Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hot Nutella

The weather report calls for temperatures in the 50Fs tomorrow. but for tonight, the air remains chilly. So when I got home from work tonight, I decided to mix up a treat: hot Nutella. This is a lot easier than it may sound.

First, I got out the mug I wished to use and filled it with milk. I then poured the milk from the mug into my littlest saucepan. I heated the milk up slowly, starting at low and gradually moving up to medium. I didn't precisely measure it, but I think I stirred in about two tablespoons of Nutella, one at a time, adding the second only after the first had melted.

Since I could still see little dots of Nutella floating around in the milk, I fished out a whisk from our Drawer of Many Things and whisked the milk and Nutella, which did a far finer job of blending the two than a spoon or rubber scraper had done.
When I was satisfied that the Nutella was blended well enough with the milk and that it wouldn't separate itself out, I turned off the heat on the stove and carefully poured my lovely concoction back into my mug. It was very hot, so I allowed it to cool a little before taking my first sip. Delightful! So easy, and it only took a few minutes.

My only regret is that we are now nearly out of Nutella. Bother.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Special Diet Thanksgiving Recipes

Last year to help people ready themselves for Thanksgiving, I made a list of Alternative Thanksgiving Dishes, mostly comprised of tasty side dishes that would work for Thanksgiving (there are a couple baked squash recipes) and my Dairy Free Green Bean Casserole (because it's a classic - also see Gluten Free Corn Stuffing). 

I also wrote a poem entitled Recipe For A West Michigan Thanksgiving. In 2012, I wrote my first poem for Thanksgiving simply called A Thanksgiving Poem

This year, I feel like I have linked often enough to  my own blog posts (just click the above links), so I thought I would wade through Pinterest and see if I can find some more allergy free Thanksgiving dishes. I know a lot of people with special culinary needs (I have some myself), and I like to find food that everyone can enjoy. I have not tried these recipes, but I want to! They sound delicious. There is a bit of overlap between gluten free and vegan (in case that isn't completely obvious).

Clipart courtesy of this place.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Beards Brewery in Petoskey, Michigan

It's hard to miss a sign with a giant, curly beard on it. Once you step through the door from the street, however, you may be wondering where exactly it is. Just keep walking. Beards Brewery is located at the end of a very long hallway decorated with posters that give a heads up on what is going on around town, like afternoon tea Sundays at Dripworks, the C. S. Lewis Festival, or the paranormal weekend at the nearby Terrace Inn

Now (and frequent readers probably already know this), I am not into beer. I like the home-brewing fever that is sweeping America - and especially Michigan! - because I like people who do or craft things themselves and I like the relaxed, homey (and home-built) atmosphere that small, local breweries provide. Beards definitely stands out in this department. Sure, most places play music in the background while you chat with your friends and drink your beverage of choice (I got a bottle of Northwoods black cherry cream soda while Greg enjoyed the Pomegalactic Pale), but at Beards, it isn't just any music. They play vinyl! Their record collection reminded me of my parents', complete with wooden crate storage. 

Beards does not serve food (minus on select taco nights), but we were told we could order food from elsewhere and have it delivered, which I think was very cool of them. We opted to leave, get a pizza from Mighty Fine Pizza (because everywhere else we tried had stopped serving food or was closed at 9pm) and bring it back. Pizza is a most excellent accompaniment to beer, locally crafted soda, and vintage records.

It looks like Beards hosts a lot of events even in the off-season (Petoskey is a resort town in Northern Michigan along the shores of Lake Michigan). They don't cater to tourists, but that doesn't mean tourists can't stop by and enjoy some of the finer, off the beaten path things that Petoskey - a great town in any season - has to offer. 

Side note about Mighty Fine Pizza: It was delicious. If you are in the Petoskey region and find yourself in the midst of a pizza craving, order from Mighty Fine. We watched the guy hand-toss the dough and build our pizza from scratch, pepperoni and mushroom. The result was, indeed, mighty fine. (Man, now I want pizza.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pizza Chicken

This recipe is a lot like the salsa chicken that my mom used to make when I was growing up (and that I have made myself several times as an adult). It requires three ingredients: chicken, pasta sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese.

First, I preheated my oven to 400F (my oven runs hot, so it was actually more than that, but I have yet to temp it, so we'll just go with 400F). While that was happening, I placed two chicken breasts in my square glass baking dish. I then poured enough pasta sauce over the breasts to thoroughly cover them. Here's something new for me! I covered the baking dish with the chicken in foil before sticking it in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
After the timer went off, I uncovered the chicken and put it back in the oven to bake for another 15 minutes. Then I turned off the oven, sprinkled shredded mozzarella cheese (or carefully placed the melted-together-in-the-fridge chunks of mozzarella cheese) over the chicken breasts, put the dish back in the oven and allowed the heat to melt the cheese while I waited for Greg to arrive home. 

I have dubbed this Pizza Chicken because it's a lot like a cheese pizza, only with chicken instead of dough. So if you have it in for gluten (or gluten has it in for you), but you still enjoy the taste of mozzarella and tomato sauce, this may be a good fit for you. I paired it with some steamed veggies from Green Giant that were pre-flavored with garlic and herbs. I think it would also be tasty with mashed potatoes (think pizza and french fries), or pasta (because pasta). 

Also what if I put sliced mushrooms in with the cheese when I did that part.... Mmm! Maybe next time. I still have plenty of leftover pasta sauce and mozzarella.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Meatball and Potato Casserole with Peas and Carrots

A lot of my friends like to share recipes on Facebook. A few times, I've seen a picture pop up for a meatball casserole. I'd never heard of a meatball casserole before, so I decided to investigate it because I love casseroles! Here is my creation based on a few different recipes and my own experimenting.


1 package of frozen shredded hashbrowns
1 oz container of sour cream
1 can of cream of potato soup
1 cup of frozen mixed peas and carrots
1/4 cup of fresh chopped chives or smaller amount of dried chives
2 cups shredded cheese (Colby or cheddar are great)
1 package of frozen miniature meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, blend together the shredded hashbrowns, sour cream, cream of potato soup, frozen peas and carrots, and the shredded cheese. Spread this evenly in a large, glass baking dish. 
  3. On top of the hashbrown mixture, evenly spread the frozen meatballs.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Uncover and bake for an additional 25 minutes. 
Et voilĂ ! Dinner is served. It wasn't quite as cheesy as I wanted it to be, but it was still very tasty, quite filling, and supplied leftover lunches for the next few days. It rather reminds me of the Chicken Meal in One recipe in that it has meat, potato, and a vegetable all together.

I feel like you could easily make meat substitutions with this recipe, like chunks of ham (which I can't eat) in place of meatballs, or slices of kielbasa or other large sausage. Using frozen meatballs is, of course, quick and easy, which I think is the main point of this dish. Obviously, other vegetables could also be used. I avoided using corn because of the presence of the already starchy potatoes.

So there it is, another easy casserole to pop in the oven on cold, winter nights. Hey, there was snow last night, therefore, it is officially winter. (Boo.) Happy baking!