Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Homemade No-Stir Almond Butter

I may have ruined store bought almond butter for myself. This was one of those recipes I made and went, "Wow, that's it?" It's so easy to make I can't think of a reason to not do this myself from here on out.

Store bought almond butters are expensive and have a tendency to separate. The magic of this recipe is the butter is made with coconut oil which is naturally in a solid state up to around 76ºF, so it doesn't separate in the refrigerator. It still spreads well once it hits a warm piece of toast. Ooh yum. I'm getting hungry again... excuse me.

You need:

1 1/2 c unsalted roasted almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1 T virigin coconut oil
1 tsp maple syrup

In a food processor, chop the almonds and salt until the nuts have formed a paste and begins to get slightly sticky. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup and continue to chop until the mixture forms the desired consistency. I let mine go for a while until it's very smooth.

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Hi all!  Mark here.
I have a thing for simple desserts, and this dessert couldn't be simpler!
Today's recipe is a Brazilian treat called "Brigadeiro" which produces a delightful, chewy, bite-sized dessert with only three basic ingredients!

Brigadeiro are a popular Brazilian treat that resembles a small chocolate bonbon rolled in toppings.  The topping of choice is typically chocolate sprinkles, but shredded coconut, pretzel bits, and even crushed nuts work wonderfully too!  Both were enjoyable, but the Heath pieces I used were my favorite since they added an extra sweetness and a slight crunch to the treat.  Brigadeiro are different from regular truffles in that the sweetened condensed milk they are made with gives them a slight caramel flavor, which is balanced nicely by the rich chocolate taste from the cocoa powder.

Brigadeiro are a staple at Brazilian birthday parties for children (similar to the cupcake in America) and are also considered comfort food by many, as the dessert is easy to make and requires only 3 ingredients.  After having made this dessert, it's not hard to imagine why it is so beloved.

The recipe for Brigadeiro is strikingly similar from website to website, though the main recipe I used is here: Brigadeiro

Recipe yields about 24 brigadeiro

You need:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 T butter
3 T cocoa powder

For toppings:
3 T sprinkles
3 T Heath toffee pieces
(other popular toppings include ground pistachio and shredded coconut; though anything that the brigadeiro can be rolled in can be used a topping)

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-low heat, mix the three ingredients together and stir the mixture for about ten minutes.  Do this until the mixture has thickened and sticks to itself instead of the pan.  It will become quite thick in this stage, hold its shape well, and will also have a deep chocolate color.  At this point, transfer the mixture into a greased bowl and let it cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

After you've let the mixture cool, take it out from the fridge and with greased hands, tear off little pieces of the mixture and roll it into a ball shape of about 1 inch, to 1.5 inches.  (I prefer smaller sizes, so I did 1 inch)  After you've rolled the candy into a ball, roll it into whatever toppings you desire.  I did chocolate sprinkles, and also Heath bar toffee pieces.  At this point the treats are often put into little mini wrappers for ease of eating, though they do not have to be.  The brigadeiro can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to eat.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pumpkin Cranberry Doggie Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my darling readers! Today may be a day for turkey, football, and family, but it's also a day to count our blessings. One of my blessings I am always thankful for is my dog, Martha. She is a little strange. She barks at other dogs on T.V. She tries to eat grass clods after we mow the lawn. I swear she thinks she is a person with that attitude, but I wouldn't want her any other way. She's my fur baby.

If you want a new way to show your fur baby just how much they mean to you, give these easy, healthy dog treats a try. They are packed with things that are great for your dog and no silly chemicals or preservatives. They are also so easy to make. It's like making any old sugar cookie recipe. Mix, roll, cut, bake, devour (that's the dog's part.) Of course, these are people friendly too, but with no sugar, these might taste a little bland to you. Also give my Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pup Pies a try if you are feeling more adventurous!

You need:

3/4 c pumpkin puree
1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c rolled oats
1/4 c dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Mix the pumpkin, flour, oats, and cranberries into a stiff dough. Roll the dough flat until its 1/8" thick. Cut out shapes and lay them on a baking sheet. Bake the treats for 15 minutes or until they begin to brown. Cool completely on a rack before serving to your favorite furry friends.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Napa Cabbage Salad

The atomic age had some terrifyingly bad foods come out of it. Dessert molds with lemon jell-o and canned mixed vegetables are proof of that, but this recipe stands the text of time, and is a nice alternative dinner if you don't want meat.

You need:

4 T butter
2 T sesame seeds
1/4 c slivered almonds
2 pkg instant ramen noodles, crumbled
1/2 c olive oil
3 T brown sugar
3 T red wine vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 napa cabbage, sliced and refrigerated

Melt butter in a skillet and toast the sesame seeds, slivered almonds, and ramen noodles until brown. Remove from heat and add a packet of flavoring. I use the chicken ones. Set aside to cool.

Mix the olive oil, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and second flavor packet together.

Toss the crunchy topping, dressing and cabbage together in a large bowl and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Very Favorite Caramel Sauce

Lovely caramel,
Velvety sauce of wonder,
So easy to make.

That's right. I love caramel enough to write a haiku. It wasn't a very good haiku, but you get the point! I think it is one of my favorite sweets to make (after pie of course!)

I have said that cooking is the closest thing I will ever get to magic. While it is all chemistry, the transformation of simple ingredients into new textures, tastes, and smells is just fascinating to me.

Caramel sauce is so fun because you get to watch the magic happen right before your eyes. The sugar melts, it browns, the cream bubbles, the butter becomes glossy, and the vanilla and salt elevate the potent flavor of this potion for happiness!

Try putting this magic on apple slices, oatmeal, s'mores, animal crackers, ice cream, cakes, really anything. I'd be willing to bet it even taste great on a pork chop. Why not? Get experimental!

I love good old fashioned vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and chocolate chips. Have a little more fun and pop that baby in a blender with some milk for a milkshake! Mmm...

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups

You need:

2 c sugar
1/2 c water
1 c heavy cream, warmed
5 T butter, room temp, cut into chunks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

Combine sugar and water in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the mixture is completely clear. Raise heat to high. DO NOT STIR. Wet a pastry brush to clean sugar crystals off the sides of the pan if needed. Bring syrup to a boil until dark amber.

Remove from heat and slowly mix in heavy cream. Return caramel to burner on low heat to loosen any lumps. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla, and salt. Transfer to a bowl to cool.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cold Summer Noodles

It's hard to beat the August heat. It can be especially difficult to deal with around meal times. Let's face it, sometimes hamburgers and hot dogs can be too -- well -- HOT! I love cold noodles in summer. They're so refreshing. I love grabbing a bowl and finding a shady spot to enjoy a cooling meal.

Add sriracha if you want a little adventure. The noodles have a subtle flavor that is still enjoyable without spicy chili as their dance partner.

You need:

1 lb tofu
3 T toasted sesame oil, divided
1 T + 1 tsp soy sauce, divided
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T mirin
1 lb soba or udon noodles
1/4 c scallions, chopped
1 medium cucumber, chopped
Sesame seeds, optional
Sriracha, optional

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water heats, stir fry the tofu in 1 T sesame oil. Drizzle with soy sauce and fry until browned. Set aside to cool. Mix the remaining oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and mirin.

Once the water boils, cook the noodles according to the package. I used fresh udon so it only took a couple minutes. Drain the cooked noodles and rinse with cold water until cooled through. Toss the noodles with the sauce, tofu, scallions, and cucumber. Serve in bowls and top with sesame seeds and sriracha.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Scrumptious Scrubs: Beauty from Your Kitchen

We have all seen those mysterious jars of grit at the beauty counter. You know the type, touting exotic salts and oils that give your skin an unparalleled beauty, and incredible scientific technology combined with ancient secrets of a forgotten people from the forests of... you get the picture.

The point is, the only thing that makes these scrubs so different is the sheer number of ingredients. Do you know what Glyceryl Stearate SE is? What about Ceteareth-20 or Methylisothiazolinone? Neither do I. You don't need much to make a great scrub at home either. Most of the ingredients can be found in your average kitchen. Some of these recipes sound good enough to eat, but save it for your face, and maybe just sneak a drop of honey before you start!

It is best to do these scrub treatments at night or over the weekend. Everyone's skin is different and may have a different reaction to the scrubs. Your skin may be a little red or sensitive after some of them. Scrub number 2 makes my skin tingly and a little red, but by morning I look great. It's also important to not over-exfoliate. Only use one of these scrubs once a week.

#1 - Brightening Scrub

1 T honey
1 T light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all and gently apply to face in circular motions. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Wash off with warm water and a washcloth. *NOTE* Your skin may be a little red afterward, but it will calm down. Do this scrub at night.

#2 - Blackhead Remover

1 T honey
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Mix all and gently apply to problem areas in circular motions. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Gently rinse off with a washcloth and warm water. *NOTE* This one can also make your skin feel a little tingly and sensitive.

#3 - Moisturizing Scrub

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 T granulated sugar

Mix all and gently apply to problem areas in circular motions. Gently rinse off with a washcloth and warm water.

#4 - Soothing Scrub

1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed fresh rosemary
1 tsp crushed lavender flowers
2 tsp salt

Mix all and gently apply to problem areas in circular motions. Gently rinse off with a washcloth and warm water.

#5 - Invigorating Scrub

Coffee grounds!

Save your coffee grounds from the previous day and use them as an invigorating scrub in the morning. Who doesn't love the smell of coffee in the morning? Gently rub the grounds on your skin in small circular motions. Wash off with warm water and a washcloth.

*Bonus* White Teeth Scrub

1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp - 1 tsp hydrogen peroxide

Mix baking soda and peroxide to form a paste. Apply to teeth with a toothbrush. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Rinse with water. Do this twice a week to whiten teeth.