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December 2011

Chocolate Pecan Nutella Thumbprints

When it comes to Christmas cookies, I tend to stick to a handful of childhood classics every year. Snickerdoodles and sugar cookies, I could do without. But almond balls and my mom’s Kris Kringles, those are mandatory staples. However, this year I’ve stumbled upon one more cookie recipe that might be a mandatory addition to my annual holiday cookie repertoire – these Chocolate Pecan Nutella Thumbprints.

The sister of my brother-in-law made these for a cookie swap, and ever since my mom got a taste of one, she’d been raving about them. My mom’s a chocoholic, but she’s particular when it comes to dessert. I knew if these cookies passed her shrewd chocolate test in order to make a lasting impression, they had to be stellar. And stellar they were when I finally got my hands on the recipe so that I could pop these out of my own oven.

There’s still time to make these before New Years. It’s a holiday excuse to get baking for your friends that you really shouldn’t pass up, especially when this recipe is yet to be made. These are an absolute must. Intensely chocolatey and almost fudgy like a brownie, I almost ate my age in these thumbprints over the days leading up to Christmas. The Nutella makes them all that much more decadent, and of course irresistibly delicious.

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Smoked Salmon Sandwiches with Avocado Wasabi Spread

I very rarely eat salmon, but I’ve got to admit, it’s one of my favorites as a pescetarian.  I happen to love smoked salmon in almost any form.  One of my favorite ways to utilize it is by placing it on a sandwich.  The following recipe spruces up the classic smoked salmon and cream cheese, while adding in little heart healthy monounsaturated fat from some avocado and ditching the cholesterol, artery-clogging cheese.  With a little healthy crunch (lettuce), kick (wasabi) and a twist (avocado spread), all paired with my favorite wild Alaskan smoked salmon, what more could you ask for in a sandwich?

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Spicy Peanut Sauce with Noodles


As an obsessive peanut butter lover, I’m naturally a diehard fan of peanut sauce too. If you haven’t had it, well, you’re missing out. (Unless you have a peanut allergy, in which case, I’d pass on this one).

Peanut butter creates a naturally creamy base that lathers up pasta and gives it a rich massage of flavor. Toasted sesame oil, the PB’s sidekick in this dish, contributes that classic roasted infusion of Asian flavor and aroma to the sauce. Then some ginger and chili garlic sauce come in to spice things up a bit. If spicy isn’t your forte, simply use less of the chili garlic sauce.

I pair the peanutty sauce with soba noodles, which while aren’t essential, definitely enhance the dish. Soba noodles contain a combination of buckwheat and wheat flour, which give them a nutty taste and a unique, elastic texture. They are the perfect noodle to stand up to the intensiveness of the sauce (vs. white pasta) without taking away from any of the flavor (vs. whole wheat pasta).

Cabbage and red peppers lighten up the dish a bit, packing it with an element of nutritious freshness. While this dish is intended to be served warm, it’s equally as tasty at room temp., or slightly chilled.

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