Arugula Walnut Pesto

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweets, drinks, and snack bars. Today we’re finally using them for a savory condiment!

Sarah here: Comin’ at ya with a republished post today – I’m making this tonight and I’m papapumped about it. Pasta and pesto all day please. Carry on.

I didn’t even know I was looking for it, but I found my new favorite condiment in this arugula walnut pesto! I think I overdid the traditional basil and pine nut pesto, because the past few times I’ve had it, I just wasn’t excited by the flavor, but the peppery-ness of the arugula and parmesan combined with the savory walnuts and olive oil and the zing of fresh garlic allows this pesto to brighten any dish, creating the perfect cure for grey days when you’re faced with another late spring snow!

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I have to admit, I didn’t go to the grocery store with arugula on my list and the intention of making this pesto, but when a super-sized container of arugula landed in our fridge,  I was looking for a way to use it up!

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Notes about Macarons

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

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We decided to end our season of nuts with the fanciest and fussiest of all nutty desserts, the macaron. We’re talking French macarons here, the kind made with egg whites and ground almonds, not the double-o macaroons made with coconut. But a funny thing about this food post : we don’t include a recipe! As the title suggests, we’re sharing our baking notes about this fickle treat, because while they may cause us to get flustered while baking, we’re not going to stop trying to perfect our technique any time soon!

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I have to admit, I don’t remember where I had my first macaron, but what I do remember is the perfectly light and delicious almond flavor and the cookie’s combination of crunchy exterior and soft and chewy interior. Something I’ve been trying to recreate ever since.

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Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

With summer approaching I began fantasizing about the hiking, camping, and other outside fun that we’re going to have. I also started thinking about snack ideas for those adventures, and having nuts on hand are a great, healthy option, but to keep things interesting, I like to swap out basic roasted nuts for this sweet and spicy option. A bag of roasted or spiced nuts holds up much better than our favorite fruit and nut snack bars, when stuffed into a pack, but those snack bars do make a great fast breakfast when you’re running out the door to get an early start on that hike!

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Walnut Oil Wood Balm

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments! Today we’re finally getting crafty (sort of)!

***ETA : We now have 2 and 4 oz jars of walnut oil wood balm available in our shop.***

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All of us have at least a few wooden items in our kitchen, likely a couple of spoons and a cutting board. Maybe you also have a wooden salad bowl? How about some fancy wood-handled serving pieces? All of these items could use some moisture to keep them looking and functioning at their best. If your spoons are looking dull and your cutting board is starting to crack, then this post is for you!

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At a bare minimum, you could rub some olive oil into your wood pieces. I used to do this, but I found that that technique never lasted that long, especially for the cooking spoons and cutting boards that I’m using every day. Then, about four years ago I came across 3191’s post about spoon oil. What is spoon oil? It’s really more of a balm and is made by mixing melted beeswax with a food-safe oil. Once the mixture cools, it turns from a liquid state into the balm.

I used the mineral oil-based spoon oil for years now, and it worked well, but I still felt like my wooden pieces needed it sooner than I would have expected. Well, after a bit of research, I learned why! When applied, the mineral oil keeps the spoon oil in a soft state, which is good and bad. This is great for wooden counter tops and butcher blocks that you wipe down, but don’t wash with soap and water every day. The liquid state of the mineral oil allows the compound to soak deeper into the wood, especially with each new application. But, the soft nature of the mineral oil means that it’s easier to wash off and doesn’t hold up as well on the items that you wash nearly every day.

What’s the solution? Walnut oil!

After walnut oil soaks into the wood, due to a reaction with the air, it hardens, making it more resistant to repeated washings. You could use walnut oil on its own (many people do!), but I like using it in the balm as the beeswax adds another layer of protection to the wood. The curing of the walnut oil also stops it from turning rancid, which can be an issue with other kitchen oils.

Making the wood balm is super easy: just follow a 1:4 ratio of beeswax to oil. For example, to make this batch I used 2 ounces of beeswax and 8 ounces of walnut oil. Make an improvised double boiler by placing a mason jar or a glass measuring cup in a pot of simmering water. Place the beeswax and oil in the glass vessel and allow them to warm until the wax melts. Once it the wax has melted, be sure to give the mixture a good stir and take it off the heat. If you used a glass measuring cup for the double boiler, you’ll want to pour the wood balm into a storage container while it’s still a liquid (if you used a mason jar, you can just allow the balm to cool within that jar for easy storage).  I use a thrifted crock for my balm, adding a new batch without bothering to completely clean out remnants from the previous batch.

**It’s essential to warm both the beeswax and the oil. If you don’t warm the oil, when you mix both together the room temp oil will cause the beeswax to immediately solidify, and they won’t blend together. Of course, if this happens to you, it’s not a problem – just place the whole mixture back in the double boiler and let the wax melt again.

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Once made, using the balm is so easy. Just rub a thin layer over your wooden pieces and let them sit overnight, allowing some of the excess balm soak into the wood. I’m so lazy that I pile up my “sticky” pieces and let them sit until I have the time to polish them.

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When it’s time to polish, I use a basic cloth diaper to wipe of the excess balm and give the pieces a shine. Side note : I’ve never used the cloth diapers for actual diapering, but find them to be so helpful around the house, particularly for cleaning. I keep my polishing cloth with the crock of balm, reusing it multiple times.  The cloth covered with excess balm serves double duty as a polishing cloth for other wooden items in our house (for example, we have a few wooden buddha statues that get a quick wood balm rub once in a while). And that’s that, a super simple, completely safe balm that nourishes your wooden kitchen utensils, the same ones that you use to nourish your family! xo

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

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For a few years now, we’ve kept a steady supply of the white chocolate macadamia nut Cliff bars in the house. They’re mainly purchased as a quick snack for Calder to take along on bike rides, but honestly, we all love them (even, or especially, Alex) as a quick treat now and then. We also used to pick up more flavors in the past, but over time we finally gave in and admitted that the only flavor we truly loved was the white chocolate macadamia. When I packed one in our bag for the park last weekend, I started to think about how it’s been way too long since I’ve actually had a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie, and it was time to put the Cliff bar down and remedy that. This was the result, and it’s delicious!

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While writing this post, I became curious about the history of the white chocolate and macadamia nut pairing, but information was really hard to come by. The cookie doesn’t even have it’s own wikipedia page, rather it’s just listed as a variant of the chocolate chip cookie! When I mentioned this to Calder, his response was “but it’s so much more than that”, and I couldn’t agree more. Somewhere, someone came up with this fantastic flavor pairing, and it’s time to recognize their genius.

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Hazelnut Liqueur

Nuts are our ingredient of the season.  Dips, cookies, and snack bars, are just a sampling of our many nutty posts. Today, we’re finally combining them with alcohol!

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It’s been a long time since I’ve had Frangelico or any other hazelnut liqueur, but with nuts as our featured ingredient, it was high time that I tried making my own! While doing some research for this project, I came across a Serious Eats article that encourages anyone interested to make their own rather than buy, and I couldn’t agree more. The pure hazelnut flavor really shines through, and I really appreciate being able to taylor the sweetness to my liking, which is often less than store-bought liqueurs.

After liking what Serious Eats’ encouragement to make the liqueur, I clicked through to their recipe and also liked the simplicity of that, so I used it and that’s what you see reprinted below. Making this liqueur couldn’t be easier, it’s the waiting that’s hard. While I want to say it “only” involves three to four weeks of wait-time, that’s three (or four) too many, and I think you’ll agree once you see my new favorite treat below. I say four weeks, because I was supposed to go on to steps 2 and 3 while our family was in town, and I completely forgot! As a result, I had about an extra week of the hazelnuts steeping in the alcohol, but the flavor is that delicious and strong that I have no regrets… although I’m not sure if I’ll be able to wait that long the second time I make this.

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Creamy Cashew Fruit Dip

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

Yesterday was the cake, and today we’re going to share a recipe for the cashew cream that we served at the party. If you’ve been paying attention, then you’ve noticed that we published a cashew crema recipe last week. Today’s cashew cream recipe is very similar, but rather than a savory condiment, this is a lightly sweet dip that’s perfect when paired with fruit.

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First an aside : two weeks ago while Sarah was visiting, there were many moments when our response to someone or our contribution to the conversation was exactly the same (wether we were responding with a grunt, a laugh, an “ooh”, or with actual words like “no way”). It was equally hilarious and spooky. And our cashew cream recipes are yet another example of us wanting to do the exact same thing at the same moment, let’s ignore the fact that it involved nuts and our mom would suggest that we’re both a bit nuts. 

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Nutty Links

Hey all you nuts!  We heard some pretty interesting stuff about almonds, pecans, walnuts and the rest of the gang lately and we wanted to share it here.  As we thought about past stories to feature, we realized most of them are from the same news site; the research is funded by a variety of sources though.  After reading through these links, you could probably guess what station our car radios are tuned to right now!

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Walnuts improve brain performance!

Apparently a handful of nuts a day keeps the doctor away.

If you listen to NPR regularly, you may have heard the story about almonds drain on California’s already stressed water supply. They may use a lot of water, but as others are reporting, per calorie of food produced, using water to raise beef or dairy cattle is less efficient per calorie.

In Texas, groves of wild pecan trees are being cut down and plowed over to make room for specialty pecan orchards that are favored in Chinese markets.  Unfortunately this means the future of the wild pecan tree, which is also the state tree of Texas, is being threatened.

If you’re a sad sufferer of nut allergies, you may live to see a solution. Three cheers for molecular biologists!

As you know, we’re a fan of nut butters, especially homemade nutella.  This nut butter cookbook looks like an intriguing kitchen companion.

We’ll leave you with this delicious looking peanut butter snack cake by one of the cutest cooking bloggers we follow.

Happy Monday!

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Homemade Nutella

 Nuts are our ingredient of the season. You can visit our full archive of nut posts here.

When we picked nuts as our ingredient of the season, I was excited because I knew it would encourage me to try some new recipes, and this homemade nutella is the perfect example. We are a nutella-loving household, but I had never thought to make my own until now.

liveseasoned_spring2015_nutella2-1024x834 copyIf you aren’t familiar with Nutella, it’s a chocolate and hazelnut-based spread from Italy. The original recipes consisted of mostly chocolate and hazelnut, but unfortunately the main ingredients for the modern recipe are sugar and palm oil. And that’s why this is a treat worth making at home, because as you’ll see, this recipe has a solid base of hazelnuts and chocolate. Of course, it also means that making this batch will cost more than picking up a jar from your local market, particularly if you buy quality hazelnuts and choclate, but I think you’ll discover that it’s worth the price. Additionally, jars of homemade nutella make great gifts from the kitchen {in fact, if only I had thought about it sooner, this would have been the perfect treat for Easter baskets!}.

Homemade Nutella

Homemade Nutella

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate
  • 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Toast the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet in a 350F oven. Be sure to stir them every few minutes, and they will be done when they just start to brown and their skins blister (may take anywhere from 7-10 minutes).
  2. Once done, immediately pour the nuts onto a clean kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. It's ok if some skins remain stuck to the nuts. Let them cool completely before using.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (we like to use a pyrex measuring cup in a pot of simmering water).
  4. In a food processor, finely grind the hazelnuts until they begin to form a paste. Add the oil, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla, and continue processing until the mixture is as smooth as possible. Add the melted chocolate and blend well.
  5. If there are any chunks of hazelnuts, strain them out. The nutella will be thin and runny until it cools. It will keep on the counter for up to two weeks (if it lasts that long!).
http://liveseasoned.com/homemade-nutella/

It’s common to spread nutella on toast, but that doesn’t interest me. I prefer it with a banana or on a scoop of vanilla ice cream. How do you eat your nutella? Straight from the spoon?

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Black Walnut Shortbread Cookies

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. You can see our full archive of nut posts here!

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We have the perfect treat to compliment all of the sugar and chocolate that is sure to be passed around this weekend : black walnut shortbread cookies. Sure, shortbread cookies have quite a bit of butter, but a little fat never hurts, and with only a half cup of sugar in this batch, they help to balance those peep and jellybean filled baskets.

Since we’re all about nuts this season, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to talk about walnut varieties. If you’re eating a walnut right now, chances are it’s an English walnut, also known as a common, Persian, and California walnut. That variety is native to the Eastern hemisphere from China through parts of the Middle East (where it’s Persian name comes from), was spread throughout the world on English trading ships (thus the English moniker), and by the 1700s was being grown in groves in California! If you’ve eaten a walnut, it’s likely that it was the milder common walnut rather than the black walnut used in today’s recipe.

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