How To Make Almond Butter

Almond Butter recipe? Yeah, I’ve got an Almond Butter recipe. I think.

Confessions of a scatter-brained homemaker:

On Monday, I decided to try making a new variety of No-Bake Cookie Bites. I was out of Almond Butter, so I considered that it was probably as easy to make as Peanut Butter, which I make all the time. Heading to my computer to search for how to do it, I realized: I think I have done this before and maybe even already have a post written about it. So I searched my own website. Sure enough. I told us all how to make Almond Butter back in 2012.

This makes me wonder what else I’ve already taught us how to do that I don’t even remember. Maybe I’ve told us all how to save thousands of dollars or how to save hours of time. What else have I forgotten?!?

Well anyway. I am loving the No-Bake Cookie Bites so much that I will be actually using homemade Almond Butter more often, which will likely help me remember that I know how to make it. In case you also forgot that I have already taught us how to make this easy spread, I am re-posting the tutorial for us all here today. May we all remember and use these instructions often. May our brains be for us instead of against us. May we never forget when we walk into a room, what in the world we walked in to get.

Homemade Almond Butter

So here we go, loud and clear so that we don’t forget:

Here’s How to Make Almond Butter!

Step One: Pour 2 cups of almonds into a food processor. I have found that 2 cups of almonds creates one full cup of almond butter. I don’t recommend putting more than 2 cups of almonds into your food processor at one time. The process takes a while, and the more almonds you have, the longer it will take.

Step Two: Place lid on food processor and turn it on. Plugging it in is always a plus as well. This will be very loud at first, so warn your household.

Step Three: After processing almonds for two to three minutes, use a spoon to scrape down the sides of your food processor and shift around the almonds.

Step 4: Continue to process, but stop and scrape and stir almonds around from time to time to aid in the butter making process.

Step 5: You’re getting closer! Process, scrape, stir, and process some more. Continue until the almonds have become the almond butter you’ve always dreamed of. Because yes, we all do spend much of our time dreaming of perfect almond butter, do we not? (Not me, apparently, because I forgot the stuff existed.)

And there you go – lovely, smooth and creamy almond butter.

What other nut butters have you made? Did you remember that I’ve already told us all how to make this three years ago? I sure hope your brain works better than mine.

P.S. I order organic almonds from Braga Farms. They are a wonderful company to work with and offer high quality nuts. Almond Butter will stay fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Do I Buy Everything Organic?

Happy New Year!  I figured we should begin 2015 with a little chat about vegetables and butter.  Good idea, don’t you think?

After seeing some pictures of my grocery store purchases a few weeks ago, Nancy wrote:

Do I see that you don’t buy everything organic? Your butter and cheese are not. I struggle because as much as I have changed our lifestyle, make so much on my own, and buy so much organic, I cannot afford for the butter to be (organic). With the amount we consume in a week, my husband would need a second job!   :)  Your ministry continues to be a blessing. Thank you!

Second job, indeed!  I was excited to see that our grocery store is carrying organic butter now, but at almost $5 for a tiny little 1/2 pound, that’s awfully hard to take in – even for a butter lover like me.  :)

My short answer is, “No, I do not buy everything organic.”  And now the long answer…

From meat to milk and fruits to vegetables, organic truly is best.  But you know what’s also best?  Staying within our budget and taking the stress out of feeding our families whole foods.

I used to be super afraid of anything that wasn’t completely clean – so much so that if a food item wasn’t organic, I simply would not buy it or feed it to my family.  This became very stressful, mostly because it was practically impossible and very limiting.  Because I live in a small town without many organic resources (and can only get food from a food co-op once per month), fresh fruits and vegetables were rare around here at that time.  Wow, were we missing out.

Here’s what I do now:

  1. I strive to fill our table with as much variety of whole food as possible, especially fruits and vegetables.  Organic or not, this is my first priority.
  2. If an organic option of the food we want/need is available and within our budget, I am very happy to buy it.
  3. If an organic option is not available but the food will nourish us, give us variety, and is within our budget, I am still very happy to buy it.

I prefer organic, free range, locally grown, and sustainably raised versions of every single food – I do.  I’m so thankful for every bit of meat, dairy, fruit, vegetable, and grain I can get my hands on that has been produced with care.  This really is best for us.

But I no longer feel guilt or anxt about eating whole foods that are not organic.  I know that God is bigger than pesticides and that doing the best we can with what we have is a more important focus.  Our bodies crave nourishment, so I’ll continue to work on filling my family with goodness in any form I can find and afford.

One final thought:  Just because a fruit snack or cookie carries an “organic” label, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nourishing.  I’d rather have a non-organic peach than an organic cheddar bunny.  Just something to chew on (literally).

How about you?  Do you prefer organic?  How much of the food you feed your family is organic?  What’s your stand on this topic?

Breakfast Cake Muffins

breakfast_cake_muffins

One reader, Kim, left a comment months ago sharing that she’d made my Breakfast Cake recipe into muffins instead of baking the batter into a cake. It sounded so good that I decided to try it right away!

And then I forgot. For months.

I think it’s actually been well over a year since she left that comment. That’s practically like trying the idea right away, right? Yeah, well…

Turns out these are an easy, yummy, freezable, on-the-go breakfast muffin that is hearty enough to keep us satisfied until lunchtime. Thanks for the idea, Kim! Next time you share a great idea like this one, I’ll try to get around to trying it before thirteen months go by. Sheesh.

Breakfast Cake MuffinsYum

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups whole rolled oats
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, melted
¾ cup buttermilk or milk
¾ cup honey or 1 cup sucanat
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips, raisins, or other dried fruit  (We like Enjoy Life Soy Free Chocolate Chips)

Stir together flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Add butter, buttermilk, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Fold in chocolate chips, raisins, or other dried fruit.

Spoon batter into 18 paper lined muffin tins. Bake in a 400° oven for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.

Give these a try. Don’t wait a year like I did. :)

Menu Plan for the Week {And My Four Pound Hamburger Meat Dilemma}

This weekend I got out four pounds of hamburger meat to thaw. “What are you doing with all the hamburger meat?” was the question I was asked several times during the morning as different family members went into the kitchen and saw the meat thawing. My answer? “I really have no idea.”

You’ve got to love it that my plans are always so clearly laid out and organized. ;)

What can I say? All I knew was that I had a few hours between soccer games to get some cooking done, and that our supply of convenience foods in the freezer was getting low. Therefore, I grabbed out the meat to thaw so that I could make something with it when I actually had time.

As I stood watching my boys play a soccer game in the late morning, I watched and cheered and memorized every move my children made so that I could talk through the game in detail with them later I mentally made a plan for the cooking I would do in the three hours I had at home before the next game. Going by what sounded good, what I had in my pantry, and what would work best to get me ahead for this week – I ended up making two Lasagna Casseroles and two pans of Cheesy Salsa Enchiladas.

Don’t worry. I can multi-task. I really was watching and cheering while I thought about browning hamburger meat and making tortillas.

Here’s our menu for this week….just to prove that I don’t always get meat out of the freezer without a plan. :)

Sunday, October 21
Oatmeal, pears
Lasagna casserole, tossed salad
Huddle at our friend’s house

Monday, October 22
Whole wheat peanut butter pancakes, bananas
Tuna salad on crackers, sweet peppers, baby carrots
Alfredo sauce with pasta, tossed salad, steamed broccoli and carrots

Tuesday, October 23
Easy no-knead bread, fruit salad
Chicken salad in homemade pita bread with lettuce and tomatoes, apple slices
Cheesy salsa enchiladas, tossed salad

Wednesday, October 24
Granola, dried fruit
Cheeseburger macaroni, peas
Cheesy chicken and rice, tossed salad, green beans

Thursday, October 25
Cinnamon swirl toast, apples
Hamburger patties, ranch potato wedges, green beans, sweet peppers
Chicken and noodles, carrot sticks

Friday, October 26
Easy breakfast casserole, oranges
Potato soup, carrots, coconut flour cheddar biscuits, sweet pepper slices
Hot spinach and artichoke dip, organic corn chips, grapes

Saturday, October 27
Whole wheat donuts, fruit
Leftovers
Fried eggs, blueberry struesel muffins, applesauce

Menu Plan for the Week – and Hi, I’m Back

Wow, it has been one busy, wonderful weekend. Every day I thought maybe I’d have a chance to get on the computer and update my blog, but I barely took time to check email, much less write a post.

(Secretly, I really enjoyed the little break. And I’ve enjoyed visiting with friends and family so much, I’m bubbling over.)

But I’ve missed you, so it’s great to be back. 

Here’s just a little glimpse into what we’ve been up to this week. We had 11 house guest between Wednesday to Sunday. They all came to celebrate Homecoming at York College (our alma mater). Among the guests were my wonderful Kansas nieces and nephews. The cousins had so much fun together that some of them were in tears as they pulled themselves away from each other when it was time to separate. Thanksgiving just won’t come soon enough for these fast friends.

Saturday, Matt was among a group of guys honored at the soccer game. Why? Because 20 years ago, they were a part of the YC soccer team that won the National Championship. I was Matt’s girlfriend with big hair, back in the day. Ah, the memories.  :)

I’ll share more on Gratituesday. And now, on to our menu plan (which includes a few leftovers from this weekend):

Sunday, October 14
Oatmeal, fruit
Cheesy beef and rice, peas
Huddle at friends house

Monday, October 15
Leftover whole wheat pancakes, applesauce
Leftover sloppy joes, peas, pears
Creamy crock pot chicken and rice, carrots

Tuesday, October 16
Scrambled eggs, creamy orange coolers
Tuna salad on whole wheat pita pockets,
Leftover chicken and noodles, sliced pears, carrot sticks

Wednesday, October 17
Flaky cream cheese pastry, grapes
Chicken burritos, pineapple
Cheesy salsa enchiladas, tossed salad

Thursday, October 18
Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, apple slices
Cheeseburger macaroni, green beans
Taco potatoes, fruit salad

Friday, October 19
Peanut butter honey toast, applesauce
 Tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches
Italian pasta bake, tossed salad

Saturday, October 20
Fried eggs on toast, pears
Leftovers
Hamburgers, homemade fries, peas

 

 

Funky Fresh Kitchen Challenge #5: Try Something New

This is your fifth and final challenge during our month of the Funky Fresh Kitchen. How about that? We’re almost to the end of the month already!

This week, our Funky Fresh Kitchen Challenge is to try something new

I suppose I should clarify by letting you know that my intention with this challenge is that perhaps we all try a new recipe or two. But if you really want to take the challenge beyond my original intent, you are welcome to try sky diving, or walking backwards everywhere you go, or learning to speak Swahili.

Me? I’m going to try my hand at Whole Wheat Pita Bread. (Besides, I already speak fluent Swahili and had a lovely time sky diving with my family yesterday.)

Oh, I am so stinkin’ hilarious.

And boring

It is a fact that the idea of trying to make Whole Wheat Pita Bread makes me get all excited and jittery inside. But you couldn’t pay me a million dollars to sky dive. And I think we already know how many languages I speak. (Owhay aboutay uoyay?)

So, just supposing you also have already mastered the art of speaking fluent Swahili, how would you like to join me in trying a new recipe this week? 

Awesome.

Is there something you’ve thought about trying but just haven’t had the motivation to get it done? Now’s the time. Maybe you’d like to try making a Homemade Salad Dressing? Or how about Homemade Donuts? Whole Wheat Bagels

donutssm1.JPG

How about trying your hand at Homemade Yogurt, Buttermilk, or Kefir? Or Alfredo Sauce? Or Cheeseburger Macaroni?

Oh, the list can go on and on. Take a look at all of the recipes I have posted on Pinterest. Or simply look through my huge recipes lists on the drop down Recipes link at the top of my site.

Or, of course, you’re welcome to try a recipe from another Website or cookbook. Try anything new that you think your family would like which will take you another step in the direction of having a healthy and Funky Fresh Kitchen.

I’ll report back on Friday to let you know how my Whole Wheat Pita Bread turns out. I’ll provide you with a chance to link up to share your progress too!

Be sure to leave a comment on this post, sharing what you plan to try during this challenge!  All comments will be entered in our giveway for two $25 and one $50 gift certificates to the Heavenly Homemakers Shop.

Funky Fresh Kitchen Challenge #1: Toss it Out ~ Make a Switch!

It’s time for our first challenge during the Month of the Funky Fresh Kitchen! Are you ready?

This challenge might just take a few minutes of your time — or it might take a few hours, depending on what you’d like to do. It’s all up to you – whatever you are ready for. No pressure, I promise. Small changes can be big changes, right? (That sounded so incredibly profound in my head…)

This week, your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to throw something out. Easy, right? Right. Although I’m not talking about your holey socks or your junk mail. (Although for Pete’s sake, please do something about your holey socks and your junk mail.)

I’m asking you to take a look around your kitchen. What needs to be thrown out? Is it a box of processed food you are trying to avoid eating as you are working your way toward eating more whole foods? Is it a plastic container that isn’t safe for serving or storing food? Is it a seasoning mix that has MSG in it?

Whatever it is…don’t look back. Just make the decision and throw it out. Pick just one thing – pick twenty things – pick whatever you’re up for.

Then replace what you’ve thrown out with a healthier choice. You can do it. 

Here are just a few ideas to inspire you to make a “Toss it Out ~ Make a Switch” plan (but don’t feel as though you are limited to just these few ideas):

~  Toss out your sugary cereal and replace it with Homemade Granola
~  Toss out your bottled salad dressings that have MSG and high fructose corn syrup and make a homemade salad dressing
~  Toss out something plastic and replace it with glass. (I LOVE jars!)
~  Toss out your Hamburger Helper and make homemade Cheeseburger Macaroni
~  Toss out your white rice and replace it with brown rice
~  Toss out your chemical filled cleaners and replace it with a non-toxic cleaner 
~  Toss out your boxed brownies and make homemade Fudgy Brownies. (Seriously, what an incredibly happy switch to make.) 
~  Toss out the chips and replace them with fruit for snacking.
~  Toss out your sugar filled beverages and replace them with…water. :)

The possibilities are endless. Just pick one thing. Make one small baby step on your healthy eating journey. Then, if that goes well, consider tossing out something else and making another switch.

You’ve got until Friday, September 7 to meet this challenge. If I were you, I’d get off the computer right now (um, after you finish reading this post…) and jump right in before you lose your motivation. We’re all in this together. Be brave! Chuck the junk lurking in your pantry! (I refuse to be responsible for angry husbands, so if it’s his favorite snack, do consult him first before you chuck it. You knew that, right?)

Leave a comment here letting us know you’re taking the challenge.  Have a plan forming in your mind? Share it! Participants (who leave a comment here) are eligible for our $25 and $50 Heavenly Homemakers Shop gift certificate drawings.

Are you a blogger?  Share this challenge on your blog, tell your readers your Funky Fresh Kitchen plan to “Toss it Out ~ Make a Switch”, then come link up with us here so we can learn what you’re up to and be motivated!! Be sure to link back to this post so your readers will know how they can join the challenge too. 

Are you ready? The trash can (or local food pantry, if you wish to donate) awaits…

Make Breakfast the Night Before {Eat Healthy, Save Time}

I know I’ve shared this tip before, but within this Eat Healthy, Save Time series, I decided to say it again:

In an effort to easily and quickly provide a healthy breakfast for my family each morning, sometimes I find it helpful to get breakfast made the night before I plan to serve it.  

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins and Blueberry Muffins with fruit and milk.
Fast, easy, and a total family pleaser.

This sometimes means that I bake muffins at night after dinner. Or it might mean that I multi-task while making our evening meal and stir together Giant Breakfast Cookies while our dinner casserole is baking. Or, it might mean that I put together an Easy Breakfast Casserole right before I go to bed so that all I have to do is get up in the morning and put the casserole directly into the oven.

 

And shucks, as someone quite goofy but very practical once said, “If you’re making one you might as well make two…”  Therefore, you might even decide to make an Egg Casserole to bake in the morning…and make a second one to put into the freezer for another morning. 

 And when breakfast has been made, and dishes have been washed the night before? Clean up after breakfast in the morning is a breeze! Kitchen efficiency (and a healthy eating!) just keeps getting easier, doesn’t it? :)

What kinds of breakfast foods have you found to be easy to make the night before?

Apple Muffin Throw Down

Remember the Boxed Brownies vs. Homemade Brownies experiment I did? And the Boxed Mac and Cheese vs. Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese experiment I did? How about my Sunday Dinner Challenge, which took a whopping one minute, forty eight point nine seconds to make?   My boys love that I keep making them bring the stop watch into the kitchen for these “races”. It’s that male competition thing they have going on. 

I finally got around to completing another “boxed vs. homemade” experiment in an effort to prove that making homemade food from healthy ingredients doesn’t take a lot of time. I figure that some might still be having a difficult time believing me when I say that it truly doesn’t take a long time to prepare healthy foods.   So I’m having fun trying to “prove” my case, and my family is having fun eating the results of my experiments. ;)

This time, I decided to see which took longer to prepare: boxed muffins…or muffins made from scratch. I found some great looking “healthier” boxed muffin mixes from Vitacost. While these were organic, they were still made from white flour and white sugar, although at least I could control the oil I put into them. None of that has anything to do with the experiment necessarily, except just to say that these muffins really didn’t hold much in the way of nutrition. Anyway, back to the point, which I know that those of you who haven’t fallen asleep while reading this post are waiting on pins and needles to hear… 

From the time I opened the boxes, to the time I put the muffin pans into the oven, 6.25 minutes had passed. 

A few weeks later, I mixed up my Applesauce Bread recipe and made the batter into muffins. How long did it take? Right at 7 minutes.  And these had whole wheat flour, honey, and real, unsweetened applesauce in them. Nutrients! For my family for breakfast! What a concept.  This, because I spent about 45 seconds longer making muffins from scratch. 

What other thoughts do you have about what I could experiment with?  My boys are waiting with their stop watch…

Finishing the List…Almost

Today was a beautiful, cool day – something we’ve not had for a long time! It was the perfect day to spend in the kitchen, and as my husband pointed out, it was the last Saturday until November that we will have free to be home getting work done. Ready or not, soccer season – here we come!

I sent two of the boys outside with the shop-vac and some old rags to clean out the van. Wow, did it ever need it! (Pictures not included. It was too scary and I was too embarrassed busy to snap a shot.)  Matt sent the other two boys outside with a bucket with instruction to bring in as many peaches as they could from our tree. We were blessed with a beautiful crop this year! (Amazing, since we’ve had such little rain.)

Matt then spent quite a bit of time slicing the peaches for the freezer. For lunch  today, I had peaches, leftover chicken, peaches, and a side of peaches. Best lunch ever!

In the meantime, I was making several rounds of Homemade Peanut Butter. Remember how I said that typically, when I make one batch of peanut butter, I make three or four – just to be efficient? Yup, the food processor got a work-out that’s for sure. 

Instead of putting the last round of peanut butter in a jar, I used it to make a double batch of Chewy Granola Bars. These are  now individually wrapped and ready to grab to take to games for snacks.

I then made some Corndog Muffins. I often get lazy with these – so they always turn out ugly. Truly, the dog is not supposed to be showing, but there they are, in all their hotdoggy glory. We’ll eat them just the same. But it sure would be nice to have a pretty picture to show you instead of well…this one.

I did not quite finish all the tasks on my Getting Ready for Fall To-Do List. I never got around to the Whole Wheat Graham Crackers or the Whole Wheat Calzones . Why? Because I did everything else on the list and now I’m tired. That’s the simple truth. I just decided to be done. My freezers are full. My jars are re-stocked. My kids’ books and assignments are ready for school. My house is clean (relatively). And several days after we finished organizing it, the Lego Room is still in good shape. It’s a miracle!

Thanks for coming alongside me this week as I worked through my list. School, soccer, gardening/canning season?   Bring it on! I’m ready.

Just as soon as I clean the kitchen….