A Nutella Love Story

I was first introduced to Nutella in 2007, when I studied abroad and was looking for a substitute for peanut butter.  As I’m sure happens with everyone’s first experience with Nutella, it was love at first bite.  In fact, I love Nutella so much that I can’t buy it or I will eat it all in two days or less.

My favorite story about Nutella also comes from my trip abroad.  During our time in Europe, my friends and I became obsessed with doner kebaps.  For those that don’t know what doner kebaps are, they’re kind of like gyros, but 100x more delicious.  The sketchier the kebap shop looks, the tastier the doner kebap is.  That’s a fact.  I’m pretty sure that’s why they don’t have doner kebaps in the U.S., because they could never pass health inspection standards.

Anyway, my roommate and I had developed a bad habit of stopping for doners on our way home from clubs at 2 am.  One night, I decided that I was going to be strong and resist the lure of the doner, so I went straight home without stopping by a kebap shop (despite passing at least three on my way home).  I woke up the next morning extremely proud of my newfound willpower.  I even started bragging to my roommate about how I TOTALLY resisted the doner kebaps, and I wasn’t even tempted by them, and how awesome I was for my awesome-y awesomeness.

And then I saw the half empty jar of Nutella on our desk.  You know, the one that had been full before we left the night before?  And then I remembered that I ate half a jar of Nutella when I got home at 2 am.  Which may or may not have been just as bad as eating a doner kebap, because at least kebaps have some nutritional value (I think…there’s some type of carne in there, so yay, protein?).

And that is why I can’t buy Nutella unless it has an explicit purpose.

Luckily, this recipe that I found for Nutella Brownie Bites took up almost the entire jar of Nutella, so there wasn’t much left for me to eat straight from the jar.

I’m not going to rehash the recipe here; it can be found at the link above.  I did add the suggested 1/4 tsp of salt and I also sprinkled the tops of the bites with mini chocolate chips before baking them.  I would post a picture, but the lighting was awful, so I’ll leave you to drool over the pictures on the recipe post at Laura’s Sweet Spot.

These were amazing right out of the oven, and they were maybe even better the next day.  They’re the perfect combination of brownie on the outside with chocolate goo on the inside.  And I get to have my Nutella and eat it, too.  Now I just have to try to not eat the whole pan.

Vegetable Aversion

Looks gross, tastes great

It all started with an unfortunate incident involving tempeh, Trader Joe’s red curry sauce, and peppers.  “It” being my week-long-and-still-strong aversion to anything remotely healthy.  (Hint: if you like real red curry, don’t buy the Trader Joe’s kind.  Just suck it up and go to a Thai restaurant.)  Anyway, ever since then, just the thought of vegetables has made my stomach turn.  Who knows, it could be some weird side effect from all of the meds I’m currently on, because nothing has really sounded appetizing for the past few days.  I even looked through Milk and Cookies and nothing was calling out to me.  When cookies don’t tempt me, we have a problem.

So I was standing in the middle of the grocery store, trying to figure out what to have for dinner.  I didn’t want anything complicated, but I didn’t want to just eat a frozen pizza (again).  Enter this recipe for Penne with Vodka Cream Sauce.  I haven’t made it in forever because J got sick once after I made it, and I don’t like to make it when he’s around in case there’s something in there that triggers his IBS.  Since he wasn’t going to be here, I was in the clear.

It’s a simple recipe, and it’s ready in less than half an hour if you start the sauce while the pasta is boiling.  I follow the recipe exactly, except that I use shredded parmesan instead of grated.  Be warned: this looks disgusting while cooking.  When you add in the tomato sauce and cream, it will look like a huge mess of grease.  And you’ll think it will never combine.  But it will.  And it will be delicious.  AND it’s just as good reheated.  Which is important when you’re making a pound of pasta for one person.

Yes, I dropped a noodle. Shhh.

I bought a bag of spinach with every intention of having a salad with this to at least have something healthy, but…well, you see my plate at the top of the post.  Maybe tomorrow?

Spinach is Healthy, Right?

And now for something completely different.  Well, not really.  Obviously, I’m interested in eating healthy food.  I feel better and have more energy when I’m not eating pizza/take-out/junk food all the time.  But I don’t want to cook strictly “health” food.  Life’s too short to not eat delicious food, which is why there are cupcakes (that I made!) in my banner picture.  And why I’m posting on spinach dip bread bowls.

These things are so delicious.  And so ridiculously easy.  The most annoying part (for me) is having to tear apart the dough and shape it into the muffin pan.  I don’t even mind cooking the spinach (what!?!).  I’ve made these a few times now, both in regular muffin tins and mini muffin tins, and they always turn out well.  I follow the recipe exactly, except I use regular salt instead of sea salt, minced garlic instead of fresh (we really need to get a good garlic press!), and I use a hand mixer to mix the dip ingredients together.  I’ve found that’s the best way to make sure that the spinach is really spread throughout.

To be honest, my quest of cooking at home is more about knowing what’s going into my food and using “real food” instead of processed (when possible).  Yes, this uses pre-made dough.  I would be very interested in trying a variation using my own dough at some point, simply because I like making bread.  But overall, this recipe isn’t THAT bad for you.  I mean, it has spinach, right?!?