Spicy Red Lentil Dip (Hummus)

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Spring weather has FINALLY arrived in Massachusetts and it is glorious. This winter was the longest, coldest, snowiest winter I can remember and it was starting to feel like spring would never come. Yesterday was a nice 65 degrees and I spent the day with Mirva, Naomi, Emily and Brian enjoying the weather and playing cornhole.

This Spicy Red Lentil Dip was inspired by a delicious hummus I picked up recently – Eat Well Embrace Life Spicy Yellow Lentil Hummus. It was so tasty but a little bit pricey so I decided to whip up my own. I love lentils and of course hummus, and find that sometimes dips made with beans other than chickpeas are just as good (if not better) than the traditional stuff.


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I couldn’t find yellow lentils (I’ve actually never seen them before, though I did consider buying yellow split peas instead), so I picked up some red lentils. Red lentils have a mild, nutty flavor and are not quite as earthy-tasting as brown or green lentils. I threw in all the ingredients you would put in hummus – tahini, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt – but I read recently that hummus literally translates to “chickpeas” in Arabic, which is why I’m calling this a dip instead of hummus (even though it’s the same concept).

In addition to the base of the recipe, I added a red fresno pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, and smoked paprika to spice up this dip and bring it to life. I love how the lentils blend up super smooth and make a perfect texture for the dip. I love lentils not only because they’re tasty, but they’re also loaded with protein – 1/4 cup of dry split red lentils has 13g! Perfect for vegetarians/vegans, or for those looking for a filling snack.

Spicy Red Lentil Dip
makes ~2 cups


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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry split red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp Tahini (sesame seed paste – I love Trader Joe’s Tahini Sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
  • juice from half of one large lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño or red fresno pepper (use half for less heat)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp mild hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper powder
  • salt, to taste
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Your ingredients, plus the spicy pepper

Directions:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and cook red lentils according to package directions. They typically take about 15 minutes to cook. They may start to break down and become mushy or all of the water may not evaporate/be absorbed – this is okay and will make blending easier.
  2. While you’re letting your lentils cool, combine your tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and hot pepper in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add in your lentils, hot sauce, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and continue blending, stopping to scrape down the sides when necessary, until well-combined and smooth. Taste and adjust any spices/salt to your liking. Serve with pita chips, carrot sticks, or on a sandwich and enjoy!
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Cook your lentils according to package directions. When they’re finished, they’ll look something like this.

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In your food processor, combine the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and hot pepper. Pulse until smooth.

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Add the cooked lentils to your food processor and pulse until smooth.

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And there you have delicious & nutritious, creamy, Spicy Red Lentil Dip! :)

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Roasted Beet & Chickpea Veggie Burgers

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Last year I made veggie burgers for the first time, and while I enjoyed the flavors of the chickpeas, lentils, and curry, I found that they were a bit dry and just didn’t have the burger consistency I was looking for.

Fast forward to this year, when I stumble upon a recipe that claims to be the “best-ever” veggie burgers and I’m instantly intrigued as soon as I hear the ingredients list: Roasted beets, beans, brown rice, caramelized onions (!!), and oats. I’ve come to love beets over the past year or so, and caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods of all time. So I decided to put these veggie burgers to the test and I was not disappointed!

To be honest, I’ve only tried a few other veggie burgers to compare these to, but I still think this recipe is a winner. The roasted beets keep the burgers moist and sweet, the onions bring a nice savory flavor, and then there’s mustard and even diced prunes (don’t let them scare you!) for tanginess. The burgers use ground oats rather than bread crumbs, and just one egg to keep them together. I used a combination of chickpeas and cannellini beans rather than black beans because I prefer the flavor, but any type of bean will work. The original recipe also says it makes only 6 burgers, but I was able to make about 9 or 10 good-sized burgers.

These burgers do take a bit of prep work, and the “meat” needs to be chilled, but I think if you cook the beets and brown rice ahead of time, you’ll be able to whip these burgers up in no time. I really enjoyed these veggie burgers and I’m excited to share them with all my veggie and meat-eating friends alike out there!

Roasted Beet & Chickpea Veggie Burgers
slightly adapted from Best-Ever Veggie Burger on The Kitchn

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Ingredients:
makes 9 – 10 burgers

  • 1 lb. fresh beets (about 3 large ones)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or cannellini beans)
  • 1/4 cup prunes, chopped
  • 2 – 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Spices:
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder, or cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper for extra heat
    • 1/2 tsp dried basil
    • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, whisked
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Your ingredients (ignore that pesky jalapeno…)

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And your spices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare your beets by washing them and removing skin with a vegetable peeler. Chop them into large chunks and toss them with about 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Place in a small baking dish and roast for 35 – 40 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes, until they are nice and caramelized and can be easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to let cool.
  2. While your beets are roasting, cook your brown rice according to box directions and also begin caramelizing your onions. Heat diced onions over medium heat with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt, stirring every few minutes, until they are golden-brown. Add minced garlic in the last 2 – 3 minutes and remove from heat.
  3. Pulse your oats in a food processor until they resemble a fine powder and set aside.
  4. Combine beans, prunes, scallions, olive oil, mustard, and lemon juice in food processor and pulse until roughly chopped, but not to the point of being puréed. (If you have a small food processor, you may have to do this in batches.) Remove from food processor and place in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Once your beets are cooled, grind them up in your food processor until shredded. Place in mixing bowl with beans, and then add in your rice, spices, ground oats, and egg. Stir until well combined, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. After the burgers are chilled, form into patties about 3 inches wide. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan, and cook the burgers for 3 – 5 minutes on each side. I found that covering them for half of the cook time helped to get the inside of the burgers cooked faster and more thoroughly.*
  7. Once burgers are finished cooking, serve on a bun with your favorite toppings, or atop a salad and enjoy! I loved them topped off with Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing, spinach, and arugula.

*For an extra crispy crust, sprinkle Panko breadcrumbs on the burgers before cooking!

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Begin by peeling, chopping, and roasting your beets. Don’t the peeled beets have a cool design on them?

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While the beets are roasting, cook your rice to box directions and caramelize your onions. When they’re done they’ll look something like this.

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Combine your rinsed and drained beans, prunes, scallions, mustard, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until roughly chopped.

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Pulse your beets separately until finely shredded.

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Combine your shredded beets with the bean mixture and rice, along with your spices. Stir in oat flour and eggs until well combined.

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Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Notice how it resembles ground beef?)

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Once mixture is chilled, form into patties and frizzle up in your frying pan with olive oil and optional breadcrumbs.

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Enjoy burgers with your favorite toppings! Here I have mine on a Sandwich Thin with Goddess dressing, red onion, and spinach. Bon appétit!

Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Muffins

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Hello! If you are reading this, it means I’m still alive.

In all seriousness, though, this long dark winter has really put a damper on my blogging. The past few weekends I’ve planned out recipes, cooked and photographed them, only to have the clouds come out and take away any good lighting that my basement apartment gets. I’m so glad the days are starting to get longer and daylight saving time is next Sunday!

The next few weekends also may be a bit busy for me, as my dad and Robin’s wedding is coming up in two weeks, as well as Naomi’s 2nd birthday! Throw in Jill’s birthday and a trip to Mohegan Sun with Dan and March is looking like a pretty busy month. Which is a good thing because March usually seems like such a long and dreary month filled with waiting for the bad weather to pass and for spring to arrive.

These muffins were inspired by a different type of muffin I made recently. Last week I baked up these Skinny Peanut Butter Banana Muffins and they were soo good. I found they made the perfect mid-morning snack, or even a light dessert. As much as I loved those sweet muffins, I was thinking I’d like to have a more savory muffin that I could eat as my breakfast and wouldn’t leave me feeling weak and shaky like sugary breakfasts often do.

So I searched around for savory breakfast muffins and found just the recipe I was looking for: Cottage Cheese and Egg Muffins with Ham and Cheddar. I wanted a muffin that had a high egg-to-flour ratio, some savory flavors like bacon or ham, and that were healthy enough to eat for breakfast on weekdays. I love that this recipe includes cottage cheese because it’s a great way to add protein and to keep the muffins moist.

I stayed fairly true to the base of the recipe, but made a few adjustments to suit my taste. I actually swapped out the cottage cheese for ricotta because that’s what I had and I prefer the texture, and I know ricotta is often used in pancake recipes. I used turkey bacon instead of ham, and regular all-purpose flour because I didn’t have almond meal (though I think cornmeal would also be a great substitution!). I added some red bell peppers for flavor and texture, and also bumped up the scallions and spices a bit.

These muffins are perfect for breakfast on the go, and are filled with protein to keep you satisfied for hours. The texture is like quiche meets muffin, and the flavors are fun but also mellow enough to eat every morning. You can definitely play around with the ingredients and get creative – broccoli and cheese would be delicious, or even spinach and feta! You can bake up a batch on the weekend and heat them up for breakfast during the week – so easy! I definitely see this recipe becoming a regular in my diet.

Turkey Bacon & Cheddar Breakfast Muffins
adapted from Cottage Cheese and Egg Muffins with Ham and Cheddar on Kalyn’s Kitchen

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Ingredients:
makes 1 dozen muffins (or in my case, 11.)

  • 6 slices of turkey bacon (Canadian bacon or ham would be great too)
  • 2/3 cup + 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or all-purpose – or almond or cornmeal)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (I used 1/4 and thought they could have used more)
  • seasoning of your choice (I used about 1/4 tsp each of smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup ricotta or cottage cheese (I used part-skim)
  • 1 Tbsp milk or water (the original recipe calls for 3 T of water, but I decreased it because of the extra moisture from the bell peppers. If you’re not using a fresh vegetable, use the original amount of 3.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
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Your ingredients (forgot to picture the bell pepper, naturally.)

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Your wonderful spices

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly grease a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Cook your turkey bacon just until it’s almost crispy (you don’t want it too crispy for these muffins), about 5 minutes. While the bacon is cooking, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and seasoning in a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs, ricotta cheese, and milk/water to the bowl and whisk again. Crumble the cooked bacon (make sure you let it cool a bit) into the bowl, and add in the peppers, scallions, and both cheeses. Stir together until well incorporated and spoon into your greased muffin tin, topping each off with a sprinkle of cheese if desired.
  4. Bake for about 16 – 18 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins turn golden and a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean. Let sit for a few minutes before serving, and serve with a glass of milk. (or ketchup and hot sauce if you’re like me!) Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
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Begin by frizzling up your bacon.

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In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and seasoning together. Stir in ricotta, egg, and milk or water.

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Add in all of the fun stuff (bacon, cheese, scallions, and peppers) and stir again

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Your batter will be thick and slightly lumpy, but have no fear.

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Spoon the batter into your greased muffin tin, about 3/4 of the way full, and sprinkle with a bit of cheese on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 16 – 18 minutes.

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Your muffins will look something like this when they’re finished

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:)

Sweet Potato Hash

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This morning I was looking around my kitchen, trying to figure out what I could make to put on my blog. The sun was out, and I hadn’t posted a recipe in a few weeks. Back when I was posting recipes on here every few days, I would always have something planned. Lately when I post a recipe, I don’t really have a plan and I kind of just throw something together. I miss having lots of time to plan recipes, go grocery shopping and then cook and photograph the food. But I certainly do not miss not having a job, so I will squeeze in food blogging whenever I can.

Anyway, I stumbled upon some sweet potatoes that needed to be eaten, and also happened to have some fresh bell peppers. I’ve made regular potato hash, but not sweet potato hash before and my stomach was rumbling for some breakfast. Growing up, on the weekends my parents would sometimes frizzle up corned beef hash that comes from a can and I won’t lie – I still love the stuff. It’s chewy, crispy, and full of flavor. In light of attempting to eat better, I healthified (new word) my hash by omitting meat, subbing regular potatoes for sweet potatoes, and adding some fresh veggies.

This Sweet Potato Hash makes a delicious addition to a weekend breakfast, and I think it would also heat up well for leftovers. It’s sweet, spicy, and filling. I found it to go great with a fried egg and a light sprinkle of cheddar cheese. I do think this hash would be really good with bits of bacon, but it’s also delicious without! I cooked my sweet potatoes in a separate pan from my veggies because I wanted to make sure everything cooked evenly, but they could also be par-boiled. I just recommend being careful of overcooking your sweet potatoes, because then they will fall apart.

Sweet Potato Hash
makes 3 – 4 servings

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided in half
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter (optional)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 2/3 cup diced bell peppers (I used red and yellow)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • seasoning to taste: paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a garlic/salt/pepper blend
  • green onions to garnish

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Your ingredients

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Your spices

Directions:

  1. In a medium frying pan, heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or butter over medium heat and add diced potatoes. Cover with about 1/4 cup water and let cook for 8 – 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water has absorbed and potatoes are softened but not yet mushy.
  2. In a separate frying pan, heat another 1/2 olive oil and add diced onion. Cook for about 10 minutes, and then add bell peppers. Continue to saute for another 10 – 15 minutes, until veggies are softened and beginning to brown. At this point I added a bit of butter to really ramp up the flavor, but that’s optional.
  3. Add cooked sweet potatoes to veggies, along with your spices. Cook for another 3 – 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and make sure the spices are to your liking. Garnish with green onions and serve with eggs or a meat of your choice, and enjoy!

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Cook up your sweet potatoes until softened

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Saute your onions and peppers until soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic at the end.

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Mix your sweet potatoes in, along with spices. Cook for an additional few minutes. Garnish with green onions and serve! :)

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Vanilla Bean Pecan Granola

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Hello folks!
Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season filled with lots of good food. While I wanted to post a seasonal, wintery recipe today, I also was on a mission to make delicious granola. I realized I haven’t posted a granola recipe in a long time so that became today’s post.

Recently at work, I discovered my cafeteria’s granola is actually pretty tasty. Some days I’ll either bring yogurt from home or get some in the cafeteria for a mid-morning snack, along with a heaping scoop of granola. But then I remembered, my own granola is pretty damn good and free, since I have all the ingredients on hand. I wanted to make something a little different this time around, so I incorporated some new ingredients.

Growing up, I was always a chocolate person. I loved chocolate everything and would eat chocolate in some form or another just about every day. Then I slowed started moving away from my chocolate addiction and some time over the past few years, I’ve become crazy over vanilla. I still enjoy a bowl of rich chocolate ice cream (or especially these peppermint chocolate truffles), but when it comes to my everyday vices such as coffee or granola bars, I prefer vanilla.

I always put plenty of vanilla extract in any of my baked goods, and recently picked up some vanilla bean paste from Homegoods. It’s really more like of a goo, though I suppose “vanilla bean goo” doesn’t sound quite as appealing. It has a nice rich vanilla flavor, with vanilla bean seeds in it. The other addition to this granola was pecans. Pecans are probably my favorite type of nut, and I love that they serve them at the breakfast and salad bar at work. I also added raisins this time, which I haven’t done before, but I love the chewiness of them in contrast to the crunchy granola.

Vanilla Bean Pecan Granola
makes about 2 1/2 cups

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or canola, or butter)
  • 1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract (or from a fresh vanilla bean if you’re feeling adventurous!)
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
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Your ingredients

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The “secret” ingredient – Vanilla Bean Paste! This can be found at Homegoods, Marshall’s, and probably specialty baking stores such as Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300ºF and lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt coconut oil in the microwave (mine took about 1 minutes and 30 seconds total to melt). Stir in honey and vanilla bean paste/extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and stir. Add to bowl with wet ingredients and stir again, making sure all the dry ingredients are thoroughly coated in oil. Fold in pecans, raisins, and coconut and stir once more, just until combined.
  4. Spread uncooked granola on your baking sheet and bake for a total of 30 minutes, stirring at 10 minute increments. Stirring is important, or else your granola will cook unevenly and possibly burn in some spots.
  5. Once it’s done cooking, I like to push it all to one side of the baking sheet in a big pile to encourage clumping. Let it cool for about 20 – 30 minutes before serving. Store in an air-tight container (mason jars work perfectly!)
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Prep your ingredients

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Mix it all up!

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Spread on a lightly greased baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

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The finished product!

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:)

P.S. I got a new camera lens for Christmas! These photos were taken with the new toy. I’m not sure if I like it as much as my old lens that broke last year, but I’m still getting used to it so we’ll see!