roasted red pepper + cilantro hummus.

Hummus is one of my favorite dips. I love the rich flavor, and I especially love that hummus is such a blank canvas. I’ve already posted my favorite recipe for basic hummus (<– it really is the best. hummus. ever.), but today we’re going to change it up by eliminating the yogurt (to keep it dairy free and vegan friendly) and flavoring it with a roasted red pepper and a handful of fresh cilantro. I had both ingredients in my fridge, so I decided to throw them in and see what happens. Luckily this time, it was a smashing success!


I am always looking for easy and travel-friendly dishes to bring with me to work, get togethers with friends, or just having ready made healthy snacks at home! I don’t know about you, but appetizers are often the best part of the meal and I often forgo an entree to make a meal out of a few appetizers.

As a bonus, hummus is so versatile! Eat is a dip with sliced vegetables and pita, spread it on a pita or tortilla in place of mayo or mustard for a veggie wrap, use it in place of cheese for an egg breakfast sandwich… the possibilities are endless!


I really love this: the slight sweetness of the peppers is balanced beautifully with the vegetal bite of the cilantro. If you’re a cilantro hater, I would recommend parsley for a grassy note or even fresh basil – how delicious would that be with the roasted red pepper?!


roasted red pepper + cilantro hummus. 

15 ounces chickpeas, drained
2.5 tablespoons tahini
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
juice of one lemon
1 roasted red pepper (jarred, packed in water or oil)
1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped (about 3/4 cup)
sea salt and black pepper to taste (1/2 teaspoon-ish)

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. In a food processor add the chickpeas and roasted red pepper. Pulse a few times and then add the garlic, tahini, olive oil, water, lemon, cilantro, and sea salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth and transfer to a serving bowl.

Let chill for an hour before serving. Keeps for 3-4 days in a container with a tight fitting lid.

Serves 4-6.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 



butternut squash + caramelized onion cheese dip.

There is a crisp chill in the air that says the holidays are right around the corner, and you need this addicting, nuanced, insanely flavorful dip for all of your upcoming events! Roasted butternut squash gets mixed with sweet caramelized onions, sage (sensing a theme here at PTL?) cream cheese and cheddar to make one ridiculous dip. Bonus? It’s even better the second day.


I found this recipe over on Serious Eats, and had it bookmarked for eons. I finally made it a few weeks ago for a party, and while absolutely delicious, it was almost too rich. Say what? It may sound sacrilegious, but I found the combination of butter, cream cheese, cheese, AND sour cream (omitted for my version below) was so incredibly rich that is overpowered the sweetness of the squash and onions. In my adaptation, we’re using neufchâtel cheese, or the 1/3 less fat cream cheese, skipping over the sour cream completely, and upping the flavor by using half sharp cheddar and half fontina.

I made it this way for a Friendsgiving, and it was a total rave. I was able to snap a few photos quickly before I left my house, but I didn’t take any of the dip at the dinner — I was too entranced by wonderful friends and a sensational table setting!  P.S. – I am so, so thankful for wonderful friends! They are absolutely the family I got to choose. ❤



Now, I’m not going to lie. This is dip is time intensive, although the steps are simple enough, this is not something you can whip together in 20 minutes. I suggest you roast the roast while you fry the sage and then caramelize the onions. Once that’s done, you toss the vegetables in a food processor, give it a whirl, and then add in the cream cheese, cheddar, fontina, and season it up. You can store it this way in the fridge for up to 3 days before you bake it off – amazing for entertaining!


butternut squash cheese dip.
adapted from Serious Eats. 

3.5 pound butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 sweet onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, separated but not peeled
4 tablespoons butter
20 sage leaves
1 block neufchâtel cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup fontina cheese
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the butternut squash with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Nestle garlic cloves in between the squash. Roast on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or additional oil for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through. Once tender, remove from the oven and set aside.

While the squash is cooking, heat the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the sage leaves. Cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the butter is melted and the sage leaves are crispy. Remove the sage with a slotted spoon and set aside. Lower the heat to low and add the sliced onions. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently for 35-40 minutes, until the onions are tender, golden brown and caramelized but not crisp, and are very fragrant. If they start to stick to the pan, add a splash of water. Once they are finished, remove from heat and set aside.

In a food processor fitted with the mixing blade, add the squash, garlic (squeeze the cloves out of their paper ‘jackets’ once cool enough to handle), onions and about 2/3 of the crispy sage leaves and process until well combined. Next add in the cream cheese and process again until well combined. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Transfer the dip mixture into a small baking dish (I used an 8×8 pan here) that was sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and mix in half the fontina and cheddar into the dip and sprinkle the rest of the cheeses on top. *The dip can be stored for up to 3 days at this point*

To serve: bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes until the dip is warmed through and bubbly on top. Serve warm with wheat crackers, tortilla or pita chips.

Serves 8-10.

roasted sweet potatoes with lemongrass creme fraiche.

I was recently gifted an absolutely delightful cookbook, titled Plenty. It is the cookbook from the restaurant Ottolenghi, and it is a vegetable-centric tome. It was purchased because the gifter said “I saw this artful, complicated, ridiculous photo on the cover, and it just knew you would appreciate it”. And I do! The book is organized by vegetable/vegetable family, and there are so many amazing recipes. Today I bring you one from that book: roasted sweet potatoes with lemongrass creme fraiche. YES!


Doesn’t that just sound delicious? We are taking the roasted sweet potato, a standby item in my kitchen, and amping it up with a dusting of ground coriander for spice, and pairing with this utterly fragrant sauce on the side. You guys. Lemongrass is like if lemons and limes got together and had a very elegant baby. Pairing it with spicy ginger, citrusy lime and the creamy, velvety and slightly sour taste of creme fraiche? Forget it. Divine. You can absolutely use 2% plain greek yogurt in place of the creme fraiche if you either can’t find it, or are looking for a more affordable option.


I apologize for the photos you guys, it was super rainy and dark on the day I made them, but they were too good not to share! These lasted about 5 minutes in my home, and I’m willing to bet the same goes for you! Serve these up as an appetizer for entertaining, or as a main dish with a little baby arugula on the side drizzled with olive oil. So simple!

roasted sweet potatoes with lemongrass creme fraiche.
recipe from Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty. 

3-4 sweet potatoes equaling 2 pounds
1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil
3/4 cup creme fraiche (can sub 2% plain greek yogurt)
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 lemongrass stalk, very thinly sliced
zest and juice of one lime
dash of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and dry thoroughly. Slice each potato into spears, cutting each potato in half lengthwise, and then cutting each half into 6 even spears. Add cut spears into a large bowl and add 1.5 teaspoons of coriander, sea salt and oil. Mix well and add seasoned potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet.

Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, turning the potato slices after 10-12 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting, assemble the sauce. Add the creme fraiche, lemongrass, ginger, lime zest and juice and mix well. Taste, and add the sea salt, adding more if needed.

Once potatoes are fork tender and crisp, add to a plate, being sure to only set them in a single row (piling will steam them, and cause the roasted potatoes to soften) and serve with the creme fraiche immediately.

Serves 4 as a side/appetizer.

*Please use organic ingredients wherever possible* 

salsa de chile ancho.

Salsas are so easy to make, yet except for the occasional pico de gallo, I pretty much always purchase them. How about you?

A few years ago, my dad and I made a whole bunch of salsa during our epic canning/preserving weekend. I loved it, but my dad thought it left something to be desired. I’ve always been intrigued by the varieties of dried chiles you can find in those little plastic boxes at the grocery store, but they always seemed like they would be such a chore.


Oh, how wrong I was! I bought anchos for a four-pepper chili recipe, and was pleasantly surprised at how simple they were to prepare. Although they are dried, they still maintain some flexibility and pliability, and although I softened them in some stock for that recipe, this salsa recipe has you toast them and then prepare them dried, and I promise it is a breeze! This salsa will take you less than 10 minutes start to finish, and it is so completely worth it.


Anchos are the dried version of a poblano chile, and they have a deep, complex flavor that is often described as having a similar flavor to a spicy raisin. Sounds weird, I know. But trust me, you’ll love it. Removing the seeds allows for the finished salsa to be warm with a mellow heat that will appeal to a wide variety of palates.

I used some crushed tomatoes that I had hanging out in the fridge, but you could certainly swap in a fresh tomato or two (I would use plum/roma tomatoes). Where I live, fresh tomatoes are amazing for 3 months out of the year, other than that, I always turn to canned, as out of season fresh ones tend to be mealy and bland. Yuck.

Note that this recipe is flexible and adaptable, as salsas can be customized in pretty much any way your heart and stomach desire! Eat with chips, add to tacos/quesadillas/burrito bowls, or my favorite way, mixed in with homemade tortilla chips for chilaquiles, topped with a fried egg. Mmmm. I know what I’m having for brunch!


salsa de chile ancho.
adapted from 

4-5 dried ancho chiles
3/4 cup tomatoes (I used canned diced)
1/2 small white onion
4 garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
pinch of sea salt
1/2-1 cup hot water

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the ancho chiles, and toast for 30 seconds on each side. Make sure not to blacken them, as it will impart a very bitter flavor. Remove from heat, cut the stems off, and scrap out seeds. Keep the skillet on medium low heat.

In a blender, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, ancho chiles, oregano and salt. Process in a blender. The mixture may “get stuck”, this is when you’ll add the water. Process for 10-15 seconds longer, making sure not to process the salsa too smooth/runny. You should be able to scoop it with a spoon without it running right off.

Add one teaspoon of oil to the skillet. Add the salsa and cook for 2-3 minutes, allowing the salsa to cook, lightly bubbling. Taste and add additional salt if desired.

Store in a small glass container for up to 10 days. Makes 1.5 cups.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

the best hummus ever.

That’s a bold statement. The best hummus. Ever. But, let me tell you, the taste of this hummus is INSANE.


Let me tell you a fairy tale. Once upon a time, I didn’t like hummus. It was a strange time. Then one day, a boyfriend made hummus, his favorite recipe. I was hesitant, but once I dipped fluffy pita into that smooth, creamy, garlicky dip, I was S.O.L.D. It also ruined any future hummus eating experiences. You see, once I was saw the light, I always compared all hummus to that first, homemade recipe. Sure, there was good hummus to be found in restaurants, and maybe, just maybe at the grocery store, but my heart belongs to that recipe. Now, that boyfriend and I are no longer, but you better believe I asked for that recipe! Good thing we remained friendly. Thanks to K., I can share with you.


I think the secret is the addition of plain yogurt. The original recipe calls for regular, but I’ve used greek with success. The yogurt makes it extra creamy, smooth and adds a richness that is not to be missed. Now this recipe is decidedly garlicky, so make sure you (and whoever you’re eating it with!) are big ol’ garlic fans like I am! At least garlic is insanely healthy, so you can feel even better about eating this already good for you dip!


I served it with sliced cucumbers here, but you can pair with pita, veggies, a spoon (we’re a judgment free zone here), and prepare for hummus nirvana.

the best hummus.
courtesy of K.


1 and a half cans of chickpeas, drained (21 ounces)
3-4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons tahini
5 ounces plain Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Rinse the chickpeas and add them to a food processor. Add the garlic cloves and puree 10-20 seconds. Scrape the bowl. Add the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice and cumin and puree until smooth. You may need to stop and scrape the bowl to ensure everything is well combined.

While the processor is running, stream in the olive oil. Once mixed in, pour into a serving bowl, cover with foil/plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. This resting/chilling time will allow for the flavors to combine.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer. Keeps for 3-4 days covered tightly in the refrigerator.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

arugula walnut pesto (vegan!).

Sometimes you have lightbulb moments in cooking. Whether it’s realizing that you can freeze pasta or rice and it’ll still taste great when thawed and reheated, or finding out that bacon drippings make devilishly delicious salad dressings, I love those ‘ah ha!’ moments. One that happened recently to me is the realization that you can make pesto out of pretty much anything. I love classic basil pesto, but always hesitated because pine nuts are just so freaking expensive. Once I learned that you can use pretty much any nut you want, well, it was the starting point of my pesto revolution. Walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, even sunflower seeds work in pesto!

Revolution might sound crazy, but it’s true! What happens when you are craving bright, fresh pesto and all the fresh basil at your store looks, well, not so fresh in the middle of January? Swap in any green you like! My love for arugula is well documented on this site, it’s peppery flavor is just perfection, especially since we want a strong punch of flavor in this pesto, as it’s vegan!


That’s right – no parmesan cheese here! Trust me, you won’t even miss it. Peppery arugula, rich walnuts packed full of anti-inflammatory nutrients, garlic and lemon zest make for an incredibly delicious spread. Make sure to use very good extra-virgin olive oil, and ice cold water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This is delicious mixed into pasta, spread on toast topped blistered cherry tomatoes, or mixed into plain Greek yogurt and served as a dip alongside crudite. The possibilities are endless.

arugula walnut pesto.



1 cup (packed) baby arugula, washed and dried
1/3 cup parsley, leaves and stems
1/4 cup walnuts
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


In a food processor fitted with the blade, add the arugula, parsley, walnuts, garlic lemon zest, cold water, salt and pepper (if desired). Process for 30 seconds or until chopped and combined, stopping and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until well combined. If too thick, add more cold water by the tablespoon until you’ve reached your desired consistency.

Makes about 1 cup. Use immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

**Please use organic ingredients wherever possible** 

buttermilk yogurt ranch dressing.

I have been craving salads like CRAZY over the past few weeks. I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I am someone who just craves those fresh, crunchy vegetables. Growing up, dinner at my mom’s house always included a very ‘square’ meal of a protein, starch, vegetable, PLUS a salad and warmed baguette. Both my brother and I always ate our salad without fail, and my love for them has only intensified as I’ve gotten older. You already know about my love for arugula and lemon, but did you also know that I’m a fiend for really good ranch dressing? It’s true!


As much as I love my acidic vinaigrettes, there is something so deliciously old school about ranch dressing. Now, out of the bottle is fine and all, but once you see how easy, fresh, delicious and easy making your own is, I doubt you’ll ever be able to go back to the bottled stuff again! Even better for my mayo haters, this version is mayo free! What does that mean? Well, it means that by swapping the sour cream and mayo for plain Greek yogurt, we are drastically cutting down on the calorie count, the fat count, and upping the protein!


As much as the yogurt plays an integral role, buttermilk is the real star here. Despite the name,  buttermilk is tangy and low in fat yet incredibly thick, making it ideal for this recipe. Add in some fresh herbs (I used the classic dill and chives, but feel free to play around to your taste preferences. Please use fresh herbs in this — they are important and really make a difference!

The dressing will thicken as it sits, making it ideal for dips and for crudites! To thin it out, add a bit of water or leftover milk and whisk. This will keep for 3-4 days in your refrigerator, covered tightly. Enjoy this over a crisp salad or with veggies dunked into it!


buttermilk yogurt ranch dressing.
adapted from Once Upon a Chef. 



1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plus one tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt (use 2% for best results)
1 large garlic clove, smashed and minced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
5-7 dashes of hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
1/4 cup fresh chives, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
scant 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Lightly whisk everything together in a large bowl until well combined. Transfer to a container and chill for at least one hour before serving. Keep tightly covered in refrigerator. Will keep for 3-4 days.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

**Please use all organic ingredients wherever possible**

roasted poblano salsa verde.

I like to DVR old cooking shows that play during the day while I’m at work. Does anyone else do this? Some of my favorites are Simply Ming, Barefoot Contessa, From Farm to Table, and anything with Emeril. One show I used to watch and recently rediscovered is Cook Yourself Thin, which followed 3 chefs remake participants’ favorite dishes into healthier, lower calorie versions. While I don’t always agree with the low cal swaps (beware that  some low fat and fat free items are often heavily processed), I do think their recipes often sound delicious. I was watching one on Saturday morning while I was doing laundry and the green chile enchiladas they were making looked yummy. In particular, I was especially intrigued by the sauce for the enchiladas: a homemade roasted poblano sauce that was used instead of the normal red sauce. I love poblanos, they are naturally smoky and not too hot, especially when the seeds and ribs are removed. See, hot peppers hold all their heat in their ribs and seeds, so you can vary their heat in your recipes by choosing to include or omit them. As I like things on the spicy side, I left them in tact for the salsa, but they are easily removed by slicing the pepper open (after it’s been roasted, steamed and peeled) and scraping out the seeds.


This is a very herbaceous salsa, that is full of fresh cilantro flavor (or parsley if use half and half) and a slightly smoky flavor from the poblanos.  You can use this in a variety of ways just like you would any other salsa or rustic sauce. I used it as a base for stacked enchiladas, which I’ll post later this week. This would be delicious in huevos rancheros, or over grilled chicken or fish!

roasted poblano salsa verde.
inspired by green chile enchiladas on Cook Yourself Thin.



2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only (about scant 1 cup) (see notes)
2 garlic cloves
Juice and zest of one lime
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper


To roast the pepper: Turn your broiler on high. Place the peppers underneath the broiler and let cook, turning the pepper frequently until blistered and charred on all sides. Once blackened, place into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and allow them to steam for 7-10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, peel off all skin.

Add peppers, cilantro, garlic, lime juice and zest, stock, salt and pepper to blender or food processor. Blend until a rustic-smooth puree forms.

Yield one cup. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Serve as you would any salsa verde. Delicious over poached eggs or with chips.

Notes: You can sub 1/2 cilantro and 1/2 flat leaf parsley instead of all cilantro. I’ve made it both ways and both are good.

white bean dip with roasted red peppers and rosemary.

I love dips. Hummus, eggplant, spinach artichoke…. all good. They’re easy to prepare and always a hit at parties. Now that football season is in full swing, you don’t even need an excuse for preparing a spread of snacks for you and your friends in the middle of the afternoon!

For your next party, you should try this white bean dip. Growing up, I hated beans. My mom never cooked with them, so the only bean I would go near was of the string variety. As I’ve gotten older, my tastes have expanded, and I’ve come to love several kinds of legumes. White beans (also known as cannellini or white kidney) and I are still kind of frenemies, except when it comes to this dip. It’s similar in texture to hummus. The roasted red peppers add a nice kick, and fresh rosemary is necessary in this dish. I normally hate to say that an ingredient is mandatory, but I tried it with both dried and fresh rosemary, and you definitely need that woody fresh flavor from the fresh herb.


I love this dip because it’s inherently healthy, and you can up the health factor even more by serving it alongside some cut up veggies at your next get together. I like to serve it up with a mix of veggies and homemade pita chips (so simple, just cup up some fresh pita, drizzle with a touch of olive oil and salt and cook for 15 minutes at 350, turning over once halfway through cooking).

Next time you have a dip craving, try this one out! It’s a great alternative to hummus, and it’ll convince any bean hater in your life!

white bean dip with roasted red peppers and rosemary.
inspired by smitten kitchen.



1 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers (I like the ones from Trader Joe’s)
2 14 oz. cans of white (cannellini) beans, drained
3 garlic cloves
1.5 tablespoons fresh rosemary
juice of one small lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Add garlic to the blender and pulse a few times. Add drained beans, roasted red peppers and puree until combined. Open and add rosemary, lemon juice, red pepper, salt and black pepper and puree for additional 1-2 minutes until smooth. Chill and serve with vegetables and pita chips.