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Tag Archives: Dip

Grad School Gourmet: Bean-y Bruschetta (Vegan!)

1 Sep

So I had the privilege to meet dear, sweet blog reader Brenda before she moved away — but I got the most adorable text message from her yesterday saying she made the baked beans (one of my most popular recipes) and loved them, and when the heck am I going to post more recipes?! Well, she said it a lot cuter and nicer than that. <3 Sure, I’ve been super busy, but y’know, the time has come!

Truth is, the BFF Manfriend has been doing 90% of the cooking lately, while I’ve been scrambling. And I don’t mean eggs. In fact, this meal was inspired by the man himself. And his version actually might have been better. Also a true story. I know that you might think, Hey, this has two recipes, it can’t be fast or easy! But I promise – it’s simple, delicious, and can be thrown together in probably fifteen — tops twenty — minutes. I say this with confidence because yesterday I ran to the store down the street, and when I came back, the BFF Manfriend announced dinner was ready. Um. Yes? And you thought the mango heart was sweet.

This the perfect recipe if you (or a generous friend — thanks Ann!) have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden, getting way too ripe on your counter.

The tomatoes are strained of their seeds/juice, cooked down with a little olive oil, and seasoned as a tomato should be — with only salt, pepper, and oregano. The reserved juice and seeds aren’t wasted, though — they are added to lend some piquancy to the other layer of the meal — cooked black beans, which are seasoned with just some salt, pepper, cumin, and a touch of oregano.

Here’s what it looks like when those tomaters are all good and squeezed:

After mashing or blending the bean mixture (the Husband smashes; I blend [lazy]), you spread them on a slice of GF bread, and dollop on a spoonful of Succulent Tomato Topping. With salad on the side, this is an efficient (read: fast), high-protein, nutritious, vegan, and totally delicious meal. I like to think of it as “Grad School Gourmet” — cheap, but with a touch of class. I mean, I used “piquancy” to describe it. That’s not only a GRE word, it’s definitely made the rounds in fine cooking magazines…

NOTE: You do not have to include the strained tomato juices/seeds; feel free to omit the step of adding it to the beans and just dispose of it.

Simple, Succulent Tomato Topping

1.5 TB extra virgin olive oil
5 small to medium-sized tomatoes
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper
1 TB oregano

1) Quarter tomatoes and remove seed pulp/juice (you can just squeeze them or run your fingertip along the seed line to remove). Reserve juice in a separate container.
2) Coarsely chop tomatoes.
3) Warm olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high, and add tomatoes, salt, pepper, and oregano.
4) Stir occasionally to keep from sticking; allow tomatoes to cook down (5-10 minutes).
5) Turn off heat, and, using a spoon or spatula, drain liquid into the container with the other tomato seed pulp/juice. Taste, add more seasoning if necessary.

Makes about 1/2 cup, depending on the size of the tomatoes. It should be enough for about 4 large slices of bread.

Classed-Up Quick Bean Spread

Reserved tomato juice/seeds from recipe above
1 1/4 C prepared black beans (= 1 14.5 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 TB cumin
1/2 t salt
1/2 t coarse ground pepper
1/2 t oregano

1) Combine all ingredients in a shallow bowl and mash until combined — OR — place all in a blender and process until desired texture — OR — combine in a bowl and use an immersion blender until desired texture. Taste and adjust spicing accordingly.
2) Spread or pour (depending on consistency) over toast, and cover with Simple Succulent Tomato Topping.

Makes about 1 – 1 1/4 cups — enough to top 4 large slices of bread.

Mmm… Bean-y Bruschetta.

Like I said in the note above, the beans will be thicker if you add less (or no) juice. Also, as always, play with the spicing to your preference! These recipes are so simple that the real gem here is just the method; it’s amazing how easy it can be to just put a little bit of a different spin on something traditional, and end up with deliciousness. This felt like comfort food gone… adult.

What surprise meal successes have you had lately?

Garden Green Goddess Dressing

5 Aug

I’ve never been a huge fan of Green Goddess Dressing. This shocks me, as well, seeing as I love green so much my blood is probably closer to an emerald tinge… (Random nerd question: Did you ever watch Star Trek: The Next Generation? Ok, please don’t stop reading my blog just because I’m weird like this. Anyway, Vulcans have green blood! I can relate. That is all.) For some reason, when I whipped this up, it worked for me, despite my not being keen on most GG varieties. It is tangy, herby, and reminds me a lot of ranch dressing, but without all the…gross stuff. Heh. Plus, it looks quite delicious atop all this colorful bounty our garden can’t stop generating!

If you are harvesting an abundance of herbs from your garden, you can easily substitute fresh basil and/or oregano. In fact, I think perhaps this dressing would really pop with an even more vibrant flavor if you did so! Just use the conversion of 1 tablespoon fresh herb for each teaspoon dried herb. Voila! You’re a fancy cook who uses fresh garden herbs. Don’t you feel classy?


1 small avocado (~1/2-3/4 C diced…these are hard to measure precisely!)
1/2-3/4 C water (start with 1/2 C, add more if thinner consistency desired)
1/4 C chopped fresh parsely
1 Tb fresh lemon juice
1 t apple cider vinegar
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt (warning: this might be a bit much for non-salt lovers like myself)

1) Add all ingredients except for herbs to a food processor.
2) Process briefly until things have combined, but aren’t perfectly smooth.
3) Add remaining ingredients (herbs). Process until smooth.

We store ours in a small glass mason jar, but it never lasts more than two days, the way we eat! : ) The citric acid from the lemon should keep things tasting nice and fresh for at least a couple days. If you prefer your GG dressing sweetener, simply add a few drops stevia.

P.S. – A trick for keeping your herbs fresh? Place them in a mason jar with just enough water to reach the tips. Keep in the fridge, towards the front (the back gets too cold and could freeze ‘em). Just make sure to trim off the leaves that would be submerged, or they’ll get goopy! If you’re worried it will get too chilly, just place a plastic bag over the top.

This is excellent tossed with a lettuce salad, or used as a healthier ranch dip! I served my first version of this with the Cucumber Lettuce Wraps at a party, and caught one rather reserved, professorly man uncharacteristically and quite enthusiastically maneuver himself across the table to grab the whole jar. He ate at least half of it by himself! Love those moments. I’ve since tweaked this recipe a bit, so hopefully it will send him running, not just awkwardly jogging and reaching, next time…

What kind of salad dressings are your favorite?

I grew up mostly on vinaigrettes, and we never had ranch, so it makes me yack when I even smell it! Never been a ranch fan. Our all-time favorite is the Honey Mustard Poppyseed, but here are more ideas: Apple Cider VinaigretteAsian Peanut Salad Dressing + SauceSummer Grilling Marinade (<– great on salads or as a marinade), and Zesty Italian Dressing.

Asian Peanut Salad Dressing + Dipping Sauce

8 Jul

When I used to go out for sushi on a semi-normal basis, my favorite part wasn’t necessarily the sushi… It was the complementary salad that some of the restaurants I frequented would offer. More specifically, it was the ridiculously delicious peanut dressing that was dolloped on the lettuce leaves. However… the whole “mayo” and “high fructose corny syrup” and “preservative” thang was sort of a turn-off.

Do you want to know something funny? I love lettuce — I will eat it like an apple right off the head, I will chomp on leaves like a rabbit, I will eat a salad without any dressing at all. And I’ll like it. I am not a dressing person… But I also know that I am a freak little different than most people. And since I want to serve healthy food to the people I love, I realize that I’m a lot more persuasive when I serve my veggies with a little somethin’ somethin’ to drench them in. I’m no fool, folks — I am fully cognizant that my friend Joshua comes over to our place to eat solely for the honey mustard poppyseed dressing. Hey, I’m just glad he’s eating a fresh vegetable… those bachelors like to get a little reliant on smoothies and breakfast burritos, from what I hear… (<3 you Joshua!)

When a lovely reader named Brenda asked if I could please post some more dressings (apparently she, too, is hooked on the honey mustard poppyseed), and preferably ones that don’t require a blender, I was more than delighted to oblige. So, here is the first in hopefully a string of successful vegetable-disguising-or-complementing-depending-on-your-perspective dressings! I served an unfortunately water-ed down version of this with the cucumber-wrapped salads (apparently I have sushi on the brain lately, eh?), along with another dressing yet to be published. I tweaked this by eliminating the added water altogether and voila! Perfection. It’s now gone after just one sitting between the Husband and myself. Yes, we like to eat.

The best part? You probably already have all the ingredients, and it takes about 2 minutes total to get everything together, poured, and whipped up. Win!

1/4 C peanut butter
2 Tb agave
1.5 Tb lemon or lime juice (fresh)
1 Tb apple cider vinegar
2 tsp gluten-free tamari (you can sub soy sauce if you eat gluten)

1) Mix all ingredients in a bowl or small glass mason jar. Cover and store in the fridge.

Wow. One step. That’s pretty easy, yes? Not to mention it is crazy healthy! This dressing has a protein punch thanks to the peanut butter, which I don’t think any other variety of salad dressing can boast. It’s also versatile; it would be delicious as a sauce to toss with stir-fry, or pour over whole grains like millet or brown rice (my BFF Manfriend will be coating his pasta with this from now on), or in a number of other delicious scenarios. (Personally, I’ll be eating the salad I just made for these photos. It’s 8am, but I don’t care. It’s awesome. So. Yeah.)

Go nuts with the possibilities! (No pun intended; peanuts are legumes, not nuts…hehe.)

In other news, this weekend, I will be staying up in the mountains with my mom’s side of the family. We get the chance to celebrate my grandma (I called her G-Funk, and yes, she was adorable and loved it) and her life, which ended early this spring. Even though I am saying my final goodbye to one of my best friends (I mean that sincerely), and it will feel strange to be savoring all the things she loved without her, I am so thankful that we get to be together in one of her favorite places, and enjoy nature just as she would have.

What are you doing this weekend?

Have you ever tried the awesomesauce that sushi places serve on salads?

Cinnamon (Un) Sugar Dessert Hummus — With Sweet Potato Power!

29 Apr

Not going to lie… I meant to attempt this when I first made my other 3 dessert hummus recipes, but ultimately ran out of time and ingredients. So today, I actually followed through on my conception: something reminiscent of the cinnamon sugar toast I loved in my youth, but packed with nutrition. Dippable, dunkable, spreadable. Snack or dessert. Yum Town. It was definitely worth the wait! When I had the BFF Manfriend taste test it, he said it was like cinnamon frosting. Um…how can that be bad?! We loved it. This is perfect for topping oats (not only a boost of protein, but remember: it tastes like frosting, friends. Frosting.), toast, graham crackers, tortillas, apples, bananas, and pretty much anything that can otherwise be used as a vehicle to your mouth.

Like last time, I want to thank Evan at The Wannabe Chef for the inspiration! After I stumbled upon his dessert hummus, I knew I was in for it. As you can see from that last 3-recipe-post extravaganza — Evan…you’ve ruined me. It’s all hummus, all the time over here now. (Note: I just now saw he has since posted a snickerdoodle hummus, too!)

1 C cooked and well-rinsed white beans (if chickpeas, peel for smoother texture)
2 Tb cashew butter (or any natural nut butter, though flavor may vary)
1/2 C sweet potato puree (or pumpkin puree)
2 t vanilla
3 Tb agave, 100% maple syrup, or honey (I used a natural maple-flavored agave)
2 Tb cinnamon
sprinkle of salt

1) Place all but cinnamon into food processor (or blender) and whir it up until everything is smooth.
2) Add cinnamon (start with just 1 Tb at first if you are cinnamon-shy, adding more as you like) and continue to process.
3) Spoon into a bowl and serve. (Feel free to be real classy like me and drizzle just a little agave on top, and dash cinnamon for garnish. The simple things… The simple things.)

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More flavors coming soon…obviously. ; ) And do I need to tell you how healthy this is? Hellooo Protein!  Oh, and hey Fiber — didn’t see you there in all that deliciousness. Yo! Antioxidants! Didn’t know you were coming to the party — so glad you could make it! Cinnamon, you old anti-inflammatory, how you doin’ these days? (….Annnd SCENE.)

But seriously. This is awesome. If you’re wondering about the sweet potato puree, you can either nuke a sweet potato in the microwave (I don’t have one), bake it in the oven, or boil it on the stove. I boiled mine and processed it before adding other ingredients — it ended up being 1 small tater. Easy peasy!

(Part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday)

What are you doing to celebrate TGIF
(other than wishing ABC would bring the real TGIF back)?

Perfect Pesto — Vegan and Easy

9 Apr

I left you hanging in suspense at the end of this post, didn’t I? Well, I believe it’s with good reason. I know this is perhaps not the most unique of my recipes, but it is simple, made with whole foods, and tastes better than any prepared pesto that has ever graced my tongue. (Does anyone else feel awkward about the word “tongue”? Just me?) Also, it goes from ingredients –> pesto in about 3 minutes. Soo…

I find that having a special condiment on hand that can center a dish helps me to put meals together quickly and effortlessly. That said, if you’re looking to up the gourmet ante on your meal tonight, or quickly throw this together during the weekend so you can have a ready sauce convenient throughout the week, this is your recipe.

Here are some of the numerous ways to use pesto:

- Tossed into pasta
- Spread on toast
- Coating roasted vegetables
- Mixed into salads
- As a marinade
- As a dip (for pita chips, crackers, crudites, or pizza bread)
- Drizzled into soup
- As a sandwich condiment
- Mixed with hummus (but not this kind, heh heh)
- Tossed into any type of grain (millet, rice, etc.)
- Added to lentils
- With white beans
- In broth
- On pizza

Obviously, pesto welcomes experimentation! While most pesto contains expensive pine nuts (last time I looked they were $19/lb, no joke), and parmesan, I have always preferred to make it cheap and vegan ; ) I think you could also make this raw; I believe olive oil is not considered an orthodox raw food, so perhaps just substitute a small amount of avocado or raw oil (coconut?).

1/2 C walnuts
3 cloves garlic
small bunch fresh basil
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

1) Coarsely chop garlic.
2) Add walnuts and garlic to food processor or blender. Process until crumbly.
3) Add basil and process until fairly smooth.
4) Add olive oil, process briefly (just until combined — too much will make the oil bitter), then salt and pepper to taste.

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I made this pesto to be one of three sauce topping for our socca pizzas when we watched the NCAA game this week with our friends. I can’t describe the wonder of this combination. The oil from the pesto gave a delicious crisp texture to the crust, and every bite was a balance of the juicy basil and hearty socca.

The other highlighted sauce was this tapenade – it was actually amazing on the crusts!

Action shots of both types of pizza being prepared, caught thanks to the BFF Manfriend:

What are you up to this weekend? Do you prepare food for the week ahead of time?

Simple + Savory Date Tapenade

5 Apr

My BFF Manfriend lovingly calls me The Sauce Queen. I attribute this to the fact that 1) he doesn’t realize how easy sauces can be, and 2) I make awesome sauces (joke, just wanted to catch you off guard). As you may have guessed already, I love making dips, dressings, sauces, marinades, frostings, condiments… If you can slather it, dunk it, or pour it, it’s my game. Since I posted the Herbed Chickpea CRACK-ers and the Socca Pizza Crust recently, I thought I would go ahead and give you a non-garbanzo bean based topping to use on these delicious vehicles for  sauce — because let’s be real, clearly that is what they are. Hummus was out; that would just be way too much chickpea up in hurr. (And I promised no more bean recipes for while. …Has it been “a while” yet?)

I was dreaming of something salty, with a hint of sweet… vivid but not brazen in flavor and bite. I wanted an element of smoothness. Behold, my dream-come-true: Savory Date Tapenade. I like that the title is an allusion to a really nice night out with a suitor (yep, totally just used the word suitor).

And this date tapenade and I…we really hit it off.

Sorry. Really, really sorry...

[I know you guys come here for my impressive photoediting skills. Also, I am well aware that I have a special strength for making creepy and romantic metaphors using food. It's a gift.]


Anyway. Tapenade is beautifully versatile; it’s delicious with crackers, pita bread/chips, socca, sandwiches, or even — as we ate it last night — on pizza. I was shocked when my BFF Manfriend devoured piece after piece of the tapenade-topped pizza, even matching his zeal for the pesto selection (and that is really saying something). Apparently, it’s good. Like pretty much everything I make, this is highly adaptable. Add more or less of anything for your own unique tastes! This is a tiny bit sweeter than most tapenade, but I love the dimension it adds. As a pizza, this would be exceptional with caramelized onions on top!

1 jar/can/heaping cup black olives (with no ferrous gluconate preservative or coloring)
1 jar/can/heaping cup pitted kalamata olives
1 large clove garlic
2 dates
drizzle of honey
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1) Add 1/2 of both types of olives, dates, and garlic to food processor (or blender).
2) Whir it up until everything is in very small chunks.
3) Add the rest of the ingredients, pulsing until combined (don’t whir it up for too long, or the oil will become bitter).

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That’s it. If you want, add a pinch of rosemary and salt, and swoon with delight.

Don’t worry, that pesto line above was indeed a teaser for a looming post. If you’re on the hunt for a healthy, raw, vegan pesto — I shan’t disappoint (um, hopefully, at least).

Also, I promise no bad drawing or photoshopping tomorrow. < 3


What is your forte in the kitchen? Sauces, cookies, breads, raw desserts, snacks, eating? : )

Healthy, Homemade Honey Mustard Poppyseed Dressing

9 Mar

It isn’t easy to jump into any transition immediately – let alone a complete transformation in eating habits. So I took it a few steps at a time. I found that it was not only simple, but also surprisingly fun, to make some of the processed items I took for granted. I used to just assume that you buy salad dressing because…well, the store is where such condiments come from. Right? Wrong. This dressing totally trumps any I have ever purchased. And the ingredient list compares quite nicely, if I do say so myself.

A couple weeks ago I got together with my maternal side of the family, and made this dressing for most of our meals (we ran out each time). I got exhortations to “bottle it!” Also, look how adorable it is in this little bottle we reused…

So cute.

Here are the ingredients:
½ c. regular mustard
½ c. Deli or Dijon mustard (grainy seeds in it) – using different types will give a unique flavor. If you only have regular, it will still be awesome, just a little less complex.
¼ c. Honey (or agave for a vegan version)
1 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tb + poppy seeds
(For extra zing, we love adding mustard powder. Not necessary at all, but it gives it some spicy kick.)

1)    Mix the two mustards together with a fork.

2)    Stir in honey.
3)    Stir in vinegar.
4)    Add e.v.o.o and stir quickly to emulsify.
5)    Stir in poppy seeds.

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Dip away! Vegetables, salads, fish sticks, chicken strips, anything goes. This is how I sometimes bribe people to eat vegetables. Hypothetically, friends named Joshua.

It works!