Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Nutella Dessert Dip

print recipe card posted in Dairy, Sweets, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

This dip is like a fondue, but everyone gets their own dipping cup. That means “double dipping” is totally allowed!

The only two ingredients needed to make this recipe are Nutella (up to a whole 13 ounce jar, if you like) and heavy cream (1 cup.)

Spoon 8-to-13 ounces of Nutella into a microwave-safe glass measuring cup with a pour spout. (The pour spout will make this dish easier to serve.)

The more Nutella you use, the thicker your dip will be. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for 30 seconds on high.

Remove it from the microwave and set it aside for the moment.

Pour the cream into another microwave-safe glass measuring cup and heat that in the microwave, for approximately 30-45 seconds on high heat, or until very hot but not boiling.

Pour the cream into the Nutella…

…and whisk the two ingredients together

…until it is completely smooth and blended.

Pour the Nutella dessert dip into 8 small espresso cups…

…or mini, individual serving dishes.

Serve with biscotti or shortbread.

Double dipping is allowed!


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Pumpkin Soup Without the Fuss

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

The reason I call this recipe “Pumpkin Soup without the Fuss” is because it’s made from canned pumpkin which has been already cooked and mashed. Canned pumpkin tastes great and it is a huge time saver!

For this recipe you will need:

In addition to the canned pumpkin, the only other ingredient you may not be familiar with is evaporated milk. (I have used it in my “Stove-top Macaroni and Cheese” recipe.) Evaporated milk is just slightly thicker than regular milk but it is very rich. It will make this soup really creamy and very rich tasting. A low fat version is available. (Be sure not to confuse evaporated milk with sweetened condensed milk. They are often sold side-by-side.)

You need to chop one medium onion. If you don’t know how to chop an onion, there is a demonstration of it here: How to Mince, Dice and Chop Onions.

Get all of remaining ingredients measured and ready to go. That really only involves measuring the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. If you are using chicken stock made from a bullion cube you will need to reconstitute the cube in boiling water.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pot.

Add the onions and cook them until they are soft, about 7-10 minutes. Give them an occasional stir.

Now add the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and applesauce and cook everything for about 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes it will look like the picture below.

Add the pumpkin and chicken stock, and stir everything together. It will be pretty thick.

Bring the pot to a boil. Turn the temperature down to simmer and cover the pot.

Set the timer for about 20 minutes. Be sure to give the soup an occasional stir.

Pour in enough evaporated milk until the soup reaches your desired thickness. I like about 8 ounces of evaporated but you may want your soup thinner or thicker.

Be sure to add a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

The really great thing about this soup is that aside from the onion, all the other ingredients needed to make this soup come straight from your food cupboard. Next time you go grocery shopping be sure to add the ingredients for this soup to your list. On a cold evening a delicious pot of pumpkin soup can be ready for dinner in no time!

I have added a special touch to my soup by topping it with some cinnamon croutons!


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print recipe card posted in Appetizers and Snacks, Vegetarian by Kathy Maister

Guacamole with corn chips is a great addition to any party menu!

The ingredients needed to make guacamole are:

When using avocados, planning ahead is essential. If you try to make guacamole with a hard, under-ripe avocado, both the texture and the taste will be all wrong. When buying avocados, buy the ones that yield to gentle pressure but are not soft or mushy. Fortunately, you can speed up the ripening process by placing hard avocados in a brown paper bag for a couple of days. (That’s why you need to plan ahead!)

Check out my previous posts on how to crush garlic, squeeze juice from a lemon or lime and how to clean and cut jalapeno peppers, because they are what we are gong to tackle first.

Be sure to use fresh limes (or lemons) and fresh garlic and fresh jalapenos for this recipe.

Let’s start cooking!

Crush 2 cloves of garlic.

Squeeze 1/2 of a fresh lime; we will need 2 teaspoons of the juice.

Seed 1 jalapeño pepper and dice it into about 1/8 inch bits. (I always wear disposable gloves when cutting hot chili peppers!)

Cut one tomato in half with the stem end to the right of the knife blade. It is not necessary to peel the tomato.

Squeeze out all the seeds.

Chop the tomato into about ¼ inch bits.

Cut two avocados lengthwise (rather than making the cut around the width.)


Separate the two pieces.

Leave the avocado on the cutting board and give the pit a thwack with a big sharp knife.

Give the knife a twist and carefully remove the pit.

Pinch the pit off the knife with your thumb and forefinger and throw it away.


With a spoon, scoop out the avocado.

It’s OK to put the skin down the garbage disposer, but I just throw the pit in the trash. (It’s sort of like throwing a golf ball in the disposer. You just wouldn’t do it!)

For this chunky guacamole, I like to use a fork to mash it. You could also use a potato masher if you like.

Now add the other prepared ingredients to the avocado. Don’t forget the hot pepper sauce!

With a spoon gently blend everything together.

Give it a taste and see if you need to add some salt and pepper.

It’s important to note that, once exposed to air, an avocado discolors very quickly. Adding lime or lemon juice helps to prevent discoloration. It is widely believed that an avocado pit left in guacamole will help to maintain the lush green color. Wrong! Stick with the lemon or lime juice.

By the way, avocados are almost always eaten raw. They actually turn bitter when they are cooked. Who knew?


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