Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mushroom Hummus and Pumpkin Pie

Not exactly a match made in heaven. Good thing I didn't eat them together!

Yesterday my best friend Hope came over after school to enjoy an afternoon without track practice. Every time that we go over to eachother's house, we bring whatever fun ingredients we have around. So yesterday, Hope brought over some mushrooms, pita bread, and mangoes. Kind of random, huh? But of course, we made do with it and came up with this yummy spin on hummus (to go with the pita bread that I forgot to include in the picture).

So that's the story behind the mushroom hummus, but as for the pumkin's a pumpkin pie smoothie! I have actually made this recipe for breakfast a few times already during the week, but at 6 am, I'm not exactly awake enough to take a pretty picture. So I saved the last little bit of pumpkin (yes, they sell canned pumpkin in the spring, too!) for a Saturday morning so I could get a nice picture. Just in case you were wondering, it is so delicious that it was in fact worth the waiting; this recipe deserves a nice picture.

Mushroom Hummus:

1 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 16 oz can chickpeas
1 tablespoon tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
for serving: dill, pita bread, vegetables

1. Heat the 1 teaspoon oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the mushrooms, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
2. Meanwhile, combine chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cumin in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times

3. Add the hot, cooked mushrooms into the food processor, and process until mushrooms are chopped finely into the hummus and are evenly mixed throughout.
4. Serve topped with fresh chopped dill.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (serves 1):

1 frozen banana
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
2 teaspoons flaxseed meal
2/3 cup liquid (this could be milk, almond milk, juice, etc.)
toppings: crushed homemade graham crackers and chopped almonds

1. Place all ingredients except the toppings in a blender, and blend until smooth.
2. Top with the toppings. That's it!

I would choose this over real pumpkin pie anyday. Seriously, it's that good.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Homemade Graham Crackers

For some reason, I have been wanting to make homemade graham crackers for a while, and I finally did! I tried a batch last night, but they turned out burnt and bitter. So, naturally, I came right home from school and whipped up a much improved batch! I was actually surprised to find that these had a spot-on "graham cracker-y" taste, since I really just made up the recipe in my head (during history class of course).

Homemade Graham Crackers:
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sucanat
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon agave nectar
whole wheat flour for rolling out
for serving: greek yogurt and strawberries (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flaxseed meal and water in a small bowl, set aside for about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, place oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and sucanat in a food processor; process until oats are finely ground into a flour.
3. Stir oil and agave into the flaxseed mixture.
4. With the food processor running, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and continue to process until the mixture holds together, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
5. Sprinkle a work surface with whole wheat flour, then turn dough out and form into a ball.
6. Roll the dough out into a 1/8-inch sheet, then cut into squares with a knife or a cookie cutter.
7. Place the pieces on a silicon mat or parchment-lined baking sheet. They don't spread, so they can be close together.
8. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees F and cook for 5 more minutes (this is to prevent burning but allow the graham crackers to get crispy)
9. Let cool on a wire rack.

I have a busy week coming up with AP exams (psychology and calculus), so I might do some make-ahead meals this weekend. I'll try to keep you updated! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Super Simple Veggie-Pesto Soup

It's finally looking like spring!

So in honor of all the beautiful colors, I made a  souper super simple, colorful veggie soup!

Super Simple Veggie-Pesto Soup:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion or 3 shallots, diced
2 cloved garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup frozen peas
1 16 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 cups vegetable broth (depending on how thin you like your soup)
2 tablespoons lemony pesto
salt and pepper

1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over  medium heat
2. Add in the onion or shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
3. Add the garlic, carrots, and pepper, and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the carrots are just barely tender. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add in the broccoli, peas, beans, and vegetable broth.
5. Turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the broccoli is tender.
6. Remove from heat and stir in the pesto and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cranberry-Almond-Oatmeal Cookies

I have tried maybe a million times to find a good oatmeal raisin cookie recipe, and I experimented this afternoon with a cranberry one! They turned out pretty well, just a little cakey, but still so delicious! The cranberries really add a great flavor rather than just the regular raisins, and the crunch of almonds is perfect. However, I think I will have to keep experimenting before I can label a recipe "the perfect (healthy) oatmeal cookie recipe."

Cranberry-Almond-Oatmeal Cookies:

3 tablespoons creamy almond butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg
1/4 cup sucanat
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped almonds

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the almond butter, maple syrup, egg, sucanat, milk, and vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.
4. Add in the oats, cranberries, and almonds, stirring to combine
5. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, then place on a silicon mat-lined baking sheet and flatten the balls slightly.
6. Bake for about 8 minutes, until the dough is set.

Dinner Party Menu

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is shop at the farmer's market for fresh ingredients for a dinner party! Yesterday, I headed to Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. and the Main Avenue Fish Market for a delicious dinner party menu.
My finds at Eastern Market and the fish market included:
pea shoots
manchego cheese
fresh basil
golden beets
sea scallops
tiger shrimp

Then, I spent the evening preparing for a wonderful dinner! Here's the menu:

shrimp cocktail (just boil the shrimp for 2 minutes in salted water and serve with cocktail sauce)
bread with manchego and brie cheeses
beet, strawberry, and pea shoot salad
balsamic vinaigrette
seared scallops with pesto
creamy polenta
brownies (brought by our guests)
mango sorbet and vanilla ice cream (look for light vanilla bean ice cream-it has a rich flavor with not as much fat)

I managed to take a few photos of the whole meal, but not too many...

Golden Beet, Pea Shoot, and Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette:

5 medium golden beets
3 cups pea shoots*
3 cups baby arugula
1 bulb fennel
1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 recipe balsamic vinaigrette (below)
cooking spray
salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice beets into wedges (about 12 wedges per beet)
2. Place the beets on a silicon mat-lined baking sheet, spray with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Roast the beets for 20-30 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
4. Slice the fennel bulb, removing the core.
5. To assemble the salad, place the pea shoots and arugula in a  shallow dish, top with sliced fennel, strawberries, roasted beets, and goat cheese.
6. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

*If you can't find pea shoots, you can use more arugula of simply sub in some mixed greens

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

4 tablespoons orange olive oil*
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

1. whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl

*I bought this orange olive oil (and the balsamic vinegar I used in this recipe) at a farmer's market last spring from this vendor. If you can't find it near you, you can substitute the same amount of extra virgin olive oil plus the zest of one orange.

Creamy Polenta:

1 cup cornmeal
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup grated cheese (I used manchego, try cheddar, swiss, gruyere, or any other cheese that melts well)
1/2 (or more) cup skim milk
salt and pepper

1. Heat vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan
2. In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, kosher salt, and water.
3. When the broth is boiling, gradually add in the cornmeal mixture, whisking as you add.
4. Continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth, stir in the cream cheese, then remove from heat.
5. If your polenta has lumps, press the mixture through a mesh strainer.
6. If you plan to serve the polenta later, set aside and stir in the grated cheese and enough milk to get to your desired texture as you are reheating the polenta
7. If you are serving the polenta immediately, simply stir in the cheese and as much milk as you need to get the polenta to your desired texture.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve hot.

Seared Scallops with Lemony Pesto:

1 pound large sea scallops
salt and pepper
canola oil
1 recipe lemony pesto (below)

1. Pour enough canola oil into a large saute pan to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the pan over high heat until the oil glistens and bubbles form when the end of a wooden spoon is placed in the oil.
2. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, then add into the hot pan, making sure to leave about an inch between scallops.
3. Sear the scallops for 2-3 minutes on one side, until they are golden brown, then flip and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes, until they are just barely firm to the touch.
4. Serve topped with lemony pesto.

Lemony Basil Pesto:

1 cup packed fresh basil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
zest and juice of one lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice, and garlic.
2. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and starting to get mixed together
3. While running the food processor, gradually pour in the olive oil and then the water, blending until smooth and a little creamy.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

French Toast Hummus. Enough Said.

I recently made "dessert hummus," and was thrilled by the results! I know it sounds strange and disgusting, but trust me, it is amazing. I thought it was fit more for breakfast, however, so I renamed it "French Toast Hummus"--it literally tastes like creamy, smooth, spreadable french toast!

I also tried making banana "soft serve" for the first time! I've seen it all over the blog world, so I'm not sure who exactly to give credit to, but it's genius.

The french toast hummus got inhaled so fast that I couldn't set it up for its own photo shoot, but I will definitely share the recipe.

French Toast Hummus:

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon creamy almond butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy!

Tips and Ideas:
-This wasn't very sweet, so if you want a sweeter dip, you can add more maple syrup
-I ate this straight out of the food processor and on the breakfast sundaes (below), but you might want to make a double batch--mine was gone within 12 hours.
-serve with cinnamon-sprinkled pita chips, apple slices, or on toast

Breakfast Sundaes:

This was quite possibly the most delicious, decadent, healthy breakfast I have ever eaten. YUM.

1 whole wheat english muffin
1 banana, frozen
2 tablespoons (or more...) french toast hummus
1 tablespoon chopped almonds

1. Toast english muffin
2. While english muffin is toasting, place the banana in a food processor (mini food processor if you have one), and process until smooth and soft-serve-ish (about 30 seconds).
3. spread hummus on each half of enlgish muffin, top with a scoop of banana soft serve and then sprinkle with almonds.

Butternut Squash Chili

This is another recipe I made with inspiration from Carla Hall's recipes. It was a great alternative to my regular veggie chili (which I'll probably post about later) and it had some great sweet, spicy, and savory flavors!

Step-By-Step Recipe:

1 tabespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 6 oz can tomato paste
3 cups vegetable broth
1 16 oz can garbanzo beans
1 16 oz can black beans
1 23 oz can white hominy
1 small butternut squash (2-3 pounds), chopped
salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
garnish: cilantro

1. heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned and transluscent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

2. Stir in the spices and cook until fragrant.

3. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.

4. Slowly pour in liquid and stir until combined with the tomato paste.


5. Reduce heat to low and simmer mixture while you roast the butternut squash. Place the butternut squash on a silicon or parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until tender.


6. Add the beans, butternut squash, and hominy to the pot. Stir to combine, then simmer for a few minutes more. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.

7. Serve hot with cilantro and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Carrot-Ginger Goodies

I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with carrots. I love eating them, but I also eat them so much that my hands and feet are pretty much orange. Yeah, I love them that much. But I'm not going to stop eating carrots, so I may as well make them extra delicious by adding one of my favorite flavors--ginger! The combination is amazing. It's sweet, spicy, and great hot or cold. So here are two of my favorite recipes that take full advantage of one of my favorite flavor combinations!

Carrot-Ginger Soup: (adapted from Carla Hall's Recipe)

1 leek, sliced and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 1/2 cups sliced carrots (about 6 medium carrots)
1 14 oz bottle coconut water (about 2 cups)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 lemon-ginger tea bags
1/2 cup silken tofu 
salt and pepper to taste
Garnishes: avocado sauce, plain greek yogurt, unsweetened coconut, fresh cilantro

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat
2. Add leeks and saute for about 5 minutes, until softened and translucent
3. Add fresh ginger, carrots, coconut water, broth, and tea bags
4. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are tender
5. Transfer mixture to blender (in 2 batches, if necessary) and add silken tofu
6. Blend until smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper

 Avocado Sauce

1/2 and avocado, diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1/2 cup  packed spinach
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup water

1.Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth
2. serve on carrot-ginger soup, use as a creamy salad (or pasta salad) dressing, or top off tacos, nachos, or fish!

Carrot-Ginger Salad Dressing:

1 medium carrot, sliced
1 cup vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons fresh chopped ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small pot, combine the carrot and broth or water
2. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the carrot is tender
3. Strain the carrots, reserving 1/2 a cup of the liquid
4. Blend the carrots, reserved liquid, and the remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Recipes From the Week

I'm sitting here watching Food Network, trying to think of something creative and interesting to write, since I've been waiting since Wednesday for some free time since to post. But....nothing. So I'm just going to give you the recipes for some of the yummy food I made this week!

Whole grain pancakes for one:

Barley and roasted kale salad:

Sweet and spicy glazed pecans:

Spiced applesauce:

Alright, now here are all the recipes!

Whole grain pancakes for one:

I've been craving pancakes for weeks, and finally decided to come up with a recipe on Wednseday, a day off from school! These were really delicious and the perfect amount to keep me full and energized through my 10 mile bike ride to Georgetown with my friends...and then the 10 mile bike ride back...

1/3 cup spelt flour
2/3 cup puffed millet (or puffed rice)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of each: nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons applesauce


1. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, millet, baking powder, and spices.
2. Add in the almond milk and applesauce, and mix just until combined.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray it with cooking spray
4. Pour batter into skillet, about 1/4 cup at a time, making four small pancakes (I had to do this in two batches)
5. Cook the pancakes for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked throughout
6. Serve hot!

Topping Ideas:
-sliced pears (pictured above), peaches, plums, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, etc.
-greek yogurt and fruit
-honey and sliced almonds
-almond butter and strawberry jam
-banana syrup (pictured above)-puree 1 small banana with a splash of almond milk and vanilla

Barley and roasted kale salad:

Ingredients (no need to be too exact with measurements):
1 cup barley
1 bunch kale
1 pound baby carrots
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)

1. Fill a large pot half full with water, then add the barley.
2. Bring the barley and water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the barley is tender.
3. Drain and rinse the barley and set aside.
4. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F
5. Remove kale leaves from their stems and chop the kale finely; place the kale in a large bowl
6. Using a food processor or mandoline, slice the carrots very thinly
7. Add the carrots and chickpeas to the kale, then season with salt and pepper
8. Divide the kale mixture onto two silicon mat-lined and greased baking sheets, and roast for 15-20 minutes--until the kale is slightly crisp and the carrots are tender.
9. Mix together the barley, roasted vegetables, oil, and vinegar in a serving bowl, and season with salt and pepper.
10. Enjoy hot or cold!

Sweet and spicy glazed pecans:

I made these as a last-minute addition to a cheese plate for a dessert party. They were so easy and so delicious!

1 cup roughly chopped pecans
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon, salt, ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
a pinch of each nutmeg and cloves


Toast the pecans over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until they are fragrant but not burned.

Add in remaining ingredients, stirring to coat the pecans, then remove from heat. 

Spread the mixture on a silicon mat-lined baking sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes, until deep brown and caramelized.

That's it!
Serving ideas:
-serve with brie, honey, and warm baguette slices
-top a spinach salad with strawberries, glazed pecans, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar
-mix with dried cranberries and banana chips for a fancy (and yummy) trail mix

Spiced applesauce:
This is really more of a method than a recipe, since exact measurements aren't necessary at all!

as many apples as you have on hand
a splash of water
spices (see tips and ideas)

1. Peel, core, and dice the apples, and place them in a large pot.
2. Add a splash of water-enough to just cover the bottom of the pot.
3. Add in all the spices.
4. Heat the mixture over high heat until the water is boiling, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for about 1 hour.
5. Remove the lid, and continue to cook uncovered if the applesauce is to watery. When it reaches your desired consistency, remove from heat and enjoy hot or cold!

Tips, Notes, and Ideas:
-the spices I used here were cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and a pinch of salt
-I have used many different kinds of apples, so I don't think it really matters too much--use what you like, what you pick, or just what's on sale
-add in some fresh or frozen berries and cook them with the apples for berry applesauce!