Union Square Café’s Bar Nuts


Need a new recipe to include in your rotation of holiday munchies? I’ve got just the one for you! Union Square Café’s Bar Nuts are warm, healthy, addictive, and best of all, quick & easy to make. You will definitely impress your guests.

The Union Square Café is a long-running New York City restaurant and the nuts they serve in their bar are famous. Google them and you’ll find the recipe on many different sites from Epicurious to Saveur, but only one, The Smitten Kitchen, has you return the nuts to the oven for a final bake after tossing with the butter-rosemary mixture. This makes all the difference!

Because I’m not a big rosemary fan, I was skeptical of this recipe at first, but Deb at the Smitten Kitchen assures that even the rosemary-averse will love it here and I wholeheartedly agree.

I’ve made these twice, the first time with all cashews and the second with cashews and almonds. I liked both equally well when they were warm, but when eating at room temperature, I prefer the cashew only version.

If you use mixed nuts, keep in mind some of the nut varieties will get over-toasted before other nuts are just right. That’s the reason I stuck to cashews and almonds, which take the same amount of time.

Stock up on nuts, you’ll be making these several times over the holidays for all your gatherings and you can also package them in small jars for gift-giving. Enjoy!



Union Square Café’s Bar Nuts

Slightly adapted from this Smitten Kitchen recipe

1 pound unsalted cashews or almonds or a combination (either raw or roasted)

1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending how much heat you’d like

2 teaspoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread nuts on a sheet pan and toast for 7-15 minutes (raw nuts will require the longer cooking time, already roasted will take less). Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, and salt.

Once the nuts are toasted, dump them in the bowl and stir to evenly coat. Return the nuts to the sheet pan and spread in an even layer. Bake another 5-10 minutes.

Cool for a few minutes and serve warm. The nuts are also good at room temperature or reheated for 5 minutes at 350 degrees F. Store leftovers in an airtight jar. Makes about 3 ½ cups.

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No-Knead Cinnamon Chip Bread

Bread
We recently hosted our friends Lori & Scott at the cabin for a fall color weekend, which was a great time and the leaves were gorgeous! Preparation for cabin trips is especially fun for me because it involves cooking and baking in advance so we have more time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors once we’re there.

This trip, to go with our hearty cabin breakfasts, I made cinnamon chip bread with homemade cinnamon chips. Having made the cinnamon chips several times before (great in muffins and cookies!), I knew they would be good, but it was a first time for this bread recipe, which is adapted from one I got years ago from baker extraordinaire, Renee Saxman, a friend from my running days in Rochester.

A “Renee” recipe is always delicious when made by Renee. I just wasn’t sure if it would be as good when made by me. Hesitant to serve this untested to friends, I decided to cut off one slice of the finished bread to make sure it was “company-worthy.” Long story short, it was so good that Pete and I polished off the entire loaf. Fortunately, there was plenty of time to make another loaf and pop it in the freezer until the trip.

Why, you may ask, make homemade cinnamon chips when you can buy a good-tasting package at the grocery store? Most grocery store versions (Hershey’s, I’m talking to you) have some sketchy ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial colors, and natural & artificial flavors (but no mention of the word cinnamon—can you believe it?), so making my own was an easy choice. The King Arthur Flour brand, which has more natural ingredients, can be ordered online, but I’ve never seen it in stores.

The cinnamon chips are quick to make and once cooled and broken into pieces, will keep for several days in a covered container at room temperature. If you make them rather than using store-bought, you’ll be happy you did, plus, it will give you super-baker cred!
Home-made Cinnamon Chips

This is a perfect autumn and winter bread. Slightly sweet, with a crunch of cinnamon sugar on top, it’s delightful toasted or not. A little butter or jam, maybe peanut butter even, make for comfort-food bliss, and it’s a wonderful addition to breakfast—either at the cabin or at home. Enjoy!
Cinnamon Chip Bread

No-Knead Cinnamon Chip Bread

2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup warm milk (105-115 degrees F.)

¼ cup butter, melted

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup cinnamon chips (recipe follows)

Cinnamon sugar for topping (1/8 cup organic sugar mixed with ½ tablespoon cinnamon)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, egg, and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, and mix until smooth (I used a stand mixer, which works better than a hand mixer).

Cover the bowl and let rise at room temperature for about an hour. Stir in the baking powder and cinnamon chips.

Scrape batter into a greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar (you probably won’t use it all). Bake at 350 degrees F. for 45-50 minutes (it should read 200 degrees on an instant read thermometer when done).

Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. This freezes well, so is ideal to make ahead. Makes 1 loaf.

Cinnamon Chips
From this All Recipes post

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated shortening (I used Spectrum Organic Shortening)

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees F. Mix together all ingredients in a medium bowl to form a dough. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll dough to 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet and remove top layer of parchment. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until bubbly.

Transfer, on parchment, to a wire rack and cool completely. Break into pieces. Makes about 1 cup.

Buffalo Cauliflower with Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce

Buffalo Cauliflower with Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce
Even though Buffalo wings had become bar food standards before I turned vegetarian, I’ve never had them. The smells of blue cheese dressing (I can’t stand blue cheese) and Buffalo sauce combined turned me off completely, as did chicken wings in general.

Then 25 years or so after I’d written off Buffalo anything entirely, a recipe for veggie balls in Buffalo sauce, served with ranch dressing instead of the dreaded blue cheese, popped up in my newsfeed. The recipe’s Buffalo sauce had a high butter to hot sauce ratio and I ended up not liking the butter overload and upset stomach that resulted.

Resolved to avoid Buffalo sauce for the rest of my life, I reluctantly decided to try it again after reading rave reviews of the Buffalo “wings” at a newly opened vegan restaurant in St. Paul. Having a few days left of our recent vacation, Pete and I enjoyed a weekday lunch date at J. Selby’s, which as far as I know, is the only vegan St. Paul restaurant. Based on those reviews, we started with the Buffalo “wings,” which were made from cauliflower. So delicious, and we both had to exercise restraint in order to not finish the entire order before our entrées arrived. With vegan meaning no “real” butter, there was neither a butter overload nor an upset stomach—yay!!

"Cheddar" Cauliflower

Battered Cauliflower

At home in my fridge’s crisper was a head of orange, also called cheddar, cauliflower and thoughts of making my own version began to percolate (the color doesn’t change the taste–it’s the same as white cauliflower). After looking at several recipes, I adapted one from the Frank’s RedHot Sauce website, mainly because their hot sauce was supposedly the secret ingredient in the first ever Buffalo Wings to come out of Buffalo, New York.

Baked Cauliflower

This recipe called for less butter than the ill-fated one referred to earlier, and to make it vegan like J. Selby’s, I replaced that butter with a combo of vegan margarine and non-hydrogenated shortening.

White or brown rice flour could be substituted in place of the wheat flour for a gluten-free option. I include a recipe for ranch dipping sauce, but if you want traditional blue cheese, go for it (while I stifle a gag).

Of course, these crispy, spicy, cauliflowery nuggets will make an awesome appetizer at your next party, but they also will stand in just fine in place of dinner while you absent mindedly eat the entire batch you made to test the recipe on a Tuesday night after work. Don’t ask me how I know. Enjoy!

Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower

 

Buffalo Cauliflower with Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce

Adapted from this Frank’s RedHot Sauce recipe

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour (substitute brown rice flour for gluten-free)

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (substitute rice flour for gluten—free)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1 medium head white or orange (also called cheddar) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

½ cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

2 tablespoons vegan butter, such as Earth Balance, melted

1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated shortening, such as Spectrum Organic, melted

Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet or line it with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Whisk in water and continuing whisking until very smooth. Dump in your cauliflower florets and stir until evenly coated.

Using tongs, move cauliflower pieces to prepared baking sheet, shaking off excess batter into the bowl as you do so (I had some batter left over). Make sure florets are evenly spread out on baking sheet, in a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes, until coating is golden, rotating baking sheet at about the 10-minute mark for even browning.

Meanwhile, mix Frank’s RedHot Sauce together with the melted butter and shortening.

Remove florets from the oven and drizzle with sauce mixture and toss with a spatula to evenly coat. Return to the oven for about 10 more minutes, until cauliflower begins to crisp.

Remove cauliflower to a platter and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing. Makes about 6 appetizer servings.

Cool Ranch Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, regular or vegan

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use vegan Earth Balance Mindful Mayo)

¼ cup milk of choice (skim, almond, soy, etc.)

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (I used a combination of chives, garlic chives, and parsley)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk yogurt, mayo, milk, lemon juice, and mustard together in a small bowl. Stir in herbs, salt, and pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh ala Suzanne


I’ve made a lot of pizza crusts in my life. Sometimes thick, sometimes thin, and all sorts of in between. But until a few days ago, I had never made a cracker thin crust or anything resembling lavosh (an Armenian cracker bread or flatbread, either yeasted or unleavened). Never really thought about making it either until I was inspired by the always inspirational Sarah Nasello. She and her husband Tony write a weekly food column in the The Forum, and this week it included a recipe for the Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh.

The Hotel Donaldson (HoDo for short) is a trendy boutique hotel in cool downtown Fargo, North Dakota (yes, I said cool and North Dakota in the same sentence!), that is home to both a great casual restaurant/bar and wonderful fine dining restaurant. No visit to Fargo is complete without a visit to HoDo.

After reading Sarah’s column, my mind immediately thought of combining the recipe with yummy Shaved Asparagus Pizza from the super talented Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook—one of the most used in my collection.

With it being asparagus season, I just made the pizza a few days ago and used smoked mozzarella for the first time, along with the addition of shaved fennel. Wow, did that rock! Figuring if I lightened up the topping volume and added some spring color from shaved radishes, this would make the perfect “Suzanne” version of Signature Lavosh.

I made the dough exactly as the recipe was written, with the exception of adding ½ cup whole wheat flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour—I just feel less guilt about anything in the pizza family if I can say, “But it’s whole grain.” And even though this is a yeast dough, there’s no need to let the dough rise when using instant yeast.

This is a really nice dough to work with, but not having a pasta roller, I was a bit worried about getting it rolled thin enough. No need—it rolled out beautifully. It’s probably not quite as thin as it would be through a pasta roller, but it’s darn thin and got nice and crispy like lavosh should be. My mom offered to bring the pasta roller they haven’t used in years when they come for Easter, and I think I will take her up on that. The difference will be interesting to see.

Sarah’s recipe also mentions running a dough docker, which I had to google to find out what it was, across each rolled out piece of dough. It’s a spikey roller thing that will help keep air bubbles from forming as your lavosh bakes. Instead I poked the dough all over with a large meat fork and it seemed to do the trick.

The cheeses you top the lavosh with can be switched up to your liking and/or what you have on hand. Directly on top of the flatbread I used a mixture of half smoked mozzarella and half regular, plus I sprinkled a little fresh parmesan over the vegetables.

Speaking of vegetables, you could vary them as well. Any spring veggies that can be shaved super thin with a mandolin or vegetable peeler would work. The combo of asparagus, fennel, and radish was delicious and pretty, and I could see carrot or red onion put in the mix as well. Just keep in mind not to top this like a more heartily-crusted pizza. The lavosh is light and somewhat delicate, so you don’t want to weigh it down with heavy toppings.

Another change from Sarah’s original recipe I made was to increase the oven temperature. I used half the dough the first night following the 350-degree instruction for convection ovens (375 for regular). When I made the remaining dough into lavosh the next night, I increased the temp to 400 in my convection oven, so non-convection would be 425 degrees F. My results were better with the higher temperature. And I did use a pizza stone.

This light, cracker-crisp lavosh with wisps of spring veggies and a light sprinkling of cheese is the perfect first-peek-of-warm-weather supper accompanied by a nice glass of rosé. Enjoy!


Hotel Donaldson's Signature Lavosh ala Suzanne

Adapted from the Hotel Donaldson’s Signature Lavosh and the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook’s Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Lavosh:
1 cup water, lukewarm (not hot)

1 teaspoon instant dry yeast

1 ½ teaspoons honey

1 ½ teaspoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute up to ½ cup with whole wheat flour)

½ cup semolina flour

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. (400 for convection ovens). If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven now. Otherwise, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large mixing bowl, place the yeast on the bottom and then add the water. Allow the water to fully saturate the yeast, then add the honey, followed by the melted butter (make sure it is not hot).

Add the dry ingredients one at a time starting with the flour, then the semolina and adding the salt and pepper on top. Use the dough hook attachment to knead the dough until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough becomes soft and pliable, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Portion dough into desired serving size (I portioned it into 4 servings, about 8 oz. portions each, and used 2 for the toppings below and refrigerated the other half to make more the next day). (The Hotel Donaldson uses 4-ounce portions to create a single serving approximately 4 inches wide and 12 to 14 inches long, and you can vary the size according to your needs.)

Gently knead each portion into a ball, then lightly flatten into a disk. Use dough immediately or wrap each portion in plastic and refrigerate for up to one week. To freeze, place wrapped disks in a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for at least one month. Allow dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

If using a pasta roller, the dough performs best when chilled first, so refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. If rolling by hand with a rolling pin, room temperature dough is best.

To make the lavosh, run each disk of dough through a pasta roller, starting on the #3 or #4 setting, and then decrease the setting and run through again until it is thin enough to run through the lowest setting, until the sheet of dough achieves a desired thinness of 1/8-inch or lower.

If not using a pasta roller, generously flour your counter (or a silicone baking mat) and use a floured rolling pin to roll dough super thin, no thicker than 1/8th inch, into the desired size. While you’re rolling, check occasionally to make sure dough isn’t stuck to the floured surface.

Place each dough sheet on pizza stone or baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each. Before placing in the oven, run a dough docker across each sheet, or use a fork to gently create holes evenly over the dough.

Bake for 6 to 9 minutes until lightly golden on the edges. Remove from oven to a cooling rack until ready for your toppings.

Toppings for half a batch of the lavosh dough made into 2 flatbreads:
1/2 to 1/3 pound of asparagus spears, thicker stalks work best

½ a medium fennel bulb, trimmed

About 4 larger radishes

A couple teaspoons good quality extra-virgin olive oil (the kind you reserve for drizzling or bread-dipping)

A pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Three scallions, white and green parts, sliced

A total of about 6-8 ounces shredded mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, and parmesan (or other cheese(s) of choice)

Using the end of each asparagus spear that you would normally trim off as a handle, lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board and peel off thin “shavings” with a vegetable peeler. Once the spear gets too small to continue peeling, cut the rest of each spear into super thin strips, discarding the tough “handle” end.

Slice fennel and radishes a little thicker than paper thin on a mandolin, or if you don’t have a mandolin, use a sharp knife. Place all veggies in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, if using, and salt & pepper.

Top each lavosh with a light layer of shredded cheese(s) (reserving some for sprinkling over the veggies). Place a layer of veggies (dividing evenly between the two flatbreads) over cheese and sprinkle with reserved cheese (I used freshly grated parmesan).

Bake 5-8 minutes, until cheese is melted and lavosh crisps a bit more. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with scallions. Slice and serve. Makes 2-4 servings.

Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadillas with Homemade (or not) Corn Tortillas

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After a weekend of pain from an abscessed tooth and then a soft foods diet the following weekend (because of stiches from a surgical root canal), I’ve finally been able to enjoy eating again. Real food, not mush. Oh, the simple pleasures in life we take for granted!

Ever since I bought my tortilla press last fall, I’ve been wanting to incorporate homemade corn tortillas into a blog post. Looking through the archives, I found more taco recipes than I realized, so that led me in the quesadilla direction instead.

The homemade tortillas are extremely easy and bring a fresh aspect that I’ve never experienced in a corn tortilla before. But by no means do you need to make homemade tortillas to enjoy this recipe. Good quality, fresh store-bought tortillas will work just fine, as will fresh flour tortillas.

Corn tortillas are made with masa harina, which looks similar to corn meal, but is not the same thing. Do not substitute corn meal or regular corn flour—they’re produced from different types of corn and are processed differently and won’t produce the same results.

I’ve seen masa harina in the international section and the baking aisle of large supermarkets in 8 pound bags. Knowing it would probably take me years to use that much, I ordered a 24-oz. bag of Bob’s Red Mill organic masa harina from Amazon. With organic, you can be assured it’s made from non-GMO corn.

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For a time-saving convenience, I used a pre-shredded bag of slaw (Trader Joe’s organic), but if you have the time, by all means, shred your own. The slaw can be mixed up the day before (I think it tastes even better after a day in the fridge) and the caramelized onions and the mushroom mixture can all be made a day or two ahead of time as well. With all the bold flavors in this recipe, if you choose to go vegan by omitting the cheese, you’ll still have a delicious meal. Enjoy!
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Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Quesadillas with Homemade (or not) Corn Tortillas

Slaw:
One 9 oz. bag pre-shredded coleslaw (green cabbage, red cabbage, carrot), or shred your own

2 scallions, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon celery seed

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon orange juice, preferably fresh-squeezed

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, maple syrup and orange juice. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, while whisking, until fully incorporated.

Place coleslaw mixture, scallions, and celery seed in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour some of the dressing over and mix. Add more dressing as desired (you probably won’t use all of it). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill while you make the filling and tortillas, or overnight for even better flavor.

Tortillas:
1 cup masa harina (see my babbling above for more info on masa harina)

Pinch of salt

¾ cup hot, but not boiling water

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the masa harina and salt. Stir in the hot water until combined. Knead with your hands for about a minute. It should feel smooth, but not sticky, and easily form a ball. If dough feels dry and crumbly, add a tablespoon of water. If too sticky, add a tablespoon more masa harina.

Cover the bowl and set aside for about a half hour while you make the filling (recipe below). After the dough has rested and your quesadilla fillings are made, divide dough into 8 pieces and roll each into a ball (they will each be about the size of a ping pong ball).

Cut the sides open of a quart sized zip-lock bag. Open your tortilla press and lay open bag on press. Place a ball of dough in the center of press and fold the other side of the bag over the dough. Close the top of the press over the dough and push down the handle to flatten the ball.

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, lift the top half of the bag off the flattened dough and peel the dough off the other layer of plastic and place in the hot pan. Cook a minute or two and flip, cooking another minute or two more. Transfer to a clean tea towel and fold up to close.

Repeat with remaining dough, keeping cooked tortillas wrapped in the tea towel.

Filling:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 large onion, thinly sliced

½ tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

8 oz. cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ jalapeño pepper, minced (use as many of the seeds you’d like to get desired amount of heat)

Shredded cheese of choice, I used a Swiss/gruyere mixture, or omit cheese for a vegan version

Heat one tablespoon oil in a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and cook another minute or two. Add balsamic and cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Transfer onions to a plate and set aside.

Wipe out pan and place over medium heat and add second tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add mushrooms and cook for several minutes, until they start releasing a little moisture. Stir in garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add minced jalapeño and cook another couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To assemble quesadillas, heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium heat, brush with a little olive oil. Top one tortilla with some of the onion mixture, followed by mushroom mixture, and then cheese, if using. Place in pan and cook several minutes (I cover the pan to help the cheese melt). Once cheese is melted and bottom of tortilla is getting a little crisp, place another tortilla on top and press down. Carefully flip quesadilla and cook other side for another several minutes.

Transfer cooked quesadilla to a plate and cut into wedges. Serve topped with chilled coleslaw. Makes 4 quesadillas.

Crispy Tofu with Spicy Sweet Garlic Sauce


I’ve had tofu so bad I wouldn’t serve it to my worst enemy and I’ve had tofu so good I wanted it all to myself and wouldn’t even share with my best friend. This recipe is the “so good you won’t want to share” kind.

The secret ingredient that makes this tofu crispy like deep fried without deep frying it is the arrowroot powder/starch/flour (all the same, just different names). It ever so slightly coats each piece of tofu and enables the pieces to crisp up and taste like you’re eating something much less good for you. The spicy sweet garlicy sauce takes things over the top.

Arrowroot isn’t difficult to find—small bottles can be found with the spices at regular grocery store and larger bags can be found in the natural foods section of well-stocked grocery stores, at natural foods stores, and online. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand. You could use corn starch if you can’t get arrowroot, but corn starch is much more processed and most likely contains genetically modified corn (boo, hiss!).

The recipe is from a cookbook I purchased after seeing the author on one of the local Saturday morning news shows. Vegan chef Tess Challis was in town to present at the Twin Cities Veg Fest, which I wanted to attend, but just couldn’t fit it into my jam-packed weekend.

One of her cookbooks is called Food Love and I looked it up online to potentially order and ended up ordering the e-version, which was only $10; I got it immediately and no trees were harmed in the process. There are a number of recipes I’d like to try and this was the first. Based on how good this was, I’m excited to make more. Enjoy!

Crispy Tofu with Spicy Sweet Garlic Sauce

Slightly adapted from a Food Love by Tess Challis recipe
1 pound extra firm tofu, organic and non-gmo, sprouted if you can find it

2 tablespoons tamari (darker, richer and less salty than soy sauce, and wheat-free)

1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder/starch/flour (less processed and non-gmo compared to cornstarch)

1-2 tablespoons grapeseed or coconut oil (I used grapeseed for a more neutral flavor)

Sauce:
¼ cup sriracha sauce

¼ cup raw agave (honey [not vegan] or maple syrup would work as well)

2 tablespoons water

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Sliced green onions, for garnish

Cut block of tofu into quarters, and each quarter into two slices. Lay slices flat on two layers of paper towel. Cover with two more layers of paper towel and lay a cutting board on top. Set something heavy, like a cast iron pan or a big can of tomatoes on top and let sit 30 minutes; this will remove moisture from the tofu.

While tofu is pressing, mix sriracha, agave, water and minced garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut each tofu slice into quarters and place into a large zip lock bag. Mix tamari and granulated garlic in a small dish. Put arrowroot in another small dish. Pour tamari mixture over tofu, seal bag, and toss to coat. Sprinkle arrowroot starch/flour, in several batches, over tofu, and shake bag after each batch.

Heat a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon grapeseed or coconut oil. When oil is hot, lay about half the tofu pieces in the pan, cook for 3 minutes, turn, and cook 3 minutes more. Remove tofu to a paper towel lined plate.

Add another tablespoon oil, if necessary, to pan and when hot, add remaining tofu and cook the same as the first batch.

Serve with garlic sriracha sauce and green onions as garnish. Makes about 4 servings.

Homemade Peanut Butter

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Way back when I was a kid, the peanut butter in most households was Jif, Skippy or Peter Pan. That was pretty much it. Except if you were my family, then it was the natural kind that you had to stir to incorporate the oil. It wasn’t very common back then either, but once again, my parents were ahead of their time when it came to healthy eating. And I hated it!

I wanted nothing more than to have Jif or Peter Pan peanut butter like “normal” kids. Even Skippy, which wasn’t as good, was better than that natural stuff in my kid mind. I remember being over at a friend’s house and for a snack we had white bread (which we never had in my house either), toasted, with Jif peanut butter. I was in snack heaven!

My how our tastes changes as we grow up. I wouldn’t eat those name brand PBs filled with sugars, added oils (often hydrogenated) and preservatives now under any circumstances.

For years, I’ve purchased the “natural” peanut butters where the short list of ingredients was peanuts and salt. My adult taste buds loved the pure peanut taste that wasn’t masked by sweeteners and other oils. Trader Joe’s was my brand of choice. Just open the jar, pull out a butter knife and use your brute force to stir it up so the separated peanut butter and peanut oil were mixed together. Then keep it in the fridge. Only bad part was once you got down to about the last quarter of the jar, you had pretty hard peanut butter that was a pain to spread. I never thought much about it, but the stirring and bottom-of-the-jar hard PB kind of sucked. That’s just what you need to accept when you want “natural” peanut butter, right?

Then one day my co-worker Jill asked if I make my own peanut butter. Make my own peanut butter? Whhhaaatttt?!? I had never thought of it. Why had I never thought of it? A quick google made me laugh at how easy it is. Dump a bag of roasted peanuts in a food processor and turn it on. That’s it—after a few minutes you have your “natural” peanut butter with just peanuts and salt, or if you buy the no-salt-added, just peanuts. Put it in a jar, pop it in the refrigerator and you have silky smooth, no-oil-separated peanut butter whenever you have a hankering. Thank you, Jill!

I usually buy the 50% salt Trader Joe’s peanuts which gives the perfect level saltiness for my taste. And it never separates or becomes hard, even near the bottom of the jar. Who knew? And it’s cheaper than buying a jar of the same amount of peanut butter. I haven’t bought a jar of peanut butter since.
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A few people at work, besides Jill, have been as surprised as I was about this making-your-own-peanut-butter thing, so I thought it would be worth sharing in a blog post. I should note, this works equally well with cashews or almonds. But don’t thank me; thank Jill. Enjoy!
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Homemade Peanut Butter

  • Servings: 1 16 oz. jar
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I’ve used this in baking too–in cookies and bars–with good results

1 pound roasted peanuts (unsalted, lightly salted, or salted)

Salt, to taste (if peanuts are unsalted and you want salted peanut butter)

Put the peanuts and salt (if using) in the bowl of a food processor. Process for about a minute and stop it and scrape down the sides (be warned, it’s really noisy at first!). Process for a couple minutes more, until it is to your preferred consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple times. The amount of processing time will vary on the power of your food processor—the right time will be when it looks right to you.

Scrape the peanut butter into a jar and refrigerate. Unless you rarely eat peanut butter, it will keep longer than it takes for you to use up the jar. Makes a 16-oz. jar.