Almond Butter

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Everyone has always strayed from fats because society has brainwashed us into thinking they are big, bad and scary.  The truth of the matter is that a balanced diet includes fat; one just needs to balance the amount they eat daily.  Nuts are a great source of protein and fat.  When I want to splurge, I choose to eat a peanut butter, or in this case nut butter, sandwich.

I’ve been dying to make my own nut butters previously, but I had this terrifying thought that it was too hard.  Boy was I completely wrong.  All you need is a food processor and the nuts of your choice.  While most nut butters are made from peanuts and almonds, you can make them with any type of nut.  The essential part of making the nut butters is grinding the nuts until they release their oils creating the creamy texture.  Take note that nut butters tend to have a grimy texture unlike processed peanut butters and may need to be mixed before eating it to reincorporate the oils.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I made half the amount of butter than the recipe; however, making more takes less time, funnily enough, because there is a higher volume of food being processed.  Ergo, you won’t have to stop 20 extra times to scrape the sides.almondbutter
  2. You can make as much or as little nut butter as you choose.  Be sure to keep it in an airtight container.
  3. Add any type of flavors to the nut butter: honey, white chocolate, dark chocolate, salt or chia.
  4. I suggest adding a pinch of salt to the butter or buying salted nuts from a whole grocers, like Sprouts.  Salt enhances flavors when cooking.
  5. Roast the nuts before processing them in a 350-degree oven for no more than ten minutes.
  6. Roasting the nuts brings out a nutty aroma, making your kitchen
    smell delicious.

Ta-Da! You’ve made your own, healthier and personalized, nut butter: simple and easy without those pesky preservatives.  Make as little or as much of the nut butter as you’d like for less than grocery store prices.  Individualize the butters with your favorite flavors to build new creations.

Leave a comment with your favorite nutty flavors.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

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Whole-Wheat Honey Bread

 

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Since I was a kid, I have always loved bread; however, breads need to be eaten in moderation.  Making homemade bread can warm your house and provide aromas to your senses.  This whole-wheat honey bread takes me back to the days where my grandparents baked everything from scratch or my mother would take us to the local bakery.  In other countries, making bread is standard.  Rarely do individuals buy pre-processed Wonderbread from a grocery store.

honeywheatbread2After baking, there is nothing better than eating a warm piece of freshly baked bread as a sandwich, side dish or peanut butter lathered snack.  Using whole-wheat flour can increase the health benefits such as dietary fiber leaning towards less weight gain.  If you are like me, insulin resistant, whole-wheat grains can help reverse the cycle along with other necessary precautions.  The high fiber and low glycemic index of whole wheat grains allows for a well balanced diet when reaching for those carbohydrate filled breads.

 

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used regular whole-wheat flour in place of bread flour.  It made the bread denser, but every piece was like the center: gooey and delicious.honeywheatbread
  2. I suggest melting the butter before adding it to the milk.  This allows the milk to keep its temperature and having to take time to mix until the butter melts.
  3. You’ll need a dough hook for this recipe.  Dough hooks keep incorporating the mixture without flour and pieces getting stuck in the center of a whisk.
  4. You can mix the dough with your hands in place of dough hooks.  Be sure to knead it well and flour your hands.
  5. Allowing the dough to rise is important.  It should triple in size by the time it is ready to cook.  Do not rush this process.
  6. Allow the bread to cool before setting it on the cooling rack.  It will harden and keep its form better.
  7. I cut my bread into slices before packing it away.  Allow it to cool so that you don’t smash the bread in the process.

Making bread is a process that takes time.  It needs to rise and rest allowing the gluten structure to become finer and preventing large air holes in the bread.  Also, it provides texture to the bread and permits the yeast to convert more sugars from the flour giving you a nice flavor complexity.  The bread will be delicious along with your satisfaction of making food from scratch.  Scrap all those pesky preservatives and aim for a higher goal.  The bread can last for two weeks in the cupboard or fridge and about one month frozen.  Lather it with nut butter or pumpkin pecan butter for a delicious pairing.  The sweetness of the honey and the nuttiness of the butters create a mouth-watering delicacy.

Leave a comment with your favorite bread recipes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

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I have an addiction to peanut butter, and I usually make special treats for my dad when I’m home.  I decided to try my hand at the easiest, microwave, chewy, peanut butter granola bars.  Granola bars are a great way of combining a healthy snack with peanut butter.  These treats are also some of the quickest and yummiest granola bars ever made; they take 5 minute with only 2 minutes of cooking–if you can call it cooking.

Fun fact–peanuts are not in the nut butter family. They are categorized into the legume family. The method of making peanut butter is the same as nut butters. The nuts are ground into a paste like form. Peanuts, being about half oil, are half fat. Peanut oil is about one-half monounsaturated fats and one-third polyunsaturated fats, with the remaining 15 percent saturated fats. Peanut butter provides protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, resveratrol arginine and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid. Funny enough, the United States is the leading exporter of peanut butter. Apparently, I’m not the only fanatic of peanut butter.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I would suggest using less Rice Krispies than suggested.  Start out with 1 cup; you can always add more after the fact.
  2. I used natural peanut butter, which has a grainy texture.  You can use any type you’d prefer just keep the ratios in control.
  3. My peanut butter was cinnamon honey flavored; so, I used ½ the honey and vanilla in
    the recipe.
  4. I used light brown sugar because it’s a little healthier, and I had it on hand.
  5. If using a powerful microwave, heat the mixture for 30 seconds at a time to avoid over cooking the mixture.
  6. You can either use aluminum foil–making it easy and fewer cleanups afterwards–or use pam to prevent sticking.  The granola bars work like Rice Krispies treats.
  7. I suggest refrigerating the bars longer because freezing them makes it harder to enjoy them afterwards.

The greatest part about these bars is that they are easy and quick to make.  They take two peanutbuttergranolaminutes cooking and a few minutes for prep.  The hardest part is keeping your paws off of them while they cool and set.

Making your own granola and granola bars allows for a large room of interpretation.  You can add peanuts, walnuts, almonds, raisins or dried fruit.  Use two smaller pans and try your hands at two different bars.  The possibilities are endless.

Leave a comment with your favorite add-ins.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Be sure to check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Pumpkin Pecan Butter

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pumpkinpecanbutter2Beware: if you are on a diet or trying to stay slim, do not read any further!  I’ve recently found this pumpkin pecan butter.  It combines my two favorite categories: nut butters and pumpkin desserts.  With a few simple ingredients and 15 minutes, you have a delicious spread for breads, crackers or an empty spoon.

My favorite part of this recipe is the use of pecans.  Roasted pecans have a sweet almost caramelized flavor.  The concentration of heat draws out the deep nutty flavors of any nut.  Pecan butter is a healthier substitute to Nutella with more protein and healthy fat while still obtaining that sweet tooth flavor.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Roasting the nuts are important because it draws out the oils within and enhances
    the flavor.pumpkinpecanbutter3
  2. I used pure maple syrup because it has a sweeter more natural taste.  I only used three tablespoons because the pecans already create a sweet treat.
  3. The vanilla balances the flavors and tones the sweetness down.
  4. I used my own pumpkin puree.  It lacks the preservatives and aftertaste of canned pumpkin.
  5. The pumpkin adds a second dimension of flavor and gives the butter a creamy, light and tan appearance.
  6. Be sure to scrape the sides of the processor down to incorporate all
    the ingredients.
  7. To ensure it lasts for a longer period, I suggest refrigerating the butter in an
    airtight container.

Toasted, delicious and a sweet addition to any snack.  You’ll want to be sure to have family or friends around who you can share with.  The pumpkin pecan butter is highly addictive.  Use it in sugar cookies for a pumpkin pecan butter stuffed cookie or a morning breakfast toast spread.  The possibilities are endless and delicious!  This butter is a perfect taste of fall and Thanksgiving.  It’ll make your house fragrant and wow your guests.

Leave a comment with your favorite pumpkin recipes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Nutella Scones

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Chocolate lovers will indulge in these savory and sweet desserts.  They are rich and delicious hitting the spot for a chocolate craving.  These Nutella scones will be hard to keep your hands off during your morning breakfast run.

Scones come in many forms both sweet and savory.  However, even the sweet scones have a certain savory factor that makes them…scones!  Scones are dry and airy like shortbread.  Keep that idea in mind when chomping into them.  While these scones are stuffed with Nutella, they still can dry out your mouth, so I suggest accompanying them with a glass of milk or coffee.

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Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used heavy cream, but you can substitute with evaporated skim milk if you want to try and cut calories.
  2. Make sure to have the flour mixture in a food processor so that it incorporates evenly.  It can be whisked; but, you would have to add it to a food processor to mix in the butter.  Mixing it by hand would leave the butter stuck to your utensil rather than incorporated.
  3. Creating a hole in the flour to add the egg mixture is essential.  You can then fold the flour mixture over it and begin to incorporate it.
  4. The more you squish the mix, the more it becomes like moon sand and forms a dough.  Just be wary to scrape the sides and bottom so that all the dough is used.
  5. Spread the dough out thin with a roller and then add as much Nutella as you want.  I used about ½ cup.
  6. Keep the Nutella in the center and away from the edges or you’ll end up with it oozing out the sides.nutellascones2
    7. Fold the outside in and then pat down the center.  Roll it once or twice to the desired thickness of about 2 inches.  Don’t over roll it or the Nutella will ooze out and your scones will become a globby mess.
    8. Cut the scones into even pie slices to bake in the oven.
    9. It is okay if you don’t make a circle, just try to cut your scones to resemble pie slices so they cook thoroughly without burning.
    9. Let them cool before you chow down.  The cooling process solidifies the Nutella and allows the scones to become drier like shortbread.
    10. I suggest drizzling the Nutella on the top when you are ready to eat them that way you get a baked Nutella inside and gooey Nutella outside.
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Easily make these chocolate breakfast treats to enjoy on the run or for a midnight snack.  Just make sure to have someone to have someone to take in the rest to or you’ll become addicted.  There are thousands of scone recipes from savory to sweet for you to try your hand at.  Mix; bake; enjoy!

Leave a comment with your favorite fudge. Check out my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.