Chai Concentrate

This recipe makes 8 quarts and takes a while to make BUT it is well worth the time and effort. Give concentrate to your friends or hide it in beer growlers in your garage during the winter months. I won’t judge either way.

Chai Concentrate

  • Servings: 8 quarts
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Ingredients

  • 7.5 ounces black tea leaves
  • 30 grams whole peppercorns
  • 10 grams white peppercorns
  • 50 grams whole cloves
  • 80-90 grams fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 80 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 7 cups demerara sugar
  • 200 grams honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Toast the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, and cinnamon sticks.
  2. Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Turn off heat. Add black tea and let brew for 4 minutes. Strain tea leaves from liquid.
  3. Add spices and ginger to black tea, return to stove, and simmer for one hour. Strain spices and ginger.
  4. Add sugar, honey, and vanilla. Mix until dissolved.
  5. Cool and bottle.
  6. Serve 1:1 chai concentrate and milk of choice

Date Nut Banana Bread

Spelt’s protein content is similar to that of pastry flour, and therefore, is the perfect grain to use to make a delicious, light, and flavorful banana bread.

After weeks of craving banana bread, I finally made it! Not only that, but I made it with spelt flour I milled on my small mill that attaches to a kitchenaid stand mixer. The mill I have is called a Mock Mill and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to mill their own grains at home.

Date Nut Banana Bread

  • 1½ cups spelt flour
  • ¼ cup flaxseeds (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 small/medium bananas (mashed (some chucks are fine))
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup coconut, date, or raw sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (toasted (I used walnuts and pecans))
  • 1 tablespoon coconut, date, or raw sugar (for the top)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 4½x8inch pan with oil or butter.

  2. Mix the spelt flour, flaxseeds, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl.

  3. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas.

  4. Add the eggs, sugar, olive oil, and vanilla to the bananas.

  5. Add the banana mixture to the spelt mixture and stir until the flour is just blended in. Mix in the nuts and dates until evenly dispersed.

  6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, sprinkle the top of the loaf with the tablespoon of sugar, and bake for 50-55 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.

I cut up the loaf and keep it in the freezer for easy access to banana bread whenver I want. Defrost in a toaster oven or on a skillet over low heat.

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

There are debates about what should be in a ‘traditional’ Irish soda bread, but this is the way I have always made it.

The recipe first came from the local newspaper, but I have altered it over the years to my liking. Soda bread is leveled with baking soda (and baking powder sometimes) rather than yeast, which makes it extremely easy and quick to make. Hope you enjoy.

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter (cold, and cut into 1/2 inch piece)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch circular pan, or an 8 inch cast iron skilelt with butter or oil.

  2. Mix the flour, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

  3. Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture and massage with your hands into the flour until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.

  4. Add the raisins to the flour mixture and mix to coat the raisins (this allows an even suspension of raisins throughout the bread)

  5. Add the buttermilk and mix until no flour streaks can be seen.

  6. Transfter the dough to the prepard pan and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and knife inserted into the bread comes out with no crumbs sticking to it.

Butternut Cashew Pasta Sauce

Shoutout to JP who wanted this recipe. Here is a picture of him about to enjoy it.

Butternut Cashew Sauce

  • Servings: 2 quarts of sauce
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Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash or 2-3 medium large sweet potatoes, cut it half long-wise and seeded (about 2-3 cups of squash)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups broth, vegetable or chicken
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 2 teaspoons, plus 1/4 cup sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a pan with parchment paper. Slice your butternut squash in half and remove the seeds. Roast the squash, cut side down on your parchment lined pan for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted slides through easily
  2. In a heat proof measuring cup, pour 1-2 cup boiling water over the cashews and let it sit for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the skins of the cooked squash, and place the flesh in a blender
  4. Strain the cashews, and add the cashews to the blender
  5. Add the remaining broth, vinegar, nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons sage leaves.
  6. Blend until extremely smooth.
  7. Pour 1 quart of sauce over your favorite pasta sauce. In a small pan, heat up oil and toast the 1/4 cup sage leaves until crispy. Top the pasta and sauce with the crispy sage leaves.

Pignoli Cookies

My dad’s all time favorite cookies. We only make them during the holidays and the yearly wait is well worth it.

I hope you enjoy this simple, yummy recipe. If you run out of pine nuts like I usually do, chop another nut up and use that instead (pistachios are great).

Pignoli Cookies

  • Servings: a lot
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs almond paste (3 boxes)
  • 1 1/2 cups raw sugar
  • 1 cup raw powdered sugar
  • 4 egg white
  • 3 cups pine nuts (if you don’t have enough, another nut like pistachios or almonds will be yummy too)

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 F. Line 2 pans with parchment paper
  2. Combine all ingredients except the pine nuts in a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  3. Roll tablespoon sized balls. Place the pine nuts and in a bowl and roll the balls of dough around on the pine nuts until coated.
  4. Space the cookies at least 3 inches a part and baked for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden around the edges.
  5. Allow the cookies to cool on a rack once out of the oven.

Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Brownies

My favorite brownies. Your whole house will smell like peanut butter too.

Sweet Potato Brownies

  • Servings: 9 brownies
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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup salted peanut butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato
  • 3-4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • flake sea salt for topping brownies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Like a 9×5 inch pan with oil, and parchment paper.
  2. Blend apple sauce, 2/3 cup peanut butter, sweet potato flesh, and maple syrup.
  3. In a large pot, add the blended apple sauce mixture and dark chocolate. Heat until the chocolate is melted.
  4. To the pot, add the cocoa powder, almond flour, and baking soda. Mix until fully blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan (batter will be thick). Top with the remaining peanut butter and flake sea salt.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes until set.

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies

My love of baking started with chocolate chip cookies.

In these chocolate chip cookies butter is replaced FULLY by tahini, which gives these cookies a slightly nutty and delicious change that the original chocolate chip cookie was needing all these years. I found a version of this recipe on Food52 a few years ago and was intrigued ever since. I tweaked it a little bit and never turned back.

My favorite tahini brand is Soom Tahini, based in Philadelphia. It is a woman owned company and has some of the best tahini I have ever had. If you can get your hands on a jar I highly recommend supporting this company and enjoying their creamy product in these cookies (and on its own!)

Tahini Chocolate Chunk Cookies

  • Servings: 20-24 cookies
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups soft wheat or spelt flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2/3 cup raw cane sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar together, about 3-4minutes on medium to medium-high speed.
  4. Add the egg, water, and vanilla extract. Mix for an additional minute.
  5. Add the flour in two batches, mixing on low until just incorporated.
  6. Add the chocolate chunks. Mix until just incorporated.
  7. Scoop overflowing tablespoon sized cookies onto the prepared pans, making sure they are about 2-3inches apart. Using a wet hand, slightly flatten the cookies.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until slightly golden on the outside and barely set on the inside.

Butternut Spice Loaf

Use butternut squash instead of store-bought pumpkin puree for an upgrade on a seasonal favorite!

The batter in it’s loaf pan and (almost) ready for the oven.
Don’t forget to top with nuts!

Butternut Spice Loaf

  • Servings: 8 thick slices
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Ingredients 

  • 2 cups soft wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups butternut flesh
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3/4cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup walnuts chopped and toasted, plus 3 tablespoon walnuts, chopped and untoasted

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 pan with oil.
  2. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices together.
  3. Blend the squash, apple sauce, oil, and maple syrup together.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the wet mixture. Mix until just combined.
  5. Add the toasted walnuts and raisins to the batter and fold until everything is evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with 3 tablespoons of the untoasted walnuts.
  6. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean.

Drying Herbs

Drying herbs is a simple way to preserve your favorite fresh herbs all winter long. I recently dried copious amounts of rosemary, sage, mint, oregano, and thyme. Once completely dry, these herbs will last for a few years. I mostly use these herbs for cooking, but mint can be use to make your own tea too. Drying your own herbs is an easy way to preserve your herbs at the end of the season, and aid in your cooking all winter (year) long. 

The oldest technique to drying herbs is taking a small bunch, tying it with a string, and hanging it upside down for 1-3 weeks until the herbs have lost all moisture. I hung mine under the stairs/on a shelf and they were all dry about 2 weeks later. 

How to dry your own herbs:

  1. Pick herbs.
  2. Once you are home, wash the herbs and dry them throughly with towels.
  3. Take twine, and a nickel sized bunch of the herb and tie them together at the top.
  4. Leave extra string so you can then tie the herb bundle on a shelf or any spot where it can hang freely.
  5. Allow the herbs to dry for 1-3 weeks until fully dry.
  6. Remove the herbs from the stems and store whole or crushed in a jar with a lid or a bag.
Rosemary after drying for 2.5 weeks.
Rosemary removed from the stem and ready to be stored in a jar.

Castle Valley Mill Sweet Potato Skillet Cornbread

My favorite flours and cornmeals are sourced from Castle Valley Mill. This mill is based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and began milling grain on the land in 1730. I order their flour in bulk so I can use it for all my cooking needs. My favorite of their flours is the bolted hard whole wheat.

During the colder seasons, I crave my favorite cornbread recipe to bake and share with family and friends. This cornbread has sweet potato in it to add moisture, along with other simple ingredients you are sure to already have on hand. I usually use leftover sweet potato or squash from a prior meal for this recipe. My cornbread is best when I use Castle Vally Mill cornmeal and flour! Hopefully you find as much joy and cosiness making this cornbread as I do.

I usually pre-measure the dry ingredients so I always have them on hand.

Before the oven.
After the oven.

Sweet Potato Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients 

  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 3/4- 2 cups milk (non-dairy or dairy)
  • 1 heaping cup of sweet potato flesh
  • 3-4 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar together.  Set aside.
  3. Blend the apple cider vinegar, milk, maple syrup, sweet potato, and oil together.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the wet mixture.  Mix until just combined. If the dough looks too dry, add a tablespoon more milk at a time until all the flour has combined and the dough looks moist.
  5. Pour the batter into either a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet or a 9×9 square baking pan.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the cornbread comes out clean.

This recipe is extremely forgiving to those who bake it. Enjoy!