Homemade Hummus

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A few days ago I stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few items to make this hummus, and as I was placing my items on the conveyer belt, I saw a little girl dressed in an all too familiar black and white plaid jumper. It was the same plaid uniform that I wore during my years attending St. Paul Catholic School. So I smiled thinking about which teachers this little girl might have and which classroom she spent her days in. And I thought about the little friends she might be making in the same hallways that I met my best friends. I wondered if the friends she was making now would be the same friends that would stay by her side for the rest of her life. Because that’s how it was for me at St. Paul. I spent my school days at St. Paul with LT and Annie, and these two wonderful girls are still my very best friends today. We were attached at the hip through those 8 years of Catholic School, and the bond we formed there is probably why I look back at my time in grade school so fondly. And though we all had different groups of friends in high school and college, and our friendship went through many different phases, these two have always been my anchors. Because whether we were in a period of talking every day or whether a few weeks passed between our long winded interactions, I never doubted that they were my best friends. There is something special about having friends who have known you through every phase of your life. Those type of friendships seem to be especially strong, as they effortlessly ride the storm of “growing up.” There were times I got caught up in some short lived friendships in high school and college, but when it came down to it, I always turned to Annie and LT in the end. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from a play by Edward Albee. “Sometimes it is necessary to go a long distance out of your way in order to come back a short distance correctly.” Because no matter how many twists and turns our lives take, we always have each other to come back to. And that, my friends, were my long winded thoughts while standing in line at the grocery store.

This easy hummus recipe doesn’t contain tahini, but is still just as delicious as the store bought varieties. I added garlic to the mix, but you could easily customize it with roasted red peppers, chili powder, or whatever other flavoring you like.

Ingredients: Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 whole clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until mixture is smooth
  2. Serve with veggies, pita bread, ect.
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Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

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When I was 12 or 13 I wrote down a list of goals I hoped to accomplish in life. Some of them were simple and have already been checked off the list. Write a letter to my 7th grade teacher and thank him for teaching me so much about literature and life. Check. Travel somewhere I’ve never been, completely on my own. Check. And then there were a few goals that will take a lot more work and patience. One of these goals is run in the Detroit Marathon. It’s a bit funny to me that I had this ambition so long ago when running wasn’t even really a part of my every day life. Sure, I ran fairly regularly to stay in shape but I didn’t enjoy it. And running any distance longer than 2 miles seemed absolutely miserable. But over the years, running became so much more than a way to stay in shape. As crazy as it might sound, I think it’s become a big part of who I am. I’ve always been a chronic over thinker, over analyzer and, well, all around spazz. But running somehow balances me in a way I can’t quite explain. Starting every day quietly with only the sound of my feet on the pavement calms me down and settles my over active mind.  So for the last 3 months I have been working at achieving this particular life long goal. I’ve suffered sore muscles, frigid ice baths and 7am Saturday wakeup calls from Eric, encouraging me to get the long run in before the heat and humidity set in. But overall, I’ve really enjoyed the training process. Getting to increase my mileage each week and walk away with the knowledge that I ran 9, 10, 11 miles all before 9am has been an amazing feeling.  In a few days I will run the Detroit Half Marathon.  I may not run the race quickly or perfectly paced but I’m confidant that I will cross that finish line with a flurry of endorphins and sore muscles. So what, you may ask, does this have to do with muffins? Well, one of the things I’ve learned from half marathon training is the importance of proper fueling. I never like to eat before I run, but I started realizing running anything over 6 miles on an empty stomach didn’t leave me feeling too hot. Enter these muffins. They are slightly sweet and chock full of wholesome ingredients. And at only 90 calories a pop, they aren’t so filling that you feel like you’re running with a brick in your stomach. Key for a good run. I started making a batch of these per week, and they are so delicious I may continue baking them even after my half marathon training is done. So whip up a batch of these babies on Sunday, and send me good vibes so I can cross the finish line in one piece!

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, Adapted slightly from from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl, soak the oats in the milk and let sit for at least one hour
  2. Combine the oat mixture with the applesauce and egg whites until just combined
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (whole wheat flour through salt)
  4. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon into dry ingredients, set remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon aside
  5. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients until just combined
  6. Scoop muffin batter into a muffin pan lined with muffin liners
  7. In a small bowl, combine sugar and remaining cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over muffin batter
  8. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes

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Pumpkin Muffins

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I’ve come to realize that my love of baking is very reflective of my personality. The process of baking is steady, quiet and requires quite a bit of patience. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that the addition of flour and baking soda will make bread rise, and the right amount of sugar will make it sweet. I think it is that steady dependability that has always made me consider myself more of a baker than a cook. Because much like the process of baking, I too am about as careful and calculated as one can get.  Cooking, on the other hand, is much more spontaneous, loud and full of adventure. When cooking, you can throw a bunch of ingredients together on a whim and it often results in a perfectly harmonious dish. Yet with baking, the measuring of ingredients is key, and one must be precise and careful.  And though I love the spontaneity of cooking, time spent baking is when I feel most at home in the kitchen. So when the weather starts to cool down, I jump at any chance to turn on the oven and spend the night whipping up some magic in the kitchen. And while many people my age spend every Friday nights out at the bars, I’m perfectly happy spending Friday evening in front of the oven. And that is just what I did last weekend. And starting off the weekend with a delicious batch of pumpkin muffins is about as good as it gets. I found this recipe over on SkinnyTaste.com and love how decadent these muffins taste despite its healthy ingredient list. They make for a perfect snack any time of day.
Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, Adapted slightly from SkinnyTaste
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  •  1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour though salt)
  2. In a large bowl, place pumpkin, vegetable oil, egg whites and vanilla; Beat with and electric mixer until just combined
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, beating until just combined
  4. Scoop batter into a muffin pan, lined with muffin liners
  5. Bat at 350 for 25-30 minutes

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Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffins

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I love the way food can induce so many different memories. Sometimes it’s an old cherished family recipe that will bring you back to a different time in your life. But sometimes it’s as simple as a childhood snack that can flood your mind with memories. This past weekend I had the urge to make some homemade blueberry muffins and I was suddenly reminded of one of my favorite childhood snacks. My mom used to always buy my brother and I those packaged blueberry mini muffins for an after school treat. Those 4 tiny muffins, studded with sweet blueberries always take me back to the days I spent in my Catholic school uniform chasing after my big brother. I remember being in Kindergarden and hating the time I had to spend without Sean. He was in the 3rd grade and went to school all day, whereas I was only in my Kindergarden class until noon. Since I couldn’t quite tell time, he would tell me he would be home right after Barney was on. And as soon as Barney ended I would run to the window  patiently waiting for my friend to return home. My mom recently told me that there were a few times Sean was set to go to a friend’s house after school, but would ask if his friends could come over to our house instead because he knew how sad I would get when he was gone. And here we are, 20 years later and I still absolutely love hanging out with my big brother. My best friend LT brought Sean as her date to our friend’s wedding this past weekend and we had a blast. It’s funny, because there were a few of my old friends there who had never met Sean and I’m sure they were surprised at how different we seem. I was always known for being a bit quiet and reserved, whereas Sean is the life of the party and pretty much captures the attention of every room he enters. And though we may be opposite in a number of ways, we do have one very important thing in common. We will always be each other’s first friend. And I think that is one of my favorite parts of growing up with a sibling. It teaches you early on to make friend’s with people who are different than you. Because those are the friendships that teach you more about yourself and really help you grow.

And these were the thoughts that came to mind as I was peacefully whipping up these classic blueberry muffins. They filled the kitchen with the delicious homey smell of butter and sugar reminding me of childhood afternoons spent at the kitchen counter. These muffins pair tangy lemon juice with sweet blueberries, and the contrasting flavors pair really well for a deliciously nostalgic treat.

Ingredients: Makes 14 muffins, adapted from Forget Those Calories 
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup yogurt(I used vanilla greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Streusel Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon zest and juice
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (baking soda through flour)
  4. Slowly beat dry ingredients into butter mixture until just combined (mixture will be crumbly)
  5. Beat yogurt into batter until just combined
  6. Stir in blueberries
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into greased muffin tins
  8. For the streusel topping, combine all streusel ingredients (melted butter through brown sugar) and sprinkle 1/2 tablespoonful of topping over unbaked muffins
  9. Place muffins in the oven and bake at 350 for 25 minutes

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Easy No Bake Granola Bars

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Like a lot of people my age, I grew up on Chewy Granola Bars. I remember having those delicious granola bars for after school snacks and post soccer game treats. My favorite by far was always the Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Variety. But although the Chewy bars masquerade as a “healthy snack” the lengthy list of ingredients says otherwise. These classic school time snacks are definitely a healthier alternative than most snack items these days, but they still have quite a bit more sugar and unpronounceable ingredients than I would like to consume regularly. So I was happy to find a healthier alternative that rivals the taste of the childhood favorite. These easy No Bake Granola Bars consist of rolled oats, mashed banana and peanut flour. Peanut flour, often called PB2 , is powdered peanut butter that has far less fat than typical peanut butter. It is available in most grocery stores in the health food aisle, and adds a nice flavor to these bars. The original recipe didn’t contain chocolate chips, but I added a few in because, well… chocolate makes everything better. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 9 bars, Adapted from UndressedSkeleton.Tumblr.com

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 large, very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons powdered peanut butter or PB2
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well incorporated and mixture resembles oatmeal cookie dough. This will take a few minutes, and the mixture starts out very dry, but don’t add any additional liquid
  2. Once mixture resembles dough, add in chocolate chips
  3. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and form into 2 inch bars
  4. Place bars on a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator overnight

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Super Crunchy Granola

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I’ve made homemade granola quite a few times, and while I’ve found some fantastic flavor combinations, I hadn’t yet found a granola recipe that satisfies my need for that extra crunch that you find in the pricey store bought varieties. Until now. This weekend I finally found a recipe that results in tons of extra crunchy granola clusters. This type of granola is perfect sprinkled on top of oatmeal, swirled in some Greek yogurt, or just eaten by the handful. And you can feel free to add whatever mix ins you’d like. Chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut flakes, you name it. Whatever add-in floats your boat will work in this easy recipe, because the flavor of the granola is incredibly versatile. Subtle enough to add in whatever punch of flavor you would like, but sweet enough on its own. I think the key to crunchy granola might be the “low and slow” cooking method. I threw this batch in a 300 degree oven and let it cook for 45 minutes. My only hope is that I can make it last all week without devouring the whole batch.

Ingredients: Adapted slightly from Espresso and Cream

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup nuts (I used chopped walnuts)

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk first 6 ingredients together (egg white through cinnamon)
  2. Pour oat, flaxseed, sesame seeds and nuts into bowl and stir until mixture is well coated with wet ingredients
  3. Spread mixture on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 for 40- 45 minutes, stirring granola every 10-15 minutes

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread with Coconut Cinnamon Streusel

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Every morning, I follow the same routine. I get up around 6, and after I go for a run and shower, I sit down with my coffee and read the 6 or 7 blogs that I follow.  It’s such a relaxing start to my work day. My favorite blogs consist mostly of “healthy living blogs” which typically revolve around healthy recipes, race recaps and stories from the lives of other 20-something girls. But there are a few blogs that I read that have no mentions of exercise, vegetables or health food of any kind. Food Blogs. And in my opinion, one of the best ones out there is How Sweet It Is. This blog features recipe after recipe of indulgent and mouthwatering dishes. But I should warn you, perusing this blog will most definitely make you hungry. Well the other day, Jessica of How Sweet It Is posted a classic Liz Lemon “I want to go to there” recipe that I knew I would have to make in the coming week. This moist, flavorful banana bread is topped with the most delicious coconut cinnamon streusel I have ever tasted. The bread itself actually uses coconut oil, rather than your typical butter, as a source of fat. If you’ve never used coconut oil before, I highly recommend it. It is solid at room temperature, but a few seconds in the microwave results in a syrupy, lightly flavored oil that is delicious on toast. I’ve also heard it can be used as a lip balm or a hair mask. Personally, I prefer it in my recipes. Especially this recipe. It is a perfect sweet treat and will make your whole house smell absolutely heavenly. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Recipe from How Sweet It Is

  • 1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Streusel

  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan thoroughly with nonstick spray.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, whisking thoroughly. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until smooth.

4. Add in coconut milk and coconut oil, whisking until combined.

5. Stir in mashed bananas, vanilla and coconut extracts until mixed.

6. Slowly stir in dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour batter in the greased loaf pan.

7. Combine all the streusel ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands until butter is well combined.  Evenly sprinkle on top of the banana bread batter.

8. Bake for 75-85 minutes, or until center is set. If the streusel begins to brown, tent the bread with aluminum foil.

9.Remove and let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies


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Hello again! So it has definitely been a while. And I’ll admit it…I haven’t stepped foot in the kitchen in almost a month. There haven’t been any Saturday afternoon baking sessions or new recipes feverishly typed on my flour dusted laptop. But in my defense, I have been a little busy. My last couple of weekends have been consumed with venue touring and wedding dress shopping. And I’m happy to say we have been incredibly productive in our first few weeks of being engaged. We have set a date, booked a venue, chosen a band and photographer and yesterday I said “yes to the dress.” And with all of those important (and incredibly fun!) tasks successfully checked off of our wedding to-do list, we can relax a bit and I can get back in the kitchen! Today I decided to use some over ripe bananas in a simple and sweet dessert. These Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies are rich in flavor and come together in a flash. And don’t you love recipes that come together in only one bowl? Less time washing dishes is always a major plus in my book. Enjoy!

Ingredients: Adapted slightly from Taste of Home, makes 24 cookies

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground apple pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2)
  • 1-1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, combine first six ingredients (flour through nutmeg)
  2. Add softened butter into dry ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until mixture resembles course crumbs
  3. Add egg and mashed banana into mixture and beat until combined
  4. Stir in oats until just incorporated
  5. Stir in chocolate chips
  6. Bake at 375 for 13-15 minutes

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Classic Banana Bread with Brown Sugar Crust

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This weekend was filled with butter, sugar and buttercream frosting. Because this was the weekend that my mom and I made dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies to share with our family and friends. Every December we spend an entire Saturday dusting the kitchen with flour and sugar while  watching White Christmas. And though I have quite a few new Christmas cookie recipes to share, I thought I would share one last healthy recipe before the December sugar coma ensues. This recipe for Classic Banana Bread comes from Cooking Light. It is low in calories and fat and is a perfect use for those few browned bananas you have lying around. I did jazz the original recipe up a bit by adding a brown sugar topping. The topping forms a sweet crust to the soft bread and adds an extra little punch of sweetness. This bread is great with a smear of peanut butter but is perfectly sweet just on its own.
Now let the holidays begin!
Ingredients: Makes 1 loaf, adapted slightly from Cooking Light
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients until just combined (flour through cinnamon)
  2. In a large bowl, beat sugar & butter together until creamy
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time
  4. Add bananas, yogurt & vanilla to butter mixture and beat until well blended
  5. Add flour mixture slowly and mix until just combined
  6. Pour banana bread batter into a greased loaf pan
  7. For the topping, mix butter, flour & sugar together until crumbled and sprinkle over banana bread batter
  8. Bake at 350 for 1 hour

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