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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


Yum, yum!

Have fun and happy weekend!

Recipe adapted here.

Friday Feasts: Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

I’m baaaacccckkk!

Yes, I’m here with a recipe!  I have no excuses rather than that August was a busy month!

My husband and I just got back from spending ten days in Maui celebrating his 30th birthday.  Thirty is a big deal so I thought we’d go out with a bang!  He’s a surfer, loves the beach and we’ve always wanted to go on a really great vacation before we started having a family.  Maui made sense.  It was a huge surprise that I held in for about two and a half months.  I was planning on telling him days before we left which didn’t happen.  I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  I ended up telling him a couple weeks before the big day.

2005 (left) – 2012 Maui (right) We look like high schoolers there in the black and white!

2005 (left) – 2012 Maui (right) We look like high schoolers there in the black and white!

We had such a wonderful time I’m having second thoughts on starting a family so soon.

The surf was flat, but he got a couple good rides in.  We couldn’t ask for better weather either!

I totally recommend saving your pennies and quarters and making a trip to the far Pacific.  Eat beans and rice if you have to!

Two things I would do different when we go back (yes, WHEN—got to put that positive energy into the universe):

Pack more dry food.  As I’ve said before, my husband is an eater.  He can eat and eat and eat.  And if you haven’t heard or experiened, food in Hawaii is expensive!  Two bags of groceries at Safeway cost us about sixty bucks which consisted of the basics—milk, eggs, bread, PB&J stuff, hummus, crackers and some fruit and veggies.  You really have no other choice which saved me from freaking out just a bit.  You’re in paradise so live it up with your nine dollar PB&J…mmkay?

Second, I’d pack fewer clothes.  It’s very relaxed there.  The locals aren’t keeping up with the Jones’ (love it).  Wearing flip flops and a cute casual summer dress (with your bathing suit under) is pretty dressy!  No one cares if you aren’t wearing makeup and if you got your toes did.  I packed way too much.  I could have gotten away with packing some chones, a couple dresses, a few swim suits, and some flops.

We eventually got sick of eating out every day and couldn’t wait to get home and have a home cooked meal.  But, since we’ve been back I’ve already been figuring out ways to get there next year.  It will happen!  Just you wait and see!

Okay, pasta salad time.  I’ve made this three times this year and once last year.  I already memorize what goes in it cause it’s that easy.  And you know it’s good when the bowl you brought is licked clean every time.

You have to appreciate sun-dried tomatoes to like it.  Vinegar and garlic too.

Please hurry and make this before it’s too late and all you can think about is raking up those damn leaves on your lawn!


Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

Adapted from:  The Pioneer Woman



  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 7oz jar sundried tomatoes packed in oil (Traders or Fresh n easy has the best deal)
  • ½ cup + 2 tbs EVOO
  • 3-4 tbs red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste


  • 1 pound any type of short strand pasta cooked el dente and cooled
  • 1 jar Kalamata olives chopped (again, check out Traders or Fresh n easy for the best deal)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh chopped basil to taste (about a ½ cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


In a food processor, pulse garlic a few times.  Add sundried tomatoes (don’t drain), olive oil, and 3 tablespoons of vinegar.  Pulse five to six times.  Check to see if your taste buds might enjoy the last tablespoon of vinegar, if not leave it out.  Add salt and pepper to taste and give it another few pulses.  Taste again for salt and add if you’d like more.

In a large bowl add pasta, olives, tomatoes, and Parmesan Cheese.  Pour dressing on top and mix together until combined.  Don’t over mix.  We don’t want your pasta turning to mush.  It shouldn’t if it’s cooked right.  Taste for salt and pepper, throw in the fresh basil and stir a few more times.

Refrigerate for a minimum of a couple hours before serving.

Happy Friday!  Tata!

Tuesday Tips: Pesto!

It was 100 degrees yesterday!  1-0-0 degrees!  Thank goodness for central A/C!

Did you plant basil in your summer garden this year?  Do you have a bunch of it?  Because I sure do!  My sweet basil plant is thriving and healthy and I can’t keep up with it.

I decided to make pesto.   It’s something that’s been on my summer bucket list for at least the last two summers.

It’s really easy! And tasty!

You can mix it up with different herbs and nuts too.



Slightly Adapted from:  Giada De Laurentiis


2 cups packed fresh basil, washed and patted dry
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 large garlic clove, peeled
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, more or less to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, more or less to taste
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (to keep color)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 fresh grated Parmesan cheese


In a food processor, pulse garlic a couple times.  Add, basil, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.  Pulse a few times until everything is well chopped.  Next, leave food processor on and stream in olive oil until all combined.  Add Parmesan and pulse a few more times.  Check for salt and pepper–pulse once.

Store in a jar or freeze for later use.  It should keep in the ‘fridge for a couple weeks.  It might separate because of the oil, but that’s okay.

Wouldn’t this be good on some crostini with a fresh tomato slice topped with Mozzarella cheese baked in the oven for a few?

Mmm!  Or how about an alternate to regular pizza sauce?  Maybe I’ll grill some pizza this weekend.

Make this vegan minus the Parmesan cheese.

And yes mom, this is 100% gluten free.

How would you use it?


Meatless Mondays: Amazing Color Changing Beans!

And I do mean amazing. 

I have a habit of trying to fill our garden with plants not easily found at the grocery store.  Eventually we will have grey pumpkins and multi-colored Carnival carrots, in addition to the purple beans you see here.



These beans have a secret, though.  You may think you’re going to surprise your dinner guests with a bowl full of purple beans, but really, the surprise must start in the kitchen.  Before you start boiling these, drag your guests to your stove top and let them witness the magic!

Gasp! Green inside?!

Gasp! Green inside?!

This transformation begins about ten seconds after they’ve been dropped into a pot of boiling water.

This transformation begins about ten seconds after they’ve been dropped into a pot of boiling water.

There goes the color! (At this point, my husband, mother and I were all standing around a sauce pan, ooohing and ahhing at the beans.

There goes the color! (At this point, my husband, mother and I were all standing around a sauce pan, ooohing and ahhing at the beans.

And here they are, roughly one minute after they started cooking. Boring green beans. BRING BACK THE MAGIC, PLEASE.

And here they are, roughly one minute after they started cooking. Boring green beans. BRING BACK THE MAGIC, PLEASE.

Cooking green beans isn’t rocket science, but in case you’ve never done it, here’s a quick and easy method!

1. Boil water and, while you’re  waiting for it to boil, trim the ends of your beans and consider cutting them in half if they’re long.

2.  Once the water is boiling, pop them into the water for one to two minutes, all the while preparing an ice bath nearby.  This can be in the sink or a bowl, your choice!

3.  Plunge the beans into the ice bath when they’re finished in the pot.  I was using a little saucepan since we didn’t have a lot of beans to cook, so I rinsed it out to use again.

4.  Heat a few splashes of olive oil in a pan while you finely chop one clove of garlic.

5.  Toss the beans into the pan, add salt and pepper to taste and cook until you reach desired consistency.  I prefer my veggies crunchy, while the rest of my family seems to like them softer.  I try to find a happy medium.

6.  If you started with purple beans, try not to mourn the loss of their color and comfort yourself with how delicious they are!  Is there anything better than eating straight out of your backyard?  I think not.

Oh. There’s the magic. It came back in the form of salt, pepper and garlic. Tasty, tasty magic.

Oh. There’s the magic. It came back in the form of salt, pepper and garlic. Tasty, tasty magic.

Tuesday Tips: Not Easier, but Certainly More Satisfying.. Homemade Nutella!

Here’s the most important tip I can give to you and your waistline:  If you have not tasted Nutella before, immediately hammer it into your head that the only way you can have that sort of magic dance across your tongue is by making it at home.  The effort involved will keep you from creating batch after batch and pouring it all into your mouth, on your face, hair, and rolling around on the kitchen floor in a hazelnut-induced chocolate haze.

Trust me, I know.

For the rest of you who’ve found yourselves at Costco and noticed the giant two-packs of this bottled nirvana suddenly appearing in your cart, I feel for you.  I notice that once I’ve stashed them in my cupboard, I start to develop needs.  I need to sneak a spoonful in the middle of the night.  I need toast, suddenly, and it needs to be thick with chocolate sin.  Before I know it, I’ve blacked out and there are two empty jars of Nutella resting at my feet.

Have I explained just how fierce my love is for this stuff, yet?

All that said, my friend pointed me in the direction of a homemade Nutella recipe last week.  I’d been pretty good about not allowing it into the house for many months, now.  (That same sort of ban used to be put on peanut butter, but I’ve since found some control.)  But, I’m such a sucker for deconstructing food and working from the ground up, I just couldn’t pass.


What? Don’t you all eat your hazelnut-chocolate-butter snacks on bales of straw?

This culinary masterpiece comes to us from Circle B Kitchen!  I hadn’t stopped by this blog before, but in one weekend I not only made her Nutella, but her Artichoke Antipasto as well.  (That, too, is amazing.)

Recipe: Homemade Nutella

Adapted from: Circle B Kitchen


  • 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons mild oil, more as needed (Well, I went to Henry’s and they had every oil under the sun but hazelnut, so I went with vegetable. Next time? Totally trying coconut!)


  1. 1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts evenly over a cookie sheet and roast until they darken and become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a damp towel and rub to remove the skins. (I found this to be a lot easier said than done. Perhaps one should not pour ALL the hazelnuts into the damp towel, as I did. I made a big hazelnutty skin mess, but it worked out okay.)
  2. 2. In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter, scraping the sides as needed so they process evenly, about 5 minutes. (Do not put this in your Vitamix. I may have broken mine, which is ridiculous since that blender is supposed to bend space and time.)
  3. 3. Add the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, salt and hazelnut oil (or whatever oil!) to the food processor and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. The finished spread should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter; if it is too dry, process in a little extra hazelnut oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Remove to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed. Will last about a week. (Good luck with that!)

Now, when I mentioned I made this last week, someone asked about the sugar content in the homemade versus the mass-produced.  After plugging-in the ingredients, it looks like the homemade is a smidgen higher in fat and calories, but lower in sugar.  Also, the sugar level is completely customizable — so you could play with less sugar and find something just as satisfying!  It should be noted, homemade was also higher in protein and fiber, as well as the good-fats.

(Like how we’re pretending this is a health food?)