September 30, 2008

Black Soy Bean Hummus

This is the delicious, protein- and fiber-rich dip that I ate with my Daring Baker vegan crackers. Yummm...

Black Soy Bean Hummus
Adapted from


  • 1- 15 oz. can black soy beans, drained
  • 1- 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved


  1. Place the soy beans, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Transfer mixture to a serving bowl.
  3. Serve with your favorite accoutrements!

September 28, 2008

DB Vegan Seed Crackers

My first Daring Bakers challenge! And can you believe it? I didn't have to make any substitutions thanks to this month's vegan recipe! For my toppings (from left to right) I used poppy seeds, sesame seeds, celery seeds, fennel seeds, lemon pepper, and a rosemary herb blend.

My sister's least favorite was the celery seed cracker, as it tasted like celery and was a bit bitter. My least favorite was the lemon pepper, which I felt was overpowering. As for favorites, my sister casts her vote for the poppy seed cracker. Although that one was delicious, I personally loved the rosemary herb blend, as it paired nicely with the sweetness provided by the agave nectar.

I also lack a rolling pin, so I rolled these out with a wine bottle. As a result, they were a bit thicker than was intended and took longer to cook. However, I preferred my chewy little crackers - excellent for dipping in Black Soy Bean Hummus (coming soon!).

Vegan Lavash Crackers
Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers


  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast
  • 1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
  • 1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
  • Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings


  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
  2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).
  4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
  7. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

September 24, 2008

Newman's Own Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups Review

I don't think that there is much for me to say about this one. It is super creamy, organic, peanutty, dark chocolate-y deliciousness. And you get 3! Whoop! A brilliant alternative to the junk-packed Reese's peanut butter cups. And did I mention they are made with dark chocolate? Heaven! The only thing that could be better is homemade. Now that I mention it... ah, but that's another day!

You can't really see the nutrition facts but, again, you probably don't want to. It's fat covered in fat. I mean, come on. Don't expect a miracle in the fat department. But hey, if you are going to eat it anyway, it is organic! And profits go to charity! So there you go. Besides, how could you ever resist this...

September 21, 2008

Spiced Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus... my love.

Usually. This version wasn't really my thing. I know. I feel like a traitor. But this whole spicy hummus thing was not up my alley. I usually love spicy foods. I like it so hot that my eyes water. Just don't mess with my sweet hummus.
But, in the hopes that this is your kind of thing, I am posting it. Next time I might use it and just omit the cayenne.

Spiced Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 (4 ounce) jar roasted red peppers
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. In an electric blender or food processor, puree the chickpeas, red peppers, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt.
  2. Process, using long pulses, until the mixture is fairly smooth, and slightly fluffy. Make sure to scrape the mixture off the sides of the food processor or blender in between pulses.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The hummus can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.)
  4. Sprinkle the hummus with the chopped parsley before serving.

Aww... look how cute.

September 18, 2008

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Applesauce

Pumpkin pancakes? Pumpkin anything? I'm there. The only thing I might change about this recipe next time would be to slightly reduce the spice so that the pumpkin flavor comes out more.

I usually do maple applesauce or fruit compote with pancakes because the sugar content and calories of maple syrup are a bit scary. I personally like my pancakes smothered with some sort of sauce, so it is best to use something I don't have to feel guilty about later.

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes
Adapted from this recipe


  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups soy milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  1. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, flax and vinegar.
  2. Combine the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt, stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.
  4. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake.
  5. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

Maple Applesauce


  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup REAL maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum extract (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan with a whisk.
  2. Warm over medium heat until bubbly.
  3. Serve hot over pancakes.

I can't get enough of these pictures!

I like how you can see where the pancakes have absorbed the applesauce in this pic. Yum...

September 14, 2008

Newman's Own Sweet Dark Espresso Review

What's better than a smooth bar of chocolate? How about if it's organic, sinfully dark, and rife with coffee intensity? Yep. And does it make you feel better that the entire purchase price goes to charities in some form or another? Me, too.

I love this bar. Can you tell?

I warn you, though: this is not a bar for the coffee-weary. This chocolate packs a Starbucks-like punch, guaranteed to keep you bouncing off the wall in endorphins-spiked euphoria. Gotta love those beans. Too bad they aren't as healthy as your average bean.

Yeah, I know. You can't really see it. It's probably for the best. Well, the calories aren't so bad: 270... 200 of which are from fat. Yeah, it has a lot of saturated fat. A lot. But that's the price of chocolate, right? And besides, don't you want to help charity? Exactly. The less fortunate are counting on you to devour that bar, saturated fat or no.

Do you ever find that chocolate requires you to make excuses? Maybe it's just me... but I doubt it.

The good news is that this bar's intensity encourages savoring, not gorging. Astonishingly, I am actually able to stretch this bar over quite a few tastes. As you can see in the pic, it is thick and dark, perfect for a little melt-in-your-mouth goodness when you are having that chocolate craving.

Bottom line: If you like dark chocolate and intense coffee flavor, you should try this. What can it hurt? It's the least you can do for charity, right? Right. Now go eat some chocolate. I know I am!

September 8, 2008

Spinach Artichoke Tofu Dip

This is an excellent appetizer or snack. It is full of vegetables, tofu, and calcium. It tastes indulgent, but it's not! Except for the cheese and tofu, this dip can be made completely fat-free! Even with the tofu and cheese, it remains very low in fat. I loved the creamy texture, but next time I may replace the yogurt with more sour cream and throw in some more parmesan. My only reason is that I enjoy a tarter, tangier dip. I would also replace the fresh mozzarella with shredded lowfat; I just needed to use up the fresh before it spoiled.

Spinach Artichoke Dip
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks


  • 2 14oz. cans water-packed artichokes
  • 1 10oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed free of water
  • 4 ounces silken tofu
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup lowfat or fat-free sour cream
  • 1/3 cup lowfat or fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 bonnoncini of fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • extra parmesan for sprinkling on top


  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. In a blender or food processor puree the artichokes, spinach, onion, tofu, and garlic.
  3. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the parmesan cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and salt.
  4. Stir in the artichoke puree and pour mixture into a medium-sized baking dish (or multiple smaller dishes).
  5. Arrange mozzarella slices on top. Sprinkle the top with more parmesan. Bake uncovered until heated through and the cheese on the top starts to brown, about 45 minutes. For a browner top, place under a broiler on high for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Serve with grape tomatoes, sauteed until burst in a tiny amount of sundried tomato oil.

Mmm... also, as you notice here, the top of the mozzarella is a bit greasy. Before I served this, I blotted away the oil with a paper towel. If you use reduced fat mozzarella, this should be less of a problem. If you aren't too worried about fat, this would be even more decadent with some toasted pinenuts sprinkled on top. Yum...

September 4, 2008

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Muffins

So I've had a lot of dairy products sitting in the fridge lately, as a result of organic cottage cheese and sour cream being on sale, and I knew that I would not be able to devour all of that cheese in its raw form. Too much, and I can get tired of it very quickly. So when I saw Cooking from A to Z's raspberry cottage cheese muffins on Tastespotting, I knew I had to make them. I also had some blueberries that were on their last leg, so this was perfect! These were extremely moist and flavorful, perfectly spiced and gushing with tart blueberries and the occasional speck of cheese curd. Yum...

Blueberry Cottage Cheese Muffins
Adapted from this recipe


  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese (I had 2%, but I would normally prefer fat-free)
  • 1/4 cup organic 1% milk
  • 1/2 cup organic unsweetened soymilk (Silk brand)
  • 3 tablespoons Smart Balance Light
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (out of necessity, I used dark brown)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-2 cups blueberries (I say the more, the better)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cups.
  2. Cream the Smart Balance and sugar in a bowl until well blended and smooth.
  3. Add the cottage cheese and 1% milk and mix a bit more.
  4. Stir in the cinnamon along with the vanilla extract and beat for 2-3 minutes till well blended.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Mix the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mix, about 1/2 cup at a time.
  6. Once the ingredients are well blended, stir in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin tray and smoothen the surfaces. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 F.Stick a toothpick into the muffins to make sure they're baked before taking them out of the oven. Once removed, let them cool in the tray for 10 minutes before removing the muffins and setting them on a cooling rack. Once they're at room temperature, stick them into an airtight container or eat.
I chose this muffin to photograph specifically because you can clearly see the cheese curds and blueberries on the top of the muffin. Yum yum. By the way, those round little things are my ceramic pie weights. I had them out to air-dry and thought that they might make a nice display.

September 3, 2008

Ginger Snap Larabar Review

I love Larabars. They are, to me, the best snack bar... ever. So few ingredients for so much flavor and nutrition! This flavor is really nice, spicy and sweet. My favorite might have to be Key Lime Pie... but there are so many choices! These bars are really filling, perfect to settle a rumbling belly when you can't get a full meal, and there is no added sugar or extra ingredients. I'll leave you with some pictures of the wrapper for your shopping benefit...