Sunday, March 25, 2012

What's Cookin', Good Lookin'?

The cereal cabinet :-/
I don't really like to cook. I don't like the mess it makes and I'd rather spend my time doing other things. Plus, I'm married to a 39-year old who has the pallet of a toddler and won't eat anything that has a "yucky" texture or even resembles a health food (but I love him!). That means squash, eggplant, most cheeses, avocado, yogurt, most fruits, and even pudding are not options for inclusion in a family meal. Chicken fried steak (blech): yes. Veggie pizza: no. But lately, Chris has been complaining about how much cereal we eat for dinner. Ok, I'll give in on this one. Our cereal cabinet looks more like an aisle at the grocery store. 

But with Chris's uber-pickiness and the fact that we both work really far away from home, I just have no desire to cook in the evenings and neither does he. And it's neither wallet nor waist friendly for us to eat out as much as we do. So I decided to spend this Saturday preparing a few meals for this week. We decided that if we made three meals, we could stretch them over the other evenings and some lunches. 

I'm really trying hard not to eat store-bought meat, but the only meat we currently have is venison, so I knew I'd have to at least buy some chicken so that we could have some variety (I'm all about the meatless meals, but Big Tex can't handle it). My obsession with Pinterest really came in handy here, because there are about a million recipes to be found there. I first did a search for "Venison" and came up with these two recipes: Venison Lasagna and Venison Guinness Stew. Monday's and Thursday's dinners, check. Then I searched "Crock Pot" and found this Orange Chicken in the Crock Pot recipe. Yum. That'll be Sunday night. The Orange Chicken is cooking as I write and it smells delicous. I put together the lasagna this morning; all it has to do is go into the oven around 5 tomorrow and it'll be ready.

I should note on the lasagna that I didn't follow the recipe exactly. The pecorino romano was really expensive, so I made the sauce as instructed in the recipe, then made the cheese filling as instructed on the box of the oven-ready lasagna noodles. I'll report back on the quality after I've tried it. 

BUT...the piece de resistance of my Saturday: homemade Nutella. Like all the other stuff I made, I found the Nutella recipe on Pinterest. It was pinned from a blog called The Eccentric Cook, so it is not my recipe. I just followed her instructions and made a little magic. 
Homemade nutella on whole grain toast. Sooooo healthy cause of all the whole grains... 
Here's the recipe (translated out of metric and with my notes and observations):
1/2 pound hazelnuts (also called filberts...who knew??)
1/2 pound chocolate (I used 3/4 of a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup hot milk

Filberts (hehe) ready to be roasted
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place your hazelnuts in a pan in one layer, then roast them in the oven for 15 minutes. When they come out, dump them into a dish cloth, wrap them up for a minute, then roll them around inside the cloth to get the skins to come off. You don't have to get every bit of skin off, but try to get as much off as possible. 

Hazelnut butter in my tiny food chopper
If you have a good food processor, shut up and stop bragging. Ok, kidding....if you have a good food processor, you are lucky. Dump your filberts in there and process away until you have a nut butter (it will look like nut dust at first, but give it time). If, like me, you just have a tiny little food chopper, then grind them in batches. Be patient and don't give up. You don't want it to be grainy. You want it to look like natural peanut butter. 

Melted chocolate. Worth burning my mouth over.
Boil some water in a pan, then put your double boiler on top. Put the chocolate in and turn the heat down to medium. 

Chocolate and condensed milk: the perfect team.
When all of the chocolate is melted, dump the can of condensed milk in and mix well. 

Mix it up!
Put your hazelnut butter and your chocolate yumminess into a mixer and set on low for several minutes. You want to make sure it gets mixed well and isn't grainy. Once you feel like it's mixed well, evaluate the texture. If you like it the way it is, don't add the milk. If you'd like it a little smoother, add the milk (I did).

Refrigerate after you're done. It will thicken slightly in the refrigerator, so keep that in mind when deciding whether to add the milk. 

Then go crazy and just try to not get up in the middle of the night and sneak the jar out of the fridge, and try not to frantically dip pretzels into it, and try not to get chocolate-y goodness all over your face. Just try, that's all I'm asking. 


  1. oh my gosh. yum! I may have to try this!

    1. SO worth it, Kate! But make sure you have a lot of small containers so you can give some of it away because it is DANGEROUS!!! :-)

  2. ARGH! I forgot to try your free sample AGAIN today!! I think that I may need to have first thing in the morning...what a great way to start a new day!

    1. Well, YEAH! Nothing says complete, balanced breakfast like Nutella on toast! ;-)