Friday, June 29, 2012


Hummus.  Humble.  

This recipe is nothing special, but that doesn't mean it isn't good.

I hope that statement holds true for the new apartment I now call home.  The window blinds were covered in black dust, the smoke detector didn't work, and somebody had punched in the bathroom door.  Still, its little quirks, once fixed (and even once more were discovered), ultimately made it endearing to me.

Like my abode, hummus may be humble.  Yet, it certainly has a lot to boast about.  Chock full of protein and flavor, but without any fat, hummus makes for a delightful spread on your sandwich or pita, a creamy dip for your veggies, or a refreshing cool bite eaten with a spoon directly from the fridge.



2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water reserved from chickpea cans
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika, plus more for topping
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Blend chickpeas and can liquid in a food processor until slightly mixed but still grainy.  Add in spices.  Blend until smooth, scraping sides of food processor if necessary.

*Note: this recipe can be easily adjusted to fit your taste.  Ingredients for which I have listed "1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon..." can be added to this recipe as much or as little as you desire.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Butterscotch Banana Bread

Summertime conjures up images of relaxing, resting, and recuperating.  I think of hammocks and lemonade, and books with the corner of a page turned down.  

Sounds nice, doesn't it?  I wouldn't mind napping on the beach for an hour or two.  At least, I think I would like that.  When it comes to actually resting though, I have a hard time; and, my first week of summer has  made me realize that I often view rest as a euphemistic form of waiting.

A week at home is not a time to relax and read books and write and bake and play piano and and and.  It is a holding cage until I move into a new apartment, until I start a new internship, until I start fulfilling responsibilities and doing things again.  Honestly, that's what I feeling up until last night.

The reality is I'm meant to wait.  I wouldn't wait--rest--on my own, so God made circumstances such that I have no choice but to wait.  And that's a relaxing thought.

What does all of that have to do with banana bread?  Not much, I suppose, except that this "quick bread" really isn't too quick to make.  But it is easy.  

Whip together a batter, pour it into a pan, and bake.  

Bake, and wait.  

Then, enjoy.  Bite into a slice and enjoy a burst of butterscotch upon your tongue.  

Waiting has its rewards, I suppose.   

Butterscotch Banana Bread

Yield: 1 large loaf (9"x5")

1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup oil
4 ripe medium/large bananas, mashed
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.

Grease and flour the bottom and sides of a 9"x5" loaf pan; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, bananas, and eggs together with an electric mixer.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon together.  Add this mixture to the banana mixture, stirring just until wet.  Fold in butterscotch chips.

Pour batter into loaf pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the batter.

Bake bread for 65 to 70 minutes at 350 deg. F. until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before storing bread wrapped in aluminum foil and a plastic bag.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cherry Cheesecake Squares

A week or so ago I made this fancy-ish dessert for a fancy shin-dig for which I too had to look fancy.  I love fancifying simple recipes or staples and making them shine a little brighter.  Pancake mix? Fancified.  Ramen? Fancified.  Boxed caked mix? Fancified.

I would prefer making recipes fancy than having to endure the process of "dolling up" myself on a regular basis.  Still, seeing the end result can be amusing (especially when I reflect upon the blank and unfortunately frizzy canvas with which I typically begin).

Here is a little look at what a fancified woman must endure to become thus:
  • Hunting for and sometimes painfully removing all insurgent hairs often found upon the legs and surrounding the eyebrows.
  • Crafting, through trial and error, a strict formula that allows her to calculate at what time she should wash her hair in order for it to dry before her fancy event and still appear the most devoid of frizz.  
  • Checking for runs in tights and applying clear nail-polish to the baby snags threatening to mature.
  • Carefully painting the nails on her right hand red with her less-than-steady already painted left-hand and somehow managing to avoid looking like she has ripped the bloody entrails out of a dying animal when finished.  It's just her fire engine red polish, she swears.  
  • Make-up-ing.  Knowing how to apply just enough to highlight the good stuff and play down the not-so-good stuff.
  • Deciding between the light black skirt or the dark gray skirt.  Yes, there's a difference.  
  • Walking in pointy heels without toppling over and breaking something or poking somebody's eye out.

Even the fancified woman requires a recipe.  Thankfully, this one usually just improvises.  

Cherry Cheesecake Squares
Adapted from Betty Crocker

Yields: 24 squares


Crust and Topping
1 (1 lb 1.5 oz) package Betty Crocker sugar cookie mix
1/4 cup cold butter, in chunks
4 oz (half a package) of cream cheese, in chunks
sprinkle of sugar

20 oz cream cheese (2 and 1/2 packages), softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 can (20 oz) cherry pie filling


Preheat oven to 350 deg. F.  With cooking spray, grease the bottom and sides of a 13"x9" baking pan.

Empty the sugar cookie mix into a large bowl.  Using two forks or a pastry blender, cut in 4 oz of cream cheese and butter into mix, until dough resembles the size of small peas and feels crumbly.  Set aside 1 and 1/2 cup of the mixture for the topping.  Evenly press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the baking pan, and slightly up the sides.  Sprinkle lightly with extra sugar.  Bake cookie crust for 12 minutes.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and eggs on medium speed with a mixer until smooth.

Scoop cream cheese mixture onto the cookie crust and spread it out evenly.  Gently spoon pie filling evenly across the top of the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle the reserved cookie crumbles onto the cherry filling.  

Bake squares for 40 to 45 minutes or until the top is lightly golden brown.  Remove pan from oven and cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.  The puffiness of the squares will deflate during cooling; do not be alarmed.  Refrigerate the bars for 3 hours or overnight until set.  Slice squares and serve, or store squares covered in the fridge.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer Bucket List 2012

In one week, I will officially be on summer vacation--until the end of September.  This may very well be my last summer vacation ever.  Next year, I enter my senior year of college, and after that, summers seem to disappear from existence, being replaced by two week vacations from "real world" jobs.  So, this summer, I'm going to make it count.

I'll be staying here by the beach all summer, doing an internship related to books, marketing, and publishing (i.e. dream job).

I have a trip or two planned to go home, but I'd rather not think about that.  Living in the Salad Bowl of the World really isn't all that Steinbeck wrote it to be.  It'll be nice to see Momma, Crumpet, and Gma though.

No, by the the beach is where I'm meant to be.  I have great community here, to which I'm starting to feel I belong.  Oh, and did I mention that the sun is always shining?

So, what will I be doing besides interning, gallivanting around, and "hangin' out"?

Summer Bucket List 2012

1. Love people.
It's a sad but true fact that loving people falls by the wayside when the busyness of school picks up.  I hate that I let that happen.  But that won't be true for the summer.  I want to hand out compliments left and right, and maybe a hug or five.  I want to invite you--yes, you--over for dinner.  Why?  Well, because these verses keep coming to mind: 
"Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

2. Love Jesus...really Love Jesus.
Substitue the name "Jesus" for "love" in the above verses, and it would still make sense.  Why wouldn't I want to spend more time then with the God who loves me so much that he sent his son to die for me so that I could be in relationship with him and experience that love?  Put that way, it seems simply silly for me not to.  That's not to say that I haven't been loving Jesus all quarter.  I love Him everyday, but distractions have their appeal...yeah, but not really when I think about it.  

and now for some fluff...

This summer I will work on my novel.  I will sit in a café with this laptop, sipping on a latte or some herbal tea, and I will write.  I will write until I can write no more!  Muahahahah.

4.  Blog.
I bought that thing today.  OK, so maybe it was a bit of an impulse buy.  Still, the idea has been percolating in my mind for several months now that I may be outgrowing culinarilycourtney dot blogspot dot com.  It's quite a mouthful, and I have interests beyond food.  The recipes would still be weekly, but hopefully, in sharing my name, my new blog will also share more aspects of me.  This is a summer project to be sure.  Somehow I  need to figure out how to migrate posts from here to there, along with comments, stats, and oh dear...I'm getting scared.  I guess it's a good thing that summer will be three months long.

5. Read.
I plan to finish reading East of Eden this summer.  It has been lazing around on the bookshelf all quarter whilst I read other tomes of despicable size.  I would also like to finish reading the Hunger Games, not because the first book was stellar or anything, but just because I hate leaving a series unfinished.  I want to pick up Mere Christianity too, and I will attempt to finish the Old Testament this summer.  I have been stuck in Jeremiah for far too long.

and of course...

6. Bake, cook, eat, and share.
I will be making a fruit tart when I go home in the next week and a half (Gma's favorite), so stay tuned for that.  I would also like to make a pizza once from scratch; some Tzatziki sauce (I could eat that stuff on it's own with a spoon); and some such decadent dessert (suggestions?).

Summer cannot come soon enough.  Farewell for a bit as I go write papers and study for finals.

What are your summer plans?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Avocado Pasta

When I was in 7th grade, I went through a phase where I really liked green things.  Green converse tennis shoes, green mechanical pencils, green apples (well, I still really like those).  

Want to know an embarrassing fact about 7th grade me?  At some point during that most unfortunate of middle school years, I started to use a word of my own creation to describe these pleasingly green things.


My non-Merriam-Webster-approved adjective nicely describes this dish.  

Let's combine avocados, broccoli, and edamame and call it a green trifecta.  Or dinner.   

On another note,

This goes against everything the "writer-me" has been taught about keeping a set focus, etc., but I'm going to digress a little.  

Green.  Green also makes me think of gratitude.  Gratitude, grace.  The gr-gr-gr thing, I guess.

I've been gr-gr-growing in these areas lately, and as this school year comes to a close (2 weeks, eek!), I look back on this year and cry, and laugh, and then cry a little more, and ultimately smile when I think of all this.  

So anyway, bon appétit.

Avocado Pasta, aka green trifecta

Yields: ~3 dinner size servings, or 5-6 smaller size servings


1 1/2 ripe, medium sized avocados
1 1/2 tablespoons water (or lemon/lime juice would be good too)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
sprinkle of black pepper

1-2 crowns of broccoli
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
6 ounces pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
Parmesan cheese 


In a blender, puree avocado slices with water, garlic powder, and salt and pepper until creamy.  Add additional water for a thinner sauce.

Rinse and chop broccoli into uniform sized pieces.  Steam until just tender.  Set aside.

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Drain well and add broccoli, edamame, and avocado pasta sauce.  Toss pasta in sauce until well covered.

Top pasta with Parmesan cheese and additional salt and pepper if desired.  I enjoy this dish cold, but it can be eaten as a hot meal too.