Almond Butter Bread

I love putting almond butter on bread, so why not try putting it in bread, right? I’ve never made a bread like this before, but I think it came out really well and will be particularly delicious with jam…it’s like a pb&j with only half the work!

Almond Butter Bread
*full recipe below

To begin, I combined 2/3 cup creamy almond butter with 1/4 cup sugar:

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In a separate bowl, I combined 1 and 1/4 cups of white whole wheat flour with 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly, I alternatively added the flour mixture and almond milk (1.5 cups total) to the almond butter/sugar.

I had some extra dates in my kitchen leftover from hamantashen baking, so I chopped them up and threw them in the batter too. I imagine that almost any type of fruit or chocolate (ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE) would taste great as well.

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Once the dates were folded in, I poured the batter into a well-buttered bread pan:

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And baked for one hour at 350º and then had…

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Beautiful almond butter bread!

Almond Butter Bread
Ingredients
- 2/3 cup creamy almond butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup dates, fruit of choice, or chocolate
Method
- Combine the almond butter and sugar in a large bowl
- in a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder,
and cinnamon
- alternate adding flour mixture and milk
to the almond butter/sugar, making sure to thoroughly
combine at all stages
- fold fruit or chocolate into the batter
- pour into a buttered bread pan and bake for one hour
at 350º

And, since the oven was hot, I threw in a batch of cottage cheese biscuits for good measure.

Spoon-lickin’ V-Day

This was a delicious Valentine’s Day. Primary gifts – both given and received – focused on food. After much debate on what I could give that would appropriately relay my devoted girlfriend status, I decided to make chocolates with handcrafted wrapping. 

To start, I melted dark chocolate chips and prepared the toppings:

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Chocolate melts fast, so I made sure to have everything prepped and ready to go before I turned on the heat. After the chocolate melted, I quickly poured it into a parchment paper-lined bread pan (I would not recommend a bread pan to use for this, it just seemed like the best option from what was in my kitchen). I wanted to make the chocolate into four bars, each with one of the following toppings: banana chips, almonds, white chocolate chips, and hot and spicy pepitas:

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It’s important to get the toppings on the chocolate fast, otherwise it may start to harden. Once the toppings are firmly on the chocolate, I put the pan in the freezer while I cleaned up licked everything.

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I left the chocolates in the freezer for about 30 minutes (if I did this again, I would probably leave them a bit longer) and then took them out, cut into four pieces, and started on the decorations! My idea was to wrap each chocolate in foil and create a paper wrapping to go around that – similar to a hershey’s.

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I tried to come up with cute sayings to put on the wrapping…some worked a bit better than others. 🙂

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In the evening, Noah and I went to a dinner at Eastwood Nature Center in Osseo, MN. The evening included a meal, swing-dancing lessons, time to look around the nature center, and a visit with the center’s owl (definitely a highlight!). Eastwood decorated beautifully, and the tables for dinner were set with heart candles and flowers.

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The meal itself was fairly basic and served buffet style: turkey, salad, green beans, and potatoes:

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Swing dancing was definitely the highlight of the evening, but I was too busy groovin’ to take any pictures.

The next day, food gifts continued when Noah bought all the supplies for us to make a fruit tart! 

Wow – this was quite an endeavor! The whole process took about 6 hours. The cream had to chill for 3 hours, the dough for 90 minutes, and there was a lot of baking/resting/freezing time. Finally, it was time for us to actually cook the crust. Getting the dough into the tart pan proved a bit of a challenge as we didn’t have a rolling pin, but we managed to do alright! Before and after baking:

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Once the crust was cooked and cooled, it was time to get rolling with the filling. After chilling in the refrigerator for several hours, the cream needed no extra preparation and all we had to do was pour it into the crust:

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Then, we got to work chopping berries and creating a glaze by heating jelly on the stove:

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And finally…

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This thing looked good, if I say so myself. The cream piece of it really does seem to be an art though, and ours didn’t hold together quite so well…

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I’m not complaining though. It was delicious!

Did you eat anything great for Valentine’s Day?

Kitchen in the Market

It’s official. I have found one of the top date activities in Minneapolis. Last weekend, Noah and I took a class through Kitchen in the Market. Kitchen in the Market is located in the Midtown Global Market, and the space is a shared commercial kitchen for food trucks, caterers, and others looking for space to create delicious food. In addition to being a shared kitchen, Kitchen in the Market also offers a variety of classes and events.

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After finding our way to the kitchen, the evening began with a cheese tasting led by the owner of Grassroots Gourmet – dairy and meat shop in the Global Market.

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My favorite cheese was a chevre – especially when combined with tomato chutney or honey!

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After the cheese tasting, we went on a tour of the Global Market. The class we took was called ‘Cooking in the Market,’ and the idea was that we would decide what to make simply based on what looked good walking around the various vendors. After touring the market, we would discuss with the professional chefs what ingredients we were interesting in using, and then – with their guidance – create a dish.

There were about 20 people in the class, and we were broken up into group of 4 to decide what to make. Our group decided that we wanted to make something with chicken and Mexican spices. The suggestion from the pro chefs? Empanadas! The part of the class where each group decided what to make was one of the most fun parts (besides eating cooking all of it). Each group would tell the head chef a certain meat, spice, ingredient, cooking style, or ethnic cuisine they were interested in. The chef would ask a few questions and then settle on a specific dish, give that group a shopping list, and send them on their way. Each group had $25 to spend on the ingredients for their item. After buying the ingredients, each group was paired with one of the professional chefs to help oversee the actual cooking.

Aprons on and ready to cook:

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To start, we needed to make a pie dough for the empanada casing. We made that first so it would have some time to chill in the refrigerator while we made the filling. For the pie dough, we needed butter, flour, sugar, a few pinches of salt, and a little water:

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After the pie dough was done and in the fridge, we set to work on the filling. Supplies included: chicken, potatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, cumin, and oregano:

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We chopped up three potatoes and then boiled for about 10 minutes:

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We covered 4 chicken breasts with some oil, cumin, and oregano and baked at 400° for about 10 minutes:

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For the jalapenos, we fire roasted them over a stove burner until the outsides were thoroughly crisped, and then sealed inside a bowl with saran wrap to let the skins soften:

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After a few minutes in the bowl, the skins will slide right off the peppers, giving them a nice ‘fire-roasted’ flavor and making it easy to chop:

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Add the diced jalapeno and diced chicken to the boiled potatoes:

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Chop the leaves from a full bunch of cilantro and add that to the mix as well:

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While I was involved with all of this chopping, some of the other group members worked on a tomatillo salsa:

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At this point, it was time to get the pie dough from the fridge, roll it out, and shape it into small circles for the empanada shells:

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We added a small amount of filling to each shell, folding it over, marked the edges with a fork, and brushed it with olive oil:

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Once the empanadas were in the oven, it was time to walk around and see what the other groups were up to!

There was veggie paella:

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Thai fried rice – given a fusion twist with wild rice, coconut, and peaches:

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Goat and kale salad:

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Lamb ribs with a plum sauce:

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And a sweet couscous with radishes, carrots, and raisins:

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After all this poking around, I was ready to eat! Luckily, the empanadas were just coming out the oven, so we arranged them on a plate around the leftover filling (there was a lot!):

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By this time, everyone had gotten a glimpse of all the other groups’ dishes and was seriously ready to chow down. We set the food up on the main counter, buffet-style:

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The tables were set beautifully with rosemary-infused water:

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After another brief description from each group about how they prepared their dish, it was time to get food!

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Everything was DELICIOUS! My favorites were probably the empanadas (although I might have been a little biased there!), the kale salad, and the couscous. I liked the goat a lot more than I thought I would, but I was a fan of the lamb ribs. They were a little too chewy for me.

This whole experience was without a doubt one of the most fun things I’ve done all summer. This would be an awesome date for a special occasion (or just for fun!), and it would also be a great thing to do with girlfriends or family member. I wish I could go every week! My advice to you: sign up sign up sign up now. You will have an amazing time. 🙂

St. Anthony Main Theatre

The riverfront district of St. Anthony on the east side of the Stone Arch Bridge is gorgeous. If you haven’t been so, I suggest going there. Like right now. There are restaurants, cobblestone streets, and the iconic flashing lights of Minneapolis’ most historic theatre (perhaps rivaled by the Uptown…): St. Anthony Main Theatre.

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This no frills theatre is affordable, cozy, and offers a glimpse into a slightly older version of movie going (read: the chairs are just chairs – not kooshy beds as in some of the newer theaters!).

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Tickets are $6 for students, $8.50 for adults, and $5 for everyone on Tuesdays. Tuesdays also offer a $2 medium popcorn deal!

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Noah and I have been to see two movies here in the last couple weeks: This is the End and Monsters U. 

This is the End was completely not what I expected. I hadn’t watched a trailer or anything, so expecting the typical slightly crude humor of a comedy-kings movie from our day. Instead…it was scary! Admittedly, still hilarious, but it was scary! I would recommend it if you don’t mind some gore and blasphemy. Monsters U couldn’t hold a candle to the original Monsters, Inc., but I’m sure no one really expected it to. It was still entertaining and some funny scenes.

I’ll hopefully be headed back for another movie soon, but it’s still a few months until the movie I’ve really been waiting for…

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Hunger Games 2!!! November can’t come soon enough. 🙂

Chatterbox Pub

What a weekend! Sunday was the Jewish holiday of Purim, so the weekend was full of festivities. Saturday night was the megillah reading and shpiel, and Sunday there was a Purim Carnival. Lots of fun and lots of running around led to lots of exhaustion and a hungry belly. On Sunday afternoon, Noah and I went to The Chatterbox Pub to rejuvenate.

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Although there during happy hour, we didn’t partake in any drinks (besides water), but we did order some food. Highlight being…

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SWEET POTATO FRIES! Given that sweet potatoes are among my favorite foods (quite likely THE favorite), eating them sliced and fried is always a sure winner with me. These fries were just the type I like – not too thin to lose the ‘body,’ but still crisp. They were served with a cinnamon honey mustard (dip container at the bottom of the pic) which was really good – hardly mustard tasting at all. The staff was also very friendly and accommodating. In fact, the above fries were actually free since they accidentally burned Noah’s pizza and we had to wait while they made another.

As you might suspect, the truth is that countless establishments around Minneapolis have good sweet potato fries. Why Chatterbox then? Because they have something on their menu that no where else does:

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GAMES! I am lover of board games, and Noah is a lover of video games. So, clearly, this place was a win-win. While we waited for the food, we perused the board games collection:

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We selected Othello. I had never played, and Noah had only played a few times, so we reviewed the rules and went for it. The game is played with black and white discs, and the objective is to end the game with more of your color discs on the board than your opponent. It starts like this:

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This is what it looks like after Noah makes a big mistake (I am white):

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This is what it looks like when I end up losing in the end anyway:

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If that didn’t make sense to you, look up the rules online because I don’t understand them well enough to articulate in a blog post. 🙂 As the game was ending, our food arrived. I got the ‘South by Southwest’ sandwich which was chicken breast, black bean spread, cheddar cheese, guacamole, roasted onions and peppers, and cilantro pesto on focaccia. Actually, the sandwich came on ciabatta, but I swapped the bread.

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The sandwich was tasty, but definitely a heavy meal – not a ‘light’ lunch sandwich – and not something I am rushing back to get again. Noah got a cheese and chicken pizza which he liked but was also a bit much:

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Of course, we Noah couldn’t leave without testing at least one video game, so he visited Q*bert on our way out.

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He was very focused…total concentration even when I tried my best to distract…

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It paid off though since Noah received the 4th highest score after only playing it a few times! Congrats, Noah – you are famous!!!

Overall verdict for Chatterbox: The environment is really fun and unique and the sweet potato fries are top notch, but otherwise the food is nothing amazing. I would say that this is a good spot if you’re looking for a fun date location, but if you want quality food and a nicer meal, put your money elsewhere.

The Love Tour: Valentine’s Day at the Zoo

Sorry for a couple-day hiatus in writing – I was out of town for the weekend, and Thursday night I had no time to blog due to the fact that I was on the greatest Valentine’s Day date ever!

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‘The Love Tour: Mating rituals that might make you blush,’ run through the Minnesota Zoo as a fundraiser for their conservation programs. First of all, this date was a complete and total surprise, planned by the fabulous Noah. I will admit I had pretty high expectations since I had been hearing comments like “I’m so excited for Valentine’s Day” since last March, but this completely exceeded even my highest hopes.

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What made this the greatest Valentine’s Day date ever? See for yourself…

First, we got to the zoo (I was immediately excited since I love the zoo but still didn’t really know what was going on). We went inside, and were greeted by friendly zoo staff and champagne.

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Waiters came by with appetizers – mini polenta cakes and lettuce wraps with strip steak and pico de gallo:

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That was about when I learned that we would be having a Tropics Trail Tour to learn all about the mating rituals and practices of animals. A delicious dinner follows the tour. Sneak peak at the dining room:

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While we’re waiting for the tour to begin, there’s plenty of entertainment (besides the food and champagne) to keep us occupied.

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I think I’m better at boggle, but these games were fun. 🙂 After much anticipation, the tour began, and it was SO interesting/fun/funny/greatest time ever. The zookeepers leading the tours all volunteered their time for the event, and our guide told us that the keepers really enjoy the event since they don’t usually get to talk about mating rituals with their regular tour groups (ie, elementary school groups). Heading into the tropics, our first visit was to the ring-tailed lemurs:

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a little hard to see, but the lemur is sitting on the branch in the top middle area of the picture

Male lemurs rub their mating smelliness all over their tails and then wave their tails around to attract females. This lemur was sweet enough to have decorated his pen for us:

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how thoughtful

Next up was the rhinoceros hornbill:

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For anyone who says that monogamous relationships are unnatural for animals, they should meet a rhinoceros hornbill. These birds mate for life, and they can live for up to 90 years. What’s more, the female completely trusts the male to stay with and provide for her, as the mother stays inside a tree trunk for the entire egg-incubation time period. The male brings her food and all of the supplies for the nest. Even more faithful, though, are African Penguins. What makes African Penguins incredible is that no instance of dual-partnership has ever been recorded in the wild. Not a single one. Wow!

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on the trail

Next up were tropical fish:

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We learned that zebra sharks are one of the few species that have ever been recorded to reproduce asexually. Female zebra sharks have reproduced alone. A Jesus-shark (as noted by our tour group), if you will.

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zebra shark

Although sad for the tour to end, I was excited to get to dinner, especially after seeing there was a live band!

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Our table number was number 38…

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…and there were salads and a bread basket waiting for us when we arrived:

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The salad was delicious with grapefruit, feta, and toasted almonds. For the main course, we were served beef tenderloin, cod, asparagus, and potatoes:

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holy yum

I took my fish home with me since I still needed room for dessert.

fish to-go

fish to-go

Dessert was honestly one of the best things I have ever had. I don’t think Noah loved it quite as much, but I am way more of a chocolate person (all you ladies out there, say heyyyy). 🙂

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Molten lava caked with chopped pistachios and fresh whipped cream (the whipped cream seemed to have a little espresso flavor). This was so good.

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Obviously. 🙂

We even got treats to go in the form of two truffles from Max’s, the sponsoring organization.

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Overall, this was hands down the best Valentine’s Day I could have imagined. Thank you, Noah – you’re my African Penguin. ❤