Category Archives: Dips/Spreads

Extra Easy Hummus

The following post has nothing to do with hummus, and it certainly isn’t “extra easy” for me to talk about. I’ll share the recipe for this hummus at the bottom of the post, as usual, so feel free to skip the rest and scroll down if you’re looking for it. If, however, you read on and have any insight to share, please do. Writing from a dark place, I could use the perspective right now.

(Edit: I am SO sorry about the timing of this post. I was writing it from a musty hotel room over the weekend and it honestly didn’t even occur to me that it was Father’s Day until the post went live. I love my daddy to bits and I hope to write him a proper post of appreciation later this week :) until then, these are some immediate thoughts that I hope won’t be a damper. But I’d still love to hear your thoughts ASAP!)

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In recent years, I have learned the hard way that trust is not something that stands on a solid foundation built from words, assurances, contrition, or even years of trust-building. Instead, it teeters at the edge of a narrow, misshapen precipice, whose sharp point inexplicably–perhaps even miraculously–holds up the imbalanced weight that it bears, so that it seems always on the verge of toppling when the breeze of Doubt blows by–as Doubt will, on some sad occasions with more pertinacity than others.

With parents in particular, this precipice is a tricky one to travel, and one always has the feeling that a misstep will not only cause the entire structure of trust to crumble, but to cast one into a dark void of purposelessness and intense self-hatred that cannot be occasioned by anyone else. Those of us who are lucky enough to have loving parents know that we are born into a system of trust–that we begin, essentially, possessing one or more other beings’ trust without having earned a shred of it, unless you count the act of being genetically (or adoptively) related to someone “earning.” With every subsequent human encounter in our lives, we work hard to foster and maintain that trust–but a parent-child relationship is, for better or for worse, one that begins with a blind willingness to believe in someone we have only just come to know.… Read more

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Filed under Appetizers, Dips/Spreads, Healthy, Homemade/DIY, Lunch & Dinner, Snacks, Vegetarian

5-Minute Microwave Caramel Sauce { & 55 things you can do in 5 minutes }

As a challenge to both myself and you, I’m pairing this awesome 5-minute microwave caramel sauce recipe (from the phenomenal Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake) with 55 fun things you can do in 5 minutes or less a day.

Ready? Let’s begin.

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  1. Meditate somewhere in the quiet outdoors, and dressed as an all-natural owl
  2. Listen to this incredible video of Harrison Craig from The Voice Australia 2014 singing “You Raise Me Up”
  3. Eat an entire caramel apple by yourself
  4. Write a thank-you card telling someone you appreciate them
  5. Hug a dog/cat (or a stuffed animal if a live one is in short supply)
  6. Make a 15-second silly video of yourself doing Gangham Style and post it on Instagram
  7. Reread your favorite picture book
  8. Dance around your room belting out your current favorite song into a dilapidated hairbrush
  9. Make yourself a cup of hot tea to enjoy
  10. Send a text message saying “hello!” to ten friends you haven’t seen in a long time
  11. Watch this hilarious Bad Lip Reading of The Hunger Games
  12. Catch up on at least two BBC World News videos
  13. Buy a cup of coffee for the next person in lineMicrowaveCaramelSauce4--031515
  14. Do one of these super-random five-minute crafts, like tattooing a banana
  15. Find out which Pixar movie you are
  16. Hold a lively discussion about goldfish safety with your imaginary friend, Bob Gutterson
  17. Try to discover the meaning of life (may require additional 5-minute sessions)
  18. Make your own list of 5-minute activities and commit to finishing one per day for fun
  19.  Look up 5 local restaurants you have never tried and save them for your next outing
  20. Write a haiku about cheese, or your mother-in-law, or both
  21. Create a to-do list of all the things you will need to accomplish when you become World Conquerer
  22. Find a cute new wallpaper for your desktop background
  23. Write down 5 things that made you really happy this week
  24. Create a pyramid-tower out of leftover toiler paper rolls
  25. Waste your insanely valuable time on this Impossible QuizMicrowaveCaramelSaucegif2
  26. Draw a map of what the world would look like if it was filled only with unicorns, rainbows, and sprinkles, in that order
  27. Speak in a heavy English accent to the next person you meet, and keep it up for the entire conversation until they ask you where you’re from.
Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Dips/Spreads, Homemade/DIY

Homemade Snickerdoodle Peanut Butter for #SundaySupper

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Last year was the year of the spoon.

I had my spoon in everything and anything delicious that could be spread, dipped, or straight-up eaten. Hummus, jelly, cookie butter, sweetened condensed milk, ice cream, and of course…

Peanut butter. Did I mention that the bottom of my mouth and the sides of my tongue have started swelling a bit when I eat peanut butter too many days in a row now? Because they do. I get the vague feeling (as I sit here with my spoonful of peanut butter hanging out of my mouth) I should be cutting back. Three words: Denial solves everything.

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This year, however, I have made a resolution. A good one. One that will make me a fundamentally better human being who is in touch with her fundamentally good human side.

This year, I declare 2015: the year of the finger foods.

Because really, wasn’t that what fingers were made for? Scraping out the very last drop of peanut butter from those hard-to-reach spots at the bottom of a cylindrical jar? And you even get ten uses–one for each finger–before you have to wash them! It’s like the Supreme Creator attached handy portable sampler spoons on the ends of our hands for this very purpose.

Human creation. They really did think of everything. Now all I need is a retractable wings and a manual-speed metabolism with overdrive, and this new year will be a breeze.

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I really didn’t start making homemade peanut butter until my friend gifted me a food processor at the end of my first year in grad school. If you know me at all, my lack of kitchen appliance ownership probably wouldn’t surprise you since I didn’t learn how to boil an egg until about junior year of college.

That’s when the finger-tasting obsession started: suddenly I was struck by a realization that the warm, liquidy goodness at the bottom of the food processor bowl could be scraped up and enjoyed right on the spot, and–what was more–that I could apply the same logic to most things that come in jars!… Read more

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Filed under Dips/Spreads, Healthy/Clean Eating Challenge, Homemade/DIY

Killer Cookies ‘N Cream Brookies and Oreo Butter: An Online Bake Sale for the Philippines

How does one not lose all control when digging a fork into this warm, melting gooey Oreo lovers’ mess?
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Oh, that’s right. One doesn’t. If you couldn’t tell by the gif.
But before I get started on these outrageous Oreo cookies ‘n cream brookies (yes, that’s a brownie + cookie smashed into one sugar-coma-inducing concoction), I want to tell you about a really important event, and the story behind why I decided to tackle these in the first place.
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As anyone who even remotely follows world news knows, a terrible storm hit the Philippines a few weeks ago. While the story has sadly faded off the radar of our fast-paced, sensation-seeking U.S. media, the relief and rebuilding efforts–as is true with any disaster, big or small–are still happening around the clock, around the world, to help the affected people and areas. I have spent ample time researching and making my own donations to the Philippines Red Cross (which, by the way, I definitely recommend if you’re considering making donations but worry about where your donations actually go–they’re one of the established agencies that you can count on to get your money to the relief spots), but wasn’t sure what I could do beyond that to spread the word. Then, by some unlooked-for chance, I stumbled across Tina’s blog, and get this: she is hosting an online bake sale to raise funds to support the relief effort! Very important? YES. I almost never do plugs for other blogs, but please consider learning more about how you can help through a small gesture that will go a long way, no matter what source you choose (as long as it’s a reliable one).
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How it works: 1. Tina is accepting ‘virtual baked good donations’ until FRIDAY, 11/22/13. All you have to do is fill out a pledge form and send her a photo of the goods you will be ‘selling’ for donations.
Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Brownies & Chocolates, Dips/Spreads

Roasted Pepper Sweet Potato Feta Dip

Before you read this. Yes, before.

Well, okay–maybe after you read. And maybe after you try making this really, really creamy light dip. But right after.

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I want you all to get your flu shot.

Grab your loved ones and get them their flu shots, too.

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If you’ve all been wondering where the hoozers I’ve been for the past 13 days, I’m just going to close my eyes and repeat…

Get. Your. Flu. Shot. PEOPLE. Seriously.

And please, don’t lick the spoon if you’ve got the flu (like I did) and are in the kitchen cooking for more than one (which I wasn’t, thankfully–I could barely take care of myself as it was). Maybe nobody else can see you, but the karma gods can. And they’ve got their eyes fixed on you like a daddy’s got his eyes on his daughter’s prom date.

<<Death glare.>>

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Whizzing past all the far-too-graphic details with which I could regale you about my one-week sojourn in bed, however, I’d like to move on to the very important matter of…this dip. But this begs a slight digression first.

The worst part about the flu, aside from the massive fever and world-tilting-off-its-axis feeling every time you stand up, is the tummy aspect. This is my kind, euphemistic way of telling you that my toilet bowl and I became bestest buddies this week.

Yeah. Unfun, i.e. (according to our reliable friend Urban Dictionary), “the evil opposite of fun.”

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Do you ever get that terrible feeling when you’re sick of being extremely hungry, but wanting absolutely nothing to do with food?

That defined the entirety of the first 72 hours of my flu.

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For the next leg of 72 hours (the second trimester, if you will–because yes, 9 days of the flu feels as arduous and taxing as an entire pregnancy, right), I ate little nibbles here and there between racking hacking fits.… Read more

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Filed under Dips/Spreads

Carrot Cucumber Nut Yogurt Dip (Revved-Up Tzatziki)

Oh, you’ll want to bookmark this one. Trust me.

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Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes…

Or you can take my word for it. Because the dishes are empty.

Empty.

As in dang-that-was-a-finger-lickin’-amazing-tzatziki empty.

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You’re welcome.

Don’t worry, your jeans will thank me for this one as well. See this dip? No? Maybe we should get a closer look…

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Yeah.

That’s your new year’s resolution in a dish calling out your name. Made with non-fat Greek yogurt, carrots, cucumbers, toasted walnuts, honey, and just a tiny (think miniscule!) smidge of mayo, this dip is for not for your waistline to die for.

Your sense of self-restraint might die for it, but I speak from personal experience when I say that tossing your self-restraint out the Paladinian window (okay, my apartment doesn’t actually have a Paladinian window, but would you crush a gal’s dreams now?) isn’t such a bad thing here. In fact, it’s a very good thing. Because instead of snacking on that towering pile of leftover lemon cheesecake and caramel flan from the new year’s party, you’ll be asking for someone to hand over the cucumbers.

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I’m a devoted fan of tzatziki, but the tartness of it gets old after a while, so I decided to infuse my usual recipe with a bit of cool (and colorful!) kick. Instead of just the usual cucumber dealio, I tossed in some toasted walnuts (which added, as you might expect, a great nutty dimension), a smidge of honey and mayo (for a sweet, creamy contrast to the tang), and finely-cut carrots (great for added texture).

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Yes, you may thank me now.

Or better yet, you may thank me after I’ve had another dish of this. If you’d like to make me one and find a way to ship it by express mail, I won’t object to that form of a thank-you gift, either.… Read more

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Filed under Dips/Spreads

Black Sesame Tahini Hummus

“He bent down and pulled his wand out of the troll’s nose. It was covered in what looked like lumpy grey glue.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to funny-looking foods at my dinner table, I have a hard time keeping my imagination in check.

So when I peeked into my fridge this afternoon and noticed the woeful lack of Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus inside, and when I made up my mind right there that I was going to whip up my own batch of hummus with what I had on hand–black sesame seeds for tahini instead of regular white ones–you don’t need a vivid imagination like mine to imagine what happened next.

Flour Power: Making your own hummus, nut butter, or cookie butter from scratch helps you and your family avoid all those pesky preservatives lining your local store shelves. Plus, it’s a cinch! All you need are a few key ingredients, a food processor, and an active sense of adventure!

You can probably see where this discussion is headed. If you’re faint of stomach (don’t worry, I won’t go into anything actually explicit!), you might want to consider jumping to the recipe and forgetting the rest of this post ever happened. Yeah?

Still with me? Okay, here it is…

Troll bogeys.

Okay, there. I said it.

Looking at this black sesame tahini hummus, that was the first thought that popped into my mind.

It’s delicious troll bogeys, though! And the hummus doesn’t actually look like a grey lump of glue–it actually looks, feels, and tastes like your average hummus…only gray.

You can eat it with anything you like–fruit, veggies, cookie butter (okay, maybe not cookie butter, but I do have a great granola recipe to share with you guys soon that you can use it in!).… Read more

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Cookie Butter and PB Cookie-wiches

Let’s talk about Commercialized Holiday Mania.

Funflour Fact #1: Did you know that according to some studies, the number one fear in the world is not death, but public speaking? (I totally empathize!)

It’s catching. It’s contagious. And it’s extremely, rampantly…

Annoying.

You can probably guess who’s been receiving copious amounts of unseasonable (literally) emails as of late.

The great big Disney corporation has been sending me notices about its Halloween Bash since July. July, as in, the month of summer sunshine and the-only-place-that-sees-anything-remotely-autumn-like-is-Australia-where-it-SNOWS. And snow is considered winter, folks, not autumn. Don’t get me wrong: I love Disney. If I had to get a tattoo in an unnamed place, it would probably pay tribute to the cartoon version of the 100 Acre Woods inhabitants (sorry, A.A. Milne!). But when I get emails with a royal fanfare that trumpet at me, “Get your Halloween Bash tickets now, before time runs out!” while I still have my air conditioner blasting and sweat is dripping off the edge of my nose…

I don’t know what it is. Sometimes the holiday season cheer just feels sort of, you know–lacking.

Flour Power: I just signed up for a 1.5k open water swim to raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness this weekend. What have you done lately to help your community?

I say this as I drink out of my Disney-sponsored mug with a great ol’ picture of Grumpy on it and the caption: “BENEATH THIS GRUMPY EXTERIOR BEATS THE HEART OF A DASHING HERO.” I stole this mug from my dad…to whom I had given the mug as a birthday present earlier this year.

Did I mention that my life ambition is to become either the world’ greatest pirate who only steals gifts she’s already given to other people, or else a bigger grump than everyone else around me?… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies, Dips/Spreads

Honey Peanut Butter

How many of you have ever grabbed a spoon, dunked it in an obliging jar of peanut butter, and called the rest history? Anyone?

I would raise my hand, but it’s busy alternately typing and scooping up yet another spoonful of this creamy homemade honey peanut butter. Think I’m lying? Try me.

Wait, no. You can try me in about ten minutes, when I’ve stopped eating this addicting nut butter and washed my hands. Then you can try me.

While you’re waiting for me to get my gunky fingers licked clean, I want to tell you about LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. My friend from Berkeley was visiting this weekend, and we randomly came across the most amazing and unexpected thing! Well, not the most amazing (Disneyland has that superlative covered, thank you very much) or most unexpected (it was a museum of, er, art, after all), but it was a close one. 

It was Magritte’s famous picture: The Treachery of Images, also known by its caption, Ceci n’est pas une pipe (or “This is not a pipe”).

I stood in front of this picture for at least five minutes. Pretty neat to think about though, huh? I’ve always loved studying ideas of representation and deconstruction, so this painting is right up my alley. (Wikipedia has some cool stuff to say about it, too.)

I remember seeing the Mona Lisa for the first time in seventh grade and feeling really, really underwhelmed. Not so with my dear friend Magritte!

Yet another A-list hard-hitter was the original Andy Warhol tomato can series exhibit. I don’t know why I didn’t expect this stuff in a huge museum of art, but I was pretty much floored when I suddenly found myself nose-to-nose with the paintings, which were hanging there just like everything else.… Read more

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Creamy Homemade Cookie Butter

So I have a fun news update and a confession.

News: I got a brand spankin’ new mini food processor as an early birthday present that I’m over the moon in love with.

Confession: I’m kind of scared of it. Like, kind of really scared.

Apparently only 50 to 70 people get  wounded in shark attacks every year.

Meanwhile, with a food processor, you have a mean, angry blade sitting in front of you. It’s got that machine drive, literally. All that separates you from that whirring 100 rpm blade is a thin sheet of plastic that you’re betting big bucks on to hold its weight. It doesn’t have feelings. Once it starts, there’s no stopping it.

I mean, unless you take your finger off the grind button. I guess that’s one good way of stopping it. Better than trying to stop a shark attack from happening, anyway.

But that doesn’t stop me from being just the tiniest, slightest bit scared of it. Do you still remember your first time using a food processor? I don’t know about you, but now that I’m technically a “grown-up” (imagine that in BIG scare quotes), my fear senses have skyrocketed and my fear tolerance quota has exponentially shrunk. So fear is most definitely present as I press the grind button and then experience that moment of panic where I wonder whether or not I remembered to screw on the cap correctly–and whether it even matters at this point.

This is, of course, a completely irrational and unwarranted fear. The number of deaths by food processor every year are probably about the same as the number of deaths by bunny attack. I.e., zero.

I had to overcome this serious fear today when I peeked into my cupboard and found, to my eternal dismay, that we were all out of Trader Joe’s cookie butter!… Read more

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Filed under Cookies, Dips/Spreads