Monday, October 28, 2013

Nutella Cappuccino Ice Cream with Roasted Hazelnuts



I'm pretty sure that this ice cream is served by the bowl-full in heaven.  

No, I'm serious.

On a recent trip to TN, I came across some farm-fresh milk (You know, the non-homogenized kind with the cream on top).  I had never been lucky enough to try milk that fresh, so I bought it and started dreaming of recipes to use it up. 

My first thought - ice cream!

I know we're a little past peak ice cream season, but come on...some things are so amazing that they need to be - no, they MUST be - enjoyed all year long.   Anything less would be tragic.  This particular flavor was inspired by our trip to Italy.  We had the most amazing Nutella Cappuccinos while visiting Rome, in a little cafe near the Coliseum.  It was bliss, and I wanted to try and re-create those unforgettable flavors.  After all, nutella and coffee are a match made in heaven.

The real stars of this ice cream are the roasted hazelnuts.  It just wouldn't be quite as marvelous without them.  I took whole hazelnuts and roasted them to toasty, fragrant perfection, then chopped them up and added them right to the ice cream base as it was being whirled around in the ice cream machine.  A generous portion of nutella is also added during the freezing process, so that you end up with wonderful little nuggets of nutella throughout.

"Nuggets of nutella"...Doesn't that sound just delightful? :)

By the way, the farm fresh milk was the best milk I've ever had in my life, and it made a big difference in this ice cream.  If using farm fresh milk, just use 4 cups of milk, instead of the milk and cream quantities listed below. 

Bon Appetit, my friends!


Nutella Cappucino Ice Cream with Roasted Hazelnuts
Ice cream base adapted from:  Emeril Lagasse's recipe for Coffee Ice Cream

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup nutella
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts

Directions:
Combine the cream, milk, sugar, and coffee in a medium, heavy saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat.

 Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Whisk 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Gradually add the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, to the hot cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 170 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.

 Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to keep a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

While the ice cream base is chilling in the fridge, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the pre-heated oven.  Roast for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly toasted and fragrant.  Transfer the hazelnuts to a cutting board and chop.  Let cool completely. 

Remove ice cream base from the refrigerator and pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.  About half-way through the freezing process, begin adding the nutella.  Do this by dropping very small bits of nutella into the ice cream as it churns, until it is all gone.  With this method, you will end up with small chunks of nutella throughout the ice cream.  If you see any large chunks of nutella, break them up with a spoon the best you can.  Once all of the nutella is incorporated, add the chopped hazelnuts and continue to freeze until done. 

After the ice cream is made, transfer to an airtight container. Cover tightly and freeze until ready to serve. 

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Smoked Chicken Salad


I love a good, tasty salad, and pretty much any salad that incorporates roasted walnuts, pecans or almonds is at the top of my list.   This one caught my eye while scanning the pages of my latest Food Network Magazine.  While glancing at the ingredients list, I noticed something that I had never cooked with before - hearts of palm.  I had heard of this unfamiliar ingredient before but never used it.  I was intrigued, so I dog-eared the page.

Fast forward about a week, and this salad graced our dinner table.  If you're a fan of salad dressings made with greek yogurt, then you'll love this.  It's such a healthy alternative to others.  The blue cheese knocks the dressing down a few notches on the healthy scale, but it adds a great creaminess and flavor to the dressing, which complements the roasted walnuts wonderfully.

To be honest, Brad was not a huge fan of this salad, for two reasons:  

#1:  He doesn't really like greek yogurt
#2:  He wasn't crazy about the flavor of the hearts of palm.  

On the other hand, I thought this salad was really good.  If you're unsure about the hearts of palm, just leave it out.  In my opinion, it's not really vital.  The original recipe also included beets, which I did leave out.

Bon Appetit, my friends!


Smoked Chicken Salad

Adapted from:  Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 6-ounce package baby spinach
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, drained and halved lengthwise
3 small cucumbers, roughly chopped
1 8-ounce smoked chicken breast, thinly sliced
4 whole-grain dinner rolls

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast until golden, 10 to 12 minutes; let cool slightly, then chop.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk the yogurt, blue cheese, shallot and 1 tablespoon water in a large bowl; whisk in another tablespoon of water if the dressing is too thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the spinach, tomatoes, hearts of palm, cucumbers and beets to the bowl with the dressing and toss. Add the chicken and toss again. Divide among plates and top with the walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the rolls.

Per serving: Calories 370; Fat 14 g (Saturated 4 g); Cholesterol 42 mg; Sodium 1,514 mg; Carbohydrate 46 g; Fiber 12 g; Protein 25 g
 
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rosemary Chicken with Corn Quinoa

 

Can I just start out by saying how much I loved this meal?  It's such a flavor-packed combination that's filled with healthy goodness like red quinoa, corn and kale.  But, this isn't one of those puny, healthy meals that leaves you hungry.  No sir...This is one of those dinners that will make you realize that eating healthy can be delicious!


Plus, it's such a pretty meal, that you'll want to dig right in.  The chicken is super simple to make.  Chicken breasts are flavored with fresh rosemary, salt & pepper, and then sauteed until done.  Next, the quinoa is flavored with onions, garlic, fresh basil, mint and lemon juice.

Mmm.

My mouth is seriously watering right now.

Be sure and use fresh rosemary, basil and mint if possible.  Fresh herbs make a big difference with this recipe.  

Bon Appetit, my friends!


Rosemary Chicken with Corn Quinoa

Adapted from:  Southern Living magazine September 2013

Ingredients:
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon
kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon
freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon
minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons
olive oil

Fresh Corn Quinoa (recipe below)


Directions: 
Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and rosemary. 

Cook in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 6 minutes on each side or until done. 

Serve with quinoa.


Fresh Corn Quinoa
Adapted from:  Southern Living magazine September 2013

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups uncooked red quinoa
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups water
2 small onions, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
2
garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh corn kernels
6 cups shredded kale
1/2 cup
torn basil

1/4 cup torn mint
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Bring quinoa, salt, and water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until tender; drain. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, sauté onions in hot olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat 3 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add corn kernels and shredded kale; cook 2 minutes or until wilted.  Add quinoa, basil, mint, and fresh lemon juice.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Baked Gnocchi with Chicken



Here in Birmingham, AL, the leaves are JUST starting to change color, and there's been a wonderful nip in the air at night.  Last evening while out and about with the hubs, I wished I had a light coat for the first time all season.  Autumn is upon us, which is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year.  


This recipe for Baked Gnocchi with Chicken is absolutely perfect for these cooler nights.  It is a hearty dish that will warm your tummy and leave you happy.  The word "comforting" comes to mind when trying to describe this dinner.

I've been slightly obsessed with gnocchi lately.  I don't know what it is.  I've been purchasing store-bought gnocchi, but I'd love to learn to make it from scratch.  Oh, one of these days!  There's no better time than the present, I reckon.  I need to add that to my culinary "To-Do" list.  Who has a homemade gnocchi recipe they'd be willing to share?

I loved this dish because it's packed with sauteed mushrooms, wilted baby spinach, and parmesan cheesy goodness.  The chicken broth and nutmeg really help develop some great flavors.  Plus, the use of a rotisserie chicken makes this meal really easy to whip together.

Bon Appetit, my friends!




Baked Gnocchi with Chicken
Adapted from Food Network magazine

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced (about 4 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 2 cups)
1 17.5-ounce package potato gnocchi
1 1/2 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
Directions:
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a deep ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat; add the flour and cook, whisking, 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk and chicken broth until smooth; simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt and the nutmeg.

Add the chicken, mushrooms, gnocchi and spinach to the sauce and stir until coated and the spinach wilts. Sprinkle with the parmesan, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler; broil until lightly browned on top, about 3 more minutes.

Per serving: Calories 598; Fat 35 g (Saturated 16 g); Cholesterol 177 mg; Sodium 984 mg; Carbohydrate 32 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 39 g
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Strawberry Cake with Chocolate Frosting


As of yesterday, I am officially the big 3-0.  

I know, right?!?  YUCK. 

As it turns out though, 30 isn't so bad.  In fact, I'm pretty excited to see what the next year has in store.  If my thirties are anything like my twenties, I can only be happy.  After all, I've always been a glass half-full kind of girl.  :)

To celebrate, my sweet Brad baked me the most delicious, mouth-watering cake.  It was a strawberry cake with dark chocolate frosting.  So, if you're a fan of chocolate-covered strawberries, then friends ,this is YOUR cake! 

I've been obsessed with THIS STRAWBERRY CAKE from the first time I baked it.  I've made it countless times since, and friends and family always request it.  I got to thinking - Wouldn't it be heavenly smothered in chocolate frosting instead?  The answer?  A resounding YES!  Brad used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa for the frosting, because we are big fans of darker chocolate.  However, you can use regular unsweetened cocoa, if you prefer.

I also recently made this cake for a bridal shower, and I served chocolate-covered strawberries on the side.  That combo was a huge hit.

Bon Appetit, my friends!





Strawberry Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Cake Adapted from:  Paula Deen

Frosting Adapted from:  Hershey's Kitchens

Strawberry Cake
Ingredients:
1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry flavored instant gelatin?
10 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries, stems removed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Chocolate Frosting (recipe follows)


Directions:
 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour 2 round 9-inch cake pans.

Note:
  If using frozen strawberries, thaw ahead of time and bring to room temperature, reserving the juices as they thaw.  If using fresh strawberries, remove the stems.  Using a blender or food processor, puree your strawberries.

In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans, and cool completely on wire racks.


Spread Chocolate Frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake.


Chocolate Frosting
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (regular or dark, depending on your preference)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
1 tsp strawberry flavored extract

Directions:
Stir melted butter into cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in strawberry extract.
(Yields about 2 cups frosting.)



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