Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nut Butters

I hate to call this a "recipe," because it's incredibly simple, so we'll say these are "instructions."

I didn't want to not share it, though, because I sure wish I'd known a long time ago how simple it was to make. So far, I've made almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter and sun-nut butter (sunflower seed butter). The sun-nut butter didn't turn out well, but I think that's either due to the fact that the sunflower seeds were old or that I tried to add honey. I've learned that honey messes with the texture. It make my peanut butter funky once, too. I'm planning to try sun-nut butter again when we get to the US, and I have access to less expensive bulk seeds (without shells; sorry, just not doing the shell route).

• 4 C nuts/seeds
• 1-4 T oil*

*I’ve used sunflower and olive successfully. I now use olive (fresh, local EVOO, not to brag, though). I’d like to try coconut, too.

1. Put nuts in food processor. (Can use blender with a strong motor.)
2. Process until the blade has pushed all of the “nut flour” to the edges/it sounds like it needs help (i.e. the motor is struggling).
3. Add oil 1/2 T at a time until processing well.
4. Continue processing until creamy (several minutes). This will not be as creamy as industrial peanut butter, but will get like the "natural" kind you can buy.
5. Store in fridge, and it will not separate, so it doesn’t have to be stirred.
6. Have house help clean food processor. (Oh, wait, I just gave away one of the secrets as to why I think it's so easy. :-P) Food processor supposedly also gets clean well in these “dishwasher” things I’ve heard rumors of.

Peanut Butter Granola

After my success with the baked Honey Granola recipe that I'd remembered, I decided I wanted to try Pioneer Woman's Peanut Butter Granola version. I had finally remembered to ask for peanuts to make peanut butter (mental note: post recipe/instructions), so I was set to go. We definitely enjoyed it and will be making it again soon.

The only bummer was that I only had 1 can of oats, so I had to make a 1/2 batch. In case you haven't picked up on this by now, I hate baking/cooking breakfast that yields only one breakfast-worth. Oh well, at least it tasted good. And I snuck the measly leftovers for myself. :-)

• 1 stick butter (1/2 C)
• 2/3 C natural peanut butter
• 2/3 C honey
• 1 t vanilla
• 1/2 t salt
• 6 C rolled oats (10 C quick-cooking)
• 1 C raisins (optional)

1. Melt the butter and peanut butter together in a medium saucepan/pot.
2. Add the honey, vanilla and salt.
3. Stir the mixture until smooth and hot throughout. (It doesn’t need to boil.)
4. Add the oats.
5. Stir until the oats are completely coated with peanut butter mixture.
6. Turn the mixture into an ungreased cookie sheet, or a large 9 by 13-inch pan.
7. Spread the granola out evenly and bake it at 375° for 10-12 minutes. It will be brown and crispy.
8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
9. Break into pieces after cooled.
10. Add raisins, if using, when granola is cool.

For the 1/2 batch, I used my Pampered Chef deep dish baker. I could have packed it in more and used it and the mini deep dish baker for a whole batch.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I had ML get koosa* the other day, because I wanted to make a different kind of muffin. We've been rotating between making orange apricot muffins and cinnamon raisin ones from Michelle's recipe, and it was time for a change.

I remembered a Chocolate Zucchini recipe I'd gotten off of AllRecipes at some point, so I pulled that one up. Doubled it. Tweaked it a bit (would you believe the sugar below is halved? =-o). And it's a new staple. I love the fact that I can shred 1 kilo of koosa, use 1/2 of it, and freeze the other half for a batch later on (which I baked this morning).

This recipe makes enough batter for 24 large-sized muffins (i.e. with the cups full, rather than 2/3; you know, the way they tell you not to do when you're learning about portion control? what can I say? we like muffin tops...on muffins :-/) and 24 mini muffins. I feed my family breakfast and have enough to put up two bags for later breakfasts (or send to neighbors, as I did this morning), plus the mini muffins for hosting a social visit. This last option is wonderful. I love having something already baked to pull out of the freezer when I'm busy preparing the house. The other part (having family breakfasts made ahead) isn't too shabby, either.

*What? You don't know all of the vegetables in Arabic? Fine. I'll tell you. Koosa is squash. Or zucchini. Well, more like sqacchini. It's somewhere in between the two. I use it for squash in recipes that call for squash and zucchini in recipes that call for that. It's less moist than US squash, and more moist than American zucchini. Consider yourself educamacated for the day.

Makes 4 dozen

• 6 eggs
• 2 cups white sugar
• 2 cup vegetable oil
• 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 4 cups grated zucchini (1 lb. or 1/2 k)

• 6 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
• In an extra-large bowl beat the eggs.
• Beat in the sugar and oil.
• Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.
• In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
• Mix into dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just moist.
• Pour batter into prepared muffin tins.
• Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes (10-13 minutes for mini muffins).

Today, I made this with olive oil, because, well, we didn't have any vegetable oil, and I'm trying to limp along without it, so I don't leave any to go bad while we're in the US. They turned out fine. I could taste the olive oil in the batter (when I was "cleaning" the bowl) but not in the finished product.

Stay tuned for the Applesauce Muffins I'm making soon. That should get us through breakfasts until we leave for the States. :-)