Simple Hummus

I love Hummus. 95% of the time my lunch consists with half a pita with either hummus or laughing cow cheese stuffed with fresh spinach, carrots, peppers, and zucchini. The only thing I don't like about that lunch is I buy prepared Hummus. I've been dying to make some homemade Hummus for a long time, but the stores have had an evil conspiracy against me and Tahini. I swear I can never ever find it.

The other night we were at Matt's cousins house when I spied Tahini in the fridge. I asked Jill where she found it and she told me it was in the spot I've search a zillion times at the Hyvee. Well the next day we went to Hyvee, I looked, and sure enough there it was. It was hidden behind a beam though, so that I'm sure that's why I never saw it. (riiighhttttt...)

Anyhow, I finally got a chance to make Hummus tonight and it was so good! Much better than the store bought stuff. I plan on making this on a regular basis rather than buying it. Next time I may spice it up with some roasted red pepper.

Adapted From: Allrecipes Hummus III

2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained (reserve bean liquid incase thinning is necessary)
2 tbsp tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 cloves garlic, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 tsp paprika
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley (I used dried)

1. Place the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth adding bean liquid if the mixture needs to be thinned. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.

2. Drizzle olive oil over the garbanzo bean mixture. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Serve with warm pita wedges or fresh veggies.

I'm not sure on the exact amount this made. In the picture, the hummus is in a Pyrex ramekin. It was a little less than half of the entire mixture.


Pumpkin Time

I hate making cupcakes, infact I think they've only been featured twice on the blog. These cupcakes however are so easy and so ridiculously good I don't mind whipping them up. They only require 4 ingredients, one of which is pumpkin.

Matt mentioned something to me in July about how he couldn't wait for the fall so we could eat these. I told him we didn't have to wait for the fall, I had a can of pumpkin and could whip some right up. He insisted that pumpkin is a fall ingredient so I had to wait.

Another reason these are awesome: they are low calorie. The first time I ever had them was at a food day at work. A coworker brought some in and said they were only 50 calories a cupcake. She said this is her mom's recipe and she doesn't know where it originated or if they really have 50 calories, but let's just pretend they do...

I'm obsessed with the special edition Hershey's Kisses. Matt and I love the Pumpkin Spice Kisses and I thought it would be a good idea to use some in this recipe. I drizzled melted Pumpkin Spice Kisses over the top of the cupcakes and put half a kiss in some of the cupcakes. The result... Amazing! The cupcakes themselves are rich, chocolate, and moist and have a dense texture thanks to the pumpkin. The kisses just throw the flavor over the top. We loved it!

So on this glorious 85 degree fall day I baked my first pumpkin goodie of the season:

50 Calorie* ChocolatyChocolateChip Cupcakes.
*we're pretending... remember!?

My adaptions in italics

1 Box Devils Food Cake Mix (do not prepare)
1 15oz can Pumpkin
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Pumpkin Spice Kisses, melted
Pumpkin Spice Kisses, halved

Mix all ingredients (except Kissses) in a medium bowl. Spoon into paper cupcake liners. Bake at 350degrees for 16 - 18 minutes.

I stuck half a kiss in some of the cupcakes before I stuck them in the oven. I made sure to cover the top of the kiss with additional batter. When the cupcakes had cooled, I drizzled melted Pumpkin Spice Kisses over top.

This makes 16 - 24 cupcakes depending on how much batter you put in each liner. I made 24 cupcakes, but wish I would have put more batter in each liner and had fewer, bigger cupcakes. I had forgotten these don't rise very much.

Also a note from Matt, he says: "we don't bake the cupcakes all the way. Take them out of the oven when they are still a little bit gooey so you get the full effect of the rich goodness". (I took them out at about 13 or 14 minutes


Cookie Carnival: Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies

Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies: 1
Stacey: 0

Where do I even begin????? As Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music…. Let’s start from the beginning, a very good place to start...
This month for Cookie Carnival, Kate of The Clean Plate Club took suggestions from those of us participating. The recipe Kate chose was a Martha recipe, Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies. It was submitted by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake. I’ll be honest my first two thoughts when I saw the recipe were:

1) Sandwich cookies.... pain in the ass
2) Grapefruit… ewwwww.

I tossed around the idea of subbing oranges in for the grapefruit, but I wasn’t sure how many oranges I would need to substitute. So I just stayed with the grapefruit. On Sunday I went to the store realized I had to be honest with myself. I have never even tried grapefruit before. How did I know I really didn’t like it? Then I had another realization, I didn’t really know what a whole grapefruit looks like. Luckily I found them and bonus… they were on sale!

So fast forward (or I guess at this point rewind =) ) to Tuesday. I had a rough day, just one of those days I didn’t really feel good and was so exhausted all I wanted to do was go home and sleep. But, if I wanted to get my recipe baked and submit it on time I had to do it Tuesday night. So I sucked it up and made the cookies.

As soon as I started the cookies I was annoyed. I realized I was out of cake flour, so I had to find a substitute. Then I moved onto the zesting/grating portion of the recipe and grew even more annoyed. I just find it to be such a pain in the butt. After that, I squeezed the damned grapefruit by hand in order to get the juice. At that point I was wondering why I decided to make the recipe. I soldiered on though and made the dough. I tried a bit of it and, OH MY GOSH! I loved it. Tasted just like orange sherbet!

So from there I put my dough in the fridge, searched through a drawer in my kitchen, and found super cute heart cookie cutters to use. Fast forward 45 minutes and I took the dough out and rather than flouring the surface of my counter, I was going to roll it between wax paper. There is where my REAL problems began. I rolled it out and peeled back my top sheet of wax paper. The dough was sticky and gooey, not like other roll out cookies I have made in the past. There was no way I could use a cookie cutter on those. So I scraped up my sticky/gooey mess and threw it in a small bowl and stuck it in the freezer thinking I would just forget rolling and make drop cookies.

I kept the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes before I threw my first dozen in the oven. I peeked in on them and they just didn’t look right. So with that I was certain the cookies had defeated me. I went to lay on the couch and was going to drown my sorrows in 90210 when it hit me that maybe I didn’t add enough flour. Sure enough, I re-read the recipe and forgot a ½ cup of AP flour. With that, I added about 1/3 cup of flour to the remaining dough and wow, what a difference that made.
(cookies on the left with additional flour, on the right without)

So I baked all of these as drop cookies, let them cool and luckily made my icing without a hitch. I did decide to pipe the icing rather than use a spatula.
Overall though, I actually liked these cookies. They had a nice citrus taste. I think they would be a good baby shower or wedding shower cookie. Matt didn’t have very high hopes for these either and said he was “impressed”. I brought some into my coworkers and they really liked them as well.

I’m upset they didn’t turn out like they should have. I think I will try to make these again, with the cake flour, with the right amount of AP flour and my heart cookie cutters. Thanks Kate for choosing this recipe. You got me out of my comfort zone and one step closer to grapefruit. :)

Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies
You can bake the cookies and make the filling the day ahead.
Source: Martha Stewart

Grated zest of 1 Ruby Red grapefruit, plus 1/4 cup freshly squeezed juice
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
Pink Grapefruit Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small bowl, combine zest with 1 tablespoon sugar; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and remaining sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg yolks, and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in reserved zest-sugar mixture. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the juice, and beat to combine.

Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and shape into a 1-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out disk to 1/8 inch thick using a lightly floured rolling pin. Using a lightly floured 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and place about 1 inch apart on prepared sheet. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until edges are golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes. Transfer parchment paper and cookies to rack to cool completely

Using an offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon filling onto flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping flat sides down. Once filled, cookies can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Pink Grapefruit Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in honey. Add juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until filling holds together and is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, cover, and set aside until ready to use


I'm in love

One of my coworkers is being induced tomorrow so we had a food day in honor of her. She'll be the first to admit she's been living it up food wise since she got pregnant and today was her last hurrah of eating junk. She didn't give me an option of what type of food to bring. On the email she sent out I was told to bring something sweet and full of calories. I immediately thought of these wonderful No-Bake Bars I saw on Nemmie's fabulous blog. When I told her I would bring these her first comment was "well peanut butter, that's good for me it has protein". Then we realized this also has oats in it, and well, those are good for you too. So this was a "healthy" dessert. ;)

After I prepared these I tried one and it was awesome! I decided that in order to fulfill Sharla's wishes on a calorie laden snack and be able to keep some of these at home I'd better bake something else too. So I made my triple threat blondies and some caramel popcorn and called it good.

Everyone loved these (and everything else, it was all gone before I left work) and I am so glad I kept some at home to enjoy. I have most of the ingredients for these on hand so this will surely become a go-to dessert for me!

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars
Source: Cast Sugar


Cooking spray
9 oz. chocolate wafers, finely ground (2 cups) (I ended up using chocolate teddy grahams and didn't completely ground them. I wanted some chocolate chunks)
1 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
5 oz. unsalted butter
1 c. chunky peanut butter
3/4 c. + 3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
10 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted


Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the 2 long sides.

Combine wafers, oats, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add chunky peanut butter and 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, whisking until well combined. Add peanut butter mixture to wafer mixture, stirring until combined. Transfer to baking dish, and use the bottom of a measuring cup or an offset spatula to firmly press mixture into an even layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pour melted bittersweet chocolate over chilled mixture and, using an offset spatula, spread into a thin layer that covers the entire surface. Refrigerate until hardened, at least 15 minutes.

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter in a small saucepan until runny. Drizzle peanut butter over chilled chocolate. Refrigerate until hardened, about 15 minutes.

Use parchment to lift out chilled block of bars. Run a sharp knife under hot water, dry well, and cut into 24 squares, wiping knife between cuts. Let bars stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. (Sliced bars can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.)



I owe my friend Julie big for our fabulous meal last night. It featured her delish Chicken Enchiladas and her no fail fabulous Mexi-Rice. I'm a huge fan of minute rice. I just suck at regular rice, but this my friends, was a success. It's not only very good, but it's so easy. I made a few modifications and think this would just be great with some chopped red peppers in it too. I can't wait to have leftovers tonight for dinner!

Julie's No Fail Mexi-Rice
Source: Julie

1 Cup uncooked long grain white rice
2 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup tomato sauce
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1 can diced green chiles (I used two fresh green chiles - diced)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbs vegetable oil
Cumin, chili powder, salt to taste
Fresh cilantro to taste

1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add rice, onion, chiles, and garlic. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to boil.

3. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer 25-30 minutes. DO NOT open lid while simmering, or the rice wont come out right. Fluff with a fork. Stir in fresh cilantro.

Have a Moment

You know I'm a sucker for anything peanut butter and/or chocolate. As soon as I saw these puppies on Erin Cooks last month I knew I had to make them. With a name like Triple Peanut Butter Melting Moments how could these not be the best cookie ever?

Sadly, they aren't the best cookies ever. :( They are good, but I was disappointed. It started when I went to make the cookie part, I was mixing the butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar and went to add egg when I realized this has no egg. I thought it was kind of odd, but whatever. So I continued on, baked the cookies, made my filling, assembled the sandwich cookie and took a big ole bite and... crumbs everywhere. The actual cookie part had this weird soft/dry/crumbly texture. The filling was fabulous, but the cookie part, not so much. My husband really liked them, I just thought they were ok. If I were to ever make these again, I would use a regular PB cookie recipe instead of this one. My rating: 5 Matt's rating: 8.

Triple Peanut Butter Melting Moments
Source: Erin Cooks

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling (I doubled this as suggested)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup miniature peanut butter cups (I quartered Reeses Mini PB Cups)

Position a rack in the middle of he oven. Preheat the oven to 300ยบ F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the cookies. Sift both flours, the cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, peanut butter, and powdered sugar until smooth and lightened slightly in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the owl as needed during mixing. Add the vanilla and mix until blended. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated and a smooth dough forms.

For each cookie, roll a level tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands into a smooth ball. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Use a fork to gently flatten the cookies to 1 1/4 inch disks, leaving an impression of the fork tines.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm and the cookie bottoms are lightly browned, about 30 minutes; the tops of the cookies should not color. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling. In a medium bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir the butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until smooth. Stir in the peanut butter cups.

Turn half of the cooled cookies bottom side up, and use a thin metal spatula to spread a rounded teaspoon of filling evenly over each one. Place the remaining cookies right side up on the filing, and press gently.

The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


Perfectly Perfect

Perfectly chocolate, perfectly moist, perfectly simple.....perfectly prefect. These babies most definitely live up to their name:

Hershey's Best Brownies

Source: hersheys.com

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts(optional) I decided to add Heath Bits instead
CREAMY BROWNIE FROSTING(recipe follows) omitted this, these are are plenty good on their own!

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan.

2. Stir together butter, sugar and vanilla in bowl. Add eggs; beat well with spoon. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually add to egg mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Prepare CREAMY BROWNIE FROSTING; spread over brownies. Cut into squares. About 16 brownies.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
3 tablespoons HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter, cocoa, corn syrup and vanilla in small bowl until blended. Add powdered sugar and milk; beat to spreading consistency. About 1 cup frosting.


May the Best Candidate Win

Well my friends, there is an important election going on this year. No, no, no, not that darn presidential election. (Shhhhh... don't tell... I have a bachelors degree in Political Science and have never voted.) I'm talking about The Race for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie!

Just about 9 short months ago I discovered ATK's Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and came to the realization they were the best chocolate chip cookie ever. Hands down. Since that time I've seen many a blog posts about what people claim are the best chocolate chip cookies. I've never been tempted to make any of them until now.

A few months ago I found the blog Rookie Cookie and have blog stalked it ever since. When she posted her top secret recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies and I was very intrigued. A recipe so good that it has only been shared with a few people until now? Sign me up!

Cookie Face Off '08

On the left we have Thick and Chewy and on the right Rookie Cookie.

The biggest difference between the two: T&C uses melted butter, one egg, and one egg yolk. RC cuts back a bit on sugar and adds a package of instant vanilla pudding in hers. Both of these cookies are phenomenal.

What I observe from numerous taste tests...

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Exactly what it says it is, thick and chewy. The cookie is soft but still has a nice crunch to it. It tastes like it came from a bakery.

Rookie Cookie's Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Super soft and melts in your mouth. These are so amazingly soft they remind me somewhat of Chewy Chips Ahoy. But, a homemade version. (I could devour a package of those bad boys in one sitting)

This was a tough race. I tried the dough for RC's cookies and was certain they would take the place of T&C's in my heart. But, I'm still in love with T&C. Don't get me wrong, RC is an amazing cookie, but my heart belongs to T&C. My husband on the other hand love, love, loved RC's recipe.

A house divided.

Such an important decision couldn't be left up to only two judges, so I brought these out with us on Labor Day and had some friends try them out. Everyone absolutely loved both cookies, but the favorite was the Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

So my friends, the winner of this race is Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. Believe me though, I will definitely be making Rookie Cookie's recipe again. Thanks Rookie Cookie for sharing your recipe with everyone :)

For the recipe for Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Click Here
For the recipe for the Rookie Cookie's Chocolate Chip Cookies Click Here


Simple Salad

Ever since I bought some Arugula at the farmers market last week I've been on the look out for an easy, yummy recipe. When I spotted this on All Recipes, I knew I had a winner. The salad came together in a matter of minutes and even Matt who rarely eats a salad without ranch dressing devoured this. This was perfect as a side salad, but with a little chicken would make a wonderful main dish. I wish I had some more arugula so I could make this for lunch tomorrow!

Easy Arugula Salad
Adapted from: Allrecipes.com

4 cups young arugula leaves, rinsed and dried
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large plastic bowl with a lid, combine arugula, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, oil, vinegar, and Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover, and shake to mix.

Hot Potato!

There has been quite a buzz on blogs recently regarding The Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes. I came to the conclusion that: #1) they were most likely overrated and #2) I would never bother to make them.

I was wrong. On both accounts.

I got a hell of a deal on some Yukon Gold potatoes at the farmers market last week and this recipe seemed like the perfect way to use them up. They were a perfect companion to steak and a simple arugula salad. This recipe is not only super simple, but it tastes great. It's a nice alternative to a baked potato. I'm positive I'll make these again.

For the recipe visit The Pioneer Woman. The only changes I made were that I used Yukon Gold Potatoes instead of New Potatoes and Chives instead of Rosemary.

Crash Hot Potatoes