Black Bean ‘Hummus’

10 Jun

Black Bean Hummus

It may not be the prettiest looking thing, but where it lacks in looks it makes up for in taste! I’m not a huge fan of hummus, but put black beans in front of me and I go crazy. So I decided to combine the two beans (black and chickpeas) in attempt to make a healthy snack I could stand.

This type of recipe is so versatile. You’re pretty much free to add any type of flavorings you’re taste buds crave. I started off going spicy then added sesame oil which gave it a smokier, Asian flare. No matter, have fun making this recipe your own!

For the ‘hummus’:

1 can chickpeas

1 can black beans

1/4 cup liquid from each can

1/4 onion

1/4 red pepper

1/2 cup salsa

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

about 1/4 cup pickled jalapenos

1 tablespoon jalapeno juice

1/8 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth mixture. If you don’t have a large enough food processor, blend in a blender or pulse in smaller batches.


Black Bean Hummus2

I really enjoyed the flavor of this dip, especially served on toasted bread pieces. It can also be served with various crackers or veggie slices. For a hot dip, try adding cream cheese and shredded cheese and baking in the oven.

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English Breakfast Tea Cookies

7 Jun

English Breakfast Tea Cookie

I got very excited when I saw A Lot On Your Plate was hosting a bake-off this month for cookies, and of course I had to join in! The goal was to make the cookies as simple as possible so I went on search for the perfect recipe. I considered no-bake cookies because I love them oh so much, but figured that’s been done time and time again. Thankfully I happened upon this recipe that sounded equally delicious as it was easy.

I’m a sucker for hot tea. That’s probably why I get giddy when looking at tea pot/cup sets. After doing a research paper on the health benefits of tea my freshmen year, I became obsessed with the stuff. After finding this recipe for cookies with tea leaves baked right in, I knew I had struck gold. And simple.. you bet!

For the cookies:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon black tea leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon water

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

Option 1:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, add all the dry ingredients and pulse until the tea leaves are finely ground. Next add in the remaining ingredients and pulse until a dough begins to form. On a sheet of wax or parchment paper, roll out your dough into a log. Wrap the paper around the log to smooth it out. At this point you can freeze your dough for later use or chill for 15 minutes before slicing into 1/3 inch pieces. Bake for 12 minutes or until sides begin to brown.English Breakfast Tea Cookie2

Option 2:

If you don’t own a large enough food processor there’s still hope! Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and tea leaves (make sure the leaves are finely ground by pulsing them in a food processor if necessary). Beat the butter and granulated sugar together in a large bowl until combined. Beat in your vanilla and water. Add in the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. On a sheet of wax or parchment paper, roll out your dough into a log. Wrap the paper around the log to smooth it out. At this point you can freeze your dough for later use or chill for 15 minutes before slicing into 1/3 inch pieces. Bake for 12 minutes or until sides begin to brown.


English Breakfast Tea Cookie5

I love the little specks of black the tea leaves form in these cookies. Don’t worry if you think you must purchase full leaf tea for this recipe. Pop open a tea bag and it works just as wonderfully. They go nicely as a snack with afternoon tea or a large glass of milk and they work great for cut-out cookies as they hold their shape very well. Be adventurous and try flavored or green teas as an alternative! I found my recipe at TheKitchn. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

*Update: I recommend using strong brewed tea in place of the water to give it an added tea flavor.

S’mores Macarons

4 Jun

Okay, I did it. I broke down and jumped on the macaron bandwagon (not to be confused with the coconut-y macaroon treats). And, all I have to say for myself is that I’m glad I did!

After hearing and reading horror stories about making these little French delights, I was nervous to say the least. Here I’m going to take a second to brag and say that my macarons turned out on the very first try! That just means if I can make them, so can you! Maybe it helped that I had this little guy tagging along in the kitchen.

Paxton1

My pretty Persian, Paxton.

For my first batch, I decided on a s’mores flavor. It’s summertime, s’mores are fun treats, so why not turn them into macarons? I started with a basic chocolate macaron and added a marshmallow and graham cracker filling. They turned out quite tasty, and I found myself continually going back for seconds.

There are many little tips and tricks to making the ‘perfect’ macaron. I’ve read where you should use weighted measurements for best results, but lacking a kitchen scale, I used regular cups and tablespoons and still came out with great results.  It can all seem overwhelming, but it proved very fun once I got into the swing of it! With tons of flavor combinations to mix/match and choose from, macaron making is going to be a new favorite of mine. I’ve got my eye on cookies & cream next!

smores macarons

For the macarons:

3/4 cup slivered almonds, finely ground

2 extra large egg whites, at room temperature

Scant 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:

2 cups marshmallow fluff

3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature (optional)

graham crackers, crushed

Before starting, separate egg whites and let stand in a bowl covered with a paper towel until room temperature; about 2 hours. Let cream cheese come to room temperature as well.

In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground. In a small mixing bowl, sift the powdered sugar. Add in cocoa and whisk to combine. Add the powdered sugar mix to the almonds and process until blended. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, or stand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy and soft peaks form. Gradually add in the granulated sugar and continue to beat until the meringue becomes shiny and stiff peaks form when the beater is lifted.

Sift the almond mixture and discard any fine parts of almond left. Add the almond mixture to the meringue, about 1/3 at a time. With a rubber spatula, fold the mixture until just combined before adding in the next third. When all the dry ingredients are incorporated, continue folding until the batter flows from the spatula in ribbons. Try not to under or over fold the mixture.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a wide, round tip. Pipe the batter into small circles (about 3 cm in diameter) spaced about 1 inch apart. Beat the baking sheet down against the counter to release air bubbles and to help the macarons form their “foot”. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to form a crust. You should be able to touch the macarons lightly without getting batter on your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the macarons in the bottom middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes. Carefully peel macarons off the parchment paper and let cool completely on a wire rack.

While the cookies cool, make your marshmallow filling. If you want to cut the sweet, add the marshmallow fluff and cream cheese together and stir until well combined. If desired, simply use marshmallow fluff. Place the graham crackers in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin (or your hands). What to do with them is up to you! I incorporated them into my marshmallow filling, but you could also roll your finished macarons in the crushed crackers so they’ll stick to the filling that may spill out the side.

Match the macarons by size, pipe filling onto flat side, and push together to form tiny sandwich cookies.

smores macarons3


If you’re unsure how to get the correct size circle when piping your batter, you could trace out the circle size onto your parchment paper or dip the correct size cutter into powdered sugar and tap into circles for guidelines. I found all my tips, tricks, and the chocolate macaron recipe in this book.

Apricot-Cranberry Rice

2 Jun

Apricot-Cranberry Rice

I made this to go along with some simple pan-seared chicken the other night and just realized I had forgotten to post it! This rice dish has a sticky, sweet taste due to using apricot jelly along with a hint of toasted sesame seed which reminds me of Asian flavors. Therefore, I recommend serving this as an Asian side dish with chicken, pork, or fish.

For the rice:

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tsp sesame oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup dry rice of your choice

1/2 cup apricot jelly or jam

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoon dried cranberries

Boil the broth, garlic, oil, and salt in a saucepan; stir in rice and cook according to package directions. In a small saucepan, simmer apricot jelly, sherry, and cranberries about 10 minutes or until it’s a sticky mixture. Once rice is cooked, add the apricot mixture and serve hot.


I rather enjoyed the sweetness of this rice dish opposed to the regular, plain rice. If cranberries aren’t to your liking, any number of dried fruits could be used as well as using another type of jam/jelly. Orange marmalade, perhaps? I slightly adapted this recipe from Cuisine Lite.

What I Ate Wednesday!

30 May

I recently came across What I Ate Wednesday and thought I’d join in on the fun! All you must do is document your food for a day, with photos, and share them with your readers. This first post is of photos I took last Wednesday when I was home visiting my mom.

Breakfast is about the only time she steps into the kitchen, but when she does its always delicious. I had whole grain toast, turkey sausage, and a fried egg white. To drink, besides a mug of tea, I enjoyed Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness.

WIAW breakfast 1

Lunch turned out to be considerably more unhealthy. Green peppers and sausage topped my slice of leftover pizza from Village Pizza.

WIAW lunch 1

I ended lunch with the remainder of my refreshing Limoncello Italian Ice. Which reminds me, I need to make more.

WIAW dessert 1

After a day of walking, shopping, and reading, mom and I ran home to change and get ready to head out with the ladies. Chocolate cake shots and Havarti slices made up our pre-meal snack.

WIAW snack 1

We ended our night at Bonefish, but I was unable to snap any photos due to the darkness. Of course, anyone who’s been to Bonefish knows how absolutely wonderful it is! Mom and I split an Ahi Tuna appetizer and the Orange Roughy special.

I’m interested to hear.. what did everyone else eat Wednesday (or Tuesday, Monday, Friday, etc)?

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies

28 May

Dark chocolate sea salt brownie

Confession: I’ve never been a major chocolate eater. But that didn’t stop me from buying four (yes, 4!) bars of chocolate recently. The chocolate isle must have cast a spell over me because I absolutely couldn’t resist. After getting home and eating the red velvet cake flavored bar, I moved on to devouring the black currant and almond one, which happens to be my new favorite. With my chocolate sweet tooth satisfied and two bars of chocolate left, what was I to do? Turn them into brownies, of course!

Dark chocolate sea salt brownie 3

I’m sorta picky when it comes to my taste in brownies. I don’t like them too rich or too gooey. After searching and searching, I finally found a recipe I thought would be to my liking, and they did turn out delicious! If you enjoy a mix of sweet and salty flavors, this one’s worth trying.

Dark chocolate sea salt brownie 2

For the brownies:

7 oz dark chocolate, chopped

-I used Lindt Dark Chocolate with a Touch of Sea Salt and Ghirardelli 72% Dark Chocolate.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into quarters

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

3 large eggs

1  1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch baking dish with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray; set aside.

In a double boiler or a pan set over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate stirring occasionally. Once melted, stir in the cocoa powder and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt; whisk until combined. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. With a wooden spoon, stir in the flour until just combined.  

Pour the mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of crumbs stuck to it. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Remove brownies from pan using the foil, cut, and serve!


I had added an extra 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt to my batter but found the crunch and super salty bites were too much for me. If you would like the added salt, feel free, although I believe the salt amount would be just perfect only using the sea salt chocolate bar. For those of you who really enjoy the dark chocolate flavor, using dark chocolate cocoa powder and a higher percentage dark chocolate bar would work. I rolled a few of mine in crushed pistachios for serving. I adapted my recipe from Annie’s Eats.

Triple Cheese Crostini

25 May

Triple Cheese Crostini2.1

In a neighboring city from my hometown there was a little Italian restaurant we would visit whenever the chance arose. You could sit outside where a pair of railroad tracks ran parallel to the patio, and it was always a treat when a train would drive by blowing it’s horn. A few months ago I was sad to hear that this wonderful place had closed down. I mourned for the loss of their wonderful pasta and their giant bowls of salad dripping with sweet vinaigrette. But I finally decided I would mourn no longer for my favorite item on the menu.. bubbly bread. Talk about full of heavenly, cheesy sin.. this appetizer wins the contest. I can’t say my attempt at recreating this dish hits the nail on the head, but it’s superbly delicious all the same!

I started by toasting 1-inch thick slices of Italian five grain baguette then smeared them with a layer of ricotta-mayo mixture, sprinkled with feta, then topped with a mound of mozzarella. If you wanted to add extra seasonings (such as Italian or fresh herbs) to the mix, it could easily be done. I’ve already managed to down 5 of these little suckers, so dieters beware! The smell (and taste) is far too fantastic to turn away.

For the crostini:

1/2 baguette, french loaf, or other bread of choice

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon each salt and pepper

crumbled feta cheese

shredded mozzarella

Begin by cutting your bread into 1/2-1 inch thick pieces and placing them on a baking sheet. In the lower middle of your oven, broil bread on low for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow bread pieces to cool. In a food processor or by hand, mix the ricotta, mayonnaise, salt and pepper until smooth (a few small chunks are alright). Here you can incorporate any seasonings or herbs with the ricotta mixture, if desired. Spread roughly 1/2 a tablespoon of mixture onto each bread piece and smooth around to cover entire piece. Crumble as much feta as desired on top of ricotta mixture (I used about a teaspoons worth per slice). Top bread pieces with shredded mozzarella, and don’t be shy! Place slices under the broiler set to low for 5-6 minutes then switch to high and watch for cheese to start bubbling and browning on top, another 2-3 minutes. Pull out of the oven and serve immediately with dipping sauce of choice.


Triple Cheese Crostini1.1
These little jewels screamed “pull me apart and eat me” as soon as I brought them out of the oven. So.. I did. And with a smile on my face! I served mine with Giada De Laurentiis’s Pepper and Eggplant spread I found at Target. Any type of marinara sauce would work wonderfully as well.

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