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. 

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

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!

Pork and green chili burritos

Make-Ahead Pork Green Chili Burritos

I keep thinking life will calm down a little bit and I’ll have more time to cook more elaborate meals. But that doesn’t seem to be happening. How could it, with kids in the picture?! Thankfully, I have enough dishes in my repertoire that taste great but don’t take a ton of time, that I manage to put a good meal on the table ALMOST every night. The night I came up with this dish was definitely a proud moment. I got ooo’s and ahhh’s when I took it out of the oven and raves as the family ate it eagerly. There were enough leftovers for a couple of lunches too and it tasted even better then.

pork and green chili burritos

Under all that wonderful, warm chile cheesiness is nestled pork burritos for an easy dinner.

Make-Ahead Pork Green Chili Burritos

Serves 6-8 depending on whether they are cut in half or not

Ingredients:
6-7 large flour tortillas
1-1 1/2 pounds cubed pork*
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can beans of your choice, drained (I used black beans)
1 large jar 505 brand Green Chile (any brand or variety would do but I liked their All Natural one)
1/2 pound shredded cheese of choice (I used a Mexican blend but you can use whatever you prefer)

To garnish:
Shredded lettuce, diced red onion, avocados or guacamole, sour cream or plain yogurt, cilantro, diced tomatoes – all of these things add a fresh element, some crunch and additional nutrition.

Directions:
1. Cook the meat and onion. If you have a pressure cooker, this is the time to use it. Brown the cubed pork in some oil in the bottom of the pressure cooker, add the onion after the meat has started to brown. Add enough water (plus a chicken bouillon cube if you want for additional flavoring) to cover the meat. Then use the pressure cooker function and cook for about 15 minutes. Drain off the liquid and throw in the garlic. If you DON’T have a pressure cooker, dice the pork into smaller pieces and brown it in a skillet low and slow, adding the onion and then garlic, in that order. Because it’s diced, the garlic can burn easily so it shouldn’t go in until you are almost ready to take everything off the heat.

2. Add the beans to the meat mixture.

3. Spray the bottom and sides of a long baking dish with non-stick spray.

4. Place a tortilla at one end of the baking dish and add some of the meat/bean filling. Roll it up snuggly, keeping it in the baking dish, placing it seam side down. Repeat the process, continuing to assemble the burritos in the baking dish until you can’t fit anymore. For the average baking dish, 6-7 fit. Don’t squeeze them in too much or it will be too difficult to get them out.

5. Pour the green chile over the top making sure every bit of tortilla is covered so that it all stays moist. Then sprinkle cheese over the top, evenly.

6. Spray non-stick spray to a large piece of aluminum foil and cover the dish very loosely, leaving some space between the cheese and the foil if possible. NOTE: If you are making this ahead, go ahead and snugly cover the baking dish and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake it. Remove the foil for the last five minutes.

7. Bake for approximately 30 minutes (if it has not been refrigerated) at 350 degrees to heat everything through and melt the cheese. If you have refrigerated the dish, figure another 20 or so minutes more.

8. Just like the first piece of cake or pie, the first burrito out of the pan is a tricky thing to manage. If it comes out looking a little mangled, quickly cover that one with all the garnishes and no one will ever know the difference!

9. Garnish as you like and enjoy!

*Helpful hint about the pork – Sometimes you can get pork already diced but a handy trick I use is to buy a large pork loin at my local big-box store. The price-per-pound is usually very good and the meat is lean. From one long one, which is usually about a foot and a half long, I cut off a big chunk to be a roast, six slices for pork chops and then the rest, I cut into cubes. That will be three different meals from one pork loin! Good deal. 

Pork and green chili burritos

Beautiful! And tasty. Add all the fresh veggies you want for crunch and cool.

Overnight French Toast

Easy Overnight French Toast

Something as time-consuming as French Toast lends itself to weekends only when you can take your time dipping and cooking each slice. I love French Toast and don’t want to have to wait until weekends to make it. Thank goodness for the concept of Overnight French Toast, in which you just pour a batter over a baking dish full of slices of bread, ready to toss in the oven in the morning. It means you CAN have the treat of French Toast any day of the week! Yay!

Overnight French Toast

French Toast yumminess even on a busy weekday!

Easy Overnight French Toast
Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients:
1 loaf of old (and starting to harden) bread * sliced approximately 1/2 inch thick
12 ounces whole milk
4 whole eggs or 3 whole eggs plus one egg white (egg substitute can also be used)
1 TBS flax meal or wheat germ
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided
Diced pecans and/or walnuts (optional)

Directions:
Coat an oblong baking dish or two square baking dishes with butter or spray with non-stick spray (make sure to spray over the sink to avoid messy over-spray).

Lay the bread slices into the pan, turning them however you have to to make them fill the pan as completely as you can. You may have to cut some slices in half but that’s totally okay.

Mix all the liquid ingredients (and flax or wheat germ), starting with the milk. A handy tip is to measure the milk into a 4-cup measuring cup, adding each of the other ingredients. Then use a fork or whisk right there in the measuring cup to mix it up. It makes it easier and tidier to pour directly from a measuring cup and saves a mixing bowl or two.

Before pouring the liquid over the bread slices, mix in 1/4 of the brown sugar, retaining half. Pour the liquid as evenly as possible over all the bread. Don’t worry about how liquidy it all looks. The liquid will be absorbed as it sits.

Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the top, as evenly as possible. Don’t worry that it doesn’t cover every inch. After all, you’ll be pouring sweet syrup over it. Sprinkle pecans or walnuts over the top too. Because I have a child who doesn’t like nuts, I didn’t chop mine up so that he could easily remove them (and give them to me because I LOVE them!).

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator where it can sit evenly and isn’t likely to get nudged overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With the foil still on, bake the dish for 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and brown it another 10 minutes for a total of 25 minutes. I preheat the oven and get the pan in as soon as I get up in the morning so that the French Toast is warm and ready by the time we’re all ready for breakfast.

Using a spatula, scoop out servings and enjoy with syrup.

Note: Italian or French bread work great but this dish is a great reason to check out the day-old bread rack at your grocery store and try different breads including ones with seeds and nuts or even cranberries inside. Experiment!

Chicken Salad

Easy Smoked Chicken Salad

I love it when culinary inspiration strikes. Especially while I’m standing in front of the open refrigerator, wondering what on earth (or in the fridge) I’m going to make for dinner. Last night, I was doing just that, staring at leftovers containers that held mysterious and fuzzy things (it’s my husband’s job to deal with those). I was thinking all was lost when I saw the smoked chicken my husband had made the day before. Then my eyes darted to the mayo and mustard, to the pecans and walnuts I had toasted earlier and to my garden with lettuce greens basking in the late afternoon sun. This is what came of that inspiration. Wing it on all of these ingredients because you know how “mayonnaissy,” “mustardy” or nutty you like things! (Yes, those are words if I say they are!)

Chicken Salad

Sa-mokin’! This flavorful chicken salad can be eaten a variety of ways and with many variations of ingredients.

Ingredients:

Smoked (or baked, grilled, sauteed, rotisserie or fried) chicken
Mayonnaise
Mustard (whatever kind you like – yellow, Dijon or grainy)
Chopped and toasted pecans and/or walnuts

Chicken Salad

Four-ingredient-yumminess!

Method:
Dice the chicken into small, bite-size pieces. If you’re planning on putting it in a sandwich, dice it a little smaller to help it stay together and to make it easier for little hands and mouths to eat.

In a bowl, combine the chicken and enough mayonnaise and mustard to suit your taste and level of creaminess. Start with a little, then taste. I like only enough to add some zing and creaminess but not gloppiness, so I add just a little at a time until it’s the consistency I want. You can always add more mayo but it’s a problem if you have added too much. Yes, I can hear people out there saying “Too much mayo is NEVER a problem.” I feel that way about bacon. And chocolate.

Now, add the nuts to taste and mix it around to distribute the nuts throughout the chicken.

Chicken Salad

Be sure to combine the chicken with the mayonnaise and mustard before adding any other ingredients to make sure the chicken gets the creamy coating.

Variations:
Add diced red onion, grape halves, cherry tomato halves, blue cheese, bacon, diced celery or anything else you think would taste good – but not all of those things all together. That might be a bit much.

Serving suggestions:
I spooned mine over greens from my garden and didn’t even need a salad dressing because of the creaminess of the chicken. But you could also make a sandwich with some sturdy bread, slices of tomato and red onion with lettuce or just spoon it over crackers.