Friday, December 30, 2011

Butternut squash soup - perfect winter dinner

Butternut squash soup might be the easiest soup to make in the world. Alright, it does make a few more dishes than I'm normally on board with but it might just be worth it. This soup has some wonderful fall flavors with apple, nutmeg and cinnamon.

I had a stray squash in the fridge, which I really needed to use and I was getting ready to head out of town but what to make? I was just getting over a cold, so it was feeling like a soup kind of day. Soup seems to be the standard thing to make with butternut squash, so since I'd never done it, the time seemed ripe! Pun totally intended.

I started browsing some recipes and they all seemed pretty similar, differing a little in their spice pallet but the gist was - cut up squash and boil in chicken broth before pureeing with whatever else you decide to put in there with it. This is what I came up with:

1 medium butternut squash
1 apple (I used 1.5 small gala apples)
2 cubes of chicken bullion
3 oz cream cheese
dash of nutmeg
dash of cinnamon
dash of salt

Equipment: food processor or blender

Cube the squash (tip) and core and dice the apples. Place squash and apples in large sauce pan with bullion and just enough water to cover the contents. Boil for 20 minutes or until squash is tender. Spoon cooked squash mixture into food processor with a sloted spoon, add cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and  blend until smooth. If you would like a thinner soup, add cooking liquid and blend until soup reaches desired consistency.  Makes 3 large bowls.

Be careful not to be too heavy handed with the spices, I put a dash because I think even a 1/2 tsp will be too much.

I will definitely be making this again and again all winter long, this soup was tasty. It does make some dishes, mostly because of the food processor but it's worth it. How else can you make a delicious soup in under 30 minutes? Also, it's ridiculously healthy and low in calories.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peanut Butter & Nutella cookies

My contribution to the office holiday party this year was none other than peanut butter and nutella cookies. If you don't know what nutella is, you should. Just go buy some, you'll love it, I promise.

This all started when I saw a recipe somewhere for peanut butter and nutella cookies but they were no-bake and frankly, did not look too tasty. This got the idea in my head. What could possibly go better? So I got to thinking, nutella is not so different from peanut butter, why couldn't I just make peanut butter cookies and sub-out some peanut butter for nutella? No reason I could think of, so that is exactly what I did.

You can probably do this with any peanut butter cookie recipe but this one from Simply Recipes makes a fairly small batch - a plus for us single ladies.

1/2 cup sugar *and additional to roll dough balls
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup nutella
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients together to form dough. Roll dough into small balls, roll in  additional white sugar and place on greased cookie sheet. Using a fork, press into each ball twice, making a cross-hatch design. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.

They will look a little darker than typical peanut butter cookies, so watch that they don't burn.

While these were tasty, I feel like the peanut butter and nutella flavors competed a little bit with each other. In the next round, I might make all nutella cookies and see how that turns out.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Late photo - Thanksgiving feast

I have been a supreme slacker on blogging. To be honest, I haven't been cooking very much either! However, my friend Kim (who just moved to DC!) and I did prepare a feast on Thanksgiving! See below two (very tardy) photos.

The ham was made by slicing a smoked ham partially apart and putting brown sugar in each slot. The toothpicks are holding small bits of apple and pineapple each. My grandma advised that using apple and pineapple adds a slightly different flavor. It was a tasty ham (made in the crock pot) but I'm not sure it's the best it could be. If anyone makes this for Christmas, be sure to let me know how you like the addition of apple!

The other photos shows part of the feast - green beans with blanched almonds, mashed potatoes, gravy (instant, sadly) and stuffing. We also had apple and pumpkin pie (both made from scratch by Kim!), turkey breast (small group), garlic biscuits, cheeses and any number of other yummy things.

Ham in the crock pot!

Just some of the Thanksgiving feast!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Repeat offender: pumpkin cheesecake

This was so good the first time, I made it again. This time with a little cinnamon in my homemade graham cracker crust - I did not cheat so much! Follow your normal graham crust and add just a 1/2 tb of cinnamon (or this recipe).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Did somebody say ganache?

Maybe. Perhaps it was even peanut butter ganache. Are you excited yet? Do you need a quick explanation of what ganache is? Basically, it's fancy frosting/glaze made with cream and butter. It's French. The French like cream and butter. This is why we're friends.

Chocolate-peanut butter ganache
A few weeks back, I had my first fluffernutter. We had Fluffernutter Friday at the office. Half of you are appalled and the other half have no idea what a fluffernutter is, yeah I did not really either, but they are delicious. As a result of this culinary adventure, I became acquainted with the idea of fluffernutter cupcakes - but chocolate, of course. Why would you ever make cupcakes any other way?

Chocolate "fluffernutter" cupcakes
12-18 chocolate cupcakes
For filling:
1 container of marshmallow creme or fluff
Equipment: decorator's bag + tip OR 1 qt ziploc freezer bag
For ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
1 ½ cups chocolate chip morsels
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup smooth peanut butter

Cupcakes that have been injected with marshmallow cream
After your cupcakes have cooled, fill your decorator's bag with marshmallow cream. If you are using a ziploc bag, try to fill it will as much cream as you think you'll need the first time, it's very hard to refill (and messy). Poke the tip of the bag into the center of each cupcake and squeeze a cream into the center. You need to fill them somewhat aggressively, or you  won't end up with any noticeable cream in the middle (this happened to a few of mine). After you've finished injecting the cream, prepare your ganache according to the recipe here. Pour ganache over cupcakes.

The finished product!
These were yummy! Make sure to let them cool before injecting the cream, or it will melt out the top. Otherwise very easy and quite fancy seeming = my favorite kind of recipe.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Perfect, creamy hummus

I made the most amazing hummus earlier this week. Possibly the best I've ever had. The first few times I made hummus I was always disappointed, it just wasn't creamy enough. Even after I bought my food processor, which significantly improved the hummus making process, let me tell you, I still found it to be lackluster. Until last week, I read a tip to heat up your chickpeas when making hummus to get them to blend smoother and I thought I'd give it a try.

Results? Amazing! I heated my chickpeas up in the microwave for 20-30 seconds before putting them in the food processor and the difference was like night and day. The hummus was almost frothy when I was blending it. You also want to use a small amount of the liquid from the can of chickpeas, this helps too, but not nearly as much as heating them up first.

I also put a fairly significant amount of paprika in this batch, which gave it a really nice spice profile.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pizza week continues - Sweet potato arugula

This recipe was actually the inspiration of pizza week. I saw a recipe on thekitchn for sweet potato arugula pizza (this is their photo, I did not get a shot of mine), which just sounded SO tasty. Normally, I don't break out new recipes when I'm cooking for other people, but I decided to make this when some friends came over, not for dinner exactly but weighty nibbles.

First, let me say that the flavor combination was excellent. The sweet potato and arugula are a perfect match. Next, let me say, this recipe did not work at all. The sweet potato do not cook nearly fast enough for them to be ready before the crust is anything other than burnt and I sliced them wafer thin. I highly recommend you make this but when you do, make sure to pre-cook the sweet potato until they are at least half-way cooked either by microwaving your slices or cooking them on the stove in a little bit of water. Seriously, I had to take all of the slices off the pizza, cook them more and put them back on. A royal pain in the bum.

When the munchies were finally ready, I had some very hungry guests (including me) but we all loved this. I would definitely make it again but with pre-cooking my sweet potatoes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ricotta pesto pizza - weeknight friendly meal

My basil plants are growing like crazy. What am I to do with all of this pesto? Well, I recently had something of a "pizza week" and the first pizza on the menu was ricotta, pesto and tomato. This would fall into the "white pizza" category. If you're not familiar, that means it doesn't have any tomato sauce on it but ricotta cheese serves as the sauce, which is not particularly low calorie but tasty none-the-less.

This is a very simple pizza combination and perfect for a weeknight meal and another use of fresh pesto you might have (directions here) from a basil explosion. I used a pre-made Pillsbury crust but if I were doing this on a weekend I would try to make my own dough because I found the pre-made crust to be adequate but not delicious.


1 ½ cups of ricotta

2 Tb of thyme

½ cup of Parmesan cheese

1 Pillsbury thin pizza crust *or other, note that Pillsbury crusts must be pre-baked for 5 minutes

1 medium tomato, sliced

Rough directions:

Mix thyme with ricotta and spread on prepared pizza crust and sprinkle with Parmesan. Place small spoonfuls of pesto on top of ricotta and finish by spreading sliced tomatoes on top. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees or according to the directions for the pizza crust.

Looks good doesn't it? While one full-sized pizza is a too much for even two meals, this was quick and easy to make, making a single person friendly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Homemade mac & cheese

Cheese. Pasta. Yum.

My friend Abby was having a dinner party for her birthday, she is a serious gourmet. She has made her own ricotta cheese and despite my reservations about eating a homemade dairy product, it was pretty good (I'm told it's actually pretty easy to make ricotta). So what do I take to the party of a fellow experimental chef? For some reason, in the middle of DC summer heat, mac and cheese was the first idea I had. I had never made mac and cheese from scratch, it was a 97 degrees outside with 90% humidity but for whatever reason a casserole dish full of comfort food seemed entirely logical. As I write this, it's starting to sound delicious all over again.

So, how does one make mac and cheese with out a box from Kraft? Good question! Actually, I was surprised how easy it was! The recipe below is something I concocted after spending 30 minutes or so browsing different mac and cheese recipes. It's a little bit Martha, a little bit and a little bit Lacey.

I read one recipe that called for 'pasteurized cheese product food' - not cheese but cheese product food. Ew. You might as well just buy a box if you aren't going to use actual cheese. There is nothing from that recipe in my version.

Homemade Mac & Cheese
8-10 oz whole grain macaroni - cooked according to package directions and drained
4 oz shredded extra sharp white cheedar
4 oz shredded Gruyere
1 oz grated Romano cheese
1/4 butter
2 cups 1% milk
3 Tb flour

*Note measurements are approximate, I did not measure when I made this but it seems pretty hard to mess it up, so you can play by ear a little bit. Also if you don't want to shred the cheese, or don't own a cheese grater (but really why wouldn't you?), you can cut it up into small pieces.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in small sauce pan, when it's completely melted mixed in flour. Add milk and stirring frequently, allow to simmer until it begins to thicken. Add cheese one handful at a time, reserving about 1/2 cup total of the cheeses. Mix pasta into cheese mixture and pour into a casserole dish. Top with remaining cheeses and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes.

Aside from possibly needing some paprika and garlic (you know me and my garlic), this was tasty and in spite of inhospitable summer weather, a huge hit at the dinner party, considering all the tasty items Abby served up, I consider that a major accomplishment.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fresh pesto

Basil leaves are so aromatic they call your name as you walk past, or so I assume, I've never walked past without stopping for a sniff. The plants trumpet the delights of fresh pesto, caprese salad and real napoli pizza.

My basil plant started growing like crazy, especially considering the small pot it calls home. It was growing so much, I had to buy a food processor, seriously, it was a requirement. Plus I found an amazing deal for a small Cuisinart food processor online and now I can make hummus too.

I made just enough to use for one large serving of pasta or about a 1/4 cup.

20-30 basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
~3 tablespoons of olive oile
2 tablespoons of pine nuts (or walnuts)
1/4 Parmesan or Romano cheese
sprinkling of sea salt

equipment: food processor

Place nuts and garlic and cheese in food process and chop them up. When they are corsely chopped, add salt and basil leaves and pour small amount of olive on top, reserving additional oil to add later (it helps coat the leaves and get them to settle down toward the blades). Chop until fine and well mixed, adding additional olive oil as needed.

Perfection. Or it will be next time - I used way too much garlic, as in 3 cloves, so all I could taste was garlic. When I was breaking apart the head of garlic three stray cloves broke off and I just decided to use them all, because I like crazy amounts of garlic but not that much. I have hope for the next rendition and am contemplating buying another basil plant.

Look for my end of summer post on how to preserve pesto for use during the winter months, after the of season basil harvest.

Pesto is great on pasta, sandwiches, toast with cheese and a variety of other uses. Enjoy the summer!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The complete opposite of Italian pizza

I recently went on a business trip to Chicago and I must say I was thoroughly impressed not just with the city's breath-taking architecture but high quality eateries. Okay, it's a little heavy on the pizzerias, but they are good pizzerias. I found myself thinking, "too bad it's SO cold in the winter!"

As luck would have it, the hotel I was staying at was in the Magnificent Mile area and just a few blocks from the original Pizzeria Uno, the birthplace of Chicago's deep dish. Which, was of course super busy, and just around the corner from their second location Pizzeria Due, a significantly less crowded incarnation.

I had never had real Chicago deep dish and was of course keen to partake! I went with a colleague of mine, who is from the UK and was unfamiliar with this Chicago treat. In the UK and Europe, pizza is more often the flatter, more authentic, Italian style. We Americans monkey around with everything. I briefed my colleague on deep dish on the walk to the restaurant, "imagine the complete opposite of Italian pizza - that is deep dish." I also included some historical information on the immigration waves to the US from Italy and how this led to rise of different regional pizza styles, very thorough.

We chose an amazing spinach and broccoli topped (stuffed?) pizza, and it was delicious. The bread was crispy the toppings pouring out all over the plate and lots and lots of cheese! I mean, look at that big slab of deliciousness! I'm not sure I'd want to eat a meat topped deep dish pizza though...too dense. The veggies were a nice counterbalance.

I highly recommend the deep dish! But you need to be willing to accept is as a different entity than Italian or even New York style pizza.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Turkey spinach meatloaf

On my way back from Puerto Rico, I was reading trashy magazines on the plane. Don't judge me too much, I was on vacation and I had read the Omnivore's Dilemma, while on the beach (incidentally, it's very good if you are interested in food issues). One of the magazines I read was the May issue of Self, which had a tasty looking recipe for low-calorie turkey meatloaf.

I actually don't like meatloaf normally. The idea of eating a big slab of greasy meat never really appealed to me but this looked delicious! Maybe it was because it had spinach in it. Plus I had about 2 lbs of ground turkey in the freezer from when my dad visited and all the other ingredients on hand too, except for the spinach.

When I started to mix up the ingredients, one thing was abundantly clear - the recipe did not call for nearly enough bread crumbs. I imagine this is make it healthier, since it's part of Self's weight-loss program, the Self challenge. I was also really tempted to pour some red wine over the meatloaf, Portuguese style, but I did not, maybe next time. It also called for feta, which I don't know, seemed weird to me, maybe I'll give it a shot some time.

Turkey Spinach Meatloaf (with my adaptations, original is here)

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs
3/4 cup chopped spinach
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 Tb of Oregano
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Grease small glass baking pan (circa 9x11). Form meat mixture into a loaf and place in greased pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

This was super delicious, I ate significantly more than I should have. One note for the singletons, this will make 3-4 servings. If you wanted to pare it down, you could use half a pound of meat, 1 egg and adjust everything else accordingly to get two smaller servings but it is by no means huge if you follow the directions above.

Following the Self recipe exactly, a 1/4 of the meatloaf is 270 calories, taking out the feta will definitely lower that a little but since I increased the bread crumbs, I'd imagine it to come out about even. So long as you pair it with a healthy side, you are looking at a very low calorie dinner - unless you eat as much of it as I did!

Taste: A
Cost: A+ (ground turkey is much less expensive than other meat options)
Waste: A+ (The ingredients are basic and should be easy to use any extras)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Urban Gardening: Update!

I'm just getting started getting things planted in the garden. I was surprised how late the last frost in DC is! I also did not want to plant things right before I left on vacation, so I had to wait. It was torturous passing all the plants Home Depot had on display every day on my way to and from work.

But now, I have plants. And a growing awareness that I don't have a clue what I'm doing. I felt a tiny bit overwhelmed surveying all of my options for pot sizes, tomato varieties and potting soil.

By the way does anyone know if there is a USDA standard for organic potting soil? I could not figure out if there actually was a difference looking at the package. I'd rather use something the compost-derived nitrogen than petroleum. Please let me know if you have any information.

I decided to start small, I bought two pots which I hope are big enough (the next size up looked huge) a cherry tomato plant and a red pepper plant. I felt that I was most interested in these vegetables and they would take longest to fruit, though why I thought that I have no idea. I took my plants, soil and pots home and set to work. I gingerly placed my plants in there new homes on top of lots of soil. I sent my sister, an avid gardener, a photo of my accomplishment.

Later, when her and I were talking on the phone, she basically told me I screwed it all up. Apparently, I should've broken up the roots when replanting them, so that they take better to their new home. Apparently, there are also varieties of tomatoes bred for growing well in pots and I should have looked for one of those. Oh well, good thing I only started with two plants. Hopefully, they will still turn out alright.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


One reason I haven't posted in a while, is that I was on vacation last week! I went to Puerto Rico with a friend and have come back very tan. You might be wondering, what are the tasty things to eat in Puerto Rico? Good question!

In the cab from the airport, my friend and I had the fortune to have a very dynamic driver. Not only did he point out all of the interesting sites we passed but he also recommended multiple restaurants. He told us the typical dish from Puerto Rico is monfongo - green (unripe) plantains mashed and stuffed with some kind of meat. You can stuff it with pork, chicken, beef or seafood. We went to one of the restaurants he recommended, called Raices, which had a whole mofongo menu.

I had mofongo with fried pork, delicious!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Feta stuffed chicken

I had a little dinner party in the new place and all my friends had to give themselves "the tour" because I was too busy cooking to show anyone around when they arrived. Oops.

What was on the menu? Lots of yummy things. And wine, lots of wine. The main event was feta stuffed chicken (recipe notes below), broiled stuffed tomatoes, roasted lemon broccoli, a very nice pear-walnut salad brought by a friend and apple cake, also brought by a friend.

I had made the cheese stuffed chicken one other time, over a year ago but this time I shook it up a little.
The original recipe is here but instead of butterflying the chicken breasts, I bought thinner chicken cutlets and pounded/rolled them ever flatter (like when making chicken Kiev), put my cheese in the middle and rolled them up, securing with a toothpick. Also instead of stuffing with cheddar & cream cheese, I stuffed it with feta and cream cheese. Feta is always a good idea but I think you do need the cream cheese to get a nice melty center. I also did not put Romano cheese in with my breadcrumbs because I feel that most of the cheese gets wasted that way, instead I sprinkled it on top of the already breadcrumb-ed chicken and I actually used Parmesan and not Romano.

If I make them again, I might skip the butter-garlic-lemon topping. I'm just not sure it adds much to a dish already full of flavors. And fat, did I mention fat? Do I really need to pour butter on top of my cheese stuffed chicken? Probably not. It also makes at least 1 extra dish to wash, the real nail in the coffin. The first time I made this dish, I actually served it with pasta and Alfredo sauce, can you say heavy? Lesson learned. And this time around, went for vegetable focused sides.

The chicken seemed quite popular, though wine was the real attraction of the evening.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Urban gardening

One thing I'm really looking forward to in the new place, is starting my garden. I'm having a hard time resisting buying plants, especially since I walk past Home Depot, which has lots of little plants on display outside, every day on the way to and from work. Unfortunately, the weather is still a little unstable (ie cold!) in DC to get started. Some lettuces could have already been planted but most things have to wait until the end of April or beginning of May.

Since I live in a condo, and not a house, gardening takes a little more planning to make sure I maximize my limited space. I will putting some pots out on my balcony, which is thankfully bathed in sunlight most of the day. This is a lot more restricted then if I had a yard to work with, but it's most space I've had to use yet in DC and I'm hopeful that I will fresh veggies and herbs to use in my summer cooking! If you don't have a lot of space, don't let it discourage you from planting vegetables! You just have to think about it a little.

What am I planning to plant?
-Cherry tomatoes, I could also plant the regular variety in a pot but I like the cherry ones better so I'm going that route.
-Bell peppers, these are a pricier veggie, so I'm hoping to get a lot from my garden and not have to buy any at the store.
-Cucumbers, normally you need a big space for cucumbers because they vine all over the place! However, my step-dad told me there is a kind of "bush cucumber" that I can plant in a pot, so I'm going to check that out.
-Basil, there is nothing better than fresh basil! I'm starting out with a plant this year, because my past attempt at growing basil from a seed was a dismal failure.
-Rosemary, hopefully I will be able to keep this over the winter as rosemary is pretty cold tolerant.

I also want to check out the options for more organic home gardening. Using produce in my kitchen that I grew myself is undoubtedly as "local" as food gets but I wonder about all of these packages of Miracle this-and-that at the store. Plus I spend way more time than the average person reading about the impacts of agricultural runoff on marine environments, soil degradation and pesticides. If you have any experience with organic home gardening, please let me know!

Are you gardening in a small space? I'd love to hear about what you are planting and to share ideas!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Chicken fried rice with cumin

I enjoy a tasty bowl of rice but am something of a rice failure in the cooking department. My friend Diana, in Grad school, made the best rice dishes you can imagine, out of I-have-no-idea-what. Just whatever, happened to be in her refrigerator at the time, or so it seemed.

I am a fan of Uncle Ben's ready rice, it's quick and usually tastes pretty good. However, I'm also committed to advancing my rice repertoire! With that in mind, over the last few days I've whipped up a few rice dishes, most were pretty basic, white rice with some kind of stir-fry-esk vegetables on top. Last night I got fancy and made chicken fried rice.


1 chicken breast
2 cups rice - prepared (instructions below)
1-2 cups frozen pepper strips
2 carrots, chopped (or maybe 1/2 cup of baby carrots)
2 eggs
cumin ~1/4 Tb
turmeric ~1/4 Tb
olive oil

To prepare rice:

Cook rice according to package directions, making approximately 2 cups. Instead of boiling rice in water, boil in chicken broth. (I highly recommend making a big pot of rice to use for a few days, if you are on a rice eating fest. I made about 6 cups in chicken broth and used it for 2-3 recipes.)

To prepare chicken fried rice:

Chop chicken into bite sized pieces, sprinkle with cumin, pepper and salt and cook in large skillet with a small amount of olive oil. All the other ingredients will be added to this same pan, so make sure you have enough space. When chicken is about 1/2 cooked, add pepper strips and all additional spices. When chicken is finished cooking add rice, egg and carrots. I pushed all the rice-chicken mixture to one side of the pan to let the eggs cook on the other side and then scrambled them in when they were done.

This was a pretty tasty rice dish, though, next time around I will probably add more turmeric and cumin to give it a little more zest.

Cost: B+
Waste: A+
Taste: B (more spices needed)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Homemade hummus

Hummus is quite possibly the world's most perfect food. Yes, I've probably said that about something else if you look through all my past posts. I recently decided, somewhat randomly, that I was going to make homemade hummus. I knew some people who had done it and felt assured it was pretty easy. And that brings me to:
Challenge #1: Finding tahini. I live in a large metro area, there is all kinds of weird stuff that I never saw at a grocery store anywhere in Kansas sitting on the shelves. Could I find tahini? No. I looked in the international aisle, condiment aisle, next to the ready-made hummus to no avail. I called my friend in Kansas to find out where she buys hers and it was at her normal grocery store. No Middle Eastern market, no specialty health food store. I finally found it. They had one kind, in a little spot in the store. I talked to four different store employees until one of them even knew what tahini was!

Challenge #2: The missing blender
Ideally, you should make hummus in a food processor but I don't have one and I'm pretty sure if I did, I'd use it four times a year. Maybe. Many hummus recipes out there say you can also use a blender and I had one of those, or at least I used to. I have absolutely no idea where my blender is. I must have left it at the old apartment somehow, but no clue how. Congratulations, new tenant! You just got a really nice blender.However, I had already bought all the fixin's for hummus. I was on a mission. Enter the IKEA chopper. I recently had bough a vegetable chopper from IKEA but had yet to break it out. It was kind of an impulse buy. I put my hummus in the bottom of a square, flat dish (corning ware baking dish) and set to chopping. I thought it would more or less work to mush up the chickpeas and it more or less did, though the hummus wasn't as smooth as it normally would be.

Challenge #3: Too much tahini
I read a multitude of hummus recipes before making it and they were all about the same, varying a little in the details, according to tastes. I would suggest tinkering with it, to see what you like but I put a basic recipe below for starters. However, I challenge anyone who has ever claimed to measure tahini. It is impossible. It's very cement like at the bottom and all the oil is at the top (kind of like natural peanut butter), so you have to stir it up, which basically resulted in some tahini cement stuck to the bottom of my spoon. I have now attempted the hummus twice, and still no idea how anyone would ever mention this.

That being said, most of the recipes I read called for 2 Tb of tahini and that is a lot. Wow. The first batch of hummus I made was way too strong on the tahini. I would advise you to start with about 3/4 Tb and taste the results to see if you want more. With the proper equipment and tinkering, fresh hummus would be way better than grocery store hummus.

Sorry for the poor quality photo! Hope you still get the idea.


1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
2-4 Tb lemon juice
2 cloves garlic (minced)
minced onion (I skip this because I hate onion)
1 Tb tahini
1 Tb olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (I'd use sea salt)

Flavorings to think about....
-red pepper

Do you have other flavoring ideas? I'd love to hear your tips!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

First time I flipped an omelet

I can't flip an omelet. Welcome to my secret cooking shame. I normally make scrambled omelets (ie scrambled eggs with lots of stuff in them). Mom is of course an omelet flipping pro, makes it look easy. I think I take after my grandma, who could not even flip pancakes and hence made scrambled pancakes. At least I can flip a pancake!
My friends Jess & Cherise thoughtfully sent me a housewarming gift, which included, among other delights, an Omelet-Ease pan. Could I wait to try it out? No. To be fair, I did have a house guest who needed breakfast and had also served as the postal carrier of my gift from Kansas.
The pan definitely was easy to flip but I felt like I ended up with more of an quiche than a true omelet. There was egg on all sides but the toppings were sort of distributed throughout the whole dish than being in the middle. A little different than a folded omelet. I also did not have any bacon to put in them, since they were spur the moment omelets. Everything is better with bacon. I will have to experiment a bit more with the pan to see where I went awry.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Meeting the neighbors & chocolate-butterscotch cookies

Living in DC, I sometimes fail to keep my Kansas urges in check (ie I talk to strangers - even when I probably shouldn't). In the Midwest, where people are friendly, when you move to a new place, you go around and introduce yourself to the neighbors. I have tried to this at my past two apartments in DC, and mostly failed. I met the neighbors at my first apartment only about three months before I moved out. At my last apartment, I took the people in the house next door a quick version of my mom's cinnamon rolls (I had an ulterior motive this time - they were cute boys, and as the blog title may have tipped you off, I'm a single girl).

Since I have just recently moved to a new place, the Midwestern urges have kicked in again. Plus, I'm going to be living in the same building with these folks for a very long time. I find nothing ingratiates you to others like food, especially desserts. I bagged up, into cute gift bags none-the-less, chocolate-butterscotch cookies and took them around to the neighbors, or those who were home at least. (If you were out when I stopped by, I ate your cookies.)

I used the toll-house chocolate chip cookie recipe (here) because it's the best of course, skipped the walnuts and did 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup butterscotch instead of the requisite 2 cups of chocolate chips. Small alteration = tasty results.

Plus, at some point, I WILL lock myself out of the house and want someone to let me in.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New kitchen and new challenges

It has been a whirlwind of a month, which I have only survived by subsisting on Lean Cuisine. I am more or less recovered from moving, an 8-day work trip and Lord knows what else that I already forgot about!

At the end of January, I bought and moved into a new place. That's right bought. My first place. The new kitchen is fantastic overall, with lots of cabinet space, counter space (the rental was lacking in this), granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. It also features a more open layout so I can easily chat with guests while I'm making tasty treats and a bar area, which will be great because let's face it, I wasn't sitting at the kitchen table during my average Wednesday night dinner.

What is the one drawback? An electric stove. All kitchens have to have one little negative and the lack of a gas stove is this one's. I just can't believe how long the cook-top takes to heat up. I will starve while waiting for water to boil. However, as drawbacks go, I can live with this one. When I first looked at the condo, I said to my fantastic real estate agent, "I can cook in this kitchen." Pretty sure the kitchen also sold my scrutinizing mother. So I will survive without a gas stove. Maybe in house #2.

Look forward to meals to come from the new kitchen!

PS: That is my dog Megan, isn't she cute?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Not much cooking going on...

So I haven't cooked anything new in close to a month! I have a big work event coming up and I'm in the process of moving to a new place, so be on the lookout for delicious things out of the new kitchen but it will probably be two weeks at least.