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!

 

Mocha Slice Cookies from Martha Stewart

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Look at these little dudes.

Chocolatey bites of amazingness with a kick of coffee flavor jam packed into every cookie. Chocolate and coffee; sounds good for hungry rowers (although to be quite frank, any food is good for hungry rowers. I take food to practice, and it is gone within 5 minutes. poof!). Although, as mentioned in my previous post, I forgot to take the cookies out! So, I’m left with a bunch of mocha slice cookies. But that’s okay, because they’re small enough to serve as a tiny taste of something sweet, and they aren’t heavy. Make these cookies big or small, they’ll be perfect to satisfy a chocolate craving at any time of day. I found this on Yummly, which found this on Martha Stewart. I’ll post the original link down at the bottom. Now, without further ado……

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

How to:

Mix together flour, cocoa, salt, espresso powder, and cinnamon into a large bowl; set aside. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low so you can add flour mixture in without it spewing all over you. Unless you want to get into a flour fight (which I’ve done).  Mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Or, you could just keep them in the freezer until you need to bake them, which is what I did. I bet they’d last up to two weeks when stored in the freezer, but don’t take my word for it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap log, and let soften slightly at room temperature, about 5 minutes. . Cut log into 1/4-inchthick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake until centers are set, about 10 minutes. They should be soft, but not gooey soft. Don’t try to bake these until they get solid: THEY WILL BURN (trust me). Transfer to wire racks; cool completely. Store in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.

Recipe makes…a lot of small little cookies.

Here’s the original recipe:

http://www.marthastewart.com/340252/mocha-slice-cookies?search_key=mocha%20slice%20cookies

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Eat up!

Mom’s Favorite Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

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My dear, dear blog. Oh, how I have missed it. Oh, how I have missed cooking and baking! I have had basically no time to do the very thing that always makes me happy: cook. Junior year has been insane. Exhausting beyond imagine. And joy: it’s only the second quarter. And senior fall is supposedly the worst thing ever. Up until today at about 4 pm, all that was on my mind was workworkworkwork. And next week is going to be even more stressful. Sadness.

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The only split second in the grand scheme of the past few weeks where I had to bake was when I made cookies for my team. They were quick, easy slice cookies. And they were amazing. The one in this post was actually the better of the two (probably just because peanut butter is my drug of choice). Funny thing actually. At the little team get-together, I forgot to actually make sure the cookies were put on the table….soooo not many people at them. That’s okay though, because my mom happens to really REALLY like them. She was happy.

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So, if you love peanut butter, make these cookies. They are amazing. I got this recipe from the blog Once A Month Meals. I’ll post the link to the original recipe down at the bottom.

Chewy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies from Once A Month Meals

Ingredients!

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used Trader Joe’s All Natural smooth unsalted peanut butter. You wouldn’t expect it to work in baking. But it worked so, so well).
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and oats. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter, sugars, and peanut butter. Add in the eggs, and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Add oats and mix. Drop by the spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

If you want to freeze them (which you can totally do- I did that), let them cool completely before popping ’em in the ziplock bags and sticking them in the freezer.

This makes about 3.5 dozen cookies 🙂

Enjoy!

http://onceamonthmeals.com/oatmeal-peanut-butter-cookie/

Cheesy Zucchini and Red Onion Flatbread from Bon Appètit

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I love cheese. So much. Brie, cheddar, ricotta, parmesan…the only cheese I don’t really love is bleu or gorgonzola. I mean, they’re alright. But anyways.

I also love bread. Carbs. Can’t get enough of em. Which is saddening, since I never have bread/pasta.

But tonight, I had both. IN ONE FOOD. It was glorious. So I shall share my discovery with you and you will bask in the glory of this cheesy bread.

I found this recipe on yummly.com, which found it on epicurious, which found it in Bon Appètit’s August 2006 edition. I did a couple of modifications 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 10-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup garlic-and-herb cheese spread (such as Alouette), divided
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
  • 1 small red onion, about 1/4 cup finely chopped
  • 1 7- to 8-inch-long zucchini (yellow or green), chopped up pretty finely.
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; butter the paper. Unroll dough onto parchment. Or if its just a hunk of dough, stretch it out so it’s an 8×8′ squareish shape. Spread half of herb cheese over 1 long half of dough, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Sprinkle with half of Parmesan and 2 tablespoons parsley. Using parchment as aid, fold plain half of dough over filled half , but don’t seal the edges. Spread remaining herb cheese over top; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.  Sprinkle the veggies over the top of the bread; in lines or layers or however you please. The original recipe calls for the veggies to be sliced up in circles, but I think it’s way easier and quicker to just chop it all up and throw it on. Presentation is nice, but this is just as pretty. Sprinkle vegetables with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake bread until puffed and deep brown at edges, about 24 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.

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Here’s the original recipe from Epicurious! http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cheesy-Zucchini-and-Red-Onion-Flatbread-235578#ixzz2jXua1Ang

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

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!

Roasted Chick Peas (aka Garbanzo Beans)!

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Snacking…

My biggest issue…

It’s so difficult not to snack! I get up to practice violin early, but I also get up hungry, but it’s not time for breakfast. Bam. Peanut butter. Middle of school: snack. Lunch. Snack before rowing. THEN I get home….is it dinner yet? If it’s not, then I usually reach for the mixed nuts or wasabi peas…which aren’t bad, but they aren’t great.

So I decided to try something new. Weeeee. New recipes. And so I saw this one that had to do with chick peas. And it was really similar to these snacky little chick peas I had on the way home from San Diego. Problem is, I didn’t like them much. They were in a bag at the airport and probably had been sitting there for a couple weeks or something. They were supposed to be crunchy and devourable. Well, they weren’t. So I decided to make them MY way. And I succeeded in making them devourable. My family and I almost ate the whole batch…and we’re three people…

These little dudes right out of the oven are crunchy, tangy, and warm. They’re healthier than popcorn or mixed nuts (they’re beans…) but even more satisfying.

This recipe is from: SteamyKitchen.com

Yields 2-3 servings, feel free to double or triple the recipe to make a party batch

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Creole, cumin, red pepper…whatever spices you want

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Drain and wash the chick peas. They have a slimy packaging liquid, so get rid of all that.

Lay out on  a baking sheet lined with a paper towel. Rub them gently between two paper towels to dry, and to get the skin off. Don’t fuss if you can’t get the skins off every single one. Just try to get most of them. Use your fingers if you need to, they come off pretty easily. Make sure all those chick peas are dry.

Remove the paper towels. Sprinkle olive oil on the chick peas and toss as to coat them lightly. Bake in the oven 30-40 minutes until they are crunchy and some are browned. They should NOT be dark brown. They should be slightly more golden that original, but seriously. Don’t wait to take them out of the oven until they’re caramel colored. Only sliiiightly darker.

Once extracted from the oven, sprinkle with salt and seasonings and toss. Let cool slightly, and eat!

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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 😉

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