Almond Pulp Crackers

“Once you start cooking, one thing leads to another. A new recipe is as exciting as a blind date….We make things from scratch just to see if we can.” -Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (p. 130)

Almond Meal Crackers

Almond Pulp Crackers

We found ourselves with the rare weekend to ourselves. Friday evening, after a casual dinner out and a glass of wine, we wandered into Barnes and Noble, one of our favorite “date night” destinations. While other couples may prefer to go to movies, concerts, etc., my husband and I love passing time in the bookstore. As usual, he headed for the architecture section while I headed to the food and cookbooks section.

We each left the store with three new books in hand, excited for a lazy weekend spent reading and working on pet projects. And while I was able to do plenty of reading this weekend (full book post coming soon), the majority of my time was spent making mess after mess in the kitchen.

Flatten the dough and slice the crackers

Flatten the dough and slice the crackers

Following a Saturday morning coffee date with Sarah, I whipped up muffins and scrambled eggs for brunch. Next, I moved on to Nutella bites, cucumber salad, and almond milk. After dinner, the almond pulp I had saved from making the milk was beckoning me, calling me back to my recently cleaned kitchen to spend just a few more hours experimenting.

Baking crackers

Baking crackers

As the quote above suggests, the more time I spend in the kitchen, the more adventurous I feel with my cooking. I am now at a point where I prefer to make from scratch anything that I “can.” While I have yet to tackle yeast bread (perhaps a project for next weekend?!), crackers seemed like a no-brainer.

In the past, my nut pulp has almost always ended up being mixed into Greek yogurt or otherwise consumed as a component of my breakfast. But no longer  – these crackers were so simple to make, and I just love the fact that I made them myself!

Nut milk and crackers, a perfect combination of kitchen DIY treats.

crackers

Almond Pulp Crackers

Inspired by Edible Perspective and Kath Eats

Makes about 50 – 100 small crackers

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond pulp (leftover from making almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax meal
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons water

Method

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mash together with a fork until fully combined.  You should be left with a soft, loosely formed ball of dough. Split the ball in half, set each half on a non-stick baking sheet, and spread each piece of dough with your hands evenly and as thinly as possible, ideally, 1/4 – 1/8-inch thick. Score with a butter knife into about 1×1-inch sized crackers. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pans. Bake 15 minutes more, then carefully flip each cracker over and bake for another 15 minutes. Flip again and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until deep golden brown, for a total of 55-65 minutes. Let the crackers fully cool.  They will become crunchy as they cool.  Store in a sealed container on the counter for 1-3 days.

crackers from above

Perfectly crunchy and slightly sweet, I am loving having these made-from-scratch crackers around to nibble on. Perhaps with some turnip hummus?

Have you ever made your own crackers?

-L

Thank You, Blog World #10, or Hummus: Beyond Chickpeas

Another month has come and gone, and to be honest, I am not really sad to see February go… I am over winter. It’s been a fairly mild one here in VA, but I am tired of wearing sweaters and coats, and anxiously awaiting the return of spring produce.

above cracker dipped

Although I have been dreaming of asparagus and strawberries, I have been enjoying the root vegetables that continue to be available from our local farms. I recently purchased a “Virginia Bounty Box” from Relay Foods that featured apples, squash, potatoes, and turnips. LOTS of apples, squash, potatoes, and turnips.

Most of the box made its way into the oven–roasting root vegetables is, after all, my favorite way to prepare them. I enjoyed many a salad topped with roasted turnips, but I also decided to try something a little different…

Turnip Hummus.

hummus close

Hummus is traditionally made with chickpeas, but add some tahini, garlic, and lemon juice to almost any starchy-vegetable-based spread, and you have a delicious alternative! I threw a pinch of a Tandoori spice blend I had on hand into my turnip hummus for a bold flavor.

Turnip Hummus

Yields about 2 cups hummus

Ingredients

  • 3 cups roasted turnips
  • Juice from 1/2 large lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 generous Tablespoons tahini
  • pinch Tandoori spice blend
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with crackers, pita, or vegetables.

display 2

So I started to wonder – what other alternative hummus recipes might I like to try? Of course, the blog world was able to deliver.

All of the alternative hummus recipes I found include tahini, and most include lemon juice and garlic, but the “base” ranges from starchy vegetables to beans and even and nuts. Those that stick to the traditional chickpea add awesome flavors or toppings that take hummus to a whole new level.

As we do at the start of each month, I would like to say “Thank You” to my fellow bloggers for the inspiration they provide me on a daily basis. Here’s a round-up of a some of my current favorites blogs and their alternative hummus recipes:

cracker dipping

Have you ever made an “alternative hummus”?

You can check out our past 9 months of Thank You posts at these links:

-L

Luscious Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

Lemon Bars

I spend a majority of my time with fellow twenty-something artists.  We have interesting conversations, go see the wonderful cultural offerings in the city, and offer moral support when we feel creatively blocked.  We are also frequently strapped for cash.  For this reason, we tend to give each other edible gifts, rather than dishing out precious dough for a nice store bought present.

A good friend got a group together for birthday drinks the other night.  I didn’t want to arrive empty handed, so I decided to bake her a little something.  I ended up making some zesty lemon bars, per her request.

Mmmhmm

Mmmhmm

Shockingly, I had never made lemon bars before!  I once made lemon bars from a mix that Mom had, but I don’t count them.  This recipe was really simple, and the result is delicious!  The only adjustment I made was adding a bit of whole wheat flour to the crust, which, honestly was because I ran out of all-purpose flour.  I recommend the change, though.

Lemons

Lemons

Lemon Bars

Recipe from The New Cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 20 bar cookies

For crust:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

For filling:

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds.  Add the 1/4 cup of sugar, and beat until combined.  Beat in the flour until mixture is crumbly.  Press into a 8x8x2in baking dish, smoothing with the back of a spoon. Bake until golden, 15-18 minutes.

Prepared crust layer

Prepared crust layer

While the crust is baking, combine eggs, sugar, flour, lemon zest, lemon juice, and baking powder.  Beat until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes.

Pour filling mixture over hot baked layer and return to oven.  Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and set in the center.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Sift powdered sugar over the top, if desired.  Cut into 20 bars.

Fresh out of the oven

Fresh out of the oven

While digging out my apron, I also come across a package of doilies.  I was so excited to be able to present my bars on something prettier than just a tupperware container!  I’m trying not to read into the fact that I had doilies lying around… What a little housewife (minus the whole husband thing)!

Notice the doilies!

Notice the doilies!

The bars were quite a hit.  We were also lucky enough to have a batch of brownies, provided by another friend.  We were that super cool group with homemade goods at the bar.  We got a few dirty looks, but I prefer to think people were just jealous.

I’ll need to remember these next time I feel like baking, but don’t want chocolate (it happens once in a blue moon).  They were smooth, sweet, and tangy!  Yum!

Happy eating!

-C

Popped Amaranth Cereal with Pistachio Cream

Since starting this blog last May, I have discovered many new ingredients as well as new ways of preparing old favorites.

toppings and cream

This weekend I decided to combine three of my favorite “new” foods to create a homemade cereal dish that is bursting with flavor and nutrition. The cereal base includes popped amaranth and buckwheat groats, and is topped with a pistachio cream.

There are many steps in the process of creating this unique breakfast dish, but it can be made ahead and all of the parts will keep in the fridge for a week or so.

After two weekends away from my kitchen, let’s just say I went a little crazy on Saturday morning, whipping up this and that!

Popped Amaranth

Popped Amaranth

The first step is to pop the amaranth. Heat a pot until water “dances” when flicked on the surface, add about 2 Tablespoons dry amaranth, cover with a lid, and shake the pot until the amaranth has popped. I made about 5 batches to get 2 cups of popped cereal.

pistachio cream

Next, prepare a batch of pistachio milk using 1 cup soaked pistachios and 2 cups of water.

Now you’re ready to assemble the cereal and the pistachio cream.

banana and cream

Pistachio Cream

Serves 1 – 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup homemade pistachio milk
  • 1 small, very ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup pistachio “pulp” (leftover from making the milk)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth.

stirred

Amaranth and Buckwheat Cereal

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup popped amaranth
  • 1/4 cup raw buckwheat groats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Combina all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

pouring

I topped my cereal with sliced banana, frozen raspberries, and coconut flakes before pouring about 1 cup of the pistachio cream on top. I love mixing things up in the mornings and starting my day with a wide variety of flavors and textures. This hearty bowl of “cereal” and “milk” certainly fit the bill.

Enjoy!

-L

Fig and Molasses Granola

First, there was apricot, cashew, and coconut oatmeal.

Then, there was raisin, walnut, and flax meal baked oatmeal.

Today, I am happy to share my latest fruit/nut/superfood oat concoction: Fig and Molasses Granola.

granola pan

Chunks of dried fig and crystallized ginger dance with chopped walnuts and pecans in this crunchy and not-too-sweet granola, made using The Professional Palate‘s “overnight” method.

Breakfast heaven!

figs2

Let’s talk for a minute about Figs. Regarded by many ancient cultures as sacred, figs were originally grown in southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. Spanish missionaries brought them to North America, and in the U.S. they are mainly cultivated in southern California, though they do grow elsewhere (Charlottesville, VA included!). There are many varieties of figs, ranging in color from deep purple to almost white and in shape from round to oval. Figs are a good source of iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

This granola is a great source of iron, as it also includes blackstrap molasses. Molasses is produced when the juice squeezed from sugar cane and sugar beets is boiled down into a syrup from which sugar crystals are extracted. The first boiling produces light molasses, the second, dark molasses, and the third, blackstrap. It is a good source of iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium (source).

jars

As I have been learning more about the ingredients I have been cooking with, I have been intrigued by the many facets of “food knowledge.” From history and anthropology, to horticulture and nutrition, there is so much to learn about the foods we eat and the way our bodies process them.

I would love to hear which tidbits of information resonate most with you all, our lovely readers. Please let me know if you are enjoying learning about ingredients, and which aspects are most interesting to you.

granola pan close

Fig and Molasses Granola

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/8 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • chopped figs
  • chopped crystallized ginger

Method

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, flax, chia seeds, pecans, walnuts, cinnamon and ginger. In separate bowl, whisk together molasses, brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla and oil. Pour over oat mixture and mix well.

Spread granola evenly over baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring at 15 minute intervals. Turn oven off. Leave granola in oven. Granola will crisp as it cools overnight. Just before serving, toss in chopped dried figs and crystallized ginger. Store granola in jars in the fridge.

jars and bowl

I have really been enjoying this granola atop a bowl of greek yogurt, chunky applesauce, and sliced banana. The flavors come together so nicely, and the crystallized ginger adds an almost surprising element.

“Superfood” indeed.

-L