homemade yummy hummus = yummus!

Considering my love for hummus now, it’s hard to believe, but I did not discover this delicious dip until I was in college. I particularly remember falling head-over-heels for hummus my junior year, when I studied abroad for a semester in Norwich, England. The grocery chain Tesco made a superb fresh hummus, and nearly every weekday for lunch I would make myself a plate of hummus and pita bread before heading off to class. My flatmates {dormmates} would tease me about it, and I kept wondering when I would grow tired of my hummus lunchtime routine, but I never did. I ate hummus and pita bread for lunch nearly every weekday of my sixth-month stay in Norwich, and I kept eating it when I returned home to the States. I’ve never been able to find a store-bought hummus that tastes quite as good as my memory of that hummus from Tesco. Plus, store-bought hummus can get a little pricey, and who knows what preservatives and additives I’m inhaling along with my pita bread.

So, this week, I decided to get out my blender and try making my own hummus. I’m SO glad I did, because it is absolutely delicious, waaaaay cheaper than store-bought brands, and could not be easier to make! I also love how I can control how much oil, garlic and spices go in. And it was simple to make my hummus organic — I just paid 20 cents more for the organic version of Kroger-brand garbanzo beans!

easy-peasy garlic hummus

– 1 (19 ounce) can garbanzo beans, most of the liquid reserved
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 tablespoons tahini
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped {I used 2 tsp pre-chopped garlic}
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– black pepper, red pepper, or cumin to taste

1. In a blender, or by hand, chop the garlic. Pour garlic and garbanzo beans into blender.

2. Pour lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, and optional spices in blender. Blend until creamy and well mixed.

3. Add additional bean liquid to get desired texture and additional spices, salt and lemon to taste.

4. Optional: chill in the fridge for 15-20 minutes, or as long as you can stand the wait. I think this hummus tastes even better the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to marinate together for a little while!

I served mine with fresh sliced carrots and cucumber. I also love eating hummus with warm pita bread. Makes a great lunch or healthy snack! Hummus also makes a great sandwich spread — I’ll use it instead of mustard or mayonnaise.

What are some of your favorite veggie dips & sandwich spreads? Any other hummus-obsessed people out there?



-Time spent: 15 minutes
-Cost: $3.00

You might also enjoy these healthy snack posts:
baked mango with brown sugar & cinnamon
creamy avocado yogurt dip from Two Peas & Their Pod
honey goat cheese dip from Peanut Butter Fingers

rice krispies treats with m&ms

Last weekend I went to a welcome-back potluck for my Master’s program and I volunteered to bring dessert. {I always volunteer to bring dessert — any excuse to bake!} I racked my brain for something to make. Cookies? Cupcakes? Lemon bars? But with a busy weekend to-do list of errands and course planning, I was a little pressed for time. I thought back to picnics and potlucks of my childhood, when my mom would often bring Rice Krispies treats — they used to be one of my favorite desserts. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a Rice Krispies treat. A craving hit and it was immediately decided: I would try my hand at making some for the potluck!

Lucky for me, this recipe could not be simpler. It’s the perfect, inexpensive crowd-pleaser for any gathering — especially in the summer, when you don’t want to heat up your kitchen by turning on the oven. This would also be a fun recipe to make with kitchen-helper kiddos!

Looking for a dessert to bring to a Labor Day picnic? Try whipping up some of these!

rice krispies treats with m&ms

-1 package mini-marshmallows
-1/3 cup butter
-1 large bag mini m&ms
-6 cups rice krispies

1. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with butter and set aside. Melt the rest of the butter in a big pot on the stove. When butter is halfway melted, add the marshmallows.

2. Stir until the marshmallow is completely melted and smooth.

3. Turn off the burner. Add the rice krispies two cups at a time, stirring thoroughly until the mixture is combined.

4. Add a heaping cupful of the mini m&ms. {Feel free to use whatever kind of m&ms you want; I like the minis because they are so dang cute!}

5. Press the rice krispies mixture into the greased 9×13 pan. Pour the remainder of the m&m bag onto the top of the rice krispies and press down with a spatula.

6. Let cool for 15-20 minutes {or as long as you can stand it} before slicing into squares and serving.

Have a delightful weekend, everyone! I’ll be soaking up these last rays of summer before autumn sweeps in …



Time spent: 15 mins
Cost: $6.00 {with about half a box of rice krispies left over for breakfast this week!}

marvelous monday: strawberry chocolate-chip pancakes

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Marvelous, I hope!

I had a fun, relaxing and productive weekend. It was a great balance of work and play! I did some grading and lesson-planning, worked some on the novel I’m writing for my thesis, and did some baking! {Delish new muffin recipe coming later this week, hooray!} The highlight of the weekend was definitely Saturday night, when I drove an hour to Indianapolis to see Bob Dylan in concert!!

It was a beautiful summer evening and the concert was held in an outdoor venue, so we got to enjoy the sunset just as Bob Dylan was beginning to play. I loved the casual, picnic atmosphere. There were no assigned seats {at least not in the back section where we were sitting!} Instead, people sat in blankets or lawn chairs in the grass. It was lovely.

And Bob, of course, was rockin’! It was so neat to hear him play so many of his classic songs live. For an encore he played “Blowin’ in the Wind” which might be my favorite of his songs. You can just barely make him out in this photo I snapped — in the middle of the stage in the black jacket, playing the piano. Can you spot him?

What a fun time! I had a blast. What are some of your favorite concerts you’ve ever been to?

I wanted to start the week off on a luxurious note, so for breakfast I made strawberry chocolate-chip pancakes. How can this not be a fantastic week with these babies kicking it off?

I love this recipe for homemade from-scratch buttermilk pancakes I found on the terrific blog Newfashioned Mom, but you could also substitute your favorite boxed pancake mix.

strawberry chocolate-chip pancakes

– 1 cup unbleached flour
– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 5 tablespoons powdered buttermilk (or 1 1/4 c. fresh buttermilk, skip the water)
– 1 egg
– 1 cup water
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup chopped strawberries
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– butter for greasing pan

1. Heat pan or griddle on medium-low.

2. To make pancake batter: sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, water, and vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to dry mixture and stir together until big lumps disappear. {Batter should still be slightly lumpy.}

3. Grease pan with butter and pour in your pancake batter. I use a 1/4 cup scoop.

4. If desired, drop in the chocolate chips and strawberries. I prefer to cook chocolate-chip pancakes and add the strawberries on top after.

Option 1 on the left, Option 2 on the right.

5. When batter begins to bubble in the middle, use a spatula to flip the pancakes over. Cook until golden-brown on both sides.

6. Serve immediately with warm syrup. YUM!

Whenever I make pancakes, my first batch is nearly always a hot mess. Still tastes good, but not as pretty as the others. At least this one kinda looks like a heart! ❤

Hope you have a wonderful week filled with strawberries & sunshine!



-Time spent: 20 mins
-Cost: less than $5

chocolate spice zucchini muffins

As you have probably figured out by now, I love baking. I haven’t met many baked goods that I don’t like! {I have an especially hard time staying away from the bakery items at Starbucks … I always go in planning to just get a healthy green tea, but the pumpkin bread and/or maple scones love to call my name!}

That said, I do love baking things myself because I love taking a delicious recipe and tweaking it to make it healthier, while hopefully still retaining the deliciousness level.

Which is why when I came across this recipe for chocolate zucchini muffins, I was super excited to try it out. Anytime you can figure out a way to sneak some veggies into a chocolate fix seems like a win to me!

These turned out chocolatey, moist and I liked the hints of cinnamon and spice. They’re pretty healthy as far as muffins go. You could probably add some frosting to these too if you wanted to make some uber-healthy cupcakes!

chocolate spice zucchini muffins

– 3 egg whites
– 1/2 cup sugar {I used 1/4 cup white sugar & 1/4 cup brown sugar}
– 1/2 cup no sugar added applesauce
– 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup grated zucchini
– 1 & 1/2 cups flour
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
– optional: mini-chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease or line a muffin tin with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl beat the egg whites. Beat in the sugar and applesauce. Add the cocoa, vanilla, zucchini and stir well.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

4. Pour the flour mixture into the zucchini mixture and stir until just moist.

5. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling them about 3/4 of the way full.

6. Optional: For a topping use any, all or a combination of the following: brown sugar, chopped nuts and mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle tops of muffins just prior to baking.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack. Store loosely covered.

-Time: 40-45 minutes {including bake time}
-Cost: about $3

red velvet cupcakes with coconut cream-cheese frosting

I like to bring my students baked goods as a surprise at the end of the term {that is, if they’ve been a good class — which so far, they always have been!} I had an especially wonderful creative writing class this summer so I decided to eschew the usual cookies or brownies for a special treat: homemade Red Velvet Cupcakes with this fabulous coconut cream-cheese frosting you might remember from my carrot cake recipe last month.

{Here are the finished cupcakes all ready to go to class:}

I have made Red Velvet cupcakes to great success from a boxed mix before — I like substituting applesauce for the oil to make them a little healthier while still retaining moistness. I am a big fan of the Duncan Hines Red Velvet boxed cake mix.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, like I was, here’s a recipe I was excited to find on the wonderful site Annie’s Eats to make Red Velvet cupcakes from scratch:


for the cupcakes
– 2½ cups cake flour
– 1½ cups sugar
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
– 1 tsp. salt
– 2 large eggs
– 1½ cups vegetable oil {I substituted 1 cup applesauce}
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

for the frosting:
– 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 1 tablespoon heavy cream
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring {optional}
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vegetable oil {or applesauce}, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

4. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Beat until the batter is smooth.

5. Fill the cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way full.

6. Bake 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with heavy cream. Beat in the salt, coconut flavoring, and vanilla extract. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and spreadable. Add additional confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting, or more cream to thin. Stir in the coconut.

9. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a knife or a spatula to spread the frosting onto the top of each.

10. {Optional} I like to refrigerate the cupcakes for twenty minutes or so to let the frosting solidify.

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!

Time spent: about 1 hour {including bake time}
Cost: $5-$7

marvelous monday: chocolate strawberry coconut cookies

Happy Monday, everyone!

I’ve been on a bit of a breakfast kick lately as a way to get my week started off right. As soon as I saw this recipe for “Dark Chocolate Strawberry Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies” on Reini Days {one of my favorite blogs — you should check it out!} I knew I had to try it out myself.

I mean, chocolate? For breakfast? How can you go wrong??

These were the perfect way to use up some leftover strawberries I had in the fridge. They smelled absolutely heavenly while baking! Another thing I love about these cookies is that they are healthy enough to justify eating for breakfast, yet also delicious enough to serve for dessert. I modified the recipe a little. Here’s my take on it!

chocolate strawberry coconut cookies

– 1 cup uncooked oatmeal
– 1 cup flour
– 2 T ground flax
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 1/2 cup shredded coconut
– 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
– 2 egg whites
– 2 T honey
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp coconut flavoring {if desired}
– 1/4 cup chocolate chunks or chips {could be dark, milk, or white chocolate, or a mix!}
– 1 cup strawberries, diced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, flour, flax, and salt.

3. In another bowl, combine the applesauce, egg whites, honey, vanilla extract, and coconut flavoring.

4. Pour applesauce mixture over oat mixture and mix well, until all is combined. Stir in chocolate. Then gently fold in the strawberries.

5. Using a tablespoon, place dough on the lined baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to the touch.

These are especially delicious still warm and melty from the oven. Enjoy!



Time: 30 minutes {including bake time}
Cost: $5.00

marvelous monday guest post: energy-packed peanut-butter breakfast cookies

Just like a calm, organized and productive morning can set a great tone for the rest of your day, a marvelous Monday helps set the tone for a marvelous week! Personally, the more “together” I feel on Monday, the more prepared I feel to tackle all the projects I want to get done over the week. And what better way to start your Monday off on a marvelous note than with a yummy, healthy and energizing breakfast? I’ve got a recipe for you today that I promise will do just that!

I am so excited to share a guest post with you today: a recipe from my wonderful cousin Julie! I tried making these over the weekend and I’m looking forward to eating them for breakfast all week. YUM! ❤

Here’s what Julie has to say about this delicious and healthy recipe:

“I’ve tried many variations on these cookies — by substituting different nuts and dried fruits, adding some shredded coconut, swapping a teaspoon of honey for some of the sugar, etc. — and they always come out delicious! These make a good hearty breakfast, but if you don’t like too much sweetness early in the morning, they are also great as an afternoon snack or a healthy dessert.”

peanut-butter breakfast cookies

{makes one dozen cookies}
– 1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1/4 cup nonfat powdered milk
-1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit
-chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and oatmeal to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat egg into sugar. Add peanut butter, powdered milk, raisins, and chocolate chips/nuts/oatmeal.

3. Spoon onto greased cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes.

You can make the dough ahead of time, keep it refrigerated, and make up as many or as few as you want at one time. {Making the dough the night before and popping a few in the toaster oven in the morning makes for a quick and tasty breakfast!}

Hope you enjoy! And thanks again Julie for sharing this recipe with us today!

Time: 20 minutes {including bake time}

Cost: less than $5.00

low-fat garlic cheese biscuits

I am not the biggest seafood fan {I like some fish, but not really shrimp, crab, lobster, etc} … but I have always loved going to Red Lobster, even when I was a kid and ordered the chicken tenders, because of the amazing garlic cheese biscuits they give to every table. YUM! I always want to gobble down two or three biscuits before the food even arrives.

So I was thrilled when I found this recipe for garlic cheese biscuits on the terrific food website gina’s skinny recipes. I love the recipes Gina creates because they’re delicious AND low-fat. I decided to try this recipe as a side to the cilantro-honey marinated salmon I made for dinner the other night {my new favorite way to cook salmon; I’ll post it here next week!} It was my first time making any sort of biscuits, and they turned out great!

Here’s the recipe:

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced {I used 2 tsp of pre-minced garlic in olive oil that I found at the store}
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 cups Heart Smart Bisquick
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese {I got the reduced fat kind}
  • 2/3 cup fat free milk

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. Melt butter in a small frying pan, add half the garlic and saute on low heat about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add parsley.

3. In a large bowl, combine biscuit mix, cheddar cheese, and remaining garlic. Stir in milk and mix (do not over mix). Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet.

4. Bake for 10 minutes. Brush or drizzle biscuits with melted parsley/garlic butter. Bake for 5 more minutes, or until lightly browned on the bottom.

These biscuits are delicious warm from the oven, and I actually thought they were even more flavorful warmed up the next day. Just store any leftovers in a plastic bag or wrapped tightly in aluminum foil. You can also freeze the batter if you’d like — then all you have to do is pop it in the oven and you’re good to go!

YUM! Please make these and share them with those you love! ❤



Time: 15 minutes
Cost: $3.00

carrot cake with coconut cream-cheese frosting

I don’t know about you, but I loooooove cream-cheese frosting. I had never attempted to make some myself {I’ll admit it: I was intimidated} … whenever I made a cake I always chickened out and opted for the store-bought kind. But whenever I got a piece of red velvet cake or carrot cake from a bakery or restaurant, and the cream-cheese frosting was obviously homemade, it always tasted a million times better.

So, for Mike’s birthday, when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted me to make, he requested carrot cake … with cream-cheese frosting, of course! And I knew I had to try making the good homemade frosting for my sweetie.

I am SO glad I did! It was way easier than I expected, and sooooo delicious. This is now my go-to frosting for any cakes, cookies, cupcakes — you name it, I’ll frost it with coconut cream-cheese goodness.

Here is the recipe for both the carrot cake and the frosting. The carrot cake is relatively healthy as far as cake goes: no oil or butter; egg whites, applesauce, carrots. The frosting is not healthy in the least, but it is worth it!

carrot cake with coconut cream cheese frosting

– 6 egg whites
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 cup applesauce
– 1/2 cup skim milk
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1 tsp ground nutmeg
– 2 tbsp cinnamon
– 2 tsp baking soda
– 2 cups flour
– 2 cups shredded carrots
– 8 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
– 1/2 cup raisins {though I left them out because I don’t like raisins}
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts {if desired}

– 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 1 tablespoon heavy cream
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring {optional}
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites. Slowly beat in sugar, then applesauce, skim milk, and vanilla. Stir in cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, and flour.

3. Stir in, one ingredient at a time, pineapple (with juice), carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

4. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Your cake is done when a fork inserted in center comes out clean.

5. While your cake cools, make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with heavy cream. Beat in the salt, coconut flavoring, and vanilla extract. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and spreadable. Add additional confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting, or more cream to thin. Stir in the coconut.

6. Once the cake has cooled, spread the frosting evenly over it with a knife or spatula. If you can bear the wait, pop the frosted cake in the fridge for half an hour or so to give the frosting time to set. I think this cake tastes even better the next day, after spending a night in the fridge!

Upon taking his first bite, Mike declared:



Happy weekend & happy baking!


Time spent: about 1 hour
Cost: $8.00