Monthly Archives: June 2012

Nutella Fudge Cookies

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I often find myself craving cookies after dinner or late at night and I can’t seem to rid myself of it until I find some. (Cookie monster?) I really love freshly baked chewy chocolate chip cookies, but a lot of the best recipes advise that you refrigerate the dough for at least a few hours (or overnight) to prevent the dough from spreading out too much in the oven. When I get a craving for a chocolate chip cookie, I don’t want it tomorrow. I want it today. Now, preferably.

I also have a new-found love for Nutella. My favorite ways of eating Nutella are on toasted bread, with strawberries, alone (not even kidding), or in cookies. Nutella is a great way to make your cookies chewy without having to refrigerate the dough for hours. After looking around a bit, I found a recipe on A Busy Nest for quick and easy Nutella cookies that that only have four ingredients: flour, egg, sugar, and, of course, Nutella. To that, I added chocolate chips for extra fudginess. And another bonus: they only take about 12 minutes from start to finish.

The measurements are easy to remember: 1 cup Nutella, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 egg. However, at 9 pm last night, I didn’t feel like making a whole batch of cookies. I really only wanted to make a few. So without changing the proportions, I majorly downsized the recipe so that it made exactly 3 cookies. Yep, just 3 cookies. My mom looked at me and asked, “…did you just make three cookies?” and I said, “…yes,” and we both burst out laughing. Maybe kind of crazy, but hey, if it works, it works.

Here’s the recipe:
as adapted from Four Ingredient Nutella Cookies on A Busy Nest

  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

*Note: I only used half the amount of sugar the original recipe calls for and found that was sweet enough for me.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine nutella, flour, sugar, and egg in a mixing bowl and stir until blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until set, and let cool.

place cookie dough balls onto a greased cookie sheet, bake at 350…

…and 8 minutes later you have delicious fudgy Nutella cookies.

If you’re like me and only want to make a tiny-sized batch, all you need to remember is to keep the proportions the same. It’s a 1:1 ratio of Nutella and flour, and 1/2 that amount of sugar. The egg is a little bit trickier. If you have Egg Beaters, then those are perfect for this. If not, then you just kind of have to guess. As long as your guess is somewhere around the right proportion, the cookies will turn out fine. A little extra or not enough egg won’t harm the cookies too much.

Veggie Wrap with Tzatziki Sauce

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A good veggie wrap is up there on my list of favorite vegetarian food. It’s important to make sure you’re getting enough protein when you eat vegetarian meals or become a vegetarian. Even though I do eat meat, I can imagine there’s nothing more disappointing than when the only vegetarian option a restaurant has is a veggie wrap with lettuce, tomato, peppers, and maybe cheese. Boring and unsatisfying.

Hummus is a great snack food for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. It’s healthy, comes in a billion varieties, and can be substituted for mayonnaise on a sandwich. A few months ago I discovered a new hummus from Trader Joe’s called Tuscan White Bean Hummus. It uses white beans instead of chickpeas and is so rich and tasty. It’s perfect for sandwiches or wraps.

This veggie wrap combines fresh red bell peppers, sliced avocado, Tuscan White Bean hummus, and tzatziki sauce. (To see my recipe for easy tzatziki sauce, scroll down to the bottom.) It’s packed with fiber, healthy fats, protein, and flavor. It’s a quick and easy wrap and great for a hot summer day when you don’t want anything heavy.

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite type of wrap (I like Cedar’s spinach wraps)
  • 2 Tbsp Trader Joe’s Tuscan White Bean Hummus (any type of hummus will work)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 a ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 a red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 2 Tbsp tzatziki sauce (see below for recipe) – if you don’t have time to make it, you can find pre-made tzatziki sauce in the hummus or salsa section of your grocery store

Your ingredients (sorry for the blurry photo)

Directions:

Lay out your wrap on a flat surface with a paper towel or plate underneath. Layer on hummus using a butter knife or spoon. Add sliced avocado and red pepper, and drizzle on tzatziki sauce using a spoon. Roll up your wrap, cut in half, and enjoy. 🙂

Easy Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki sauce is a Greek yogurt based dip made with cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, and sometimes parsley, mint, or dill. It’s traditionally used in Greek dishes such as gyros or souvlaki, or as a dip for pita bread. I personally love to eat it with pretzels!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 a cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • a few sprigs of fresh parsley leaves, chopped (about 1 Tbsp chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: fresh dill or mint

ingredients, all chopped. cukes, parsley, garlic, lemon, and yogurt

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Sauce will last for about one week refrigerated.

When it’s done, it will look something like this

Lots of people have the misconception that all vegetarian food is boring and flavorless, but there are actually endless options out there if you look for them. What’s your favorite vegetarian food?

Raspberry Almond Summer Salad

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Raspberry Almond Summer Salad with Goat Cheese

This past Sunday, I had a girl’s day out with my mother, sister Emily, Mirva, and little Naomi. We took a walk around a local park, ate at one of our favorite restaurants, and got our nails done. It was so nice to spend time with the girls in my family and I hope we start making a tradition of it.

This salad is inspired by the one I ordered at the restaurant, Not Your Average Joe’s. Their salad is called the Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad, and I finished eating it before anybody else had even touched their appetizer… oops. I loved the lightly fried warm goat cheese and the way the fresh raspberries perfectly balanced out the tanginess of the goat cheese. Raspberries have always been one of my favorite fruits, but I only recently discovered that I really enjoy goat cheese. I decided to make a simpler version, using fresh crumbled goat cheese and chopped almonds. I’m not usually a big salad person, but this one has seriously kept me going back for more – I’ve had one a day for the past three days. Ha.

Raspberry Almond Summer Salad
as adapted from Not Your Average Joe’s

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh field greens
  • a handful of almonds, roughly chopped (I used Cinnamon & Brown Sugar, mmm)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • handful of fresh raspberries, halved (or frozen, thawed)
  • 1-2 Tbsp light raspberry vinaigrette (I used Naturally Delicious brand)

Directions:

In a medium salad bowl, add field greens and then all other ingredients. Toss and enjoy. To make a meal of it, try adding some sliced grilled chicken.

Simple and delicious.

How to Make Good Iced Coffee at Home

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Icy, refreshing cold brewed coffee.

Summer is right around the corner, and that means one thing for us coffee-drinkers: Iced coffee season. While I do enjoy cuddling up with a hot mug of coffee in the winter, nothing is as refreshing or satisfying to me on a warm day than a good cup of iced coffee. In fact, I love it so much that I actually drink it all year long. The cost of a simple iced coffee is pretty inexpensive, but when added up over a longer period of time, starts to take a toll on my wallet. So last summer, I sought out to find a cheaper way to enjoy my iced coffee and not feel guilty about it.

As many people may quickly notice, making iced coffee at home is not an easy one-step process. Add ice cubes to hot coffee and you’ll have yourself a cup of lukewarm, watery coffee… gross. After looking around the internet a bit, I’ve discovered three methods of making a really good cup of iced coffee at home. They require more time, but are simple enough that anybody can do them and the results are pretty damn satisfying.

Method 1: Refrigerated extra-strength coffee
This is the method my roommates and I would often use. To prevent your coffee from getting watery, follow this two step process:

  • What you’ll need: A coffee maker, ground coffee, water, and a refrigerator.

1. Instead of brewing coffee the way you normally do, brew it about 1 and a half times stronger.  I first tried brewing the coffee double-strength, but I found that to be too strong. I made this little table to make the conversions quick and easy:

How many cups of coffee you want                                          How many tablespoons of ground coffee to use
2                                                                                                               3
3                                                                                                              4.5
4                                                                                                               6
5                                                                                                              7.5
6                                                                                                                9

And so on and so forth.

2. After your coffee has brewed and cooled down a bit, pour it into a spill-proof container and stick it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Having coffee that’s already cold will prevent ice cubes from watering it down. Add ice cubes and fix as you normally would.

Method 2: Cold Brewed Coffee
Adapted from NY Times. This method involves soaking ground coffee in water overnight and filtering it the next day.

  • What you’ll need: 2 large containers or jars that hold at least 4 cups (1 quart mason jars are perfect for this), 3 cups of water, 2/3 cup ground coffee, a funnel, a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth.   *A removable or disposable coffee filter would work as well.

Your supplies

1.  Into your jar/large container, pour water and ground coffee. Stir well and cover.

2. Let the coffee sit out overnight or for about 12 hours, shaking or stirring a couple of times if possible.

It will look muddy and unappetizing at first, but don’t worry – you’ll be filtering all the solids out later.

3. To filter, first pour the coffee through the fine mesh sieve into second jar to get rid of the large grinds. To get rid of smaller grinds, line a small funnel with a cheesecloth (or paper towel if cheesecloth is not available) and pour coffee through back into a first jar.  *Make sure to do this step over a sink, as it can get messy if you’re not careful

I forgot to use the funnel, but I really recommend it – I spilled coffee literally all over my kitchen. Oops.

4. Serve in a glass with ice cubes and fix as you like it.

Add some ice cubes, cream, and sugar…

… Stir and enjoy 🙂

Method 3: Coffee ice cubes

This method is exactly what it sounds like. Take room temperature or refrigerated coffee and pour into an ice cube tray. Freeze for a few hours or overnight and serve with coffee that’s been cooled, using methods 1 or 2 above.  The Hazel Bloom has a great post on this.

After trying each of these methods, I would have to say that the cold brewed coffee is definitely my favorite. It takes the most time and effort, but the results are worth it. Cold brewed coffee is less acidic than hot brewed coffee, so it has a more mellow taste but still with all the wonderful coffee flavor. I really recommend this method. Check out YouTube for further instruction and even more methods.

A few extra tips:

  • If you’re looking for extra flavor in your coffee, try using flavored coffee or flavored cream. There are a wide selection of flavored coffee creamers available at most grocery stores nowadays; you can find anything from French vanilla to caramel macchiato to peppermint patty, and they’re surprisingly not too bad for you when used in moderation.
    — Another trick I like to use is to add a sprinkle of cinnamon to the coffee grounds before you brew them. This gives you the subtle flavor of cinnamon without the powdery mess in your cup.
  • For a more intense coffee flavor, try buying whole bean coffee and grinding it yourself. Some stores have coffee grinders you can use right in the store, or you can buy your own for less than $20. It only takes a few extra seconds and gives you a much more complex flavor.
  • Try a French Press coffee maker! I admit I don’t own a French Press and have never used one, but I hear it’s the way to go if you’re a true coffee fanatic. Learn more about them here. I think I now know what my next purchase will be…

Slow-Cooked Chicken Tacos

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Slow-Cooked Chicken Tacos

I only started cooking this recipe recently, but it quickly became one of my favorites. I love all sorts of Mexican food, from tacos to enchiladas to nachos – you name it. Tacos are an easy go-to, but I like to switch up the meat instead of using traditional ground beef all the time. This recipe uses salsa and chicken stock to marinate the chicken. It’s so easy and flavorful, and despite the title, you don’t need a slow-cooker to make it.

Ingredients:
serve 2-4

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups of your favorite salsa  – a jarred salsa such as Tostitos brand or Newman’s Own works best for this, rather than fresh salsa
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock or chicken broth
  • Spices: 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
  • Toppings: There are endless options – try lettuce, tomato, avocado, black beans, sour cream or Greek yogurt, peppers, onions, black olives, etc. I used avocado and sautéed peppers and onions on mine.

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add salsa, chicken stock, and spices to pan and stir to combine.
  2. Place chicken breasts in salsa mixture and cook for 45 minutes – 1 hour, stirring occasionally and flipping chicken breasts as needed. Check if the chicken is done by inserting a meat thermometer (chicken is done at 165 ºF) or slicing into the middle of the breast to make sure no pink remains.
  3. When the chicken is done, remove from pan and place on a large cutting board. Using two forks, shred the chicken into small pieces. (Or, shred chicken in pan – see picture below for note)
  4. Arrange chicken on a flour tortilla and complete with your choice of toppings.
  5. Enjoy 🙂

Add chicken breasts to chicken stock and salsa mixture

Simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour

Shred chicken into small pieces – I shredded mine in the pan so that it could absorb more of the salsa mixture. Just be careful not to scratch your pan!

This method of cooking the chicken can be used in a variety of Mexican dishes, such as the filling for a quesadilla or enchilada, or to top off some nachos. For something different, you could try a sweeter salsa such as peach or mango. Mmm!

Tender, melt-in-your-mouth chicken and a spicy, savory sauce