Friday, April 10, 2015

Eating Happiness

Holy smokes, Batman….I fail at blogging!!  Sorry for the loooong hiatus, but my computer was invaded by a sticky fingered, dirty dish cluttering, homework littering, game installing, dirty sock leaving 13 year old – I think it’s time for his parents to get him his own computer so he can pollute it in 3.5 seconds flat and then go outside and play with sticks and the dogs.  I think we have all the bugs cleaned off (figuratively and literally), but it appears I have not much space left on ye olde hard drives so hopefully this won’t put it over the edge and take me back to a blue screen.

Part of my issue is writing block and memory (or lack therof)….having a hard time thinking of new things, and remember what I’ve already posted, and I don’t want to be that old lady that constantly repeats herself.  Part of my issue is writing block and mem….HAHAHA, sucker!  Sorry, still a bit of a dufus, and that will NEVER change.  So how bout we just cut to the chase and I recipe you up?  More than a couple new ones have wandered through my kitchen in the last year, so let’s mix it up and give you a little variety – not sure you can use them all together, but it could result in the weirdest lunchbox content grand prize so there’s that.

First and best (really, I don’t kid about stuff like that) is a cookie that came into my sights (and maw) via a co-worker.  Her name is Loreli, and she is a sweet and lovely lady who works with numbers.  And this one is a 10 out of 10….it is hard to express how violently I love this cookie, and how having the ingredients to make them in my kitchen make me break into a sweat.  I made a batch, and they were just as good as hers (that doesn’t always happen), and when I got home the next day, there was only one left.  I sat down, got comfy, and ate that bad boy slowly and with many noises, then texted Handsome Stranger and told him what I was doing and that it was like EATING HAPPINESS.  He replied “LOL”, then again with “I had to explain to the girls at work why I was laughing”.  So without further ado, I give you:

Happiness Cookies

I emailed Loreli and requested her recipe, and she responded “I’d be happy to share – and I will, but honestly – I don’t measure anything… I’ll give it my best shot!”  She was spot on…..and I got brave and eyeballed it myself, worked like a charm!  Phew….I don’t usually do that with baking!

½ cup creamy peanut butter (or chunky)
½ cup Crisco
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 pkg. Heath Bar toffee pieces (these are mui 10-12 oz. of Heath bars and smash them up if necessary, just don't use chocolate chips or you are lame)

Preheat oven to 350, cream peanut butter, Crisco, sugars, eggs and vanilla, then add flour, soda and salt and mix until incorporated, then fold in toffee bits.  Drop by cookie scoop or spoon on cookie sheet and bake 11 minutes; let cool a minute and remove to cooling rack. HIDE FROM KIDS.

I don't have a pic of either, so you get spring
How many times can I post about hummus?  As many as it takes!  On Spring break this year, my little brother who shares a love of food including cooking and inventing it and I went on a culinary adventure – we both work in education so we both had the week to lounge about and thumb our noses at our working stiff spouses who don’t get every holiday known to man off.  I had recently given him a tip on Bob’s Red Mill….for those who have bought their products, there is actually a STORE that carries it all – it also has an in-house restaurant, and you could spend a half day in there and still not see/eat everything.  He texted me on his first trip there and I swear he was hyperventilating in the bulk section....luckily he took his lovely wife so he had someone to hold a paper bag over his nose and mouth until he calmed down.  We decided to go again so we could share each others picks in person, and try a few of their breakfast specialties.  The food is excellent, but we both suffer from the “I can do better at home” syndrome, so it was more about the shared experience and terrorizing the bulk section than anything else – it is a really cool store, and it was really funny when he unintentionally snorted hickory smoke powder from one of the spice jars.

The plan was to then go to my fave Vietnamese restaurant and intro him to sweet tamarind soup, then take him home and show him how to make it, but since we weren't hungry yet I took him to Global World Foods.  It’s a Mediterranean market in our old childhood stomping grounds….used to be the Piggly Wiggly our mom/Uncle Bob worked at as meat wrapper/butcher, but is now home to an excellent selection of Greek and other Mediterranean specialties, including a deli to die for.  I had them throw a couple pitas in the brick oven then we sampled everything that turned his crank in the deli case….we chose a few things to purchase and when our bread was passed over the counter, we stood in the aisles and raked our hot pita through the dips.  I think I mortified him a bit, but once he tasted it I think he no longer cared – and these days if people think I’m weird, I just congratulate them on being right. 

One of my choices was butternut squash hummus.  I lovelovelove hummus done right, and this was sooooo different but AMAZINGLY light and flavorful – it has a beautiful orange color from the squash, and it also adds a sweetness unlike your average hummus….my taste buds screamed “THIS MUST BE COPIED.  A couple days later I grabbed a squash, peeled and cubed (small) half of it, then spread it on a cookie sheet lined with foil and drizzled with olive oil along with a dozen or more whole garlic cloves, and a sprinkling of kosher salt and popped it in the oven to roast, then let cool a bit.

Scene 2:  CUISINART.  How I love my Big C….it can do SO many things and is almost as powerful as Handsome Stranger and nearly as gorgeous – the hum of that motor gives me goosebumps.  In goes 3 cups of drained garbanzo beans….I make my own, I think canned ones are too hard, and mine are delicious just cooked and sprinkled with a little garlic salt.  Save some of the liquid if you have it, or just have some water on hand.  Now comes the unbelievable part.  I used NO nut butter in this…..I was going to add it, but kept tasting and it thought if it could taste THAT good without, why add more fat than necessary?  Lemon juice, olive oil, and kosher salt and pepper to taste and we had a winner!  I don’t care for cumin, so did not include like GWF did…..I can live with it, but why not do it how I like it?  Holy schnikes this stuff is wondermus!

Roasted Garlic and Butternut Hummus

Lovely stuff…..sweetness of the squash, the lovely mellow taste of garlic roasted to remove the POW, a bit of salt and plenty of lemon to balance the flavors out – it is very light and refreshing, but creamy and buttery as well, but with about half the fat of regular hummus, AND with extra veggies and that beany protein punch.  Another trick in my bag of hummus…..I am bean-centric!

½ Butternut Squash, peeled and cut in small cubes
12 (or more) cloves of garlic, peeled
Olive oil or spray
3 C. drained garbanzo beans
 ¼ C. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375, spray cookies sheet and add squash cubes and garlic, spray again or just drizzle w/olive oil and stir to coat.  Roast in oven 15-20 minutes, stir and roast 15-20 more until slightly browned and tender.  Put squash and garlic in food processor, add beans and olive oil, then start to process.  Add lemon juice half at a time, taste as you go until it’s how you like it.  Once you’ve added all the lemon you’re going to, add water one T at a time until it’s your desired consistency, then a couple pinches of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper and LET IT RUN.  I walk away and come back in 10-20 minutes….if the sides of the bowl are warm, you should be good.  Give it a taste, adjust seasonings/lemon/water as needed, and it should be smooth as a baby’s butt but far more appetizing!  Serve with crackers, pita, pita chips, tortilla chips, spread on grainy bread, tortilla, or a bagel….it’s sosososo good!

 That gives you a couple things to think about, I have a list of more that are coming soon - if you have a request, just shout it out and I'll consider anything - just no capers, you know how I feel about those little boogers.

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