Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Quick and Easy: Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Who can resist?!

Use honey to sweeten, dark cocoa powder  and nut butters, that’s about it.

Remember Reese’s? Same concept, only much more healthy!

Nutrition notes:

Use fresh ground nut butters, if you can. Certainly do not use any that have added sugars! The labels should read ground peanuts or ground almonds.

Read the labels on your cocoa, it should be pure raw cocoa for best benefits

Toast your own nuts, it’s easy and you are doing the process.

Add dry milk powder or protein powder for added nutritional boost. I like to use maca powder for this.

Using dry milk powder will also help them hold shape better when at room temperature.

Extra virgin coconut oil please. Or grass-fed butter, but that’s a lot and it would be decadent but certainly not vegan.

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

  • Servings: 24 small cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Before you begin, line a mini-muffin tin with pleated paper liners. It is important to use paper liners as you’ll need it to hold them while eating.

Make two layers, chocolate first as it needs to firm up before adding the top layer.

Use mini-muffin tins. Fill cups half way with chocolate mixture

Use mini-muffin tins.
Fill cups half way with chocolate mixture

Chocolate Almond Layer:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup local honey (use maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup maca powder, if desired
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted almonds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Using a double boiler, melt the coconut oil, honey and almond butter until smooth. Realize that it won’t be totally smooth due to the nuts you may choose to use.

Rub the cocoa powder and maca powder through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps. Add a pinch of salt to the dry ingredients.

Fold the almonds into the dry ingredients

Fold melted coconut oil mixture into the cocoa powder mixture, stir to totally incorporate; add vanilla and salt and stir well.

Fill each of the paper-lined muffin tins half way up with the chocolate mixture. Be careful not to dribble along the edges so the final product has a clean appearance. Work carefully.

Once filled half way, pop the tray into the freezer to firm up while you make the next mixture.

Add the peanut butter layer, top with toasted nuts before freezing

Add the peanut butter layer, top with toasted nuts before freezing

Peanut Butter Layer

  • 1/2 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter (I love the chunky kind!)
  • 1/4 cup local honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Sliced toasted almonds to garnish the tops

Melt everything over a double boiler until everything has melted. Depending on the texture you chose, it may be smooth or lumpy.

Remove the chocolate cups from the freezer, fill each cup with the peanut butter mixture to the rim of the paper.

Sprinkle the top of each cup with toasted almonds and a piece of Maldon salt if desired.

Freeze for a couple of hours before serving.

These are best served frozen or extremely cold. if serving as finger food, leave the paper on, if plating a dessert with them, remove the paper. They will become rather soft as they remain in room temperature.

If a firmer room temperature texture is desired, add 1/2 cup dry milk powder to each mixture. This will boost nutritional value as well.

Irresistible Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Irresistible Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Almond Peanut Butter Cups

 

#vegandessert #peanutbuttercups #healthypeanutbuttercups #chocolatealmondpeanutbuttercups #honey #honeydesserts #nutbutter #chocolatealmond

#glutenfree #musteatnow #healthytreats #healthydesserts

 

 

Sorta “Socca”

Socca are flat breads from the Nice area of France. Made with garbanzo bean flour, cooked in a screaming hot oven until they blister and brown, sprinkled with salt, pepper and sometimes a bit of olive oil, these tasty bits are simply delicious.

I call these “sorta socca” because I use different kinds of flours and add seasonings and herbs to the mix before cooking. Traditional socca are simply flour, water, oil and salt.

David Lebovitz writes a great recipe for socca in his book Sweet Life in Paris and has another post about it on his blog. Check those out too. He gives some great information. For the most part, this recipe is based upon Davids recipe.

For these “Sorta Socca” you  will need:

  • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup chestnut flour
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean (chick pea) flour
  • 9 ounces water
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Final seasonings: Freshly ground black pepper, sea or kosher salt, slight drizzle of olive oil which is totally optional.

Special equipment: Sturdy heat-resistant pan such as cast iron or steel. I use a crepe pan I bought in Paris and it works great! Just be sure there are no plastic handles on the pan you choose. A sturdy tart pan would work well, cast iron, although heavy, is ideal.

Here is some advice: if you go researching recipes and cooking methods you will find some call for cooking in a 450°F oven for 10-12 minutes. Please take my advice and realize this is not hot enough.

Use the broiler on high or use your grill if you can get it that hot.

To prevent the oil from burning on the pan, as it would if you were to pre-oil and then pre-heat the pan under the broiler, oil it just before you pour in the batter.

Mix all the ingredients together and allow the mix to sit for a couple of hours. This allows the flours to hydrate.

15 minutes before you are going to cook the socca, turn on the broiler and place the pan in the oven to get screaming hot.

Be SURE to use a good hot mitt or strong towel to handle the hot pan. Avoid getting burned! (Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial suggests using welding mitts for managing very hot things in the oven)

Pour the batter into the hot pan

Pour the batter into the hot pan

When the oven and the pan are really hot, pour enough batter into the pan, swirl it around and place the pan back under the broiler. Make sure there is room for the socca to rise while it is under the broiler, if it touches the heat source, it will burn.

You will see the dough puff and begin to turn brown. This only takes a few minutes and how long depends totally upon the strength and heat of your broiler.

The socca is done when it is dark brown to black around the edges and the top has golden brown spots.

Done!

Done!

Remove from the oven, place the socca on a cutting board, sprinkle with salt and fresh black pepper and a drop or two of olive oil.

Socca is meant to be rustic so either tear it into serving portions or cut it into wedges.

Put the warm socca on a rack to cool so it does not become soggy.

Sprinkle with seasonings, a little goes a long way

Sprinkle with seasonings, a little goes a long way

Sometimes I’ll re-warm any left-over socca by placing it on a hot pizza stone on the oven for a few minutes. This tastes so good warm!

Today’s socca was served with lemon hummus, baba ganoush and cabbage cruciferous soup.

If you have no idea what socca is, try it.

I encourage playing with flour mix. While traditional socca is made with garbanzo bean flour, you can mix it up a bit with other flours too. An added bonus is this is also gluten-free unless you decide to use some wheat, rye or barley flours.

If you do know what socca is, while not quite the same as the street food in Nice, this comes pretty close.

Socca with soup, hummus and baba ganoush

Socca with soup, hummus and baba ganoush

Simple (And Great Tasting!) Bean Burger

Bean Burger

Bean Burger; Can you see it under the mushrooms and onions? I had to take the picture before Robert got to the table and didn’t have time to “present” the burger for photos.

This simple and great tasting bean burger is quite simple to make and is versatile enough to become many things besides burgers.

  • 1 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cups cooked old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon dried vegetable flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup ground pistachio or almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos (the salt)

Start by cooking the oatmeal. Include the garlic, onions and dried vegetable flakes if using for flavor.

Drain the beans, rinse and add to the oatmeal.

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Combine the oats and beans and all the seasonings

Process the mixture in a food processor until things are coarsely chopped up. You do not want to make a paste.

Coarsely chop

Coarsely chop

Form burgers using a scoop for even sizes.

Scoop for even size

Scoop for even size

Pat the burgers with additional pistachio or almond meal to ‘dry’ the outside of the burger. This will allow it to become nice and golden brown.

Using a very small amount of coconut oil or olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan (or use a non-stick pat and go fat-free) place the bean burgers into the hot pan, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Saute them until golden brown on one side, flip and cook on the other side until golden brown too.

You can finish cooking them in the oven or hold them in the oven until you are ready to eat.

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Delicious Cooked Bean Burgers

Remove the burgers from the saute pan and then add sliced mushrooms and sliced onions, saute for 2 minutes, then add 1-2 tablespoons of water, continue cooking until the water is evaporated.

Serve the sautéed onions and mushrooms over the bean burgers.

This evening, we served them on a bed of fresh spinach with a side Caesar salad. I couldn’t eat it all!

If you have leftovers, you can saute the  crumbled burgers with some diced onions, chili powder, cumin and diced tomatoes to make “taco meat”. Fill corn tortillas and finish with your favorite taco toppings.

I find this can be used nearly the same as you would ground meat. Make chili, tacos, casseroles etc.

Enjoy!

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Bean Burger topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms

Raw Kale Salad – Give it a Massage!

I was reading a recipe the other day on the Food Network website regarding a Massaged Kale Salad from the Aarti Party Show.

Kale is on the edge of being overdone but this is worth exploring. Give it a try before you get sick of eating so much kale!

Kale saladPrevious thoughts had me thinking kale was too tough to eat raw. A quick saute, dip in hot oil, plunge into a hot oven or dropped into soup is how I prepared it before this recipe caught my eye.

So I tried it. Massage your kale, sounds kinky right?!

I had to come up with another way of massaging the kale as not everyone likes to have their food handled to this extent by someone else’s bare hands.

Use a dough hook instead of your hands

Use a dough hook instead of your hands

Bare hand contact can be a health issue if the person touching the food does not wash their hands correctly or is carrying some kind of germ.

While the recipe wasn’t followed, the massage technique was. The result is an addicting, tender kale salad that can be dressed in so many ways.

After massaging the kale, create your salad. All you need to add is other ingredients and the salad is already dressed.

Choose a toasted nut and a favorite fruit, fresh or dried. Add some cheese and you can go forever with the combinations that can be created as additions for this most excellent salad.

This is what I did last night:

Kale Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries and Shaved Parmesan

  • 1 pound kale
  • Juice from 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • A light sprinkle of salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Trim the stems from the leaves

Trim the stems from the leaves

Trim leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly in cool water to remove any garden friends, sand and dirt.

If the kale is very sandy or has a lot of soil on it, soak it in a deep bath of salty water. Dip and lift the kale from the water so the soil is left behind in the bottom of the soaking bowl. You may need to do this several times to get rid of all the dirt.

Chop the kale leaves small, but not too tiny; bite size is perfect.

Place the chopped kale into a bowl. Drizzle the kale with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The amount you use depends on how much kale you use. Only use enough to lightly coat the leaves, you don’t want anything on the bottom of the bowl.

Using your hands (washed of course! and wear gloves) or in a stand mixer on low with the dough hook, massage the greens for 2-3 minutes.

You will notice the leaves changing texture, becoming more tender and turning a brighter green as well.

Peel Parmesan into the salad with a peeler.

Peel Parmesan into the salad with a peeler.

After 2-3 minutes of massage, add toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries and use a peeler to shave Parmesan into the salad.

The above amounts can be adjusted to your liking.

Try other fruits, nuts and cheese in this salad, avocado is amazing too.

Top the salad with beef, grilled chicken, shrimp or fish to make it an entrée salad.

Serve and enjoy!

eating kale saladThis salad was so good, I came back down and scarfed another bowl in the middle of the night and another after breakfast.

Now I need to go buy more kale.

DSC_0051

Pear, Bleu Cheese and Arugula Salad

What a marvelous crisp and tasty fresh salad! Crisp pears, shaved thin, spicy arugula, earthy bleu cheese, crunchy hemp seeds and for dressing, simple drizzle with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil.

Grab a pear

Pear, Roquefort, Arugula Salad

1 small handful fresh arugula for each salad bowl

1/2 fresh ripe pear, any variety

1-2 tablespoons Roquefort or any bleu cheese for each serving

1 tablespoon toasted hemp seeds

1/2 lemon, please, not bottled juice!

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Place the arugula into a bowl. Slice the pear and place slices over arugula.

Crumble bleu cheese over, top with toasted hemp seeds (Optional)

Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil as dressing.

Refreshing and delicious!

Pear and arugula salad

Pecan Crusted Fried Okra

Southern Cooking has to include okra of some kind so I thought Pecan Crusted Fried Okra would be interesting.

Okra

How many of you like okra?

The most common perception of okra is that is disgustingly slimy. I have to give you that it is slimy like a world of snails would love.

I’ll never forget the first time I had stewed okra and tomatoes and all I could think was “what is wrong with you people?” It didn’t help that the person who made the dish was a terrible cook. (Bless her heart!)

Then I discovered pickled okra and fell instantly in love.

Quickly I learned there are ways of preparing okra that avoid the slimy aspects of this misunderstood vegetable.

Used in vegetable soup, okra will give the broth a nice thickness, not too thick but not watery either. I love the little balls of seed that float into the soup, yummy.

Okra

Okra (Photo credit: NatalieMaynor)

Okra is found all over the world and is used in many cultures and cooked in just about as many different ways as you can find recipes.

I am working on developing content for Charlotte Cooks which begins filming the new PBS season in August.

We are filming a segment on Southern Cooking and that must include some kind of okra dish.

Robert thought it should be fried okra. So as I researched and thought, the idea of combining the southern love of cornbread, buttermilk and pecans with okra.

This is the result of my study.

Pecan Crusted Fried Okra

1 pound fresh okra – choose young tender ones over older more sturdy okra

1 cup Martha White Self Rising Buttermilk Cornbread Mix

(Use more as needed)

1 cup buttermilk

(Use more as needed)

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Mix pecans and panko together, use more as needed

Vegetable oil as needed to fry

Fine ground sea salt

Method:

Set up a standard breading procedure with trimmed okra, cornbread mix, buttermilk, mix the pecans and panko together in the third pan.

Standard breading procedure set up:
Use cornbread mix, buttermilk, pecans and panko

Wash and dry the whole okra pods.

Trim the tops off the okra, leave the pods whole other than the top.

Bread the okra by coating in flour, then buttermilk, then pecan mix.

Have a pan with enough oil to come half way up the okra in the pan.

Only enough oil to come half way up the okra. Don’t move them around too much.
See, even mine had some drop the breading. Keep those as “cooks treats”.

Cook on medium high heat about 3 minutes on each side. The breading will be golden brown.

Using a slotted spoon or slotted spatula remove the golden brown okra from the hot oil and drain on a fresh paper towel.

Season with a light sprinkle of fine salt.

Serve with Texas Pete Hot Sauce.

Be careful, not only are these lovely morsels tasty and addicting but they will disappear before you know it!

When calculating how much to make, always make more because you will need it.

OK, now here’s the thing. Many of you will experience the breading does not really want to stay on the okra. It is hard to bread an okra and have it stay on like it should.

Following the standard breading procedure making sure to get each pod coated in flour first then coat totally in the buttermilk then pecans you will have the best chance of keeping the breading intact.

Once they hit the pan, let them cook. Don’t move them around too much or you WILL see the breading all fall off. This is why they don’t get deep-fried too. Just enough oil to come about half way up the okra while in the pan.

Make sure the oil is hot so the okra start cooking as soon as they hit the pan.

Putting them in a cold pan and cold oil will result in soggy oil filled  okra. That is disgusting. Oil and slime. Avoid it.

When they are done, pile them up on a plate and serve.

Jump back quick because they will disappear before you set the plate down.

A Heaping Plate of Pecan Crusted Fried Okra

Ya’ll come and don’t be late for dinner!

How to Boil Rice

Dear Tyler,

There are many kinds of rice to choose and methods of how to cook; this post is about how to boil rice. This is the most simple and least complicated method.

You just need to pay attention while it is cooking.

Let’s talk about the forms of rice that are out there. I am not going to go into all the varieties, this is just to tell you how to boil basic rice.

You don’t always have to cook rice.

You already know about the pre-cooked rice packets you can buy either shelf stable or frozen in vacuum sealed packets. These area great to have on hand when you don’t feel like cooking.

Trader Joe’s frozen Brown Rice is so nice and easy! Nuke and eat.

But you pay a price for that convenience. These products are ‘expensive’ in the relative terms of how much rice actually cost.

Rice on its own is cheap. It is a meal staple in many parts of the world for good reason.

I love the taste of rice, white, basmati, brown, mahogany, black or red. I love the texture, the way it carries sauces and serves as a flavor base for lots of dishes.

You were brought up on Basmati Rice. White and brown. When you go to the store to buy rice, don’t cheap out and buy the cheapest rice out there.

Choose Basmati or Texmati rice. Basmati rice comes from India and Texmati is the same variety grown in Texas. Honestly, the cost difference isn’t much between cheap rice and a quality rice and the taste is much more pronounced. Tastes more like rice should.

Rice has become so polished and processed that most of what passes for rice these days has very little flavor or nutrients. This kind of rice provides little nutritional value beyond carbs.

Avoid instant rice at all costs. It has horrible flavor, it tastes processed.

Avoid ‘converted or par boiled ‘ rice as well.

We get enough nutrients from our diets to have to worry about the delivery of Thiamine. If we were starving, it would be another issue.

Basmati and Texmati rice is flavorful and nutritious and goes great with lots of dishes. It is not sticky rice so it will have that fall-apart quality desired in fluffy rice.

Here is the key for How to Boil Rice:

Main ratio: 2:1

2 parts water to 1 part rice

So if you use your shoe as a measure, measure two shoes of liquid and one shoe of rice. The point being what ever you measure with, use 2:1. If you use your shoe, sanitize it first.

Whatever measure you are using, make it 2:1

Measure the liquid (so you know how much rice you need), put into a pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Bring water to a boil. It’s boiling when the bubbles break the surface.

Add salt after water boils

Add salt and then rice

Return to a boil.

Then add rice; return to a boil

Stir the rice after adding it to the water to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Put a lid on it and let it simmer.

Put a lid on it. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. If you use a glass lid, you can see what is happening while it cooks.

When it looks like this, it is probably done.
Try not to life the lid until you are SURE the rice is done. Time 15-20 minutes before peeking.

Take a large kitchen spoon and see if all liquid has been absorbed. If it has, the rice is done.

Brown and darker rice will need to cook for at least 1 hour with monitoring of the liquid to doneness; adding more liquid if necessary.

Keep your eye on it until you know how your stove works. (Does it run hot or really low on the lowest settings? Adjust your cooking accordingly. All stoves behave differently. Learn how the one you have works by observation while you cook and adjust accordingly. )

Hints to successful rice:

Do not lift the lid once it returns to a boil.

Cover and reduce the heat. Let it go until the liquid is gone.

If you do lift the lid to check, your rice will become gummy and yucky.  It’s like the curse of gummy rice. Don’t lift the lid to peek unless absolutely necessary.

Learn your stove and adjust cooking times. Start noticing how it is doing at 15 minutes cooking.

How?

  • Listen, is it crackling? (Done)
  • Is it boiling still? (Let it keep going)
  • Can you smell smoldering? (May be burnt)

This is where glass lids are really handy. You can peek without lifting the lid.

The surface of done rice will look like this:

When it looks like this, it is probably done.
Try not to life the lid until you are SURE the rice is done.

Tilt the pot to the side, use a spoon to check that the liquid has been absorbed.

If it burns on the bottom, scoop from the surface. The surface rice may not taste burnt. If it does, oh well, it is cheap. Try again tomorrow.

Figure out why it may have burned:

Burner runs hot, forgot the timer, watching TV or playing games

Remember kitchen rules! Make them habits for safety’s sake.

Most of the time when I have burned things it is because I left the room and was distracted.  Please trust kitchen rules.

Once the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork and serve. There are so many things to serve over rice.

Comfort food! Sometimes I love just a bowl of rice with soy sauce just like this. In fact I ate this one. 😉

Sometimes when my tummy is upset, nothing makes it feel better more than a bowl of rice with a small bit of soy sauce.

Add Ins:

Enhance the rice by adding vegetables, meat, herbs and spices to the cooking liquid to flavor the rice.

My favorite is to add dried onion or vegetable soup mix or fresh thyme, garlic and shallots. Don’t be afraid to season the water the rice is cooked in. The rice will take on whatever flavor is added.

I like to finish the rice with a tablespoon of fresh butter. It really does something to the flavor that I adore.

Best way to clean pots used to cook rice:

As soon as you are done cooking rice and have removed the contents of the pot to another dish, fill the rice pot with COLD water. Let it sit for 20 minutes or so. Add a squirt of detergent if you want. It makes clean-up easier.

All the rice goop will release and rinse away and final clean-up is much easier.

To Serve and store:

Steam some broccoli and serve it over some rice.

Left over rice must be cooled and stored in the refrigerator. You can easily reheat rice in the microwave. Add a small spoon of water, cover and nuke for 30 seconds, stir and do it again. The rice should absorb the water, so don’t use too much, just a hint.

Next is how to make Tonkatsu using the standard breading procedure. (Yeah, I know you love it!)

~Can you get Tonkatsu Sauce? Check your grocery where they sell soy sauce products. It is made by Kikkoman.

Love,

Mom