Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Recipe/Book Review: Falafels with Asparagus Hummus

I received a review copy of Muffin Tin Chef — a book of 101 recipes cooked in various sizes of muffin tins.

Unless books are labeled vegetarian or vegan, I am wary. It is amazing how many things people will add meat to! But I figured, it’s a review copy. If it’s bad, I just won’t review it!

The book is written by Matt Kadey, a dietician. According to the introduction, the pros of cooking in muffin tins:

  • shorter cooking times
  • built-in portion control
  • good for kids
  • easy to pack
  • conversation topic for entertaining

I flipped through the book — breakfast, appetizers, main dishes, side dishes, desserts — and added a sticky note to about two dozen recipes that looked good that we could try. (Good = tasty + not too complicated + no weird-to-our-pantry ingredients) I passed the book off to The Big Man and asked him to move the stickies on the ones he was willing to try — and he moved all of them!

So far, we’ve tried three recipes from the book. I’m going to share our favorite: Falafels with Asparagus Hummus.

I confess: we failed the first time we made these, but not because the recipe is complicated. It calls for dry chick peas to be soaked overnight. We glazed over that part, saying, “We already have soaked and cooked chick peas in the freezer. We can use those.” Except the recipe does not call for them to be cooked, just soaked. So our falafel were gooey in the middle. Texture fail, but they tasted good, so we gave them another shot, actually following the directions this time…


We made the accompanying hummus, which neither of us were huge fans of (I thought it was too lemony, but most hummus recipes are too lemony for me; The Big Man didn’t tell me what he didn’t care for), but the falafel were so good that this is still our choice for which recipe to publish. (Broccoli Bean Cakes with Garlic-Lemon-Butter Sauce came in second.)

These were listed as an appetizer, but falafel is definitely a meal in a vegetarian home!

I did take photos, but their photo is so much nicer…

Falafels with Asparagus Hummus

Very popular in the Middle East, falafels are often fried in copious amounts of oil. This baked version saves a bunch of calories but retains all the flavor. You could also use a store-bought hummus.


  • 1½ cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ cup tightly packed chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • juice of ½ lemon


  • ½ bunch green asparagus (about ½ pound), woody ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest juice of ½ lemon
  • a dash or two of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper

For the Falafel: Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight or at least several hours.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, and transfer to a food processor along with the remaining falafel ingredients. Process until the mixture is grainy but not a paste. You want a texture similar to bottled minced garlic. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 2 hours. This helps the falafels hold together during baking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Divide the chickpea mixture among 24 mini muffin cups, making sure to firmly pack each muffin mold to ensure they hold together during cooking. Bake until set and golden on top, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before unmolding.

For the Hummus: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Add the asparagus to the pot, return the water to boil, and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to the ice water and let sit for 5 minutes. This helps keep the asparagus bright green and prevents it from going mushy. Add the edamame to the pot of boiling water, return to a boil, and cook until the beans are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the edamame to a food processor. Drain the asparagus well, pat dry with a paper towel, and add to the food processor along with the garlic, tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, if using, and salt and black pepper to taste. Blend until the asparagus is broken down. With the processor running, pour in the olive oil through the feed tube and process until smooth and the asparagus is no longer fibrous, 1 to 2 minutes. Add more oil if needed to reach the desired consistency. Serve with the falafels.

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

I must admit that for new recipes, I’m diggin’ Pinterest. That’s where I found today’s little bit of healthy tastiness: watermelon frosty!

The recipe actually comes from Healthy Happy Life, where they also give instructions for making it a margarita. No ‘ritas here.

I bought a watermelon and had planned to just snack on half of it and freeze half of it for this recipe, but turned out not to be a great melon, so I chopped and froze the whole thing. Learn from my mistake: if you chop up a watermelon, put all the pieces in a bowl and stick it in the freezer, you end up with one large block of watermelon pieces all frozen together.

That said, this was so easy:

  • 2-1/4 cups frozen cubed watermelon
  • 1/2 cup water (I bet coconut water would be good, but I didn’t actually try it)
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 fresh banana

Put it all in a blender. That’s it! The original also suggested that juice from two limes would also be tasty. I’d like to try that.

Obviously, if you don’t like watermelon, you’re not going to like this recipe. I didn’t taste any banana, but I like bananas. If you really don’t like bananas, you might be able to taste it? I also tried it the other day just watermelon and water, and this recipe was far superior.

Also, unrelated, today’s post is the last one with “Meatless Meals…” as the title. In the future, I’ll include the title of the recipe in the title of the post. More user-friendly. If I have insomnia and need something mindless to do, I’ll go back and change the rest of them … but don’t count on it.

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

Today’s recipe is for dessert. It is delicious. And amazing. And, depending on what falls under your umbrella of “healthy,” these could reasonably fit the bill.

The original recipe suggested mini muffin pans. If you have them, I’d recommend them. I don’t have those, so I just made this in a 3-cup rectangular Pyrex dish. (I made them again in mini-muffin tins and remembered to take a pic!)

I thought there wasn’t enough chocolate (and ended up making another 1/2 batch of chocolate*), but once I cut into the final product, I realized that the peanut butter just hadn’t frozen and a lot of the chocolate had worked its way into the peanut butter. So if you’re making these in one large container, leave a lot more freezer time for the peanut butter before adding the chocolate.

Also, it’s a little difficult to cut. So yeah: individual servings would be ideal.

Regardless of the few little troubles I had, this recipe is delicious! Everything else I’ve tried that is sweetened with honey tasted like honey … and I’m not a big fan of honey. This is sweetened with honey but doesn’t have a honey taste. Hooray!

*When I made these again, I just doubled the chocolate and it was perfect :)

Without further ado, the recipe for chocolate peanut butter bites!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites

the peanut butter part:

  • 3/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Mix ingredients. The coconut oil is easier to mix if it is melted. It has a VERY low melting point (it’s liquid in our kitchen cabinet for half of the year). Use the stove top with low heat and not the microwave for this endeavor.

Pour into container of your choice. If using individual serving containers (mini muffin trays, silicone trays with fun shapes, etc.), fill roughly half way.

Put in the freezer while making the chocolate part. If you’re using one dish, you’re going to need more time in the freezer. (I haven’t tried it again yet, but I’m estimating an hour or so?)

the chocolate part:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Using the same low heat, melt the coconut oil and the butter. Melting them together is fine (and easier). Add the cocoa and honey. Mix until smooth. Pour over frozen peanut butter. Return to freezer until solid.


Recipe: Parmesan-Crusted Veggies

I’ve had the ingredients on hand for this for a week but didn’t make it until today. Actually, I had not remembered that I needed two eggs for an unmade recipe and had only one egg left in the fridge, so I had to cut the sauce recipe in half. There was still sauce left over, so no worries.

I tried making my own breadcrumbs, and I have to tell ya, it was a pain. More difficult/time consuming than I expected. I have recently learned about panko breadcrumbs and plan to try those the next time I make this.

The original recipe calls for mayo in the sauce, but I’m not a big fan of mayo. We don’t have any on hand and we wouldn’t use it for anything else, so I just left it out (as you’ll see below), and the sauce was still quite tasty. It also called for asparagus and broccoli, but our broccoli went bad before I made these :( so we only used asparagus. After making the recipe as noted below, we had egg, breadcrumbs, and dipping sauce left, so this will easily make more than the dozen spears listed.

Parmesan-Crusted Veggies & Sweet Onion Sauce


  • 12 asparagus spears, washed and ends snapped off
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cups of seasoned bread crumbs (if using plain crumbs, just season with salt and pepper, and italian spices, ie: onion, garlic, parsley, basil, paprika, etc.)
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  1. Snap ends off of asparagus.
  2. In separate bowls, place beaten eggs and bread crumb/parmesan cheese mixture. I used the tray the asparagus came in for the egg and a dish for the breadcrumb mixture. Later I noticed that the recipe called for the stalks to be cut in half. Would have made this step simpler.
  3. Coat each stalk in the egg wash, transfer to the bread crumb mix and coat, then place on a cookie sheet. I didn’t spray or otherwise prepare the sheet and didn’t have issues with sticking.
  4. Bake in oven at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until golden and crispy.
  5. While asparagus is baking, heat oil or butter in a pan on medium heat. Add the onions, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally until onions caramelize, 12-15 minutes.
  6. Transfer onions to a blender or food processor. Add the vinegar, honey, and mustard; blend until almost smooth.
  7. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in the yogurt.

Recipe: Shorba (Ethiopian soup)

You get two-for-one today!

There is an Ethiopian restaurant in town that The Big Man and I have long been fans of. They have soup called shorba that we both love. We have said for a long time that we need to find a recipe. We have tried a couple and they weren’t any good. Finally, we found a recipe that makes something pretty close to what we have when we’re out. But it called for berbere, an Ethiopian spice. That is not readily available, so we made that as well from a recipe on Epicurious. I didn’t note where the shorba recipe is from. If you recognize it, let me know — I’d like to attribute it.

Berbere (Ethiopian Spice Mix)

  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/2 cup ground dried New Mexico chiles
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Finely grind fenugreek seeds in an electric coffee/spice grinder. Stir together with remaining ingredients until combined well.

Berbere keeps in an airtight container, chilled, 3 months.

We found the fenugreek and the ground dried New Mexico chiles at Sprouts, a local health food store.


  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp berbere or curry powder
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1½ cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup brown or green lentils
  • 1 Yukon Gold potato, diced
  • ¼ cup whole wheat orzo pasta

Over medium-high heat, saute the onion until it is brown. Reduce the heat to medium.

Add the carrot, ginger, garlic, curry powder, and fenugreek, sauteing them for about 1 minute.

Add the veggie broth and tomato paste, stirring until the tomato paste is thoroughly combined with the broth. Bring the soup to a simmer. Stir in the lentils and potato. Once the soup comes back to a simmer, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.

Cook the soup for 35 minutes.

Add the orzo; cook according to package directions.

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

(Today’s prompt is a “free writing day” — conveniently coinciding with recipe day :) )

A healthy sweet treat for you today!

I’ve made this twice now, and I can give you some advice: have everything prepared ahead of time — the sheet greased, the honey measured — before you start to toast the seeds. If you wait, the seeds will burn in the still-hot pan while you wait for honey to pour … and then you’ll learn that not all of the honey will come out so you’ll have too many seeds for the amount of honey you have and the end product, while not terrible, will be slightly burnt and not as sweet as it ought to be. Just sayin’.

The original recipe calls these “Sesame Honey Candy” and I suppose that some folks (generally not in the US) would consider these to be candy. Regardless of that detail, they are tasty but not in a “I’m going to eat this whole batch right now” kind of way — which is good :)

A few things that the linked recipe didn’t address that I haven’t figured out (so I can’t help you, but if you figure it out, let me know): how thick should these be on the cookie sheet? I have cookie sheets in a few different sizes. It’s also a pet peeve of mine when an ingredient should be added “to taste.” I’ve never made this before. How can I possibly know how much I should add? Give me a starting figure and let me add or subtract from there.

Anyway, next time I make these, I’m going to add some crushed nuts. Haven’t decided yet what sort of nuts. Or maybe finely chopped dried cranberries. Mmmmm.

Sesame Honey Candy

  • olive oil
  • 3 cups sesame seeds
  • 1 cup honey
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Measure out your honey.
  2. Heat a skillet on medium-high heat until it becomes hot to the touch.
  3. Pour sesame seeds into the hot pan and stir them continuously until they’re well-toasted and golden-brown in color – about four to six minutes. (A cast iron skillet and wooden spoon were recommended. I don’t have a cast iron skillet but I did use a wooden spoon. Not sure if/why it matters.)
  4. Stir honey and a generous dash of unrefined sea salt into the toasted sesame seeds until they become well-coated and the mixture stiffens.
  5. Pour the mixture onto your baking sheet and pat down and smooth out the mixture with a spoon.
If you’re just munching at home and don’t care about eating right out of the pan, you can stop there, wait for it to cool, and cut off pieces as you want to eat them. Otherwise:
  1. Score the candy into pieces of 1/4-inch by 1-inch and set the pan aside until the candy is cool enough to handle comfortably.
  2. When cool to the touch, but still warm enough to be malleable, grease your fingers with olive oil and roll the pieces of honey candy into small, round logs.
  3. Allow to cool completely before serving.

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

I have been having a tough time coming up with something to eat between teaching and dinner. I get home at about 1:30 (I teach part time) and have been grazing all morning at school but that is not enough to tide me over until dinner. I saw this recipe and thought it would be great to try — and it was! Easy to make, easy to store, easy to eat, tasty, filling. Win-win-win-win-win!

Take care, though — they are very calorie-dense, so you don’t want to eat a whole mess of them at once.

Pictures on food blogs = food porn. Pictures of food on my blog = gives you a general idea of what it looks like.

Peanut Butter and Oat Energy Bites from The Cilantropist

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup (or more) dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure to evenly distribute all the ingredients.

Once mixed, if it is not sufficiently sticky, add a bit more peanut butter or honey. If it’s too wet, add oats or flax.

Once it’s just right, take a bit and roll it into a ball.

That’s all!

You could, of course, change up the ingredients — different seeds, different fruits. You could also make them sweeter with chocolate, carob, or yogurt chips.

They’ll keep in the fridge for a week or two in an airtight container, but I don’t think they’ll last that long!


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