Thursday, June 30, 2011

Homemade Pita Chips

If I die young, wrap me in pita chips... lay me on a bed of hummus...

Oh, the song doesn't go that way?  Phooey.

I love pita chips.  LOVE them.  I love them even more if they're still slightly warm and crispy, freshly made.  Yes, you don't have to settle for pita chips out of a bag, just make your own!  It's SO easy!

Homemade pita chips by me

Mmmm crispy goodness.

  • pita bread
  • olive oil or cooking spray
  • salt
1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Cut pita bread into wedges.  From one pita, I can get six wedges.  I also rip them in half again so I get more - I like my pita chips a bit thin.  If you like the thicker chips, then do not tear in half!

3.  Lightly spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (I'm OCD, I line baking sheets with non stick aluminum foil first.)  Scatter pita chips on the baking sheet.  If you don't use cooking spray, scatter pita chips on a baking sheet and lightly (very lightly!) drizzle with olive oil.  I prefer cooking spray - easier distribution of grease.

4.  Lightly sprinkle salt on the chips.

5.  Bake for 5-7 minutes.  If you start to smell the chips, they're overdone.

Serve warm or store in an airtight container.  Serve with hummus or any of your favorite dips.

Hummus.  Or yummus.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I confess.  I don't really like chocolate chip cookies.

They're usually too sweet, the chocolate doesn't taste very good, they wind up rock hard the next day, name it, I'll find an excuse.

However, this is probably the recipe I make an exception, although I still limit my intake since there's only so much chocolate I can handle at one time.  I love how soft the cookies remain, even after three to four days.  The ingredients are so simple, and the recipe is so easy.

My final musing:  use Ghiradelli chocolate chips.  They do not harden like a certain yellow bag after a few days - they stay deliciously soft.  They also taste so much better than the yellow bag.

My absolute final musing:  I'm not sure how I messed up the recipe this time - I think the butter may have been too soft.  My cookies spread a lot more than I expected.  At first I thought maybe it was my butter (I used Trader Joe's) but I doubt the water content of the TJ's butter is that different from Safeway butter.

My utterly final final musing:  You can edit the sugar to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar but I like the "deeper" taste of more brown sugar.

My James Brown style finale musing: I used eggs from Clover Stornetta Farms, which is a great "local" farm.  I'm really starting to get into more organic, local, sustainable vegetables, fruit and dairy.  Next, I would like to get their butter.  Support your local, family owned dairy farm.  I like to pretend my Ghiradelli chocolate chips are made in CA, but at least they are headquartered here.

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from Martha Stewart
Yield:  about 3 dozen


  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda, set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter with both sugars, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

4.  Reduce speed to low.  Add salt, vanilla, and eggs.  Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute.  Add flour mixture, mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.

5.  Drop by the heaping tablespoon onto baking sheets.  Bake until brown around the edges, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool on the baking sheets 1-2 minutes (I let them sit for about five.)  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6.  Store in an airtight container between layers of parchment for up to one week.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers

Healthy eating isn't easy.

Heck, I'm not even sure how "healthy" this recipe is, but it does have black beans, which are a good source of fiber.  And mushrooms do have some health benefits, but not as many as say a nice leafy, green vegetable.  However, this recipe is vegetarian (heck, vegan even if you get the right beans and vegan bread) and if you're looking to cut back on your meat consumption but still enjoy a burger every now and again, this recipe is a very good substitute.

I won't however, replace burgers in my overall diet.  I still like meat.  A lot.  I'm just very careful about the consumption of beef, in particular the serving size.

The original recipe uses a food processor.  I'm here to tell you  it's not necessary, but very helpful.  So if you don't have a food processor within easy reach, just give yourself a little extra time to crumble the bread.

The overall taste is really good - it doesn't taste chalky, it has flavor, and it's way better than any veggie burger you buy frozen and microwave.  It also isn't difficult to make, and when picking black beans, pick a can that has a low amount of sodium - always watch your salt intake!  A huge plus - this "patty" doesn't shrink at all while cooking - yay!

Yes, it remained deliciously large.

Black Bean and Mushroom Burgers, courtesy of Brown Eyed Baker.
Makes 4 burgers.


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil (I used olive oil) plus more for brushing
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, lightly toasted (I used two slices whole grain white bread, plus one double fiber Orowheat English Muffin because I needed to use them up!)
  • 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (always rinse the beans to get them clean)
  • 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • English muffins, pita pockets, or buns, to serve.
  • Salsa, sour cream, other items you like on your "burgers" to serve.
1.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and add the onion.  Cook 3-4 minutes, or until golden.

2.  Add the mushrooms, garlic, cumin and paprika.  Stir and cook until the mushrooms have released their juices, about 6-7 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3.  ORIGINAL RECIPE DIRECTIONS:  Tear toasted bread and place in food processor.  Process until broken down into crumbs.  Pour the crumbs into a medium sized bowl (mixing bowls are a good idea.)  Add the mushroom mixture and beans to the food processor, pulse until combined but not smooth - leave some chunky bits.  Add to bowl with bread crumbs, add the cheese, and season with salt and pepper.

3a.  MY WAY:  Tear the toasted bread into smaller pieces and continue tearing down until crumb like in a medium sized mixing bowl.  When bread pieces get too small to tear, rub the pieces between your hands to promote crumbling.  Pour black beans into a small bowl, and using a fork, smash the beans.  (You must use a fork.  Do not use a spoon - believe me, they don't smash.)  Add beans to the bread crumbs.  Add the mushroom mixture, cheese, and season with a little salt and pepper.  (If your beans have a lot of sodium, I'd ease up on the salt.)  You might not think the mixture will combine, but it actually comes together very well.  I thought I would need an egg to promote mixing, but it wasn't needed!  It's probably due to the fresh bread - do not take the shortcut of using dried bread crumbs.

4.  Combine the mixture and divide into four portions.  Create four patties with moist hands (or gloves, like me.)  Lightly brush each side with canola oil.  (I wound up greasing the skillet, and then spraying each side with cooking spray.)  

5.  In a skillet over medium heat, cook each patty for 5-6 minutes per side.

My T-Fal skillet is awesome because I found one made in France!

6.  Serve on toasted English muffins, buns, pitas, however you want to eat them (or just eat them as a patty!)  Serve with your favorite burger fixins.

I'll take a side of Kettle Potato Chips.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Salad Dressings


*guilty look*

I know, I've been gone.  I don't write, I don't tweet.  I'd give you an excuse, but you wouldn't believe me.

*shuffles feet*

Forgive my sin of not blogging, but I come to you with not one, but TWO salad dressings.  Rejoice!

Wait, who rejoices over salad dressings?  Usually, not me.  I am NOT a salad person by any stretch of the imagination. The only time I am - if someone else makes it.  I'm not kidding - if there's leftover salad after an event at work, I pounce on it like there's no tomorrow.

A salad that I make?  Meh.  Who needs it.

*quiet voice* "Hey down here.  Your hips say hi."

Oh, that's right, me.

For salad dressings, I usually go with the stuff right out of the bottle.  However, do you look at the contents of the bottle?  Hello, sugar?!  I'm trying to be healthy here!

In the May 2011 issue of Everyday Food, the editors asks if you have tried cooking with vinegar.  Truthfully, no, unless a recipe calls for it, because that stuff STINKS.    But it had an entire page of vinaigrettes, and since I am controlling the sugar and ingredients, I figured my salads could use a pick me up.

White-Wine Vinaigrette, adapted from Everyday Food, May 2011.

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning.
Mmmm mud.

1.  FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.  I messed up, and somehow added 1 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard as I was reading the directions for the red wine vinaigrette when I was trying to make the white wine.  ARGH.  So the flavor isn't correct, but it was actually pretty darn tasty.

2.  Whisk together the white wine vinegar, shallot, parsley and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

My Trader Joe's Honey Bear stares you down.  The balsamic is a free sample I received at a 5k race, of all places.
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste.
1.  Read the ingredients carefully, correctly and lay out the ingredients before you begin mixing.

2.  Whisk together balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, and extra virgin olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yeah, nothing makes dressing look pretty.  

Of these two, I think I enjoyed the honey-balsamic vinaigrette more.  First, because I didn't screw it up.  Second, while balsamic is usually very strong, the honey and the mustard helped to dial down the balsamic while still keeping the hints of the balsamic flavor.  

Both dressings are very light and very easy to make, and would go great on any salad.

Such as this awesome one I made, with romaine lettuce, diced tomato, cucumber, chicken, fresh (cooked) corn, and garbanzo beans.  Deliciously healthy.