Category Archives: frostings and spreads

Almond butter for my nut-butter habit

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No, dear blog! I haven’t forgotten about you! Unfortunately, junior year has been difficult. More than difficult. There’s just so much going on! Classes are hard (although, I enjoy them), winter rowing has started (UGH. It’s all indoor conditioning. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love rowing and in a way, I love the winter season because you get so much faster. But it is very, very physically and mentally demanding) and of course, violin every morning before school! In addition to that, I recently got my driver’s license, which is an awesome thing, but practicing took up so much time. So fair to say, stress has been on my plate. Ironically, I just had to create a Public Service Announcement for my health class about stress. The irony.

With stress comes those sudden urges to make food. Seriously. I mean, I’m not making cupcakes every night or cookies every weekend. But, once in a while, if I have a few minutes, I’ll make something simple and sweet that satisfies that cooking craving.

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So one night, I noticed two things. 1. I had a lot of almonds. 2. I was out of peanut butter.

The rest is history.

5 great benefits to homemade nut butter-

  1. it’s fun
  2. it’s simple
  3. you can add in whatever you want (sweet or savory? Honey or salt? Cinnamon or…more salt?)
  4. it’s cheaper (get a thing of almonds from Trader Joe’s for about $5 vs store- bought almond butter for $7-$10_
  5. It’s healthier. Many store bought nut butters have oils added in. In other words, it isn’t made from JUST nuts. For example, a certain huge peanut butter producer also includes sugar and palm oil in their product. Not that this is bad, it’s just unnecessary and not all that great for you. At home, you can choose whether to include some oil or to just blend the nuts and eat.

You get the idea.

So without further ado, here is the simple approach to making homemade almond butter.

Need:

  • 2 cups almonds
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tbs veggie oil (also optional. I didn’t use any because I like raw almond butter, but for those who want a smoother consistency, adjust amount of oil to your liking.)

Directions:

Pour everything into a food processor and let it go. It’ll take a while for it to get to it’s true butter consistency. First, a powder will form. Then it’ll get crumbly. Then a ball will form. That ball will stay together for a while, but it’ll eventually break up. It’ll start to stick to the sides, becoming more and more buttery. Don’t stop it yet! Don’t fret, you’ll know when it’s done. It’ll be that creamy consistency that you love.

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*Note: Make sure to scrape the sides down every once in a while so that no crumbs are left out.

Scrape into a jar and enjoy on toast or in muffins or plain with a spoon (that’s my favorite way). This recipe makes about 1.5 cups of almond butter (I think? maybe 1.25). But anyways, I don’t have exact nutrition facts, but they are around 180 per 2 tablespoons and 7 grams of protein if this is made with no oil. Enjoy!

 

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Chocolate Chocolate Cake

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“All I want is chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and vanilla ice cream!!!”

yada yada yada. This is what I’ve been hearing from my mother since her birthday on October 17th.

And unfortunately, I have not had time to make one! This is due to the fact that I have had a regatta every single weekend in October. I haven’t had a second to breath (or blog)!

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Luckily, things are now calming down as the fall season is coming to a close. Unfortunately, that means winter season is beginning…but that’s getting ahead of myself! Today, I had time to make my mom a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. The best part is, is that this cake is stupid easy to make. You literally throw all the ingredients in a bowl, bake it, and boom it’s done. This cake is extremely moist; it soaks in all of the frosting and ice cream. It’s the perfect cake for birthdays or dinner parties because it tastes complicated, but it’s so simple!

Cake recipe from Hershey’s Chocolate Cookbook

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup veggie oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions!

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grase and flour two 9 inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in LARGE bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed of mixer for about 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water. The batter will be really thin, but don’t worry! It’s supposed to be like that. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick/knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pans, then flip onto wire racks. COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE FROSTING.

Chocolate buttercream frosting- from Magnolia’s Bakery (and found on Baking Up Chaos blog- link below!)

Ingredients:

  •  1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  •  2 tablespoons milk
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, more or less. Depends on how thick/sweet you want your frosting

Directions-

First, melt the chocolate by assembling a double boiler. Heat on low until chocolate is smooth and creamy; about 8 minutes. Keep an eye on it so the chocolate doesn’t burn! In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the milk, beat until well incorporated. Add the chocolate (MAKE SURE IT IS ROOM TEMPERATURE. Otherwise it will melt the butter and you will have chocolate buttercream soup!), mix until chocolate is evenly distributed. Add vanilla extract and beat. Then, add the confectioners sugar- GRADUALLY. I used about 2 cups, but it honestly varies with desired consistency. Once all of the sugar is mixed in, assemble the cake and add vanilla ice cream and you have yourself dinner for the next three days!

Here’s the link to “Baking Up Chaos”

http://bakingupchaos.blogspot.com/2008/11/magnolia-bakerys-chocolate-buttercream.html

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Enjoy!

Pumpkin Butter aka The Best Thing Ever

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I love fall. The morning air is brisk and fresh, you wake up curled in blankets because of the cold air outside, and the leaves are changing into the best colors.

And you start transitioning from summer to winter food. And sorry, but winter food is way better. It’s not that I don’t like BBQ or ice cream or things like that. I do. I love it all. But fall brings a bunch of warm, cozy, ancient recipes back into the kitchen. Osso Buco. Puttanesca. Paprikash. Green chili. Dilled veal. Just to name a few of my family’s favorites.

A lot of specific foods are also more acceptable in fall/winter: sweet potatos, pasta, baked veggies, and…..

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PUMPKIN. The best food ever. You will see me posted lots of pumpkin recipes in the fall; I shall bask in it’s glory and awesomeness while it is still socially acceptable to use it. So if you don’t like pumpkin, I am sorry. Learn to love it. Because it range from being super healthy (like this recipe) or just terrible-artery clogging-awesomeness (pumpkin pie, another thing that is just…ugh. I can’t. I want it. Wahhhhh).

But anyways going on. This recipe is from skinnytaste.com. It was the best decision I made all week. It tastes just like pumpkin pie. I am not kidding. It doesn’t have any weird ingredients in it or whatever; it’s all good stuff going in to produce probably the best type of butter on the face of the planet. It’s super low calorie, and super easy. And you can use it a number of ways! You can: put it on toast, use it as a pie filling, eat a spoonful plain, spread it on a cookie or ice cream or froyo, stir it into oatmeal, eat a jarful plain….For all the pumpkin lovers, give this a go!

Note: I actually halved this recipe from the original. The original recipe makes a whopping 3 3/4 cups. I can’t eat that much pumpkin that quickly without fearing it’ll go to waste. Thus, I decided to avoid the situation.

This all is from skinnytaste.com! You will find an endless supply of recipes for every single part of the day that are healthy and delicious! Gina Homolka, the author of many books and of the website does an awesome job of marrying pure ingredients and favorite foods into healthy recipes. Go check that website out.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling!
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (to taste)

Directions:
Combine pureed pumpkin, vanilla, apple juice, spices, cinnamon sticks and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Adjust spices to your taste. Makes a little more than 1 1/2 cups.

1 serving (2 tbs) =32 calories

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Enjoy! Here’s the link to the original recipe

http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/10/pumpkin-butter.html

Classic Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I just ate my weight in carrot cake.

Oh my gosh.

My stomach is about to burst. But it’s all worth it. This carrot cake is so amazing; it’s just a traditional fall cake everyone should learn how to make. There’s something about the secret sweetness of carrots, crunchiness of toasted pecans, and the creamy tartness of cream cheese that just makes it a flawless trio. The trick with carrot cake is finding the right one. Now I don’t know if I just haven’t had carrot cake for a long time or what but this carrot cake SPEAKS TO ME. It says “eat me, the calories are all worth it. eat me. eat me. eat me.” then I do and I feel bad so then I just eat my feelings in more carrot cake.

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You see this vicious cycle.

But you still have to make this cake.

It is from Paula Deen’s Southern Kitchen, which ensures it’s as traditional you can get. And- it’s EASY. It doesn’t take long to put together, bake, and assemble at ALL. It’s the perfect dish to kick off fall.

Ingredients-

  • Butter, for pans
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, optional

Frosting:

  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick salted butter, room temperature
  • 12 oz powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) round pans; Line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add eggs and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, blend until combined. Add carrots and pecans, if using.
Pour into pans. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans, place on waxed paper and allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:
Add all ingredients  into a medium bowl and beat until fluffy using a hand mixer. Spread frosting on top of each cake layer. Stack the cakes on a serving plate and serve.

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Enjoy! Here’s the link for the original recipe below VVV

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/grandma-hiers-carrot-cake-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Pistachio Nut Butter

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It’s not easy being green. And unfortunately, pistachios are extremely underrated! Pistachios are lower in fat content than most nuts, but they are still packed with protein! And this pistachio butter I made (inspired by Alyssia from mindovermunch.com) is probably the best butter I’ve ever made. It has that sweet and salty element that I just can’t resist. And, of course, it’s simple and healthy!

Ingredients-

  • 2 cups shelled pistachios, salted if you want the kick ;D
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • stevia to taste

Procedure:

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Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and creamy. It’ll take a while and it’ll go through various stages: bits of nuts, ball, then eventually it smooths out. Don’t worry if it takes you like 10 minutes. it’ll get there.

This recipe makes about 1 3/4 cups. Nutrition info is below! 1 serving=1 TBS

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Traditional Pesto

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Italy.

I miss it. I miss the language. Sometimes while doing summer work I’ll find myself writing bits and pieces of a sentence in Italian. Ha, if my teachers check my notes, they’ll be so confused. I miss the people; they posses endless hospitality and affection. I miss my cousin Emilia who is legitimately the spunkiest woman I’ve ever met. I miss the amazing landscape, whether it be the rolling hills and gardens in Grottaferrata, or the sharp cliffs of the Amalfi. And of course, of COURSE, I miss the food. It’s interesting, I never had true Italian pesto while in Italy. But the other night, I needed a taste of something full of summer but also full of culture.

=Pesto.

Pesto is amazing because it can go on anything (marinade, topping, my friend even uses it as a salad dressing), and it has a long freezer-life. So this recipe I came up with makes a lot of pesto, but since you freeze it, you can just get it out and thaw it whenever you want a bite of Italy! Plus, it’s supper easy. All you need is a food processor.

Ingredienti-

  • 8 cups basil
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced (depends on the size of the cloves and how garlicky you like it. I used 4 smallish ones but then needed some more garlic salt)
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 2/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 1/3 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup-1 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, depending on how cheesy you like your pesto.

Procedure:

Throw the basil, garlic, and pine nuts into the food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and lemon zest and blend until smooth. Taste to see how much salt and pepper you want. If freezing, transfer to airtight container and throw in the freezer. If using immediately, transfer to bowl and stir in cheese.

Enjoy the basil while you can, fall is coming!

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Homemade Nut Butter

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I love peanut butter. It is yummy. And gooey. And delicious. And a GREAT thing to use in all types of baking projects. However, there is an issue with big-brand peanut butter companies.  Look on the ingredient list. You’re looking at it? Good. On my jar of peanut butter, it says “Ingredients: Peanuts and sugar” but it ALSO contains some molasses and fully hydrogenated veggie oils.

But…but…I don’t want anything extra in my peanut butter. I just want it for the healthy fats and proteins! Not the sugars or oils!

What ever is the answer to this food dilemma?

As I was scrolling through Instagram one day, I came across the recipe for homemade nut butter from http://mindovermunch.com. Alyssia (The woman who runs the Instagram and website) does an awesome job posting healthy recipes every day, along with the nutrition info. I thought making her nut butter was an awesome idea because I was in Colorado at the time and I was having an urge to make food. So I asked my grandma if she wanted nut butter. And she said sure. So. My own interpretation of this recipe was created!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (16 oz) of salted or unsalted nuts. Any nut! I did a combo of them but you can use almonds, cashews, maybe macadamia nuts….
  • 1 tbs ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbs of honey or 1 tbs of sweetener (I used truvia and it was fine, it depends if you want your butter sweeter or saltier. I like mine saltier, so I didn’t find much of a need to use a bunch of honey)
  • 1/2 cup (more or less) unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Procedure:

Place nuts, cinnamon, and honey or sweetener in the food processor. Blend until the mixture resembles a big ball. Add some almond milk to break up the ball. The ball will probably start forming again. Add some more almond milk. Wait to see if it forms a ball again. If it does, add some more. Point is, gradually add the almond milk; don’t do it all at once. Eventually, after a lot of blending, the butter will settle from the ball to a creamy mixture. The great thing about this recipe is 1. it’s simplicity and 2. you can alter it to however you like your nut butter. Don’t like cinnamon? Don’t add it! Don’t like honey? Don’t add it! Like thick nut butter? Add less almond milk! Like thinner nut butter? Add more! It’s greatly versatile, which is why I love the recipe. I hope you try it out and love it as well!

Calories: It ranges from 160-200 ish per 2 tablespoons, because there are so many factors involved based off of personal preference. It’s a matter of what nut you use, how much honey you add, how much almond milk you add, etc.

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