Cooking Hussy


Homemade Lara Bar – Cherry and Almond November 25, 2009

Filed under: Appetizer — cookinghussy @ 1:10 pm

The holidays are here! Tomorrow morning Chris and I will be waking up bright and early to catch a 7:50 a.m. flight to Houston. We’ll be visiting his family in Texas for Thanksgiving.  While I hate early morning flights, I think I hate airport food even more. Unlike most people, I get to see what my blood sugar does (real time now with my Dexcom!) when I eat a scone or even worse, a fast food breakfast sandwich. Not good people, not good! So I’ll bring a little snack of my own, homemade Lara bars.  If you’ve never had a Lara bar, you are missing out. They are made with only a handful of ingredients, all real foods like dates, dried fruit, nuts and spices. So basic, in fact, that you can make your own and save about $4 a bar! I followed this recipe from Enlightened Cooking to make some Very Cherry Bars.

“LARA BARS use a multi-layer package that keeps out UV light and oxygen, which, in turn, maintains freshness without the use of preservatives. I use plain old plastic wrap and my refrigerator, then pop one in my bag when I’m ready to go.” – Cooking Hussy Note: Yep, this worked well for me too!

  • 1/2cup chopped dates (roughly chopped whole dates, not pre-chopped)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup whole almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the dates (minus seeds!) and cherries in a food processor. Pulse until processed to a paste. Transfer paste to a medium bowl (don’t clean processor). Or, if your cherries are a bit too dried, transfer to a big chopping block and chop away.

Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the nuts, along with the cinnamon, to the bowl with the fruit paste. Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste (just keep squishing, it’s fun).
Divide mixture in half, then in half again (4 balls). Place each piece on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic around each bar and start squishing into a bar shape form, 3 and 1/2 inches long, 1 inch wide and 3/4-inch thick); press against countertop to flatten bottom side, flattening top side and ends with flat of hand. Tightly wrap the plastic around each bar and store in the refrigerator. Makes 4 bars.

Nutrition per Serving (1 bar): Calories 207; Fat 9.4 g (sat .8g, mono 5.2g, poly 3.1g); Protein 3.9g; Cholesterol 0mg; Carbohydrate 24.9g; Sodium 0.4mg. (Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)

Notes: I look forward to trying some varieties with walnuts and dried apricots as well!


Grilled Eggplant Caprese June 22, 2009

Filed under: Appetizer,Main Dish,Salad/Side — cookinghussy @ 8:58 pm

Grilled Eggplant Caprese 2

Hell-0000 summer! I ran my first (and probably only) half marathon this weekend in Duluth Minnesota and it was hot. Normally the race, which started at 6:30 a.m., is nice and cool. Not this past Saturday! It was our first real day of summer so far this year too. It felt hot standing out in the sun after the race! Chicago is heating up as well with temperatures reaching the 90’s this week. So, it’s time to remember what I eat when I don’t want to heat up the house. A quick grill on this local and organic eggplant, paired with some fresh mozzarella, basil and tomato makes for a delicious and light dinner.

Grilled Eggplant Caprese

  • 1 eggplant – sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • fresh mozzarella – sliced
  • basil
  • tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes since the big tomatoes aren’t in season yet and don’t taste good).
  • good olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Head up a grill (or a grill pan) and throw on the eggplant. Cook fast and hot for a few minutes on each side and take off. Place a leaf of basil, a slice of mozzarella and tomatoes on top of one piece of eggplant, top with another and drizzle with good olive oil. Devour with hearty whole grain bread.

Servings: 2 dinner servings


Blue Cheese and Bacon Dip February 23, 2009

Filed under: Appetizer — cookinghussy @ 7:27 pm


Football! It’s done for the year, but at the end of it all, I made this hot bacon and blue cheese filled dip. Goodness, it was tasty but not an everyday snack. Yikes! You should try it sometime though. Your guests will like you. I found the recipe on Serious Eats.

  • 6 thick slices lean smoked bacon
  • 1 small onion – minced
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C.  milk
  • 1/2 C. lager beer
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound blue cheese, crumbled
  • sliced bread or bread sticks

In a large skillet, fry the bacon over moderate heat till almost crisp, drain on paper towels, and crumble coarsely.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the skillet, add the onion, and stir 3 minutes. Add the flour and stir 3 minutes longer. Whisking, add the milk and beer, then add the Worcestershire and cayenne. Bring the mixture to a low boil, whisking, cook for 2 minutes, and remove from the heat. Add the bacon and blue cheese and stir till the cheese is melted.

Transfer the dip to a small bowl and serve with bread.

Notes: As I said, it certainly tastes good.

Servings: Big appetizer for a group


Whole Wheat Crackers February 16, 2009

Filed under: Appetizer,Vegetarian — cookinghussy @ 1:14 pm


My mother used to make homemade whole wheat bread and crackers when we were kids. Coming home to a house filled with the smell of fresh bread or crackers was somewhat of a norm for me.  I’ve made my mom’s bread and her original crackers several times, but I wanted to try a thinner, crispy cracker this time. I found this simple and easy recipe from Baking Bites and gave it a try with much success. Try these with a yummy white bean dip… it’s good stuff for lunches or snacking.


  • 2 C. wheat flour
  • 3 T. wheat bran
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 2 t. honey
  • 4 T. butter, chilled
  • 1/2 C. water, plus 1-2 tbsp, if needed
  • Sprinkle with salt, black pepper

Combine all ingredients except water in a food processor and process until well combined. Add water and continue to process until mixture starts to come together into a dough.

Between two sheets of parchment or wax paper, roll out the dough into a rectangle of about 1/4 inch thickness. Refrigerate the dough for about 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to approximately 1/8 inch or less. Sprinkle dough with salt and/or toppings of your choice. Use a pizza cutter to slice into 1 inch squares, discarding excess dough. Score each cracker with a fork or several pricks of a toothpick. Transfer crackers to a parchment lined baking sheet and space out slightly.

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes, until edges are brown.

Notes: I doubled the original recipe because I knew I’d want a whole bunch if I was going to all the effort of making crackers. My favorite parts are the edges. So crunchy!

Servings: It’s unclear. Two baking sheets worth? A weeks worth of lunches and snacks? Just making them and eat them.


Rosemary-Lemon White Bean Dip February 13, 2009

Filed under: Appetizer,Vegetarian — cookinghussy @ 11:27 am


Another lunch box special! Bento boxing friend Emily mentioned a white bean dip she made, or maybe I made that up. It’s been a few weeks, clearly. But after having this real (imaginary?) conversation, I decided I wanted to make some white bean dip! Thanks to Mark Bittman, I found an excellent and simple looking recipe to try out. I even made some homemade whole wheat crackers to go with. Recipe coming soon!


  • 2 C. cooked white beans, like cannelini, drained but moist
  • 3 cloves garlic – peeled
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C. plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 t. minced fresh rosemary (I used dried and used 1 t.)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley (because I had it on hand!)
  • Grated rind of 2 lemons

Put the beans in the container of a food processor with garlic and a healthy pinch of salt. Turn the machine on, and add the 1/4 cup olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube; process until the mixture is smooth.  Place the mixture in a bowl, and use a wooden spoon to beat in the rosemary, lemon zest and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Taste, and add more salt and pepper as needed. Use immediately, or refrigerate for as long as 3 days.

Notes: I ate this with crackers as well as carrots. It would make a great spread for a vegetable sandwich as well.

Servings: 2 cups or 4 lunches and some snacks in between.


Slow Roasted Tomatoes September 15, 2008

Filed under: Appetizer,Vegetarian — cookinghussy @ 8:00 pm

Okay, there have been slow roasted tomato recipes all over my favorite blogs. They have looked so delicious and the descriptions are even better. I sliced up most of the tomatoes from my bulk box of tomatoes and roasted them on a lazy Sunday last week.

The apartment smelled great all day long. Tomatoes and garlic and olive oil, oh my.

I ended up using some tomatoes in an easy and delicious recipe idea pulled from Smitten Kitchen. Just a mixture of white beans, slices of roasted tomatoes, splash of olive oil, salt and fresh basil.

  • a bunch of fresh tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • garlic cloves

Since I didn’t have small tomatoes (I had monster slicing tomatoes) I had to figure out how to slice them so they weren’t too big for roasting. I ended up slicing of the bottom and the sides, about 1/4 inch, and saving the rest of the tomatoes to put in the freezer for soup (after cutting out the center). I layer 3 cookie sheets with tomatoes, drizzled on a bit of oilve oil, sprinkled salt and pepper, threw on some garlic cloves and let them roast away in the oven at 225 for… about 5 or 6 hours.

Notes: Taking the first bite is the best. Condensed flavor that is almost candy like. I froze a bunch to use later in the fall/winter!

Servings: Depends on how many you roast, silly.


Fresh Salsa September 14, 2008

Filed under: Appetizer,Vegetarian — cookinghussy @ 6:24 pm

A few weeks ago my CSA offered bulk tomatoes for an extra payment. I jumped at the opportunity for 10 pounds of fresh, beautiful tomatoes. I’ve been seeing recipes for slow roasted tomatoes that I really wanted to try. I’ll post the recipes and pictures for that tomorrow.

While I was excited for the slow roasted tomatoes, I knew that I had to use several fresh tomatoes for something simple and fresh. This simple fresh salsa recipe was perfect for one of the final warm afternoons grilling at Emily/Ted/Kim’s apartment.

  • two large fresh tomatoes – diced
  • 1/2 onion – diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – diced
  • 1 large bunch cilantro – chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • salt and pepper

After chopping and dicing all ingredients, mix together and taste for flavor. Feel free to add a diced jalapeno if you want spicy salsa.

Notes: I didn’t have time to drain the salsa, so it had lots of the tomato juice at the bottom. This didn’t bother me too much.

Servings: Many appetizers