I know. It’s been a while. I wish I had something ultra fabulous to share with you. Instead I’m calling this segment “Keeping it Real With Sandy”. And in the spirit of keeping it real, I’ve gotta warn you – things might be a bit boring around here in the weeks to come.

The sweets and I are taking a break. It had to be done. It’s been eighteen days now. I definitely have more energy. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that all I want to do right now is bake a tray of brownies. And make this cake. I am totally obsessing. I don’t exactly love dieting. I love carbs. I miss baking. So I’ve been making other things to distract me.

Like hummus. I love hummus. So much so that I will eat it by the spoonful. I often buy hummus at the store, but it tends to be on the saltier side. Which is why homemade is really the way to go. There’s nothing like homemade hummus – it’s the easiest thing to throw together and you can adjust the flavors to your liking. I like my hummus mostly smooth with a just a bit of texture, a discernible lemon flavor, and a pronounced (but not too pronounced) garlickiness. Throw in some toasted pita, a few slices of cucumber, red bell pepper, maybe some sprouts. Sounds like lunch…


adapted slighty from Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes by Tessa Kiros

makes 1-1/2 cups

1-1/4 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight or 1  16-ounce can chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

2 large cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons tahini

juice of 2-3 lemons

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2  teaspoon sweet paprika

kosher salt

Drain the soaked chickpeas, cover generously with fresh water, and bring to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 1-1/2 hours. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid. Shake the chickpeas in a sieve to remove their skins. Leave skins on for a more coarse texture.

Crush the garlic with a little salt until it forms a paste. Put the chickpeas, tahini, and garlic in a food processor, puree a little, and then season with salt. Add most of the lemon juice and continue to puree until smooth. Scrape out into a bowl and thoroughly mix in the olive oil. If it’s too dry, add some of the reserved chickpea liquid. Check that there is enough salt and lemon juice. Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with more oil. Hummus will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator  for up to a week.

yogurt pancakes with mascarpone butter

Sometimes you just need to round up a few friends, throw your essentials in a bag, and skip town. Make a stop at In-n-Out for dinner on the way. Have a few bourbon negronis when you reach your destination. And just relax.

Sometimes a weekend in Tahoe is just what the doctor ordered. Especially when that weekend is filled with good company, good energy and some good eating. And waking up to morning snowfall is really the cherry on top of a perfect weekend.

Sometimes on a snowy Sunday morning you just need pancakes. In this case, it had to be yogurt pancakes. In my world, there would be no yogurt pancakes without Adrian.

Adrian used to make these yogurt pancakes that I was obsessed with. I’m not even really a pancakes for breakfast person, but those yogurt pancakes were something special. Notice all this talk in the past tense? That’s because the recipe mysteriously disappeared a few years ago, and we have been without yogurt pancakes ever since. Sometimes he jokes that I snatched the recipe, and now I kind of wish that I had because then at least one of us would still have it.

I tried to find the recipe online a while back, but there are a ton of yogurt pancake recipes on the internet, and the ones I did try weren’t quite right. I actually gave up kind of quickly. But recently I got this hankering for yogurt pancakes. So the search resumed.

After a couple of tries and some tweaking here and there, I ended up with a yogurt pancake that is pretty close to the original. It’s a flatter, creamier pancake; not as fluffy as a buttermilk pancake, but it does have some body and a similar tang. I like them with a little mascarpone butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, or a squirt of lemon juice and powdered sugar. A dollop of this warm blueberry sauce is also a really nice treat. And you definitely can’t go wrong with a few slices of bacon on the side. Sometimes only yogurt pancakes will do.

yogurt pancakes with mascarpone butter

adapted from the Washingtonian

makes about 12 6-inch pancakes

for the mascarpone butter:

1/2 cup salted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and mascarpone on medium speed until smooth. Store, covered, in the fridge. Makes about 1 cup.

for the pancakes:

3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt (not Greek style yogurt)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 eggs

1 teaspoon grated lemon or tangerine zest

1-1/4 cups milk, or more as needed (same note as yogurt)

1-1/2 cups self-rising flour (you can substitute 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder, mixed together)

3 tablespoons sugar

vegetable oil, butter, or bacon fat for greasing the pan

maple syrup and/or lemon wedges and confectioner’s sugar for serving

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, melted butter, egg, zest, and milk and beat well with a whisk or electric mixer. Add the flour and sugar. Stir carefully until incorporated, being careful not to overmix. Add more milk if the batter is too thick. It should have the consistency of a milkshake.

Preheat the oven to 175°F. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of oil, butter, or bacon grease. To see if the griddle or pan is hot enough, throw in a little batter. You should hear a light sizzle but shouldn’t smell or see smoke.

When the griddle or pan is ready, use an ice cream scoop to pour the batter. Watch for little bubbles to form on the surface, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Keep the pancakes in the oven until you’re ready to serve.

Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and 1 to 2 tablespoons of mascarpone butter. Garnish with confectioner’s sugar and a lemon wedge.

millet muffins

It has recently occurred to me that I almost never make muffins. I think it had been well over a year since my last batch. And then these millet muffins happened.

I love millet. Lately, I’ve been throwing a few spoonfuls in with my oatmeal in the morning. I especially I love the texture it lends to baked goods, that super satisfying crunch. I’ve never met a millet bread that I didn’t like.

So when I spotted millet muffins in Super Natural Everyday, which has become one of my favorites, I immediately flagged the recipe and couldn’t wait to make them.

I’ve made these muffins twice now and I’m sure I’ll make them again. Here’s why:

These guys are made with whole wheat flour without tasting like they’re whole wheat. In other words, they’re moist and have a really nice crumb – not too delicate, not too dense. They’re sweetened with only honey, making them just sweet enough; not quite dessert sweet, but more of a breakfast or midday sweet, which means a little butter and jam are perfectly welcome. They are fragrant with lemon and most importantly, they’re studded with crunchy bits of millet. These are definitely a keeper in my book. And a nice way to get reacquainted with muffins.

millet muffins

from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson

makes 12 muffins

2-1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup raw millet

1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

1 cup plain yogurt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup barely melted unsalted butter

1/2 cup honey

grated zest from 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons of juice

Preheat the oven to 400°F and position rack in the top third of the oven. butter a standard 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, millet, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, butter, honey, and lemon zest and juice until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are browned and just beginning to crack. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn the muffins out of the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.