Chocolate Almond Butter

Almond butter is a wonderful indulgence.  A nice change from peanut butter, not an allergen for as many folks, some would argue it’s better for you, and it does not have the problems of some molds and toxins that may well be what sets off some people’s peanut allergies.  Alas, it is an economic indulgence.  It costs at least twice what peanut butter does in the store and much retail almond butter is produced in factories that also process peanuts and so still is inedible to those allergic to peanuts.

Enter this wonderful blog-o-spere linking so many creative (and cheap) people to me!  I found lots of people are making their own almond butter who claim that it is easy in a food processor.  They were right!  And inspired by my Little Sis who can never leave a recipe well enough alone… I decided I should put my own stamp on homemade almond butter to share with you.  But what to do to almond butter?  Clearly, chocolate should be involved.

This is not a great innovation mind you.  Chocolate and nuts have been meeting in back alleys and broom closets for centuries.

Lots of my co-workers rave about Nutella ( a hazelnut and chocolate spread) and I have eaten it before – but it packs a whopping 21g. of sugar per 2 Tbsp serving.  Sugar is the first ingredient and palm oil is the second, relegating the hazelNUT part of the nutella to 3rd place on the ingredient list.

This recipe of mine also foreshadows our next Baby Step which will address the notion of baby stepping away from the more dangerous food choices in your life (or your kids lives).  Lots of kids eat sugar-y crap for breakfast…. Pop-tarts, sugar-y cereals, doughnuts, etc.  One way to move away from those choices is to offer an alternative that still provides a nod to the devil in one ear whispering
“I want sugar with Ka-POW,
Give me sugar, give it to me NOW!”  (scene shifts to hyper child jumping around and evil laughter in the background.) Continue reading

Choppity, Chop, Chop… Look at Mommy Go!

I’m not usually a product endorsement kind of gal.  I am, in fact, a marketing scoffer – okay it’s more like marketing scorner.  I, rather hostilely, resist attempts to convince me that I NEED something and that a particular version of that something is the ONE that I have to have.  Generally I find that my position on purchases has worked out in my favor, finding items that are good enough, that serve well enough without requiring me to shell out more than I care to or more than I can.  I should, however, admit to an error in judgment when it comes to my kitchen equipment.

For the most part in the kitchen I believe that a couple of decent knives, a cutting board that won’t screw the knives up and a couple of cast iron pans and a pot are the basis for most delicious dishes.  My desire to keep extra crap off the counter led me to deny my poor husband a toaster for many years (can’t we make toast some other way, do you really eat so much toast that we need a machine devoted to it).  It was in this same vein that I long refused to consider a food processor.  I do have knives, and after all this is really just a special knife, right?  Right.  It is.  When Big Sis purchased a Vita Mix a million years ago and then moved and decided she didn’t wish to pack both the Vita Mix and the food processor, she gave me hers.  Accepting a small appliance for free is, for me anyway, decidedly different than buying one.

The machine was nothing fancy and over time I lost some of the bits and bobs that might have allowed it to be more useful to me, but it served its occasional purpose, and as I became more interested in plant based eating, and a regular devotee of hummus, my modest food processor and I began a bit of love affair.  Hummus, brownie bites, awesome oaty bites, pesto… we had a ball.  And then the bottom rim that locked it on began to separate from the bowl.  No problem – no internal damage, super glue to the rescue.  Kept going.  More food and a couple of months later… a tiny screw falls out of the lid.  I couldn’t see what the thing did, but found out the next time I used it that the screw was in some part responsible for keeping the food IN the processor.  Another little adjustment.  More food and a couple of months later.  The screw fell out, the pst it screwed into broke off, a piece broke away from the lid, the bottom rim separated from the bowl again….  OK, OK, OK.  I give.  Perfectly good motor, but replacement bowls are no longer available.  I freecycled the parts that were still working and began to explore my options.

I meticulously read all the reviews and heard it over and over “Cuisinart, Cuisinart, Cuisinart.”  It was like a whisper “dark chocolate, dark chocolate with a little caramel and a touch of salt and maybe some nuts… you really NEED this.”  And after checking with a few fab bloggers who also make a lot of hummus and nut-based yum, I took the leap that a big sale made MUCH less painful and ordered this little beauty.  It came and as I removed each heavy, sturdy, sharp bit from the box it was clear to me that this was not just ANY food processor.  And so I embarked on my first cooking adventure with my new toy.  And while I will not concede the point that I NEED this device, I will say that I really LOVE having my new super-powered and suprsingly quiet awesome Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor.  And so I made beet burgers with it.  Because what else would you do with a brand spanking new food processor but cover it with beet juice as an initiation.

I started with this recipe on Post Punk Kitchen (a good place to start for most things plant-based, BTW.  As per usual, I made some changes based on what I had available, and in order to better accommodate my children, and well, because I can’t seem to help myself.  Instead of brown rice, I used leftover quinoa. Instead of lentils, black beans as I actually had a couple of cans and was starting late.  I mournfully eliminated the fennel as I suspected it would cause kid problems and I replaced the almond butter with peanut butter because it’s cheaper (there, I said it).  Had some breadcrumbs left from another dish – wouldn’t say they were fine, but it didn’t seem to be an issue.  As for procedure, I followed the directions to a tee (aren’t you proud of me),

I shredded my beets in my fabulous new knife and then used it to chop the onions and garlic because I was so happy with how the beets came out.  Onions out, quinoa, beans, and beets into miracle machine, pulsed many times until beet shreds were less shreddy and beans were less beany – whole thing looked, much to my mixed feelings, like purple meat.  Put that in bowl with remaining ingredients.  Chilled for 20 minutes (she says half an hour, I’m a bad planner).  Made patties, cooked in fabulously versatile and cheap cast iron pan which had been preheated with some oil.  Flipped after about five minutes when crust developed (watch yours, I get interrupted often in the kitchen at this point, so my timing is approximate at best).  Served as I would my favorite burger.  For me this means bread,  ketchup, lettuce, and kimchi.  Delish, and easy, and relatively quiet for such a powerful spinning knife.