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Fluffy Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Fluffy Nutella Buttercream Frosting

Posted on Friday, August 31, 2012 in Happy Endings

Dessert is beautiful in many, many ways, but in our house, we especially appreciate its ability to bridge the divide between my vegetarianism and his carnivorous diet. Because unless we’re putting lard in our pie crusts or sprinkling bacon on our ice cream (and even my bacon-loving guy isn’t really on board with the bacon-in-desserts thing), dessert is naturally vegetarian. No need for our usual fork-in-the-road recipes, which really isn’t such a bad way to live, but there’s something fun about being able to nosedive simultaneously into, for instance, the same Fluffy Nutella Buttercream frosted cupcakes.

Nutella in buttercream form. Pure heaven. After all, if dessert is beautiful, Nutella is pure divinity. People write poems about it. They dedicate terrific blogs to it. And there’s even a holiday to celebrate it!

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Cheddar Corn Chowder with Optional Bacon

Cheddar Corn Chowder with Optional Bacon

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 in One Dish Two Ways

I first made this amazing corn chowder last summer, and it was an instant hit in our house. I started with Ina Garten’s popular Cheddar Corn Chowder, creating a vegetarian version that, I think, more than rivals her recipe. Hers starts with lots of bacon and uses chicken broth. Mine subs vegetable stock, and I provide big crispy pieces of peppered bacon at the end to make the meat-eaters happy. They just sprinkle it over the top of their individual bowls of otherwise vegetarian corn chowder.

Us vegetarians hardly get the short end of the stick, though, especially when this hearty soup is made at the peak of corn season. Sweet, juicy corn, cut right off the cob. Tangy, melty cheddar cheese. Buttery Yukon Gold potatoes. Yeah, I’m saying it: yum.

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Orzo Salad with Chickpeas & Cherry Tomatoes

Orzo Salad with Chickpeas & Cherry Tomatoes

Posted on Monday, August 27, 2012 in Veggie Dishes Everyone Loves

This salad became a fast favorite when I dug into the first batch a couple of years ago, and it remains a fave – especially this time of year when tomatoes are in season, sweet onions are plentiful, and the garden overflows with basil and mint.

Protein-rich chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and hearty orzo pasta provide the basis for this delicious meal-in-a-bowl. Sprinkle in fresh halved cherry tomatoes, sweet onion, chopped mint and basil, then dress with a lemon vinaigrette and you’ve got a simple – and simply winning – salad.

(Wow. The word “winning” just really doesn’t work anymore, does it? Thanks a lot, Charlie!)

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Key Lime Pie in a Jar

Key Lime Pie in a Jar

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2012 in Happy Endings

One of my fondest memories is of when I took my niece, 13 at the time, to Florida. (This was nearly nine years ago. Where does the time go?)

We went to Disneyworld. We saw the sweet manatees at Homosassa Springs.

And we picnicked at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever visited, just north of Clearwater. We took a picnic – a “meal” of exactly one whole key lime pie that we picked up along the way. We dug our toes into the soft sugary sand and scooped bites of pie directly out of the tin with plastic spoons, us rebels us. Quite possibly one of the best dinners ever, if not exactly the healthiest.

I still view key lime pie as perfect picnic fare, but I’ve decided that individual servings in individual-sized jars is totally where it’s at.

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How to Bake Perfect Baked Potatoes

How to Bake Perfect Baked Potatoes

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 in Foundations

Yeah, I know this is right up there with a recipe for ice cubes, but frankly, it took me awhile to get oven-baked potatoes just right. So I thought maybe there are others out there who need to know what I needed to know: how in the heck do I bake a perfect potato?! One that’s crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside? I did a little research and baked up a few test batches, and now I think I’ve got it down.

And so, here’s today’s Tuesday Tip: How to Bake Perfect Baked Potatoes. Oh, and this probably goes without saying, but loaded baked potatoes are an ideal meal for the mixed diet household. Top ‘em with what you want – meat or veggies or a little bit of both.

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