Pistachio Butter

I had two going on three recipe fails this past weekend.  Thats too many for my book.  At least in one weekend.

I’m sort of a little bit of a perfectionist/control freak (okay, a lot bit) in certain areas of my life.  Its a weird thing I have going on here.

Baking is definitely one of them.  Actually just being in the kitchen in general.  It’s hard for me to let people help because I get all control freaky about things.  This also happens when Josiah (my BF) tries to eat my food.  I’m very particular about the food I buy.  I get possessive because I like to have exactly two slices of bread each day so that there aren’t any straggler pieces at the end of the loaf.  Same with eggs.

I realize I’m sort of ridiculous, and you must realize that that is just the tip of the iceberg.  My crazy brain has a lot more going on in it than that.  But to every side of my perfectionism there is an opposing force of shear laziness.

Take for instance the pile of laundry that has been sitting in my room for a good week or so.  I just put it on my couch and dig through the pile for what I need.  Wrinkled and all.  Luckily, I’ve mostly just been wearing workout clothes recently so an iron is unnecessary.

I win.

Anyways, back to my kitchen failures.

I was getting frustrated but was determined to make the recipe work.  So the third time through things were looking promising.  And then they weren’t.

Defeated and deflated (thats totally overdramatic) I remembered the bag of pistachios I had in my freezer.

I needed a success.  Just one for the day.  So I switched gears and got out my food processor.Pistachio butter was a success.

These jewels of a nut are one of my favorites.  I love the bright green color and unique flavor that each one has to offer.  Ground up with a little honey, salt, and hot water pistachios make a beautiful butter.

The texture is quite different from almond or peanut butter having a fluffiness that reminds me of the whipped butter that they serve at buffets for old people.  I kind of dig it.  Slight hints of honey compliment the pistachios and add a touch of sweetness.  Its delicious on a slice of toasted bread.   Mixed it into a smoothie.  Or eaten it right from the jar.  Thats totally allowed in my kitchen.

As long as I’m the one doing it.

Pistachio Butter

Recipe slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled pistachios
  • 2 Tbsp Honey (more if you want it sweeter)
  • a pinch of salt or to taste
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup hot water

Directions

Place pistachios and 1/2 cup of hot water in a food processor.  Grind until pistachios and water turn into a thick paste.  If you want a thinner butter add more water a little bit at a time until it reaches the desired consistency, blending well between each addition.  Blend in honey and salt.  Transfer butter to an airtight container and store in refrigerator.  Makes about 2 cups.

~I found shelled pistachios at Trader Joe’s.  This was a life saver because it kept me from shelling pistachios for hours.  If you decide to go the route of shelling your own out of desire or necessity, Heidi has instructions for blanching and skinning on her site.  Just click the link above!

Cashew Maple Bars

This past weekend was girls weekend.  Nine of us went to the Oregon coast for a few days and spent time relaxing, laying back, watching movies, and reading books.

The weather was rainy off and on with peeks of sunshine.  It was so nice.  And so needed.

Everyone kept saying how great it was to have no agenda for the weekend.  To have a day or two where errands, to-do lists, and obligations were none.

Getting caught up in life is so easy.  Being overwhelmed by all that we have to do and get done each day can be overwhelming.

We all need those days.  Those breaks.  We all need to step out of the busyness and just be with others (or by yourself) for a while.  Its refreshing and renewing.  It offers perspective about what is important in life.

My favorite part of the weekend was dinner on Saturday night.  Nine of us sitting around this small kitchen eating home made chili, arugula salad, and tortilla chips.

Eating together, laughing together, talking about life.  Its one of my favorite things in the world.

And then we started playing games.  Dang it.  I’m not really a game person but my team won so at least I had that.    Once the games started I broke out these cashew maple bars.  They were a hit!

Simple and sweet.  Pure and healthy.  These bars are made up of five ingredients.  Cashews, maple syrup, oats, dates, and cinnamon.  Okay, six if you add a pinch of salt.

At any rate, they are incredibly easy to make and are a great, healthy snack or dessert to have on hand.  Perfect for busy days or ones when you throw out the to-do list all together.

Cashew Maple Bars

Recipe from Shutterbean

Ingredients

  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw oats (I used gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • coconut oil for pan
  1. In a food processor blend together the dates, cashews, oats, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt for 30 seconds.  Dough will look similar to oatmeal raisin cookie dough.
  2. Transfer to oiled 8 x 8 inch pan.  Press dough into pan with fingers making sure it is even throughout.
  3. Cover with parchment or wax paper and place in freezer for at least 4 hours.
  4. Remove from freezer and cut into 1 in. by 2 in. bars.
  5. Eat a bar right away!  or store in freezer for up to 2 months in an air tight container.  Make sure to store in the freezer otherwise the bars will be sticky and hard to eat.

Blood Oranges with Basalmic Cream

When I was little I was very much a girly girl.

I loved Barbies and baby dolls and playing dress up.  I loved dancing and make-up and twirly skirts.  As far as I can remember I enjoyed shiny things.  I liked jewelry and big bows in my hair.

Nowadays I like to punch my boyfriend in the arm to show him how tough I am.  I hardly ever wear make-up and I fee self-conscious if I wear anything super bright or shiny.

I think I was cooler back then.

When I was little I wanted to work at McDonalds and be a cheerleader when I grew up.  I thought it would be really cool to have a headset and pom poms caught my eye.

My aspirations were low, which means I can pretty much do anything now and I’ll have accomplished my goals and then some.  Winning.

When I was little I didn’t like cartoons and instead opted for soap operas.  I’d quickly change the channel back to Nick Jr. if my babysitter walked in though.  I’m pretty sure I never got caught.  I learned to be sneaky at a young age.. ninja like.

I’ve since lost a bit of my skill.  Now I just get caught looking at blog posts about donuts while I’m at my internship.  At a gym.  Where people are trying to get healthy.  Failing.

When I was little I played soccer for one year.  I wasn’t good.  I didn’t understand what was going on and my hand did this weird twisting thing when I was trying to handle the ball.  It felt awkward.  Luckily they stuck me in goalie and, since the rest of my team was good, I hardly got any action.  I was always so relieved.

At half time, someone’s mom would bring the token snack– orange slices.  I wasn’t impressed.  Couldn’t they have picked up some Little Debbie’s or something?

I’ve been unimpressed by oranges ever since.  Then God sent blood oranges into my life.

Sometimes unassuming with a bright orange peel and at other times giving away their beauty with a blush of their covering, blood oranges are special all by themselves.  These ruby jewels vary in color intensity but their sweet, tart flavor is never lacking.

These particular blood oranges are topped with a basalmic cream that will have your tasted buds slightly confused at first, but then wanting more and more.  Cream fraiche, a touch of sugar, and basalmic vinegar combine to create a unique sauce that is perfect for topping fresh fruit, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.

This dessert is fresh, easy, and beautiful all in one!  Winning.  Definitely winning.

Blood Orange Segments with Basalmic Cream

Recipe from Giada’s Family Dinners

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 6 Blood Oranges
  • 3/4 cup inexpensive basalmic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  1. Using a very sharp knife, cut the ends off of the oranges and then cut the rest of the peel and white pith away from the orange. Cut between the membranes to release the segments.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, creme fraiche, and sugar. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.
  3. Arranges orange segments on a plate and top with basalmic cream.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Hazelnut Cream Tuiles

I’m not exactly sure what to say about Valentines Day.  Its coming up as you probably know.  The stores are lined with pink, red, and white.  Every type of candy is shaped in hearts.   There are way too many balloons and all of the sudden grown people want and give stuffed animals.  Its kind of strange.

I’m not a stuffed animal kind of girl.  Never have been.  When I was in 8th grade my friend Kandace had a boyfriend that gave her like six stuffed animals for Valentines Day.  I laughed.  I was probably secretly jealous too.  Mostly because a boy gave her something.  And I wanted a boy to give me something, dang it!

My dad is very sweet to me when it comes to V-day.  He’s never been one to share his feelings or be overly emotional, but he’ll always give me a little something on the 14th of February.  Usually a rose or some other type of flowers.  Sometimes a little chocolate too.  Something to make me feel special.  Loved.  Noticed.

My most favorite of these small tokens was a simple card.  My dad had written me a letter about love, longing, and the desires of a little girl’s heart.  He gave me something that I needed far more than chocolate or flowers.  He gave me words that affirmed my heart and encouraged me to love well.  Thats just what my 16 year-old self needed.

We all need different things.  Some people need stuffed animals.  Some chocolate.  Some words.  And some nothing but the company of another that loves them.

 I wish I was one of those people.  The ones that don’t need anything.  But I really like gifts.

A lot.

And I like to give gifts.  Of the baked variety.  Something special and out of the ordinary.  Unless you really just want chocolate chip cookies… then I’ll give you those.

But!  If you want to make someone something special this V-day might I suggest a tuile filled with deliciousness?  I think its a good way to go.  They’re like fun little cigars that you get to eat instead of smoke.  Its way better.  Trust me.

Tuiles are not the easiest cookie to make.  They look beautiful when they’re finished but they take a little effort getting there.  They are worth it though.  Promise!

These are filled with a hazelnut cream which is smooth and nutty.  However, if I were to make them again I would probably throw some chocolate in the mix.  Like a whipped chocolate hazelnut ganache.  Uh, yum!

No matter what you fill them with, eat one.  Or two (for safe measure).

Then package them up all pretty like and share them with some one you love.

Maybe even write them a little note filled with sweet words.

Hazelnut Cream Tuiles

Recipes from Martha Stewart

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

For the tuiles

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved (I didn’t have a bean so I added another 1/4 tsp extract)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

For the hazelnut cream

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel while still warm
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the egg whites, extract, and vanilla seeds.  Mix in flour and salt until just combined.
  2. On a lined baking sheet, spoon 1/2 Tbsp of batter and spread out with an offset spatula to about a 4 inch round.  Repeat forming 3 more rounds and space them about 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake until golden about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and place sheet on a wire cooling rack.  Quickly remove one tuile at a time, rolling around the end of a wooden spoon with a 1/4 in thick handle.  Hold around spoon until tuile hardens, about 10 seconds.  Repeat with remaining cookies.  If cookies become too cool to shape put them back in the oven for about 30 seconds and try again.
  4. For the cream, place nuts in a food processor and process until they are a course meal.  Set aside 3 Tbsp and transfer the rest to a medium bowl.  Add butter, cream, sugar, and salt and stir until smooth.  Transfer to a pastry bag with a plain round tip.  Pipe filling into one end of a tuile until the cookie is half way filled then pipe into opposite end until tuile is filled.  Dip ends in reserved hazelnut meal.  Repeat with remaining cookies.
  5. Store filled tuiles in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Store unfilled tuiles in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Tips:  I tried to speed up the process by heating both my ovens and baking two trays filled with 6 dollops of dough.  Bad idea!  Too many tuiles waiting to be rolled equaled a mini disaster.  So just take it slow and steady.  Bake 4 at a time.  Drink some tea.  Take a deep breath.  You could sheet up an extra try to put in the oven while the first batch is being rolled.  Thats just efficiency!  But don’t try to spread dough on a warm pan.  It  makes a mess… trust me.