Saturday, December 29, 2012

DIY Peanut Butter - Roast, Grind, and Eat!

One of the Christmas presents I received was the America’s Test Kitchen DIY cookbook. It’s filled with over 100 food related projects that you can make at home (including goat cheese, nutella, and bacon!). I’ve decided to start at the beginning and make everything that appeals to me.  Starting with the first recipe, here’s homemade peanut butter. (The recipe from the book uses unsalted peanuts and 1 teaspoon of salt. I used salted peanuts and some honey)


4 c. roasted, salted peanuts
2 Tbsp. honey


  1. Preheat oven to 375F. 
  2. Roast the peanuts on a baking sheet for 5 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes..
  3. Add the peanuts to a food processor. Process for 90 seconds.
  4. Stop the food processor and scrape down the sides. At this point, you should have dry, crumbly mixture..
  5. Continue processing for another 2 to 4 minutes until the mixture changes to a creamy paste. 
  6. Scrape down the sides again, add the honey, and pulse for a few times to distribute it.
  7. Transfer to a container and store refrigerated. I had enough to fill two 8-ounce jars. 
Roasted Peanuts
After 90 seconds, the mixture will be dry and crumbly.
The final product - a creamy (delicious) paste

    Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Slow Cooker Turkey Chili - Perfect on a Cold Winter Night

    Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution

    I love weekends because I get to use the slow cooker. Everything is prepped and ready for the slow cooker in the early afternoon, and dinner's ready in the evening.

    Some tips for this recipe:

    The combination of bread and milk mixed with the turkey forms a panade - a gel which coats the proteins in the turkey and prevents the meat from becoming touch.

    I used the food processor to quickly mince the onions and garlic.

    Since most recipes rarely call for using a can of tomato paste, do what I do - buy the paste that's in a tube. Squeeze out what you need, screw on the top, then pop it back in your refrigerator.

    While soy sauce may seem like an out of place ingredient in this recipe, it's rich in glutamates, which give the dish a meaty flavor.

    Once served, I topped the chili with cheddar cheese, plain Greek yogurt and chopped scallions.

    Use a slow cooker liner to make cleanup easy.


    2 slices white sandwich bread, turn into quarters
    1/4 c. whole milk
    2 lbs. ground turkey (not ground turkey breast - this will be too dry)
    2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
    3 yellow onions, minced
    6 garlic cloves, minced
    1/4 cup chili powder
    1/4 cup tomato paste
    1 Tbsp. ground cumin
    1/4 tsp. ground chipotle powder
    1 tsp. dried oregano
    1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
    1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
    1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
    1 1/2c . low-sodium chicken broth
    3 Tbsp. soy sauce
    1 Tbsp. brown sugar
    2 tsp. minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce


    1. Mash the bread and milk into a paste in a large bowl using a fork. Mix in the ground turkey, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/t tsp. pepper using your hands (time to get messy!)
    2. Wash your hands.  :)  
    3. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, garlic chili powder, tomato paste, cumin, chipotle chili powder, oregano and red pepper flakes. Saute, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned - about 8 to 10 minutes.
    4. Stir in the turkey mixture, breaking it up into small pieces. Cook until the turkey is no longer pink - about 5-7 minutes. Add the mixture to the slow cooker.
    5. Stir in the diced tomatoes (undrained), chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, and minced chipotles. Cover and cook on low until the turkey is tender - about 4 to 6. 
    6. Skim the top of the chili to remove any excess fat and serve.

    Saturday, December 8, 2012

    Vanilla Kipfels - My Favorite Christmas Cookie!

    This recipe came from my Grandmother who grew up in Austria. 

    My mother, sister, and I would make them every December, about a week before Christmas.  I couldn't wait when we pulled the ingredients out, and it seemed to take forever for the butter to soften. We worked from the same handwritten recipe each year, and my mother would use a different color marker each time we baked them to check off the ingredients as we added them. I still have that old marked up page, and it makes me smile whenever I use it to bake during the holiday season. This makes about 80 -100 cookies (and they go fast!)


    For cookies:
    3/4 lb butter, softened
    1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
    1/2 c. sugar
    1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 egg
    1 egg yolk
    4 c. all-purpose flour
    6 oz. slivered almonds

    For rolling:
    1 c. sugar
    2 Tbsp. Vanilla sugar


    1.  In a food processor or blender, process almonds until they are finely ground.
    2.  With an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and sugars together until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. 
    3.  Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla extract. Mix for 1 minute. 
    4.  Gradually add the flour and almonds.  Mix well blended and no flour is visible. 
    5.  Preheat the oven to 375F. 
    6.  Using your hands, pinch off small balls of dough (about 1 in in diameter).  Roll the ball between your hands until you form a 3-inch log, then form a "U" shape with the log.  Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 1/4 inch apart. 
    7.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
    8.  Let cool, then roll the cookies in the sugar/vanilla sugar mixture.