Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus

When you make cookie dough, maybe you're like me and have to snitch just a little bit more dough...10 more times!  My kids love cookie dough too, maybe even more than cookies.  So I was really excited to find this recipe from The Wannabe Chef.  It's a healthy alternative to cookie dough, minus eggs.

Since my new Cuisinart 7-cup food processor just came in the mail today I had to try something fun and new.  This definitely was both of those.  It looks like cookie dough and is about 90% as tasty.  Perfect for apple dipping...or finger dipping.

So I know this still has sugar in it - in the form of syrup, but play around with amounts.  I'm excited to try Peanut Butter Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  Also, you could play with the different add-ins.  I did mini semi sweet chocolate chips.  I'm personally a fan of milk chocolate.  You could add cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and some pureed pumpkin (with chocolate chips) for a fall variant.  Definitely worth experimenting on!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Hummus
from The Wannabe Chef

2 cups chick peas (about 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup natural (no sugar added) peanut butter
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp syrup (I added less...start with a smaller amount and add gradually to taste)
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Using your food processor, puree the chick peas, peanut butter, syrup, and vanilla.  Process until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips and serve.

*Mine is in the fridge right now.  I'm excited to taste it cold, I think it will taste even better.  I'm thinking it would even be a good topping for my whole wheat pancakes (that are oil free and egg free).

Table Progress

We have about another week before the table will be complete.  I'm so excited!!  It really has become a whole family project.  We've decided that eventually it will be the table the kids fight over because they want it OR fight over who has to take it.  :)

I guess I should tell the story.  I've always wanted to build a table.  After watching "The Kitchen Cousins" on HGTV with Tyler, he was on board, too.  We sold our dining table and chairs on craigslist and are now working on probably the biggest project we've done so far.  

In searching for "cool table legs" I found a website that makes some amazing tables.  I sent a link to my dad, not thinking that it was actually possible.  Big surprise to me when he said we could make it!  He's a project junky like us.  He was always building something in the garage.

My uncle is a welder and my dad has some tools to help us with the steel part.  Here are some of the pre-cut i-beams.  We ordered these cut in 4 2-ft-length and 1 6-ft-length.  On a vacation to Montana, my cousin drove them to us (well, to my uncle's house).  We went out, figured out the curves we wanted, and my uncle cut them for us.  

1-year-olds are really helpful around sharp metal.  

Cardboard is super technical.  :)

This was the design we came up with.

After it was cut, Tyler used the metal grinder and took off all the sharp edges made by cutting the metal.  He felt like a "man" this day.  Nothing like working on your vacation. :)

As for the table top, we have biscuit-cut the boards and glued them all together...thanks to some friends with some really long clamps.  And HOLY COW it weighs a ton!  I thought I was strong.  No.  This thing is going to take several more friends to move.  Like I said, this table is a group project.

This is Tyler laying down on the job.  :)  Okay, really he tripped over the wood blocks behind him and we were both laughing so hard that I had to take a picture.  He loved it, "wait, don't move, I'm going to grab my camera!"  

The kids even got in on using the biscuit cutter.  Tyler would line it up and they would push it in the wood.  It's quality family time.

I was in charge of keeping the boards in order and measuring where to biscuit cut.  I'm good at this kind of thing.  

Stay tuned for the table reveal!  The base is coming from Montana on Labor Day weekend, so we need to finish sanding and staining the top in this next week.

**UPDATE: We have finished this table, go to this post to see the I-Beam table.

Curried Fried Rice

Last night I was tucking in my 6-year-old for bed and he asked to sit on my lap, even though he had already been tucked in his covers.  I asked him why?  His response, "because it makes me feel safe."  I love that.  

Just so you know, I have attempted a dessert bar that was not so successful (when taking out the unhealthy ingredients).  This dish however, was definitely successful and will be a new in-house regular.  

The sweetness from the golden raisins balances out the curry really well.  I also added garbanzo beans, so extra points for some added protein.  I had no cucumbers, but they would have made a great cold topping.

Curried Fried Rice
recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (it will not be sticky if you use day-old)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 can garbanzo beans
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cucumber, thinly sliced as garnish or diced as topping
1 lime, cut into wedges as garnish

Cook brown rice or get out your day-old rice, my preferred method.

To stir-fry the onions, water saute them.  I do this anytime I have to saute now.  It cuts back on a lot of oil and you still have plenty of flavor.  Heat your pan, add diced onions, and a little bit of water.  Stir your onions around on low heat, the same as you would in oil.  When the water has almost all evaporated, add more.  Continue until your onions are as soft as desired.

After onions are tender, add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds.  (Grated ginger would also be a nice addition).  Stir in curry powder, coriander, and chili powder.  Add the rice, raisins, and garbanzo beans, blending well.  Stir in the soy sauce.  Add the scallion and cilantro.

Stir-fry until heated through and transfer to a platter.  Garnish with cucumber and lime, serve hot.

A Secret Salad Ingredient

In all our salad making right now, having ingredients that pack some flavor makes all the difference.  Welcome to peperoncini!!  Surprisingly, this was a suggesting from Tyler that turned out really good!  I'll admit, some of his cooking ideas I might roll my eyes at.  Like the time he thought scrambled eggs and tuna might go well together...

I digress.  :)

I just consumed this salad and it was very delicious.  In fact, I might have to eat this again with dinner it was that good!

Today's Salad
Red Leaf Lettuce
Salt and Pepper

There really is a bunny hutch

This has been built for a little while now, but here's the big reveal!  Okay.  Not so big.  But we think it's pretty cool and Pinky the bunny seems to tolerate it, so mission accomplished.  :)  (Could use some stain or paint, huh?)

I looked at other hutches online and just made up some of my own plans.  Seriously though, they were chicken scratch by the end, so sorry.  No sharing of plans that will just confuse and frustrate you.  Only I can decipher these and it's not worth it to try to share with you.  So here's some pictures to inspire your own bunny hutch!  

1st Annual Comedy Night

Knock, knock...

A couple weeks ago we hosted our 1st party!  Tyler has always wanted to try some stand-up comedy, so we decided to invite our friends with the attempt to make each other laugh.  It was successful!

The catch to be invited: at least one of your party has to present a 2 minute something that will make us laugh.  There were movies, jokes, stories, poems, and dances.  It was impressive what people came up with.  

Personally, I shared a booger (yes, booger) poem that I wrote in a creative writing class.  (You know you wished you heard it!).  Tyler wrote a piece about a guy that has to go shopping at Ross with his wife.  In all, it was a ton of fun.  

The evening schedule (in case you want to replicate this awesome idea):
1 month in advance - send out invite and tell people to find sitters early
7:30pm - begin party with appetizers/desserts
8:00pm - begin comedy routines - write them down on order or appearance so people are forewarned when they will be presenting
...we threw in some "whose line is it anyway" comedy skits as well
?? - end comedy routines and stay up visiting until at least midnight

**For next year - we will have air conditioning!

Nutritarian Eating: Couscous Salad

Hello couscous!  This was the first recipe I'd ever made with couscous and still continues to be my favorite.

Okay, you're probably wondering about the title.  Tyler and I read the book Eat to Live and have decided to take the 6 week challenge to see how we feel.  Is anyone else out there enjoying this as much as we are?  We are doing this to feel healthier, although it can be used as a weight loss tool as well.

I love a good food challenge!  Does anyone else get bored with the same recipes all the time?

It's exciting to look at recipes with a different goal in mind.  This goal: is it healthy, do I make it from scratch, can I take out any added oil, how many vegetables can I put in it, what beans can I add, can I make it meat-less, can I take out added sugar, does it have whole wheat in it, brown rice instead of white, and can I add flax meal to it?  These are the questions that I try to answer in my cooking right now.  
Couscous Salad
from Sondos

3 cups cooked couscous
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup orange zest
2 oranges, juiced (or more to taste)
1/4 cup lemon zest
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp olive oil (nutritarian note: use as little as possible, add more juiced oranges if need more liquid)
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients and toss together.

Bottom can still have tons of flavor and enjoy eating.  For lunches around here, we take the dish (like this one) and eat it on top of spinach.  It's been fun to make these new salads for Tyler to take to work.

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