Oh, Nuts

Ahh, the aroma of nuts roasting and maple syrup dancing a drizzly dance into every nutty nook and cranny…. that’s how I’ve always imagined making nut butter to be. I love nut butter. Peanut butter? Yum. Almond butter? Oh yeah. Sunflower butter? Sure. (OK, that’s not really a nut butter, but you get the drift). Around this time last year, I was enjoying a new batch of nut butters made by a couple of college kids from Oregon that started their own nut butter business – Wild Squirrel Nut Butter. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of making my own nut butters.

When OhSheGlows.com posted this Kitchen Sink Nut Butter recipe, I scanned my mental rolodex of pantry shelves and thought, “Hey! I’ve got all this stuff! It’s about time I took a crack at this!” I decided to try my hand at a small batch of homemade nut butter.

Alas, after changing into my cooking pajamas (yes, I have cooking pajamas), I discovered that actually, I did not have almonds on hand. (Blasphemy!) Too lazy to change back into real clothes, I made do with what I had: walnuts, pecans, cashews, and sunflower seeds.

The result:

Kitchen Sink Nut Butter

Kitchen Sink Nut Butter

I must say, considering my fairly horrendous ingredient substitutions, this actually turned out really tasty! I’ve eaten it smeared on apple chunks, and with a banana, and in this smoothie:

Soymilk, banana, and Kitchen Sink nut butter smoothie

Soymilk, banana, and Kitchen Sink nut butter smoothie

My friends: the smoothie was as delicious as it looks. A swirl of chocolate syrup and I might have died and gone to heaven.

I will definitely be making more nut butters at home. I love knowing exactly what’s in it, with no extra chemicals or junk. But now, I must dig out my sleeping pajamas and hit the hay. Finals week starts early tomorrow….

Obsessions

Do you get food-obsessed? I’m one of those eaters that will get on a kick and eat the same thing every day for 3 weeks straight, then drop it like it’s hot for a year. There are a few things I never tire of – my morning cereal, for example. That has been a staple since I was 5 years old (maybe longer). But outside of breakfast, my life has been an ongoing series of hot-and-heavy food obsessions (with occasional repeat offenders).

Dilly eggs are one of my current obsessions (as noted last week). Another: homemade thousand island dressing – particularly with cucumber sticks.

Thousand Island Recipe

My ratty first draft of the recipe... which is actually perfect (except that I double it now).

That’s the first draft of the recipe sheet that has taken up permanent residence on my kitchen counter for the past month. It’s getting quite messy. It’s time for me to commit this one to my permanent digital collection. I might have to frame that stained, crayola’d version, though. It’s that good.

It’s so good, I could drink it.

A tub of glorious Thousand Island dressing

A tub of glorious Thousand Island dressing

OK, I don’t drink it. But I could.

My favorite way to eat the best Thousand Island dressing ever: with cucumber sticks.

My favorite way to eat the best Thousand Island dressing ever: with cucumber sticks.

The Best Thousand Island Dressing Ever

by Shelly

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0

Ingredients (16 oz (2 cups))

    For 2 cups of dressing (16oz):

    • 1/2 cup Vegenaise or mayo
    • 1/2 block (or 6oz) soft silken tofu (such as Mori Nu)
    • 4 tablespoons ketchup
    • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 4 teaspoons relish
    • 2 teaspoons minced onion
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 dashes black pepper

    For a double batch – 4 cups of dressing (32oz):

    • 1 cup Vegenaise or mayo
    • 1 block (or 12oz) soft silken tofu (such as Mori Nu)
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 1/4 cup white vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 3 tablespoons relish
    • 4 teaspoons minced onion
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 4 dashes black pepper

    Instructions

    For a Creamy Dressing

    Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

    For a Chunkier Dressing

    Add all ingredients to food processor except for half of the relish. Puree until smooth, then stir in remaining relish.

    Powered by Recipage
    Thousand Island Nutrition Data

    Nutrition deets.

    The Super Bowl – Remember That?

    This is a recipe I made for the Super Bowl party I hosted this year.

    Yes, I realize the Super Bowl was 2 months ago.

    It’s a recipe for a hot artichoke and goat cheese dip.

    Yes, I realize it is not vegan. Allow me to digress a bit to explain why you’ll be seeing some vegetarian (but not vegan) recipes for a little bit here.

    The Super Bowl kicked off not long after a harsh diagnosis of cancer for my best kitty buddy, Goose. He’d been sick for a couple months at that point, and would die 6 weeks later. (Sorry to harsh your mellow… it definitely harshed mine). The daily medical care and feeding (and eventually, the loss of my buddy) have taken their toll on me emotionally. Dairy (and believe it or not, eggs) have found their way back into my diet… for now. I’m sorry, my cow and hen friends. I can only take so much. So things will be vegetarian around here for a little while, at least.

    Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

    Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

    This dip is an attempt at a recreation of a fantastic rendition from Mas Tapas restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia. It’s not spot-on; I suspect theirs might actually be healthier than this one. But I won’t lie – I ate the leftovers of this dip every day for a week!

    If you’d have told me I’d like goat cheese, I’d have told you you’re crazy. Turns out, it’s pretty darn tasty.

    Hot Artichoke & Goat Cheese Dip

    by Shelly

    Prep Time: 10 minutes

    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Keywords: bake appetizer vegetarian artichoke goat cheese

    Ingredients (12 servings)

    • 1 can artichoke hearts
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 1/2 cup Vegenaise or mayo
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
    • 6 ounces goat cheese, softened

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350F.

    2. In food processor, combine onions, garlic, mayo, cream cheese, parmesan cheese and goat cheese.

    3. Blend, and slowly add in the artichoke hearts (to leave some texture).

    4. Spoon into a casserole dish.

    5. Bake dip uncovered for 30 minutes.

    6. Serve hot with bread, crackers, bruschetta, tortilla chips, or veggies.

    Powered by Recipage
    Classic Pesto a la Vegan With A Vengeance

    The Magic of Pesto

    I’ve gone on and on about pesto here on this blog. Ever since I discovered it earlier this year, I’ve been obsessed. It is the star of one of my favorite all-time sandwiches (the veggie pesto panini), and I’ve been known to blob it onto pasta and salads as well. I have even used it as pizza sauce. So good!

    In honor of Vegan MoFo, I’ve decided to give my love – pesto – its due diligence. The recipe I use is from the world’s vegan punk rock sweetheart, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, in her cook book Vegan With A Vengeance. You can view the recipe on Google Books, page 132 – Classic Pesto.

    Look at that gorgeous basil!

    Look at that gorgeous basil!

    I make a couple modifications to the recipe. First, I only use 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil instead of 1/2 cup; I use 1/4 cup water for the other part. Next, I mix up the nuts. Sometimes I use walnuts as recommended, but often, I’ll use cashews instead, or mix the two. I’ve also been known to throw some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) in there. Lastly, I always use the nutritional yeast (marked as optional in Isa’s recipe). Note that there aren’t any pine nuts in the recipe. It’s nice and easy on the wallet! I don’t miss them one bit.

    Pesto in the Food Processor

    Pesto in the Food Processor

    I’ve never made a batch of this pesto that I didn’t love. It comes together super-quickly and the flavor is out of this world.

    Classic Pesto a la Vegan With A Vengeance

    Classic Pesto a la Vegan With A Vengeance