After working this weekend, I took Monday off. Two great things happened:

1) I finally got around to making these crackers I’d been eyeing.

2) I went grocery shopping.

Yes, grocery shopping on a Monday morning is truly great. The stores are quiet, bordering on peaceful.  There are just a few polite moms, wandering the aisles. Everything is in stock, the produce is fresh. I could move slowly and take my time, not banging carts every time I turned a corner. It was wonderful.  I’m still glowing from the experience.

Now that I’ve revealed to you how obsessed I am about my grocery shopping, on to these crackers. Crackers- another item I never think to make at home but was curious to try.  These are hearty and crunchy and spicy all at the same time.  I like the addition of the sesame seeds, both for the way they taste and how they look.

Spicy Sesame Crackers adapted from So Good and Tasty

Makes roughly 24 crackers

3/4 c cold water

1/8 c olive oil

1 1/4 c whole wheat flour

1/4 c corn meal

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like it so spicy)

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 T sesame seeds

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, pour in the olive oil and water.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, corn meal, salt, and red pepper flakes.  Pour the dry mixture into the wet, mixing on low until just combined.  The dough should be slightly sticky. Remove the dough, bring together into a ball, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured countertop.  Flour the top of the dough and your rolling pin.  You may need to do this several times throughout so the dough doesn’t stick.  Roll from the center out, getting the dough as thin as possible.  Once rolled out, run a spatula under the dough, loosening it from the counter.  Use a pizza cutter to clean up the edges, then transfer the dough to the baking sheet.  Brush the dough with olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with the sesame/spice mixture.

One sheet at a time, bake for ten minutes, then flip the dough and bake for another 2-4 minutes, until it’s lightly brown.  Let the cracker cool, then break or cut into large pieces.

Making my own salad dressing is nothing new. That’s the way my mother did it growing up, so I grew accustomed to doing it that way. We occasionally had a bottle of ranch in the fridge, but that was for the nights my mom went out and we had a babysitter. We’d have chicken nuggets and chopped up veggies, and use the ranch as dipping sauce for both the nuggets and the veggies. That whole combination though, doesn’t sound too appetizing now.

My standard at home dressing always consists of French mustard, honey or sugar, some type of vinegar, and olive oil. I recently bought a jar of tahini to make hummus, but had a ton leftover. At $7 for the jar, I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I began exploring tahini based dressings. I settled on the one below based on the items in my cupboard. One week later our tahini is almost gone- a testament to how good this dressing is. The flavor is strong yet not overpowering, with great nuttiness from the sesame seeds. It’s also addictively creamy, without the addition of sour cream or mayo.  We’re almost through with the tahini and I definitely plan on buying more.  So in the end, this whole effort to get rid of an ingredient only caused it to become a mainstay in my cupboard.

Tahini Dressing adapted from Epicurious

1/4 c tahini
1/4 c water
1 T lemon juice
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 clove finely minced garlic
2 tsp maple syrup
s+p to taste

Whisk together the tahini and water until completely combined. Then add in remaining ingredients and stir well. If dressing seems to thick, add a bit more water. Toss half of dressing with a large bowl of salad ingredients- add more if desired. Dressing can be stored up to a week, covered, in fridge.

It dawned on me the other day I had never written about a beverage.  I’m certainly not whipping up cocktails in my kitchen every night, but alcohol or not, I do enjoy toying with ingredients in my drinks- whether it be adding apple pie spice to hot cocoa, or putting grapefruit juice in my gin and tonic (though there must be a name for that).  With an abundance of limes on hand, I decided to make homemade limeade.  If you’ve only had lemonade and not limeade, then you’re missing a crucial part of the citrus drink spectrum.  Even more tart in flavor, limeade is incredibly refreshing.  To enhance the drink’s natural green hue and mellow out the tartness, I added mint.  This drink is wonderful on its own, but it without a doubt begs for a splash of gin or vodka.  Cheers to finding my go to summertime drink.

Homemade Mint Limeade

Make 2 glasses

juice of 6 limes

2 tsp finely chopped fresh mint

3 T agave nectar (or simple syrup)

2 1/2 c water (sparkling if you have it)

Whisk together the lime juice, mint, and agave nectar.  Divide lime mixture between two medium size glasses.  Fill the glasses slightly more than half way with ice cubes.  Stir well to chill lime mixture.  Pour 1 1/4 cups of flat or sparkling water into each glass and stir well.  Enjoy immediately!

I like quinoa. I do.  I just like it in smallish quantities. I feel like I’m supposed to really like it.  It’s that hot new grain that’s super healthy, has every nutrient you need, absorbs all flavors, can be made sweet or savory, yada yada.  I’m sorry, but I’m just not that into it.

Every once and a while though, I feel like we should be eating it (because it’s so healthy!) and I end up buying it.  We had some in our cupboard, and when deciding how to prepare it, Brandon came across this recipe.  I’m not the biggest fan of allrecipes.  I sometimes feel like their site is just a dumping ground for all the recipes posted on the boxes of ingredients from the grocery store.  But not all those recipes are bad, so I shouldn’t shun them immediately.  What really caught my eye on this particular recipe though was that almost 62,000 people had saved it to their recipe box. 62,000 people are planning on making quinoa, and they’re preparing it this way? Well then, I guess it can’t be half bad.

So with just a few small ingredient additions (paprika, jalapeno, lime), I prepared this quinoa recipe for dinner the other night.  And it was…. beautiful to look at but just so so.  Maybe I just need to add bacon and call it a day, but then it would feel a bit like cheating.  Am I alone here, or does someone have some super fabulous quinoa recipe I’m missing?  If not, I recommend the one below- just add pork fat.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad adapted from
Serves 4
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime

Heal oil in medium size pot over medium heat.  Add in onion, garlic, and jalapeno, stirring occasionally and cooking until lightly browned (8-10 minutes).Stir in quinoa, cover with vegetable broth, and stir in spices.  Bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.  Simmer partially covered over medium low heat for 20-25 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.

Stir in corn and beans, cooking for a few minutes until corn is cooked through.  Stir in cilantro and lime. Dish may served warm, at room temp, or chilled and served cold.

A few weeks back, I had dinner at Rosa Mexicano for the first time.  I ate everything from the crab empanadas to the pork belly tacos, but what stood out the most was their guacamole.  Big buttery pieces of avocado tossed in onion, jalapeno and cilantro. As I downed the dip, I began to question why, when making guacamole at home, had I always smashed my avocados into oblivion? From that moment forward I swore I’d never made guacamole that way again. This Sunday, midst a Mexican food themed weekend, I finally had the opportunity to amend my guacamole making tendencies.  I followed Rosa Mexicano’s signature recipe and added in lime and extra jalapeno for freshness and spice. The outcome was delicious, most certainly a vast improvement from my previous version of guacamole.  Not to mention, this guacamole method makes a remarkably pretty dip, don’t you think?

Guacamole adapted from Rosa Mexicano Restaurants

Serves 4

3 ripe hass avocados

handful chopped cilantro

2 1/2 T very finely minced white onion

1 japaleno finely minced

juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp salt

tortilla chips

Cut avocados in half, remove pit, and scoop out whole halves (gently run a spoon around the rind).  Chop avocados into medium size chunks.  Toss gently with remaining ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly against the avocado so it’s not exposed to the air.  Chill in fridge for 30 minutes before serving with tortilla chips.