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Author: Talia

Peanut Butter + Berry Smoothie Bowl

Peanut Butter + Berry Smoothie Bowl

Yes, the smoothie bowl obsession continues! and yes, I’m still sneaking veggies into them. #sorrynotsorry

So the premise of this post is really simple: I’ve been hooked on this smoothie bowl combo for the last couple of weeks and wanted to share it with the world, so that YOU too could join the club! What is this club, you ask? Why SBAA, of course… Smoothie Bowl Addicts Anonymous.

Pretty clever, I know.

Peanut Butter Berry Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been trying to incorporate more vegetables into my morning smoothie bowl routine. Believe me, it’s not that I don’t love my veggies (especially when burnt to a crisp), it’s just that I love my sweets equally — and if I don’t make a conscious effort to include something of substance in my breakfasts, I’d end up with a bowl full of what might otherwise be chocolate and bread and nut butters and donuts.

Which actually sounds delicious, now that you mention it…. donut-themed smoothie bowl, anyone? Is that a thing? If not, CAN it be thing?! Oh, pinterest…. !

Peanut Butter Berry Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Soooo… all this talk of veggies (and donuts) and you’re probably wondering what the heck I snuck into this glorious berry bowl. I bet you’ll never guess that…. it’s CAULIFLOWER! I’ve been steaming a couple of bags of organic frozen cauliflower on Sundays, and then tossing them in the freezer to use throughout the week in my smoothies. I promise that you literally can’t taste it — but it feels SO GOOD to know that I’m starting my day with a flavor-packed kick of vitamins (C, K and B6) and minerals (magnesium, potassium, manganese).

Cauliflower notwithstanding, this smoothie bowl is actually more of a dark chocolate, nut butter and mixed berry variety…. but thought that name was a biiiiiit too long, no? Like most of the smoothies I make, this one is incredibly versatile. In fact, I encourage you to add/adjust to your liking! I typically use organic frozen berries, cacao powder and peanut butter, but you can definitely substitute your favorite nut butter and opt for a dark (or regular) cocoa powder instead. Or don’t use chocolate at all (but just don’t tell me about it, because I think that’s weird). OR double the chocolate and peanut butter, and call it a peanut butter cup smoothie bowl!  GENIUS.

Peanut Butter Berry Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Also, I’m currently in the midst of a month-long elimination diet, during which I’m avoiding foods with gluten, dairy, corn or soy. Basically…. it’s my worst nightmare. But I’ve spent years dealing with on and off stomach issues, and I guess it’s about time I figure out what the culprit is. That said, I’ve excluded my usual 1/2 cup of greek yogurt from this recipe. However, I’ve made it before both with and without the yogurt, and it’s equally as delicious either way.

Peanut Butter + Berry Smoothie Bowl
 
Prep Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Yield: 1 smoothie bowl
Ingredients
  • ½ cup organic frozen cauliflower
  • ½ cup organic frozen mixed berries
  • 1 banana
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon cacao powder (or unsweetened dark cocoa powder)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to your blender or magic bullet; blend for 1-2 minutes or until smooth (I typically blend until I hear that the last bits of the frozen cauliflower are completely broken up, and then blend for another minute or so longer).
Notes / Variations
Optional add-ins: ¼ cup greek yogurt, 1 teaspoon acai powder, 1 scoop collagen peptides


Goodies on top: granola, unsweetened coconut, fruit, cacao nibs, bee pollen, hemp seeds, chia seeds and (more) nut butter
Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 1 smoothie bowl Calories: 546 Fat: 34.7g Carbohydrates: 51.8g Sugar: 25.8 Sodium: 66mg Fiber: 11.2g Protein: 19.7g

So go forth and enjoy this secretly nutritious bowl of peanut butter berry goodness! And then go enjoy something with gluten, dairy, corn or soy for me while you’re at it, mmk?

#onlythreeweekstogo #killingmeslowly

Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Quinoa Crack

Quinoa Crack

Soooooo you guys might not realize this about me, buuuut…… true life: I’m a closet eater. Which is kind of similar to My 600 Pound Life… except a little different.

Actually, it’s not the same at all. But I guess when your mom is borderline addicted to every TLC and A&E series documenting people’s life issues, you can’t help but relate everything that happens on a daily basis to one of those damn shows. Especially Hoarders… Mom, I’m talking to YOU here. THROW AWAY THOSE DAMN MEASURING CUPS.

But what I mean to say is that if there were a show about closet eating, I’d be on it. Don’t get me wrong, I sure put on a good show when I’m with my friends (“…oh boy, SO full. totally gonna stop snacking now, guys!”), but alas — they are all lies. LIES I TELL YOU.

Well, mostly lies. I probably AM full — but I’m certainly not going to stop snacking. Nope, not a chance. I’m actually just going to head home and eat basically everything in sight, until I’m so full I can barely breathe and I’m left sitting on my kitchen floor, questioning every last one of my life choices that has brought me to that point.


Dramatic, I know. but I just LOVE food, you guys! Like, really love it. If there were a way to continuously eat all day long without ever getting full (or becoming morbidly obese… helloooo, My 600 Pound Life), I’d be 100% on board. Is that so wrong?!
You might say, ‘Talia, why don’t you just stop eating when you’re full?’. Well, because don’t you know that being hungry or full has nothing to do with whether or not I want to eat?! Also, I’m pretty sure there’s no sensor between my stomach and my brain that tells me when I need to stop eating and just sit on my hands instead. I think what I need is someone to follow me around all day, telling me how much to eat and when. A life coach, maybe! You know, like that Subway commercial (cracks me up every damn time).

Quinoa Crack | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Now that I’ve gone off on a pretty rad tangent, let me circle back and actually get to the point: I’ve finally found something to snack on that not only satisfies my sweet tooth, but also has a decent amount of nutritional value. My mini-me cousin, Elizabeth (she’s literally me, but 9 years younger – it’s terrifying), made this for Christmas last year and I was immediately addicted – hence the name “quinoa crack”.

One of my favorite bloggers, Dana, is the mastermind behind this recipe. Everything she makes is delicious — and simple. I highly recommend you check out her blog, Minimalist Baker. Her original name for this recipe is quinoa brittle — you know, the whole nuts + melted butter, baked and broken up into bite-sized pieces thing. She’s swapped out the unhealthy ingredients (i.e., all of them) and replaced them with some seriously good-for-you options. There’s lots of protein and fiber in the oats and chia seeds, and both are high in antioxidants as well. And quinoa? You’ve got (more) protein, fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium…. the list literally goes on forever.

So basically what I’m saying here is that this quinoa brittle (crack) is your new protein bar.

Quinoa Crack | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Okay, don’t quote me on that. Actually…. forget I said it altogether. I don’t need you overdosing on this ish and then blaming me when you need be put in rehab (you know, rehab for quinoa addicts. because that’s a thing.. welcome to my brain).

But seriously. There’s something about the light / nutty / sweet / salty flavor that keeps me coming back for more… and more and more. Another bonus: it’s super easy to throw together! You can have freshly baked quinoa brittle on your table in less than a half hour. Perfect for a last minute party snack or even as gifts (I miiiiight be planning for Christmas 2017 already…. I’m a sicko, I know).

So before I let you run off, I have a few quick tips:

  • Brown sugar can always be substituted for coconut sugar, since most people I know I don’t typically have coconut sugar on hand.
  • Really make sure to spread the (uncooked) mixture as evenly as possible to ensure even cooking throughout; I’ve found that about 1/4 inch in thickness is the magic number.
  • After the first 15 minutes, be sure to turn the cookie sheet in the oven and cook for at least another 5 minutes. I usually need another minute or two beyond that, but always watch the brittle like a hawk after this point — ‘perfectly cooked’ can turn into ‘badly burnt’ in a matter of seconds.
  • I’ve made a couple of batches where, a few minutes into baking, there seems to be excess liquid that pools in one or two areas. The brittle ends up spreading thinner in those sections and becomes slightly more caramelized than the rest. I assure you – the whole batch is not lost! You may actually enjoy these caramelized pieces — just be sure not to let it burn!
  • I’ve tried adding vanilla to this recipe multiple times (both in extract and paste form), just for an extra kick of flavor — and each time, the liquid-to-solid ratio gets really effed up for some reason. I’ve even had to toss an entire batch of the brittle for this reason! So if anyone is able to successfully incorporate vanilla into this recipe, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I must learn your secrets.

Quinoa Crack | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Now that you have all the tools for quinoa crack greatness, I dismiss you to the kitchen!

Quinoa Crack
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Yield: 15-18 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup uncooked white quinoa
  • ¾ cup pecans, chopped
  • ¼ cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a small (ish) baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine quinoa, pecans, oats, chia seeds, coconut sugar and sea salt in a medium bowl, mixing well.
  3. Add coconut oil and maple syrup to a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the coconut oil has melted. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir until (very) thoroughly combined.
  4. Gently dump the mixture onto the parchment paper and spread with a metal spoon. Try to make sure it's even as possible, to avoid burning on the edges - between ¼ - ½ inch thick all the way around seems to do the trick.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking sheet. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the entire thing starts to turn a deep golden brown. After the first 15 minutes, I typically set my timer for 5 minutes, then check every minute after that to make sure I catch it before it starts to burn. The edges may appear to be slightly darker than the center, which is normal.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes and then break apart with your fingers into bite-sized pieces. Store at room temperature for up to a week - if they last that long!
Notes / Variations
Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 2-3 pieces (of about 30) Calories: 117 Fat: 6.5g Carbohydrates: 13.3g Sugar: 6.5g Sodium: 23mg Fiber: 2g Protein: 2.2g

….just promise you’ll save a few pieces for me? I just ate the last of the three batches I made this past weekend.

#truelifeimacloseteater

Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl

True to form, I was late to the smoothie bowl party. Which in itself is actually sort of surprising, since I have a sweet tooth like no other and smoothie bowls are inherently right up my donut-lined, chocolate-lovin’ alley.

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

I’ve never been one to crave eggs for breakfast. As a child, I always chose the sweetened cereals, chocolate chip pancakes, waffles or pop-tarts (when I was allowed). As an adult, I’ve modified my choices slightly to accommodate a little more nutritional value, and will often rotate between overnight oats, quinoa almond pancakes, chia ‘pudding’ or greek yogurt topped with tons of goodies.

I first started making smoothie bowls a couple of years ago — back when acai bowls were also majorly popular. I totally fell into the trap — I mean, who would turn down a beautifully vibrant, creamy bowl of delicious fruit, topped with allllll the goods?! So I found myself some acai (more on that in a post to come!), purchased a Costco-sized bag of organic mixed berries (thanks, Dad!) and went on a smoothie bowl kick like no other.

Initially, my bowls were filled with bananas, berries, mangoes, pineapple – the sweetest of all fruits. I would top them with homemade granola, mini chocolate chips, sweetened coconut flakes… do you see where I’m going with this? It doesn’t take long to realize that I have a WICKED sweet tooth – and it’s especially bad first thing in the morning. However, it’s been ingrained in my brain since the dawn of time that you really shouldn’t start your day with such sweet, sugar-laden foods, so I’ve tried to be better about cutting down on all that fruit first thing in the morning and instead incorporating more protein, whole grains and veggies into my breakfast.

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

That said, this particular smoothie bowl combination has become one of my favorites. My bowls almost always start with the same base ingredients: a banana, greek yogurt and some nut butter. The real kicker in this one is the addition of half a sweet potato, which packs a nutrient-filled punch and takes the flavor to another level. Sweet potatoes are super good for you and chock full of vitamins — C, D, B6, iron, manganese, potassium and magnesium, to name a few. I usually add a teaspoon or two of honey or maple syrup for some sweetness, but definitely feel better about enjoying this smoothie bowl on repeat each morning with the not-so-subtle inclusion of a veggie.

I actually see all-veggie smoothie bowls plastered all over social media constantly, but haven’t yet gathered the courage to throw half a zucchini in the blender or try out an intimidating ‘green’ bowl. Baby steps, my friends! However, I’ve recently started venturing out into the big, bad world of potions – so keep an eye out for another (lengthy!) post on all that good (for you) stuff :)

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Buuuuut why smoothie bowls, you may ask? Why not a regular old smoothie (you know, like a normal person)?! Just personal preference, I guess! This may sound weird as all hell a little odd, but I crave foods that I can chew. It’s rare that I make soup and have never been into the whole juicing thing — except for that one time Peter and I tried to create our own juice cleanse…. without a juicer. You literally don’t want to know the details. Let’s just say that neither of us could even so much as look at a beet for a solid six months.

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Anywho! Speaking of preferences – smoothie bowls are completely customizable, which is another reason I love ’em so much! I happen to like mine thick AF, and so I use as little liquid as possible — well, as little liquid as my Magic Bullet will allow. But if you want yours to be a bit thinner, simply add more liquid!

The recipe I’ve provided below calls for milk, which is another ingredient you can play around with. We typically have dairy-free milk in the Bartash household, so I’ll just use whatever is handy: almond, cashew, coconut. Regular (dairy) milk works just fine too. Sometimes I’ll even nix the milk altogether, and instead use the liquid whey that forms on top of my greek yogurt – the perfect way to sneak in a smidgen more protein, potassium and calcium!

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

If this is your first time making a smoothie bowl, please feel free to opt out of using the sweet potatoes — it took me years to make this leap! I’d suggest substituting 1/2 cup of your favorite berries instead – heck, you’re still getting some pretty damn important health benefits. Did you know that berries are packed with antioxidants and are also a great source of fiber?! BOOM.

Sweet Potato Almond Butter Smoothie Bowl
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Yield: 1 smoothie bowl
Ingredients
  • ¾ banana
  • ½ sweet potato, cooked & cooled
  • ½ cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • splash of almond milk
  • pinch of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Using a blender or your Magic Bullet, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Top with your favorite goodies (see Notes below).
Notes / Variations
My favorite goodies include: unsweetened coconut, granola, fruit, cacao nibs, bee pollen, hemp seeds, chia seeds and nut butter.

Make this recipe completely dairy-free by using a lactose-free yogurt - So Delicious has some yummy options.
Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 1 Calories: 511 Fat: 25.4g Carbohydrates: 51.7g Sugar: 29g Sodium: 82mg Fiber: 7.9g Protein: 26.4g

Now go make yourself a thick ass smoothie bowl! and yes, I’ll let you kids know when I finally man up and ‘go green’.

Confessions of a Midnight Baker

 

 

 

Life Lately {Winter 2017 Edition}

Life Lately {Winter 2017 Edition}

Oh hayyyyyy, my friends! Is anyone still out there?

…crickets…

If not, I get it. I’ve been a liiiiiitle MIA lately…. ‘lately’ being the last year (or three). To my credit, we (Peter and I) have been quite busy! Between planning a DIY wedding for 265 (plus!) of our closest family & friends + enjoying a mini-moon in the Pacific Northwest + buying our first home + moving to/discovering East Boston + adventuring for two weeks in Southeast Asia + building a real estate empire (I kid… mostly) — the last two years have been incredibly busy.

oh, and not to mention SO. FREAKIN. AWESOME.

Bagan, Myanmar

This is just one of the insanely cool places we got to see during our trip to Southeast Asia – we visited the city of Bagan, Myanmar and explored a few of its 2,000+ temples. The landscape is crazy, amiright?! We honestly must have taken thousands of photos during our two-week long adventure. I’ve actually managed to go through the ones on my DSLR (probably 1,500 or so!), and have uploaded some of my favorites to share with you guys!

Checkity checkkkk them out HERE!! enjoy :)

Phang Nga Bay

That said, our travels and adventures have left me with lots of great stories and delicious new recipes to share! Thai food, anyone?! :)

Howevaaahh – before we can get there, I need to finish our taxes, clean up/organize the”office” (i.e., our junk room that one day might be turned into an office), finish our wedding thank yous (I WISH I WERE JOKING #wearetheworst) anddddd catch up on our personal finances for the last 9 months. Yup, real life.

adulthood. COOL.

In the meantime, I’m going to take you guys on a virtual food tour of East Boston! As I’m sure I’ve mentioned once or twice, our ‘hood is chock full of delicious, authentic Latin American food — and so much more. Peter and I (along with some old – and new! – friends) have made an effort to step outside of our comfort zone as often as possible over the last fourteen months, and to try as many different restaurants in the neighborhood as we can – without going broke, of course. So I’ve put together a list of our favorites for you – along with a novel of reasons as to why you should try them all. right. now.

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Angela’s Cafe | 131 Lexington Street -or- 1012 Bennington Street

True to form, I’m too impatient to save the best for last – Angela’s is so good that I have to share it with you immediately. IMMEDIATELY (I’m channeling Principal Carr in Mean Girls here). If you’re looking for homemade, authentic, DELICIOUS Mexican food, Angela’s is the answer. Peter ate here once or twice before we moved in, and was confident that I’d love it — he was not wrong. I’d say we probably went to Angela’s at least once every other week for the first few months we lived here. Basically regulars, nbd. I’ve introduced it to a ton of my friends, and they are borderline obsessed — no joke, I’m pretty sure they come visit me in EB primarily to go to Angela’s (don’t worry, Jodi, I’m not offended).

So, let’s talk food. Their brunch is baller — lunch/dinner is unreal — AND they have a killer sangria (to be enjoyed at any meal, obvi). I’ve tried a number of different dishes, each one just as delicious as the last. My personal favorite is their chilaquiles, which is a mish-mosh of corn tortillas, Angela’s red or green sauce (you choose the spiciness!), pulled chicken, queso fresco, refried beans, raw onion slices and avocado – all topped with eggs cooked to your liking. I prefer sunny side up – because what’s better than gooey egg yolk mixing in with this delicousness?! Nothing, that’s what.

Also important: Angela’s food doesn’t make you feel gross like that Border Cafe/Margarita’s bullshit – it is the real freakin’ deal. Everything is cooked from scratch and has that ‘homemade meal’ comfort and flavor. If there’s only one restaurant you try in EB, make it Angela’s.

BONUS: this place was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives wayyy back in the day. Guy’s face is even on the wall!

Rino’s Place | 258 Saratoga Street

Here’s another DDD special to check out (EB is full of ’em, huh) – and yet another restaurant that Peter tried first (without me…. are you sensing a trend here?!). Oddly enough, DDD is actually how I heard about Rino’s in the first place! I watched Guy learn how their lobster ravioli is made and was hooked immediately – I knew that I needed to try this place. However, there’s a catch – Rino’s is ALWAYS PACKED. Legit, always. They only take reservations for parties of 6 or more (and book out months in advance) and — I kid you not — I’ve waited 2.5 hours to be seated before.

On a Wednesday.

Yea, it’s that good.

Note that this is coming from a girl who does NOT like to wait for her food (because yes, hangry is a thing) – but believe me, Rino’s is worth every second of the wait. And it’s not just the homemade lobster ravioli that keeps people coming back — it’s the fresh pasta made in-house everyday, the portion sizes made for a family of 12, the heavenly sauce (this coming from an Italian who doesn’t even like red sauce i.e. gravy!), the generous pours and the cozy atmosphere (with a decibel level that could possibly leave you with tinnitus for a couple of days). Not to mention the staff, who you can’t help but have a love-hate relationship with by the end of the night.

Without fail, I always leave Rino’s full to my eyeballs, slightly buzzed, partially deaf, sore from laughing, and all warm & fuzzy with that feeling like I just had dinner with 30 of my closest friends… who I just met that night.  What’s not to love?!

Maverick Marketplace Cafe | 154 Maverick Street

andddddd we’re 3 for 3! Peter tried Maverick Marketplace multiple times before he invited me to join him I decided to tag along. Nope, no… not bitter at all.

So this place is the neighborhood joint that every twenty…. er, thirty-something dreams of (thank you, Friends, for setting unrealistic neighborhood/friend goals). Their burgers (and all their food, really) are bomb, the beer list is constantly changing and has something for everyone AND they have live music. Live music from local artists (!!!). Seriously… it’s the cutest and I’m obsessed. GO THERE. The end.

D’Parma | 182 Sumner Street

Yes, there’s another Italian restaurant on this list. It may not be Rino-level Italian food, but it’s damn good… surprisingly good, even. D’Parma’s is a little conflicting, I must admit — the menu (and most of the wine list) is Italian, the waitstaff are speaking Spanish AND English, there’s always some sporting event on tv (often with Spanish captions) and there’s a mural-sized painting of the Eiffel Towel on the swing door to the kitchen.

*tilts head to side and slow blinks*

Despite being… eclectic, to say the least, D’Parma’s has become another favorite of ours. Their East Boston location (there’s another in Winthrop) is open late — until 2am! — so it’s the perfect place to go for a late night meal, complete with warm bread + olive oil, a bottle of wine (or two) and some solid people watching.

Roy’s Cold Cuts | 198 Marion Street

This place has been around for ages – and is worth the visit even if just to step inside its doors and back in time a couple of decades. The walls (and counter tops and shelves and ceiling) are adorned with 60’s memorabilia – complete with photos of Roy + family posing with the various celebrities that have visited this fifty-something year old sub shop over the years. And get this – there is a legitimate wall of nostalgic candy. #winning

There are breakfast sandwiches and lunch sandwiches, sides and salads (though I use that term loosely), pizza and even some pasta. I dare you to check out their sandwich list and choose just one – there are seemingly hundreds of delicious options, each one more drool-worthy than the last. There’s the ‘Royben’, the shop’s take on the classic Reuben. The ‘Godfather’, a monstrosity of prosciutto, chicken cutlet, tomato, mozz and roasted red pepper. The ‘Peppacheddaturkachini’ which includes all its ingredients in its name (impressive, I know). There’s a favorite of Peter’s, the ‘Which Came First?’ – chicken cutlet with over easy eggs, smothered in american cheese. Plus a personal favorite – ‘The Edward Wolfgang Muenster’, a meatless sammie with fried eggplant, banana peppers, avocado, tomato and muenster cheese. I don’t often eat sandwiches like Roy’s offers, but I promise you they are worth every last damn artery-clogging calorie.

You should also check out Phantom Gourmet’s visit to Roy’s — once you see the sandwiches, you’ll get it.

KO Pies | 256 Marginal Street

Two words: meat pie. No No no, not that kind of meat pie (gross) — we’re talking Australian meat pies. and veggie pies! If you’ve never had one, you MUST try KO’s. Their pies are warm, savory and jam-packed with flavor – and juuuust the right size to finish one yourself and be happily overstuffed. Their East Boston location is pretty small — small enough that there always seems to be a line out the door and around the corner (no joke – especially in the summer). But they have a covered outdoor space that’s both dog- and family-friendly, with games and just enough picnic tables to ensure that you’ll be forced to make new friends every time you’re there.

Also, beware: if you’re coming from the Maverick side of Marginal street, it’s creepy and confusing as fk to enter the shipyard through what seems, at first sight, to be a security entrance. I’m pretty sure it’s not (anymore) and urge you to forge ahead — you’ll hear laughter and catch a whiff of a freshly baked meat pie soon enough, a sure sign that you’re in the right place.

Rincón Limeño | 409 Chelsea Street

And last, but certainly not least, we have another restaurant serving authentic Latin American cuisine — Rincón Limeño serves up Peruvian food, heavy in rice, beans, potatoes and FLAVOR. Some of the traditional Peruvian dishes served here include Lomo Saltado (marinated meat with fried potatoes, veggies and rice), Tacu Tacu (pan fried rice and beans) and Bistec a lo Pobre (steak, fried potatoes and onions – otherwise known as ”poor man’s steak”). Many of the dishes are comprised of pretty basic ingredients, but the seasonings and spices used are really what pack a punch. OH! and when you go, you MUST try the ceviche — it is truly out of this world.

One last thing to note — we learned the hard way that Rincón Limeño is one of those places whose aroma sticks with you. So plan accordingly and wear clothes you won’t mind tossing directly in the laundry! Unless of course you want to smell like Peruvian food for the next 24 hours. I mean, there are worst things, right?

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welp, now I’m drooling. I urge you guys to try one (or all) of these places ASAP. and, uh…. let me know if you want any company! I’ll be there with bells on — plus an empty stomach and lots of suggestions :)

Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Andddd just like that, six months have passed.

Is this how it’s gonna be, you guys? Days, weeks, months fly by without even realizing it?! In case you haven’t noticed (I’m sure you haven’t), it’s been like six months since I’ve posted anything in this little corner of mine on the interwebs.

IS THIS WHAT GETTING OLD FEELS LIKE?!?

30

Yea? Well…. okay.

#thisis30

Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, let’s talk food. To be honest, I’ve been in sort of a food rut lately. I mean, it hasn’t gotten bad enough that Peter has had to make himself eggs + avocado every night for dinner — buuuut I’m fairly confident that I’ve made tacos at least once a week since Cinco de Mayo. and not like a diverse selection of creative and mouthwatering-ly delicious taco variations – I’m talking plain ol’ boring beef tacos. It’s Taco Tuesday in the Barbano household…  every Tuesday. Yea, it’s that bad.

On top of that, any new recipes I’ve tried have just…. well… failed. Miserably, at that. For instance, the other night I decided to try out Minimalist Baker’s recipe for Crispy Hash Brown Haystacks. They look delicious – and easy! I mean, seven ingredients can’t be too hard, right?

WRONG-O.

True to form, I failed to follow directions exactly as written. To start, I opted for sweet potatoes instead of russet. No big deal, you say – that can’t possibly have ruined the haystacks, right?! Well no, but I decided to shred instead of grate them and then didn’t completely melt the butter before mixing everything together… so long story short, only like four haystacks remained intact. and barely, at that! I ended up with a large tupperware of shredded sweet potatoes, corn and spices… sooo I guess we’re having hash with breakfast for the next three days.

anddd this has basically been the trend all summer. Which is why I’ve been turning to my go-to meals & baked goods anytime we have friends over for dinner or are asked to bring food to a bbq – orrrrr just when making dinner on a Thursday. I’m hoping that the new crop of fall fruits & veggies — which are legit right. around. the. corner. — will bring with them some creativity to my weekly rotation. Along with the cooking skills I’ve clearly misplaced.Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

In the meantime, I’m going to share with you an easy and QUICK recipe for chocolate chip cookies. They’re made with… wait for it… cashew butter!

AND they’re flourless.

AND gluten-free.

AND can easily be made dairy-free (more on that shortly).

wait, whaaaaat?!

Yup, this is real life. As you may remember, I’m alllllll about getting creative and solving food puzzles for friends and family with special dietary needs – you know, like cooking up a dairy-free cheese pizza or figuring out how to bake a delicious gluten-free chocolate chip banana bread. Well, this is another one of those brilliant recipes – and though it’s totally not something I personally developed, the original recipe is really too good to alter.

These chocolate chip cookies are soft and chewy and…. that m-word-which-shall-not-be-named. They are deliciously nutty and a little granular (which sounds weird, but is actually delightful, I promise) – definitely not your average chocolate chip cookie! They might be – dare I say it – better?!

Okay, okay – not quite. But they are awfully addicting (which I miiiight know from personal experience). Bet you can’t have just one.

 Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

So if you’ve never bought cashew butter before, it’s important to understand that its consistency has a huge impact on how your cookies will turn out. The more oil you find when you first open the container, the more likely your dough will be a little wet and the cookies slightly oily after baking. On the other end of the spectrum, Whole Foods has a brand of cashew butter (Woodstock, maybe?) that is incredibly nutty and delicious – but doesn’t have a ton of natural oil. As a result, the cookies don’t spread as much and turn out a lot smaller & denser than the ones in these photos. Neither cashew butter is ‘wrong’ or any less delicious than the other – it’s just something to keep in mind when baking!

I personally LOVE the Trader Joe’s brand – which isn’t surprising, since I’m basically #obsessed with all things Trader Joe’s. Irregardless, their cashew butter (pictured in a photo above) provides the perfect amount of oil, so the cookies spread just enough and have only a tiny bit of oil to the touch. My suggestion is try the recipe a few times with different cashew butters and decide for yourself what you like best about each :)

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Also, as I mentioned earlier, these cookies can easily be made dairy-free! I normally use either semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips – but you may have noticed that the chocolate isn’t very ‘chip-like’ in these photos. I happened to be making this batch for a friend of my mom’s who is currently following a dairy-free diet, and so I had to make a substitution. You can find dairy-free chocolate chips in the natural & organic section of your local grocery store, but I prefer locally-made Taza Chocolate (based in Somerville!), which is an unrefined, stone ground chocolate. They take organic cacao beans and grind them using traditional Mexican stone mills. Their chocolate is minimally processed and – bonus! – naturally gluten and dairy-free. Not to mention, it’s unbelievably flavorful and delicious! If you haven’t already been to their factory for a tour – YOU. MUST. GO.

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Two words: chocolate samples.

(I promise this post isn’t being sponsored by Taza Chocolate OR Trader Joe’s – I just really, really, reallyyy love their products!)

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Yield: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cashew butter
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add all ingredients - except chocolate chips - to a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips by hand, with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  3. Roll into 1-inch balls and place roughly 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 9-10 minutes, until cookies appear to be browning at the edges - they may seem a little soft in the middle, but that is okay!
  4. Cool 5-10 minutes then transfer to wire rack.
Notes / Variations
Make these cookies dairy-free by using a dairy-free chocolate chip instead of dark or semi-sweet. Or, instead of cashew butter, try almond or peanut butter. Also, as with many of my other recipes, brown sugar can always be substituted for the coconut sugar.

Recipe From: Whole and Heavenly Oven | Flourless Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nutrition Information
Serving Size: 1 cookie Calories: 82 Fat: 5.5g Carbohydrates: 7g Sugar: 4.6g Sodium: 138mg Fiber: 0.2g Protein: 2.1g

Oh, and if you guys happen to come across my cooking skillz in your travels, do you mind sending ’em back this way? The struggle is oh-so-real over here.

Confessions of a Midnight Baker