Dessert for Breakfast? Why not?

I am a dessert queen.

Just ask anyone who knows me.

My sweet tooth tends to override even my most sensible food morals.

True story.

I lick every mixing bowl clean. Every time. And yes, I scrape down every last morsel, whether I’m at home or out in public. Sometimes I get weird looks and sometimes my family begs me to stop. But you know what, I can’t help it! Why ever waste such goodness? It is my sweet tooth duty!

Getting to the point. One of my first dessert loves was cookies. Wait no sorry, cookie dough. I can’t get enough of the stuff! I tend to eat a third or so of the batter raw while the rest is cooking. (Of course, I try to only eat raw cookie dough when it’s vegan or has no eggs in the batter). So, when one of my favorite blogs posted a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough almond butter, you know I bookmarked it and made it that night…and then made my own spin off version a week later :) Yes, I am talking about the incredibly gifted Ashley over at The Edible Perspective! Well, as much as I enjoyed her version of this healthified classic, I couldn’t help but try out my own version, a la hazelnut aka the best nut in the world aka crack.

Enjoy!

The ingredients! Quick, check your pantry!

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookie Dough Almond Butter [original]

  • 2 c raw almonds
  • 2 t pure cane sugar (yes, here you need the real deal!)
  • 2-3 t canola oil (or any other neutral flavor oil)  [may not be necessary]
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/3 t hazelnut extract
  • 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Toast almonds until golden brown, turning 3-4 times, for about 12-18 min. total. **Watch carefully so they don’t burn!
  3. When browned, take out and let cool for 5 min.
  4. Put almonds in a heavy-duty food processor and turn on, scraping down the bowl often to keep things moving.
  5. Process until it finally starts to “butterize,” should take 6-10 min. hopefully.
  6. Keep scraping down and processing until smooth. Remember to be patient. **If after 10 min. things still aren’t forming together then add the 2 t of oil.
  7. Add in sugar, salt, vanilla, and hazelnut extract. Process again until smooth.
  8. Taste and add more sugar if it’s not sweet enough for your liking, but don’t forget, the chocolate chips will add a bit more sweetness too.
  9. Once it is nice and smooth, empty into a bowl and put it in the fridge for about an hour. **The processed nut butter will probably still be quite warm prior to the fridge and if you add the chocolate chips before the fridge time, the chocolate chips will melt, which could be tasty, but that’s not the goal of this recipe.
  10. Once the nut butter has come to room temperature, stir in the chocolate chips and try not to let your saliva fall into the bowl. ;)
*This recipe is intended for a 7c or larger food processor, but I was able to halve the recipe and it fit perfectly in Sunny… Remember? My 4 c bright yellow food processor! Duh!
*As much as I try to limit my intake of refined sugars, this recipe calls for and demands the real thing! So bring out that cane sugar! (You know you’ve got it). Supposedly liquid sweeteners (i.e. honey, agave, maple) make nut butters extremely thick and cookie dough is not meant to be thick gosh darn it!
*You may choose to refrigerate or not refrigerate this nut butter. I left mine in a cupboard and it was fine. I mean, none of the ingredients need to be refrigerated so there!
Side Notes:
  • The original recipe called for almond extract, but me being the hazelnut junkie I am decided to try out my own spin. I tried both the almond extract and the hazelnut extract version and really loved them both. While the almond extract version had more of a marzipan sort of flavor, I found the hazelnut to be more reminiscent of cookie dough, which I of course loved! So, needless to say, I prefer the hazelnut version, no surprise! But by all means, try out which ever one calls to you more! And seriously, you much try out this nut butter recipe! Your taste buds will be oh so sorry if you don’t! I’m warning you! 
  • If you’re sitting there, thinking, why would I ever make my own nut butter when grocery stores already sell nut butters? I challenge you to ask yourself this: have you ever, in your whole life, seen such a luscious, scrumptious, decedent nut butter on your grocery store shelves? …I didn’t think so! Plus, this way you know and can control EXACTLY what ingredients are really in your food!

Sorry Almond, Hazelnut rules! Bow down!

Well, I hope I’ve convinced you!
Raid your pantry or go to the store, grab these ingredients, and get crack-a-lackin!
Then, enjoy one of the following ways:

  • By the spoonful straight out of the bowl!
  • Dollop atop your bowl of morning oats!
  • Serve it as a dip alongside fresh fruit, such as apples!
  • Slather some on your morning toast! (Alongside a nutrient packed [spinach] berry smoothie I may add!)
Shalom and good eats!
Cait

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Farmer’s Market Finds!

I love farmer’s markets. It’s as simple as that.

I love going out on weekend mornings and being surrounded by a beautiful plethora of vibrant produce calling “buy me, eat me.” I love talking with the farmers and hearing them boast about their heirloom carrots and delicate handmade crafted honeys. I love the atmosphere and small talk with fellow shoppers: “Have you ever tasted such peppery arugala? How do you plan to cook that?” Really, put me in a farmer’s market and you’ll think I’m a kid in a neon colored, sugary goodness candy store. This actually would have been my kind of store a few years ago. But since reevaluating my eating habits, and making some adjustments, I have found that by strongly limiting my intake of processed, artificial, sugary treats that I (shockingly) now crave the simple sweetness of fresh fruits and natural sweeteners such as honey, agave, and maple syrup. Not to mention, my blood sugar levels don’t skyrocket only to plummet an hour or so later, but that’s another post all together ;)

But in all seriousness, farmer’s markets are also a huge support to the awesome farmers that harvest our food!  It’s as close to the farm as we’ll ever get, that is, unless we plant and grow our own food in our backyards! I wish, but one day! You are bypassing the whole middle man and the unnecessary commercialism of the entire food system, and simply going back to the roots, literally!

So, I’m here today to tell you about my all-star scores at one of my new favorite farmer’s markets in the area! For the first time ever, I checked out the San Rafael Farmer’s Market and boy was it huge! They had a phenomenal selection of local bakeries, fruit and veg, meat and seafood, artisan crafts, and even local food trucks cranking out some good dishes! I must credit my mama for introducing me to this wonderful new market!

Here’s what I ended up buying:

  • two(!) bunches of kale: my latest obsession=kale chips. oh. my. god.
  • a bundle of cilantro: will add to my honey peanut butter tofu wrap! yum-o! and already made some cilantro pesto!
  • a teeny tiny butternut squash: I’ll probably dice this baby and roast it, then add it to some more pasta
  • a bag of arugala: I love me some arugala salad, this type of leafy green is SO peppery and distinct in flavor, I LOVE it!
  • a hunk of fresh ginger: perfect for waking up some veggie rice bowls or some marinades/sauces
  • a whopping 22-slice loaf of whole grain honey flax bread from a bakery in Hayward
  • a 1-pound bag of raw walnuts: perfect for my morning oats or a mid day snack
  • an overflowing handful or two of seedless mandarins: my all time favorite snack for breaks running between classes
  • a jar of local star thistle honey: this sweet syrupy goodness has a subtle thistly aftertaste and is a NorCal award winner!

Snack time!

See those five stars? I concur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful trip! Not to mention, I indulged in a blueberry cream cheese croissant (so lucious and creamy!), plus on our way out I picked up a vegetarian taco from a local, organic, sustainable taco truck that was comprised of a corn tortilla with sauteed zucchini and fennel, fresh mixed salad greens, cilantro yogurt sauce, and a spoonful of juicy pomegranate seeds! Delish!

For any potential readers out there, I’m curious: do you like to shop at Farmer’s Markets? Why or why not?

Shalom and good eats!

Caitlin

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Lemon Ginger Date Bars! (And my baby!)

Well, this week was chaotic, to say the least. There are about three posts I’ve been meaning to upload, but sadly my crazy schedule did not leave me any time! Hopefully I can get ahead this weekend and get them up soon!

SO, without further ado, here’s my latest homemade treat:

Lemon Ginger Date Bars! Yum-O!

 

These bars are perfect for a mid morning or afternoon snack! The process couldn’t be any simpler and there are only five ingredients! I used to detest dates (and prunes for that matter) because of their slimy texture, but they are so delectably sweet! Who knew? My roommates have become good friends with some Saudi Arabian foreign exchange students who always have dates at their apartment. A few weeks back when I went over, they offered me some and refusing is a BIG no no since it is seen as rude and insulting. So, I smiled politely, waveringly accepted, and thanked them. HA! And little ole stubborn me actually liked them! Then of course my next thoughts were where can I buy these and what can I make with these? I found and adapted this recipe from my faaaaaavorite blog I’ve found to date, it’s called the Edible Perspective. Dates work so well in these bars since they help sweeten them up ever so slightly while also giving them a great sticky, chewy consistency. Plus, the ginger powder and lemon give it a nice fresh kick ;)

Lemon Ginger Date Bars (yields about 10, 1” x 3” x 1/2” bars)

  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 2/3 cup lightly packed ground pitted medjool dates (~10-14, depending on size and dryness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest (the bright yellow part only)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

    Zee ingredients...gotta love those 3lb bags of nuts from Costco!

  1. Grind almonds with a food processor, until mealy, and measure out 1 cup.  (A little over 1 cup of whole almonds will yield about 1 cup of ground almonds).
  2. Empty ground almonds into a bowl.
  3. Put dates into the empty processor and process until very small sticky pieces are left.
  4. Combine almonds with dates, add ginger and lemon zest.
  5. Pulse until well combined. (~10-15 pulses)
  6. Add lemon juice and pulse again, until combined.
  7. If the mixture can hold together when you try to form a ball then it’s done!  If not pulse a few more time and test again.  If it’s still not working, you probably need a few more dates.  Start with 2-3.  Empty the contents of the food processor and processed 2-3 dates.  Add combined mixture back in and pulse.  Test again to see if it holds together.
  8. Form into a large ball and place on a large sheet of saran wrap.
  9. Cover the top of the ball with the saran and start to press out, shaping with your hands. Or you can use a rolling pin.

    Impromptu rolling pin? I think yes!

  10. Flatten and shape into desired shape.
  11. Cut, wrap in saran, and store in the fridge.

Quick side notes:

  1. You really really really should use medjool dates!!! They are sticker and sweeter than most other dates, especially deglet dates (which of course I bought and used, forgetting to read the ingredient list specifically-oops!)
  2. These bars can be rolled into balls if you so desire, or can be cut into shapes or objects by cookie cutters too!
  3. Also, a giant salt grinder can double beautifully as a rolling pin if you are too cheap to buy one.

Oh, I almost forgot! Have you met my baby? Her name is Sunny. She’s loud, colorful, flexible, and always ready for a challenge! Here she is, my pride and joy!

Wait, I’m sorry, what? You thought I meant  a baby! Goodness no! I’m not quite at that point in my life. Haha, well, I got this sucker at Sur La Table for half off!!! It was a steal, and I’m totally in love with it! You can’t even imagine how many doors you open up to new recipes and creations once you own a food processor! She only holds 4 cups, but that’ll do just fine for now :) While at Sur La Table, I also picked up the cutest lemon saver ever!

It’s dishwasher safe, airtight, and beats dried out lemons or wasting plastic bags! I may or may not have also bought an onion version. And it may or may not be even cuter. But you’ll never know, muhaha! Plus I scored a little microplane with an attached container and two different size attachment graters for only two bucks! And it’s green!

Well, that’s it for now! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Shalom and good eats!

Caitlin

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The ABC’s about yours truly!

Hello there!

While this is my first post ever (Yay!), I’ve been an avid reader in the blogging community for the past six months or so. As of a few weeks ago, I have decided that it is finally time for me to dip my feet in and try out blogging! I’ve been seeing this ABC’s survey floating around and thought this would be the perfect first post! So here it goes:

A. Age: 20

B. Bed size: Sadly, in my tiny apartment bedroom, all I can fit is a single :( no me gusta

C. Chore you dislike: I’m not a huge fan of cleaning like hard core dirt and grime sorta thing, but I love to organize! Oh, and I truly dislike putting clean clothes back into their drawers- it’s such a pain!

D. Dogs: Yes please! I’d love a boxer one day!

E. Essential start to your day: a nice hearty breakfast, generally a pipping hot bowl of oatmeal with toppings galore!

F. Favorite color: Green!

G. Gold or silver: Silver most definitely

H. Height: 5’5″…on a good day ;)

I. Instruments you play(ed): I’ve played the recorder, piano, trumpet, baritone (when I lost my trumpet for three weeks!), and I guess you could say I’ve always “played” my voice since I’m a singer? It’s a stretch, I know.

J. Job title: Student, Teacher’s Assistant at my college’s on-campus preschool

K. Kids: Love them! And can’t wait till I have some of my own, you know, in at least ten years or so!

L. Live in: Rohnert Park, CA…until I graduate and then I’m moving!

M. Mom’s name: Barbara (or if you’re in a teasing mood, Barbie)

N. Nicknames: KK (first nickname ever from my brother and is still used by family), Cait, and Miss. Talkative (not my fav)

O. Overnight hospital stays: None for me…yet, knock on wood!

P. Pet peeves: Drivers that don’t signal, people that chew with their mouth open, people who have no manners (please and thank you are always in style), people who leave a trail behind them with clothes, food dishes, and trash, reallllllly slow merging drivers. I guess that’ll do for now.

Q. Quotes from a movie: I’m not one to really quote movies, but this is a classic: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Oh Ferris, you’re so wise!

R. Righty or lefty: Righty

S. Siblings: Jack (18), and my half-sisters Gianna (3 1/2) and Alexa (8 months)

T. Time you wake up: 6:45ish on my early days, and 8-9 on my late days (I take advantage of my sleep-in days!)

U. Underwear: Well, I wear underwear, I’m not picky really

V. Vegetables you don’t like: Eggplants! I’ve never been a fan, it’s weird. And I’m still warming up to mushrooms and radishes.

W. What makes you run late: A combination of my lovely procrastination skills and always leaving too much to accomplish in too little time.

X. X-rays you’ve had: Just my teeth.

Y. Yummy food you make: Well, I’d like to think everything I make is yummy, but I tend to get more compliments from my roomies on my hot breakfasts or dinner creations.

Z. Zoo animal favorites: I’ve always enjoyed seeing the lions. I think the coolest zoo experience I’ve ever had was when I walked ran through a bat cave on a night safari in Singapore!

Well, that’s my lazy version of an introduction! I’ll keep posting more throughout the week and set up the foundations for this exciting blog!

Shalom and good eats!

Caitlin

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