Monday, February 28, 2011

chocolate hummus

I find it slightly ironic that I'm about to write a This Week's Cravings post on kid-friendly recipes when I don't even have a kid.  I am reminded of a certain scene in a Gilmore Girls episode where Sookie and Lorelai cater a child's birthday party.  Sookie makes lemon-garlic aioli, blanched veggies, and something that sounds like "gravlot" (it looked like fish).  For the cake, she concocted a chocolate cake with a rum raisin tropical fruit ganash.  When Lorelai very nervously asked her where the kid's food was, Sookie pointed to some very green-looking jalapeno-chipotle macaroni and cheese.

I am fully aware that hummus is not generally considered kid's food.  And, since I don't personally have a child, I recognize how absurd it is that I could claim any dish as kid friendly, much less one whose main ingredient is chickpeas.  Even so, I think that kids just might love this (as long as you don't tell them about the chickpeas, that is).  My taste buds aren't that different from a six-year-old's, and I can't get enough of it.  It reminds me of much so, in fact, that I was considering substituting it for pudding in a dirt cup, just to make the "dirt" a bit more healthy.

So...the moral of this story...try this on your kids.  Don't tell them it has fiber...or antioxidants...or heart-healthy fats.  Don't tell them about the chickpeas or the olive oil.  Just tell them that it's chocolate pudding for them to dip their cinnamon-sugar Teddy Grahams in.  I'm sure they'll love it.

I have wanted to try this recipe ever since I saw it on Tasty Kitchen.  It's as easy as it sounds, although I don't recommend using a blender like I did (oh, the woes of not having a food processor).  I never could get it as smooth as a food processor would, but the taste didn't suffer one bit.

First, you make a paste out of cocoa and olive oil.

Then, you blend that paste with chickpeas, sugar, salt, vanilla, and a small amount of warm water.  Blend it until it's smooth (or, if you don't have a food processor, until you get tired of wrestling with your blender).

Serve this up with pita chips, fruit, cinnamon crisps, or whatever else you feel like dipping into chocolate.  Enjoy the heart-healthy goodness!

Chocolate Hummus
from Tasty Kitchen
3 T. olive oil
1/2 cup cocoa
15 oz. chick peas
1/2 cup sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1-3 T. warm water

Make a paste with the olive oil and cocoa.  Place all ingredients (including paste) in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Serves 12.

Gluten-free variation: Use gluten-free vanilla and serve with fruit or gluten-free chips.

Nutrition: 113 calories, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 202mg sodium, 18g carbs, 3g fiber, 8g sugars, 2g protein, 0% vit. A, 2% vit. C, 2% calcium, 6% iron.

Linked up with Gooseberry Patch's Recipe Roundup: Kids' Recipes!

Kid Friendly Recipes!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

cookbook winner and recipe revealed!

Thanks so much to all of the comments and entries for Gooseberry Patch's new cookbook, Mom's Very Best Recipes (winner of the cookbook announced below).  As promised, I tallied up all of the results to determine which of my featured recipes got the most votes.

The winner...Lori's Rosemary Focaccia!

It was a tight contest between this focaccia and the sour cream chili bake, but I'm so excited that the focaccia won!  This is such an elegant bread to serve alongside salads or soups (or even in a sandwich), and it's so very easy to make.

A few notes on the recipe:  The recipe calls for optional shredded Cheddar cheese, which I didn't use.  Also, the recipe uses a bread machine, where I simply made up the dough by hand.  I'll be giving you the picture tutorial of what I did, but I'll include the original recipe below.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups bread flour, 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 packet) instant/active-rise dry yeast, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and 1 cup of very warm water (120 to 130 degrees).   Knead for several minutes until soft dough forms.

Divide dough in half and form each half into a flattened 10-inch circle...and I use the word "circle" lightly.  Mine looked a bit more like amoebas since I used my fingers to stretch them out instead of a rolling pin.  Focaccia should be lumpy and uneven, right?  Right!

I put these on parchment paper to avoid sticking.  Cover the tops loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray.  Let rise until double in size, about 30 minutes.

Brush the tops with remaining tablespoon of oil.  At this point, you can either sprinkle with cheese or with kosher salt (like I did).

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.

So there you have it...elegant bread in less than an hour!  I know this is one recipe I'll be making again and again.

Lori's Rosemary Focaccia
from Mom's Very Best Recipes

3 c. bread flour
1 T. dried rosemary
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
2 1/4 t. (or 1 packet) instant dry yeast
3 to 4 T. olive oil, divided
1 c. very warm water, 120 to 130 degrees
Optional: 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese

In the order listed, place all ingredients except one tablespoon oil and Cheddar cheese into a bread machine.  Set machine to dough cycle.  When finished, divide dough in half.  Form each half into a flattened 10-inch circle.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick vegetable spray.  Let rise until double in size, about 30 minutes. Place on greased baking sheets.  Brush tops with remaining oil; sprinkle with cheese, if desired.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.  Makes 2 loaves.

And the winner of Mom's Very Best Recipes...Linda Dubbelman!  Linda said, "Thanks for the pie recipe!! I'd love to win the book. The recipe that I'd like for you to share is the hot sausage dip. :)"  Linda, go up to "contact the cook" and shoot me an e-mail with your mailing address.  I know you'll love your new cookbook!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

pintos and kielbasa

Be sure to enter to win a Gooseberry Patch cookbook - Mom's Very Best Recipes!  Winner announced tomorrow!

I have been on such a bean kick lately!  We went to the store last week and came home with at least 10 cans of beans.  Even more ridiculous is the fact that I plan on using all of them this week!

This recipe was such a brilliant's got an amazing flavor and is delightfully low in fat and calories.

Begin by chopping up a green pepper and an onion.

Saute the pepper and onion in about a tablespoon of oil until they are tender.  Use a big stockpot...this recipe makes a lot!

Now add some kielbasa, pinto beans, great northern beans, stewed tomatoes, Rotel, tomato sauce, garlic powder, and pepper.  Just dump it all in at once!

Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat.  Simmer until it's heated through.

This works well over rice or just served by itself with a salad and fresh bread.  It's delicious!

Pintos and Kielbasa
adapted from Taste of Home Light and Tasty 2002
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 T. oil
1 lb. turkey kielbasa, sliced
1 can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can Rotel
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. pepper

Saute the onion and green pepper in oil until tender.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until heated through.  Serves 8.

Nutrition: 253 calories, 8g fat, 2g saturated fat, 35mg cholesterol, 1100mg sodium, 31g carbs, 7g fiber, 7g sugar, 17g protein, 8% vit. A, 41% vit. C, 8% calcium, 15% iron.

Friday, February 18, 2011

baconed spinach

Be sure to enter to win a Gooseberry Patch cookbook - Mom's Very Best Recipes!  Winner announced on Tuesday!

Call me crazy, but I'd rather eat spinach hot than cold.  And, I use "baconed" as an adjective.  Someone really needs to lock me up.

This is my favorite way to eat spinach.  Why?  Two words - bacon. grease.  Yes, bacon makes the world taste better, and this dish is no exception!  Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the best part.  One serving (2 cups fresh spinach and 1 piece bacon) is only 58 calories and 3 grams of fat!

Cut up some bacon into small pieces and cook in a skillet until extra crispy.  You really don't need a lot of bacon to make this dish good...I often just use 1-2 pieces.  (ps...I apologize for the totally unappetizing's the bacon's fault)

Throw in a generous splash of red wine vinegar (up to 1 tablespoon).

Then, toss in some fresh spinach!  Use 2 cups of fresh spinach for each piece of least that's what I do.

Stir the spinach around for about a minute, or until it wilts.  Serve immediately!  For a really crazy touch, try adding some corn.  It's a beautiful thing!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Every once in a while, I'm asked to do a review.  Sometimes I say yes.  Sometimes I say no.  It often requires lots of thought.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to review Pure Dark chocolates.  This time I didn't think...I just said yes.  Boy, I'm glad I did. :-)

I had never heard of Pure Dark before, but I'm totally impressed.  The chocolates are made as purely as possible, harvested straight from nature.  Everything is made in small batches to ensure the utmost quality.  Even the packaging demonstrates their commitment to nature!

I received a slab of 70% dark chocolate...and it was really a slab!

I put this in a batch of brownies (click here for brownie recipe), and it was amazing...subtly dark and yet deliciously rich.

We tried the other sample just by itself - dark chocolate bark with almonds, cherries, and caramelized nibs.  It was delicious!  The chocolate was nice and smooth, and the textures just added that extra something special.  I really loved the salty nibs in contrast to the sweetness of the dark chocolate.  It was a perfect snack.

Look for this in stores.  If you see it, definitely give it a try.  It would be perfect in your next recipe or as a fun element to your next wine tasting party.  You can't go wrong with dark chocolate!

P.S.  Obviously it would be hard to give a bad review of chocolate (can it be done?), but I promise that these opinions were honestly my own!  Pure Dark did send me the chocolate to try, but I speak the truth when I say I loved it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

chocolate crinkles

Valentine's Day is coming up soon, and in my mind that means one thing...


Even though I always spend February battling the bulge that I have acquired over Christmas, I still love getting chocolate for Valentine's Day.  So when it came time to do a post on Valentine's Day treats for this week's cravings, I had to pick something chocolate.

These cookies, affectionately known as chocolate crinkles around here, are moist, dense, and incredibly chocolatey.  Their one vice?  There's no way that you can "sneak" can't eat them without getting covered in powdered sugar!

First, melt 4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate in the microwave.

Try to resist dipping your finger into the chocolate for a taste.  Why?  A) it's way too hot, and B) it's unsweetened.  All you'll end up with is a burned finger and a desperate need for sugar.

Trust me on this.

Add 1/2 cup oil and 2 cups sugar to the chocolate.

Mix them together...

...and then add 4 eggs, one at a time.  Whisk well in between each egg.

Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture, and mix well.  Chill for several hours.

After the dough has chilled, roll it into 1-inch balls.  Roll the balls in powdered sugar until covered.

Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

When they are done, the tops will start to "crinkle."

These are so good and so easy...don't forget to lick the bowl!

Chocolate Crinkles
4 squares unsweeted chocolate, melted
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
powdered sugar to roll cookie dough in

Mix oil, chocolate, and sugar.  Blend in 1 egg at a time until mixed.  Add vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine salt, flour, and baking powder; add to mixture.  Chill for several hours.  Shape tablespoon of dough into ball and roll around in powdered sugar until covered. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Valentine's Day Treats
This Week's Cravings is all about Valentine's Day!  Whether it's chocolate or candy hearts, be sure to post your favorite Valentine's Day treats here.

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