Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

Pantry Staples | February 11, 2014 | By

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I’m not really sure when I first tasted Nutella — probably during college at Hailey’s recommendation — but I know that at just one bite I was hooked. I’ll find just about any excuse to eat it. On toast? Yep. As a frosting substitute? Sure. By the spoonful(s)? Of course. I  just love the stuff. Seeing as I’ll probably try to talk myself into eating it by the jar, I usually stay away from the Nutella aisle in the grocery store. (When you have a sweet tooth as big as mine, you need to take these extra precautions).

A little less than a year ago, I decided to remedy this situation by creating my very own chocolate-hazelnut spread. Not only is my take on this spread free of the extra sugars and oils and packed with protein, it is incredibly simple to make. I hope you like this delicious, nutritious, guilt-free take on chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Cheers!

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Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

2 Cups Hazelnuts, raw

1 Cup Organic Milk (we used whole milk as it was on hand, but any milk should do)

2-3 Tbsp. Sugar

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the raw hazelnuts in a medium-sized baking pan, making sure the nuts are spaced evenly. Bake the nuts for around 10-15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes or so to ensure you don’t burn the hazelnuts. Baking the nuts helps remove the skin more easily and, in my opinion, enhances the nutty flavor. When your kitchen starts to fill with a wonderful hazelnut aroma, take the nuts out of the oven and cool completely. Once cool, place the cooked hazelnuts in between two paper towels and roll against a hard surface to remove the hazelnut skins. This works best one handful at a time. Once you are finished de-shelling your nuts, blend them in a high duty blender with milk until smooth consistency is reached. Place in a bowl and whisk together (we used a stand mixer) with cocoa powder and sugar. Store in the fridge in a tightly sealed jar or eat immediately!

*Note: You do not have to remove all of the husk from the cooked hazelnuts, only that which comes off easily.

**Note: Depending on your blender’s capacity, your chocolate-hazelnut spread might come out a little gritty. Personally, I like it, as it reminds me of a chunky peanut butter consistency.

Check back soon for Hailey’s Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart.

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Blood Orange Bellinis

Drinks | February 6, 2014 | By

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I am in citrus heaven right now. I love when lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are in full-bloom at the Farmers’ Market. Blood oranges are definitely my absolute favorite. The colors are magnificent when you slice them open, and they make fantastic drinks.

Another thing I’m in love with: the fact that it’s winter and here in Los Angeles it’s been in the 70’s and 80’s when the rest of the US has experienced quite a few sub-zero days (including my brother in Northfield, MN and my sister in Madison, WI- why they left California, no one knows). This weather makes for perfect weekend brunch outside, and what’s better for brunch than a seasonal blood orange bellini?

Bon Appétit!

Blood Orange Bellini

Dry Sparkling White Wine

1/2 Cup Blood Orange Juice (2-3 Blood Oranges)

Directions:

Chill wine and oranges. Roll oranges against counter, which helps to extract the juice. Cut the oranges in half and squeeze, and strain to remove seeds and pulp. Pour juice into each champagne glass about 1/3 full and top off with wine. The ratio should be about 1 part juice to 2 parts wine.

Makes 2 champagne glasses.
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A Taste of LA: The Pudding Truck Launch

A Taste Of | February 4, 2014 | By

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LA is home to many incredible gourmet food trucks. Young Angelenos can’t get enough of them; all Westsiders know that “First Fridays” refers to a food truck event that takes place every first Friday of the month on Abbott Kinney Ave (a super trendy street in Venice), during which dozens of decadent food trucks line the street to attract hipsters (and wannabe hipsters…and us) hopping from bar to bar. For foodies like Cathy and myself, it’s heaven.

While we can’t get enough of the Lobsta Truck and the Grilled Cheese Truck, there is a new player in town, and the owner happens to be a really good friend. We would like to introduce you to The Pudding Truck, Los Angeles’ newest addiction.

The answer is yes, pudding is the only thing on the menu; think old-fashioned, stove-top pudding, a childhood classic. The owner, Carrie Cohen, makes every batch from scratch (with a little help from a newly added pastry chef). She developed every recipe herself, and makes most of her own toppings, too (think homemade vanilla wafers, cinnamon meringues, etc.).  She also tries to source her ingredients as local and natural as possible.

And let me tell you- if you are at all hesitant about pudding, just try a bite. I promise you will be hooked in no time. The world is tired of cupcakes and fro-yo, but Carrie found a perfect new niche at a time when America is craving a new dessert. Y-U-M.

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My personal favorite flavors at the launch were vanilla bean and lemon, and my favorite toppings were homemade vanilla wafers and all-natural gummy worms. However, if you are a chocolate person (I happen not to be so much, but Cathy is a chocoholic and can attest…), her chocolate pudding is out of this world. Keep your eye out for this truck; The Pudding Truck will be advertising on Twitter and its website for location info.

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