It’s back-to-school time again. And it’s kinda a big year for us. No, no little ones on the way. It’s Kevin’s (aka graduate school husband) last year of graduate school. Next year, we leave for internship. Time flies. Three short years ago, we married, moved to Chicago, and Kevin started graduate school in hopes of becoming a clinical psychologist. Hopes are beginning to turn into realities. And I’m gonna have to rewrite the first paragraph of my bio. One year closer to dropping the sugar momma title! Read more

One man’s dessert is another man’s breakfast. At least that’s what happened with my leftover mascarpone filling from these tarts. Can I tell you—nothing goes to waste at this casa. Nothing. You would think we lived through the Great Depression. Oh, wait. But on a happier note, this leftover treasure made for one, no two, very delicious breakfasts. I’m talking, so good, you don’t need to leave your house breakfasts. True story—we went out to breakfast one morning, stood in line to be seated, and decided to head back home and make this—Mascarpone French Toast. Read more

Italian White Bean Hummus | @thefauxmartha

My absolute favorite restaurant serves italian white bean hummus with flatbread crisps as an appetizer. (Please promise me you’ll go here if you are ever in the Chicago area.) I could go just for the hummus and maybe a drink. But you know how that goes—if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.

Because I can’t abstain from the rest of the menu, I learned how to make white bean hummus at home. It’s pretty darn close, and it’s pretty darn good. Although I have yet to try making the flat bread crisps. Not sure if I can pull those off.

Can I tell you the best thing about this hummus? It brings good friends around a table. Put a couple plates of hummus out. Pita chips. Or grilled naan. A bottle of wine. And that’s a recipe for a good evening.

Italian White Bean Hummus | @thefauxmartha

Italian White Bean Hummus
Serves: serves 8-12
 
Ingredients
  • 2 15oz. cans of cannellini beans
  • 1/4 c. tahini paste (you can buy this at Whole Foods)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil + more for serving
  • 1/4 c.-1/2 c. water
  • red pepper flakes
  • parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Rinse and drain beans.
  2. Place beans in a food processor or high powered blender. Add tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, and garlic.
  3. Turn the processor on and slowly pour in olive oil. Process until smooth and thick. Add warm water to thin if texture is too thick. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. To serve, place hummus on a plate. Drag the back of a spoon in a swirling pattern around top of hummus (not pictured). Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Accompany with pita chips, naan, or flat bread crisps.
Notes
Recipe adapted from Food Network.

Remember when I redid my post on Spinach Quiche a couple weeks ago? Well, I’m at it again. But I promise this is the last re-do for awhile. Brand spanking new content is on the way.

By the way, sorry I’ve been MIA this week. I’ve been working on a couple freelance design projects. Not only have I neglected the blog, but I’ve neglected dinner. We’ve been ordering pizza or scrambling eggs every night. Don’t judge. This week will probably be no better. I’ll be spending the week at the HOW Design Conference.

Enough about work. Let’s talk about Baked French Toast. It’s a classy breakfast casserole in my book, if you can even call it a casserole. It’s wonderfully versatile. The best part about baked french toast—you prepare it the night before and bake it in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a morning person. The less work I have to do in the AM, the better. How do all you mom’s do it? I can barely get myself out of the door in the morning. Needless to say, baked french toast makes my mornings easier. And on the weekends, it lets me sleep in longer. Baked French Toast, I love you.

This recipe has a simple nutty orange flavor. I am a little obsessed with orange right now. I think it may be the new lemon. May I suggest that you serve it with 100% pure maple syrup? I made the switch a couple years ago. Once you go pure, you’ll never go back. And yes, that is a Coke bottle I’m serving the syrup in. It’s time invest in a syrup dispenser.

 

Baked French Toast
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 loaf of thick, hearty whole wheat bread cut in large cubes (about 2 cups)
  • small hand full of crushed pecans (about 1/3 c.)
  • 3 c. of milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp. turbinado
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • zest of half an orange
  • juice of half an orange
  • dash of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Prep the night before serving. Cut bread and place in an 11 x 7 baking dish. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
  2. Whisk together milk, eggs, butter, turbinado, cinnamon, vanilla, zest, juice, and salt in a separate bowl.
  3. Pour mixture over bread. It should almost cover bread.
  4. Cover and let sit and soak overnight in fridge.
  5. Morning of, preheat oven to 425°. Sprinkle top with a pinch of turbinado. Bake for 30 minutes or until liquid is set. Cover with foil after 15 minutes to prevent burning.
  6. Enjoy with warmed 100% pure maple syrup.

 

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Today marked the start of the farmer’s market season in Oak Park. I’ve been looking forward to this day for weeks. I even popped out of bet a little earlier—with excitement. And the weather was just perfect for a walk. My graduate school husband got a couple homemade donuts—while I got some asparagus, rhubarb, and black raspberry jam. Perfect Saturday morning.

We love asparagus minus it’s after effects, if you know what I mean. It is super easy to cook. Very versatile. With a quick 10 minute cook time. You’re gonna love this recipe, if you can even call it that.

Asparagus

Bunch of fresh asparagus spears (support your local farmers!)
Drizzle of olive oil
Sprinkle of sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Wash and dry asparagus. Break off hard woody ends.
3. Place on baking sheet covered with foil for easy clean up.
4. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt.
5. Bake for 10 minutes. Enjoy.

TIPS
• This recipe is so basic, it’s easy to dress up. Try adding lemon or orange zest, lemon juice, orange slices, garlic slices, balsamic vinegar, or parmesan cheese.
• If you overcook your asparagus, they will no longer be spear-like, but limp and soggy and a little less nutritious. 

PS—Do you notice anything different around here? The ole blog was in need of an update. I’m trying to do it myself with the little web knowledge that I have—scary! If only it was as easy as cooking asparagus.

I’ve been a big lazy bum this weekend. Reason being—Broomball.

We played Broomball Friday night, and it did me in for the whole weekend. After all the years of playing competitive soccer, I don’t think my body has ever hurt this bad. Maybe I’m getting old. In hindsight, I should have come armed with knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet. Speaking of helmets, I took a nasty spill about 10 minutes into playing, hitting my head on the ice. A goose egg bump ensued. Being the competitive kamikaze athlete that I am, if you can even still call me an athlete, I kept playing. But, oh, I payed for it the rest of the weekend.

You’re probably thinking—”Does she want some cheese, with that whine?” I’ll pass on the cheese, but I’ll take a cookie instead. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I soothed my soul with a healthy chocolate chip cookie. I wasn’t about to try making a new recipe to blog about with my head being a little more foggy than normal. There’s no telling how it would have turned out. So I stuck with what I knew—an oldie but a favorite.

This little gem of a cookie will delight your palette. It’s tiny. Cute. With hints of maple. Filled with dark chocolate. And hidden with healthy morsels of whole wheat flour, oats, walnuts, and honey. Even college students, known for their fast food pizza eating habits, love these cookies.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serves: 3 dozen cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. pure cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. turbinado (coarse sugar)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl.
  4. In food processor or high-powered blender, finely grind oats, and add to flour mixture. Then finely grind walnuts. add to flour mixture.
  5. Into cooled butter mixture, whisk in sugar, honey, egg, and vanilla extract until sugar is dissolved and all ingredients are well combined.
  6. Pour butter mixture into flour mixture, and mix until just combined. (Dough will be somewhat dry.)
  7. Mix in chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop cookies with a spring release scoop or roll in ball by hand. Chocolate chips will have a nasty tendency to drop out of the cookies. Give them a little nudge to stay inside. Roll cookies in turbinado and cinnamon mixture and place on silpat or parchment paper lined pan. Do not flatten.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes.
Notes
You can also freeze these cookies before baking. Do everything up to step 9. Instead of placing the cookies in the cookies in the oven, place them in the freezer on the cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. This process is called flash freezing. Once they are frozen or hard, you can put them in a freezer proof bag and store up to 2 months in freezer. When you are ready for a cookie or two, set the cookie(s) out on your pan while preheating the oven. Bake for the same amount of time. You may have to add 2 minutes or so. With this method, you can have a freshly baked cookie instead of eating a week old cookie.

Go ahead and treat yourself to a cookie. A healthy(ish) one at that!