mommy's toffee

May 6, 2011
Thank you mom for lots of things, but most of all...

for teaching me a love of the kitchen
for being an example of unconditional kindness
for cheering me on when I find success and still loving me when I haven't
for being my very best friend

Do all moms dig toffee?  Mine does!

For special occasions, my dad always buys my mom one of her favorite treats, Almond Rocca.  Who knew it could just as easily be made at home? So in honor of mother's day, I present you with Mommee-toffee.  I used sliced almonds because that's my mom's favorite, but any nut would do.   I imagine toasted hazelnuts would be deee-lish, as I do have an affinity for hazelnut treats.

(or just "Almond Toffee" for you boring folks)

2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup sliced almonds
  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter, sugar and salt over medium heat.  Stir frequently until the butter is melted and the ingredients combine. Allow the mixture to slowly come to a boil. Stirring occasionally, boil the mixture over medium heat until the color changes to an amber color and a candy thermometer reads 285 degrees.
  2. While toffee is cooking, cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Also, go ahead and make room for the pan in your refrigerator.  You'll be happy you did!
  3. Once toffee has reached 285 degrees and is amber in color, carefully pour and spread it over the parchment paper using a spatula.  (Preferably one that doesn't melt at high temperatures, as I've learned from experience!)  It's important to spread it as evenly as possible because it will effect the thickness of the toffee once it's cooled.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate morsels over the hot toffee and allow to set for a few minutes to melt. (You'll know they have melted when the chocolate lightens in color.)  Evenly spread the melted chocolate over the toffee to create a thin layer over the entire toffee.
  5. Sprinkle the chopped nuts over the top of the melted chocolate layer. 
  6. Using a sheet of clean parchment paper or a large plastic Ziplock bag, gently press the nuts into the chocolate. 
  7. Place the pan into the refrigerator until solid. It should harden quickly, but I would allow it to sit at least an hour.  Once it's thoroughly chilled, carefully break into pieces. 
  8. Toffee may be stored in an airtight container or kept in the refrigerator.

I love you, Mom.  Happy Mother's Day!

breakfast of champions

Lately, I've been a bit obsessive about my morning fuel.  It's the first thing that pops in my head when my eyes open in the morning.

For me, weekday breakfasts have a few prerequisites.  They must be quick, they must not require a lot of ingredients and I'd prefer to use as few dishes as possible so I'm able to leave a clean kitchen (without a pile of dishes).  This totally fits the bill.
Plus, it incorporates two of my favorite foods- bananas and nut butter*!  If you have not yet experienced the splendor of creamy banana-nutty-goodness, you should definitely give it a go.  This one goes out to you, Dad.  My fellow banana-fanna-fo-fanna-lover for life!  

Almond Butter Banana Shake
1 chopped, frozen banana
1 cup almond milk (or any milk you'd prefer)
1 heaping tablespoon almond butter*

Toss the banana, milk and almond butter in your Magic Bullet* (or blender), blend, and drink!   Couldn't be easier.

*You can find more about my favorite things here.

oh no you didn't

The black bean dessert is back!  Oh yes I did.
Remember the time long, long ago when I made the most delicious brownies in the world?  So good, I ate them for dinner? Yes, the black bean brownies that tasted better than any brownie I'd ever had and didn't even have a hint of bean taste despite being the main ingredient.  Well now brown cow, what I have before your very eyes is tearfully-delicious, slap-your-momma, make-you-wanna-inhale-every-morsel chocolate cake.  And the star ingredient again?  Those little black beans.  
Try this.  I dare you.

Black Bean Chocolate Cake
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (I used a 15 oz. can)
5 large eggs
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbs coconut oil (butter would also be okay)
3/4 cup sugar (Demura or Sugar in the Raw will work)
6 tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs water

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ and grease a 9″ cake pan.
  2. Mix together the cocoa, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil (or you could use butter) until it’s soft and fluffy. Add 2 of the eggs and beat well after each one.
  4. Put the beans, 3 of the eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt into a blender or food processor and blend/process until the mixture is smooth. Add this mixture to the coconut oil/egg concoction and mix to combine until smooth and fully incorporated.
  5. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients.   Add the water and beat on high until smooth.
  6. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30-35 mins. The top of the cake should be rounded and firm in the center.
  7. Allow to cool.  Cut and serve with your favorite ice cream!

fun noodles

As in, Maifun noodles, but let's just stick with fun.

I found these noodles in Target.  Where everything good in the world may be found, if you must know.  Maifun is a rice noodle made with only three ingredients, which impresses the heck out of me.  They have the size and consistency of angel hair pasta.  They were destined to be my dinner.
 To my noodles, I added some color and flavor and BAM!  Done.

My Fun Noodles
gluten-free, vegan
1/2 bag (approximately 3 oz.) Maifun Rice Sticks
1 cup edamame, steamed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon gluten-free Tamari Sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup fresh green onion
2 carrots, finely shredded
1 lemon, zest and juice

  1. To cook the rice noodles, simply boil water and add noodles.  Turn off heat, cover and let sit for ten minutes.  
  2. Meanwhile, steam your edamame.  Shred your carrots and cut your onion.  Once noodles are done, drain well.  
  3. Add oil, lemon zest and juice, tamari sauce and salt to the noodles and mix well.  Add in veggies and mix until incorporated.  Enjoy!