Friday Feasts: Sunbutter

Well, it’s three weeks into 2013 and I finally got around to getting my stuff together.

As said before, the company Katie and I worked at together closed their doors after being in business for thirty-something years.  I use to long for time off before I jump started into a new adventure.  I really truly thought my attitude was going to be different, but that hasn’t been the case.  I miss my routine and it seems I work better when I’ve got one.  I believe that my biggest problem was setting expectations for myself and not meeting them.  I often do so and I end up just being mad at myself.  I don’t like it one bit–my head sometimes goes to places I don’t want it to go.  I’ve got a thinking problem.  My brain likes to multitask 24/7 instead of focusing on the now.

Anyways…I got that icky sickness that’s been going around on New Years and this week I’m just starting to feel better.  Maybe the combination of being on house arrest and spending way too much money on Christmas (not the first time!), added to my little rut.

But, this week has been great!  I made a couple new recipes and I can’t wait to share them with you all.

First one on the list is sunbutter.  I’ve been wanting to make it for a long time now and finally got around to it!

It’s like peanut butter, but made with sunflower seeds.  It’s nutty and raw and very flavorful.  So far it’s been great on an English muffin with honey on top.  I added it in a smoothy yesterday and it was excellent that way too.

The color is very interesting.  Looks like wet concrete to me.

All it takes is four simple ingredients and a good food processor.  This is the food processor I got.  100% worth every penny.  I actually think it was gifted to me.  I don’t know what I would do without this thing.  I like it better than my Kitchenaid stand mixer.  Serious!  I do!

Sunbutter!

First toast, 3 cups of shelled, raw, unsalted sunflower seeds on the stove top.  Toast until their light golden brown in color.  Do not go and buy already toasted nuts, the process will not work… so they say.

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Next, move them over to your food processor. Using the “on button” start processing.  At first the seeds will look kind of like a dry powdery mixture, but the more you process the more of their oils start coming out.  At this point, add 3/4 teaspoon of fine salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

After about five minutes of continually processing them, add a teaspoon or more of honey or agave.  Every couple of minutes I stop the machine and scrap down the sides of the bowl.  The consistency should start looking like this.

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Keep going.  The total processing time is about ten minutes plus.  Like I said, the longer the sunflower seeds process the more of their oils come out.  I read that most people give up after a few minutes when they see nothing happening.  Just keep going, I promise something will happen.  Patience, patience, patience!

Once you see the mixture looking like peanut butter might, drizzle in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until you get the consistency you want.  Two tablespoons worked for me.

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Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place for a couple weeks.  Oh!  And it’s totally normal for your sunbutter to be warm after processing.

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Yum, yum!

Have fun and happy weekend!

Recipe adapted here.

Banana Sour Cream Bread

Another holiday treat coming your way!

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This banana bread has got the best crumb E-V-E-R.  The recipe makes a lot which is perfect for gift giving.  The sour cream gives it an extra insurance of moistness and the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg just makes it way over the top.  Your taste buds won’t know how to handle the first bite.. serious.  Everyone will probably tell you you’re the best banana bread baker (say that five times).  I say raise your head high and soak it all up.  Chaa… there’s nothing wrong with a little bragging.

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Banana Sour Cream Bread

Slightly adapted from:  allrecipes.com

Ingredients

1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
3 eggs, room temperature
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups sour cream, full fat
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven at 300 degrees F.  Place racks in the center of the oven.

Spray three to four loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.  I use the disposable ones which are great to use if you will be gifting these.

In a small bowl mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Sprinkle on all sides of the sprayed loaf pans.

Next, in a medium sized bowl whisk together all dry ingredients.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar for about 3 minutes on medium speed.  Scrape down sides and add eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla.  Mix on medium speed until just combined.

Scrape down sides once more and add half the flour mixture.  Mix on low/medium speed until just combined.  Scrape down sides again and repeat with the other half of the flour mixture.  Do not over mix, just mix until combined.  If you’re going to add nuts this would be the time you’d fold them in.

Fill loaf pans about half full and bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until toothpicks comes out clean.

See!?  Super simple!

Let them cool completely and wrap them very well if you’re going to freeze them.  Bread is best eaten within two days.

PS – my trick to tasty banana bread is making sure that the bananas are black.  Keep them in a paper bag for a while and they’ll get there in no time.

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Friday Feasts: Vanilla Bean Snickerdoodles

WOW!  It’s December.

Have you started any of your holiday baking?  Or even shopping?

Like Katie mentioned in her last post, the company that we both worked at together shut their doors after almost forty years in business.  I was one of the last ones there to close out my department, followed by my direct boss.  Saying goodbye was bittersweet, but it’s been nice having the last few weeks off.  My house hasn’t been so consistently clean, EVER and dinner has been on the table almost every night.  I’ve been enjoying it a lot.  It’s really nice not working around the holidays.

Since I’ve had the time off I’ve had the chance to try some awesome cookie recipes.  Which leads me to sharing these Snickerdoodles with you.

They’re perfect in every way.  Not too crispy, but not too soft.  The cinnamon/sugar seems to melt in your mouth after the first bite.  The smidge of vanilla bean adds to the final touch of perfection.

Wrap these in a cute treat bag and take them to your neighbors or your next holiday party.  Your friends will think you’re even more amazing.

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Vanilla Bean Sinkerdoodles

Adapted From:  Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, scraped of seeds

Directions

First, to make the cookies, in a medium mixing bowl whisk together flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar for 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy.  Scrape down butter/sugar mixture and beat in eggs one at time on medium speed for one minute each, scraping down sides after each step.  Add vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and beat until just combined.

Scrape down butter/sugar mixture.  Add flour mixture mixing on low speed just until combined.  Finish incorporating mixture by hand with your favorite rubber spatula or wooden spoon.  Do not over mix.

Let cookie mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  This hardens the butter back up, so during baking time your cookies don’t become a hot mess.

While the cookie mixture is resting, mix together 1 teapsoon of ground cinnamon and 1/3 cup of white sugar in a small bowl.

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F placing oven rack in the center of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop tablespoon sized dough balls into cinnamon/sugar mixture and roll around until well coated.

Place on cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.  I found that 12 minutes is perfect.

PS – more holiday recipes coming!

October Round-Up!

October was a month of transition for Monique and me.  After struggling against a dipping economy for two years, our employer was finally forced to shut its doors after thirty-six years.  The weeks leading up to the final day were stressful and often confusing, as we were never quite sure when our final day was coming.  So, for a month that traditionally kicked-off the beginning of our seasonal baking and crafting, more focus was spent on wrapping up loose ends at work and worrying about the next day while we were at home.

Now that it’s over for both of us, we’re moving on into new adventures.  Monique is enjoying her time off while she looks for a new job and I start my new employment tomorrow.  I will miss seeing her face every day, but I am grateful that working there brought me to her.  I’ve learned so much from Monique these past four-and-a-half years, and not just about baking and cooking!  She’s taught me volumes about having faith in one’s self, one’s family, and one’s friends.  Teaming up with her has kept me blogging and writing, and I’ve learned to stop wondering whether or not I can accomplish something.  I try!

So, even though we no longer share a day-job, Monique and I intend to continue on with our cooking and crafting the best we can as we adjust to new lifestyles.

And now, despite all that?  I did manage to do a few holiday-themed things this October.

Halloween bark!

Halloween bark!

This stuff is preeeeeetty tasty on top of being colorful and Halloween-y.  It’s very, very simple and you can substitute out ingredients depending on what you have.  You’ll find the basic recipe here, from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Apple Crisp in a Mini Pumpkin

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Tiny pumpkins for tiny pies! Eeee!

Topped with homemade whipped cream!  (And taken with an iPhone in bad lighting because my dinner guests were waiting!)

Topped with homemade whipped cream! (And taken with an iPhone in bad lighting because my dinner guests were waiting!)

What I adore about this recipe is that it’s broken down per serving.  Only have three pumpkins?  You can know exactly how many apples/oats/etc you need for each!  Not only is the filling delicious, but the sides of the pumpkin grow soft during baking (despite what they may look like on the surface — dig down!) and are lovely.  You can find the recipe here, from The View from the Great Islands. 

Milk Jug Ghosts!

You know what isn’t scary? Upcycling!

You know what isn’t scary? Upcycling!

If you’re on Pinterest (and you probably are), you must have seen the milk jug ghosts pin floating around all month.  For a household with three milk drinkers, we tend to go through these jugs quickly.  So, I gave notice that we’re not to send them straight to the recycling bin, but instead leave them with a face drawn on them and I’d add them to our line-up!  Here we only have a few, but by the end I think we had twelve!

Many people have posted instructions for the milk jug ghosts, but I’ll send you to the Krazy Coupon Lady for the how-to.

. . .

Hope everyone had a happy, candy-filled, costumed, pumpkin-overloaded Halloween!  Enjoy your weekend… and try not to think about how we only have 50 days left until Christmas!

Friday Feasts: Coffee Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

What a week it’s been!

The weather is changing and I get all nostalgic and stuff.

I’ve got lots of pumpkin on my mind with a side of life.  You’ve got to ask yourself–will this all matter in five years?  And the answer is, that it-will-not.

I’ve got so much pumpkin on my mind that I bought more than a few cans of it at Trader Joe’s the other night.  The very nice Trader Joe’s man pulled it out of the back for me and said that this stuff runs out fast so buy what you can.

I’ve also got Gossip Girl bags under my eyes (yes, I’ve been staying up way too late watching the next episode and then the next).  Darn you Netflix!  Darn you for enabling me to watch back to back episodes!

But, moving on.

I made these amazing krispie treats a few weeks ago and dude they were BOMB!  These are two words that don’t enter my vocabulary often, but they were that delicious.

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I got the recipe here and eliminated the cherries because I gifted more than half of them to friends that piratically don’t care for dried fruit.  But, I can’t wait to make them with cherries!  The tart from ‘em would just add to the flavor combinations.  Just make them, mmkk?

And please do me a favor–try not to gobble them up before you don’t get the chance to cut them up for your friends.

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Coffee Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter (I used salted and it worked out fine!)
2 10 oz bags of mini marshmallows
5 cups Rice Krispie cereal
2 cups roasted salted almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tsp ground coffee (not instant)
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Line a square 9 inch bake pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a large pot over medium heat melt butter.  Add 10 cups of marshmallows and stir until completely melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Using a wet wooden spoon or spatula fold in Rice Krispies.  Quickly fold in almonds, coffee, and salt.  Next add the remaining marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.  Press mixture evenly with your hands being damp to prevent sticking.  Cool completely and remove entire block by lifting opposite side corners of foil.  Cut into desired size squares.  Keep in a sealed container for up to three days.

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