Saturday, February 23, 2013

Quaker Oat Squares Snack Mix Recipe

Quaker oat Squares Snack Mix 2-19-13

Quaker Oat Squares Snack Mix with Dried Cherries, Pecans and Almonds

Of the four different things I took to my book group a few days ago, this was definitely the biggest hit and I promised the ladies I get it on my blog.  It is similar to making a mix with Chex cereal, but with Quaker Oat Squares Cereal.  It’s sweet and crunchy and tastes great. 

I’d bought a box of Quaker Oat Squares and the boys weren’t really eating like I thought they would, so I searched online for ideas of what to do with it and found this idea (I changed it quite a bit) on a Taste of Home Community forum. 

Try it—I can’t wait to make it again.  You could totally play with flavors and mix-ins.

Quaker Oat Squares Snack Mix with Dried Cherries, Pecans and Almonds, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried tart cherries (you could also use dried cranberries)

3 cups Quaker Oat Squares Cereal

1  1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1/2 cup pecans (or any nut you’d like)

1/2 cup almonds

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Mix together in a small saucepan the coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Heat over medium-low until sugar is dissolved and the mixture just barely comes to a boil. 

Put the cereal, oats, pecans and almonds in a rimmed baking sheet and mix together.  Drizzle the sugar mixture over the cereal mixture and stir to coat evenly.  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Let baking sheet sit on wire rack until cool, then mix in the dried cherries.  Try not to eat it all in one sitting!

Note—I thought it would be better to spray cooking spray on the baking sheet or use a silpat, but it didn’t stick as much as I thought it would, so it’s not necessary, but would make for easier clean up.

Quaker Oat Squares Snack Mix 2

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Five Year Blogaversary and a Giveaway to Celebrate!

Tile Painting done by the talented Renee at Kudos Kitchen by Renee

I say it with every year that goes by, but can’t believe today has been five years since I started my blog.  My baby, Sam, who was just turning one right after I started blogging is almost six!  My oldest, Scott, is now edging up on 15 and in high school.  Parker, age 11, and Taylor, age 9, certainly keep me hopping as much as ever.  Top all that with still loving my wonderful husband as much as ever and things couldn’t be better for me.  I’m just so very thankful everyday for my family and for all my blessings.

kevin family Smith Family Reunion, July 2012 with Kevin’s parents

(Whose idea was it to put my 14 year old right next to me to show that he is definitely taller than me now?) ;)

I’ve mentioned before that I started my blog like you hear of many others as a way to start keeping better track of things going on with my family and as a way for family and friends near and far to keep up with us, but not long after that, it started becoming a way for me to also keep track of another one of the things I love—baking and sharing yummy treats and recipes as I make them or try things for the first time.  This has become one of the things that really has made me who I am and I love being able to share that in writing.  I love knowing people all over the world read about the things I share here.  I really enjoy baking and sharing with those around me (so I don’t eat it all!). ;)

Along with that, I have made some wonderful friends with other bloggers and have cherished actually being able to meet some of them.  I know I won’t be able to mention them all but I do want to talk about a few of them who have really touched my life and become lifelong friends.  In no particular order--


Anna at Cookie Madness has probably one of the first blogs I discovered.  I don’t even remember how I came upon her blog.  She has had her blog just about as long as any that are out there, since I believe about 2006.  Anna and I share a love for, of course, cookies and brownies and all kinds of treats.  We have spent a lot of time through emailing and blogging over the years in cahoots over certain recipes, in trial and error and in finding out things that work great and that are delicious.  Can’t forget our Amazing Hard Boiled Egg Cookies that Anna and I worked on perfecting with Rita from Clumbsy Cookie.  Those were the good old days.  Rita doesn’t blog much anymore, but that doesn’t stop her from being a friend I haven’t met from Portugal (at least we still keep in touch on Facebook).  I got to meet and hang out with Anna at the BlogHer Conference in 2009 in San Francisco.   Can’t say enough about Anna and her wonderful, vast knowledge about baked goods and I think she’s just all around a great person!  She just had a cookbook come out this year and I love it.  You will, too, and if you don’t have it yet, you need it.  The Daily Cookie, 365 Tempting Treats for the Sweetest Year of Your Life is available now.  I had fun testing some of the recipes in the book before she got it published and thank her for mentioning me a few times in the book.  Fun! 


I got the pleasure of meeting Amanda from Amanda's Cookin' last summer when she came to Utah for a conference in Park City.  Had a fun, enjoyable time meeting her and some other bloggers for dinner one night and then got to have Amanda spend a night at our house so I could give her a ride to the airport the next morning.   It was wonderful to meet Amanda!  I feel like we are sistas-from-another-mista. ;) I’ve been in love with her blog for at least four years.  We got to know each other through Tuesdays With Dorie.  That girl can cook some delicious looking food and I’ve made a number of her recipes, from stir-fry to ice cream and cookies to my latest post for tuxedo cake in which I used a cake recipe she’d posted.  Check out her blog!

Lisa and I 11-25-11

In November of 2011 I was able to meet a wonderful, young gal, Lisa, who blogs at Sweet As Sugar Cookies.  I’m not sure how Lisa and I found each others’ blogs, but it was goodies-love at first sight.  She makes some delicious treats.  I know, because I’ve made many of her recipes.  In June of last year, I was assigned her blog with The Secret Recipe Club.  It was so fun picking out what to make from her blog and I was NOT disappointed by the chocolate chip mint and raspberry cookie cups I made.  For a time, Lisa went cookie cup crazy and made all kinds.  The ones I tried were delicious.  They make for a perfect party treat and since they are made in a mini muffin tin they are small—which means diet food, right?  Hello?  It would be so fun to be able to get together with Lisa and bake to our hearts content sometime.  She works for a law firm in L.A. and is super busy, but I love hearing and seeing everything she manages to bake during the weekend.


In September of 2010 I was delighted to go to lunch in Salt Lake with Suzanne from Thru the Bugs on my Windshield and meet her for the first time.  What a fun and wonderful lady.  Suzanne hasn’t been blogging as long and I actually didn’t even know her well at all before she announced on a food forum that she’d be in SLC and who would like to meet her for lunch one day.  I love meeting fellow bloggers and jumped at the chance.  Suzanne is the kind of person anyone would like to hang out with.  She is funny and full of great conversation.  I got to blog for The Secret Recipe Club from Suzanne’s blog in August of 2011.  I have also made a number of Suzanne’s recipe, from a delicious pear salad to stuffed poblanos—though I was ultimately enticed by the apricot empanadas she posted and they did not disappoint! 

The world of food blogging is so fun and I find it amazing that you get to know all kinds of people from literally all over the world.  Some I might not ever get to meet, but one that I would love to meet sometime as another kindred sista-from-another-mista is Shelby from The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch.  Shelby lives in upstate New York, but we’ve known of each other since we started blogging with Tuesdays With Dorie.  Over the last year or two we’ve become good friends through food forums and The Secret Recipe Club.  We are “regulars” on each others’ Facebook pages, we text from time to time, and Shelby (and Suzanne) even surprised me for my last birthday and mailed me some goodies they’d each made!  So sweet!

I seriously could go on and on about bloggers that I have been blessed to meet whether in person or just through the world wide web, but I want to make sure and offer my giveaway before you all run away from my long post! ;)  Just know there are many who I haven’t mentioned who have been a great influence to me.  Now I know what it’s like when celebrities try to give acceptance speeches and forget to say some things or leave out someone important.

What am I giving away?  A couple of my favorite things!  Many people know of my love for chocolate chip cookies and as well, many people have gotten to eat them.  I want to share some more with you—so first up I’m giving away a dozen of my chocolate chip cookies.  You have two options—the regular ol’ delicious, dark chocolate chip cookies that I made with my “famously” adapted NYT/Jacques Torres recipe--

Chocolate Chip Cookies 2-16-13

OR---my creation of Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies in which I take the same chocolate chip cookie dough and add freeze dried raspberries to it.  These are SO good!

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Cookies 2-16-13

The winner can choose a dozen, mix-and-match or the regular cookies and these or just a dozen of one or the other.  But that is not all--

You’ll also get something else I love.  Another fellow food blogger who I’ve been acquainted with for years is Nick at Peanut Butter Boy.  He loves peanut butter.  Over the years, he has tried I think every kind available on the planet.  I have enjoyed participating in some of his Peanut Butter Exhibition contests and even been lucky enough to taste some of his trial versions of his very own creations—leading up to his newly created and manufactured, now-available Peanut Butter Boy Peanut Butter!  How exciting is this?  Nick now has his own line of peanut butter.  I can’t wait to try it.  SO, because I will be ordering some soon, I want to send the winner of my giveaway some, too.  He has Super Smooth and Crunch Power available. 

Crunch Power Product Image   Super Smooth Product Image

The winner of my giveaway will receive one dozen cookies and a jar of each of the peanut butters from Peanut Butter Boy.  I’m so jealous.  Oh wait, I’ll be getting some, too.  ;)  So, entries for the giveaway will be accepted until Thursday, February 21 at noon MST and a winner will be selected randomly and notified by email (so make sure I have a way to email you).  Yay!  On your mark, get set, GO! To enter, just leave me a comment!

Thank you all so much for reading and baking a drooling along with me over these last five years.  I’ve had so much fun and plan to continue sharing what I love over the world wide web!

***Update---A winner was selected at random---the winner of the peanut butter and a dozen of my chocolate chip cookies (let me know which kind or how many of each you’d like).  The winner is Elissa!

Elissa said...

I don't believe it has been 5 years, wow. I love following you on your blog, helps me feel like you are still close by.

February 17, 2013 4:59 PM

Congratulations, Elissa!  Please send me an email with your shipping address to kevnkoi at hotmail dot com

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tuxedo Cake

Tuxedo Cake 2-4-13

Our friend, Bob, had a birthday a couple weeks ago.  We are happy to have Bob as an “adopted” part of our family. 

2-4-13  Happy Birthday, Bob!

We met Bob back when we lived in Arizona.  He’s been a part of our family since Scott (my oldest who is 14) was 3 and Parker (11) was just a few months old.  When Kevin graduated from the University of Arizona and got a job teaching at the University of Kansas, Bob moved to Kansas to be near us.  When we moved to Utah a couple years ago, he followed along.  No, he’s not stalking us, we’ve offered for him to move near us.  Too bad here in Utah the place he’s found to live is 45 minutes away, but that’s better than 24 hours. ;)  He’s enjoyed watching the boys grow up and we’ve liked having him around for holidays, family events and even just whenever we can work it out to get together.  He will even spend the night Christmas Eve because he loves watching the boys Christmas morning. 

A few years ago, Bob decided to starting “ordering” what he wanted me to make for his birthday.  It’s all in fun and I actually like when he finds something and tells me exactly what to make.  This year he wanted this Tuxedo Cake (and a turtle cheesecake I’ll blog soon, too, oh, and some of my chocolate chip cookies).  Yes, he puts in some tall orders.  

When Bob first mentioned a tuxedo cake, I found the one that is so popular from Costco (that I’ve never had but looks divine).

Photo courtesy of

Now I know what I want for MY birthday.

But the Tuxedo Cake Bob wanted was one found at The Baking Pan which is a version adapted from Rebecca Rather’s The Pastry Queen.  Her cake is three layers of chocolate cake.  It is then “frosted” with whipped cream, then “drowned” in a chocolate ganache.  I’m not that great making layer cakes, I just haven’t made very many.  I like to blame it on my husband who claims to not like cake.  What he really doesn’t like is all the super sweet and buttery buttercream frostings that most cakes have (that and fondant).  Not only did Bob like the cake, but Kevin did, too.  He admitted that THAT is a cake he’d eat a lot more of and would want again.  Yay!  Thanks, Bob.  Now maybe I’ll get more experience with layer cakes, knowing the trick is to frost them with whipped cream!

I decided to not try a three layer cake and actually went hunting the internet for which chocolate cake I wanted to make.  One of the problems I’ve had with cakes, especially here in Utah is that they tend to sink a little in the center of the cake.  I assumed it was a high altitude problem—and I believe I’m right!  Before making the final tuxedo cake, I found a cake I wanted to make and made it four times, with only 1/4 of the recipe baked in a six inch round pan.  I changed the temperature and amount of leavener in the recipe each time (Kevin was a big help in all the science and math of this.)

Top left 1, top right 2, bottom left 3, bottom right 4 (2-2-13)

Each cake was baked the same amount of time.  The only changes to the recipe were with the amount of leavener (baking soda) and the oven temperature.  Number four in the bottom right was the winner with hardly any sinking in the center.  The picture didn’t come out the greatest, but it was a fun experiment.  I will now bake cakes here in Utah (we’re at about 4800 feet) at a 25 degree increase and with only half the leavener called for in a recipe.  I will write the recipe as it stated, but note my high altitude changes.  The chocolate cake recipe that I went with, by the way, is one I found at Amanda's Cookin'.  She made a delicious looking cake with peanut butter frosting.  The cake recipe is adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes.   Amanda made her cake with two 8-inch round pans and some cupcakes.  I made it with two 9-inch round pans.  I like being so precise that I weighed the amount of batter and divided it evenly between the two pans.  I am not very good at eyeballing it. ;)  The final cake/recipe, as I made it with my high altitude adjustments, came out great!

Tuxedo Cake 4

It was all actually quite simple and not as “scary” as I thought frosting a layer cake.  The middle layer is also the sweetened whipped cream. 

Tuxedo Cake, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from all the sources listed above

2 cups (240 grams) all purpose flour

2  1/2 cups (500 grams) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (60 grams) Dutch process cocoa powder

*2 teaspoons baking soda (see note for high altitude directions)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (224 grams) canola oil

1 cup (240 grams) light sour cream

1  1/2 cups (12 ounces) water

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degree F (375 degree F for high altitude).  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms of each pan with parchment paper cut to size.  Butter the paper. 

In a large bowl (electric mixer works well but is not necessary), combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk together.  Add the oil and sour cream beat together to combine well.  Gradually beat in the water.  Add the vinegar and vanilla and stir to combine.  Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl to insure all is mixed well.  Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans. 

Bake for 30-35 minutes (I baked mine for 37 minutes) or until a toothpick is inserted in the center and comes out clean.  Let cool in pans for 20 minutes.  Invert cakes on to wire racks.  Peel off the parchment paper, then turn them on to another wire rack to cool upright completely.  (These cakes are soft and frost better after being frozen for at least 30 minutes, I froze mine overnight.)

*For the high altitude cake, I used 1 teaspoon of baking soda instead of 2 teaspoons.  Also note the temperature difference.

Sweetened Whipped Cream Filling and Frosting

3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream

1 cup (about 105 grams) powdered sugar

In a chilled mixer bowl (also chill the wire whisk), whip the cream on medium-high until it begins to thicken.  Slowly add the powdered sugar while it is continuing to whip until firm but still fluffy. 

Remove the cakes from the freezer.  Put filling on the first layer nice and thick.  Spread almost to the edges.  Top with the other cake layer.  Even everything out then frost the top and sides  with the whipped cream covering everything completely.  Then smooth it all out.  Chill the frosted cake for at least an hour.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup corn syrup (or Lyle’s Golden Syrup)

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream just to a boil in a microwave safe dish in 25 second intervals or in a small saucepan on the stove.  Pour it over the chocolate.  Let sit for a minute.  Then stir the melting chocolate and cream together until combined.  (Don’t over stir it.)  Once the chocolate is completely melted, add the corn syrup and vanilla and stir until all combined and the mixture is smooth.  Let the glaze sit for 10 minutes, then immediately pour it slowly over the top of the cake, letting some of it drip down the sides of the cake (but do not completely cover the whipped cream on the sides).  (If the chocolate glaze has sat more than 10 minutes and has thickened up too much, slightly reheat it in the microwave in 20 seconds or so.   Refrigerate the cake until the glaze has set, at least an hour.   Keep the cake covered in a cake server.

Tuxedo Cake The cake suffered a 45 minute drive to Bob’s house, which I was really worried about.  I think it would have sliced even better if it was fresh out of the fridge, but it did pretty well. 

Tuxedo Cake 2I took two bites of the cake and it was delicious.  We brought a few slices home and Kevin said it was really good even the next day.  I’ll be making this again!   I have a whole year to find the best salted caramel apple pie that Bob has already ordered for his next birthday. ;) 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal—Secret Recipe Club, Group B

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal SRC Group B Fill-in

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal

I just had this delicious breakfast!  Yesterday was the reveal day for the Secret Recipe Club, Group B.  I later heard about a couple bloggers who were orphans and didn’t have anything from their blog posted by anyone else.  I always like filling in when I can and started looking through one of the blogs, Peanut Butter and Peppers.  What a great blog Jennifer has.  Read about her Weight Loss Story and be inspired.  I was/am.  I have also learned along the way that you can still have treats and goodies and things you love, but in moderation and with still having an exercise plan that you stick to.  Jennifer’s blog is full of healthy foods ranging from granola to hummus.  But she also has every delicious kind of cookie, cake, muffin. pancakes, etc.  Those things, when baked at home are so much better than store bought, processed food.  They are meant to be shared, which is what I do. 

BUT, when scouring her blog, I was drawn to this oatmeal. I LOVE oatmeal.  It is actually probably my favorite breakfast food.  Lately though, I have been having a smoothie for breakfast because I put my daily powder vitamin in it.  I decided to “splurge” today and have oatmeal. 

What makes a better combo than chocolate and peanut butter?  There is nothing unhealthy about this delicious, decadent looking breakfast—yet it has chocolate and peanut butter.  Go for it!  There is nothing quite like delicious fuel to start your day.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!, adapted from Jennifer at Peanut Butter and Peppers

1/2 cup quick cooking oats (you can also use old fashioned)

1 cup fat free milk, and another 1/4 cup for serving (optional)

1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder

1 tablespoon agave nectar

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (I used Adams)

5 dark chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips, chopped)

In a small saucepan, combine the oats, milk, cocoa powder, agave and salt.  Whisk until thoroughly mixed.  Cook on medium heat until it bubbles and thickens.  Remove from the heat and put the oatmeal in a serving bowl.  Drizzle the peanut butter over the chocolate oatmeal.  Sprinkle the chopped chocolate chips on the top.  Add a little milk to the bowl if you like.  (I do.)

*Want to make more for a family, this is easily doubled or tripled or even quadrupled.   

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal 2

Who wouldn’t want this for breakfast?  Delicious and nutritious.  Thanks, Jennifer!  Glad I got to find your blog!

By the way, I also plan to make later today from Jennifer’s blog these Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls which are a recipe she got from Angela at Oh She Glows whose recipes I’ve made a few of before.  The cookie dough balls are made with cashews, but I am going to use some raw then lightly roasted unsalted peanuts I have.  Going for that chocolate peanut butter combo again.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Lucky Leaf Pie Fillings—Delicious Treats and a Giveaway!

Blueberry Meyer Lemon Cream Meringue Cup

Blueberry Meyer Lemon Cream Meringue Cups

So many treats, so little time to tell you about them.  But you must know, so here it is. 

The folks at Lucky Leaf were nice enough to send me more canned pie filling—and a couple other things, too.  I had fun playing around with different recipes to use the fillings.  One of my favorite things about their pie fillings is that they are not made with high fructose corn syrup.  So they are kind of like me making a similar thing from scratch at home.  Sometimes we just need a little less fuss in life and sometimes I want to make a really yummy treat to share, but don’t have the time to turn fresh fruit in to pie filling.  Another thing I love about the Lucky Leaf premium pie fillings is that you can use them for SO much more than pie!

In fact, with the fillings they sent me to try out, I didn’t make pie with any of them.  As you can see in the first picture, I used the blueberry filling to top some fancy, but super easy meringue cups filled with Meyer lemon whipped cream.  The meringue cups are so simple and are fat free and gluten free.  So besides the dollop of real whipped cream, flavored with Meyer lemon, they are a great, indulgent treat without too much alarm for ruining your new year’s diet resolution.  Loved these!  I love their recipe for Baby Blueberry Pies, which are similar to the mini blueberry pies I made last time they sent me some fillings.

Applesauce Spice Muffin with Apple Pie Filling and Whipped Cream

Applesauce Spice Muffin with Apple Pie Filling and Whipped Cream

Next up I made some simple homemade muffins with applesauce and spices, perfect for cold weather!  These were topped with some whipped cream, Lucky Leaf apple pie filling (which I really like and was filled to the brim with apples) and a drizzle of caramel sauce.  Lucky Leaf sent me some recipes for ideas to use with their fillings, like this one, I got the idea from their Apple Spice Babycakes which are cupcakes made with a boxed spice cake and topped with vanilla ice cream and the apple pie filling.  While I’m not against boxed mixes and have used them plenty of times in my life, I wanted to try to make things that were from scratch.   The boys ate these up!

Finally with some strawberry pie filling, I also made something similar to a recipe they suggested for some Strawberries & Cream Chocolate Muffins.  Instead of making these with a chocolate cake mix, I made my favorite healthy, whole grain, no egg banana muffins, then I swirled in some strawberry pie filling and some Nutella to kick them up a bit!

Strawberry Nutella Banana Muffins 4

Strawberry Nutella Banana Muffins

Check out all the recipes at Lucky Leaf!  I got the recipe for the meringue cups from Holly at Phemomenon.  She made them with a Meyer lemon custard, I just stirred some Meyer lemon juice into some whipped cream.   The muffins were my own recipe.

If you want any of the recipes I have made, let me know and I’d be happy to send them to you.  I need to finish up this post and offer a giveaway to you from Lucky Leaf!  They sent me along with some pie filling a bunch of other things for giving away treats to loved ones and they want to send a reader of my blog some, too.   There’s recipe cards and bags and cupcake holders and all kinds of things for you to be able to give away some goodies.  I love the Lucky Leaf slogan—Good Things Come to Those Who Bake.

Valentine reader giveaway

If you’d like a chance to win, leave me a comment telling me what you favorite kind of fruit pie is.  For a second chance to win, leave me a separate comment after visiting the Lucky Leaf Recipes Page telling me which recipe you’d make first.  This giveaway is only for U.S. residents (or with a U.S. mailing address) and will end on Wednesday, February 13 at 6 p.m.  A winner will be chosen at random from the entries and notified that evening, so make sure you have a way to be reached in your comments.

Check out their Twitter page and all the yummy things at #LuckyLeafLuckyMe.  You can also like them on Facebook and for even more deliciousness, follow them on Pinterest.  Hey, you can follow me on Pinterest, too, at Baking and Boys!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies for World Nutella Day 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies 2-4-13  World Nutella Day

Today is World Nutella Day!  A couple of bloggers a few years back decided their love for Nutella needed to be known, shared and united.  February 5 was the chosen day and here we are!  I’ve enjoyed over the last four years or so playing around with delicious things for this day and this one is no exception.  These look like meager, little brown cookies, but the punch of Nutella taste with the crunchy hazelnuts in a soft, chewy cookie is delicious!

I made most of them just as simple, smaller (2  1/2 inch) cookies.  But they really do taste like the perfect hit of Nutella and the fresh roasted hazelnuts are the perfect touch.  I did play around with a little of the dough and made some bigger cookies.  They seemed like they really needed more than just to be bigger.  So---I made them in to a sandwich, and of course, they were sandwiched with NUTELLA!

Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies 2-4-13

I had to take a bite.

Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies

I will make my oldest, Scott, finish the cookie when he gets home from school.  I would love to indulge, but am still on my not-much-sugar kick.  sigh

Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

4 ounces good, dark chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips)

6 ounces Nutella, divided use

10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter

½ cup (2 ¼ ounces) all purpose flour

3 tablespoons (15 grams) natural cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) granulated sugar

½ cup skinned and toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Spread 4 ounces of Nutella on plastic wrap about ¼ inch thick. Lay it flat on a plate or baking sheet and put it in the freezer (this can be done anytime ahead of making the cookies, you probably want to freeze it for at least a half hour.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate chips, 2 ounces of Nutella and the butter in a microwave safe glass bowl in 20-30 second intervals (or in a saucepan on the stove). Stir to combine well. Let cool 5 minutes.

Whisk together in a smaller bowl the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Whisk in the sugar and stir until well combined. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the eggs and sugar and stir to combine. Add the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Working quickly (because the frozen Nutella melts quickly), remove it from the freezer and cut in into small pieces. Put the Nutella chunks and chopped hazelnuts in the cookie dough and carefully stir it together, folding it lightly. It’s okay if melts and looks like it’s making more swirls in the dough than remaining chunky. Scoop mounds of dough onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 11 minutes, you can go a little longer for a crispier cookies, but these are soft and chewy. Makes about 40 cookies that are about 2 ½ inches round.

Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Cookies 3

Confession, okay, I made the cookies yesterday and ate a whole one of these little ones. 

Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso are the two masterminds behind making this day a WORLD holiday. ;)

You can find hundreds of Nutella recipes from years past on the World Nutella Day website or check out the Facebook page.

World Nutella Day Logo - February 5th

Here’s a look at some of my past post involving Nutella in all its delicious chocolate and hazelnut glory.

Fudgy Nutella Brownies

Nutella Brownies

Nutella Chunk Cookies

Pretzel Nutella Chunk Cookies and some Frosted Nutella Brownies


Nutella Truffle Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies


Nutella Banana Oatmeal


Nutella Cream Pie

Nutella Chocolate Cream Pie


Chocolate Graham Cracker Nutella S'mores

And a little stroll down memory lane with this little guy, Sam is almost six now, but he’ll always be my baby and he still loves Nutella!


Would you look at this face!

Happy World Nutella Day and grab a spoon!

World Nutella Day February 5th - Keep Calm and Carry a Spoon

Focaccia Bread—Tuesdays With Dorie, Baking With Julia

Grilled Chicken Pesto Focaccia Sandwich 2-1-13

Grilled Chicken Pesto Focaccia Sandwich

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie, Baking With Julia recipe is Focaccia.  I hadn’t made focaccia before (and can’t for the life of me spell it without looking it up every time).  I decided to make it last Friday and play around with a couple ideas for dinner.

I followed the recipe exactly, which you can get from our host this week.  Sharmini from Wandering Through is the host with recipe. 

After making the dough, it rises for an hour or so.  Then it is punched down and rises again.  After that, it then needs to spend 24 hours in the refrigerator, which is what develops all the bubbles focaccia is known for. 

Focaccia dough

Here it was ready for it’s second deflating.

After spending a day in the fridge, the three balls of dough are ready for their future.

Foccacia 2-1-13

For the boys, I just made a quick “pizza” with olive oil, mozzarella cheese, a little parmesan, and some pepperoni.  They ate it up!

TWD  Focaccia 2-1-13

Scott said he loved it just as it was with some dried (I didn’t have any fresh herbs) oregano and basil.


For Kevin and I, I carefully sliced open a couple pieces and made sandwiches like the one in the top picture.  Grilled chicken breast, some basil pesto I had in the freezer that I’d thawed, some roasted red pepper and some sharp cheddar cheese, I made them in to a panini to melt the cheese and toast the bread.  It was delicious!

Focaccia with thyme and parmesan

With this third one, we didn’t eat it until the next night.  With our spaghetti dinner, I sprinkled mozzarella cheese and some more parmesan cheese on it and put it under the broiled (forgot to take pictures).  It was cut into breadsticks. 

I’d say it was all quite delicious and fun to play with.  You should try it.  It’s not difficult at all (the mixer does all the kneading).  You just need to plan ahead so you can make the dough a day earlier than you want to use it. 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Dried Cherry Pecan Quinoa Muffins—Secret Recipe Club

Quinoa Cranberry Pecan Muffins--Feb. SRC

I loved browsing around my Secret Recipe Club blog these last few weeks.  What great looking food and recipes.  As always, I had a difficult time choosing.  This month my assigned blog was Mellissa’s blog, A Fit and Spicy Life.  Check out her About Me page, but she summed up herself well saying, “I strive to find a balance between healthy foods and the occasional treat, eating healthy food, most if it cooked at home.  You will find me around the Twin Cities (and sometimes world) trying new restaurants, working out, enjoying wine and rarely making the same dish twice.”  She sounds like a great person!  I love finding new-to-me blogs.

Mellissa shares a love for quinoa as do I.  Now if I could just convince the rest of my family how good it is.  Working on it.  In my search of Mellissa’s blog, I found these Quinoa Raisin Muffins and was convinced that is what I needed to make.  Although as soon as I can get my hands on some macadamia nuts, I’m going to make these Paradise Macaroons—coconut macaroons covered in chocolate and sprinkled with chopped macadamia nuts.

I loved the quinoa muffins.  Instead of raisins, I used dried cherries and some pecans.  Before committing to two cups of quinoa, I decided to make just half the recipe.  I will surely make them again, but will probably stick with the half recipe, since I’m the only one here who will eat them.  I enjoyed the muffins for 3-4 days.

Cranberry Pecan Quinoa Muffins 1-28-13

Dried Cherry Pecan Quinoa Muffins, by Katrina, Baking and Boys! adapted from Mellissa at A Fit and Spicy Life

1 cup (185 grams) cooked quinoa

2 tablespoons (48 grams) canola oil

1/3 cup (73 grams) light brown sugar

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) skim milk

1/2 a large egg (25 grams or 2 tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat pastry flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup dried tart cherries, chopped

1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  If you don’t already have some cooked quinoa, follow the package directions and cook enough for one cup of cooked quinoa, making sure to rinse it well before cooking (about half a cup of dry quinoa).  In a medium-sized bowl, combine the oil, brown sugar, milk, egg and vanilla.   In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir the dry ingredients in to the wet mixture and mix well.  Fold in the quinoa, cherries and pecans.  Divide the batter in to 8 muffins in a tin sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes. 

Quinoa Cranberry Pecan Muffins 1-28-13

These are especially good still warm from the oven with a little butter (I use Smart Balance) or reheated.  Get on the quinoa bandwagon! ;)