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Cardamom-Spiced Blackberry and Sunbutter Overnight Oats

Hi friends, I'm feeling a bit like a wrung out sponge. Wrapping up my semester of internship experience, I've started reflecting on how much I've learned much beyond textbooks, how many unique souls I've met, and how many hours I've stayed up wondering what the future holds for me. Two weeks out from graduation, I'm more than ready for a breather, however brief, from this juggling act I've been putting on for the last four months. I'm trying to keep all the balls in the air, but quite honestly a few are rolling around on the floor, namely housekeeping and sleep. My cup runneth over with joy though tumbleweeds of dust grace the floors. One thing I can always count on to energize my mind and enliven my soul is creative cooking with fresh and vibrant ingredients.

 
cardamom blackberry and sunbutter overnight oats | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Dirty house and sleep deprivation notwithstanding, I can still whip up a breakfast worth rising and shining for. This morning's version of overnight oats combined the comforting scent of cardamom, juicy ripe blackberries, and nutty sunflower seed butter along with chia seeds and a kiss of maple syrup. Power breakfast, no doubt, son. Soaking the oats overnight in a slightly acidic liquid (such as yogurt or milk of choice with a little lemon juice) helps break down some of the harder to digest proteins and totally eliminates the need for cooking.  So easy. So delicious.

In other news, I had an article and recipe about tamale-making published on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' blog Stone Soup check it out here!

 
cardamom blackberry and sunbutter overnight oats | funkybeetsblog.com
 

Cardamom-Spiced Blackberry and Sunbutter Overnight Oats

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp sunbutter (any nut butter works!)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup pecans

Method

  1. Combine oats, milk, lemon juice, chia seeds, and cardamom in a glass jar or bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove oat mixture from fridge and stir in maple syrup and sunbutter.
  3. In two separate jars or bowls, evenly distribute oat mixture, layering with blackberries and pecans to your artistic whims.  Add more milk if desired.
  4. Enjoy anywhere!

Simple Cream of Celery Soup

When the sky is all one color (grey) and you crave a bowl of something at once new and familiar, comforting and stirring to curl up with, look no further than this simple cream of celery soup.  You can be down to fairly little in the icebox and still have the necessities to pull this together: cream or half & half (or even whole milk), a head of celery, some sort of allium, stock or broth, butter, a potato or two, and some herbs and spices.

This soup is nothing more or less than it claims to be: it is thinly luscious while boldly bearing the essence of celery. Adorned with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, a drizzle of olive oil and some thick cut whole grain toast, this is a peasant's lunch fit for a midwinter queen.

 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup | www.funkybeetsblog.com
 

Simple Cream of Celery Soup

Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head celery, roughly chopped 
  • 1-2 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large leek (or onion, shallot, etc.), sliced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste 
  • cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp dried dill
  • ½ cup half and half (or whole milk, heavy cream, etc.) 
  • Coarse sea salt, fresh black pepper, and pungent olive oil (for serving)

Method

  1. Melt butter completely in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. To the pot, add celery, potato, leek (or onion, etc.) and garlic. Season with a bit of salt to start, (don't add much until you taste the soup).
  3. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until your allium is tender, about 8–10 minutes. Add broth to the pot and simmer until the potatoes and celery are tender, 8–10 more minutes. Stir in the dill.
  4. Purée using an immersion or standard blender.
  5. Wistfully stir in cream until combined. Taste and season accordingly.
  6. Serve soup topped with sea salt, pepper and olive oil, plunked with homemade croutons or accompanied by your favorite rustic bread.
 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup
 

In other news, I'm now a snow shoer.  I ventured out into the grey mist yesterday with Chetney and listened to the waves crash against icicle-covered peers, rocking giant shards of ice and bobbing gulls in their wake.

 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup | www.funkybeetsblog.com
 
 
Simple Cream of Celery Soup | www.funkybeetsblog.com
 

Tomorrow I'm beginning a 30-day Minimalism Challenge from the blog Into Mind (found by way of Shutterbean's I Love Lists Friday).  In 30 days I will complete 30 simple yet poignant tasks to pare down the stuff of life and in turn hopefully find more space in the every day. You can do the tasks in any order, and tomorrow I will begin with challenge number 2: "meditate for fifteen minutes." I plan to share my experiences with the 30 day challenge here regularly, if the "stuff of life" does not place itself too densely in my path. I'll be in touch. Stay warm friends.

Almond JOY Energy Bites

"What if a chocolate craving is just the soul's way of trying to sweeten a bitter day?"  I'm a firm believer that indulgence is one of the many tools of self care, but let's face it: for some of us the desire to mute stress with sugar is more than an occasional calling. I for one prefer to end most meals on a sweet note. Sometimes it's a two-bite piece of crystallized ginger, others its a few scoops of mint chocolate chunk. I know I can't go full-boar dessert mode three times a day, so it's nice to have naturally sweet treats around to tame my beast of a sweet tooth.

This recipe is a riff on many other date-based energy bites I've found on the interwebs, many of which are akin to the delicious, although pricey Larabars. It's true these bites are inspired by a candy bar (Almond Joy), but here we throw out all the refined sugar business and are left with a naturally sweet, rich, and satisfying two-bite dessert weighing in at just over 70 calories. These bites contain fiber to slow the absorption of the date's natural sugar, giving you a sustained energy boost to fuel all of your breathtakingly beautiful adventures (or your 2 pm cubicle-contained spiral into nihilism). Along with complex sweetness and fiber, dates also provide vitamins A, K, and potassium, while the bites as a whole provide a healthy balance of carb, protein, and satiating fat. 

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So, friends: let's whip out our food processors and do something good for ourselves. Let's sweeten the bitter with some bittersweet chocolate. Let's close our eyes and indulge for a few moments as we thank the stars and moon for this life.  Happy Sunday.

Almond JOY Energy Bites

Makes about 24 chunks o' energy

Ingredients

  • 8 large Medjool dates
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp almond extract (optional)

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender.
  2. Pulse at high speed until the mixture forms a smooth ball or paste-like consistency, adding a small amount of water if needed. 
  3. Using your hands, form into about 24 ball-shaped chunks. For added visual appeal, roll in shredded coconut.
  4. Enjoy for a quick energy burst any time.

Nutrition

Serving size: 1 energy bite (1/24th of recipe) - 72 calories, 8 g carbs, 4 g fat, 2 g protein, 13 mg sodium, 4 g fiber, 5 g naturally occurring sugar from dates

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins with Gooey Peanut Butter Filling (Gluten Free!)

With visions of maple glazed ham, warm cheesy dips, sparkly cutout cookies, and bourbon-spiked eggnog dancing in our heads, now for something completely different... 

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I've been cooking a lot lately, mostly things to give as gifts, and dreaming of posting about all of it: my beloved granola with dried cranberries and dark chocolate chunks, cute hot chocolate stir sticks replete with mini candy canes, infused booze of several shades and flavors, walnut-studded rum balls, and hearty mason-jarred beef and barley chili. 

But what finally drove me to sit down and write a post were these humble little muffins that emerged from my oven today as a result of some crazy ripe bananas wafting their sweet boozy potpourri cloud through the kitchen. I wanted to bake something to enjoy after a rich holiday meal or with Christmas morning coffee: a not-too-sweet almond flour pillow chock full of the good stuff: chocolate, banana and peanut butter. Obviously I had to test one to make sure they weren't poison, and it was love at first bite: the perfect balance of roasty banana and rich chocolate, with a background of vanilla and almond and a gooey peanut butter center to steal the show. Almond flour's texture is unbeatable when it comes to hearty baked goods like muffins and breads, I completely prefer it over wheat flour. The dense, moist crumb on these babies cries out for a glass of milk... and a second muffin. 

chocolate  banana muffins with peanut butter filling (GF)

Merry Christmas Eve Eve everyone. I hope you have the most wonderfilled and joyful holiday season. Remember to look around and breathe deeply. Say "mmm" as you savor all those special holiday dishes and "ahh" when you see the glow of Christmas lights. As we steep ourselves in family time and food, let's be grateful for and awed by LOVE and all of the ways it manifests itself in our lives - at Christmas and every day after.

Double Chocolate Banana Muffins with Gooey Peanut Butter Filling (Gluten Free)

Recipe adapted from Comfy Belly Blog
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (or melted coconut oil, butter, etc.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour or almond meal (I used unblanched)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. Mix honey, oil, eggs, vanilla and banana together in a bowl until well blended.
  3. Mix baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa in a separate bowl and add to the wet ingredients and mix well again. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour batter evenly into lined muffin tins. Using a spoon, plop 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each muffin.
  5. Bake muffins for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.
  6. Store at room temperature for up to three days or in the fridge for a few weeks, or freeze for safekeeping. Enjoy at least one while still warm.
chocolate  banana muffins with peanut butter filling (GF)




Rustic Roasted Applesauce

For me, receiving fruit in a CSA basket is the equivalent of getting a king size candy bar during trick-or-treat at age 10: so special. That's why when organic apples appeared in our veggie box two weeks in a row, I hoarded them away like a greedy squirrel and started searching for a recipe to honor these rosy, perfectly imperfect gems.

local apples

The farmer's newsletter said he wasn't sure what variety these apples were, but that they were organic and therefore slightly blemished, but mighty tasty. A mystery apple! Joy! Their flavor was tart but not pucker-inducing, the flesh was firm and robustly textured, they were generously juicy, and perfect for making applesauce. 

This recipe hails from the infamous Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.  I borrowed it from the library after seeing several of my favorite cooks and bloggers site it as one of their must-haves. So far it hasn't disappointed.  This applesauce is nothing like the kind that comes in a jar at the supermarket.  It is at once chunky and silky, and absolutely sings with apple flavor.  My mouth is watering as I write this and so are my eyes because my apples and the sauce I made from them are long gone.  I ate it plain, also in oatmeal and swirled with plain yogurt and cinnamon.  I loved every bite. If you have any apples hanging around, you betta' make this applesauce toot sweet.

Recipe note: If you don't have 4 pounds of apples, scale the recipe back and adjust ingredients accordingly.  It's still worth it to make a small batch.  The sugar is pretty minimal, letting the apples' flavor shine and making it a versatile sauce for serving with anything from ice cream to pork chops. 

rustic roasted applesauce | funkybeetsblog.com

Rustic Roasted Applesauce

adapted slightly from the Zuni Café Cookbook
makes about 3 cups

Ingredients
 

  • 4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Up to 1 Tbsp of sugar, depending on the sweetness of you apples
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
     

Method

Roasted apples
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the apple chunks in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish and sprinkle with sugar and salt, toss to coat. 
  3. Shave butter into thin slices and "drape" over the apples (cookbook wording, beautiful).
  4. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake until the apples begin to soften slightly, 15-20 minutes. Remove apples from the oven and carefully uncover the pan. 
  5. Raise the heat to 500 F and return apples to the oven.  Roast until the apples begin to turn golden brown on their edges, about 10 minutes.
  6. Let the apples cool slightly, then slide them into a bowl and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon until you have smooth, yet chunky sauce,  Taste the sauce and season with more salt and sugar to your taste.
  7. Add the apple cider vinegar to brighten the flavor if desired. (Judy Rodger's advice: try a drop of cider vinegar on a spoonful of the applesauce first to see if you'll like it.)
  8. Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week.
 
rustic roasted applesauce | funkybeetsblog.com