Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Nutella Hot Chocolate


That's the review I got when I made the kids Nutella Hot Chocolate.
Can one really ever get enough Nutella?
Thank Goodness for the Costco twin pack!

Next, I'm going to make it for my niece and nephews.
I'm always working on favorite aunt status.
I think this might be the clincher!

Delicious, warm milk and creamy, rich Nutella.  It's really that simple!

Nutella Hot Chocolate
Serves 3

1/4 cup Nutella
2 1/4 cups 2% milk

Place the Nutella and the milk in a saucepan on low. Gently heat until the Nutella melts into the milk, storing constantly.  Divide into three cups.  Top with marshmallows. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Syrup

Yesterday marked our 19th day of Christmas vacation: seventeen scheduled ones and two extra ones thrown in for extreme cold.  This is why my pantry tends to be in a constant state of overstock.  You never know when you're going to be stuck inside with a house full of kids!

Since yesterday was sure to be the last, lazy day of our extended, delicious slugfest, I decided to pull out one of my overstocked pantry times:  Red Velvet.  Apparently, I was a bit overzealous  when I came up with these delicious Red Velvet Cookies. Or maybe I just purchased it twice. I can't quite remember. It's all become a bit of a blur. Nevertheless, I discovered several extra boxes of Red Velvet cake mix and decided to transform them into - PANCAKES! I mean, who doesn't love a little dessert for breakfast?

Cream Cheese Syrup and some fresh raspberries top off a stack.

I'm feeling a repeat of this on Valentine's Day!

Red Velvet Pancakes
by Rachel @ Simple Girl

1 Box Red Velvet Pancake Mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk (use buttermilk if you have it!)
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Whisk together ingredients.  Pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter onto a greased skillet on low heat.  When it is cooked enough to hold together, flip it.  Cook for another minute and remove from skillet.

COOKING TIPS:  The low heat is necessary so that the batter won't burn.  It burns more easily due to the sugar content.  You won't get your normal pancake bubbles, either, so don't wait for them.

Cream Cheese Syrup

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

With a mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar.  Gradually add milk and continue beating so that syrup is smooth.  Add Vanilla and pinch of salt.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Butter Bean Soup

Happy New Year!  We are off to a cold start! It's so cold that the Governor cancelled school for the entire state! That never happens. Up here in Minnesota, when it gets cold, we just pull up our snow pants and pull down our hats.  In the South, they say it's not the heat, it's the humidity.  Up North, we say it's not the cold, it's the wind.  Windchill temperatures (what it actually feels like), are said to be -40 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the coldest it's been since 1996 - just shortly before we moved to Atlanta.  Hmmmm…… it's all coming back to me now.  Nevertheless, my 16-year old says it's a great way to start second semester!

When it's cold outside, there is nothing I love more than making soup. Soup is the perfect excuse to stand over a hot stove on a cold day. You can hold soup in a coffee mug and let it warm your hands. You can sip soup in the same mug and let it warm you from the inside out. There's a reason for all those books called Soup for the Soul.  Soup comforts you in a way that no other food can. Except for Ben and Jerry's.  But that's a different story.

Now, about the butter beans. If you've never had them before A) You are obviously not from the South and B) Prepare to fall in love.  Butter beans are big and meaty and smooth and creamy and melt-in-your-mouth buttery all in one bite. Your carnivorous teenage son won't even ask you what happened to the meat.

Start the butter bean soup with your basic mirepoix. (That's a french word for carrots, celery and onion.) I like to say it out loud because it makes me feel fancy.  For this soup, I used 2 cups of each. Saute' the veggies in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until softened.

Now, please indulge me for a moment while I digress on the pros and cons of giving children household responsibility.  PROS:  They learn valuable life lessons, improve their self-esteem, gain independence and are less likely to grow up with a feeling of youth entitlement.  CONS:  I have lost a total of four vegetable peelers in the last year. When said children unload the dishwasher, I have no idea where they think the peelers belong. Even as recently as last week, I saw one in the drawer.  But today? Nothing. Nada. Zippo. FYI - a cheese slicer will work for peeling carrots when needed.  I just thought you 'd like to know that.

When the mirepoix has softened, add 1/4 cup of flour and stir.  The flour, combined with the oil will create a light rue which will give the broth just a little bit of body.

Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes. It is really that easy.

The result is soup for the body and the soul - perfect for a cold, January day.

Butter Bean Soup
By Rachel @ Simple Girl

2 cups carrots, diced
2 cups celery, diced
2 cups sweet yellow onions, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
2 15-ounce cans butter beans, drained
1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes with Green Chiles (mild)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt

Soften carrots, celery and onions in olive oil over medium low heat.  When softened, mix in flour until in forms a paste. Slowly add stock, mixing so no lumps form.  Add beans, tomatoes, sugar and basil.  Adjust salt to taste.