Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

As a child I wasn’t a very adventurous eater, partially due to the fact that we had picky eaters in the family. I remember thinking,  at some point (middle school?), that hummus looked and smelled weird, and that it wasn’t something I was going to be eating. I’m not sure when that changed, but I’m glad it did.

These days, I love hummus – on sandwiches, in wraps, or as a dip for veggies or chips. It’s a tasty, healthy alternative to the more traditional condiments and dips, and it just so happens that it’s incredibly easy to make, too. It’s a little tough finding tahini (sesame paste), but it’s well worth the effort to be able to make homemade hummus.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas (or you can use dried chickpeas – find conversions here)
  • 4 oz roasted red peppers
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Toss everything into a blender or food processor. Blend until it’s as smooth as you like, scraping the sides and adding liquid (the liquid from the roasted red peppers works well) as needed.

This does have a bit of a kick to it, so modify the spices to suit your taste.

Source: AllRecipes

Easter 2014: Peanut Butter Eggs

A few weeks ago I decided that I was going to start eating less refined carbs and sugar, because I noticed that my energy levels got all wacky when I ate too much (or even some) of either. I’ve certainly set myself up for something other than success these last two weeks, making foods that contain lots of carbs and/or sugar. *Shrugs* I simply couldn’t resist whipping up a batch of one of my favorite Easter candies – peanut butter eggs.

Peanut Butter Eggs

Peanut Butter Eggs

Ingredients

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet, to knock down the sweetness level a bit)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable shortening

Instructions

  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan combine the peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar over medium heat. Heat until everything is melted together and it starts to get bubbly, stirring pretty consistently throughout the melting process. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the powdered sugar to the peanut butter mixture about 1/4 cup at a time. I used a whisk to mix it all together because it did a better job of breaking up the powdered sugar and making it nice and smooth. I switched to a wooden spoon when it became much thicker and harder to mix. Cool to room temperature; pop it in the fridge if you want it to cool faster.
  4. Using a spoon or your hands, scoop out the peanut butter mixture and shape into egg shapes. Put the “eggs” on the baking sheet and place in the refrigerator or freezer until they’re set.
  5. In a large, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and shortening on 50% power for 30 second increments, stirring as needed, until completed melted. Change out the wax paper on the baking sheet. Dip the peanut butter eggs in the chocolate, flipping them with a fork and letting the excess chocolate drip off before placing them back on the baking sheet and into the refrigerator/freezer.

I like to keep these in the freezer because I like the taste/texture of them frozen, but you can keep them in the refrigerator if you’d like. These are very sweet/rich, so it might be a good idea to eat them with a glass of milk (dairy or not).

Source: Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Ricotta Cookies with Almond Glaze

You probably saw the title of this post and thought “Cheese in cookies?” If it were any other type of cheese I’d be right there with ya, but ricotta is different – it’s moist,  light in flavor, and slightly sweet, which makes it the perfect addition to a batch of otherwise boring cookies.

I made these cookies a few years ago and brought them to a meeting…where they quickly disappeared. I’ve tried to make them a little bit healthier this time around, subbing in whole wheat flour and reducing the sugar a bit.

Ricotta  Cookies with Almond Glaze

Ricotta Cookies 1

Note: The cookies in this picture do not have glaze on them.

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (you can sub in all-purpose or some of each)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Glaze

  • milk of your choice
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp almond extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together, Add eggs, cheese, and vanilla and mix well.
  3. In another large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix well.
  5. Roll the dough into teaspoon -sized balls (or larger if you prefer), and place on an ungreased baking sheet.
  6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies are firm and just start to brown. Let cool briefly on pan before removing to wire cooling racks to cool further.
  7. To make glaze: mix together milk and confectioner’s sugar until glaze is consistency you desire. Add almond extract and stir. Spoon glaze over cookies or use a pastry brush for a thinner layer.

These little buggers are very addictive. I like the taste just a tiny bit more when they’re made with all-purpose flour, but I feel better about eating a bunch of them when I make them with whole wheat flour.

Source: Adapted from AllRecipes

Ginger Beer

Today is the official last day of Spring Break, and the other recipe that I mentioned in a previous post is done just in time.

I attempted to make my first batch of ginger beer while living in Washington, DC in 2012. The process involved making a starter (“bug”) out of ginger, sugar, and water, and feeding it with more ginger and sugar every day until it got nice and bubbly. Somewhere along the way something went wrong, and I ended up with an odd smelling/tasting slightly gingery liquid.

Given my past experience with ginger beer, I was happy to find a much easier recipe that used yeast and was ready for consumption in about two days.

Ginger Beer

Ginger Beer 1

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and minced ginger
  • Roughly 2 quarts cold water, divided
  • 2/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp champagne yeast

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan stir together the sugar, ginger, and 4 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for about 1 hour.
  2. Strain the liquid through a sieve. You can line it with cheesecloth or a reusable substitute to make extra sure you’re separating out the solids.
  3. Using a funnel, pour the liquid into a clean 2-liter soda bottle. Add the lime juice, and fill with cold water to about 2 inches from the top. Cool in the refrigerator or in an ice bath.
  4. Once liquid has cooled a bit add the yeast, screw the cap on tight, shake it up, and let the ginger beer sit at room temperature for 1 or 2 days. My batch was pretty carbonated after a day and a half.

You’ll have plenty of yeast left over to make additional batches of ginger beer. Experiment with adding more/less ginger, sugar, and lime juice until you’ve got something you really like.

Source: Adapted from Serious Eats