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Homemade Almond Milk (& Almond Flour Crackers)

Homemade Almond Milk (& Almond Flour Crackers)

Welcome to my newest obsession: homemade almond milk!

Homemade Almond Milk | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Because why pay $3.99 for a carton of pre-made, store-bought almond milk when you spend $7.99 on a pound of almonds and make your own at home in a mere 4-6 hours, amiright?! …wait, no? Just me?

Sounds about right.

Homemade Almond Milk | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Okay, okay… I KNOW that it’s a bajillion times easier to just pick up some almond milk during your weekly grocery shopping (Califia Farms is my current fav, in case you’re curious), but it truly isn’t all that difficult to make your own. Bonus: you’ll definitely be able to pronounce all the ingredients AND know for sure that there aren’t any weird, hidden additives (I’m looking at you, carrageenan).

Oh, and it’s a good conversation starter. I mean, how many people do you know who make their own almond milk?

That said, this process doesn’t involve a lot of time — just a little bit of pre-planning, since you have to soak your almonds before blending them into milk. I usually prep my almonds (i.e., dump into a bowl with some water) before I leave for work, so that I can make the milk when I get home. Or if I forgot to set out the almonds for three days in a row before work, I’ll just do it before I go to bed. There’s no harm in letting the almonds soak for longer than the prescribed 4-6 hours — in fact, the longer you soak the almonds, the creamier your milk will be!

Homemade Almond Milk | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Homemade almond milk is also a great excuse to buy yourself a super cute glass bottle, like this one I purchased from Ikea. It also makes me feel kind of nostalgic, like I’ve been transported back to the 1950s and the milkman just delivered our weekly supply of fresh milk.

Weird? Probably a little.

That’s fine. Just go make yourself some damn almond milk, mmk? Then we can chat about my weird housewife fantasies (or not).

Homemade Almond Milk
 
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Yield: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak almonds for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Rinse almonds and add to your Vitamix or other high-powered blender, along with the filtered water and vanilla (if desired).
  3. Blend on medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes and strain through cheesecloth or nut bag (my favorite is Ellie's Best)
  4. Enjoy with cereal, in baked goods, mixed into your smoothie or even on its own! Store in fridge and use within 5-7 days. Shake well before drinking, as the milk tends to separate.
Notes / Variations
Use less filtered water for a slightly thicker, creamier almond milk. Blend in 2 dates or 2 tablespoons of maple syrup for a sweetened almond milk.

Recipe from: Twist of Lemons | Homemade Almond Milk 4 Ways + Almond Flour Crackers

After straining your blended milk through cheesecloth or a nut bag, you really want to make sure to extract as much milk as possible (use those muscles!). This will leave you with a decent amount of leftover almond pulp. What the heck are you supposed to do with all that, you ask?! Never fear, my friends! I come armed with suggestions (shocking, I know) and even a BONUS RECIPE! Gosh, it must be your lucky day!

(or something)

Almond Flour Crackers | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

One option is to store the wet almond meal in your fridge for a couple of days, throwing it into your smoothies or mixing with yogurt or oatmeal.

Another option is to dry it out completely, so that it will last longer and store more easily. To do so, spread the pulp onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 200 degrees F for a couple of hours until completely dry. and voila! You’ve just created your own almond meal, which you can store at room temperature for a few weeks or in the freezer for up to three months. Use it in baked goods, as a crust for chicken, pork or fish or – my personal favorite – make your own rosemary almond flour crackers!

Almond Flour Crackers | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Checkity check out the recipe below ↓

Almond Flour Crackers
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 batch of leftover almond pulp (about 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • desired spices (I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine almond pulp, melted coconut oil and spices in a bowl and mix until crumbly.
  3. Transfer onto the cookie sheet and roll out to roughly ¼ inch thick Use whatever you have available - rolling pin, spoon, your hands. Make sure the edges are even all around, to prevent uneven cooking and/or burning.
  4. While the dough is wet, slice into squares (I find that using a pizza wheel or large knife works best). Bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Flip (carefully!) and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. I like my crackers crispy, so I tend to bake a little longer than necessary.

In less than an hour’s time each week, I can make a fresh batch of vanilla almond milk and some rosemary crackers to snack on throughout the week. Not too shabby! I also highly recommend experimenting with different flavors of almond milk (like chocolate or strawberry!) and changing up your spice combinations in the crackers.

I’d love to know what you guys try :)

Happy blending, my friends!

Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Coconut Gin & Tonic (+ four year blogiversary!)

Coconut Gin & Tonic (+ four year blogiversary!)

Serious question, you guys.

Where THE ACTUAL FK does the time go?! Preeeeetty sure it was just 2016 like yesterday, no?

UGH.

Coconut Gin & Tonic | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

That said, I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes being an adult sucks.

Oh, come on. You know what I’m talking about — ADULTING. It’s seriously the worst. Between all the responsibilities & social obligations, the scrambling around to be on time for meetings & appointments (wait, that’s just me? oh, okay), the bills that literally never seem to stop, the hours (and hours and hours) spent at work… the list goes on. and the time continues to fly!

For the love of all that is good in the world, SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP.

Coconut Gin & Tonic | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

But since that wish is not likely to be granted anytime soon, I guesssss I’ll focus on something else for the time being. Like all the reasons why it’s actually awesome to be an adult! and I’ll be sure to share those reasons with you juuuuust as soon as I come up with a few…

DOUBLE UGH.

I think I’m just bitter right now. and if I had to pinpoint why, it’s probably because it’s been FOUR WHOLE YEARS (!!!) since I started this silly little blog and I’ve posted, what? SIX TIMES?! Alright, maybe seven. My point is that I don’t have nearly enough time in my days to write to you guys regularly and I HATE IT! I mean, I just have SO MUCH I want to share! SO many delicious recipes and tons of cool stuff that I’ve been wanting to tell you ALL ABOUT!

[I’ve literally been living my life in ALL CAPS LATELY AND I’M SORRY BECAUSE IT’S PROBABLY WICKED ANNOYING]

Coconut Gin & Tonic | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

So in celebration of four years of blogging (I use that term loosely), I made you a a drink. and guess what? You can enjoy it WHENEVER you want because — wait for it — YOU’RE AN ADULT!

See what I did there?! Just found my first reason that being an adult is awesome — you can drink any damn time you want (AA, I hear you calling…).

Coconut Gin & Tonic | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

I’ve always been a fan of a classic gin & tonic. Like any respectable young woman, I went through a phase where it became my go-to drink when my friends and I would play at the bars six out of the seven nights a week. I kinda sorta think it stemmed from the fact that it was slightly less than acceptable to drink vodka straight from the bottle while out in public, but that’s neither here nor there, now is it?

Anywho, I’ve since upgraded to scotch and fine wine (you know, ‘cuz I’m cultured and shit), but every so often I get a hankering for a good ol’ G&T.

I discovered my love for coconut water a few years back, and then stumbled across this brilliant combination by Dana (of the Minimalist Baker) — and it was love at first taste. This beverage is a lighter version of your standard gin & tonic, with a refreshing, summery kick of coconut. But mixologists beware: if you don’t like coconut water on its own, chances are slim that you’ll appreciate this drink as much as I’d otherwise hope!

OH, and before I forget to mention…. note that the directions instruct you to STIR and NOT to shake the ingredients. Someone I know miiiiight have had a slight mishap last summer when making a batch of drinks, decided to make multiple coconut G&T’s in a martini shaker to save time and was then left with quite a mess to clean up…

….and that someone might have been me.

Life: 1. Talia: 0.

Coconut Gin & Tonic
 
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Yield: 1 drink
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces coconut water
  • 2 ounces tonic water
  • juice of ½ lime
  • fresh mint (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in your glass and stir to combine; add a large ice cube to chill. Add a sprig of mint and/or a slice of lime for additional flavor.
Notes / Variations

Now go make yourself a drink and let’s cheers to another four (plus!) years of at least a few people reading these occasional ramblings! Oh, and cheers to ADULTING!

On second thought, perhaps you should make it a double…

Confessions of a Midnight Baker

Homemade Salsa

Homemade Salsa

It’s almost tomato season, you guys! Which basically means that it’s ALSO almost the best part of the summer.

You all know what I’m talking about — mid to late August, the days are long, every weekend calls for a beach trip and the humidity sticks in the air for weeks on end. When all you crave is fresh fruit, burgers and ice cream, and there’s nothing a frosty beverage on the beach after a long day can’t cure. It’s this part of the summer EVERY YEAR that without fail makes me wish I lived in a warmer climate so I could enjoy these things all year round.

Homemade Salsa | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

And thennnn the lazy summer days slip away and I see pumpkin / butternut squash EVERYTHING on the increasingly chilly horizon — and so I forge forward with (sea) salty, bittersweet tears into my other favorite season.

But alas, I digress. Back to the topic at hand: tomatoes. In my mind, they’re considered in season from Cinco de Mayo through at least the end of summer — which means we should all have at least six hundred tomato recipes on hand in order to fully take advantage of their summery, tomato-ey goodness (like this cabby salad! and this cherry tomato vinaigrette!). And so, my homemade salsa recipe has been on repeat lately — do I dare say that it’s becoming my signature dish of the summer?! I think so!

Homemade Salsa | Confessions of a Midnight Baker

All it takes is a few ingredients from the grocery store (or your garden, which I hope is doing a little better than mine this year), some knife skills and about fifteen minutes, and you’ve got yourself the perfect addition to Taco Tuesday, a casual gathering or even your post-work/pre-dinner snack. Every time I get together with my girlfriends for wine + snacks at someone’s house, this salsa is requested as part of our spread.

Picture this: an epic cheeseboard, endless bottles of rosé and a few good friends. Literally WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?!

Oh, right. Some chips + homemade salsa. duh.

Homemade Salsa
 
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Ingredients
  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • ½ sweet white onion
  • ¼ red onion
  • juice from ½ of a lime
  • handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Dice tomatoes and onions. Combine in large bowl and add lime juice, cilantro, salt & pepper.
  2. For best flavor, refrigerate salsa for at least 30 minutes before serving in order to to allow the flavors to meld.
Notes / Variations
To add some heat, mix in half a diced jalapeño (with or without seeds, your choice).

Here’s to the long summer days ahead, friends! Be sure to have some salsa (and a beverage) ready at all times.

Confessions of a Midnight Baker

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
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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
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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