Thursday, May 22, 2014

Homemade Almond Butter

So I really, really love any kind of nut butter. I will eat peanut butter with a spoon and look for reasons to slather Nutella on anything tasty. Naturally, I'm in a bit of a dilemma for a few reasons. Most big brands put who-knows-what in their nut butters to help "shelf life" and "color preservation". And while they are delicious, I don't love eating such processed food. Here's the kicker--brands that don't use all these gross ingredients are really expensive. As a result of this, I've been living a nut-butter-free life for a little while. Sad, right?

Well, not anymore. My awesome cousin gave me her old food processor and it's rapidly changing my life. Homemade almond butter is the first thing I made--literally the only ingredient is almonds. It's super easy to make, and unbelievably delicious. Also, almonds are cheaper than almond butter, so I can (sort of) justify this as saving money. Right? Let's pretend that that's how money management works.

You will need:
 -Food processor
 -Neutral-tasting oil, ex. canola oil. (optional)

To get about one cup of almond butter, start by dumping two cups of almonds (with the skins) into your food processor. Lock the lid in place, and process!

Stop and scrape the sides down occasionally. Make sure you get that little crease where the sides meet the bottom! Also, don't let your fingers go anywhere near the blade. It's incredibly sharp and I'm sort of afraid of it.

Keep processing! It will get lumpy--at one point, it will probably clump up into a giant ball and you'll think that you've completely ruined it, but never fear. Scrape the sides down and continue processing, it will become smooth, I promise!

After about four minutes of processing, you will be left with wonderfully smooth almond butter. I wanted mine to be a little less sticky, so while the processor was doing its thing, I drizzled about half a teaspoon of canola oil through the safety tube. This just gives it a little extra smoothness.

If you want crunchy butter, you'll do this process slightly differently; you'll start by pulsing about half a cup of almonds four or five times. Then, place those to the side, and make the almond butter as shown above. When it's reached the desired consistency, throw those chopped almonds back into the processor and pulse two or three times. Boom! Now you have chunky almond butter.

This stuff is absolutely incredible. Flavorful, sticky, and nutty, this is better than any store brand that I've tried. And the best part? It only takes a few minutes and a few dollars to make in my own home. Store yours in a sealed container in the refrigerator--it should keep for a while, if it doesn't all disappear within a few days! I'm so delighted that this almond butter turned out so beautifully, and I'm really excited to experiment with other nut butters, as well as other food processor goodies.

You can make any kind of nut butter with this method. Buy your own peanuts, macadamias, or hazelnuts, and process away! You may surprise yourself with how delicious and simple it is to make your own high-quality nut butters.

My kitchen is starting to become more and more legitimate as the time progresses--I no longer have to use a fork to cream butter and sugar, for example! I can't wait to continue sharing more recipes as I utilize my awesome gadgets.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Not So Authentic Huevos Rancheros

Well, two finals down and two to go! This past week has been a whirlwind of studying--I commandeered the kitchen table on Monday and parked myself there for maybe ten hours a day, culminating in an all-nighter on Thursday night to prepare for my two morning Chemistry finals. Needless to say, I'm a little sick of the kitchen. Though, really, we've reached that point where I don't want to cook or buy groceries, so I've had to be a bit creative in my cooking to try and find healthy, easy, and quick meals.

One of my roommates had these jalapeño and cilantro tortillas that she hated, so she offered them up to me. Her loss! I ate one by itself as a snack and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor and mild heat from a store-bought flour tortilla. This then inspired me--why not use them in a meal? Naturally I thought of breakfast. It's my favorite meal of the day--I like it so much that I will generally have cereal for breakfast and oatmeal for lunch! However, to power my countless hours of studying, I needed something filling and hearty. Huevos Rancheros perfectly fit the bill--while they may be my cheap, not-very-legitimate college version, they're still dang good.

Dead simple to make, these require few ingredients and take a grand total of ten minutes to prepare.

You will need:
 -1 tortilla (corn is traditional, but I used Jalapeño and Cilantro flour tortillas)
 -1 egg
 -1/4 cup refried beans
 -2 tbsp pico de gallo (or salsa!)
 -1/3 bell pepper, chopped
 -1/2 avocado, diced

First of all, heat up 1/2 tbsp oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. While you're waiting for that to get hot, nuke your refried beans until they're warm.

When that pan's nice and hot, place your tortilla in it. Let it cook for about thirty seconds, then flip it over. There will be nice big air bubbles--yum! When both sides are golden-brown, remove the tortilla from the pan and place it on a plate. Then, adding more oil if you need to, crack an egg into the pan. While that's frying, spread your refried beans over the tortilla.

I personally love runny yolks, so I left my egg sunny-side up. However, feel free to cook however you'd like. When your egg is fried to your satisfaction, turn the heat off and slide it on top of the refried beans.

Finally, add toppings to taste! I went with some mild pico de gallo for some brightness and a bit of a kick, the bell pepper for some greens and great crunch, and avocado, since everything's better with avocado, right?

Feel free to top with whatever you'd like, including jalapeños, cheese, hot sauce, or more veggies! You can make these whatever you'd like. However, huevos rancheros will always be a fast and incredibly filling meal. I was stuffed until dinner! This meal also presents a nice balance of protein, carbs, and fats--you gotta fuel that brain!

Serve for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can't go wrong! They're quickly becoming a staple in my rotating menu, because of their awesome versatility and nutritive benefits. Give them a try when you need a quick and hearty meal to power you through the day--I promise they won't disappoint!

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Peaches and Cream Pancakes

Happy May! It really feels like we're barreling towards summer now. Yesterday's high was 99˚, my last day of class is tomorrow, and all that stands between me and the beach is four final exams! To celebrate my last Thursday morning, I woke up early and make a little pancake breakfast for my roommates.

After searching through Google and my Bloglovin' feed, I stumbled upon a recipe for peach pancakes and modified them slightly for myself. Without further ado, here's the recipe! It's perfect for a breakfast with friends, and I'm sure families would love it for Mother's Day!

You will need:
 -1 cup flour
 -1 tbsp sugar
 -2 tsp baking powder
 -1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
 -1/4 tsp salt
 -1 cup milk
 -1/2 can (15oz) peaches, drained and chopped finely
 -4 tsp peach juice
 -1 tsp canola oil
 -1 egg, lightly beaten.
 -whipped cream, for topping

Spray a griddle with Pam and heat to medium-high. The pan is hot enough when you can flick water onto it and it sizzles loudly.

Start by combining the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. 

Then, add all of the wet ingredients--milk, egg, oil, and peach juice. Mix well, you don't want any lumps of unmixed flour. It will be quite wet, don't worry! Once it's all combined, fold in your chopped peaches.

Now, since your batter is ready and your pan is hot, fill a 1/4 cup measure most of the way up, and pour onto the griddle. Let them cook for a minute or so, until bubbles have come up and held their shape. Flip 'em over with a spatula, and let them cook for another minute or so. You want a nice golden brown color on both sides!

When they're done, flip them onto a plate and take a seat!

Set up a nice little stack for yourself...

And definitely don't forget the most important part!

Lots of whipped cream is a necessity, of course! If you're looking for a homemade alternative, check out my recipe here, halfway down the page. 

Cut yourself a bite of these fresh springtime pancakes! They're light but filling, and have a great peach flavor. The cinnamon also adds a nice depth. Obviously, you don't need to use canned peaches either--this is just what I had on hand! 

These were so easy to make too--I woke up at 7:30, picked up some groceries, then started on these. The pancakes were on the table by 8:30, and that's with my photography taking up some time! I highly recommend these for a simple and delicious breakfast.

Since I have some free time in between studying for finals, I'll be coming up with more delicious spring recipes to share with you all. Stay tuned!

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