Eating My Way Through

Salted Caramel Volcano Cookies December 23, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Treats — Nikki Wegner @ 12:49 pm

One thing I love about my office is everyone’s general love and celebration of baked goods, which I of course can get behind! Every year around the holidays someone organizes “The Cookie Smackdown” where everyone brings in cookies to be judged, eaten and awarded. For the past two years I have missed it for some reason, so this year I was determined to bring it!

I have always been obsessed with salty sweet combinations, and recently it has been salted caramel. Not sure why, but I have always wanted to try making my own caramel too. So after some online searching for recipe ideas and insight in how to exactly make my own caramel, I came up with this recipe for what I hoped would be a winning cookie,  Salted Caramel Volcano Cookies (aka chocolate shortbread cookies with caramel spooned into the center and sea salt dribbled on top)! We were supposed to try to come up with semi-creative names for our cookies…not sure if that cuts it but it works!

To start, I melted way too much butter with baker’s chocolate. (Since we are dealing with a competition here and cookies, I figured I would just forgo the whole healthy cooking thing this time around!)


Melting butter and chocolate

Melting butter and chocolate


Once you are done melting the two ingredients together, pour into a large bowl with sugar and unsweetened cocoa. Using a hand mixer on low, otherwise you will splatter everywhere, mix until combined and then add in some vanilla and mix a bit more.

Then you add in some flour and salt (which you sift together before), mixing until the dough is combined.


Cookie Dough

Cookie Dough


Next, flour lightly a large cutting board. Dump the dough onto the cutting board and knead together into a solid lump of dough. I was going for a square and I kind of got there…but not really.


Dough prepped for chilling

Dough prepped for chilling


You wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then chill for about 30 mins.

Once the dough is done chilling divide the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls and place them on a baking sheet. Then using your knuckle or the backside of a teaspoon, dent a hole in the middle of the cookies to make an impression, this is where you will pour the caramel in later. You can use your fingers to mold larger craters if needed.

Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes. Remove them from your baking pan to cool.





While your cookies are cooling, you can make the caramel. Make sure to have your ingredients measured and at the ready, as once the sugar starts to brown, the process goes super quick!

Combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat.


Sugar and Water

Sugar and Water


It will take a bit, but the mixture will start to boil, then all of a sudden start to turn a brownish color, when it does, slightly shake the pan to distribute the sugar evenly, do not stir before that point.


Carmelizing starting...

Caramelizing starting...


Once the mixture is a nice caramel color throughout, whisk in pieces of butter until well combined. Next, whisk in the whipping cream quickly to finish the caramel.





Your cookies should be cool by now, so using a teaspoon, spoon caramel into the craters you created in the cookies. Then sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the caramel. You can eat the cookies right away when the caramel is super gooey, or you can let them sit for a few hours and the caramel will harden a bit.


Salted Caramel Volcano Cookies

Salted Caramel Volcano Cookies


I am happy to report that though the cookies did not win the best in show category, they did win an award for being the favorite cookies of one of the firm’s partners, and my office mate Ashley and I won mixing spoons for them…so can’t be disappointed with that!

Salted Caramel Volcano Cookies (adapted from A Cozy Kitchen)


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 oz unsweetened baker’s chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp salt


1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsps water

2 1/2 Tbsps butter, room temp, cut into small pieces

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream, slightly warmed (20 secs in microwave)


In a small saucepan melt butter and chocolate together

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and cocoa

Pour in the melted chocolate and mix on low-speed, add vanilla

Sift flout and salt together in a separate bowl

Slowly add flour to the large bowl and mix with the electric mixer on low to combine until well mixed

On a lightly floured surface, mold and knead dough into a square

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes

Preheat your oven to 350º

Remove dough from fridge and form into 1 1/4 inch balls, placing on sprayed cooking sheets

Press indentations into the cookie dough and mold with fingers if needed

Bake 10-15 minutes then remove cookies from pans to cool on wire racks

While the cookies cool, heat the sugar and water on medium-high in a small sauce pan

Bring the mixture to a boil and watch it begin to turn brown, when it does shake the pot to evenly distribute the sugar

Once the mixture is totally brown, whisk in the butter until well combined

Next vigorously whisk in the warmed whipping cream until combined

Spoon 1 tsp of the finished caramel into the center of each cookie, top with sea salt

Yields about 16 cookies per batch


Fig and Goat Cheese Scones December 17, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Sides,Treats — Nikki Wegner @ 4:51 pm
Tags: ,

Being from Wisconsin I think it is inherently mapped in our DNA that we have to love cheese. I am a cheesehead, I accept it and embrace it. I especially am a sucker for cheese plates at restaurants or parties, I really have a hard time restraining myself. When I was visiting two of my best friends in New York City Maddy took me to The Dove Parlour, this beautiful little bar that had one of the best (and most affordable) cheese plates. After we stuffed our faces with a variety of delicious cheeses, an assortment of bread slices, apricots, jam, nuts, figs etc., I was inspired to make these fig and goat cheese scones.

These scones are a great savory, yet sweet treat. I love making a big batch and freezing them, heating them up for breakfast or eating with a hearty soup for lunch. I have made these a bunch of times in the past, but this time I tried to make them a bit healthier by using light butter and whole-wheat flour, and I splurged and bought some fresh chevre from my fave cheese shop in DC, Cowgirl Creamery. So Good!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use fig jam (which I use here), fresh or dried figs, whatever you can find/is in season. You can also substitute in other fruits if you prefer, I think apricots would taste great too.

To start, gather all your ingredients and preheat your oven.


Ingredients Assembled!

Ingredients Assembled!


In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients, the two-types of flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.


Dry goods

Dry goods


Then drop in the butter pieces, working them into the flour mixture with your fingers. Once mixed in, add the milk and goat cheese and stir until the dough comes together. You will end up with a slightly sticky ball of scone dough.


Scone Dough

Scone Dough


Next, simply mix in the fig jam or fresh/dried figs. Then take the dough and form into 12 2-inch balls of dough. Place them on baking sheets you sprayed with cooking spray and slightly flatten.


Scones for baking

Scones for baking


Bake the scones for 15 minutes, or until their tops are slightly brown, and remove from the oven. Take off the baking pans and let cool on a wire rack before enjoying! If you want to freeze some, let them completely cool before wrapping for the freezer.


Fig and Goat Cheese Scones

Fig and Goat Cheese Scones


These scones are super easy and delicious! As a bonus the dough base is a great starting point for any scone recipe you may want to experiment with. If you are going for something a bit sweeter I would probably add a bit more sugar, not a lot, but just a bit. I did that with a batch of blackberry scones, and though they turned out purple, they were pretty yummy.


Blackberry Scones

Blackberry Scones


Fig and Goat Cheese Scones (Adapted from Yum Sugar)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 Tbsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

1/3 cup light butter, chilled and cut into large pieces

1/2 cup low-fat milk

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (4 ounces)

6 Tbsp fig jam or 3/4 cup fresh or dried figs


Preheat oven to 400º

Spray baking sheets with cooking spray

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar by mixing

Add in butter gently using your finger tips to rub the butter into the flour mixture

Add the milk and goat cheese, stirring until dough comes together in a slightly sticky ball

Mix in fig of whatever type you are using

Divide the dough into 2-inch balls and place on the baking sheet and flatten slightly

Bake 15 minutes or until the tops of the scones are slightly browned

Let cool on a wire rack

Yields 12 scones


Cooking With Friends: Baked Falafel and Apple Cider Crisp December 13, 2010

Filed under: Cooking With Friends,Dinner,Treats,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 6:23 pm

One of my favorite things about cooking is how it brings people together. I always feel so warm and fuzzy inside after cooking with friends (though it could be the wine we usually consume!)

My friends Jen, Frank and I had talked forever about making dinner together one night, and we finally got around to it recently! Frank offered to host and get the groceries and Jen and I took care of the cooking.

There were a few challenges to planning out the menu as one of us has a dairy allergy/leans vegan and Frank is, as his name suggests a boy, and not to stereotype men but he doesn’t exactly have a fully stocked kitchen when it comes to gadgets, pans, pots, even knives. When asked if he had a food processor, Frank responded with, “What’s that?” and I had to send him a picture. But we worked through all this and made a great meal!

For dinner we decided on making falafel and then serving it with pita, a yogurt sauce, salad and a vegan apple crisp for dessert. To give the falafel a healthy update, we wanted to give baking instead of frying it a shot and after a lot of searching, I found a great recipe on a new fave blog Eat Real. Turns out, it still tastes great and it’s a lot better for you!

To start the falafel, get out your food processor! Place the garlic, cilantro, parsley, chickpeas and bread crumbs in the bowl and cover, pulsing a few times to chop. Then add a tablespoon of lemon juice and pulse a few more times. Add the baking powder, cumin, salt, some tabasco and more lemon juice so the blades don’t get stuck/too weighted down and then mix until a paste-like consistency.

Falafel Mix

Falafel Mix

Prepare your baking sheets by lining them with foil and brushing them with olive oil. Using a tablespoon measuring cup, scoop out some of the falafel mix and then form it into patties with your hands. Then arrange the patties on a baking sheet and brush their tops with oil too.


Falafel ready for baking

Falafel ready for baking


Bake the patties for about 15-20 minutes, flipping them half way through. Remove them from the oven with the tops are nice and browned and let them cool for a few minutes.

While the falafel was baking we whipped up the yogurt sauce to go with it and prepped the apple crisp for baking.

For the yogurt sauce all you do is combine non-fat greek yogurt, fat-free sour cream, minced garlic, dill, lemon juice, salt and some chopped cucumber in a bowl and mix well! Place it in the fridge to stay cool until the falafel is done.


Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt) Sauce

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt) Sauce


Then we prepped the crisp! We timed everything so that while we ate our main course the apple crisp baked.  This apple crisp is so easy! And by using margarine instead of butter, also vegan friendly. I have made a similar crisp/crumble using rhubarb in the past and it always turns out yummy.

Once again you will need your food processor. In the bowl, you combine some flour, sugar, brown sugar and margarine/butter. You pulse a few times until you have a crumbly consistency. Set this mixture aside.

Then, in a large bowl, combine chopped and peeled granny smith apples with a bit of apple cider, sugar, lemon juice, flour and cinnamon. Stirring until well combined.

Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and pour the apple mixture into the pan. Then sprinkle it with the crumb topping.


Prepared Apple Crisp

Prepared Apple Crisp


Once the falafel was done baking, we popped the crisp in the oven and got ready to eat!


Baked Falafel with Pita

Baked Falafel with Pita


I have to say, our spread was pretty great!




After we had thoroughly demolished the falafel, pita, salad, hummus and veggies, wine, etc….we somehow managed to have room for dessert!



Apple Cider Crisp

Apple Cider Crisp


This was a great meal to make with friends! We tried something new, but at the same time, it wasn’t too difficult that we couldn’t execute it all together and without killing each other/taking hours. I definitely recommend the falafel recipe for a healthy update to a favorite and the crisp is always a good go to easy dessert!

Baked Falafel with Tzatziki Sauce (From Eat Real)


2 cloves garlic, quartered

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

2 cups (16 oz) chickpeas

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used the panko variety)

2 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cumin 1 tsp salt

1 tsp tabasco sauce, red or green kind

Tzatziki Sauce:

1/2 cup non-fat yogurt

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped

1 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh

1 cucumber, finely diced

Salt to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 450º

Place garlic, cilantro, parsley, chickpeas and bread crumbs in your food processor

Pulse a few times to chop everything up

Add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice and pulse a bit more

Then add the baking powder, cumin, salt, tabasco and additional lemon juice

Pulse the mixture until it has a nice and paste-like consistency

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and brush it with olive oil

Taking a large tablespoon, scoop the mixture and form it into patties

Place the patties on the baking sheet and then brush the topes with olive oil so they don’t burn

Bake the patties for 15-20 minutes, flipping them half-way through, until they are golden brown on top

While the patties are baking, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing well

Cover the sauce and chill in the fridge until ready to serve

Remove the patties from the oven when they are done and let cool for a few minutes before serving with pita, sauce and other veggies

Yields 4 servings

Apple Cider Crisp (Adapted from Weight Watchers)


1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup butter or margarine, chilled and broken into smaller pieces


7 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into chunks

1/3 cup apple cider

2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Cooking Spray


Pre-heat oven to 375º

Combine crumble topping ingredients in a food processor and pulse until crumbly

Set aside

Combine filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently until everything is well coated

Spoon mixture into a 8-inch square baking pan sprayed with cooking spray and top with crumble mixture

Bake for 40 minutes

Yields 8 servings


Brunch: Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole December 8, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast,Treats — Nikki Wegner @ 11:53 am

To round out the menu for the previously mentioned brunch, I figured I should have something sweet for those who weren’t egg lovers. I also wanted to make something that I could prep the night before because, since I invited people to start coming as early as 9:30, I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of time to get everything done! (And my neurotic need to make sure everything was perfect in time would just stress me out.)

This Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole seemed like the perfect make-ahead option. Plus, I always trust reader reviews on the websites I gather recipes from. People always have great ideas on how to improve a recipe, what worked and what didn’t, and whether it is worth attempting to make the dish…and this recipe got rave reviews.

To start, you make the topping that will caramelize as you bake the casserole. In a small bowl, whisk together some brown sugar, melted butter and maple syrup. Pour into a 13×9 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Then sprinkle pecans over the top of the sugar mixture.

Sugary Pecan Coating

Sugary Pecan Coating

Next, you combine orange juice, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, 3 egg whites and two whole eggs in a large bowl with a whisk. Making sure everything is well combined.

Then, slice your french bread and arrange the slices over the pecans in the pan. Filling in the wholes with torn pieces of the bread.

French Bread

French Bread

Once you are all set, pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread slices.

Prepped Casserole

Prepped Casserole

Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least one hour, or up to overnight.

When you are ready to bake the casserole carefully turn each bread slice over, so the other side will sop up any remaining moisture. Preheat your oven while you let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Bake the casserole for about 35 minutes, or until it looks nice and golden brown.

Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole

Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole

Let the casserole cool for about 5 minutes after you remove it from the oven. Flip it over on a serving dish so the pecan-crusted side is on top.

If there is any topping left-over, simply scrap it from the pan and add to the slices.

Before I made this recipe I was a little nervous about the orange juice element and that it would overpower the rest of the dish. However, it turns out it lent a nice hint of citrus to the casserole and didn’t mask the sweetness of the glaze or the nuttiness of the pecans. It was a big hit and I will definitely be making it again. Perfect make-ahead recipe for an early morning brunch!

Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole (Adapted from Cooking Light)

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup light butter, melted

2 Tbsp maple syrup

cooking spray

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh

1/2 cup 1% milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 large egg whites

2 large eggs

9-12 slices of french bread (depends on the size of your loaf)


Combine brown sugar, butter and maple syrup in a bowl

Pour into 13×9 pan coated with cooking spray

Sprinkle pecans evenly over sugar mixture

Combine orange juice, mil, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites and egg in a large bowl; whisking until well-combined

Arrange bread slices over pecans in the baking pan

Pour egg mixture over the bread slices

Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight

Carefully turn bread slices over and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350º

Bake the casserole for 35 minutes or until golden brown

Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan by flipping over to serve

Yields 12 servings

French Toast on FoodistaFrench Toast


Brunch: Quiche x2 December 6, 2010

Filed under: Breakfast,Dinner,Veggies — Nikki Wegner @ 5:09 pm

I love an excuse to throw a party/get together. Menu planning, deciding what to make, how to set the table makes me really happy, I know, I am strange.  But the one thing I had never done before was a host a brunch.

Brunch foods sort of intimidate me since I am not a huge breakfast person, usually grabbing a yogurt on the way to work or not even really eating it on the weekends when some people may opt for omelets, pancakes, etc. But the perfect opportunity to test out some brunch recipes came about in the form of John Stewart and Steven Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear. Since I live close to The Mall in DC, I figured it would be a great way to bring together my friends who were going, and test out some recipes on them.



The Spread

The Spread

One brunch food I do love is Quiche. There is something about the savory crust combined with the yummy center that makes my mouth water, plus it gave me the opportunity to attempt my first pie crust! I also figured I should have something sweeter for everyone, which I will save for my next post…

Now for the Quiche.  I made two kinds: Spinach Goat Cheese and Bacon Gruyère, both with caramelized onions in the filling too.

I started out by making the crust from scratch, a bit of a gamble, but I figured if it was an epic fail, I could use store-bought as a back-up. Luckily it turned out pretty great, and I think I found a great all-purpose crust recipe for Quiche, pies, etc. Now there is no shame in using the store-bought crust, as this recipe is a bit of a process!

For the crust, you beat some butter in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Then in another bowl, combine some milk, salt and an egg yolk with a whisk. Add the liquid mixture to the butter 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing well as you go. Then you add some flour and beat until well combined.  Form the mixture in to a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap, chilling for 1 hour.

Crust Dough

Crust Dough


After the dough is chilled, preheat your oven. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into an approximately 10-inch circle. Place it in a pie tin, pressing down the edges and let freeze for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the freezer and bake for 25 minutes or until browned. Now you have your pie crust all ready for the filling! (I made the crust the night before, to save time in the AM, and simply covered them with plastic wrap and left them on the counter overnight.)


Pie Crust



Once you get the crust out of the way, you can get to the best part, the yummy savory filling! First I prepped the ingredients: caramelized the onions, sautéed the spinach until wilted, microwaved the turkey bacon (since I was not in the mood to mess with pan-frying it), and grated/crumbled the cheeses. (I also did this the night before to save time, and everything tasted fine the next day!)

For the base of the Quiche, combine the milk with salt, eggs and nutmeg with a whisk in a large bowl. Then stir in your fillings. For one I did onions, spinach and goat cheese, for the other it was bacon, Gruyère and the rest of the onions.  Carefully pour the batter into your prepared crusts, making sure not to overfill!

Bacon, Gruyere and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking

Bacon, Gruyère and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking


Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche for Baking


All that’s left to do is bake! Put the Quiche in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until firm. It may take a bit longer…so just be careful to watch as you get close.


Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Carmelized Onion Quiche

Bacon, Gruyere and Carmelized Onion Quiche

Bacon, Gruyère and Carmelized Onion Quiche


These were both a big hit, though I think the Spinach one went the fastest!

The crust turned out great, and like I said before I think it will become my go-to pie crust for both sweet and savory treats. But if I am ever in a crunch, I will totally just use the filling part of the recipe and save myself some time by using store-bought crusts!

Quiche (Adapted from Cooking Light)


6 Tbsp light butter, softened

2 Tbsp 1% Milk

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups flour


Beat butter in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes

Combine milk, salt, and egg yolk in a bowl with a whisk

Add liquid mixture to butter 1 Tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition

Add flour and beat until well combined

Form mixture into a 4-inch disk on plastic wrap and cover

Chill dough for 1 hour

Preheat oven to 350 °

Unwrap dough on a lightly floured surface

Using a rolling-pin, roll out dough into a 10-inch circle and place in a 9-inch pie tin

Freeze 15 minutes

Remove from freezer and place in oven, baking for 25 minutes or until browned

Cool completely before filling

Quiche Batter:

1 cup 1% milk

3/4 tsp salt

3 eggs, large

dash of nutmeg

Bacon & Gruyère version:

1/2 cup onions

4 oz Gruyère, shredded

4 strips Turkey Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Spinach & Goat Cheese Version:

1/2 cup onions

3 cups spinach

4 oz goat cheese, crumbled


Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat

Add onions to the pan with a pinch of sugar and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender, stirring occassionaly

Remove onions from heat and set aside

If making the spinach variety, spray your skillet with cooking spray and saute the spinach until wilted, set aside

If making the bacon variety, microwave 4 slices of turkey bacon according to package directions and crumble, set aside

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine 1 cup milk, salt, eggs and dash of nutmeg, beating until well combined with a whisk

Stir in the ingredients for your filling

Pour filling into pre-baked crust slowly, making sure not to over-fill

Bake for 35 minutes or until firm

Yields 10 servings per Quiche


Pumpkin Nutella Bread November 5, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast — Nikki Wegner @ 11:48 am

Growing up I was never one for pumpkin pie. On Thanksgiving I would always reach for the pecan pie a la mode.  But with time, and unfortunately age, I have come to love pumpkin baked goods in all forms.

My love affair started with the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes from baked & wired in DC a few years ago, and now I can’t get enough! When my friend Jen passed on this recipe, and her stamp of approval, for pumpkin nutella bread I knew I had to make it. I promise that though it sounds like a strange combination, it’s fantastic.

I had to make a few adjustments to the original recipe, because I couldn’t find plain canned pumpkin. If you are able to find canned pumpkin follow the link below to the original recipe, but if your grocery story only has pumpkin pie mix like mine, I am here for you! Pumpkin pie mix already has some spices , so this recipe is even easier in the original since you don’t have to add those. I also cut the sugar in half since I was worried about it being too sweet!

To start, pre-heat your oven to 350° and spray 4 mini-loaf pans with cooking spray. Then combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl; mixing together the flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

In a larger bowl, combine the sugar, water, vegetable oil, pumpkin mix, eggs, and vanilla extract with a whisk.

Wet Ingredients

Wet Ingredients

Then, slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the whisk. Until everything is well combined.



Pour the batter into the pans, making sure it is evenly divided.

Batter Divided

Batter Divided

Then plop 2 tablespoons of nutella in each pan. Swirl the nutella around with a knife until evenly distributed throughout the pan.

Ready for Baking

Ready for Baking

Place the pans on a baking sheet all together, and put in the oven to bake. Bake about 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves come out clean.

Pumpkin Nutella Bread

Pumpkin Nutella Bread

And there you go! Super easy, quick and surprisingly not that bad for you! This recipe was a big hit at the office and a brunch I hosted for some friends, so it is taste-tester approved.

It also makes me think of home and the holidays, and a little bit of nostalgia always takes things up a notch. These little breads would be a fun, and inexpensive, holiday gift to wrap up and send to friends and family. Something to let people know you are thinking of them, without breaking the bank!

Pumpkin Nutella Bread (Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup canola  or vegetable oil

1/3 cup water

1 cup canned pumpkin pie filling

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 tablespoons Nutella (2 tablespoons per mini loaf)


Pre-heat oven to 350° and spray 4 mini-loaf pans with cooking spray, making sure to spray the sides as well.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, water, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla with a whisk.

Slowly whisk in the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until well combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the four loaf pans.

Drop 2 tablespoons of nutella into each pan and use a knife to swirl until well combined.

Place the pans on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the pans from the oven, and let cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the loaves from the pan. They should come out pretty easily, but if not, work a knife around the edges to loosen them.

Let the loaves completely cool before slicing and serving.

If you only have two larger bread pans, simply divide the batter evenly, add 4 tablespoons of nutella per pan and cook for about 60 minutes.

Yields 24 slices.


Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili with Corn Bread and Honey Butter October 28, 2010

Filed under: Baking,Lunch,Soups — Nikki Wegner @ 1:40 pm

Now that I am officially only a few radio ads away from the end of political season I thought it was time to start posting again.  Though I have been baking and cooking over the last month, that is where my energy for non-work things that don’t involve alcoholic beverages end. Sad, but true.

So to kick-off the blog restart here are some recipes for chili and corn bread! The chili comes from me playing with/combining my favorite things from other chili recipes into one. I used ground turkey and beef broth, but if you are a vegetarian, simply subbing vegetable broth and tofu could work great! The corn bread is a favorite recipe of mine, and is definitely not a sweet version, so I usually top mine with some homemade honey butter.

To start spray a large skillet with cooking spray and add in onions, shallots and sugar, and cook for about 5-10 minutes until the onions are nice and caramelized then add in the green pepper and stir frequently so everything doesn’t burn. Feel free to use red or yellow peppers here. They tend to give me heartburn, because I am really a 75-year-old woman, unfortunate, yet true.

Onions and Peppers

Onions and Peppers

Once cooked, put the onion and pepper mixture in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Then re-spray the skillet with cooking spray, and add in the ground turkey and garlic, cooking until done.

Add the turkey to the pot, along with the corn and black beans and spices.


Turkey Goodness

After stirring until everything is well combined, add in the tomatoes and broth and stir. Let everything come to a boil then reduce to a simmer, covering partially with a lid.

Chili Simmering

Chili Simmering

While your chili is cooking, start the corn bread! Pre-heat your oven and spray a square baking dish.

Then in a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking sod. Whisk together with a fork, then make a well in the center.

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, corn, egg whites and oil.


Wet Ingredients

Wet Ingredients


Combine the wet ingredients with the dry by pouring the mixture into the well, then stir until combined.

Pour into your baking pan and smooth the top.


Corn Bread Ready for Baking

Corn Bread Ready for Baking


Bake the bread for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean!


Corn Bread

Corn Bread

Cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then cut into squares to serve with your chili!


The chili should be done simmering, right about the time that your cornbread is done cooling.


Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili

Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili


Remove the honey butter from the fridge and serve with the bread for a complete meal.

This meal would be great for a Saturday or Sunday football game-watching party! (Packers or Badgers preferably.) You can cook it up before your guests arrive, so the chili is finishing simmering as the corn bread is cooling! The chili is a bit spicy, and you can cut that down or make it even more by adjusting the amount of chili pepper you use. Or just serve with some cold beer, which I’ve found always helps with the heat of spicy things ;)!

Spicy Turkey and Black Bean Chili (own recipe)

1 yellow onion, diced

1 shallot, diced

1 tsp sugar

1 green pepper, diced

1 lb ground turkey

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 14-oz can black beans, drained

12 oz sweet corn, frozen & steamed

1 Tbsp ground chipotle chili pepper

1 Tbsp ground chili pepper

1 tsp oregano, dried

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

28 oz can tomatoes, diced

1 ½ cup broth (beef if you are adding the turkey, vegetable if you want to make it vegetarian!)


Spray a large skillet with olive oil cooking spray and heat.

Add in onions, shallots and sugar. Cook 5-10 minutes until caramelized, add in green pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Stirring occasionally so everything doesn’t burn!

Transfer to a large dutch oven pot or large sauce pan.

Re-spray the skillet, then add in the turkey meat and garlic, cooking until browned. Sprinkle with salt if you want. Once fully cooked, drain any excess fat, then add the meat mixture to the large pot.

In the pot, add the black beans, corn, and spices. Mix everything together until coated with the spices.

Add in the tomatoes and broth. Bring everything to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, then partly cover with a lid for 30 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese, scallions, whatever you want!

Yields 6 servings.

Corn Bread with Honey Butter (adapted from Weight Watchers)

1 cup uncooked yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

14 3/4 oz cream-style corn, canned

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 large egg whites (feel free to use egg white substitute)

2 tsp oil, corn or vegetable

8 tbsp light butter

3 tbsp honey


Pre-heat your oven to 400° and coat an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

While the oven is preheating, soften the butter in the microwave, add the honey and stir until combined. Return to the fridge to set while the cornbread cooks.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl and mix well until combined with a fork. Make a well at the center of the mixture and set it aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk, corn, egg whites and oil.

Add the liquid mixture into dry ingredients, pouring it into the well you made, then stir until well mixed.

Pour the batter into the baking pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before serving.

Yields 8 servings.