Nut Butter Trio

Last year I borrowed a food processor a few times because I had been concerned I wouldn’t use it enough to make the storage space worth it. After the third time in as many weeks that particular hesitation seemed downright silly and I promptly put it on my Christmas wish list (thanks Mom!)

Nut Butter Trio {{Baking Bytes}}

My initial interests were hummus and pesto, which I made regularly throughout the summer and fall. Thoroughly sold on food processors, I adventured into the world of nut butters. Starting with an amazing one from my favorite cookbook, Run Fast, Eat Slow, I quickly caught the bug and tried other types as well. The recipes here are all small batches so you can test them out, but I usually double them now. (If you have extra, I am pretty sure your friends will help you out – mine always do.)

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The first one (top/right, in my photos) is a minor adaptation from the RFES cookbook. Vanilla and espresso come together in a sweet and creamy peanut butter that is perfect for your morning toast or an afternoon pick-me-up. The espresso kick means it pairs perfectly with coffee and a hint of vanilla never goes wrong. I especially liked it on banana or pumpkin bread, but found I preferred the regular version with apples.

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After peanuts I moved onto almonds (bottom/left). While I personally do not see the appeal of standard almond butter as a spread (unless you are allergic to peanuts), I do enjoy it in oatmeal and on yogurt parfaits on occasion. This iteration, however, is lovely on all your favorite morning carbs and especially so on oatmeal pancakes. Lightly sweetened and with plenty of poppyseed flavor, it’s a lovely twist on a peanut-free variety. For some springtime fun you could even add some lemon flavor via zest or infused olive oil to brighten the whole thing.

Nut Butter Trio {{Baking Bytes}}

Lastly, I gave walnuts a try (the dark one, clearly). The texture of this butter turned out a little grainier (although perhaps they just weren’t roasted/processed long enough) but the flavor is possibly my favorite. Hearty walnut balanced with a chai spice blend is a match made in fall heaven and definitely needs to grace your table soon. I make my own chai spice, but it is easily tailored to fit your preferences. I enjoyed this one on toast (obviously) and waffles; a light drizzle of maple syrup only adds to the experience.

Nut Butter Trio {{Baking Bytes}}

Whichever nut butter speaks to you the most, I hope you find a new favorite in this collection. There’s something for everyone here and I hope you use it as a starting point for all sorts of experimenting in the future. These butters would also make amazing gifts for the holiday season, a small 4oz jar of each flavor would be both adorable and delicious. (If you’re wondering about the super cute jars in my photos, they are upcycled Olivelle sea salt containers, so I’m not sure where to purchase them – sorry!)

Vanilla Espresso Peanut Butter

Modified from Run Fast, Eat Slow
Makes about 1.5 cups

Ingredients

2 cups roasted, salted peanuts

1 Tbsp brown sugar, to taste
1/2 Tbsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbsp chia seeds, optional
avocado or olive oil, optional1

Directions

  1. Add peanuts to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping the sides as necessary. This can take several minutes but the mixture should go from grainy to clumpy to a ball and finally, to creamy.
  2. Add in sugar, espresso powder, vanilla bean powder, and vanilla extract and blend until combined.
  3. If desired, add in avocado oil (for extra creaminess) and/or chia seeds (for a protein boost) and process again until incorporated.
  4. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Should keep at least one month.

Poppyseed Almond Butter

Makes about 1.5 cups

Ingredients

2 cups almonds2

1 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp sugar, to taste
2-4 tsp poppyseeds, to taste
1 tsp salt

avocado or olive oil, optional1

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread nuts on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn!
  3. Let the nuts cool for about 10 minutes, then add to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping the sides as necessary. This can take several minutes but the mixture should go from grainy to clumpy to a ball and finally, to creamy.
  4. Add extract, sugar, poppyseeds, and salt, then blend again until completely incorporated.
  5. If a smoother texture is preferred, drizzle in avocado oil to taste.
  6. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Should keep at least one month.

Chai Walnut Butter

Makes about 1.5 cups

Ingredients

2 cups walnuts2

2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp chai spice
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

avocado or olive oil, optional1

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spread nuts on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn!
  3. Let the nuts cool for about 10 minutes, then add to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping the sides as necessary. This can take several minutes but the mixture should go from grainy to clumpy to a ball and finally, to creamy.
  4. Add sugar, spice blend, vanilla, and salt, then blend again until completely incorporated.
  5. If a smoother texture is preferred, drizzle in avocado oil to taste.
  6. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Should keep at least one month.

Notes

Depending on how much fat/water is still in your nuts and how chunky you like your nut butters, you may not need any oil. I found I liked some of them (almond butter especially) with oil in it just to smooth it out, but it’s totally up to you! Also a great place to try an infused olive oil for a different punch of flavor.

You can certainly buy pre-roasted and salted nuts here, just skip the additional salt in the recipe. However, I found the ones I tried to be too heavily salted for my preferences. If you have access to roasted unsalted nuts then that’s even better!

{Slow Cooker} Chai Butternut Squash Soup

With more than two weeks of traveling and a semi-unplanned fitness and blog hiatus behind me, I’m ready to jump into the new year. I am still working on my 2018 goals for all areas of my life, but rest assured that my biweekly schedule here is unharmed. I’m excited to share new recipes and cooking adventures with all of you, and have some fun series planned throughout the year. (If there’s something you’d love to see featured, let me know!)

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Winter hit Montana in full force while I was in much wetter parts of the country, but I welcome the cold and white climate of this time of year. Skiing and crisp winter runs are sure to be abundant over the next couple of months, and like any sane person I love coming home to a nice warm soup.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is souper easy (ha) and extremely tasty. Thick and filling, it warms you from the inside out with its cozy spices and sweet squash flavor. Start a batch before you head out on your winter adventures, and within 20 minutes of getting home you’ll have this deliciousness ready to eat.

Prep time is minimal, but if you want to speed things up a bit I definitely won’t judge you for buying pre-diced squash. Since the soup is pureed anyway, I don’t bother peeling the carrots or apple but you can if you wish. This soup is also very forgiving, so if you have space in the slow cooker feel free to add a few additional carrots or apples to the mix.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

The chai spice mix is very simple and allows you to tailor it to your preferences. Raise or lower the proportions to suit your tastes, or ditch certain spices entirely. I made this mix for the soup, of course, but it’s also delicious in oatmeal, smoothies, milkshakes, lattes, hot chocolate, or anything you can dream up. It keeps just as long as any of your spices would, so don’t be afraid of the excess. I used closer to two tablespoons for a nice strong spice flavor, but I recommend starting with half the amount so you can find your perfect balance.

An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing, but you can use a food processor or regular blender if you are careful. Work in small batches and allow the soup to cool briefly before blending.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

Warm in both flavor and temperature, this soup is great on its own or alongside a nice crusty bread and a light salad. The leftovers reheat well which makes it perfect for meal-prep, presuming it wasn’t all scarfed up the first day.

Chai Butternut Squash Soup

Adapted from Give Me Some Oven
Makes about 6 quarts

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (3-4 lbs), peeled, seeded, and diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large apple, cored and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp chai spice (below), to taste
1/4 tsp cayenne, to taste
2-4 cups vegetable stock

1 (15oz) can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk1
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients (start with 2 cups broth) except coconut milk to large slow cooker and stir gently to combine.
  2. Cook on low 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until squash is tender.
  3. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely (or carefully use a regular blender and small batches.)
  4. Stir in coconut milk (you can start with just half of it, if you prefer) and additional spices as necessary. Add more vegetable broth to thin soup to your ideal consistency.
  5. (If you added more spices, allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.)
  6. Serve warm, topped with additional coconut milk and chai spices, if desired.

Chai Spice Mix

Adapted from A Dash of Megnut

Ingredients

1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small jar and shake or whisk until well combined.
  2. Store in an air-tight container until ready for use.

Notes

If you are not vegan and not a fan of coconut milk, you can substitute half and half instead. Start with 1/2 cup and increase as desired.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {National Ice Cream Month}

[Welcome! In case you missed it, July is National Ice Cream Month. Each Wednesday I’ll be posting a new flavor, so be sure to check back and find your new favorite. if you missed last week’s Peanut Butter Banana, it can be found here.]

Welcome back, kids. This week we’re going slightly off trend and bringing tea into the mix. One of my favorite year-round beverages is a chai tea latte: steaming hot in the winter and over ice in the summer. The spicy tea with the creaminess of milk makes for a refreshing drink at any temperature, both for the drink and the weather. I figured I’d up the ante and try to bring it together in ice cream form to mix it up for summer.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

My first attempt I didn’t bother to condense the tea and although the taste was delicious, the texture was rather icy and not what I typically strive for. Take two: I simmered away much of the water from the tea, added it to my usual base, and voilà: deliciousness abound.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Oregon Chai Concentrate is something I consider to be a staple, so that is what I used. (Pro tip, it’s hella cheaper at Costco.) I love that it comes in several flavors as well as decaffeinated and is super quick to prepare without sacrificing flavor. It blended beautifully into ice cream, that spicy flavor we know and love permeating a cold frozen treat. It is perhaps a bit icier in texture than plain vanilla, but no more so than last year’s Orange Creamsicle, and definitely still delightful.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking to step outside the usual peanut butter or chocolate or fruit concoctions found in the ice cream aisle, this may be the recipe for you. I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think!

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Chai Latte Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2.5 cups Oregon Chai concentrate

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half (or milk)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1.5 tsp vanilla (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer tea concentrate over medium heat until it is reduced to about 1/2 – 3/4 cup in volume. Let cool while you prepare the base.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Slowly stream in condensed tea, whisking constantly.
  3. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.