Sriracha and Asparagus Israeli Couscous

One of my favorite food blogs is by far 101 Cookbooks. Heidi Swanson, the writer of 101 Cookbooks, pretty much does what I wish I could do, and what I think my original intentions for this blog were. She creates these original recipes made with all natural foods. Things you would never think of. And they are really great. I have experimented with a few, usually adapting them a bit...usually only because I don't always have everything. The day this recipe appeared on her blog, I had to try it...me and a few others that I know!

This Tabasco and Asparagus Quinoa is really right up my alley. Mostly because I love hot sauce. All kinds of hot sauce. Sriracha may be my favorite at the moment. But I love Tabasco and Frank's Red Hot and anything else you've got. Asparagus, while in season, is not necessarily the first thing I would have thought to combine with hot sauce, of any type really, but it really worked well. Mind you, I made this when Asparagus were in season. I realize I am a bit late posting this one.

Below is my adapted version. I, obviously, used Sriracha sauce instead of Tabasco. I also replaced some of the butter with Greek yogurt to make it healthier. And a big change I incorporated was the use of Israeli Couscous. I did not have quinoa. But the Israeli Couscous was a really nice substitution because it made it seem creamier and more of a pasta-like dish. However, I am sure that quinoa would have been just as tasty! Oh, and I added tomato and onion because 1. I had them and they needed to be used and 2. I find myself adding them to almost everything! They were definitely a nice touch, adding just a bit more flavor.

Sriracha and Asparagus Couscous

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup 2% Fage Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Sriracha sauce (as much as your heart desires!)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 white onion, diced
4 cups cooked Israeli Couscous
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
scant 1/4 cup 2% Fage Greek Yogurt - optional
more Sriracha sauce to taste

1. Prepare Israeli Couscous per the instructions on the box.

2. Make the sauce first melting the butter. Then combine melted butter, Greek yogurt, Sriracha sauce, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and salt. Set aside.

3. Boil asparagus. Only for a 2-3 minutes, keeping it firm. Cut into 1-inch segments and set aside.

4. Saute onion in olive oil, with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add asparagus right before onion starts to turn translucent. Saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add diced tomato. Set aside to let cool.

5. Combine Couscous with vegetable mixture and sauce. Stir in pine nuts. Serve cooled or warm. Top with extra sriracha sauce and extra Greek yogurt for serving.

And then....when you're done...and you're obviously left room for dessert...you can make yourself some of these awesomely easy Nutella brownies that I came upon while reading Savory Sweet Life.


Quick Cake in a Cup

If you haven't seen this yet, I don't know what to tell you...other than...keep reading.

Ever want chocolate cake, but not really much of a baker? Now you are. Get ready for this.

Five Minute Chocolate Cake...made in the microwave.

It's true. I tried it. And it was not too bad! Obviously it is no gourmet, Top Chef worthy Chocolate Cake, but it will definitely satisfy a craving. Also, there are probably many possible opportunities for innovations. You could whip up a quick frosting, or use some peanut butter, add chocolate chips (which I did), use part applesauce/oil, cut the recipe in half and make even mini-er cakes, add fruit, add nuts, etc. So get creative. Or don't, and just make some really easy, super fast Chocolate Cake and eat it.

Five Minute Microwave Chocolate Cake

4 Tablespoons flour
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
Pinch salt
Cooking spray
1 Mug

1. Spray inside of mug with cooking spray. Mix flour, sugar, salt and cocoa. Stir in egg. Pour in milk and oil and combine thoroughly.

2. Put in microwave for 3 minutes. Let it sit for five or so minutes before spooning the cake onto a plate.


My Chip Obsession

I have been meaning to post this much earlier! But, have you seen these? I had the privilege of enjoying them recently. They are really tasty. Chips in general are tasty, but these are really great. After scarfing down a bag with some friends, I wondered, how many different flavors of chips are there that I don't know about? Feeding into my chip obsession, I, of course, had to google it. There are so many. I already knew about Ketchup Chips in Canada and have to say...I have a serious problem with the fact that they are only sold in Canada. WHY? Bring them here, to me, in the US of A! It's not fair! I did recently come upon Dill Pickle chips in Maryland. I thought those were only sold in Canada too. So maybe there's hope that Ketchup Chips are here too...just hidden...in a some remote, unheard of place probably.

So, when googling flavors of chips, I think I stumbled upon a new favorite website....it's Chip Heaven, really. There's just so many I've never even heard of...Balsamic Sweet Onion, Maui Onion, Pepper Relish, Parmesan and Tuscan Herb. Those are just the Lays. There are still the Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos, Fritos, and SunChips. I feel like FritoLay has been holding out on me. If you have some downtime...I highly suggest checking out their website. A new mission in life for myself: Find all of these flavors. And probably enjoy them with some Cottage Cheese. Don't judge.


My Caramelized Onion Hummus

I tried this hummus at Whole Foods, and was floored. It was soooo good. Like, unexpectedly good. While I love hummus, this was almost a different concept. It was lighter than a normal hummus and more flavorful. It was in their pre-made food section. The name: Caramelized Onion Hummus. I could live in Whole Foods forever. Till I died. Just put a bed and a TV and maybe a tiny Kitchen...and done, I'm all set.

That would probably be a bit outrageous though, and well, expensive. One day, Whole Foods might own me the way I spend money there.

Anyway, I think the flavor in the hummus came from the fact that there was more onion than chickpea. So, of course, I tried to make my own. While not quite like Whole Foods', it was still really good and worth a try. The next time I make it, I will definitely add more onion. I think that in this recipe, there is no limit on the amount of onion you use. The more, the better. Especially if you're an onion lover like myself.

Kathleen's Caramelized Onion Hummus

2 whole yellow onions, chopped
olive oil for caramelizing
1 tablespoon butter for caramelizing also
1 can chickpeas
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tablespoons tahini
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine butter and olive oil in pan and cook onions. Add salt as desired. Cook until they are a caramel color.

2. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt and pepper as desired.

So the next time you need a crowd pleasing appetizer, just stop by here, and you're all set!

Happy Almost Friday!


Maryland Blue Crabs

Jon and I recently took a day trip to Annapolis, Maryland to enjoy some of Marylanders' favorite - Maryland Blue Crab. We also ventured around the cute town for a little while, but the temperatures weren't really working with us. Luckily, Annapolis is very small, especially when you skip the tour of the Naval Academy. (I felt slightly like a traitor!!)

We asked a security guard what his favorite place to get Blue Crabs was, and he told us it was between Buddy's Crab and Ribs or another one that I am currently not remembering (sorry!). We made it just in time for the raw bar deal, but realized that we really just wanted some crabs. So we ordered this:

Let me tell ya, those suckers are a lot of work! Talk about earning your food! And they are very messy. Not only are they slathered in Old Bay seasoning, but you have to crack them, hammer them, break them, tear them apart...you get the idea. Pretty sure I ate some crab poop too...

Below was my side of the table earlier on in the meal:

This was Jon's side when he was done:

I clearly had some difficulties.

But regardless of the mess and the time it took to eat MOST of the crabs, they were delicious. Just one of the many advantages of living close to the ocean!


Ocean City, MD

There we are. The Dugan clan...in all our glory.

My family and I recently returned home from our summer vacation in Ocean City, MD. It was lovely. I got to spend time with my adorable niece who lives all the way over in Western Michigan, and her dad, Patrick, and my younger brother Andrew who is at West Point, and my parents, who are all the way up in Boston! And Jon, who just moved to Brooklyn, NY this week ;(

Hopefully, we will all live a bit closer one day. But for now...summer vacations and these pictures will have to do.

And for those of you unfamiliar with being "iced", welp, here ya go. Andrew's apparently a pro. Pretty sure Bri, his girlfriend, got him this time. This was maybe his third?

As for the food, I'd say that with Thrashers French Fries soaked in apple cider vinegar, Fisher's Caramel Popcorn , Dumser's ice cream, Kohr's Frozen Custard , The fish tacos Jon and I made, and the well deserved chili cheese fries from The Dough Roller I did pretty well...and that I will be running off the calories for a while! I also had this little treat at a restaurant on the Boardwalk...a Black Velvet (Guiness and Cider, my favorite!):

Now...back to the real world again.

Cheers to happy, sunny summer vacations!