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.
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Poppy Sesame & Sea Salt Bagels w/ Roasted Red Pepper Cream Cheese

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There is nothing better than making your own bread. I taught a class of 6th graders last week and one of them brought in cupcakes for a project. They were supposed to demonstrate something that they knew they weren’t good at, and she chose baking. I asked if she made them from scratch and she said no. Fine. Then a girl from behind us said in disbelief and with a little bit of disgust, “Who makes things from scratch anymore?!”

Not fine.

How did we lose touch with something as basic as making our own food? The idea that some people would rather buy something off of a shelf without ever knowing where it came from is unthinkable to me. I know I know, there’s a balance. We can’t all be amish. We can all, however, be educated and aware that our food doesn’t have to share an ingredient with our yoga mat or whatever.

To me, bread is the ultimate celebration of slow food. It’s about making something from some things with time and love and appreciation. So today these bagels are my way of honoring the process and a reminder that convenience isn’t always an acceptable answer.

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BAGELS (makes 8 bagels)

2 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. white flour

2 t. salt

1 T. instant yeast

3 T. caster sugar

Egg wash (1 egg with 1 T. of water)

Toppings: Sesame seeds, sea salt, cheese, herbs, etc.

425 F / 220 C

  1. In a stand mixer or glass bowl, combine flours, salt, yeast, sugar and water making sure to put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl before adding the water.
  2. Knead with the dough hook for about 6 minutes or 12 minutes by hand.
  3. Place in greased bowl covered with a bag or plastic wrap in a warm place and let rise for 2 hours or until double in size.
  4. Once risen, cut your dough into 10-12 pieces depending on how big you want your bagels to be. Roll them into smooth balls by pinching the sides and gathering them at the bottom of the ball.
  5. Once finished place your finger through the middle and roll the dough around both of your index fingers until you reach the size you want. NOTE: They will puff up in the second rise and boiling so, don’t underdo it!
  6. Cover with plastic again and let rise 20 minutes in a warm place.
  7. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat your oven.
  8. Once the water is boiling, add the sugar and drop the bagels (4 or 5 at a time) into the pot and boil 90 seconds on each side turning with a slotted spoon. Place the boiled bagels on a pan lined with parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina.
  9. If you desire toppings: brush the top of the bagels with the egg wash and add what you’d like. In this case sea salt and seeds. If you don’t desire any toppings, just egg wash the bagels and bake them.
  10. Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and bake for 10 minutes again. Don’t worry, your toppings won’t fall off.

ROASTED RED PEPPER CREAM CHEESE:

4 oz. cream cheese

1/2 roasted red pepper

  1. Pulse in a food processor the pepper and cream cheese until smooth.

 

Maple Pecan Butter Turtles w/ Homemade Nut Butter

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Cancel your plans, call in sick, pray to the snow day gods, do whatever you have to do to stay home today and make these. They’re some seriously badass chocolates.

I had leftover pecans yesterday and decided to blitz up some butter from them. Then it occurred to me. I have never seen pecan butter sitting on the shelves with it’s older, more established nut brothers. I’ve seen it online and in gourmet food stores before but never have I seen it in an ordinary grocery store where most of us shop. What the heck?

A good raw/organic nut butter with no sugar or other preservatives added is worth the extra couple of bucks. Jif isn’t gonna cut it, folks. I remember when Justin’s nut butter showed up in the local grocery store here. I threw a small personal party in aisle 9 out of sheer joy that some real quality nut butter had been conveniently added to my life. Wahoo! Just to get you my level, Justin’s is an impressive company that was just a little Colorado startup not too long ago. Check them out here if you’ve never heard of them. Justin’s is doing great things with sustainable initiatives and a real team oriented business model. It’s the kind of company you want to contribute to. If none of that matters to you, just buy it based on how genius the packaging is. It is sheer simplicity in a world of clutter.

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Anyway, the pecan butter. Making nut butter is easy if you have a higher powered food processor. You simply throw nuts in, add flavor if you want and process until the oils release from the nuts and form a smooth creamy butter. Voila!

After all this you’re probably thinking, this better be good. Well, it is. Damn good. Then you add chocolate to it and holy crap. Just one bite and you’ll be high on happiness. I promise. If you’re not, contact me so that I can forward the number of a support group to you that helps people rebuild their empty souls. Kidding. Kind of…

VANILLA MAPLE PECAN BUTTER:

2 c. toasted raw organic pecans (toasted optional)

1 t. organic vanilla paste or extract

1 T. pure organic maple syrup

1/2 t. ground organic cinnamon

sea salt to taste

  1. (optional step) Toast the pecans on a baking sheet in the oven at 350° F /  180° C for 10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. In a food processor, add all of the ingredients. Process on high for 2-4 minutes depending on the power of your machine. You want it to be smooth and spreadable. Before it reaches this point it might form into a ‘doughy’ ball but will loosen up as the oils continue to release from the pecans.
  3. Salt to taste and store in airtight container.

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VANILLA MAPLE PECAN BUTTER CUPS:

1/2 c. milk chocolate chips

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 – 1/2 c. vanilla maple pecan butter

sea salt

  1. Over a double boiler melt the chocolate.
  2. On a piece of wax paper, make teaspoon-size circles and spread them out slightly. Place a small dollop of pecan butter on top and top with more chocolate. Sprinkle top with sea salt.
  3. Let the chocolate set at room temperature.

 

Baked White Bean & Spinach Dip

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This is delicious. It’s a cold and rainy day and there’s nothing more perfect than a hot and cheesy dip on my plate right now. Let me talk you through some options before you make this.

You can:

Option 1: Eat it all by yourself and admit it to no one.

Option 2: Share and consequently suffer with silent regret as you watch it disappear by no hand of your own wishing that you would’ve just kept it your cheesy little secret.

The choice is yours. Sometimes less is more.

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WHITE BEAN DIP: (makes 2-4 servings)

2 T. oil

2 T. butter

2 cloves garlic

1/2 onion

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

2 T. flour

1 c. cream

1/4 ricotta or mascarpone cheese

1/4 c. fresh grated parmesan

1/4 t. dried mustard

pinch of nutmeg

2 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach

1/2 c. white beans (cooked or canned)

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella or provolone

  1. In a large pan melt butter and oil together on medium-low heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant. Add salt and pepper.
  2. Once onion soften add the flour to make a roux.
  3. Stir in the cream.
  4. Let simmer until it thickens to a sauce. Add the cheese, mustard and nutmeg.
  5. Add the spinach and beans and stir. Remove from heat when the spinach has reduced in size by half.
  6. Broil under the grill at 400 F / 200 C for 5-10 minutes depending on how dark you like your cheese to be. It should be bubbling.
  7. Serve with toasted bread, crackers, veggies, whatever!