Chocolate Pastry Cream Cups with Candied Hazelnuts

As I’ve been talking about for the last week, I helped provide desserts for a friend’s baby shower. At first it started simple, with cookies. Then, I decided to make a chocolate cake. When I was making the cookies, they were supposed to be more domed, like ice cream. I thought it would look cute to put them in chocolate cups and make them look like ice cream scoops. That’s where the idea for the candied hazelnuts first came from. Well, I had leftover pastry cream from the cake, and the cookies didn’t look like ice cream…they were also too big for the cups! So, a new dessert was formed.

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Variations on Oat Cookies and Spicy Spaghetti with Hazelnuts

Often, I will make a recipe and then think about what else I could do with it. Sometimes I already change recipes, but sometimes I hold out and make it as is first, then mix it up later. Most of these iterations I try to mention in my posts on here (partly so I remember weeks/months/years later), but sometimes I wait and make the variations later. Take the two recipes in the title. I made those recipes weeks before making them again recently. The oat cookies only appear recent because I saved recipes up from before we moved so that I would still have posts here (we definitely ate out a bit during the move and transition, and then there was a visit back home). When we came back from our brief vacation, I ended up wanting to make something simple, so the cookie dough had a couple twists (but nothing to warrant a new post). Then we were having a guest over for dinner (first time in the new place!) and I wanted to jazz up the meal I had planned (the spicy spaghetti). After making both, I was so pleased with them that I wanted to share them with you. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I did!

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Spicy Spaghetti with Hazelnuts and Cauliflower

Thanks to my Aunt V who clipped an article for me from the Washington Post (a while ago), I found a version of this recipe which inspired me. I had cauliflower, but that was about it. Most of the rest of the ingredients were random things that I wanted to change. So, here is an easy weeknight all-in-one meal which still manages to be healthy. (More so if you use whole wheat pasta.)

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Even though I used cauliflower, I could see using broccoli instead. You could probably even use other veggies, but that would be the easiest swap. Likewise, you could use a different nut instead of hazelnuts. But, my hazelnuts were (technically) expired–I had been using whole ones and forgot about these chopped ones. They were still fine, and this way I got to use them and not waste them.

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Pesto Pasta

Summer means I am in the mood for fresh-tasting foods. My basil plant got kind of sad while I was gone (no water, lots of sun) so I had to buy some basil from the store to make this dish. One thing I did not have to buy was pine nuts, surprisingly. You can actually use other nuts instead of pine nuts, so I substituted some hazelnuts that had been sitting around (and I had the exact amount, too–talk about good luck!).

This is an easy throw-together dish, assuming you have the ingredients. For pesto, you can make different substitutions and just get different flavor profiles. I decided to stick with the basic basil for my greenery, but you could use other herbs or even something like spinach.

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