was just me). Luckily, it’s easier to make (and less messy to eat) with corn that’s already off the cob. Here’s my variation which is super-fast and easy to make. It’s a great side-dish that goes with any protein and is also delicious mixed into a salad. 

Here’s all you need to make this corn: 1. Frozen corn off the cob 2. Chili powder 3. Mayonnaise 4. Lime zest. That’s it! Adjust the amounts to your taste. 

mexican-corn-with-chili-prep

Prepare frozen corn according to instructions, being sure to drain off all liquid. Sprinkle on some chili powder, starting with 1 teaspoon at a time. You can always add more of all ingredients by tasting it at the end. Stir the corn and chili to mix it well.

 

mexican-corn-done-in-bowl

Add a rounded tablespoon of your favorite mayonnaise and stir. Again, you can always add more but the idea is just to add a creamy coating to the corn without making it gloppy. Add a pinch of lime zest for color and brightness of flavor. 

When I get some great limes, I wash them thoroughly and zest them all. I freeze the zest in a zipper bag to use throughout the year – works great! I prefer lime zest over lemon here both for the flavor and the pop of color.
mexican-corn-done-in-bowl

Mix everything together and serve immediately. As it sits, moisture from inside the corn starts to mix with the mayonnaise and things start to get watery. You don’t want that! 

Birch Benders Pancakes & Waffles

I have wonderful memories of my dad making pancakes on Sunday mornings. I wouldBirch Benders Pancakes .jpg wake up to the smell of butter melting in the pan. He made perfect pancakes. True, they weren’t from scratch but he did add butter, eggs and milk. I loved the flavor of those pancakes and, even though I’ve bought that particular mix as an adult, the taste is not the same. But recently, ironically on my dad’s birthday, I made a batch of pancakes from a mix by Denver’s own Birch Benders. Guess what? I was taken right back to those Sunday mornings with pancakes full of great flavor, a hint of vanilla, crispy edges and a fluffy center. It made me happy.

Using all-natural ingredients, Birch Benders’ mixes take only water. That means that even birch-benders-pancake-packageson a school day, I can make them for my family and still have everyone get out of the house on time. You can make waffles with the mix too. Besides the ease and the flavor, what really drew me to want to try Birch Benders was that they account for modern dietary needs and culinary wishes. Varieties include Paleo, Gluten Free, and Protein, and the brand offers an all-natural twist on traditional favorites such as Classic, Chocolate Chip, Six Grain Cinnamon, and more. For the holiday season, Birch Benders created Sweet Potato, Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread Spice, and Double Chocolate Peppermint flavors that make every morning feel festive.

What’s behind the name, Birch Benders? It’s an American tradition of climbing slender, supple birch trees that bend down and return you to the ground when you climb them. The founder, Matt, grew up in Maine and recalls happy times birch bending.

You can buy Birch Benders at Sprout’s, Natural Grocers, and People’s Market. Check out their recipes on their charming website too – they even have savory things to make like Paleo Pizza! 

 

Autumn Muffins

One of our most popular recipes in this blog, and in my house, is for Harvest Pumpkin and Chocolate Muffins.  We make them every year around this time. And, when my kids were little, I’d stock up on cans of pumpkin in the fall so that I could make these muffins when it was my turn to bring snack to school or for a soccer game. This year, I’m proud to say one of my daughters came up with a variation on my muffins that is delicious and very pretty! They’d be wonderful to make for holiday brunches or to give as gifts.

My daughter used my recipe but instead of putting the full 1 cup of chocolate chips, she used 1/2 cup chips and 1/2 cup fresh, chopped cranberries. She also recommended throwing in 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

You could also experiment with an orange glaze on top, made of powdered sugar with some orange juice. If you do this, apply it immediately after taking the muffins out of the oven, while they are still in the muffin tin so that the glaze melts and seeps into the fresh muffins.Orange goes great with both chocolate and cranberries but if you prefer one over the other with an orange glaze, just stick to 1 cup of either chocolate chips or cranberries. Mmmm, that would smell so good!

autumn-muffins

Ravioli “Lasagna”

Making lasagna is an arduous task. All those ingredients. All those layers. All that baking time. Totally worth it, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the stuff of an easy, weeknight dinner. Here’s something that is, “cheating” a bit with ravioli, which takes care of two of the elements of lasagna in one cute, pillowy package – the pasta and the meat. You augment with a few other things and you’ve got dinner in a jiffy! As with many of my recipes, the measurements are more by feel and the customizations are encouraged and totally up to what your family likes.
Ravioli lasagna

Ravioli “Lasagna”

Ingredients:

1 bag frozen beef ravioli (or with other fillings, per your tastes)
Approximately 3/4 jar of pasta sauce of your choice
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (or more to taste but there’s already cheese in the ravioli)
A few shakes of grated Parmesan cheese or 1/4 cup hand-shredded
Dried basil, oregano and rosemary to taste
Additions if you like: Shredded zucchini or other squash and/or wilted spinach or other greens to up the nutritional value. See also, how we served it at the bottom of this post.

Directions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour a little pasta sauce in the bottom of an oven-proof dish with a lid, like a casserole dish.

3. While I’ve seen some recipes where you just throw the frozen ravioli in a dish, I haven’t had great luck doing this. The moisture created by thawing while cooking seems to dilute the sauce. Instead, I take the extra step of boiling the ravioli, per package instructions, but cut off the cooking time by one minute. Drain them well and pour them into your baking dish.

4. Cover with the rest of the sauce and distribute your seasonings of choice evenly over the pasta/sauce by rubbing them between your fingers to release the aromas and oils.

5. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the top and then the Parmesan. Add a little sprinkle of parsley for looks.

6. Cover and bake for approximately 20 minutes. Because you aren’t really going through layers and layers, and because the pasta was already hot, you are really just melting the cheeses, heating up the sauce and melding all of the flavors together.

7. Serve, spooning out the raviolis, making sure to capture sauce and cheese. This meal is delicious with a crusty bread and a big, crispy salad. We served ours over a bed of shredded kale. It made it pretty, provided a variety of textures and lots of good nutrition.

Ravioli lasagna served

 

 

National Men Make Dinner Day

National Men Make Dinner Day – All Year

National Men Make Dinner Day

Peter Reynolds, host of “Father Knows Food” and two of his children, Colt and Dabny.

November 5, 2015 was National Men Make Dinner Day, an attempt to get men who never cook to tie on an apron and get   in that kitchen! Here at the E.A.T. (Everyone Around the Table) blog, we think many days of the year should be Men Make Dinner Day. We also think asking a man who doesn’t ordinarily cook to do so on a weeknight doesn’t make much sense. So we’re going to encourage all men to extend the holiday and do some cooking this weekend (and then, hopefully, many other nights after that.)

Cooking is a very manly thing when you think about it. In the anthropological sense, it’s about being a hunter at its modern finest (and we wanted an excuse to say “anthropological”). You hunt for the ingredients and the pots, pans and cooking utensils you need, aka, your weapons. You bravely take on the task of preparation and, applying fire (or hot electricity), cook up that tasty mastodon for dinner! See? So. Manly.

Man shouldn’t have to brave the frontiers of the kitchen alone so we consulted with one of our favorite men in the kitchen, Peter Reynolds of Father Knows Food, a Colorado dad with his own cooking show on PBS. Peter, a very manly man and a wonderful cook (we’ve tried several of his recipes), suggested we show you two of his YouTube videos. In the first, you’ll see his recipe for grilled lamb chops. In the second, there’s a Strawberry Mess dessert that can be made all year ’round thanks to frozen strawberries. But also check out his website and other videos for loads of great recipes (we’re partial to his shrimp and grits recipe which is fool-proof!). Man, oh man, will you be cooking up a storm, any night of the week and any day of the year!