Searching for Super Recipes: Peanut Butter-Nutella Cookies

The title should say it all.  These were so ridiculous, so decadent, that frankly I don’t know why I didn’t make these sooner.

It started out as a simple peanut butter cookie recipe that I got from Parents magazine a few years ago.  It’s got to be the easiest, most kid-friendly cookie recipe imaginable.

And then I added Nutella to it, and my mind was blown.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup Nutella

1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup

1 egg


Here’s what you’ll do:

*Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit (just in case any of you crazy Celsius people are out there)

1) Pour one cup of sugar into a medium-sized bowl.  Pour the remainder onto a small plate.

2) Add the peanut butter and Nutella

3) Add one egg

4) Mix it together, until it looks like this:

5) Scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture and gently roll them in the extra sugar until you make a ball.  Note – this will be extremely sticky!

6) Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

7) Take a fork and dip it into the extra sugar.  One at a time, press it onto the cookie balls – first in one direction, then in another.  You’ll probably need to re-dip the fork after each cookie.

8) Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on the bottom and gooey.

9) Let stand for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (or before transferring directly into your mouth)

This is all that I have left, because I stupidly forgot to take a picture yesterday after I baked them.  I’m lucky that I even had these!

Let know if you try it!


Searching for Super Recipes: Mexican Lasagna

What? Could it be? ANOTHER weekly feature?  Why yes! Yes it is!

I’m always searching for vegetarian recipes that actually taste good (which, to the novice, can be difficult).  Luckily two of my favorite Canadians introduced me to these ridiculously good cookbooks that, while not vegetarian per se, can very easily be adapted to be meat-free.   One of them is “Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry” by Janet & Greta Podleski, which is where I found today’s recipe.  Who knew that Canadians were such foodies?

Mexican Lasagna


1 cup diced red onions

1 cup diced green bell pepper

2 tsp minced garlic

1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

2 cups tomato puree

1 cup medium salsa

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro

4 large or 8 small whole wheat tortillas

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 cup light sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large pot or skillet, cook onions, green pepper, and garlic over medium-high heat until tender.

3. Add black beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, and cumin.  Cook and stir for 2 more minutes.  Add tomato puree, salsa, and black pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in cilantro and remove from heat.

4. To assemble lasagna, spread 1/3 sauce mixture over bottom of casserole dish.  Top with 1/2 the tortillas, overlapping and cutting them as necessary to fit.  Top with 1/3 sauce mixture, followed by 1/2 the cheese.  Cover cheese with remaining tortillas, followed by remaining sauce.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over sauce and top with green onions.

5.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.  Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.  Let lasagna stand for at least 10 minutes before slicing for easier serving.  Top each piece with a dollop of sour cream.

This is super healthy, super low-fat, and super yummy!


Vegan Chili

As a Texan, born and raised, it’s sort of a requirement that I cook chili.  Lots and LOTS of chili.  Over the past year, as we’ve tried to reduce our meat consumption, I’ve been tinkering with my recipe to make it vegetarian.  Once that succeeded, I took it a step further and made it vegan.

And it’s awesome.

Honestly.  I know that a lot of vegan food can seem sort of blah, but this is free of tofu/fake meat/anything else disgusting and is pretty dang good.  I’ve got a houseful of meat-eating Texans that consume this on a regular basis and haven’t complained about the lack of animal products once.  Not to mention that beans are amazing for you.  If you don’t believe me, check out my friend Cherrish’s blog about beans – she just happens to be a holistic health coach, so she knows what she’s talking about:

Ready to make some vegan food?  Let’s get started!


*Please note that I tend to “eyeball” quantities when it comes to spices, so I’ve given an approximate amount but this by no means exact.  Tinker with this as you will.

Olive oil

2 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 1-2 cups dried beans; make sure to follow all presoaking/cooking instructions on the bag of beans)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or dried; same as above)

1 large can (28oz) tomato puree

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

1 white onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp red pepper (add more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 green onion

Tortilla chips, for serving

Brown rice, for serving (if desired – I think this may be an east Texas thing!)

1.  Heat a little bit of olive oil in the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until they start to brown and soften.  Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

2.  Add the beans to the pot and stir.

3.  Add the cans of tomato puree and diced tomatoes.  Fill the can of tomato puree with water and add it to the pot.   If you’d like more liquid in your chili, repeat this step.

4. Add the spices.

5. Stir everything together and turn the heat up to high.  Let the chili come to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.  Let it simmer, uncovered, for about two hours.

6.  Prepare the brown rice, if using (we always serve chili over rice; I’m not sure where this tradition came from or if other people do it, but I can’t imagine chili without it).  Ladle the chili over the rice and crumble some tortilla chips on top.  Finish it off with some chopped green onion.

If you’re not a strict vegan, feel free to add some shredded cheddar and sour cream on top.  Mmm!

British Invasion: Shepherd’s Pie


Last weekend my second cousins from England came for a visit, which has completely reignited my Anglophile tendencies.  I love everything about the UK.  I love the accents, the history, the phrases. I love Peppa Pig.  I love the Union Jack.  I love the royal family.  I love Marks and Spencer and Top Shop (not that I’ve ever been to one, but I love the idea of them). I love that whenever we had something to eat, my cousins would say, “Oh, this is nice”, instead of “this is good”, as we Texans would say.  It’s much more, shall I say, posh?

I also love the food.  My grandmother is from Northampton, England, so British cooking has always been a bit of an influence growing up.  Whenever my mom would make a big roast, she’d turn the leftovers into meat pies (or pasties, as the Brits call them).  My cousins, knowing how much I love to cook, brought me a wonderful cookbook called “The British Pub Cookbook”.  My girls and I spent an afternoon looking through it and marking out which recipes we should make, all the while speaking in our best English accents (which, my little cousin Abbie assured me, sounds quite ridiculous).  It’s got recipes for the aforementioned pasties, but what really drew my attention was the Shepherd’s Pie.  I’ve made several attempts at it over the years, but have never gotten it quite right.

Until now.

This recipes is pretty freaking fantastic, so I thought I’d share it with all of you:


1 tsp olive oil

2 small onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 lb ground beef (the book calls for minced lamb, but beef is more my style)

2 carrots, finely chopped

1 tbsp flour

1 cup beef stock

1/2 cup red wine

Worcestershire sauce

Salt and Pepper

1 lb potatoes for mashing, such as Russet, peeled and cut into chunks


Cream or Milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Heat the oil in an oven-safe Dutch oven.  Add the onions and saute until soft.  Add the garlic and stir well.

3. Increase the heat and add the meat.  Cook quickly to brown the meat all over, stirring constantly.  Add the carrots and season well with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of Worcestershire.

4.  Stir in the flour, then add the stock and wine.  Stir well and heat until simmering and thickened.

5.  Cover the Dutch oven and cook in the oven for about one hour.  Check the consistency periodically and add a little more stock or wine if needed.  The meat mixture should be thick, but not dry.

6.  While the meat is cooking, make the mashed potato topping.  Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil, then add the potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Drain well and mash until smooth.  Add the butter and milk/cream and season well with salt and pepper.

7.  Spoon the meat mixture into an oven proof serving dish and spread or pipe the potatoes on top.

8.  Increase the oven temperature to 400 and cook the dish for 15-20 minutes at the top of the oven until golden brown.  You could also stick it under the broiler for a really crisp brown topping to the potatoes.

Yummy in my Tummy (from a high horse)

As part of our Kindness Project, we are trying to not only be kind to other humans, but also to animals and the environment.  An easy way to do that is to eat less meat.  Globally we currently raise 60 billion animals each year for food, which if you do the math (and I didn’t) comes up to ten animals for every human on earth.  36 millions cows a year are killed in the US alone for food, and the numbers are rising: since 1980 the global production of pigs and chickens have quadrupled, and the production of cattle has doubled.  With that huge quantity (over one third of the available land on our planet goes to livestock for food consumption!), the sad truth is that we have no other options besides factory farming.  I won’t get on my high horse about that (as this horse is already pretty darn high), but the only way to reduce the cruelties of factory farming and its impact on our environment is to demand less meat.

We’re not going to stop eating meat, or dairy, or eggs because we are Southerners and more importantly we are Texans, which means that we like a good amount of animal products in our diets.  But that doesn’t mean that we can’t eat LESS.

So, I’ve been exploring meat-free dishes.  I’ve had some highs (lasagna!) and I’ve had some lows (tempeh, also known as I Hate Myself so I’m Eating Cardboard).  This week I attempted to make a new vegetable lasagna dish, only to discover that I didn’t have nearly as many lasagna noodles buried in the back of the pantry that I thought I did.  Normally this situation freaks me out: I am a strictly by-the-recipe kind of cook, with little tweaks here and there.  It was Sunday, I’d already been grocery shopping, and there was no way that I was going to leave the house in my ratty shorts and tank top.  I had to do what my Type A personality hates to do: improvise.  And it was actually kind of awesome.  Here’s what I did:

Baked Fusilli with Roasted Vegetable Marina (look, I even gave it a name!)


3 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

2 medium zucchini, unpeeled and chopped into small pieces (so the kids won’t notice)

2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped finely

1 large red onion, chopped finely

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried parsley (you could use fresh; this is just what I had on hand)

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup grated Mozzarella cheese

One box pasta, any shape you like (I used whole wheat fusilli)

3 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I use Newman’s Own Cabernet Marinara)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Red pepper (if desired)


  1. Spray a large roasting pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Add the mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, onion, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano,  parsley, salt, and pepper.  Mix well until the vegetables are coated with the seasonings.  Roast, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. In a large pot or skillet, heat the spaghetti sauce.  Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste.
  4. After the vegetables have roasted, add them to the spaghetti sauce.  Mix well and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  5. Add drained pasta to the sauce and mix well.
  6. Pour sauce/pasta mixture into a greased 13×9” baking pan.
  7. Nestle dollops of ricotta cheese among the pasta.
  8. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan
  9. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.


That’s it! All three girls and my carnivorous husband devoured it, and I even impressed myself a little.  I would have posted a picture, but, um, we kind of ate it all.



*All my high horse information was taken from “Food Matters” by Mark Bittman