Saturday, June 22, 2013

Homemade Almond Butter

We like almond butter... a lot.  So when Trader Joe's began having a shortage on their almond butter, I decided to make my own!  It tastes completely different than any store bought brand I've had, and I love it.  It has a different consistency (much thicker and less runny) and a fresher taste, plus I put cinnamon in mine which adds some depth of flavor.  

Don't get me wrong, I still love Trader Joe's almond butter... evidenced by the fact that I went EXTRA early one day this week and bought 8 jars :)  You see, lately they have been getting a small amount each day, so there's a limited supply that's gone by mid-day.  I went at 8 am when they opened to make sure they wouldn't be out!


Either way, homemade almond butter is amazing and something you should definitely try to make if you have a food processor or high powered blender.  Even though we have a large stock of Trader Joe's almond butter, I will still be making the homemade kind because it's just that good!!

Homemade Almond Butter

2 cups raw almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
a few pinches coarse salt

1. Get out your food processor.  I use a kitchen aid 5 cup food processor, so the directions that follow are what works for this food processor.  If you have a different food processor or a vita mix, your method may vary.  Just search for "homemade almond butter" and you will find lots of resources out there.  

2. Put 2 cups of raw almonds in the food processor.  We buy big bags of raw almonds (with the skin on) from Sam's club, and they work really well!  We store our almonds in the fridge, and in my experience, cold almonds work especially well for making almond butter.

3.  Turn the food processor on and process for about 2 minutes, or until you hear the blade whirring but not actually mixing anything.  At this point the almonds should be finely ground, and will probably have built up on the sides of the food processor.  Use a knife or the handle of a rubber scraper to push the meal off the sides of the food processor (and off of the bottom if necessary) and then turn the food processor on again.

4.  Continue to mix in 1-2 minute increments, turning the food processor off after 1-2 minutes and scraping anything that has clumped up on the sides and bottom.  Clumping is exactly what you should expect.  Just break it up with your knife or rubber scraper handle (don't forget the sides AND the bottom of the food processor) and distribute the mixture somewhat evenly in the food processor and continue to process in 2 minute increments.  

5.  The whole mixing process will take around 15-20 minutes, so don't worry if it doesn't seem like your almonds are making any progress!  They will!  It's kind of like magic at the end... you'll go for a while and think that nothing is happening, then all of the sudden- almond butter!  

6.  Eventually, the mixture will start to ball up, which means it's getting close to being creamy.  Continue your process of scraping the sides and bottom and distributing the mixture one more time.  

7.  The mixture will ball up again, and this time just let the food processor keep running, because the ball will "fall" and that's when the mixture will start to get creamy.  The inside of the food processor may also start to have some condensation and become hot.  This is normal!  

8.  Once the mixture is creamy and being whirled around the food processor evenly, add about 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a few pinches of coarse salt, and continue to process for about 1 minute.  

9.  Scrape the almond butter into a glass jar (don't use plastic) with a lid. 

10.  I know this will keep for up to 3 days, and would imagine it would be fine for around 2 weeks, but I doubt you will need to worry about that because I guarantee you will eat it all long before 2 weeks rolls around!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fresh from the Farm!

This summer we decided to buy a CSA share from Wayward Seed, a local farm.  Each week for about 25 weeks we'll get fresh-picked, organic vegetables and fruits from the farm!  We got our first share last week and it definitely exceeded our expectations!  Everything we got was fresh and absolutely delicious.  It was fun to try out new recipes using some ingredients we don't normally use!  Here's a rundown of what we got and some ways we used it this week:

Napa Cabbage:

  • Used the outer leaves instead of romaine lettuce with the Turkey Lettuce Wraps.  
  • Chopped up the inner leaves to make Bobby Flay's Napa Cabbage Slaw- so delicious!  I changed the recipe a bit apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar, sesame oil and about 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper instead of the chili oil, and fish sauce instead of the soy sauce.


  • We basically just ate this with our meals instead of spinach this week.  Makes for a tasty salad with any meat or veggies.

Butter Lettuce

  • My favorite salad I made this week was: butter lettuce (lots), roasted spaghetti squash (about 3/4 c), baked chicken thighs (4 oz), avocado (1/2), and a dressing with about 1 T olive oil, 1 T lemon juice, and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  

Fresh Oregano

  • I made a chicken marinade using 1/3 c olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 c chopped fresh oregano, 1/2 c chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper.  Then I marinated 4  fresh boneless skinless chicken breasts in that marinade for 24 hours.  After 24 hours I placed the chicken in a glass baking dish and made sure to cover it with all of the marinade (the marinade is very herby and thick, so you have to kind of scoop some of it onto the chicken with your hand).  Baked it, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (check to make sure the juices run clear).  


  • Kohlrabi has somewhat of a "sharp" taste, kind of like radishes.  It's crunchy and refreshing.  We washed it, cut it in half, peeled off the outer skin, then sliced it into thin chunks and ate for a snack or chopped on salads.

Snap Peas

  • We ate these whole, chopped and put in salads, and added to stir fry.  


  • These were some of the juiciest, sweetest strawberries I've had in a long time.  They were so delicious just raw!
  • One day I decided to get creative... I microwaved about 6 strawberries topped with 2 T coconut butter (not to be confused with coconut OIL- don't use coconut oil) for about 30 seconds.  It was heavenly...  Rem ate strawberries on top of his oatmeal each day!   

Green Onions

  • I used these in the Napa Slaw.  

Garlic Scapes 

  • To prep these guys, I just washed and cut them into about 1/8 in long pieces.  Several times this week I made an egg hash with them.  I put coconut oil in a pan or medium heat, added scapes, mushrooms, peppers, and zucchini.  Then I stirred and cooked them until soft, cracked 3 eggs on top, and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I cooked the mixture until the eggs were no longer runny.  

Do you have any good recipes for summer fruits and veggies?  Please share by responding to this post!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

For some reason I've been craving lettuce wraps lately, and the 5 lbs. of napa cabbage we got in our CSA have been a perfect excuse to eat lots of them!  Here is a great filling for lettuce wraps that Rem and I have made several times in the past few weeks.  We never seem to have as many leftovers as we think we will! 
The ingredients are simple, and each plays an important role in making the flavors of the dish pop!  Onion, garlic and mushroom are a great base for any flavorful stir fry, and minced fresh ginger adds a certain zing that is incredibly delicious.  The crushed red pepper adds the perfect amount of heat, and the water chestnuts add a necessary crunch.  

Turkey Lettuce Wraps

2 lb. ground turkey (I use Nature's Basket brand from Giant Eagle)
l large onion, diced
2 c sliced mushrooms
4 cloves minced garlic
3 T minced ginger
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
1-2 T fish sauce
2 cans sliced water chestnuts, drained

Place ground turkey in a large skillet and heat to medium-high. (If it starts to stick, add a little bit of olive or coconut oil to the pan)  Stir and break up the turkey every few minutes.  As the turkey browns, chop up the onion, then add the onion and mushrooms, continuing to stir every few minutes.  While that cooks, mince the garlic and ginger, then add to the pan.  Next add salt (about 1/8 tsp), pepper (10-12 "cranks"), crushed red pepper (a light sprinkling over the whole pan), fish sauce, and water chestnuts.  Continue to saute this mixture until the turkey is cooked through and all ingredients are hot. Serve with romaine lettuce leaves or napa cabbage leaves.  Makes 4-6 large servings.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Chicken Salad

I was sad when I realized it's been a whole month since I last posted a recipe!  The past month has been very eventful and busy: 2 weddings (1 in Niagara Falls!), a fender bender which required lots of work, a trip to urgent care after biting it doing box jumps, getting to spend time with our families, a college reunion, a Girls on the Run 5k, and all the events that come with the last month of school!  I can't believe I'm almost done with my first year of having my own classroom!  It has flown by and has been truly great.  I am so thankful for this job, my wonderful students, and my amazing colleagues.  

Anyway, since summer is around the corner my goal is to post much more frequently!  Meanwhile, enjoy this yummy chicken salad that features roasted asparagus and fresh herbs.  It has tons of texture and flavor, and is fantastic served on a bed of greens.  

Roasted Asparagus and Red Pepper Chicken Salad

Originally from Multiply Delicious

Chicken Salad:
2 lb. cooked chicken breasts or thighs, cut into small pieces (I usually use boneless skinless thighs, place them on a foil lined pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c unsalted, roasted almond slivers
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 bunch asparagus (woody ends trimmed, coated in about 2 T coconut oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, roasted in the oven at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes)
1/4 c fresh basil, minced
1/4 c fresh parsley, minced
1/2 jar roasted red peppers (or red and yellow peppers), diced
salt and pepper

1/3 c fresh parsley
1/3 c fresh basil
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

Combine all chicken salad ingredients in large bowl.  For dressing, combine all ingredients except olive oil in food processor and blend OR in a bowl with tall sides, use an immersion blender to blend.  After the herbs, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper are mixed together, drizzle in olive oil as you blend until the dressing has a pourable consistency.  Pour dressing over the chicken salad and stir to combine.  Enjoy!  I like to eat this over a bed of spinach or mixed greens.  Makes about 6 servings.