Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Almond Butter

So last week I made a small batch of cinnamon almond butter.  It is absolutely delicious!

This almond butter is great to add to a breakfast smoothie (like this one from Farm Fresh & Active), to eat with celery or just to spread on something delicious!  I've even stirred a bit into my oatmeal.

And it is super easy to make!  All you need is a food processor (or a pretty tough blender) and some almonds.  I've made this in both my GE Personal Blender (like a magic bullet) and my food processor, depending on the size of the batch - the larger batch is too large for the personal blender.  You could also add cinnamon (yum!) or dark cocoa powder (double yum!).   

 Here is my personal blender - this was too big a batch for the personal blender.   I used 1 cup of oven roasted almonds in the small batch - and it was perfect.   For today's large batch I used 1.5 cups.  I like the Oven Roasted almonds - these have sea salt, but I would probably get unsalted the next time.  Your homemade almond butter is less sweet than store bought butters because it has no added sugar - it also has no preservatives or chemicals!  

I transferred these to the food processor because the blades kept getting hung up - there just wasn't enough room for the almonds to move around in the smaller blender.   If you want to add cinnamon - add it with the almonds - I used 1/2 tsp of cinnamon for 1 cup of almonds.  

 Whirl all the almonds (and cinnamon or cocoa powder).  It will seem like forever.  First it chops up the almonds, then it gets a bit powdery.  You might find it sticking to the blade.   It doesn't hurt to stop and scrape down the sides/clean off the blade.

The next stage is that it will start to get crumbly - like a crumb topping with some sticking together.  Again, scrape down the sides and the blade.
 Be patient.  It will start to stick together but it takes time - several minutes for a pretty good processor.  My little one takes about 6 minutes total.   Scrape down your sides and blend a little more after it starts to look like butter.
 Delicious!     My 1.5 cups of almonds made a half-pint jar of almond butter.  I store it in the fridge and use it about a tablespoon at a time. 
This plan of making the nut butters works with almonds, peanuts and other nuts!  I want to make it with cashews next. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Homemade Salsa Verde with Grilled Chicken and Roma Tomatoes

So in the CSA share I was lucky enough to get this week, I received 5 tomatillos. 

I have NEVER done anything with tomatillos, other than enjoy them in green salsa (salsa verde).   However, I normally don't like the garlic and onions in the store versions....and when I go to a restaurant I have no control over the heat and you know I like to be in control!

So... I googled!

And all the recipes I found had sugar added - really??!! Again!!! AND they were for some crazy amount of tomatillos (like 1.5 pounds!!) - I only have 5.

So I took what I found and decided to make it without sugar.   And without garlic, onions or hot peppers.

So basically it was roasted tomatillos, lime juice and cilantro.   I will tell you that this is more sour than the store bought and the restaurant - whether it was because I added more lime juice than I should have or if it was because I left out the sugar.  

First, peel the husks from your tomatillos.  Rinse them well under water and slice the fruit in half.  Place them cut sides down on aluminum foil.  Broil for about 8 minutes.  I did this in my toaster oven so I didn't have to heat up the house with the oven.

*did you know that the best tasting tomatillos are the smaller ones - about ping pong ball size?   The larger ones are harder, tougher and not as sweet.

Add the roasted tomatillos (skin and all) to your food processor.

Next is the lime juice and the cilantro.   I used a whole lime and a small bunch of cilantro leaves.  I pulled them off the stems.
Whirl all this green goodness in the food processor.  You don't need a mighty food processor - this is the cheap-o Black Friday special from WalMart.  It cost a whopping $3.88 and has been amazing for the last three years!  
Grill your chicken and tomatoes - I used my George Foreman Grill - and basted both with the salsa verde while it was grilling.  


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer in a glass: Peach & Thai Basil Iced Tea


Yesterday I picked up the CSA (community supported agriculture) share that my friend gets each month - she is on vacation and offered the share to me!  Of course I jumped at the opportunity!

Wowser!  I got 10 peaches, 5 radishes, 5 potatoes, 5 tomatillos, 6 eggs, a squash, handfuls of ground cherries, thai basil and italian basil and a basil plant!  

I knew that I needed to get started quickly while all this was still fresh.   I quickly started looking recipes to use up the basil before the leaves wilted too much.  

My first thoughts:
  • pesto
  • frozen basil (either the pesto, or leaves frozen in olive oil)
  • a thai basil drink - when my sister and I were on a girl's weekend in Raleigh one year we had the most amazing Thai Basil and Blueberry gin drink.  AMAAAZiNG!  Spicy and sweet all together.   I wanted to make something non-alcoholic that was similar..
Thai Basil and Peach Iced Tea!  PERFECT!!  But all the recipes  I found have sugar and boil the peaches/basil with the sugar to make simple syrup.  I need a no-sugar-added recipe.  :)   So here is what I came up with!

First, brew 2 Qts of Orange Pekoe tea.  I used Salada tea bags.  I usually like my tea pretty weak but the two flavors here are strong so I brewed 5 tea bags in 4 cups of water till it was strong.

Next, peel and roughly chop up 3 peaches into a large bowl.  This works best if your bowl has a flat bottom.  Wash and tear a good sized handful of thai basil leaves (not stems or blossoms)
I wish I had a muddler - but I love the MixNChop from Pampered Chef. 
Smoosh up those peaches and basil to release the juice and flavors.

Next, add ice to a pitcher and pour in the smooshed peaches.

Pour in your tea (make sure to take out the teabags!)

It seemed a little strong for me, so fill it up to the top with water to make the tea match your taste!

Garnish with the blossom of the thai basil - it is this beautiful purple flower!   Sit on the deck on a beautiful sunny day and enjoy sipping on this delicious, slightly sweet and fruity and spicy tea.