Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Frosting

There’s something beautiful about cake. A simple light cake to round of a light lunch. And what’s better than a little nutella frosting? I used to only eat chocolate cake; if white cake was an option, and there was no frosting to be found, I didn’t want anything to do it with. Well…maybe just the frosting. But I’ve found my tastes have changed and now I find myself straying away from chocolate and leaning more towards a vanilla or almond cake. Maybe my tastes have simplified. Or maybe I’ve just grown up? Whatever it is, this cake fit the bill perfectly.

It wasn’t dense, nor too sweet. Served with some fresh strawberries and blueberries. Did I mention I love fruit with dessert?

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Yep, don’t mind if I do.

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I must confess…I didn’t actually bake this cake myself, but I did devour it and enjoy all on my own. :)

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Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Bolognese sauce is one of those intimidating recipes I put off making for a long time. I didn’t know about the carrots and the celery in it either. All I could think was, “that just sounds weird.” But I finally bit the bullet, and with my new love of slow cooking and braising foods I figured I would finally give it a try.

No clue what I was so afraid of. This has got to be my new favorite meat sauce recipe! Letting it simmer slowly on the stovetop for an hour or two melds the flavors together in this incredibly delicious sauce.

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I followed this recipe over at Skinny Taste, omitting the pancetta since I don’t eat pork, skipping the half-and-half since I didn’t think it needed it and I wanted the tomato flavor to really come out, and I added more carrots and celery than called for and skipped the fresh parsley in favor of basil.

Don’t let the long cook time scare you away from making this. Just let it simmer on low while you go do something else for the 60-90 minutes and come back to a beautiful sauce.

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Serve it up on a bed of pasta or as I did, as a side to leftover pizza. Classy.

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Chicken Gyros

One of my goals for 2012 has been to create new meals and to use recipes more often than eating my staples of protein & veggies. Don’t get me wrong, I love my meals, but I want to expand my cooking repertoire so this involves branching out of my usual and trying new things.

I’ve seen plenty of recipes for chicken gyros on foodgawker and finally decided to make some. I don’t know why I’d thought marinating meats was wasteful and a pain to create one’s own marinades – it’s really not and it gives the meat a ton of great flavor.

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So after marinating the chicken in some yogurt, oil and spices, I made the tzatiki sauce and fired up the grill to grill the chicken.

Perfection!

I followed this recipe for both the chicken and the tzatziki sauce and I would definitely make this again.

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Savory Oats

When I first heard about savory oats, I was so skeptical. I mean…oats without fruit, or peanut butter?! But with onions, eggs, bacon, cheese?

I put off making this and trying it for so long. What. Was. I. Thinking?! Seriously, if you haven’t tried savory oats, do yourself a favor and go make some. Now.

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Savory Oats (serves 1)

  • 1/2 c. rolled oats or 1/3 c. oatbran
  • 1 c. of milk and/or water
  • sliced onions
  • 1-2 slices of turkey bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-4 T. shredded cheese
  • coconut oil or butter
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • avocado (optional) 
  • shredded chicken (optional)
  • BBQ sauce (optional) 

Heat a skillet over medium heat.

In a pot, cook your oats or oatbran in your liquid (I prefer stovetop, but microwave should work too – if microwaving wait to make your oats until the end so they don’t get cold ;)).

Add the butter or coconut oil to the skillet, and cook your onions, bacon, and eggs (scrambled or fried…however you prefer).

Pour you oats into a bowl. Top with the onions, bacon and eggs. Top with shredded cheese and more butter, if you so desire. I love these with avocado and hot sauce on top. Yum! I’ve also tried shredded chicken and BBQ sauce with the onions but no eggs. There are so many different flavor combinations. Savory oats huevos rancheros? Why not?

Dig in!

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Over Easy Cafe, Asheville

Anytime my mom comes to visit we make a plan of it to spend a day in Asheville. If you’ve never been there it’s such a cool town with a great downtown area with tons of quirky shops and restaurants. With so many great places to choose from, it’s always a hard selection, but after I saw the menu at the Over Easy Cafe I was sold.

Who could say no to french toast stuffed with cream cheese, piled high with blueberry sauce and pistachios?

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Or for a savory option (you know, to balance out the sweetness), some huevos rancheros. We split the two and it was the perfect combination…no sugar coma that day. We left satisfied, full of great food made from local ingredients, and then walked around as our food digested.

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What a great weekend!

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Lamb Saag {Saffron Road}

It’s not very often I’ll buy something boxed from the frozen section. When I do, it’s usually because I can’t make it myself and I’ve had a craving for some kind of ethnic food. As well as I can cook, things like Indian and Thai foods have a list of spices and ingredients I don’t really keep on hand plus it’s SO difficult to match what you get in a restaurant. So I let other companies do most of the work for me.

I came across this at the grocery store – made with pasture-raised lamb fed a 100% vegetarian diet and raised without antibiotics. Their products are certified humane (raised & handled), a factor that’s really important to me when choosing meats. I also love that they support local farmers and family-owned farms.

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Ok, so on to the food. Tender lamb cubes, lightly spiced with turmeric and authentic herbs, served in a thick bed of spinach.

My thoughts? Absolutely delicious! I’d definitely pick this up again. The spices and herbs were a great flavor, and while I would have preferred brown rice since white just doesn’t do it for me in the flavor department, it still made for an awesome meal. Served with a side of peas…just my style when eating frozen ethnic food.

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Other flavors that I want to try include chicken tikka masala (one of my favorites!), moroccan lamb stew, lamb vinadaloo, and lemongrass basil chicken.

Until I can find a friend where I live that likes Indian food, I’ll just reserve the restaurant-quality for when my mom visits, and stick with this for now. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll become adventurous enough to attempt to make one.

What are your favorite ethnic cuisines and dishes? Have you tried making them at home with success?

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Quinoa-Winter Squash “Stuffing”

I meant to publish this post around the holidays. Oh say 2-3 months ago. I just kept putting it off and then completely forgot about it until I was searching for an idea to blog about. Luckily it’s still cold a lot of places and this is a delicious recipe.

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Quinoa-Winter Squash “Stuffing”:
serves 4

  • 1 c. quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 c. peas, fresh or frozen
  • olive oil
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • salt & papper

Cook the acorn squash (bake or microwave), and scoop out the flesh and set aside.

Rinse the quinoa then cook in a pan per the directions (~30 minutes) with the broth until done. While the quinoa cooks, saute the onion in a little olive oil until starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the peas to the pan until heated through.

When the quinoa is done cooking, add the acorn squash, and the onion-pea mixture. Stir to combine. Season with s&p, thyme and rosemary.

Serve and enjoy!

 

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