Sunday, August 27, 2006

Chocolate is Your Friend

Hazelnut Truffle Cheesecake
Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
Now that we've had some coffee - how about a little dessert?

I've had more a few requests for the recipe for this very naughty Hazelnut Truffle Cheesecake, so I figured "what the heck?" and will post it for today's blog. This cheesecake has had any number of variations and has evolved a lot since the first time I've made the basic chocolate cheesecake from which this was derived, however many years ago that was.

Now, without any further ado, for you caloric pleasure is the current version.

Hazelnut Truffle Cheesecake


1 1/2 cup Vanilla cookie (aka Nilla) crumbs (from about 45 cookies)
1/2 cup Confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup Cocoa powder
1/3 cup Butter, melted
1 jar Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread)
3 8oz. packages Cream Cheese, softened
4 eggs
1 can Condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla
12 oz. chocolate (I use 8 oz bittersweet chips and 4 oz semisweet)
1/4 cup Hazelnuts, chopped
32 Chocolate-covered hazelnuts


  • Preheat oven to 300 deg (F)

  • Combine the vanilla cookie crumbs, confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder and melted butter until it has the consistency of corn meal

  • Press crumb mixture into bottom and 1/3 to 1/2 way up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan

  • Melt 1/2 the jar of Nutella and pour onto crust, spreading very carefully (as this is sticky and may tear up your crumb crust!)

  • Beat cream cheese until fluffy

  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating in until well blended

  • Add condensed milk and vanilla, blending to combine

  • Slowly melt bittersweet and semisweet chocolate chips together in the microwave

  • Blend melted chocolate into creamcheese mixture

  • Pour over crust and Nutella in springform pan

  • Bake for 1 hour, 5 minutes.

  • Leaving the cake in the oven, turn off the heat and open the door part-way. Allow to cool for 1 hour.

  • Remove the cake from the oven, and run a table knife around the pan to loosen cake from the sides.

  • Let the cake cool completely (in the refrigerator is preferable so that the cake is nice and cold for the next step.

  • Once the cake is cool, melt remaining 1/2 jar of Nutella, and pour over top of the cake, spreading like a frosting over the top.

  • Arrange the chocolate-covered hazelnuts around the top of the cake

  • Store the cake in the refrigerator

You can get 16 slices out of this bad-boy.

Enjoy! :-)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Java Jive

Java For Two
Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
"I love coffee, I love tea. I love the Java Jive and it loves me..."

Mud. Joe. Wake-up juice. Brain lubricant. Java. Coffee.

The warm rich smell of fresh brew. The hissss of milk steaming for a soothing latte. The pleasingly creamy brown color. The satisfying beep of a drip coffee maker telling you that its labor of love is complete and that you may now begin the transition from bleary-eyed, incoherent sonambulism to willing participant of the new day.

I definitely cannot get by without my daily quality time with Mrs. Olson. Nor should I have to. I have so few vices (other than my myriad of hobbies), so I think I'm somewhat entitled to at least this one. Anyone who knows me knows better than deprive me of this.

Is it an addiction? Maybe, but even so - bring it on! I'm a very happy coffee-junkie and very willing to allow the likes of $tarbuck$, Honey Dew donuts, and just about any diner or roadside truckstop to continue being my pushers.

A second cup? Yes, please - and just pass the coffee pot, if you will.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Little Something to Hold Ya Over

Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
Just thought I'd post a pic of the family cat, Angel (aka Her Royal Majesty). She really is a sweetheart though.

Here she is, stalking a chipmunk that's sitting on our back steps. Ah, the mighty huntress!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fair Immigration

I know I said that I wouldn't make a habit of blogging stuff forwarded to me in email (which was previous forwarded to that person, etc.), but once again I received something far too good to pass up. Here it is, word for word (and I will leave out the editorializing, as this stands up very well without it).

---- begin re-forwarded message ----

My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sending it out on the Internet. Pass it along if you feel so inclined.

Dave LaBonte

Written in response to a series of letters to the editor in the Orange County Register:

Dear Editor:

So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujan for one, suggests we should tear down the Statute of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer.

Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.

They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them.

All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan. None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan.

And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl.

And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags.

And for that suggestion about taking down the Statute of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.

Rosemary LaBonte

P. S. Pass this on to everyone you know!!! KEEP THIS LETTER MOVING!! I hope this letter gets read by millions of people all across the nation!!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Trip to Logan International Airport

Are They Here Yet?
Originally uploaded by CraftyGuy.
Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve blogged last (yes, I’ve been spending too much time Flickr’ing and not enough time blogging). Besides from being glued to my computer monitor looking at everyone’s awesome photos and wading through the many groups there, it has been a busy week or so.

The good news is that MJ is back from his 3-week trip to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales as a People-to-People Student Ambassador. He had a fantastic time (as you well could imagine!) I will try to post a pic of three from his trip when I get a chance.

Picking him up from Logan was a bit of a (minor) adventure. First of all, I do not like driving anywhere near Boston – we take the T as much as possible – so I know next to nothing of how to get around easily there. Second, the route of choice would have been to take the Mass Pike (I-90) to the Ted Williams Tunnel, and a straight shot right to the airport – not so bad, except that Patti does not like tunnels. With the news that some of the Big Dig tunnels would be closing due to that tragic accident where some ceiling tiles fell and killed a woman (near the entrance of the TW), we would try to find our way to the airport via route 2, then 16, and I-93, picking up route 1 at the Tobin bridge to Charlestown and Chelsea, then finally taking the Chelsea St. bridge into East Boston to the airport (not my idea of a good time, taking the long routes, especially near Boston. Needless to say, we couldn’t find the exit for the Tobin bridge (was supposed to be exit 27 – but where is it?) Signage just before exit 28 said the next exit after this would be 26! So we wing it – get off at exit 28 and drive through the streets of Charlestown (very nice - wish I wasn’t driving so I could take pics), and somehow manage to find Chelsea St. (Hooray!), but where's the Chelsea St. bridge? We kept following Chelsea St. and ended up back on I-93. Looks like we’ll be taking the Callahan tunnel after all (this is the “original” tunnel to Logan, before the Big Dig). Amazingly, it was a remarkably short trip in the tunnel, much to Patti’s relief, and we did get to go over the airport by 3pm (only took about an hour and a half to get there). But of course, MJ’s flight was delayed until 5:50, and he didn’t come out to where everyone was waiting until around 6:30pm. A very long afternoon indeed. And the trip home via the Sumner tunnel to I-93 to route 16, then back to route 2 was blissfully uneventful - except for the $20 for parking(!) and $3 for the bloomin’ tunnel(!!). But at least Patti is starting to overcome her fear of tunnels, and MJ is home (plus I got to go nuts with the camera!!)

Ah well - enough blathering for now. I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled (ha!) blog shortly.