chips and dip

this sack of pita bread and an eggplant have been wallowing at the bottom of my fridge, sadly forgotten until today when i was inspired to make a bit of baba ghanoush and pita chips. such a simple dip to make as long as you have a supply of tahini on hand - otherwise making hummus or baba ghanoush might require an extra trip to a specialty shop for ingredients. and pita chips are almost as easy to make as buttered toast. seriously.

baba ghanoush:
1 eggplant, cut length wise
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clover garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste

drizzle a bit of oil on the bottom of a baking dish and swirl the eggplant in the oil to coat. bake eggplant face up in a 475 degree oven for about 40 minutes until very tender and golden brown. once removed from the oven, let cool before diving in with a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the eggplant - (i like to snack on the charred eggplant skin, but maybe i'm just odd). in a food processor, blend the eggplant innards and the remaining ingredients until smooth. drizzle with olive oil to serve. (makes about 2-3 servings)

smokey-spiced baked pita chips ~ serves 5-8
10oz package whole wheat pita bread
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
½ - 1 teaspoon harissa paste (optional)
¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper or aleppo chili flakes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

preheat oven to 400 degrees. cut pita bread in half and use kitchen scissors to cut around the rim to separate the two sides. lay the half-moon-shaped pitas out on a work space, inner side face up. whisk oil with spices in small bowl. use a brush to thinly coat the inner side of the pita with oil. stack the pita and use a large knife to cut into 3 equal triangle shapes. scatter the cut chips out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. roast until lightly browned and crisp. turn and rotate chips every few minutes to cook evenly. place baked chips out on paper to cool. adjust seasoning to taste. 

fruit leather

on my book shelf is an old tattered recipe book (that looks more like a children's coloring book than a cookbook) entitled 'dry it, you'll like it' ... it's a recipe book my dad would use to make me fruit leather as a kid. sometimes i still borrow his dehydrator for various 'cooking' projects, but fruit leather can also simply be made in an oven at it's lowest temperature (165 or 170 for most ovens). with higher heat you do loose more of the raw enzymes, but oven-dried fruit leather is just as delicious!

such a simple recipe. a great way to use up over-ripe or under-ripe fruits!

3 cups of fruit - berries, mangos, bananas, apples/pears, peaches/plums... probably not grapes or citrus or mellon - those would be a little too wet.
4 dates (optional to add a bit extra sweetness)
1/4 cup water

blend all ingredients together in a high-power blender until very smooth. cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper - making sure that it is fitted perfectly so it can lie flat. spread the fruit puree on the parchment paper, spreading and giggling until it is about 1/4 inch thick. bake at your oven's lowest temp for 4 to 8 hours or until the edges are a little crisp and it has a nice leathery look across the entire surface. it will still feel sticky to touch, but it will not be soft.

cut into squares and roll it up! save in the fridge for up to two weeks. enjoy!

black bean - chocolate - coconut cookies

these are definitely a don't-knock'em-till-you-try-them type of thing. you would never know there are black beans in these... oh my goodness are they delicious!! they are more like a brownie bite than a cookie, but decadent none the less. easily adaptable to other flavor combinations too - try nuts, or dried fruit, or maybe some spicy cayenne pepper to liven things up. not to mention, they are extremely simple!

black bean - chocolate - coconut cookies

3 cups cooked black beans, drained
4 tablespoons coconut oil
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2/3 cup brown rice syrup (or 100% maple syrup or honey)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup dark chocolate bar or baking chocolate, shaved or chopped into small chunks
1/2 cup large unsweetened coconut flakes + extra for sprinkling

in a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients except the chocolate and coconut flakes. blend until smooth. the texture should be wet but not soupy. fold in the chocolate and coconut flakes. spoon about 1-2 tablespoons of the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. sprinkle each cookie with extra coconut flakes. bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies and coconut start to brown. serve warm! to be honest, these cookies are best straight out of the oven and don't make the best leftover if stored in a tupperware. instead, freeze the cookies in single layers between sheets of wax paper. when you want some cookies, heat the oven to 350 and bake for 5 minutes until warm again. sure, a little more work on your part, but entirely worth the extra effort to enjoy these cookies warm!

gluten free cornbread muffins

i adore corn bread. with a bowl of chili, or on it's own smothered with butter and a drizzle of honey. yum. there's a cafe in my neighborhood - the sunlight cafe - that serves wonderful gluten free cornbread. however, their cornbread is made into a loaf and cut into slices, which in my opinion is way less fun that getting to eat a cornbread muffin. they would not share their recipe with me though, so i've been testing a few different gluten free corn bread recipes over the past few months... and here is the results! i've played around with different flours and ratios - this recipe is very adaptable to ingredients you have on hand, but here are my preferences. i'm sure you could use any gluten free baking flour mix, but i especially like the combination of flours here with a bit of buckwheat - it gives the cornbread a lovely brown speckle and nuttiness. i use fine cornmeal, rather than coarse polenta - but you could experiment with a mixture of the two if you enjoy a coarser cornbread. enjoy!

1/3 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup soy flour
2 tablespoons buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch
*(or use 1 cup of your own gluten free flour mix)
1 cup cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup milk, milk substitute or buttermilk
2 heaping tablespoons of honey or brown sugar
1 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed and drained (optional)

heat oven to 375 degrees. sift all dry ingredients together. add butter, egg, milk and honey and mix until just combined into batter (does not have to be perfectly smooth - small clumps are ok!) finally, fold in the corn kernels. pour batter into muffin pan lined with cupcake wrappers... about 1/4 cup batter per muffin. bake for 15-20 minutes.

you could also pour this batter into a 9x9 baking pan, lined with parchment paper or buttered. bake cornbread a few extra minutes (25 total or so) until golden brown around the edges.