Roasted Maple Butter Pecans

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Roasted nuts are powerful and simple all in one bite. I sprinkle mine in salads with a nice vinaigrette or I just eat them by the handful at an alarming rate.

Two things here. Well, three. One, you can use whatever kind of nuts you want in the recipe. Two, remind yourself when you’re taste testing them that the nuts will be chewy when really hot. As they cool, they’ll become crunchy again.

…and three, it’s really hard to talk about nuts like this without laughing like I’m 12 years old again.

Roasted Nuts:

2 egg yolks

1/4 c. melted unsalted butter

3 T. pure maple syrup

1/4 c. caster sugar

1 t. salt

18 oz. raw pecans

250 F / 120 C

-Beat the egg whites on high in a bowl until frothy and white (about 20 seconds).

-Add melted butter and continue to beat. Then add maple syrup, sugar and salt. Beat until fully combined.

– Add the pecans to the mixture and fold them into the egg mixture with a spatula until they’re fully coated and there is no puddle of unused mixture sitting at the bottom of the bowl.

-Bake in 4 15-minute increments, stirring each time until the egg white mixture has hardened over the nuts entirely.  They’ll also be fragrant and be giving off a crackling sound.

Strawberry Lentil Salad w/ White Wine Honey Mustard Dressing

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Strawberries have become a daily ritual these days, like brushing your teeth or making the bed. Wake up, eat strawberries, continue on with day. So far, I’ve made 3 crumbles, 2 batches of jam, strawberry shortcake, strawberry cordial, and now, this salad.

I’ll admit, it’s not the most ambitious recipe out there, but this is my blog, and I’ll do what I want. Besides, summer equals salads in my world.

I could eat mustard from a spoon or perhaps drink it from a bucket. I haven’t yet reached that point but, just so you know, it’s not out of the question. That combined with the timeless blend of sweet and savory makes this salad a winner.

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Salad: I tried to quantify the ingredients in the salad, but it’s really more about putting as much or as little as you’d like in there.

1 1/2 c. spring or spinach greens

2 T. blue cheese (or more because, why the heck not?)

1/2 c. cooked and cooled lentils (although it’s still good if they’re warm too!)

Sliced onion

Sliced strawberries

Whole raw pecans

dried cranberries

Dressing: Makes about 2 cups worth of dressing. It stores in the fridge like a gem.

1/2 c. honey

1/2 c. mustard (I used normal yellow)

1/2 c. white wine vinegar

2 t. salt

*2/3 c. olive oil

-Combine the ingredients with a whisk and continue to whisk quickly until your dressing emulsifies (forcing the fats and acids together). You’ll know you’re there when it appears almost creamy and there is no separation of oil on the surface.

*The vinegar I used was quite strong. You may have to adjust your oil amount based on the acidity of your vinegar.

 

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Coconut Butter

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This one is plain and simple, and I love it. Like, love love it. I wanna marry it. If you buy this stuff in the stores you end up paying a hefty price for a 15-ounce jar. Something like $13! If you’re Midwestern like me, you might have a Meijer, and they sell their True Goodness Brand unsweetened organic shredded coconut for $2.39/bag. If you do the math, about 1 full bag makes 15 oz. of butter, which means you save over $10 a jar! Say what?!

Some people may not be familiar with coconut butter, but that ends right here, people. It’s relatively the same process that peanuts take to become peanut butter. Basically, you just grind the crap out of unsweetened coconut flakes until you can grind no more.

I eat it on bananas, in oatmeal, on toast, by the spoonful, with mangos, on crackers, with chocolate bars, on cake…you get the point.

The only note of caution is that coconut butter behaves much like coconut oil does (not to mention there’s a small amount of that in there too). The cooler the temperature it is, the harder it gets. So, if you live in a cold climate or intend to keep it in the refrigerator, plan on letting it sit in a bowl of hot water to let the oils soften a bit until it’s spreadable again.

I’ve not yet tried it, but adding melted chocolate to the mixture could be a genius idea. You can also do this with toasted coconut, but expect your butter to have a crunchier texture.

If you’ve been living under a rock during the past 5 years, you just need to do a quick google search session to know that coconut is a superfood in all forms as long as it stays in its natural state (sans sugar and additives). So, if you can get it in, and I know you can, do it!

COCONUT BUTTER:

2 c. coconut pulp, unsweetened

1 pinch of salt

1 heaping T. coconut oil

  1. In a good quality food processor, grind coconut pulp and oil for 10-15 minutes. It will go crumbly, to looking like paste and then to a smooth and buttery texture, which is what you want.
  2. Just when you think it won’t work, it will meld into butter. The heat from the machine might make it look like a liquid, but don’t worry. Once the temperature of the butter drops, it will come to.
  3. Add a pinch of salt, pulse the machine once more to mix it in, and voila!
  4. Store in a tub, preferably at room temperature or hotter.

Gluten & Diary Free Chocolate Strawberry Cake

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Before you start wondering to yourself if this is some kind of sick joke, it’s not! And before you start wondering whether it tastes like cardboard or wet shoes, it doesn’t! It tastes like….well, like chocolate cake!

Turns out, after months of stomach aches and bloating, I’m allergic to wheat and dairy.

Great.

My solution is that I eat gluten free. Being wheat intolerant isn’t mutually exclusive with being gluten intolerant, but one eliminates the other in my case.

Anyway, this cake is my saving grace. I took a page from another bloggers book with it, and will gladly give her credit where it’s due right here. I made only a couple changes based on what I had already in the cupboard but have made it her way as well. They’re both great. Honestly.

The only thing I would further recommend is topping it with avocado chocolate frosting. Or, you know, real chocolate frosting works too. Guess my options are a bit limited these days and an avocado frosting seems to suffice.

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CHOCOLATE CAKE (Again, with my VERY slight alteration from her recipe.)

150 ml coconut oil (melted)

50 g organic & fair trade cocoa powder

125 ml boiling water

2 t vanilla

3 medium organic eggs

140 g good quality organic brown sugar

150 g ground almonds (almond flour)

½ t baking soda

a pinch of salt

350 F/ 170 C

  1. Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan
  2. Put the cocoa powder in a bowl, and whisk in the boiling water and oil until it forms a smooth paste. Leave to cool for 5 mins, then stir in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl crack in the eggs, then add the sugar and coconut oil. Using an electric whisk, whisk the ingredients together for 1-2 minutes, the mix will thicken slightly. As noted on her site, doing this by hand will cause the cake to lose height.
  4. Pour the chocolate mix into the egg mixture and combine.
  5. In a separate bowl combine the almonds with the bicarb of soda and salt till the ingredients are well distributed.
  6. Pour into your cake tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until the cake springs back when you push it.
  7. Top with fruit or cream