Creamy Roasted Hazelnut Butter

About five or six years back, I was in a Middle East specialty grocery store and found a jar of hazelnut butter.  Not just the normal Nutella themed chocolate and hazelnut, but straight up hazelnut butter and it was delicious! Since that time I have yet to locate it in another grocery store and I’m too lazy and/or cheap to buy it online when it’s so easy to make!

Basically, so stupidly easy I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner, but to be fair, I was on a regular old peanut butter kick and then cashew butter – both also delicious.

Creamy Hazelnut Butter

Makes about 2 cups


  • 1 pound raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 T sugar, honey, or agave
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Arrange hazelnuts on a foil lined baking tray and roast in the over for 7-10 minutes or until a light golden brown.
  3. Let cool just slightly and transfer to a clean towel. To remove the skins of the hazelnuts (they’re kind of bitter), scoop the hot hazelnuts into a pile in the center of the towel (take care due to the high heat of the nuts). Bring the four corners of the tea towel together and gather it up in one hand, so that all of your hazelnuts are scooped up in the bottom of the tea towel. Using your other hand, squish the bottom and the sides of the tea towel so that all the hazelnuts are rubbing up against each other. Do this for a couple minutes until most of the skins are removed.
  4. Separate out the skins from the nuts. I use a slotted serving spoon – it’s big enough to get more than a few nuts at a time and the holes are small enough that the nuts won’t fall through but the skins will.
  5. Place warm nuts* in a food processor and grind until smooth. Add in vanilla, salt, and sweetener (if desired) and continue to blend until a smooth butter is formed – yes, it should be kind of runny. If it hasn’t yet reached that consistency, just be patient, it will get there.

*Warm nuts tend to work a little better and faster by making the oil more available during the processing.

You can keep it stored in an air tight container. I like mason jars because you can easily see through them and they store about 2 cups perfectly.

My hazelnut butter is a little on the darker side because I toasted the nuts just a bit extra. If you like you’re lighter, just watch very closely and removed when they’ve gathered just a hint of golden. You can also make the butter raw, but won’t be able to remove the skins. Just a bit of trade offs. I also added a touch of sweetness to mine because I was trying to get as close as possible to the flavor I found in that Middle East grocery (which was akin to the chocolate hazelnut without the chocolate, but still some sweetness).

Stick around for a to-die-for dessert coming to the blog in the next couple of weeks that features this fantastic spread – hazelnutty goodness.

What are your favorite nuts butters? Do you stick with the classic peanut butter or almond or branch out into walnut, pecan, cashew, and hazelnut?

Finally Official! We’re Married!

All images are by Alchemy Creative and use without written permission and notification is prohibited. 

A few weeks back, C and I had ourselves a small wedding/elopement in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. While this is typically a food and wellness blog, sharing some of the exciting moments in my life has got to be a part of it, so just bear with me if you’re just here for the food.


Toward the end of 2016, C and I finally decided to make things legal and start planning the wedding that was right for us. Maybe someone is wondering, why now? Why didn’t you tell anyone? Why didn’t you want all the pomp that goes into celebrating a wedding and beginning of a marriage? For the why – basically I finally got over my marriage issues and C eventually convinced me with his explanations of all of the legal benefits to it. (…I know, we’re super romantic.) So once I was convinced, knowing he would NEVER ask outright, I asked him one evening if we should set a date to get married and make everything legal – and he said “sure”. (The stuff of fairy tales, right?) I didn’t want an engagement ring, just a wedding band, so it worked well with our plans of doing an elopement and not really telling anyone outside of our small group of attendees.


Our rings!! Mountain inspired!

When we talked about getting married, we always pictured something small – maybe even eloping just the two of us. We decided to do a small casual ceremony in which we married/officiated ourselves (something you can do in Colorado) and since the location was remote with restrictions on number of guests, decided to include our immediate families and a few close long time friends. While I have no problem speaking in front of a couple hundred people, C is much the extrovert, and we both love hosting a good party, the decision to get married and how was very personal and intimate to us. We wanted to keep as close as possible to what we needed from the day. Any party later!

BUT, I am very excited to share pictures and talk about all the wonderful people who helped make things happen.

C and I arrived in Boulder on a rainy Tuesday evening, quickly changed and went for a nice dinner at The Kitchen. Wednesday was still raining, so we spent the day exploring some of Boulder’s breweries and getting our marriage license. That evening we ate at Bramble and Hare (highly recommend!) before hitting the road to arrive in Estes Park for the evening. Thursday we explored the park and did some hiking and by evening everyone was starting to arrive. We spent Friday enjoying time with people and then went to dinner at Cascades Restaurant at The Stanley. To make everything easy, everyone stayed at Mary’s Lake Lodge in Estes Park for the long weekend.

We woke up bright and early Saturday to get ready for our morning nuptials. Our fantastic photographer, Brittany from Alchemy Creative, arrived at 6am along with my mom and older sister to help with a few last details.

Since C and I got ready together except for my dress, which he hadn’t seen yet, we didn’t have far to go for our first look.


We went down to Mary’s Lake, right next to the lodge before we would set out to the park.



Can’t decide if the view behind me or in front of me is more spectacular.

As we drove into the park, the view kept becoming more and more amazing. Early May still had all of the snow on the mountains and we really lucked out with fantastic weather! (It was supposed to rain all weekend. And the following weekend they got 31″ of snow!)


We went over for some pictures at Sheep’s Lakes first – despite all of the rain earlier in the week, the ground wasn’t wet and the water was still enough to capture these gorgeous reflections.


(I’m holding off on completely overwhelming y’all with pictures – trying to pick just one or two from each location.  It’s so difficult!).


Find a partner you want to travel the world with – because where they are, you’re home.

Around about 9am we were back over at Sprague Lake for our vow exchange and to meet up with everyone else. All total we were a group of 24.


We said our vows (which, btw, I completely cried through all of mine) and did our exchange of rings. We did a self uniting ceremony, which was completely perfect for us, but also meant we couldn’t just repeat after someone and needed some scripts. 🙂


A huge thank you to both of our families for traveling to the mountains to share in our day!


Very luckily to be welcomed into such a fun loving family.


My lovely, lovely family – and super cute niece and nephew who make every picture special.


The whole gang!

After one last smooch…


it was time to get some food in our bellies!

We did coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. And instead of a cake, did a cinnamon roll tower!


After everything at the park, we headed back to the lodge for some brunch-y foods hosted at the condo rented by my family. Then in the early afternoon we had our official wedding lunch at Tavern 1929 – the food was great and so were the views! Since we’re doing a couple “receptions” later with the rest of our family and friends, we wanted a low key lunch where we didn’t need to decorate anything, no gifts were expected, and everyone could order whatever they wanted off the menu. The Tavern didn’t push us into anything or make any comments once we arrived – me dressed in a white dress. It was the perfect day.



  • PhotographyAlchemy Creative (one incredibly talented photographer and perfect person to capture our elopement)
  • DressDreamers and Lovers, Natalie Gown
  • Blanket – Kilim Throw from Turkish T
  • My ringWaylon Rhoads Jewelry (Seriously gushing over this ring – he custom made everything, even the mountains where carved off of three picture I gave him. Serious talent and highly, recommended if you’re looking for any piece of custom jewelry.)
  • FlowersBoulder Blooms
  • Cinnamon RollsCinnamon Cafe (she even put sprinkles on them after telling her they were for our wedding cake! and probably the best rolls I’ve ever had.)
  • Jewelry – mixed from two stores off Etsy – jacket from Tosh Jewelry and pearls from Pearl Kissed.
  • His ringRing Paradise, custom mountain etched
  • His suit – custom from Final Stitch in Albuquerque

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Ok, totally lied. Here are a few others I absolutely love!

Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

A few weeks back, we were discussing different recipes for chia seed pudding. I had tried to make it in the past with almond milk, but the seeds always seemed to sink and clump up on the bottom. A co-worker suggested trying coconut milk if I wasn’t able to drink regular cow’s milk, so I did and now I’m hooked on the stuff! My favorite is plain with lemon curd (maybe I’ll share that in the future as well).

For today, I branched out a bit from the 3 Pleasures Dessert theme (dark chocolate, nuts, and fruit) to drop the nuts and do seeds instead – chia seeds! Chia seeds have fiber, protein, and most importantly healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The cocoa provides a rich/somewhat bitter chocolate taste that can satisfy just about any craving.


If you’re looking for a more mousse like consistency and to have it ready in less time than overnight, you can put it into a blender. 🙂


Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 2 when sharing


  • 1 c plain coconut milk, room temp or warm works best
  • 1/4 c chia seeds
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla, optional
  • Favorite fruit to serve – I recommend raspberries or strawberries


  1. Measure all ingredients, except fruit, into a mason jar.
  2. Shake well for about a minute. It will be easier to mix in the cocoa powder without clumping if the coconut milk is warm or room temperature.
  3. Let sit a few minutes and shake a second time if seeds seem to settle to the bottom too quickly.
  4. Place in refrigerator overnight to allow seeds to “gel” and create a pudding like texture.
  5. Serve with fresh berries.

*The texture will still have the seeds since they don’t dissolve, but if a creamy texture is paramount in your pudding, I suggest the blender method – blend all ingredients instead of shaking and let sit a few hours in the refrigerator or until mixture is desired thickness.


Have you tried chia seed pudding or using chia seeds in smoothies or over oats?

Banana Yogurt Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sometimes you just want tea and cake. And you don’t care how healthy it appears to anyone else because – food for the soul, man. I bought a bundt pan after Christmas when an attempt was made at making monkey bread in the angel food cake pan with removable bottom and all of the butter ran out. But since that time I hadn’t found the perfect way to enjoy a bundt cake. Then a couple weeks ago when trying to think of what to bring to a house warming, I stumbled across some banana cakes on Pinterest and couldn’t get the thought out of my head. (I ended up bringing a veggie tray to the party, btw. Can’t always take the nutrition out of the girl.)


Finally after acquiring a few ripe bananas, it was time to make a cake! Bundt cakes always have this sort of rustic appeal – they don’t need to be perfectly frosted, but are always moist and delicious.


Rather than the traditional drizzle for a bundt, I opted for a thicker cream cheese frosting because really the only option for banana cake is cream cheese frosting (and you want plenty of frosting).


There is just something about sitting down to a slice of cake and tea that’s just super peaceful. And of course the tea is black Earl Grey.


Banana Yogurt Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 16


  • 1/4 c softened butter
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 & 7/8 c sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (keep the bananas from turning completely brown)
  • 1/2 c milk or almond milk
  • 1 c plain yogurt (full fat)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups + more powdered sugar depending on desired sweetness
  • 2 T milk or whipping cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Grease and flour a bundt pan and set aside. You could also use the spray with flour but make sure every corner is reached.
  3. Mix the lemon juice into the mashed bananas and set aside.
  4. Mix together the butter, oil, and sugar in a bowl.
  5. Incorporate the eggs one at a time into the butter sugar mixture.
  6. Add in the 2 tsp vanilla, salt, milk, and yogurt. Mix well and make sure everything is combined.
  7. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Then slowly add in the flour mixture to the rest of the batter.
  8. Lastly, add the mashed bananas and gently fold in to combine.
  9. Pour the batter evenly into the greased and floured bundt pan (I used a 12 cup bundt pan) and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. When still slightly warm, transfer to a plate by inverting cake and lifting pan. Cake should come out smoothly, but you can run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake if needed.
  11. To make the cream cheese frosting, soften cream cheese to room temperature. Mix together the cream cheese, milk, and 1 tsp vanilla. Adding 1/2 cup at a time, mix in the powdered sugar. You can add additional milk to adjust the frosting consistency to your liking.
  12. Once the cake is mostly cool, frost the cake by “draping” the frosting over the top and letting it fall down the sides. You may have some left over frosting.


Although the cake was completely delicious, I was so happy I had C to help me eat it. And just like Jack Sprat and his wife, C and I happily share more cake for me and more frosting for him. 🙂


I think that life needs to be embraced, and we can’t be “healthy” all the time, but we can be well and balanced in body and mind – and sometimes cake is part of that. And brownies. And wine.

What is your favorite treat for keeping balance in life with both mind and body? Do you find it’s a special food treat or maybe a lounge day?

Work Life Balance

Hmm, seeing that I haven’t posted any pictures to Instagram or published a blog post in a month must mean that something is up. And it kind of is – feeling burned out in one part of life tends to transfer to other parts – in this case my ability to find creativity with new recipes.

(Update 6/16/17 – post was lost, update will come with next period of burnout.)

Sophisticated Your Chocolate – Sweet and Savory Chocolates

Have you heard about the Three Pleasures – a dessert challenge that circled in 2016 challenging chefs to create healthier dessert options using the Three Pleasures – dark chocolate, fruit, and nuts? For a cooking demo I’m working on we’re using these three ingredients as a healthier dessert option for diabetics – and if you just want to be healthier in general while satisfying your sweet tooth. While thinking of dried fruit and nut options for a chocolate bark I decided to get a little crazy and thought – what if I add herbs?!


In my humble opinion, the herbs were a genius way to go. Although I do always enjoy the peanut butter chocolate combo and find it hard to resist chocolate and caramel, the herbs have me thinking in a whole new way.

Since I only made 4 of each flavor (I can’t be tied down with only one flavor and 24 chocolates – I need variety!), they aren’t exact recipes, but I can tell you what you’ll need for each along with the base of: a dark chocolate of at least 60% cocoa, bitter sweet will also work; mini muffin tins; mini muffin papers; and non-stick spray.

I chopped and melted ~12oz of chocolate over a make-shift double boiler – glass bowl set over boiling/simmering water. Melt until just melted – don’t sit there and stir the chocolate for too long or it will eventually start to separate out and become hard because there isn’t enough fat to prevent over working. I then mixed about 2oz of chocolate with each of the described combinations. Spray your muffin paper with the non-stick spray before putting in the chocolate – it just makes them easier to remove. Let it set and then enjoy.


Walnut and goji berry – no additional spices, just toasted walnuts and gofi berries. I started you off with and easy one.


Lavender Blueberry – crush 1/2 tsp of edible lavender and mix in with chocolate – sprinkle top with additional lavender and top with dried blueberries. Crushing brings out more of the oils from the lavender along with the flavor (better than finely mincing).


Chili Cherry Pecan – mix chili powder in with chocolate, about 1/4 tsp (or as spicy as you like), top with dried cherries, pecans, and dusting of additional chili powder.


Lavender Thyme Pistachio – crush about 1/4 tsp edible/culinary grade lavender, finely mince 1/4 tsp fresh thyme, and mix with chocolate. Top with toasted pistachios and sprinkle with additional lavender. I’m also lucky that the Los Poblanos lavender farm is only a few miles away so I can get some culinary grade lavender at their store too. 🙂


Rosemary Sea Salt – mince ~1/4-1/2 tsp of fresh rosemary and mix in with chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt and place a sprig of rosemary for decoration – it’s a little too strong to eat with it, but looks pretty.


Last but definitely not least – I tried my hand with some edible flower over a cluster of dried cherries, blueberries, and pecans. The flower helps to hide the lumpy shape of the cluster.


Each chocolate is perfectly portioned for a great after dinner treat and the jazzed up flavors do make me feel more sophisticated. Each chocolate is about 1/2 oz of chocolate. Aren’t they gorgeous looking! Although I think they’re all delicious, I think my favorite at this time might be the lavender and blueberry. It just makes me think of the coming spring and makes me happy.

What are some of your favorite more “exotic” chocolate flavors? Have you ever tried to mix your own flavors at home?

Miso Sauced Soba Noodles with Crispy Tofu

This week’s meals have had a distinct East Asia theme – Monday night I was at work so long that I said screw it and picked up some dinner from Thai Spice rather than cook. My go to is the Pad Woon Sen with chicken or tofu – I prefer the cellophane noodles to thick pad thai noodles. C really likes the Tom Kha with tofu – and that’s a development after four years, C will eat tofu as the protein of the meal… Umm, yeah blew my mind too.

Then on Wednesday I was able to finally test out this vision I had for a recipe I’m doing for a cooking class – and obviously I’m going to share it on the blog too. 🙂


The idea started when C and I made the Spicy Ramen recipe from Pinch of Yum. While the ramen was good, I couldn’t help but just stand by the counter dunking my tofu into the miso sauce – without putting it in the broth. When looking to create my own version, I decided to go away fro the traditional ramen noodles because they can be really high in sodium and some fat. Since the miso is salty enough, I decided to go for a soba noodle. It was definitely the right choice.


If you’re not sure if you’re a tofu fan, it’s probably because you’ve never had it prepared correctly – lots of places just deep fry the heck out of it and it’s like biting in to a sponge. Umm, no, just no. That texture is for dips, mousses, and sauces, not the “meaty” portion of the meal. The key is to press the tofu to get rid of excess liquid and prevent that spongy texture. I also prefer the baked or grilled tofu to the pan fried – for some reason I have better luck with the first two methods.


Miso Sauced Soba Noodles with Crispy Tofu

Serves 2 very large or 4 normal portions


  • 16 oz firm or extra firm tofu
  • Vegetables of choice – I used a convenient mixed stir-fry blend with broccoli, sliced carrots, pea pods, and kale
  • 2 large shiitake mushrooms, cut thinly length wise (optional)
  • Green onion for final taste and garnish

Spicy Miso Sauce

  • 1/2 small or 1/4 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c red miso paste
  • 1/4 c yellow miso broth concentrate (can use this for both misos if can’t find the red)
  • 2 T sambel oelek – chili paste – if using a garlic chili paste, omit garlic cloves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 T mirin – like rice wine for cooking
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1T (scant) toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp red curry paste (optional but encouraged)


  1. Begin by draining and cutting your tofu into eight slices (dividing the width of the tofu block). To compress tofu if you don’t have a fancy contraption, lay tofu slices on a level surface on top of some towels and paper towels, then place an addition layer of towels and paper towels on top of that. Place a large board – I use my cutting board over the top – then weigh down with heavy books. Cook books work great! Wait at least 30 minutes.
  2. While you’re pressing the excess liquid out of the tofu, you can get started on the miso sauce and preheat the oven to 400F.
  3. In a food processor, puree all of the spicy miso sauce ingredients. It will be a thick sauce. Scrap out into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Once the tofu is sufficiently pressed, you can arrange to slices on a non-stick baking sheet or one covered in foil and lightly oiled. Brush tofu lightly with olive or vegetable oil, then brush on a layer of the miso sauce. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until they’ve reached your desired level of crispiness.
  5. While the tofu bakes, start a large pot of water boiling for the noodles.
  6. In a large pan, sauté the vegetables and mushrooms until cooked but vegetables are still slightly crisp. You can also cook the mushrooms separately first and then add back in at the end of the vegetable cooking. Add a tablespoon of the miso sauce to the vegetable pan and stir. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.
  7. Once water has reached a boiling point in the large pot, add in soba noodles and cook as directed – cooked through, but not mushy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain noodles and place in very large bowl.
  8. In the very large bowl, toss together the noodles and vegetables with 1/3 c miso sauce to start. Add additional sauce until noodles have reached the desired level of flavor, some additional splashes of water may be needed to ensure even sauce coverage. You will have left over sauce – don’t worry that’s a good thing to save for later. 🙂
  9. Plate noodles and serve with crispy tofu – brush tofu with additional miso sauce layer once out of oven.


Seriously in love with this sauce. Beware it is really salty, because well, miso is salty and full of umami goodness.  The miso paste will have a more concentrated flavor as will the red miso, so if you want to just do the yellow or the broth concentrate, that works too! And miso is a really good health food – it’s fermented which means it has some of those good bacteria, it also is packed with nutrients including iron, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins. Maybe I should start switching all of my regular broth recipes to miso?

I’d also recommend making an extra 16 oz of crispy tofu to dunk later in the left over miso sauce – as Martha would say, it’s definitely a good thing.

Do you ever get on a theme week with food? With leftover miso paste, what are some of your favorite dishes that require miso?

Turning 30

Today I turn 30. (And my little niece just turned 1.)img_1776

Is it time to hyperventilate yet? I’m entering another decade!

Just kidding, I’m actually really looking forward to it and have be ok with it since I’ve been trying to act older than my age for probably 10 years now (I guess I was pretty comfortable at 25/26 though).

Although I’m a planner – I’ve come to realize planning 5 years in the future is not super advisable, let alone looking at the next potential decade, so I’m going to write a bit about my secureness in where I am now at 30.

  • I know what I want and don’t want in my career.
  • I love the job I currently have.
  • I no longer care what another person’s opinion of me is – and really haven’t for a while.
  • I’m with a great life partner – the happiest thing is when I can see us as old people together (we’re both pretty old souls – or maybe it’s just wanting to go to bed at 9pm)
  • Most of the time I walk around wondering how and when I became an adult and really disliking some of that reality. (When did the wrinkles show up!? I’m expected to know how to figure out insurance and investing?)
  • Some days I sit in my PJs for half the day ignoring the fact I am an adult – sometimes you just need a break.
  • I will march to the beat of my own drum and conductor dance to it’s music. And acknowledge with those actions I have become my mother.
  • I know that life isn’t always happy or perfect, but that’s kind of the deal.
  • I may be compassionate and sometimes nurturing but don’t think I’ll ever be a mother.  (Sorry, Mom and sisters – not a burning desire I have.)
    • Because everyone’s life and dreams are different I respect others and hope they do the same for me.
  • I’ve been blessed to find a partner that likes our little family the two of us and our dog (maybe a second sometime in the future).
  • I absolutely adore my niece and nephew and being an aunt (and think my friends’ kids are the cutest). It’s been my dream in life to be an auntie and be able to take them on trips, spoil them, and help pay for their college. I’d give those kids a piece of any organ.
  • I’m more comfortable in my body and being completely content when it’s not perfect.
  • My yoga practice has helped tremendously in “letting things go that no longer serve me” and holding on to someone else’s idea of how I should be or look REALLY doesn’t serve me.
  • Practicing the yoga yamas and niyamas  – especially after reading The Yamas and Niyamas by Adele have made me more aware of my actions.
  • I accept all the bumps in life and don’t regret anything – it brought me to where I am now and it’s exactly where I am meant to be.
  • As much as I am the “master of my own destiny” I’ve had too many “fate/coincidences” not to believe it plays some role.
  • I will always be young at heart and forever an old soul – do those two conflict?
  • My main goal in life is to adventure – and I have a hard time understanding people who would turn down an opportunity to travel.
  • I don’t like the idea of being too attached to any one place – sometimes a change of scenery is a good thing. This is why a travel – so when I come home I can see and appreciate the world for how unique it really is.
  • Some goodbyes are for the best – lives and people change, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great story worthy of telling.
  • With the happenings of the last week, I am deeply saddened for the future and wonder how a place that used to be a place of refuge and hope is now a place of hate and fear. (Welcome to the second dark ages.) Everyday I wake up to a new policy and feel sick to my stomach – it goes against every fiber of my being – we are taught to be compassionate, loving human beings, to see the good in someone first, not judge them based on their sex, skin, sexual orientation, religion, or country of origin.

Ok, now breathe (deep yoga breaths every damn morning, afternoon, and night). Maybe 2017 and the year of being 30 won’t bee so bad?