Mom It Down! Homemade Almond Milk

I drink a lot of smoothies and I usually add a 1/2 cup of “milk” to each one. I use either soy or almond milk, but I much prefer the benefits of almond milk, especially for my post long runs.

As with most things I regularly consume, I started to wonder what went into making almond milk. More importantly, could I make it myself. Is the process horribly wasteful? How hard could it be to make almond milk from scratch? It is so not hard. In fact, it’s so easy, I’m kind of surprised it took me as long as it did.

What you will need

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup water (for soaking)
  • 2-3 dates (optional!)
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract (optional!)
  • 3 cups water

Mom It Down!

Pour a cup of almonds into a bowl. Add one cup of water and set it aside for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

After the almond soak, strain the excess water and add the almonds to a blender. Add your dates (if using).

Add the vanilla extract (if using).

Add 3 cups of water. And turn that puppy on. I use a combination of the “purée” function and the “liquify” function.

Strain your mixture. I do at least three strains. For the first one I use a pasta strainer, as the finer one takes a bit longer to drain. Below, is the pasta strainer. You will notice its holes are a lot larger than the the finer ones you’ll see later.

After I pass it through the pasta strainer once, I change to a finer one. I use a flour sifter to do this. You can use something similar, or, if you have one, use a cheesecloth. I do this step at least twice. Feel free to use your hand to gently push the moisture through. You want to get as much milk out of the pulp as possible.

You’re done!

It will last for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. Although I wouldn’t recommend it, I have used mine after that.

Lastly, I loathe wasting food. I have a tendency to make whatever I can with leftovers. If I make a swiss merengue icing, I use the yolks to make shortbread cookies. If I make a key-lime pie, I will use my egg whites to make an angel food cake. All that to say, I save my pulp. I have made gluten-free, chocolate chip almond cookies using the pulp, which I will share with you at a later date. You can also use it for breads, rolls, and possibly even crust, although I haven’t tried that just yet. I will in time!

Overcoming Obstacles

This is so super easy, there really aren’t any. I think the only thing I can say is that if you don’t have a blender you can try using a food processor, although, I always have way too much leakage whenever I do. So, be aware of the food processor.

Variations

Flavor this as you wish. When I first started making it, I only added vanilla extract. I started adding dates whenever I realized I had a ton of dates on-hand and didn’t want to waste them. Since then, I’ve been adding dates to my milk. They so aren’t necessary. If you like sweater milk, add some sugar! I reckon a bit of maple syrup might taste good as well. Sky’s the limit, folks! Flavor it up.

Gluten-Free Cheddar Cheese Buttermilk Biscuits

Edited to add:

Toby has informed me that he does NOT like these biscuits.

Him: “I don’t know what you’re doing, but they are just weird. I do not approve.”

Me: “Then why are you eating one?”

Him: “Because I’m hungry.”

Heh.

Anyway, I’m going to leave it up, but maybe steer clear until I tweak the recipe a bit more, and get his approval. And, yeah, his approval does matter as he’s the one who’s been inhaling the gluten version all these years.

Anyway, I’ll be back with a better one soon!

———–

Do you like biscuits? I do! I have been making a cheddar cheese and chive buttermilk biscuit for years. My family devours them. They are super light and fluffy and are simply amazing. Thing is, they are made with cake flour as well as all-purpose flour and I’ve been working on trying to get something similar using gluten-free flour(s).

Anyway, here is a recipe I’m happy with. However! I reserve the right to repost this recipe—or an entirely NEW recipe—at a later date. Because I am not totally convinced I can’t make these even better.

Not to undersell what you see here! Because these are pretty damn good. I am very satisfied with the flakiness and taste. I am not completely 100% satisfied with how much they rise (the gluten ones rise impressively!) and the texture but only when you compare it to the original biscuits. Does that make sense? I get the feeling they are fine on their own. But it’s hard for me to not compare them. I’d love to have someone taste-test them, someone who hasn’t ever had my original biscuit. Anyway! Try them!

What you will need

  • Cookiesheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Biscuit cutter or something similar, a glass will work.
  • Rolling pin (although, not entirely necessary.)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups gluten-free flour, siftted
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk

Before I dive in, the key to good, flaky biscuits is in the process. You want cold butter, and you want visible pieces in the mixing. I have pictures below. Basically, you want your dough to look like a giant mess in the end, not something smooth like you might see with bread. Think: visible bits of ingredients. So, keep that in mind when mixing these puppies. Also, make sure you have your cookie sheet lined and ready to go. You want to shock the cold butter; the sooner you get them into the oven, the better.

Ready?

Preheat oven to 450.

Sift flour.

Add dry ingredients. (Sifted flour, salt, sugar [if using], baking powder and soda.)

Grate the cheddar cheese. Add it to the dry ingredients. I added about 3/4 cup to the ones shown. Feel free to adjust to taste. Please note! Add your cheese BEFORE your butter and buttermilk. Consider it a dry ingredient.

Remove your unsalted butter from the fridge and cut that up into smallish pieces.

Add that and using your hands, mash it a bit between your fingers. You want to see the butter. Don’t make it look like cornmeal or something even finer. Less is more and more is better!

Add your buttermilk.

Mix it up using a wooden spoon, but not too much!

Roll the dough out without handling it too much. Cut out your biscuits and add them to the cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown.

Variations

Add some chives! I didn’t have any this time around, but I highly recommend them. If you DO add chives, add them when you add the cheese.

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been playing around with gluten-free baking lately. I am not gluten-free, but I know that many people are and I want to stay on top of things. One day I would like to become a full time baker and I feel I will be more marketable if I understand how gluten-free baking works. And I will share what I learn.

I have played with this recipe quite a bit, and I think I got it somewhere awesome. I am very happy with how they stand up to “regular” chocolate chip cookies. They taste great, in fact, I am not sure anyone would know they were gluten free at all. Although, you do want to let people know they are nut-based of course. I promise, you will not be disappointed, my friends. In fact, I am eating one right now.

What you will need

  • Sheet pan
  • Mixer

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I have tossed in a bit more a few times because I LOVE SUGAR!)
  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Yields: 20 – 24 cookies depending on how big you like your balls.

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In separate bowl, add all your dry ingredients. (Flour, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum)

Beat sugar and butter in mixer. Add vanilla extract. Add eggs. Beat lightly. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer. Beat that for a bit, just until blended. Add your chocolate chips.

You’re done!

Roll them in the palm of your hand and place them on your Silpat (or parchment paper). Smoosh them down a bit with your hands (as shown); they don’t spread as much as regular chocolate chip cookies, so you can keep them relatively close together.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let them cool on a wire rack. Cookies will be moist and gooey! I would wait a few minutes before digging in.

They are seriously awesome.

Variations

It’s hard to give variations as this recipe was sort of formed out of a few variations. And I feel it’s pretty damn solid. I will say, that I did use brown sugar a few times in my process and was happy with that as well.

Anyway, these cookies rule. I bought a batch of 20 to a party and they were gone within minutes.

The Tom Yummy!

It’s been a while since I came out with a new flavor and I’m SUPER excited about this one. They are toasted coconut and lemongrass. Thanks to Jon for the name suggestion; he won himself a free batch of lollipops for the help. Anyway here’s The Tom Yummy!

Stop by my shop if you have time. Lollipops go perfectly with this time of year if I must say so myself.

Mom It Down! Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache Tart

Have you ever eaten something so good it makes you want to punch, slap or kick shit? This tart will do just that.

I first got wind of this tart from Catherine on Twitter. She wrote something about a reviewer stating, “This tart is so good, I want to punch people when I eat it.” I knew exactly what the person meant. Of course I had to make it. So Catherine sent me the link and I made it that very day.

You should make it too. And feel free to modify it, as I have below. Although the original is perfectly amazing as is.

I’ve made this tart three times. The first time, I followed the recipe, changing only the crust as I didn’t have any chocolate graham crackers. (I normally don’t have any graham crackers in the house at all, but we’d gone upstate a few months back and made s’mores and I took the remaining crackers home with us.) But don’t worry! If you don’t have graham crackers, you can use pate sucree, my favorite homemade crust. The second time I made this tart, I used pate sucree.

Anyway, the recipe below features a graham cracker crust, this time I added a flavor and I’m quite pleased with the end result.

What you will need

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 9 graham crackers (basically, one package, mashed up)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • flavoring, in this case three Earl Grey teabags
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate (less than 65% cocoa)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon warm water

Mom It Down!

Preheat oven to 350.

On stovetop, bring cream to slight boil. Remove from heat, add teabags, set aside.

While the tea is steeping, crush up graham crackers. I used my hands. Hands are handy! The big pieces will mash up even more when you add the sugar and butter and press it into the pan.

Add butter and sugar and mash it up some more.

Press it into a buttered flute pan.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Go back to your tea and cream mixture. Ring out your teabags being careful not to tear the bags.

Put 9 ounces of chocolate into a metal bowl. Set aside.

Reheat your tea and cream mixture. Pour it over the chocolate. Leave it for a couple of minutes.

While that’s melting the chocoalte, in separate bowl, add salt, eggs and vanilla.

Whisk that together.

Delicately whisk the cream/chocolate mixture without agitating it too much. (You don’t want to add a bunch of air to the mixture.)

Add egg mixture to the chocolate. Pour over baked pie crust.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sides are baked and the middle wobbles a bit. It will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven. Like this:

The sides will flatten as it cools. The tart will be very level. Let it cool completely.

When you’re ready and the tart is cool, take two tablespoons of heavy cream and microwave it for about 50 seconds. (You can boil it too, but it’s hard to boil that small amount, so I just microwaved it until it was hot.) Pour over chopped chocolate, whisk until it melts. If you have trouble getting it all to melt with that small amount of cream, feel free to put it over a pot of simmering water, or a bain-marie. That’ll take care of business. You want it to be SUPER smooth. Add your water and light corn syrup, and pour it over tart. Turn tart to coat it evenly with the glaze.

You’re done! Let it sit for an hour, until the top hardens and cools.

Overcoming obstacles.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can break it up over the course of the day. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can do the crust and leave it for however long. You can make the ganache, bake it and then leave it for however long. I would suggest measuring out all the ingredients, preparing and baking the crust, then go clean the house or something. Make the ganache filling, bake the tart and then go put the baby to sleep, walk to dog—whatever. Come back to it later when you have another 30 minutes. The last time I made this, I took a nap with a sick baby while the tart cooled (for two hours!). This is a very easy recipe that tastes impossibly not easy. It tastes better than it looks.

Variations

Dude, you can flavor this puppy so many different ways. When I was in school, we infused cream for ganache with citrus, tea, ginger—you name it. Or just make it with some amazing high-end chocolate.

That’s another thing, the better the chocolate, the more amazing the ganache. However, the first time I messed with ganache at home, I used Baker’s Chocolate. I used Baker’s for the first attempt at this tart as well. It’s easy to find and cheaper than most high-end chocolate. So if you screw up, you don’t feel as bad. High-end chocolate can cost a pretty penny! But if you want to knock the pants off people? I recommend getting some super awesome chocolate.

If you have questions about how to flavor the ganache, ask away! I will happily help out.

Nutritional Stuff

One more thing: I calculated the calories (because I am still watching my calorie intake every day) and the whole pie is roughly 4400 calories. Each slice (It’s rich! So good luck eating more than the sliver shown above!) is roughly 270 – 300 calories assuming you get anywhere from 16 to 18 slices per pie. I don’t think that’s too bad! :]

Yes, We Have Some Bananas.

Last week I accidentally ordered at least 80 bananas. You see, we order our groceries from Fresh Direct and sometimes I screw up. There was the time I accidentally ordered 4 pounds of jalapeños.

This time, I meant to order 10 bananas. Instead, I got 10 bunches of bananas. Each bunch holds at least 8 bananas. Here is a picture of some of the bananas.

They are small bananas, but that’s still a lot of bananas. And if you don’t agree with me, you’re not human, you’re probably monkey, in which case would you like to smell my finger?

Anyway, I ate bunch. And Emory is a champ (that’s short for champion) and ate at least two bunches. He loves bananas. Elliot had a few. I tried to give some to the dog but she doesn’t like bananas. She’ll try and eat cat shit, but bananas are apparently below her.

I gave two bunches away. I froze two bunches. I am left with about three bunches. So, I’m baking. Today I am baking.

I made a gluten free custard because I also have a bunch of egg yolks leftover. (I made an angel food cake last weekend). I have a banana bread in the oven. Next up, we have chocolate chip banana muffins. After that, something healthy, spicy and whole wheat.

If anyone else has any other suggestions, I have more bananas that need homes.

Incidentally, Fresh Direct needs a “Is This A Mistake Or Are You Insane?” filter. Certainly I am not alone. Someone must have purchased 250 apples before, or 20 bags of onions.


Veggie Sloppy Joe!

About a year ago, I was looking for healthy, vegetarian dinner ideas. This was one of the recipes I came up with. I am really excited to share it and I do hope folks give it a try, particularly meat eaters. You may be pleasantly surprised by this dish. It has a great deal of flavor, it’s super filling and it’s meat-free!

What you will need:

  • Skillet
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

You may notice I haven’t listed many quantities below. That’s because you don’t really need to measure anything. This dish has yet to fail. For example, I added too much vinegar today so I cut it with molasses. It evened everything out.

Man, I love this dish. And it’s great for those of you (like myself) who are dieting.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Some type of veggie crumble. I use Morning Star Crumbles
  • Peppers, both hot and bell, any type you want!
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • Molasses (maybe a tablespoon? I usually just pour some in.)
  • 12 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cupe ketchup
  • Splash of white vinegar
  • Salt

Coat the bottom of a skillet with olive oil. Heat onions, peppers and then crumbles. If the crumbles are frozen (mine usually are) just heat it until they no longer are.

Add everything else. Cover and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. YOU ARE DONE.

And it is awesome.

Variations

I have omitted the ketchup. If you don’t have molasses, you can add another sweetener such as brown sugar. You simply can’t go wrong. Today I added cherry tomatoes for an extra pop. They were perfect. In the past we used to add a dollop of sour cream to the top as well as shredded cheddar cheese, but I’m counting calories these days, so I skipped the sour cream and added an ounce of cheese.

You can serve yours on a toasted bun if you wish.

Go forth and veggie! :]

And the winners are…

Hey guys! As promised, here are the winners for last week’s lollipop giveaway. I had Toby Joe run a script to randomly pull three names from the comments section. So, without further ado, the winners are….

  • Amber H
  • anca
  • Milissa

Thank you again, all of you, for helping me. I am so grateful. I’ve been having a rough time lately (there’s a post in the making about that) and having so many of you come forward to help really lifted my spirits. I needed that. It’s selfish, I know. But I needed that. So thank you.

I wish I could everyone a free batch of lollipop, and I might just do that if I didn’t have to pay 5 plus bucks for shipping. And then Toby Joe might divorce me for bankrupting the family because the USPS is not cheap.

Anyway, thank you. Much love to you all.

Free Lollipops! A Giveaway.

I need your help, friends. I’m applying for a small business grant for my lollipop business. I need 250 votes to be considered. Can you help me reach that goal?

If you’re on Facebook, it’s really quite simple, click this link, click “Support”, search “Lollipops by mihow” (or just mihow) and then “Vote”. I have 24 days to reach 250 votes. Every vote counts. To quote Toby Joe, “If Scott Walker can win the recall in WI, she can pull this off!”

Please? Pretty please with candied sugar on top? Help me get closer to making a lifelong dream a reality.

Free Lollipops! A Giveaway.

Please consider voting and then come back and leave a comment here. Please include your email (won’t be shown). Tell me what your favorite sweet treat is. On June 12th, I will randomly choose two people to receive a free batch of lollipops (of my choice). This giveaway ends June 12th.

Thank you for your consideration!

Cupcakes Inspired By Lollipops

I’m currently working with Etsy on something. I can’t really talk about it just yet. For starters, I’m not sure I’m allowed to. I’m also not really sure what’s going on just yet. What I do know is that my lollipops are involved. And I am as well. On top of that, they commissioned me to make cupcakes.

I had very little time to come up with something and so yesterday I hit the ground running.

I decided to create three flavors based on my lollipops. Why not keep my business consistent, right? Here is what I’ve done so far.

The First Trimester in cupcake form:

Lollipop: Lemonade candy and sliced ginger.
Cupcake: Ginger cake, lemon Swiss meringue buttercream icing, and candied ginger.

Mint Chip on a Stick in cupcake form:

Lollipop: Mint chip candy with colored sprinkles
Cupcake: Bittersweet dark chocolate cake, mint Swiss buttercream icing with colored sprinkles.

Rise ‘n Shine! in cucpake form.

Lollipop: Maple syrup candy with bacon bits. (100% VEGAN BACON BITS!)
Cupcake: Maple pound cake, maple French buttercream icing, and bacon bits.

Just a few things to note: I was completely floored at how well the cupcake version of Rise ‘N Shine came out. I never would have thought a bacon bit covered cupcake could taste so good! But! Alas! It does. The maple icing works really well with the saltiness of the bacon bits. I was pleased with my outcome.

The mint chip tastes JUST like the ice cream I had as a kid. This one is a dead-ringer to the lollipop.

The ginger cupcake paired with the fresh lemon buttercream works well too. But that’s not too surprising. Of course it does. I’ve eaten ginger lemon cupcakes before. It’s a match made in heaven!

I don’t know what to say, y’all. Thanks to Etsy, I’m now hooked. I want to roll them ALL out—weird or not. I need to try. So this is going to be my summer project.