Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Nutella

Yield: 2 cups

3 cups chopped hazelnuts (This was 2 bags of Kroger brand chopped hazelnuts)
1 to 1.5 cup powdered sugar (I used 1.5 cups which comes out to about 7g sugar per tablespoon)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (high quality, such as Ghiradelli)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
Salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a shallow baking pan. Toast until the skins 12- 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through baking to ensure an even color.
Process nuts in a food processor, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until they have liquefied, about 5-10 minutes. First, you will get coarsely chopped nuts, then a fine meal. After a little while, the nuts will form a ball around the blade, and it will seem like you only have a solid mass. Keep processing. The heat and friction will extract the natural oils, and you will get hazelnut butter.
When the nuts are liquified, add in salt (to taste). Then slowly add in the sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Since the mixture is warm, it will be more fluid now than at room temperature.
Transfer the spread to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Paula Deen Baked French Toast Casserole

I found my recipe here:

It is definitely not healthy, so I probably wouldn't make it for my family for breakfast... but it would be a nice dish to bring to a brunch gathering!

I only used about half of the "liquid" ingredients (some reviews said it was soggy, which I wanted to avoid). My changes are reflected in the recipe below:

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt

Praline Topping, recipe follows

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (I actually just bought pre-sliced french bread from the reduced-price section, so my slices were at most 1/2" thick). Generously spray a 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Dip each bread slice in the mixture, flipping it over to make sure it is saturated, then place in baking dish. Line the bread slices in rows, overlapping each slice. Pour remaining mixture over the bread slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight (I did not do this)

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Praline Topping:

1/4 C butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Baked Ham, Cheese & Crackers

Ritz crackers

Place crackers in a single layer on a sheet pan. Top with pieces of ham, then cheese of your choice. Bake at 400 degrees until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.