Healthier Chocolate-Hazelnut French Toast Casserole Recipe

There are few combinations that I love more than chocolate and hazelnut.  Let’s cut to the chase – Nutella is super delicious and I could eat it straight out of the tub, but it is super high in sugar with artificial flavors, palm oil, and emulsifiers. I actually find it too sweet now.  But I have found higher quality “Nutella” options and I can’t stop using them on everything!  This French toast casserole is just one winner that I am sharing with you!Continue reading

Roasted Beet and Burrata Salad

Roasted Beet and Burrata Salad | Pamela Salzman

My vacation is coming to an end today, like all good things do. But there’s always next time. We were incredibly lucky with the weather this week.  It never rained and the humidity was almost nonexistent.  This is important because there were lots of children present and we wanted them all outside and not on their devices.

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Brussels sprout hash with capers, lemon and hazelnuts recipe

brussels sprout hash with lemon, hazelnuts and capers | pamela salzman

There are things I have to make for Thanksgiving and things I want to make for Thanksgiving.  Even though I don’t eat turkey, everyone else that shows up does, so that’s non-negotiable. As are stuffing and mashed potatoes.  Thank heavens for Pinterest boards.  So even if I don’t get to indulge my fantasy of an all-veggie, every-color-of-the-rainbow-Thanksgiving, I can look at it on my computer screen.

brussels sprouts

I might be alone here, but I actually think turkey is totally boring, and the veggie side dishes are where all the fun happens.  I like color, texture and freshness!  This Brussels sprout hash is my idea of a good time on Thanksgiving.  It’s green, bright, a little crunchy and a little acidic.  Compared to turkey, this hash is a party!

prepping hazelnuts

Unlike some Thanksgiving side dishes (sweet potato casserole,) this Brussels sprout hash is no one-hit wonder.  It is incredibly complementary with turkey and mashed potatoes, but it is equally delicious mixed with whole grain pasta (my favorite) or as a side to fish or chicken.  This Brussels sprout dish has become one of my favorite comfort foods and my kids actually like it, too!  Plus, it’s incredibly easy and fast to fix up.  Not that I am all that concerned with nutrition on Thanksgiving, this is also a pretty healthful dish.


brussels sprout hash with lemon, hazelnuts and capers | pamela salzman

The difficult part of Thanksgiving menu-planning for me is how to include Brussels sprouts on the menu.  I have so many favorite recipes that all work beautifully, it’s difficult to choose!  Although it’s a tad more work than just cutting them in half, I love the texture of the sprouts when they are cut thinly like this.  If you have a food processor with a slicing blade, you can prep this in seconds.  Here’s how I would tackle this for Thanksgiving:

Day before:

  • slice the sprouts and refrigerate in a covered container or zippered bag
  • squeeze the lemon juice and refrigerate
  • toast the hazelnuts, rub with a towel to remove skins and chop.  Keep in a covered container at room temp.

Day of Thanksgiving:

Cook sprouts right before serving dinner.

brussels sprout hash with lemon, hazelnuts and capers | pamela salzman

Look out for my Thursday posts to help you get ahead and be organized for Thanksgiving!

brussels sprout hash with lemon, hazelnuts and capers | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Brussels Sprout Hash with Capers, Lemon and Hazelnuts
Serves: 4-6
  • ½ cup hazelnuts (if you can get them already skinned, skip step 1)
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (or just use more oil)
  • ¼ cup capers, well drained
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed, and shredded*
  • the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 ½ Tablespoons
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a pie plate or baking sheet, toast the hazelnuts until the skins blister, about 15 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a clean kitchen towel and let cool, then rub to remove the skins. If you don’t mind hazelnut skins, you don’t need to remove them. Coarsely chop the nuts.
  2. In a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the capers (be careful since they will probably splatter!) Sauté the capers for about one minute, or until they start opening like little flowerbuds.
  3. Add the Brussels sprouts and hazelnuts to the pan and stir to coat with the oil and caper mixture. Pour in the lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the sprouts are tender but still a little crisp.
  4. Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
*You can do this by hand by cutting them in half and thinly slicing them with a sharp knife.  Or you can slice them with the slicing disc in your food processor.  If you use the food processor, remember to push down on the sprouts with the attachment while you are slicing them.

You can also add some cooked, diced bacon and/or some fried sage leaves.

Endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort | pamela salzman

What’s your feeling about hors d’oeuvres on Thanksgiving?  I know most people (like me) spend so much time cooking so much food for arguably the biggest meal of the year.  No one wants his or her guests to fill up before they’ve even had one bite of turkey.  I get that.  But I also like a little time to mingle and visit over a drink before sitting down.  I like to stretch this dinner out a bit.  It’s a little disheartening to cook for hours and hours, even days, only to have your guests inhale the food in 20 minutes.

prepping the endive |

So I like to have a one hour cocktail hour before Thanksgiving dinner.  Nothing fancy, just some wine and sparkling water, possibly a fun mixed drink, but I do make a few nibbles.  I really don’t want to offer a mini meal here, just a bite to whet the appetite and prevent any alcohol from going straight to anyone’s head.  At the very least, a seasonal crudites platter with a dip or two is nice, as is a small cheeseboard.

chopped hazelnuts

For 20 years I have made this zucchini-gruyere tart.  Delicious, delicious, delicious, but I’m over it.  Don’t tell my husband, but I think it’s off this year’s menu in favor of what I think is the perfect light bite before Thanksgiving dinner.  Look at these endive leaves with just a lovely little flavor party of grape, hazelnut and roquefort (a blue cheese made from sheep’s milk.)  It’s like a perfect salad bite and these are beyond easy to make.  I love, love, love them!  Plus, you can substitute like crazy here — diced fig, pear or apple for the grape; almonds or pistachios for the hazelnuts; goat cheese, Pecorino or Manchego for the roquefort.

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort |

Wash your endive leaves the night before and keep them in a container or bag in the fridge.  Make your dressing several days in advance.  All that’s left to do here is ASSEMBLE.  We love that word when we’re talking Thanksgiving.

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort | pamela salzman

I adore these hors d’oeuvres for any dinner party, not just Thanksgiving.  I hate to say it, but December is right around the corner and that means holiday parties.  Gasp!  First things first, though.  Let’s get those Thanksgiving menus figured out.  More tips and helpful hints coming this Thursday, which to remind, is 3 weeks from Thanksgiving!

endive leaves with grapes, hazelnuts and roquefort |

Endive Leaves with Grapes, Hazelnuts and Roquefort
Serves: makes 24 pieces
  • 3 firm, fresh heads of Belgian endive
  • Dressing (optional)
  • 1 small shallot, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • ¾ -1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons raw honey or 100% pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons unpasteurized apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¾ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅓ pound of crumbled blue cheese such as Roquefort
  • 12 grapes, halved or quartered, depending on size
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted and salted if desired or sliced almonds
  1. Cut ½ inch off the bottom (root end) of each head of endive.  Separate the leaves and keep under a damp paper towel in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 4 hours.
  2. Make the dressing if using.  Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl or a glass jar with a lid.  This will make too much dressing for the hors d’oeuvre.  Save what you don’t use for a salad.
  3. Fill the white part of each endive leaf with a bite size crumble of blue cheese, a half of a grape and a pinch of chopped nuts.  Drizzle with a touch of dressing if desired.


Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins Recipe

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins | Pamela Salzman

I had no intention of posting this recipe today because I already have a muesli recipe on my site.  But that was from so, so long ago and I know I don’t even remember what I posted on this site back in the beginning so I don’t expect you to!  Plus this one is better and ironically I made it up on the spot.  I threw this muesli together on a whim on Sunday night because 1. it’s my favorite summer breakfast, 2. Mr. Picky was starting day camp on Monday and I needed one less thing to do in the morning, 3. it has actually been very warm and summerlike here in Manhattan Beach which never happens in the summer, just in September and October when everyone has gone back to school and resumed soccer on the weekends, and 4. I was a little naughty this holiday weekend which involved a homemade cherry pie, a new favorite rosé (did you see my instagram?) and some (a lot of?) mozzarella.  Ooops.  And that was after 9 days at my parents’ house which always involves too much pasta, pizza, wine and mozzarella.

Bob's Red Mill gluten-free oats


grate 2 green apples, skin and all

I always say breakfast will set the tone for the rest of the day’s eating, so you want to start off right, eat a good breakfast.  I had a good sized bowl of this muesli with some blueberries in the morning at 7:30 after a quick workout and then a little green tea at about 10:00 and I was completely fine until lunch at 1:00.  That just about never happens.  I am usually looking for a snack of some kind around 10:00 or 10:30.  If you have issues with sugar and sweets, try making this without any added sweetener or add a couple drops of stevia.  Of course, feel free to sub your favorite nut or seed for the hazelnuts and any good unsulphured fruit for the golden raisins (remember: sulphur dioxide is a preservative for dried fruit and it is not healthy for you, especially for people who have sensitive lungs.)

kefir or yogurt + almond milk

I actually think this muesli tastes more like the ones I have had a hotels both in the states and in Europe.  Although it is not technically the original bircher muesli which uses condensed milk (eeek!), it is very similar in taste and texture.  In my previous muesli, I used yogurt, water and orange juice to soak the oats with a little lemon zest.  Decidedly citrusy, which I love, but not necessarily uber authentic.  This one I used half almond milk and half kefir, although a nice think yogurt like Straus Family Creamery would be just as ideal.  (Did you know Trader Joe’s European style yogurt IS Straus?!?)  I still add shredded green apple which is a must, but for this batch I also included golden raisins and chopped hazelnuts and I was in heaven.  Yum, yum, and YUM!  Creamy, crunchy, lightly sweet.  Perfect. I am dreaming of being in a European hotel for breakfast.  And then I had to take Mr. Picky and his buddy to baseball camp. Wake up!

muesli in the morning

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins | Pamela Salzman

Bircher Muesli with Hazelnuts and Golden Raisins
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 apples, unpeeled, grated (I like using green apples)
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • juice of half an orange
  • 1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened almond milk (click here for instructions on how to make your own)
  • 1 ½ - 1⅔ cups unsweetened kefir or yogurt
  • ½ cup unsulphured golden raisins or dried fruit of choice
  • ⅔ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • Toppings: fresh berries or sliced bananas, extra chopped nuts, raw honey or maple syrup
  1. The night before: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients, except toppings, in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The next morning: add sweetener to taste, if necessary. Divide the muesli among four bowls and top with favorite nuts or fruits.
  3. Keeps for several days covered in the refrigerator.
I don't sweeten this ahead of time because I prefer it unsweetened. Since my kids like a little honey, they add it to their own bowls in the morning. But feel free to add 2 Tablespoons or so of honey or your sweetener of choice.