Archives for December 2011

Not yo’ Mama’s Almond Butter

Happy Wednesday all!


I hope you are enjoying the hump to get you over the week. I have some exciting news…only 4 more days to Christmas! I know, i know, I am super stoked. Currently, I am rubbing my sore feet as I sit on the couch watching “The Price Is Right.” Let’s just say work was a little hectic yesterday, so I am gearing up for round two this afternoon. Gotta make that money! Today is usually a day that I will post something absolutely wordless, but you must know by now, I am a girl of many, many, words. What can I say? I like to talk and there was absolutely no way, in a million years, that I was going to let this recipe go up without a few words. I have a confession. I made something pretty freaking spectacular this weekend. 
Now don’t get freaked out, it’s not peanut butter



It’s almond butter. Yes people, I said it, almond butter. Now, this is not your ordinary almond butter, this is your “can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of stuff” (yes, I watched a lot of Mary-Kate and Ashley movies growing up). Let me tell you how this almond butter thing began. Last week I made some almond butter that was more like a thick almond paste than a creamy almond butter. It was so unbelievably tough and chewy that I didn’t waste a second forming it into a makeshift basketball and dunking it into my trash can…alley oop style. 

Anyway, after that disaster I had given up on almond butter recipes and decided to stick with peanut butter. I was so frustrated with my almond butter failure of the century that I started to picture my go-to getaway, which always involves me on an island, lounging under a big palm tree, drinking coconut water from a fresh coconut. Wait, that’s it (I thought to myself), coconut…coconut + almond butter. Now, I know what you are thinking, coconut in December? Really, Chelsy? Let me tell you a little something, coconut season lasts all year round’ for me. All day, every day…end of discussion. Now, to add a hint of some Christmas flavor to the mix I added some of the good stuff. 
What says Christmas more than a fresh vanilla bean? 
Let’s just say that this is the best, not to mention, the only almond butter recipe that you will ever need.

Coconut Vanilla Bean Almond Butter

You have absolutely no idea how satisfied I am with this recipe. It definitely lifted me right out of my almond butter funk. Almond butter + coconut + coconut oil + vanilla bean…do I need to tell you anything else? I know I tell you to do stuff all the time because I am the boss, right? Well, I am not telling you, but I am ordering you to get in the kitchen and make this now. I’m signing off to shovel about 50 spoonfuls of this into my mouth  spread this on an apple for a wholesome, hearty, snack. Join me on my island getaway…trust me it is going to be absolutely fantastic!

Coconut Vanilla Bean Almond Butter:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 1/2 c. raw almonds 

pinch of sea salt

3 T. coconut oil, melted

1 whole vanilla bean

Instructions:

1. Preheat your oven to 300 F. 

2. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes, flipping every 5 minutes. 

3. While the almonds are toasting, add the shredded coconut to your food processor and blend until it breaks down. This takes about five minutes or so and will require you to scrape down the sides with a spatula to keep everything moving.

4. After the coconut begins to break down, stream in the coconut oil and continue to mix. 

5. Once the almonds are finished baking, add them immediately to the coconut and blend. This works best while the almonds are still warm.

6. Scrape the inside of the vanilla bean into the almond butter and add a pinch of sea salt. Blend and pulse, scraping down the sides of the processor until the butter comes together. 

Note: The almond butter will do fine if you refrigerate, but I love to keep mine stored in a small jar on the kitchen counter at room temperature. It will get firm regardless. Refrigerate after about two days. 

MANGIA!!!

Shop til’ you drop!

Happy Tuesday all!

I can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner…O my goshness! Truthfully, the Christmas season hadn’t even dawned upon, that is, until yesterday. Yesterday morning I jumped out of bed, hopped in the car, raced to inject some caffeine in my veins, and took the long haul home to the H. I arrived around 9 a.m., which tells you that I left pretty darn early from Austin, three hours to be exact. I just couldn’t wait to see my family. I had a free day yesterday (i.e. no seasonal job work), so naturally my sis and I decided that it was “crunch time,” meaning this was our first, and last day to do some extreme Christmas shopping. We usually wait to the last minute, so this was nothing new. We put our game faces on, fueled up with some lunch, braved several  jam-packed stores, crowds at the mall, and waiting in line for over an hour at Bass Pro Shops a.k.a. redneck theme park. 

Now, I can only use the term redneck here because I myself at times am a redneck. So, naturally this is coming from a place of compassion.  Hell I’m from Texas y’all, you should expect nothing less. I love big trucks, some good old fashioned shootin’ at the range, and my country music…don’t touch my George Strait collection, it’s pretty sacred. Anyway, we had a rootin’ tootin’ hell of a time getting my sister’s bf some fishing/tackling gear and weaponry. I figured she must really, really like him to be spending an hour waiting to purchase something he is going to gut a fish with. Seven hours later Les and I returned home, where I melted onto the couch until I heard a enormous growl from stomach. I knew this could only mean one thing…snack time! 

Thank goodness I made myself a care package of snacks to take home with me. I always come prepared, especially when I know I am going to be standing on my feet for several hours while selling bottles of fragrance to last-second shoppers looking for a good-smelling gift for their loved ones. Let’s just say I get all sorts of guests, from mother’s shopping for their daughters who want the hottest and newest celebrity fragrance (a.k.a. Justin Bieber), and husbands shopping for their wives. The best customers are the husband’s whose wives gave them their fragrance wish list two months ago. However, little do these men know that their wives fave fragrance is sold out and now they have to resort to getting her the most expensive fragrance on the market to make up for their “absentmindedness.” Anyway, back to the food. To hold me over until dinner, I whipped out my snack bin and grabbed a handful of the good stuff: Coconut Maple Granola.
I mean just look at all the good stuff that goes into it
I mean seriously…
That is some good snacking.
A bowl
of the good stuff!

 Let’s just say that I absolutely love granola, whether its layered with some Greek yogurt, or in a bowl with some almond milk and fresh fruit. This stuff is absolutely dangerous ah-mazing. BEWARE: you might just want to stick your hand and grab some of this out of the oven because it smell insanely divine!
Maple Coconut Granola (recipe adapted from Shutterbean):

Ingredients:
3 c. rolled oats (can use gf oats if you like)
3/4 c. raw almonds
1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut shreds
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/8 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. 
2. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, both kinds of coconut, coconut oil, and maple syrup, stir well.
3. When the granola is thoroughly saturated, add the brown sugar on top and continue to stir. 
4. Season with salt, and spread the granola evenly on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes making sure to stir the granola evenly every 10 minutes. 
6. Let granola cool and transfer to an airtight container. Store for up to two weeks. 

MANGIA!!!

Secret Recipe Club and a Meatless Monday

Happy Monday all!

Today I am headed back to the H for my holiday gig that I have been doing for a while. Just call me “spritzer girl.” What can I say? Just trying to make that paper! The food blogger lifestyle doesn’t come easy. Haha! Anyhoo, today is a special day because it is the last Secret Recipe Club reveal for the year! Whoop! I am totally doing a fist pump right now as I sit in the coffee shop. BTW I have no idea why the older man filling out tons of Starbucks gift cards (maybe for his employees?) is looking at me strange…nothing wrong with a little fist pumping action…jeez. Back to the SRC reveal…I am super stoked to present to you my SRC reveal for December, Jennifer at Mother Thyme


Now, Jennifer is no stranger to me, if fact I consider her my home girl, seeing as I have been food blog stalking her even before joining the SRC. We are both members of Tasty Kitchen and just so happened to be friends! Who would have thought? FYI, she probably has no idea who I am…but she is definitely about to find out. A little tid-bit about Jen (I’m sure she doesn’t mind if I call her Jen, right? I mean we are like family now): She was born and raised in NY, stay-at-home mother of the cutest freakin’ twins (Tyler and Eden), and loving wife. I think her concept is pretty much on point: simple, delicious, affordable, family-friendly recipes. Plus, if you are into crafts, Jen is definitely the woman to see about decorating and entertaining. BTW, I am super, super jealous of all the places she has traveled, ex: Vietnam and Paris. I am putting a proposal together for adoption (that is, her adopting me of course). 


I just loved all of Jen’s delicious recipes but honestly, I cannot for the sake of my life get off my breakfast kick. Hell, I just love breakfast any time of day, especially when it’s chilly outside. Lucky for me, Jen had a few breakfast recipes that looked scrumptious, in particular, her Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes. I had purchased a can of pumpkin puree which I was going to use to make these pumpkin cinnamon rolls, but seriously pancakes are my bff, so I caved.

 Best idea ever. 
Piece of cake…
I like a little pancake with my apple butter… 
You know what happened after this photo…completely devoured
I did switch up the recipe so I could test-drive a gf version…my plan is to make these for myself  leetle seester and family on Christmas morning. So excited! Thanks Jen! Love ya girl! 


Pumpkin Pancakes (GF):

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. blanched almond flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 T arrowroot powder
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t nutmeg
2 large eggs
2 T agave nectar
1 T vanilla extract
1/4 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 c. canned pumpkin puree
2 T grapeseed oil, plus more for greasing

Instructions:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, arrowroot, and spices.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, agave, vanilla, almond milk, pumpkin, and oil.
3. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
4. Add the batter in 1/4 c. increments to a skillet (I used cast iron) and cook over medium heat. 
5. Cook the pancakes until small air bubbles start to form, then flip. 
6. Serve warm with maple syrup or a drizzle of honey.


MANGIA!!!








Friday Link Love: My Favorite Things

Happy Friday all!

First off, I need to make an important announcement regarding a life-changing recipe that I encountered this week. Listen up people because what I am about to tell you is very important, so important that it just might in fact change your life. I met my new best friend this week.  
 
Meet Ms. Muffin…Ms. Lemon Cream Flax Muffin, that is.
I don’t know if you have noticed, but I have an extreme SWEET tooth, or um, teeth. So much so that I discovered a wisdom tooth growing in the back of my mouth on Wednesday. I am pretty sure that this will make my appetite even sweeter, seeing as I will have an extra tooth for devouring scrumptious sweets and all. Well, these muffins are no exception. I know this whole muffin thing is throwing you off so think of it like this, muffins are just cupcakes in disguise. You know, sans the icing on top. Instead, some muffins, like Ms. Lemon Cream over here are drizzled with a classic powdered sugar glaze. In my opinion, this is frosting’s down-played step-sister who often goes unnoticed. 
My relationship with lemons has always been pristine, but add some sugar and I am all over that like white on rice. I mean, c’mon, it’s a muffin right? So, it has got to be healthy, right? Lemons are a fruit and flax seed have a lot of fiber in them, so this must be a health muffin. Yea, we will just go with that because it will reconfirm my decision to make them in a ravenous panic yesterday after which I devoured 1.5 of them with a glass of almond milk two hours before dinner. Even while eating my chicken and butternut squash for dinner, my mind was fixated on the little halve of the muffin that I didn’t finish, staring at me through the plastic window of my Tupperware. Anyway, what I am trying to say here is, you need this recipe in your life, like NOW. Big ups to my home girl Jess over at How Sweet It Is for making my week extra sweet!
On another note, I was listening to one of my fave Austin morning talk shows, the Bobby Bones Show, and they were discussing a segment for today called “Bobby’s Favorite Things.” Basically, the segment runs kind of like Oprah’s favorite things, where Bobby, the main host of the show, gives his one of his favorite things to each of his co-hosts, Amy, Lunchbox, and Carlos. Anyway, this got me thinking? What are some of my favorite things? Well, you are about to find out. In no particular order, here is a rant about things that are my favorite!

Chelsy’s Favorite Things:

So, here is the deal, I have this obsession, and I owe it all to my experience as a barista in college. It’s called coffee and it is definitely my kind of drug. You see, before I was a barista I seldom even drank coffee. In fact, I had no idea where coffee even came from, much less the difference between a light roast and a dark roast. Here is a fun fact: Did you know that light roast actually has more caffeine? Yea, that’s right, I said it. That’s for all of you early morning working Joe’s and Jane’s that stood outside of my cafe waiting for the doors to open in the wee hours of the morning just to get your “tons of caffeine” dark roast coffee. Little did you know, that in your rush, I just let you think that the dark roast had the most caffeine. If you would have stuck around, I could have given you the coffee talk. Yet, you chose to be a “know it all” and suffered the consequences of a coffee high and subsequent crash an hour later, barely into your morning office gossip. F.Y.I. the light roast would have lasted you at least another two hours to energize through your morning paperwork. Anyhoo, now that I have ranted…I should be talking about espresso instead of coffee, which is my drink of choice. Yea, I know, it’s real Italian. This is my coffee hangout and if you ever visit round’ these parts, get you some espresso from here, ya hear? 
It is seriously a coffee “house” if you know what I’m saying
It will change your life and you will never step foot inside of a Starbucks again. Seriously. 
That being said, I really, really want one of these  because it is the traditional version, and obviously the less expensive version of what my heart really, truly desires. The mecca of espresso machines. Yea, one day I will own one in my house on my private island, where I will serve my guests the best espresso they have ever made. No charge. 
Moving on, let’s talk about fashion. Because you just can’t have coffee without looking fashionable, right? I say this to you as I sit here, sipping my coffee in my stretchy luon pants, hair in a messy ponytail, and no makeup. Yes, I am tre chic. I know. Anyway, I absolutely love, love, love this store. There is a part of me that secretly wishes that I had a professional job, you know, a job full of pencil skirts, white button down blouses, rose-gold watches, and a beautiful coffee cup sitting on my desk in my own office. You see how coffee ties into everything, right? Anyway, all of that would come from Anthropologie, the main supplier of my “working girl” closet. Sometimes I get really jealous when I walk into the store to see them conducting group interviews with girls dressed head-to-toe in Anthrobed displays. Hah! Just know that when you really see me wearing these. I am dying to dress like this.
Now this, this is really Me
Me again…
Now, let’s chat a bit about one of my really, really, ridiculously favorite things. I love me some Foods of the Whole. You should all know about our love/love relationship by now, it’s pretty freakin’ obvious. I shop there. I lose lots of money there. Is it worth it? Totally. The End. 
 
 
By now, you all know that I have an even greater relationship with peanut butter. I obviously just can’t get enough of it. To make matter’s worse, as I was browsing a food magazine yesterday I came across this . Really? That is like adding fuel to the fire. Then my brain started racing with ideas as I gazed open mouthed at their unique nut butter varieties. 
If those aren’t nut butters, then I don’t know what is…
Because we are on the subject of food. I must share with you my current favorite Austin eatery. 24 Diner…it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Who would of thought? Now, this is not your plain ole’ eggs and bacon kind of place. My sis and I have been frequenting this place ever since it opened a little over a year ago, maybe? Anyway, we always get the same thing, a frittata that is bigger than our heads, yummy coffee, fresh fruit, and homemade veggie sausage. It is too die for.
Now, that place is more of your contemporary breakfast joint. Now this, this is my all time favorite place for breakfast in the world. Frank’s not only serves up the best breakfast round’ these here parts, but the hospitality is always the same. Bonnie, our waitress,  has been greeting my family and I on a first name basis for years! When I go with my Dad we always sit up at the bar, where we engage in light-hearted conversation with the head chef, Leo. You can always expect to see him wearing his favorite Dallas Cowboy’s hat, flipping homemade buttermilk pancakes on the flat-top grill like no body’s business.  We always talk about the same things, soccer and family. This guy makes the best omelet’s in the world. I always get the loaded veggie omelet with a side of crispy hash browns that are absolutely to die for! This isn’t Mickey D’s here people. Real talk: real down-home food. When your Dad sends you an evil early morning text with a picture of Leo standing over the sizzling pancakes on the flat-top grill you know it’s bad. I nearly cried. True story.
Let’s talk about happier things, like the ah-mazing Christmas party for work that I am going to tonight. I love me a good party, watch out I can bust a move. Anyway, because I have the day off, and because I love to dress up, I am headed to get myself pampered at one of my fave salons. They are going to pimp me out with my usual holly would do’. That is only my first party this weekend, my second round of partying will be with my lemons on Sunday night. They have no idea what a treat they are in for with my White Elephant gift. I am coming at them hard with food gifts. Get excited!
Let’s wrap this up with my all time favorite things in the world
 
My parents…they like to ride bikes
Leetle seester (on the left), we like to ride bikes too!
That’s all folks!
 
MANGIA!!!

Baking “Bread” and Meatless Monday

Happy Monday all!

So, lately I have been really into comfort food, especially since the weather is nice and chilly outside. This means that I have been in a cooking frenzy, making various sorts of peanut butter, chicken cacciatore, lots of butternut squash, and I mean LOTS of butternut squash (could definitely be my new bff), pancakes, and bread. Yes people…I said it, BREAD, and lots of it. Now, this is not your ordinary bread…it’s actually more like cake (as per the words of my sis). What can I say? That’s just how I roll.


In my world, every recipe begins with a story, so allow me to tell you where this sitch-e-ation with bread began. Obviously, leetle seester (a.k.a. Les) can’t have bread. Celiac=no gluten=no bread. However, there are bread substitutes for these poor, sad, leetle, celiac people, like my sis that allows them to have there bread and eat it too (a little much? Yea, I crack my self up). Let’s just say that over Thanksgiving break, we put this bread to good use. My Dad got pretty crafty using the gf breadcrumbs in his cornbread stuffing, which might I add, was freakin’ delicious. The funny part is that my Dad had never tried this gf bread before. He is definitely the pasta eating, meat-a-ball making, bread stick junkie kind of guy…so this gf thing is on a whole notha’ level for him. Anyway, my Dad is pretty darn creative and has taken this gf pretty seriously, he and my mom have actually switched to a semi-gf diet. Yea, I really don’t know how to explain that one…semi meaning that they only allow themselves a What-a-burger twice a week now. Ha ha! Just kidding, seriously though, my parents eat pretty healthy, and cutting out bread for them is one small step for man kind and well, you know the rest. 


Anyway, like I was saying, after discovering this gluten free bread, my Dad is a changed man, who knows if he will ever pick up a real piece of toast again. Wait til he finds out they have a cinnamon raisin variety (hmmm…this could be my next project). Upon returning home after Thanksgiving, I had nothing better to do than whip up my own version of gf bread. First of all, this stuff smelled absolutely sinful…I could hardly contain my urge to whip that thing out of the oven and baste it with a stick of butter before devouring the entire loaf. To make matters worse, I had to allow it to cool for about 30 minutes after baking. 

I mean just look at it, staring me down like nobody’s business…
I was literally licking my lips while snapping photos

Talk about torture. I used coconut oil in the recipe… holy moly. I don’t think I will ever go back to using regular oil ever again. I literally just want to take a bath in this stuff. You can really taste the flavor of the coconut oil in the bread, but it’s not overpowering…just enough to make your heart melt. I will warn you that this bread is pretty dangerous, so be careful. I would suggest serving the bread with a pat of butter and a maybe a spread of your favorite jam. Luckily, I still had a little bit of this good stuff leftover. Remember to be greedy and eat this whole entire loaf yourself share with your friends and family. 


The “Bread”:


Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. almond flour
2 T. coconut flour
1/4 c. golden flaxseed
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking soda
5 eggs
1/4 c. coconut oil, melted
1 T. agave nectar (you can also use honey)
1 T. apple cider vinegar


Instructions:
1. Place almond flour, coconut flour, flaxseed, salt, and baking soda in a food processor.
2. Pulse ingredients together.
3. Pulse in eggs, oil, agave, and vinegar.
4. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.
5. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.
6. Cool and serve (unless you just can’t handle the torture)


P.S. If you want to go vote for my Orange Glazed Citrus Cookies in Saveur’s Home Cook Challenge, I would pretty much love you forever. Winner gets $500 dollars to Sur La Table (I can only dream of the possibilities). Just saying…


MANGIA!!!