My Adventures in Making Homemade Nutella

Homemade Nutella, anyone?


It all began at Asa’s graduation party with two other graduates last May. The moms and I planned it together and they decided to go all out. One of the items on our menu was “crusty bread with different topping options” like meats, cheeses, and nutella (though probably not all at the same time). My friends and I set out a lovely buffet. I was the one in charge of purchasing the condiments, sauces, and Nutella.

grad party 4

Not knowing how many hundreds of people might show up and how many of those hundreds would want to spread Nutella on their bread – I bought four enormous containers of it. We went through exactly 1.5 of those huge tubs, so guess what we’ve been eating since May?

My boys have been so sad about this.

We finally finished them off, and now the boys are having Nutella withdrawals. I can’t stand to buy more, so I determined to figure out a healthier option that I can feel better about. Some of you might remember that I attempted Homemade Nutella a few years ago. That was tasty, though still had quite a bit of sugar. I had a terrible time actually finding Hazelnuts this go around – but part of my problem was that the price was throwing me off.

The good news is (now that I’ve attempted this recipe and learned a few tricks) – it takes only a few hazelnuts to make a batch of nutella. So my purchase will go a long way to providing a healthier nutella option for the fam.


Malachi’s been my chef-in-training the past few weeks and was very excited to enjoy Nutella again. He joined me in putting together this recipe. Here he is pushing a button. (Cooking is so hard.)

I’m excited that this version of Homemade Nutella is lower in sugar than most. If you prefer, use expeller pressed coconut oil since it is flavorless and won’t effect the taste.

Make Your Own Nutella

My Adventures in Making Homemade Nutella
Serves: half pint
  • ⅔ cup hazelnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • ½-2/3 cup real maple syrup
  1. Lay the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast them in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove skins if necessary.
  3. Whirl toasted hazelnuts in a food processor until smooth.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and blend until creamy.
  5. Store in a half-pint jar for up to three weeks.

Make Your Own Nutella

Have you tried making Nutella before?

It’s fun, easy, and yummy – and unlike Homemade Peanut Butter Captain Crunch – this one is worth the small time investment. :)

Homemade French Onion Dip

I’m getting ready to write this recipe for you, but suddenly I’m in a panic because I don’t know what makes French Onion Dip French. I get my onions from America and I don’t do anything Frenchy to them. Am I somehow supposed to Frenchify my onions? If so, what does that look like? My once super simple recipe has now become completely stressful.

french onion dip

I therefore decided to do some research on the matter since I have plenty of time to waste, but mostly because I don’t want to steer you wrong with a recipe. The first thing I came across online was a packet of Simple Organics French Onion Dip. Its tagline? “America’s Most Popular Dip.” Well that clears all the questions right up.

I couldn’t let it go, so next I did an online search for “what makes French Onion Dip French?” Because the internet never lets us down, an actual article titled Why Is French Onion Dip called French? came up. It said a few things and some other stuff, but my favorite sentence was this:

“There are now recipes for French onion dip that combine actual caramelized onions with the usual dip ingredients (mayonnaise, sour cream) and other flavorings, but this is not a dip you’d find in France.”

What?? Well, we it appears that in our quest to discover the origin of this dip, we can conclude that this dip is not French at all. The dip has nothing to do with France or French people or French food. French Onion Dip is a made up name, just because it sounded good for marketing purposes. In defense of Lipton, I would concur that French Onion Dip is a better sounding title than White Onion Dip or the obvious, Just Onion Dip. The name French Onion Dip sounds more fun and fancy. Either that or I’ve gotten sucked into the marketing ploy.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can move on with life and learn the recipe.

Homemade French Onion DipYum

Homemade French Onion Dip
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Stir the ingredients together.
  2. Chill for at least two hours before serving (or serve right away because who actually follows that instruction?).
  3. Serve with fresh veggies or potato chips.

You can’t really mess up this recipe, so don’t worry about measuring exactly. Life’s too short to use (and wash) measuring spoons. Feel free to add a touch of garlic powder or black pepper. And about the potato chips mentioned in the recipe? I find the kind with the fewest ingredients and the healthiest oil (usually safflower) and go with it. Potato chips with this dip make a great party food.

Homemade French Onion Dip - Three Ingredients!

It goes without saying that the next item on my agenda was to see why fries are French, or if in fact they actually are at all. Low and behold, fries originated in the U.S. but were called French because they were “served in the French manner.” Huh.

Are you doing something fun for New Year’s Eve? I’ll probably make this dip. Then we can sit around with our friends and talk about the origin of food and where different foods got their names. I’ll be the life of the party.

Spicy Ranch Dressing

I just met something wonderful called Spicy Ranch Dressing.

spicy ranch dressing 1

Remember when I went to the Women of Faith conference with my girlfriends and got super silly? It may have been in part because of the meal we ate across the street from the arena before the event. Yes. I blame it on the specialty pizza. It was that good.

Who knew you could put thin slices of red potato on a pizza and turn out something amazing? The pizza had some sort of red-ish sauce drizzled all over it, and that very sauce is what made that pizza taste so good. Well, that and the bacon. Everything is better with bacon.

Of course I came home determined to replicate the sauce. Every potato needs that sauce, whether it’s on a pizza or not. So I looked it up on the restaurant website. It described the pizza blah, blah, blah “with spicy ranch dressing.” Bingo.

So I played. The result is too easy. Make this and forever drizzle it over your baked potatoes, your chicken, and sure – even your pizza.

Spicy Ranch DressingYum

Spicy Ranch Dressing
  • 1 cup homemade ranch dressing (because it is good for you and delicious)
  • 1-3 Tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce like Tabasco, Cholula, or Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  1. Mix together, and enjoy.

See how easy that was? You’ll need my homemade ranch dressing recipe.

Want it to be spicier? Add more hot sauce, chili powder, or cumin. Want it to be less hot? Cut down the hot sauce, chili powder, or cumin. Really, it isn’t difficult.

Spicy Ranch Dressing

Later this week, I will share a fun new Baked Potato Casserole I came up with to use with this Spicy Ranch Dressing. You will love how simple it is. And yep, there’s bacon on it. (And all the husbands everywhere said, “Yes. Keep reading that one lady’s blog – the one who gives you recipes that use bacon.”)

Give me more ideas besides potatoes, chicken, and pizza for this dressing. Think it would taste good on a salad? (Yes.) Ooh, maybe with Sweet Potato Fries. Oh my goodness, yes. What else??

How To Make Almond Butter

Almond Butter recipe? Yeah, I’ve got an Almond Butter recipe. I think.

Confessions of a scatter-brained homemaker:

On Monday, I decided to try making a new variety of No-Bake Cookie Bites. I was out of Almond Butter, so I considered that it was probably as easy to make as Peanut Butter, which I make all the time. Heading to my computer to search for how to do it, I realized: I think I have done this before and maybe even already have a post written about it. So I searched my own website. Sure enough. I told us all how to make Almond Butter back in 2012.

This makes me wonder what else I’ve already taught us how to do that I don’t even remember. Maybe I’ve told us all how to save thousands of dollars or how to save hours of time. What else have I forgotten?!?

Well anyway. I am loving the No-Bake Cookie Bites so much that I will be actually using homemade Almond Butter more often, which will likely help me remember that I know how to make it. In case you also forgot that I have already taught us how to make this easy spread, I am re-posting the tutorial for us all here today. May we all remember and use these instructions often. May our brains be for us instead of against us. May we never forget when we walk into a room, what in the world we walked in to get.

Homemade Almond Butter

So here we go, loud and clear so that we don’t forget:

Here’s How to Make Almond Butter!

Step One: Pour 2 cups of almonds into a food processor. I have found that 2 cups of almonds creates one full cup of almond butter. I don’t recommend putting more than 2 cups of almonds into your food processor at one time. The process takes a while, and the more almonds you have, the longer it will take.

Step Two: Place lid on food processor and turn it on. Plugging it in is always a plus as well. This will be very loud at first, so warn your household.

Step Three: After processing almonds for two to three minutes, use a spoon to scrape down the sides of your food processor and shift around the almonds.

Step 4: Continue to process, but stop and scrape and stir almonds around from time to time to aid in the butter making process.

Step 5: You’re getting closer! Process, scrape, stir, and process some more. Continue until the almonds have become the almond butter you’ve always dreamed of. Because yes, we all do spend much of our time dreaming of perfect almond butter, do we not? (Not me, apparently, because I forgot the stuff existed.)

And there you go – lovely, smooth and creamy almond butter.

What other nut butters have you made? Did you remember that I’ve already told us all how to make this three years ago? I sure hope your brain works better than mine.

P.S. I order organic almonds from Braga Farms. They are a wonderful company to work with and offer high quality nuts. Almond Butter will stay fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Have You Tried Making This Amazing Peanut Butter Yet?

You will love how delicious this Homemade Super Creamy Peanut Butter is. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it!  Our family eats it by the spoonful. :)

Here’s what D’Ann said about the peanut butter this week:

I am truly in love with this recipe!  I simply scoop the palm shortening into the food processor with an ice cream scoop that equals 1/4 cup, add the maple syrup, salt and lastly the nuts.  I whirl it for 5 minutes, and the end result is pure yummy magic!  I make 3 jars at a time and just store them in my pantry.  I’ve never had an issue with it going or tasting bad.  I also store mine in the cabinet, and it spreads and acts like brand name pb.  My family is in love. :)

Super Creamy Peanut Butter

Sounds like a great kitchen project for this weekend, huh? Find the recipe here.

How to Make Beef Broth

There’s nothing very beautiful about pictures of soup bones and vegetables floating in water. And yet, here I am again, just like the time I showed you all the pictures of my chicken carcasses. Some people create adorable collages of their children. Me? I spent time yesterday crafting a collage of my beef broth. Isn’t it precious?  Take note of the fatty bubbles floating along at the top of the jar. I’m so proud.

Homemade Beef Broth

Beef Broth is as fantastic for your body as Chicken Broth. There are so many minerals we need that we can get from beef bones, such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sulfur, and potassium – all in their natural, beneficial, and digestible form. The vegetables you add to the pot of broth are invaluable. And the best part? Making homemade broth is one of the most inexpensive ways to provide nourishment to yourself and to your family members.

Look into buying Beef Soup Bones. There’s still a little meat on the bones (more on that later), but mostly you’re just going to pay a small amount for a package of bones. Cook those mineral-filled-bones in a pot with water and veggies, and you’ve just created several jars full of nutritional goodness for a very tiny amount of money.

Here’s how I make Beef Broth. As you can tell from my collage above, my process is very fancy and exact:

1. Place thawed or frozen beef soup bones into a large kettle or stock pot.
2. Add, to your heart’s content, chunks of onion, carrots, leeks, celery and/or any other veggie you enjoy in your broth.
3. Fill your pot with water.
4. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt.
5. Cover and simmer pot of water/veggies/soup bones for 4-6 hours. Or more. Or less. Or whatever works for you.
6. Remove soup bones from pot. Pull cooked beef off the bones with a fork, and set meat aside for soup or salads.
7. Blend liquid and vegetables together until smooth.
8. Allow broth to cool, then refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to use it to make soup, cook rice, or add it to a recipe.

That meat you’ll pull off the bones? It tastes incredible because it’s right by the bone and has been cooked low and slow. I love it in chef salads. I also snack on it as I’m pulling it off the bones.

Why do I blend all the veggies into the broth? Because after 6 hours of simmering, they are mushy. When I blend them in, they just become part of the nutritious broth. Depending on the number of carrots I use, my broth might turn orange. No matter. It’s delicious.

Once you’ve made Beef Broth, what can you do with it? You can use it to make Beefy Vegetable Soup. You can also use it in any recipe that calls for chicken broth – like my Cheeseburger Soup or Pizza Soup. Cook rice in broth for extra nourishment and flavor in a side dish – or add that wonderful rice to Cheesy Beef and Rice. Follow my instructions for Chicken Noodle Soup, but instead use beef broth and the meat that came off the bones for Beef-n-Noodles.

What other ideas do you have? What ways do you use Beef Broth? 

Isn’t this a wonderful way to be healthy and save money at the same time?!

Super Creamy Peanut Butter – Step Aside Skippy!

For everyone who can’t get their kids to break away from Skippy or Jif. To all who can’t get used to the taste of plain, natural peanut butter. To each person who doesn’t want to struggle to spread homemade creamy peanut butter onto a piece of toast. This recipe is for you! (And for me, because while I love homemade, natural peanut butter – I can’t get enough of this new recipe!)

You’ve read the ingredients in Skippy and Jif, right? Unreal. Literally.  It does have some peanuts in there somewhere, but it mostly has hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Poor Peter Pan. I doubt he wanted his good name tarnished like this.

And now, to replace that popular grocery store item, I bring you this completely real food, non-hydrogenated, nothing scary, all natural, wonderful, spreadable, smooth, creamy, delicious peanut butter.

The first day I made this, I licked so many spoonfuls I lost track of trips back and forth to the kitchen. After one such trip to the kitchen, once I finished what was on my spoon, I actually found myself sucking the life out of the spoon, apparently in hopes that more of the deliciousness would secrete out of the metal? Then I realized what I was doing and went back to the kitchen for another spoonful. Someone just bring me the jar!

Super Creamy Peanut Butter

I was not alone. Matt and the kids acted like this was candy. Maybe we’ll make it into a sandwich someday, but for now, we’re getting our protein fix one spoonful at a time. Ah-mazing. Here is the recipe already:

Super Creamy Peanut ButterYum

Super Creamy Peanut Butter - Step Aside Skippy!
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (tutorial link below)
  • 4 Tablespoons palm shortening
  • 1 - 1 1/2 Tablespoons real maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt and stir together all four ingredients until smooth and creamy.
  2. You can make this more or less sweet by adding more or less maple syrup.
  3. Pour mixture into a pint sized jar.
  4. Chill until thickened (about 2 hours).
  5. Spread on a sandwich, eat with a spoon, eat with a spoon, eat with a spoon, or eat with a spoon.

Make Your Own Natural Peanut Butter!

Wondering where to get Palm Shortening?  My favorite source is Tropical Traditions. Spectrum brand Organic Vegetable Shortening (which is made with 100% palm oil) is also good, and can be found at Amazon, or health food stores. Just do not use regular vegetable shortening (like Crisco) – otherwise you’re right back at the not-so-good-for-you peanut butter.

Over the weekend, I made about 8 cups of this peanut butter. I figured my food processor was already messy, my palm shortening was already out, so why not make this effort worth my while? I now have 4 pint sized jars of this peanut butter in my fridge. Well, 4 pints minus several dozen spoonfuls.

Alright – what do you think? Will your family love this?? (The answer is yes.)  What kind of peanut butter do you like at your house?

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Learning to make Cream of Mushroom Soup will be a fantastic tool to have in your real food kitchen tool belt!

Just in case you lose count while reading the following sentence, I used the word “cream” or “creamy” six times, because apparently I like these words and like to overuse them. And also because once I realized I was doing it, I exaggerated on purpose:

When I shared my Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole recipe, I told you that I don’t usually make cream soups to replace the canned cream soups called for in many creamy recipes, but instead substitute straight cream to make the dish creamy.

(Someone give me a synonym for “creamy” to enhance my future sentence writing creativity.)

However, I have a great recipe for an easy one dish meat and potato meal that I hadn’t made for years because I wasn’t sure how to make it without the cream of mushroom soup. For this, straight cream just wouldn’t cut it. I need to make the soup.

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup

Therefore, for all one of my recipes that need cream of mushroom soup, here is how I make it:

Homemade Cream of Mushroom SoupYum

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • ½ cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup organic corn starch or arrowroot powder
  • 4 cups milk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper to taste
  1. Begin by sauteing mushrooms and butter until mushrooms are tender.
  2. In the meantime, shake the cornstarch or arrowroot powder in a jar with 1½ cups of milk.
  3. Use a whisk to mix the milk mixture into the sauteed mushrooms, stirring constantly at medium heat.
  4. Slowly add remaining milk, salt and pepper.
  5. Stir with a whisk until smooth and thick.

You probably could have figured out how to do this step without a picture, but when have I ever missed a chance to take a great photo of a jar?

Ooh, Ahh

This recipe will make around three cans worth of cream soup. I haven’t done it before, but I would imagine you could substitute celery for the mushrooms to make cream of celery soup instead. If you have extra soup that you don’t need, this can be frozen.

This recipe tastes great in my One Dish Meat and Potato Casserole!

What recipes do you make that require cream of mushroom soup?

Homemade Peach Syrup (made with unprocessed sugar)

We usually top our pancakes with real maple syrup or homemade applesauce. Sometimes peanut butter and jelly. Or peanut butter with maple syrup. Or honey. Or if we sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips into the pancakes, we don’t really need syrup at all. But last week when we had some fresh, local peaches in our kitchen, I made a quick and healthy homemade peach syrup that is oh-my-goodness good.

You need exactly two ingredients to make this: peaches and sucanat. The two together cook to form a syrup. No water necessary. Can you believe how easy this is?

Homemade Peach SyrupYum

Homemade Peach Syrup (made with unprocessed sugar)
  • 3 fresh peaches (or 2 cups frozen)
  • 2 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
  1. Slice peaches into a saucepan.
  2. Stir in sucanat and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the peaches are tender and the ingredients have formed a syrup.

You can add a few shakes of cinnamon if you like. Of course I love doing that in the fall when everything seems to need to smell and taste like cinnamon.

I love how the fruit and sugar cooked together form a syrup naturally. This works with both fresh or frozen fruit. No need to thaw the frozen fruit before cooking!

Homemade Peach Syrup


Another variation of this Peach Syrup recipe is…

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup

Easy Raspberry Pancake and Waffle Syrup - Only Two Ingredients!

It’s the same idea – just sub out peaches for raspberries. Or use blueberries instead. Or strawberries. Or any combination of peaches or berries to make a multi-fruit syrup. See how easy this is?

In case you need them (and of course you do want them), here are our family’s favorite pancake and waffle recipes:

What’s your favorite way to top pancakes and waffles?

Making Homemade Mayonnaise (is not my gift)


Who knew making homemade mayonnaise for the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge would tempt me to say naughty words? I held myself back though, and merely gave dirty looks to the ingredients in my blender that were not even trying to become mayonnaise and through gritted teeth hissed, “Would you guys emulsify already!?!?!?”

It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, except that I attempted to make mayonnaise at least four times before I could accomplish “mayonnaise emulsification”. We went through a lot of olive oil in the process, and subsequently, a lot of tuna.

Why tuna? Well, I wasn’t going to waste all those ingredients every time I had mayonnaise emulsification failure. Instead, each time, I stirred the runny, stubborn ingredients into a few cans of tuna, added some of my home canned pickle relish and called it lunch. It worked, all but one time. Yes, there was one time I did have to throw the ingredients out. That was the time I was so determined to whip the ingredients long enough and hard enough to become mayonnaise that the ingredients got so hot inside my food processor that the eggs got cooked, causing scrambled eggs to float in my olive oil. Mmmm. Gross as it is, I just had to take a picture – because I’m weird like that:

A perfect example of what not to do.  

Regarding a healthy mayonnaise recipe, I do have one to share with you, and I’m sure that after all my previous, inspirational statements, you’re all ready to jump right in and give this a go.  Based on all my trial and error, I have a few tips I think you’ll find helpful.

  1. I believe that if I had an immersion blender, this process would work much better. But I don’t have one and I refuse to buy one just to make mayo. If you do have an immersion blender, save yourself some frustration and use it for this.
  2. Pour the oil into the running blender so slowly you think you might fall asleep while pouring. About the time you think you’re pouring slowly enough, slow down.  Slow dripping oil is key for making mayonnaise.
  3. Get your eggs at room temperature before starting this process. 

Homemade MayonnaiseYum

2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon sucanat
1/2 cup olive oil

Place the egg yolks, salt, vinegar and sucanat into a blender and run on high speed for about a minute. S-l-o-w-l-y pour the oil in while the blender is running. I’m talking, let the oil drip into the running blender at a horridly boring pace. Just stand there, with the blender running, dripping oil for several minutes. Don’t get impatient or you’ll be making tuna.

My mayo turned out very yellow in color because of our lovely free-range chicken eggs, which are rich with nutrients. 

This mayonnaise did taste very good, as well it should have after all the work it took to figure out how to make it. But I will never be known as the Mayonnaise Queen, nor will I ever be asked to speak at the Heart of Mayonnaise Convention. I’m also pretty sure I shouldn’t be your “I’m having trouble making mayonnaise” questions go-to gal. I do not believe making mayonnaise is my gift, nor do I wish to become a professional mayonnaise maker. 

But, I am pleased to say that I figured out a healthy mayonnaise recipe and now I can move on to try and conquer the remaining recipes in the Heavenly Homemakers Recipe Challenge.

Have you conquered mayonnaise before? What’s your favorite use for mayonnaise? Ever given your mayonnaise dirty looks?