Friday, January 11, 2013

January's Pintests and Reviews!

Last month, I posted my first batch of pin-tests and reviews. It went over pretty well with you readers so I decided this kind of post will make a monthly appearance here on C.C.! Back story: I am addicted to Pinterest (here are my boards) and each week, I try out at least a couple of the recipes/projects I pin. This is a chance for me to share with you 3 honest stories about how these pintests went and my thoughts on the recipe or project. So far this January, I've been obsessed with homemade bread and stuff you slather on said bread. Here we go!

Almond Butter

I've wanted to make almond butter for the longest time. Luckily for me, Mr. J's sister knows us well: part of our Christmas gift was a Wegmans' gift card. That was all the impetus I needed to buy almonds in bulk. At Weggie-Weggie-Wegmans, the whole raw almonds were $6.99/lb. I bought 1.130 lbs. of almonds for $7.90. It was rather painful to shell out that much for some nuts, but they have stretched far in the last two weeks! I had enough left over after trying this pin for snacking and another experiment that I'll disclose soon! I will be investigating prices now that I'm interested in buying almonds more regularly.

Anyhow, I found this recipe from My New Roots that insisted the only thing I needed to make almond butter was almonds. At first, I thought Sarah B. was cray cray! I was under the assumption you needed some sort of oil to facilitate the smooth factor. FALSE, friends, false.

As per Sarah's instructions, I placed enough raw almonds on an ungreased baking sheet to cover it in one layer. I strayed a bit from her instructions and roasted the almonds in the oven at a higher temp for a shorter time: 350 degrees for 12ish minutes. As soon as you can smell those bad boys, they're done! If you want to be extra sure, follow Sarah's example: see if the almond is golden inside instead of white.

The second step is to put your roasted almonds in a food processor. I almost made the mistake of overstuffing my small processor. At first, I dumped all the almonds in there and the damn thing wasn't doing much. DUH, Danni: do it in batches. It was a face-meet-palm moment. After about 5 minutes of blending the oils released and I made the smoothest almond butter I could have imagined!

 This stuff is the bomb! I cannot get enough of it. I can't believe how easy it was to make my own almond butter. Now I feel like an idiot for even considering buying the $10 jar of the pre-made stuff. I used roughly $5.50 worth of raw almonds to make 2 cups of butter, which is pretty damn near equivalent to the amount you get in that expensive jar. Can I get a WAHOO for saving some major moolah?!

Would I make this again: SHIT YES. I am actually dreading to day I run out of it. I need to get into squirrel mode and locate some reasonably priced nuts and store them. No one else gets my nuts!

Whole Wheat Bread

How's bouts some bread to go with that almond butter? For awhile I was put off from making bread because all the recipes I found were SO confusing, complicated, and time consuming. That is, until I found this recipe at People who make bread on a regular basis aren't messing around! This recipe makes FOUR loaves! Who the heck has FOUR bread pans just sitting around waiting to be used?? I had to go buy a SECOND one just so I could make half this recipe. Thankfully, has an little app that lets you readjust the serving size. But, be forewarned: while the ingredients amounts change, the instructions do not reflect those changes! I baffled myself to the point of messing the brown sugar mix enough that I have to start it over. Thankfully, that wasn't that hard or costly to do. Just be more careful than I was!

I found the recipe itself very easy to follow and there wasn't that much hands-on time. The bread is soft and has a lot of flavor! I wrapped the second loaf in 3 layers of aluminum foil and froze it for next week. Here's to not having to bake bread two weeks in a row!

Would I make this again? YES, absolutely! Next time I make this, I will crunch the numbers to determine how my loaves compare to store-bought whole wheat bread. I have a feeling this recipe is both a money saver AND a way to eliminate some preservatives from your diet.

Blender Butter

Lastly, how about some real butter to go with the bread and almond butter? Ha.

I've made butter at home before and I really enjoyed shaking the cream in a jar (talk about an arm workout). I did not, however, enjoy having to use my hands to squish the butter on a cutting board with my hands. That was so disgusting. Hence, I got pretty excited when I saw these instructions over at One Good Thing by Jillee to make butter in your blender!

The process was really easy: pour some cream in your blender and let that baby go until the fat pulls together and you can pour out the buttermilk. You then rinse the butter by adding a bit of water to the blender, pulsing, and draining the water. I did that about 5 times. Then, I simple scooped the butter onto a paper towel-lined piece of plastic wrap, wrapped the butter into a little tube and applied pressure to release the excess water! Unroll, remove paper towels, and put your butter in a butter dish. 

This dish was FULL of butter from using a pint of cream :) I don't always go out of my way to make my own butter, but when I do, I feel great for avoiding the salt and preservatives found in store butter. Mr. J and I are trying to find a local farm to get cream from....We'll keep you posted on that adventure :)

Would I make this again? TOTALLY! I get a huge amount of satisfaction from making butter. It's a little strange.