banana oatmeal nutella pancakes

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of “in the larger scheme of things…” thinking.  Here at astronomy camp, we’ve been talking a lot about big things, like black holes, supernovae, and ominous things like “dark matter” and “dark energy.”

Thinking “in the larger scheme of things” can make me feel small and insignificant.  I am smaller than a dustbunny of a dustbunny of a dustbunny in our solar system, which is one of many in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of billions of billions of galaxies in a universe that is constantly expanding.  We are living on the periphery of a very average galaxy, orbiting a very average star… puts my seething rage toward the dude who took my java chip frappuccino at Starbucks yesterday into perspective.

That’s the thing…if I’m so incredibly small, do things really matter?

The universe isn’t going to care if I smiled at you on the Metro.  Space aliens will never find out if I replaced the toilet paper roll.  Mars wouldn’t know if I wrote you a handwritten letter or a sloppy Facebook message.  The black hole at the center of our galaxy definitely doesn’t give a damn whether I washed my hair this morning (thank god).

I guess this is one way of looking at things, “in the larger scheme.” But the other geeky way of looking at our place in the universe is that every action has a reaction.  Every shake and rattle sets off another and another.  In this scenario, the little things do matter.Although the former way of thinking about it is tempting (and gives me an excuse not to wash my hair so often), I’m pretty convinced that the latter is better.

Think about flipping pancakes. The trick to making good pancakes is to wait until you see little bubbles form around the edges of the pancake. These super tiny bubbles signify that the pancake is “flippable.”

These bubbles are smaller than my pinky fingernail.  In the “larger scheme of things” they are  practically invisible. However, that little bubble makes the difference between a big, shriveled, goopy mess of pancake batter and a glorious, fluffy stack of pancakes. The difference between a grouchy, hungry morning spent washing batter off my black yoga pants, or leisurely watching pools of butter melt atop fresh flapjacks while sipping a mug of coffee.
With love,
Erica

 

Banana Oatmeal Nutella Pancakes

Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Nutella

Instructions

  1. Stir together all of the ingredients except for the Nutella in a large bowl until well combined.  Gently swirl in the Nutella.

  2. Spoon the batter into a hot skillet over medium heat.  Cook each pancake until the batter starts to bubble at the edges, flip and cook until golden brown.  Continue cooking remaining pancakes. 

  3. Enjoy with butter and maple syrup! (and perhaps some more Nutella!)

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nutella and biscoff pocky sticks

I really like my job as a hostess because I get to see so many people in one day. Every shift, I probably see over a thousand people, and talk to all of them.

Yes, my job is technically just to say “good morning/afternoon,” and simply jot down their name and number so I can call them when a table’s ready.  I am supposed to show them to their tables, tell them about the brunch specials, and move on to the next party.

However, I approach it a bit differently.  I like to think that I give a little piece of myself away to every person I meet.

I’m the girl who talked to you about how weird bratwurst is.  You helped me pick up my fallen menus when it got windy, I thanked you.  Your kid kicked me in the shins, and I laughed it off.  A lady spilled her heart out to me as she waited for her table about her recent divorce.

Over winter break, I visited Providence with my mom.  We were exhausted, and decided to have dinner around five in a big empty restaurant.  I will never forget our waitress.  After we placed our orders, she just started talking to us.  She told us how she wanted to go into nursing or criminal justice, she told us about how she and her ex-boyfriend had joint custody of her dog, she talked about her big Portuguese family and showed us her Instagram.  I think many people would have been really annoyed by this, but I will never forget her.

Of course, I’m not going to give my customers my whole life story (I’m not trying to get fired…), but I want to leave an impression on them, figure them out a little bit, scratch the surface. I like to think that one day, when that recent divorcee is old and sitting on a park bench watching her grandchildren play on a tire swing, she’ll remember me, the hostess she talked to for half an hour about her new lifestyle choices.

I don’t know what this has to do with Pocky sticks, I just wanted to talk about it. Enjoy this recipe for jazzed up Pocky sticks!

With love,
Erica

Biscoff Pocky Sticks

Ingredients

Cookie sticks

  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 egg white

Nutella coating

  • 1 cup candy melts
  • 1/4 cup Nutella

Instructions

  1. To make the cookies, beat all of the cookie

    ingredients except for the egg white together in the bowl of an electric

    mixer. 

  2. Beat until a dough forms around the paddle. If the dough is

    too stiff, add a tablespoon or two of water.


  3. Transfer dough to a piece of plastic wrap, pat into a

    disk, and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.


  4. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

    Divide the dough into 32 balls (divide into quarters three times).


  5. Roll each ball into a thin stick, about 5-6 inches long. Transfer each stick to the parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with egg white.


  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the sticks are golden brown. Cool completely.


  7. To make the coating: Melt the candy melts either in the microwave or a double boiler. Once the candy melts are melted, stir in the Nutella (you can substitute Biscoff for a different flavor!). Pour this mixture into a tall glass.


  8. Once the cookies are cool, dip each cookie stick into the candy melt/Nutella mixture and decorate with sprinkles. If the candy melt mixture is no longer smooth, add a drop of vegetable oil to the mixture until it is a good dipping consistency.


  9. Repeat with the remaining cookie sticks. Refrigerate coated cookie sticks until just before serving. 

 
Enjoy!

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nutella twists

“I realized this week that I just cannot do it all, so I will choose to do what I can, fabulously.” 
— Clinton Kelly 

In school, I’ve heard a lot of pep-talks.  From teachers, coaches, mentors, etc.  They all go along the lines of “work hard,” “always do your best,” “never give up.”

spread

I am a firm believer in all of these things, and I take pride in doing my best and really putting my heart into things that I care about.   However, I’ve realized is that no matter how hard I work, it is physically impossible to do it all.   And that’s OK.

Moderation is a tough concept to grapple with, especially for a young person like me.  I want to learn things, I want to be able to do things, and I want to understand things.  And I’m impatient.

slice

In Japanese, there’s this word, tekitou.  In English, it translates to “halfhearted.”  However, to me, the word means quite the opposite. “Halfhearted” has such a negative connotation.  To me, tekitou means doing the things that I love and care about wholeheartedly, and in regard to living a balanced life (and not driving myself totally crazy), not sweating the little details in all of the other things I have to do, and remembering that not everything has to be picture perfect.

twist

So onto the recipe, there’s nothing quite like homemade pastry.  But ask anyone who has rolled out their own puff pastry — it’s an ordeal and a half.   Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Sometime’s it’s OK to cut a few corners.  Especially in the baking world.  Like for instance, (this is for all of you food bloggers and avid bakers out there), how many times have you actually taken butter out of the fridge an hour before baking to let it “soften to room temperature?  I’ve never done this (except for the one time I simply forgot to put it back in the fridge after buttering my toast).  I always just give the stick a 30 second zap in the microwave.  Tekitou. 


I’m always in the mood for some buttery, flaky, Nutella-swirled goodness.  And although I am often in the mood to play with dough as well, my schedule doesn’t always allow for making homemade puff pastry.

Here’s a quick-and-dirty little recipe for beautiful, Nutella twist pastries.  They look like I slaved for hours over them — rolling and folding puff pastry.  They taste all insane, buttery and chocolatey, and take minutes to twist together.  Win win win.  I finished my math homework, and got to make these awesome little twists of goodness.  Tekitou.


powdered sugar always classes things up

How were you tekitou today?


With love, Erica 

Ingredients 
1 box frozen puff pastry (thawed)
Nutella
1 egg
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Roll out your defrosted puff pastry into a 2mm thick long, rectangular shape.  Spread a thin, even layer of Nutella onto the pastry.  Roll the puff pastry up jelly-roll style from the long end.

Using a sharp knife, slice the roll in half vertically, exposing all of those layers of Nutella.  Cut each half into fourths.

Hold one piece of puff pastry from both ends and start twisting it, turning each hand in opposite directions
until you have a tall spiral shape. Hold one end of the strip in place
with a finger, and roll the rest of the spiral around it until you get a
small spiral. Tuck in the last end underneath the pastry, making sure
you do so tightly so it won’t uncurl during the baking process.

Repeat with the other sheet of puff pastry.  Place each
spiral about 3 inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet.

Lightly brush each pastry with beaten egg.   Bake in the preheated oven for 14-18 minutes, or, until the puff pastry has turned into a
golden brown.

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nutella cake

Have you heard about “The Smearing”?
No, it’s not some new horror movie.  I really don’t like horror movies.  



I mean, in the most basic of horror movies (i.e. PSAs about avoiding your basement),  the characters are so asking for it.



If I were home alone and heard screeching/whispering/scratching/bubbling coming from my basement, the absolute last thing I would do is grab a flashlight and “investigate.”  I mean why would I do that when I could just stay above ground level with Pinterest and a big mug of Bohemian Raspberry tea? What’s even worse is when they ask: “anyone there?” I mean, do you really want to know the answer to that question?  Moral of the story, avoid unnecessary confrontation.  Don’t check noises in your basement. 



Now back on topic — if it’s not a new horror movie, what is “The Smearing”

“The Smearing” was a campaign run a long time ago by the Ferrero company in Italy, where kids could bring a slice of bread to their local food store and get a free “smear” of Nutella. I’m patiently waiting for them to bring this service back.  My day will come.

Is there anything in this world better than Nutella? Free Nutella. That’s all. A jar of this smooth, spreadable, chocolate-y brown gold is sold every 2.5 seconds (a baby is born every 8 seconds… do the math).


So to honor Nutella, one of the tastiest things that comes in a jar, I created this cake.  There were no rules, just that it had to be absolutely redonkulous (because Nutella deserves that kind of respect…).

I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe for the layers (simple, velvety, with a nice cocoa bean-y flavor).  Then things started to get scandalous.  I slathered a thick, generous layer of Nutella between the cake layers, and then covered the whole thing with this dangerous Nutella buttercream (I always make a double batch in case… you know… I get hungry).  While my first layer of frosting was chilling in the fridge, I went to the grocery store and ran up and down the aisles, just whacking every somewhat hazelnutty/chocolate-y thing I saw into my cart (ended up using the Hazelnut Ritter Sport and Ferrero Rocher).  Then I piped some snazzy little Nutella buttercream ripples on the sides, and some big, vanilla rosettes on the top (to class up this monster of a cake).  Finally, I smushed a little baby jar of Nutella in the middle.  And my creation was born. 

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
One, 2-layer batch of chocolate cake (here’s my favorite)
One jar Nutella
One batch of Nutella Buttercream
One batch of Vanilla Buttercream (this recipe without the Oreos)
Ritter Sport/Ferrero Rocher for decorating
melted chocolate for drizzling

Assembly

Place once cake layer onto a cake stand, plate, or cake board.  With an offset spatula, evenly spread a generous amount of Nutella onto the layer.  Place your second layer face down on top of the Nutella filling and place the cake in the fridge for a few moments until it firms up a bit.  Meanwhile, whip up your two buttercreams (if you’re like me and only have one stand mixer, make the vanilla one first so it doesn’t get streaked with Nutella!).

With your offset spatula, carefully smooth a bit of frosting in a thin, even layer over the entire cake (to seal in the crumbs, a.k.a a crumb coat).  Chill again until the frosting is firm (about 15-30 minutes).

Place the cake on a turntable or cake stand.  Using a clean offset spatula, spread the Nutella buttercream in a smooth, even layer over the crumb coat.  To make the “ripple effect” on the sides, fill a large pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip with Nutella buttercream.  Pipe a vertical row of 4 dots about 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter.  Once you have your line of dots, use a spoon to smush down one side of each dot to form a line of petals.  Keep repeating this process until you make your way all around the cake.  For a picture of this technique, click here.

Next, fill a clean piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with the vanilla buttercream.  Pipe big swirls of frosting on top of the cake. Place a Ritter Sport or Ferrero Rocher in the middle of each swirl.  Lastly, drizzle with melted chocolate and enjoy your crazy, Nutella creation!

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banana nutella eggrolls

Surprises can be sweet.  I’ve talked a bit about surprises before — about how I’m kind of in the middle, loving to surprise other people but enjoy being “in the know” myself.

I realized that the reason I had this outlook was because I had never really, truly been
surprised before. When I was little, I would always plan my little
birthday parties down to the napkins.  I peeked behind the teacher’s
desk on the last day of 2nd grade, so I knew that she had bought us all
popsicles for the last day of school.  And, as I told you before, I have
a different ringtone for all of my contacts so I know who’s calling me
before I pick up the phone.
 

Well, it’s that time of year again — prom season.  After Spring break, I look forward for my entire school going on hold for all of the brief interruptions that break up the otherwise monotonous day.

For a girl with a limited attention span, having marshmallows, posters, and an ever-growing number of rose petals
littering the floor of the forum is a wonderful thing.  A Cappella groups bursting into song in the middle of a math quiz? Yes.  Boys flying in the air holding prom posters? Double yes.

A lot has changed since my mom was in high school.  Most boys don’t just call a girl up and ask her to prom like they used to.  It has grown into a big production, and as the years go by it gets harder and harder to think of something that hasn’t been done before.  Some boys will even go so far as to wear gold sparkly booty shorts and twerk on their high school crush until she says yes.   For those of you who need a refresher on what “twerking” is, look no further than the link above.

Anyways, I’m somewhat glad that I’m not a boy who has to worry about thinking of something clever, funny, entertaining, and original every year. 

Sometimes, it’s nice to let yourself be surprised.  Which brings me to this recipe.  Banana Nutella Eggrolls.  Deep-fried Asian cuisine on the outside, and sweet, classic crepe fillings on the inside.  You think you’re in for some shredded cabbage, pork, and eggs (classic egg roll fillings), but then BAM, you bite through the crunchy deep-fried crust to discover nothing but caramelized banana covered with oozing, melty Nutella.  Mindblown.  This is what happens when I’m at home alone for too long with leftover wonton wrappers.  Maybe that should happen more often.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients 

1 package refrigerated spring roll/egg roll wrappers
6 bananas, halved
1 cup Nutella
Oil for frying
Slice all of the bananas in half.

Lay out a wonton wrapper like a diamond.  Spread a spoonful of Nutella lengthwise (see image).  Place a banana half on top.  Roll burrito-style.  Seal with water. 

Heat 2″ of oil to 375 degrees and place about 3 egg rolls into
the oil at a time, cooking for about 2 minutes or until they are nice
and golden.
Carefully, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the egg rolls from the oil. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Serve warm with ice
cream!

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gooey nutella butter cake

Sometimes things that look awesome aren’t really so great after all.  I remember in 1st grade I desperately wanted a retainer.  A few of my friends had them.  I knew that they came in tons of different colors: pink with glitter, rainbow, even metallic.  I would walk around with a paper clip in my mouth thinking wistfully how wonderful life would be with a retainer.  What I didn’t know was they made you lisp, they would have to be awkwardly taken out in front of everyone at lunch time, they would have to be brushed, you would get in trouble when you didn’t wear them, and they would hurt so bad you could only eat GoGurt for days.  I found this all out in 6th grade when I actually needed one.

But other times, things that look “ehhh” turn out to be amazing.  Like this cake.
I almost chucked this recipe because it looked like such a gooey mess in the pan.  I thought that there was no way that it would bake into something solid and edible… but I decided to bake it anyways.
Thank god I did.

This cake doesn’t look like much, but it is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made.  It’s also one of the easiest things I’ve ever made — no layers, no filling, no frosting, just layers and layers of gooey, chocolate goodness.  You could add a dusting of powdered sugar to these to make it look a little bit fancier, but I like mine plain and simple.  It’s misleading, and I love that.  They look really boring, kind of like a brownie that wasn’t cooked long enough, but the look on peoples faces when they bite into the sugary crisp crust and the irresistible gooey filling is priceless.

Have you ever been surprised by a recipe?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

Cake:

1 (18-1/4 ounce) Box Chocolate Cake Mix

1 large Egg

1/2 cup butter, melted

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 large eggs beaten

1 cup Nutella

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar

    Heat oven to 325° F and lightly grease 13×9-inch pan

    Using
    an electric mixer, combine cake mix, 1 egg and melted butter until well
    incorporated. Press into bottom of greased pan with fingers.

    Using
    an electric mixer, blend, cream cheese, 2 beaten eggs, nutella and
    vanilla. Then slowly and powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

    Spread
    filling over cake batter, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until edges
    are brown. (Do not overbake, the center should be a little gooey)
    From Tidy Mom

    © Cannella Vita. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission/linking back to Cannella Vita. If you want to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.