Category Archives: misc

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!

 

Semi-homemade Tortilla Chips

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So.

I hate wasting food. You use your money to buy it, why would you throw your money away (or in this case, my parents’ money away. As a high-school girl, my income is nonexistent)? So when I see some old whole wheat tortillas lying around in my fridge, I was annoyed. I never eat tortillas unless it’s with my mom’s green chili. (And when I say “old,” I don’t mean old. I mean I bought them a couple of weeks ago for quesadillas and something and we still have them. They were completely edible. Trust me). POINT IS I wasn’t going to use them for anything else.

So what do I do? Tortilla chips, specially tailored to your liking! It’s so easy to do; and really, who doesn’t like some freshly baked chips? Still warm…smothered with cheese….

Okay so here’s whatcha do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut up as many tortillas as you want in irregular shapes.
  3. Dap VERY LIGHTLY with olive oil. I actually used my fingers to kinda brush it on.
  4. Sprinkle with salt, creole seasoning, really whatever type flavor chips you want. I bet if you sprinkled some brown sugar and cinnamon on there and brushed them with butter instead of olive oil that’d be really yummy too.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes. I checked mine at about 7 minutes then checked them frequently after that until they were done. They are done when they are lightly browned (a little bit more). Some may still be a little soft in the middle, but they’ll crisp up when you take them out of the oven and let em sit for a while.
  6. Enjoy with salsa, cheese, or maybe ice cream if you do the sweet version ūüėČ

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Confetti Sweet Potatoes

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I love sweet potatoes. They are a miracle food I swear to gosh. It’s like having part of dessert in your dinner, when really sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, especially Vitamin A (which is very good for vision, bones, teeth, and internal tissues )! So what do you do when you want a spin on classic mashed potatoes?

Confetti sweet potatoes. It’s mashed potatoes, but it’s not bad for you at all! While it isn’t advertised as a healthy thing, when you look at the recipe, you can see there isn’t anything that’s super bad for you. Just lots of veggies, spices, and sweet potato all whipped together in an illusion of mashed potatoes. Omnomnomnomnom.

Okay, so I have no idea where this recipe came from. My mom made it a couple of years ago to bring to a party, and she stuck this recipe in her book of foodiness (which is a book of all the recipes she’s ever printed out. I put it together for her for mother’s day like four years ago). I actually modified this recipe so much that it resembles the original only in ingredients used; way different proportions. But whoever came up with this recipe: THANK YOU!

Ingredients:

  • 5 sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 small carrot, finely diced
  • about 1/2 tsp olive oil, more if needed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbs oregano, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled/grated
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 tbs parsley, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place scrubbed potatoes in oven and bake 40-45 minutes, or until they are super soft to the touch. Set aside to cool. Keep oven at 375.

While the potatoes are cooling, place a pan over medium high heat and sauté the onion, carrot, and celery in olive oil until the onion is slightly browned. Add the oregano and garlic and cook an additional minute. Transfer to a bowl and add the chipotle powder, goat cheese, egg whites, and parsley.

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The potatoes should be okay to handle. Peel the potatoes (get rid of all them ears and brown spots and shnazz). Chop them in big chunks into the bowl with all the other ingredients. Whip ingredients together until smooth. Season with pepper to taste. Put in an oven-safe bowl (maybe a casserole bowl?) and cook for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Peanut-butter Banana Protein Shake

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Look at that. ¬†That’s like…more than 25 ounces. It’s HUGE. It’s filling. It’s energizing. And it’s simple. I originally came up with this recipe because I always loved having this “Almond Buzz” protein shake from this place called Embody. It’s a little fitness gourmet shop that has awesome juices, protein shakes, and even some snazzy little food items. However, it’s crazy expensive. Like $7 for a 16 oz shake. And the shake itself is rather thin. Hence, my version that is made at home, similar in calories, and much bigger/more filling!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 Tbs better ‘n peanut butter
  • 1 scoop (approx. 28 grams) vanilla soy protein powder
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder

Combine all in blender. Blend to desired consistency. I usually do the mix option, then the liquify option to make sure all the ice is completely smoothed over. Enjoy!

I calculated the calorie count myself because my little spark recipes tool was giving me some trouble-

Total calories: about 295

Total protein: about 27g

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Vanilla Cream-Cheese Filling

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Oh. My. Gosh.

Whoopie pies.

You don’t know what they are? Let me enlighten you. They are basically two cakey cookies, with a light, creamy frosting in between. There are many variations of whoopie pies; I even have a full recipe book of them. However, I just wanted some chocolate cream-cheese whoopie pies. Plain and simple. Yummy. Warms the soul. Ya know. I also figured doing something outlandishly crazy would probably not be the best idea when I’m not even eating the majority of the product. Indeed, these were not for me to merely munch on in my spare time. They were for my wonderful team in “celebration” of the end of rowing preseason. The sport is hard enough on the water, so when you give the coaches two weeks to torture us with land-training, it’s very…let’s just say I couldn’t quite feel my legs for the first couple of days! So as a last hoorah with school starting Tuesday and all (there goes my time for experimenting in the kitchen. It’s really bumming me out, actually) I decided to make whoopie pies for the team. It also worked out perfectly because it was a nice reward at the end of practice after a surprise test (think of a rowing test as a time trial, except much more monotonous and much more detailed in every single thing you do). So. Yay chocolate whoopie pies. Also shout-out to Georgia who let me take a picture of her whoopie pie, as seen above. ;D

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I found this recipe on Food Network.com. I actually used (and modified) one recipe for the pies then used another for the filling. I’ll post the original links and the end of the post. I modified the whoopie pies by first of all halving the recipe (the original recipe would have made 76 individual whoopie pies. Sorry, but I don’t have the time or budget to do that, nor do I have 76 people to whom I can give whoopie pies). If you go to the original recipe, you will also see that 1 1/2 tbs of baking soda are said to be needed. This is a typo. It should be 1 1/2 teaspoons (tsp) not tablespoons (tbs). So I also adjusted and halved that. To give the pies more of a kick, I also added some instant espresso and some chocolate chips for taste and texture.

This recipe makes about 36 whole whoopie pies that are about the size of a baseball.

Adapted from Moody’s Diner featured on Foodnation with Bobby Flay and Food Network Magazine.

Ingredients:

For pies:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup veggie oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

For filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped

Possible add-ons if you’re feeling adventurous:

  • Crushed vanilla wafer cookies
  • Crushed graham crackers
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Chopped nuts (pecans would probably be best)
  • Toasted coconut
  • Sprinkles of any sort
  • Mini chocolate chips

No, you do not need all of these toppings. I actually just used the vanilla wafer cookies. Use however many or however little you want.

Let us begin.

First, the cakes-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, or preheat a convection oven to 315 degrees F.

In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder).

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until creamy and fluffy. And eggs and beat until well combined. Add the oil and vanilla and beat again. (I feel like singing Michael Jackson’s “Beat it” because of the number of times I said “beat” in the past sentences)

.Add half of the dry mixture to the egg mixture and beat or stir to blend. Add 3/4 cup milk and beat again. Add the remaining dry mixture and beat until incorporated. Add the remaining 3/4 cup milk and beat until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips

With a spoon, scoop out the batter onto baking sheets. I did about a tablespoon per pie, maybe a little more. With these sized whoopie pies, I was able to get 12 pies on an 11ishx16ish baking sheet. So unless you have a super huge oven and a gazillion baking sheets, you will need to do multiple rotations for baking them. But it’s worth it. Bake for about 6:30-7 minutes, or until a knife stuck in the middle of a pie comes out with moist crumbs attached or clean. Really be careful with the baking time; they go from nice and moist to overbaked and dry in the matter of a minute.

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Once out of the oven, let cool slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire rack to cool COMPLETELY before filling

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Speaking of filling….

Procedure for vanilla cream-cheese filling

Beat the cream cheese and butter with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla seeds. Sandwich a tablespoonful of filling between 2 cookies; repeat with the remaining cookies and filling. Roll edges in add-ons. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving.

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Enjoy!

pie: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/foodnation-with-bobby-flay/whoopie-pies-recipe/index.html

filling: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/red-velvet-whoopie-pies-recipe/index.html?ic1=obinsite

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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Parmesan Bread Pudding with Spinach and Prosciutto

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So this recipe was originally “Parmesan Bread Pudding with Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta” from Epicurious. But, as it turned out, I like spinach more than broccoli rabe, and my grandma accidentally got prosciutto. So it turned into this lovely savory bread pudding. It’s a complete dinner; it has your protein (eggs and prosciutto) veggies (spinach) and carbs (bread)! Ha. You can use it as a side dish as well; my family had it with a night full of BBQ. And last but not least, this is the PERFECT breakfast. Eggs. Cheese. Meat. Spinach. It’s like an omelet. But it’s not. The bread soaks up the eggs, giving it a really fluffy texture as the cheese oozes out. Then the spinach really compliments the whole thing because it’s a change of texture but it’s not out of place with crazy crunch or a weird slickness. It’s just perfect. Alright. Recipe. Right.

This was originally from Epicurious, which got it from Bon Appetit’s April 2013 edition from¬†Mary-Frances Heck

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 cups of loosely packed baby spinach
  • 2 tsp kosher salt plus more
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper plus more
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 pound country-style white bread, cut into 1″ pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • Enough prosciutto to cover the top of your pudding; I’d say 5-6 slices

Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir until garlic is softened, about 30 seconds. Add spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until wilted, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly. Don’t want to curdle them eggs.

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In the mean time, whisk eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add spinach mixture, bread, and  Parmesan; toss to combine. Transfer to a 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Top with Prosciutto.

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Bake pudding until puffed, browned in spots, and set in the center, 45-55 minutes.

Enjoy!

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