Browsing Tag



Curried Sweet Potato Hummus

January 10, 2014

It seems like we’ve been in a constant state of football watching over the last three weeks. Does anyone else feel that way? Not that I’m complaining considering my love for football rivals that of my former football player husband. With bowl games and playoff games and the like, we’ve been doing a lot of entertaining as well.

When it comes to entertaining for bowl games and playoff games, I like to keep things pretty simple. Last week I made a big pot of my mom’s amazingly easy chili and served it with corn chips and cheddar cheese. It meant I could keep the soup hot in the slow cooker, people could help themselves when they were hungry, and I could focus on watching the game instead of tending to guests. Which perhaps makes me a bad host now that I think about it.

I’m also a huge fan of serving dips like hummus and layered taco dips because they’re equally as easy and a little more substantial. In the name of mixing things up, I decided to add a little creaminess and sweet flavor to my most recent batch of hummus by using cooked sweet potato and a sweet curry our friend brought back for us from the Philippines when he was home for Christmas. The flavors played so nicely together that I had to find a similar type of curry if you’re interested in buying some for your home. Just follow the link below for a similar curry to the one I used!


Sweet Potato Hummus 
Makes about 2 cups hummus
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet and spicy curry powder (such as this kind)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on the heat level you like)
1/2 medium sweet potato, peeled, cooked and cut into cubes
2 to 4 tablespoons water
Salty chips (such as pita chips) or veggies for dipping

In food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, curry powder, salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Blend or process until well combined and smooth.

Add the sweet potato and process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until smooth. Add enough water to reach desired consistency. I used about 2 tablespoons because I like my hummus a bit on the thicker side. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate.

Happy Cooking!

*This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I recommend and stand behind any products with links listed and receive a small amount of compensation if you purchase a product through these links.


Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie (aka The Healthy Girl’s Milkshake)

January 7, 2014


Now that our first full week of January is underway, I’m finding myself with a serious case of winter blahs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not seasonal depression or anything of the sort, but I find it incredibly difficult to jump from the warmth, glow and excitement of the Christmas season to the bone-chilling routine of January. Maybe if 2013 was a little less wonderful I wouldn’t be so sad to let it go and would have anticipated the arrival of 2014 a little more.

Of course, some of this probably has to do with the fact that we’re experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures in our neck of the woods, with wind chill temps that hover in the -50°F mark with a high of -20°F. No, that’s not a typo, that’s just Minnesota winter for you. It’s this time of year that I really start to long for long nights filled with tennis matches with Joe, walks with the dogs, our weekly CSA delivery and cooking everything on the grill. Summer’s pretty sexy, and it’s hard not to long for it in the depths of winter.

I tend to get really wrapped up in the big moments, the next fun event or the next mini trip or vacation that’s on our calendar. I look at our schedule and think about how many days until our trip to Idaho or our long weekend away just the two of us. There’s nothing wrong with anticipating fun events, but I’m beginning to realize that real life is more about the everyday living and ordinary events than it is about the next big thing.

Last week on Monday Joe and I made plans to have a beginning of the week date night. Since we’re working on being disciplined with our finances (and because we have a puppy who needs our time an attention after work) we kept it simple by picking up two brownies from our favorite restaurant and ordering drinks at Starbucks, where we had lots of Christmas gift cards to burn. We sat for about an hour at Starbucks, eating and sipping and talking about life things that we don’t normally talk about at home, when there are things to do and dogs to play with and TV shows to watch. We got away from our phones and all other distractions, and looking back, that Monday date night in all its simplicity was the highlight of my week.

I think, more than anything, the reason I love summer is because I savor every moment. A Tuesday night feels special when it includes a tennis match and a trip with Joe to get froyo. But when I’m hibernating all winter, a Tuesday night just feels like a Tuesday night. So this year, I’m setting a goal for myself to make weeknights, even those in the winter months, feel a little more special. We’re already off to a good start since we had friends over last night to watch the BCS Championship and we have dinner plans with Joe’s parents tonight.

My lack of creativity means I really have no nice transition from one subject to the next. I guess this smoothie recipe, which is on regular rotation at our house, isn’t really related in the least bit to savoring the weekdays through the winter. But perhaps if you think about it as a milkshake (it really tastes like one!) then perhaps a regular smoothie at home can become something a little more special. Milkshake and movie night, anyone?



Peanut Butter-Banana Smoothie (aka The Healthy Girl’s Milkshake) 
Makes 1 smoothie
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
1 medium banana, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen
1 packet Stevia (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (make sure it’s high quality vanilla)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 to 3 cubes of ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, adding more milk if necessary to reach desired consistency.

Happy Cooking!


Breakfast Oat Bran

December 5, 2013

Can you believe your eyes? A recipe to share today? It’s been too long! I have been meaning to get a post up sooner, but winter has already impacted my blogging schedule with the lack of light and lack of time around the holiday season. We had our first big snowfall this week and I’m already looking forward to summer!

I’ve been meaning to share about oat bran for quite a while. Six or seven months ago I started swapping my morning bowl of old fashioned oats for a bowl of oat bran. I can’t even remember where I heard about eating oat bran as a hot cereal (I had baked with it before) but I’m glad I stumbled upon this nutritional powerhouse. Don’t get me wrong, old fashioned oatmeal is incredibly healthy, but oat bran has some unique properties that give it a leg up on rolled oats.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered to some degree with an irritable stomach. This may be branching into TMI territory, but regularity has been an issue for years, despite the fact that I eat a vegetarian diet that is very heavy on veggies and whole grains. Since I have started eating oat bran for breakfast, and when I stick to it consistently, it has almost completely remedied my stomach complaints. I’ve even been known to travel with oat bran and/or take my breakfast with me I love it that much.

What is Oat Bran?
It is the outer layer of the oats that is typically removed when making old fashioned oats and instant oats. The thing is, the outer layer of the oatmeal is where all the fiber resides. Consequently, a bowl of oat bran contains about 50% more fiber than the same amount of old fashioned oats. And, as many people already know, more fiber keeps you feeling full longer, keeps your tummy happy and regular and can aid in weight loss. As far as calories are concerned, I find that the brands of oat bran I’ve purchased have had about the same number of calories as an equal amount of oats.

Where Can You Purchase It?
I have purchased pre-packaged oat bran at Trader Joe’s but lately I’ve been buying oat bran in the bulk bins at Whole Foods because it is cheaper and you can buy larger quantities. When I get it home, I just transfer it into a plastic storage container. I have also seen oat bran at other local grocery stores in our area. Oat bran and wheat bran are not the same thing, so be sure to clarify when asking at your local grocery store.

How Do You Prepare Oat Bran?
I’ve got a quick and easy recipe below for preparing oat bran similar to how you would prepare oatmeal. When I first made oat bran, I was really turned off by it because I didn’t use enough liquid. It turned into a rubbery brick in no time! The general rule of thumb I like to use is 1/2 cup oat bran plus 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk of choice. The milk really gives the oat bran a creamy texture and makes it more indulgent. You could also use 1 cup milk and leave out the water completely. If you prepare the oat bran with all water, you probably won’t be all that impressed.

Breakfast Oat Bran
Makes 1 serving
1/2 cup oat bran
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk of choice (I usually use almond milk)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Sweetener of choice (stevia, brown sugar, etc. to taste)
Dollop of peanut butter (I have been loving Peanut Butter & Company Peanut Butter)

Place oat bran, water, milk and cinnamon into a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture just beings to bubble/boil and the mixture begins to thicken. It’s better to under-cook rather than over-cook. The mixture will thicken slightly after removing from the heat. Stir in your sweetener of choice. Transfer to a bowl and top with peanut butter.

Happy Cooking!


Beet-Apple Juice

October 22, 2013


It’s Tuesday. Tuesday is way to early to start making complicated recipes that require a lot of brain power, right? I thought so. Now that I’m curbing my caffeine addiction, I’ve been dragging a little bit. I think I’m over the worst of it, but I’m still not on my game 100%. I just keep reminding myself that the worst is over. But then I got a huge zit on my chin and I’m thinking that somehow that is related to my lack of coffee. It’s like my body is trying to tell me something.

So, instead of sharing a recipe that requires a lot of brain power, I’m sharing a stupidly simple recipe for juice. Do you really need a recipe for juice? Probably not. But if you’re looking for a killer combination, can I suggest beets and apples. Apples because they are plentiful these days and beets because they make your juice pretty and are packed with nutrients.

Beet-Apple Juice
4 red beets (or golden beets, but it won’t be as pretty)
4 apples

Put in a juicer and drink! :)



Almond Butter Bran Muffins with Blackberries

July 15, 2013


One of my favorite subjects to talk about on Espresso and Cream is breakfast. Probably because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. No other meal really compares in my opinion, and although I typically eat the same breakfast (oatmeal, peanut butter, banana) I love mixing it up now and again. Since it’s been incredibly hot and looks like this week is going to be even warmer, I’ve been trading in my bowl of oats for colder breakfasts like yogurt with chia seeds and smoothies.

Last fall I shared with you one of my favorite muffin recipes, these Breakfast Bran Muffins. Today, I’m following up those muffins with another bran muffin recipe that’s equally delicious. It’s made with bran cereal, almond butter and stuffed with fresh blackberries. Blackberries were on sale at my grocery store this week, but you could easily substitute another berry like blueberries or raspberries if that suits your style better.

I’ve been crumbling these muffins atop a bowl of yogurt-chia pudding and it makes an incredibly tasty and filling breakfast. Each muffin contains around 200 calories, so it’s enough to satisfy without being overly indulgent. When I make a batch, I find that it works well to freeze half the muffins in zip top backs and keep them on hand for quick breakfasts or snacks. All you need to do is zap them in the microwave for a few seconds when you’re ready to eat!


Almond Butter Bran Muffins with Blackberries
Adapted from this recipe
Makes 12 muffins
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups almond milk or milk of your choice
1 cup bran cereal
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup almond butter
1 cup fresh blackberries

Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until well combined. In second smaller bowl, combine milk, cereal, egg and almond butter. Stir until smooth. If your almond butter is thicker, you may need to beat with an electric mixer to get it fully combined.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in blackberries until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until muffins are puffed up and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Happy Baking!

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