Cilantro-Lime Hummus

I hear from a lot of people that October is the best month of the year. I can agree with that because most of my favorite things happen this month. My hometown has it’s Avocado Festival, pumpkin patches move in, all the best movies play on TV, the world series happens (still upset over the major Dodger loss!) and of course, Halloween.

For as long as I can remember, Halloween has always been a big deal to me. I love the creepy, colorful, and creative things that go along with it. The seasonal stores pop up in old electronic stores and I just can’t help but walk through them several times throughout the month.  I always have the hardest time deciding on a costume because my anxiety of “it only happens once a year!!” takes over and I can’t make up my mind. I still have a few different ideas I’m considering even though the 31st is right around the corner.  I’ll get there.


Halloween chat aside…This is really amazing hummus. I make fresh hummus about 1 to 2 times per month, which always ends in a conversation with myself about how I should make it more often. Especially since Deb Perlman  wrote about the secret to the smoothest hummus you’ll ever have. She recommends removing the skin from the chickpeas . Yes, I did just admit to peeling chickpeas. Sounds crazy, but it only took me 7 minutes to peel them all and it is so worth it. I’ve been converted to chickpea peeler and I’m never looking back.


1 3/4 cups cooked, drained chickpeas (15 ounce can)

1/2 cup tahini paste

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or more to taste)

1 small clove garlic

3/4 teaspoon table salt (or more to taste)

1/4 cup-1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

Roughly 1/4 cup water



Peel your chickpeas. It’s easiest when you hold the chickpea between your thumb and finger and begin to lightly press down. Discard the skins.

In a food processor, blend the chickpeas for a full minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the tahini, lime juice, garlic, salt, and cilantro. Blend until the mixture is well pureed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the machine running, slowly add in the water until smooth. At this point, you can determine the thickness of your hummus by how much water you add. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Note: The garlic tends to intensify the longer the hummus sits. If you find with an initial tasting that you want more garlic, use caution. It’s very easy to get too much.


Source: Techniques and recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen


Strawberry Birthday Cake


Oh how the time is flying. I really must be getting old. A few weeks ago, I celebrated another birthday. It was so nice to be home with the family and catch up with others that I hadn’t seen since before the last move. We even set up the piñata that my mom left on my front porch a year ago…which was a big red Angry Bird.  Definitely worth the year we waited. While I loved seeing my cousin’s little one swing at it, I got such a laugh watching my older brothers try and crack it open while my dad pulled the rope to keep it away from them. It felt like we were all kids again, running around Torro Canyon park with our baseball bats and dirt on our faces.

Even though J made me an awesome celebratory birthday dinner, (Martha/Deb’s Mac & Cheese, I taught him well!) I do love to make my own birthday cake. I will take any excuse to bake. Since it was just the two of us, I wanted something small, but with layers. I was also looking for an excuse to use my lovely cake pedestal. Priorities.  Thats when I remembered seeing this awesome Neapolitan Layer Cake.  I didn’t think we needed all the flavors this time around, though after trying the strawberry, I would love to make this recipe in full. For now, the strawberry cake was enough. I paired it with a basic cream cheese frosting, and it was just what this birthday girl called for.


I should also tell you that we introduced a new member to our little family. Remi is our new pup and she’s fitting in quite nicely. She also very much approves of this cake recipe.



1¼ cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

1½ oz. strawberry gelatin

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp

2  eggs

½ cup milk

1½ tsp. vanilla extract

¼ cup sweetened strawberry puree*

*Process almost-thawed frozen strawberries in a blender until smooth.



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Butter and flour the edges of desired cake pans. (I used three very small round pans and used the rest of the batter in mini cupcake pans.) In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and the salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, gelatin, and butter. Beat on medium-high until the batter becomes light and fluffy, which was about 3 minutes. Beat the eggs into the batter, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly mix in half of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Blend in the milk and vanilla. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, again mixing until just barely incorporated. Blend in the strawberry puree.

Pour into prepared pans. My mini cakes only baked for about 12 minutes. Baking times for larger cakes will need to be adjusted.

Pulled from Annie’s Neapolitan Layer Cake

Quinoa Cakes on Greens


I must have cursed myself. I boasted about what a great start the year was off to far too soon. I should have known better. Thirteen is a temperamental number… I must proceed with caution. It’s been almost a year, (that can’t be true?!) since I’ve been sick. So this now unfamiliar pain in my throat is throwing me off. Is it the normal January cold? The awful flu I’ve so artfully avoided? It can’t possibly be strep again, that won my tonsils in the war of ’08… Allergies? I’ll go with that until further notice.


After getting a call from my boss telling me to take Tuesday off I wasn’t sure what to do with my sudden abundance of time. So, naturally, I made a mess in the kitchen. After ruining half a batch of cupcakes, I scored with these. Major win. I had made these before, but never with all the additional veggies. On a whim I added the lime juice and cilantro. In my opinion, that was the best part.

This is a pretty customizable recipe. I think that as long as you have the binder (breadcrumbs and eggs/other vegan substitution) it would stand up to substitutions. You’ll just have to try and let me know.


2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 a yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil for the pan


In a medium bowl, combine everything except the bread crumbs and the eggs. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and make sure all ingredients are all mixed together well.  Add the eggs and give the mixture one final mix-up until the eggs are incorporated. Form the mixture into evenly shaped patties, about 4 inches in diameter.


Heat some olive oil in large pan set over medium heat. Add the patties to the pan, giving enough space between each one. Cook each patty until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes, depending on your heat. Using a spatula, carefully flip the patty over and cook the other side until it is the same golden brown. Repeat with remaining patties. You may need to add more olive oil to the pan between batches.

Note: I prefer mine served warm on top of greens and hardboiled eggs with a lemon vinaigrette. 

Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats, via Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson via The Curvy Carrot