Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cashew Butter Cups

I almost started writing about my newfound obsession with the television show Cheers but quickly realized that would most likely be pretty boring to read about. Then my cat, in a desperate plea for attention, kept walking back and forth in front of the keyboard and I considered writing about that. The topic of our broken washing machine and our new method of washing clothing in the kitchen sink also crossed my mine. So my life is pretty boring right now.* But I have these Cashew Butter Cups. It's not all bad.

Tip about the cashew butter: I made homemade cashew butter using salted, roasted cashews (unsalted, raw cashews would also work) for this recipe, but store-bought cashew butter may also be used in this recipe. 1 cup cashews = 1/2 cup cashew butter (roughly). Blend in a food processor for a long time. You'll know when it's ready.

Tip about the granola: I used leftover homemade granola for this. I actually happened to have granola on hand without any add-ins -- no dried fruit or nuts. If your granola has add-ins, I'd pick out the dried fruit. The nuts might be OK left in, since they'll blend in pretty well with the cashew butter.

Cashew Butter Cups:


1/2 cup cashew butter, salted (if not salted, add a pinch of salt) (see note above)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup leftover granola (see note above; optional but strongly recommended for texture)
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


2 cups chocolate chips

Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking liners. Melt chocolate over low heat, using a spatula to stir. Add a teaspoon of melted chocolate to each liner, spreading to cover the bottom. Place in fridge to harden. Meanwhile, prepare filling by combining all ingredients in a food processor until creamy. Divide filling evenly among cups. Add another teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of filling and spread to cover filling as best you can. Let chocolate set in the fridge. Enjoy at room temperature.

Yield: 12 cups

*Well, maybe boring to some people. I personally find Cheers, my cat and laundry very exciting.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Life of Pi(zza)

What to do in Michigan on a snowy Friday night? MAKE PIZZA! Our standby has been a decadent, buttery Chicago-style deep dish recipe from Cook's Illustrated (found here), but in order to go easy on our wallets and waists, I decided to make a thin pizza crust without so much crust. I was going for a St. Louis-style crispy thin crust, but this ended up more like a hand-tossed. But a hand-tossed I liked! This crust would be a perfect canvas for your favorite sauces and toppings, as it's a good balance between thin and thick. Load 'em on!

Tip for a crispy crust: I used my brand new cast-iron pan to make these, which works really great for the crust (even better than a pizza stone, in my opinion), but if you don't have one, feel free to use a regular baking pan or a pizza stone. The trick I used with the cast-iron pan is I built the pizza in the room temperature cast-iron pan and then I let the pan heat up on the stove on high for five minutes, then I (using oven mitts!) transferred the pan into the preheated oven to bake for 8-12 minutes. This results in a crispy crust -- don't skip this step!

My favorite toppings: pesto, roasted garlic, fresh basil, caramelized onions, cherry tomatoes, thinly-sliced potatoes, Match Meat sausage, Daiya cheese

Homemade Pizza Crust:

Adapted from Pizza Dough in Vegan with a Vengeance

1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoos olive oil, plus more for the bowl and brushing the crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal (for sprinkling the pan)

Combine water, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Let sit for five minutes. Add flour, olive oil and salt. Stir well and then use hands to form a dough. Knead for 10 minutes or so, then form dough into a ball. Oil bowl and cover dough with oil. Cover bowl with damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

After dough has risen, punch dough down and cover again. Let rest for 10 minutes or so. Meanwhile, sprinkle pan with cornmeal. Divide dough in half and either roll out or use your hands to stretch the dough into a 14-inch diameter crust. Transfer to cast-iron pan (or your preferred pan), brush crust with olive oil and add your favorite toppings. Preheat pan on stove over high heat for five minutes, then transfer pan to oven (carefully using oven mitts!) and bake for 8-12 minutes. Repeat with second crust and enjoy!

Yield: 2 14-inch diameter pizzas