I Ate This: Eat Well Embrace Life Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Hummus

To know me is to know that I could easily live off nothing but crunchy things with soft dips. Tortilla chips and salsa, Fritos with cheese dip, wavy potato chips with French onion, melba toast and spinach/artichoke dip…yum, yummy, and yummiest! But outweighing all of those dips is the king of ’em all – hummus. Give me a container of hummus and something crunchy – carrots, pita chips, multigrain crackers – and you’ve got yourself a very happy camper. And I thought I knew all there was about hummus until one fateful day when my husband informed me of a hummus so unbelievable, so fantastical that I completely thought he was making it up.

Black bean hummus with corn relish.

How did he come across such a magical-sounding concoction? A friend at work who brought said (completely fabricated?) mixture to share with his unsuspecting co-workers. After trying it, my husband raved and made the utterly firm statement that my life would not be complete without trying it too. Having never heard of said “black bean hummus” (if it even existed), I queried as to where one could get such ridiculousness. The answer came in the form of Wal-Mart. Ah-ha! We have one of those! And so I went. However, as I discovered, our local, regular-sized Wal-Mart with a pitiful “grocery” section had nothing in the way of hummus, regular or special. The disappointment was swift. So my husband bartered with his co-worker to obtain a container post haste. And eventually, this container of what I will shortly describe as pure ecstasy for the palate made it in our house.


Folks, I’m going to level with you. If you like hummus, if you like bean dip, if you like food that makes your head and heart swoon in joyous rapture, I urge…nay, demand! that you to seek out Eat Well Embrace Life’s Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Hummus. Know first and foremost that it is spicy, and it is sweet, and it is all delicious.

(Seriously, I literally want some right now and it’s just downstairs in the fridge and it’s all I can do to continue typing this but as soon as I’m done it’s all about the black bean hummus and there are no punctuation marks in that!)

But let’s get real for a moment. Why exactly is Eat Well Embrace Life’s Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Hummus superior in all ways to regular hummus? Well, it’s not…not really. For one, it’s not a replacement for regular hummus at your Greek or Middle Eastern meals. For those you totally want to stick with the real thing, which is magically delicious no matter how you spice it. Plus, it’s definitely got a little heat to it, so if you prefer the mild, then you might want to try Eat Well Embrace Life’s Tuscan White Bean Hummus. (Which, of course, I had to try once I found it. Bottom line: really tasty but not as quite as tasty as the black bean hummus.)

As a dip for crunchy things from both man and nature, this black bean hummus really, truly is just about the best thing going in our house at the moment. It’s thick like hummus, and has a smooth yet textured finish also like hummus. It tastes very much like what you might expect from a black bean dip — rich, earthy, and slightly smoky — except there’s that hint of heat in the background, a little peppery like hot sauce. Plus, it contains tahini like regular hummus, so there’s a slight sesame aftertaste that’s not at all terrible. Its crowning achievement though is the corn relish that resides in a ring in the center of the hummus. If you chose to scoop some of it as well (and why wouldn’t you?), you’re greeted with the sweet tastes of corn, pepper, and light fruitiness. It’s an enveloping mélange that beautifully compliments the heady hummus itself. The whole thing is so dangerously delicious that it’s easy to polish of an entire container in one sitting. And that’s one person not sharing. Try this hummus and you’ll find that you want to sing its praises with a side of “get your own!” as well.

Okay, okay, I’m gushing…a lot. So let me see if I can come up with any downsides to this hummus… Um…uh… Huh. Wait! Got one. Like with regular hummus, sometimes you’ll get a container where the oil has separated a little from the mixture. It’s not visually appealing, but a quick stir will take care of it. And if that’s the worse thing about this hummus, then maybe “worse” needs a new definition.

A couple months ago, my hummus habit completely changed when I discovered that, while the Wal-Mart provided to be only a letdown in regards to its hummus neglect, one of my local grocery stores in fact carried this delectable treat. I’ve since tried Eat Well Embrace Life’s other types of hummus, but I always return to the one and only Sweet and Spicy Black Bean. I haven’t gone back to regular hummus for snacking, and I don’t think I can at this point. The deed is done and there is no turning back.

While Cary’s happy to talk food here, she’s also pretty good at doling out words about video games at United We Game while simultaneously maintaining her own blog, Recollections of Play. You can also find an archive of fun, geeky articles from her and like-minded souls at Geek Force Network.


24-Hour Salad

Merry Christmas readers, followers, and cooks alike! While I’m more than thrilled that you stopped by the blogosphere on this holiday, hopefully most of you are enjoying a wonderful day filled with family and friends. Or food and presents. Well…mostly food and presents, as the case may be.

Unlike the more formal holiday of Thanksgiving, which requires some traditional fare, Christmas in my house is much more relaxed. But that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a few food “musts,” one of which includes a fruit salad I remember being a holiday staple since childhood — the 24-Hour Salad.

While there’s probably a definitive version of this fruit salad that has chopped fruit marinate in a light custard overnight, I wouldn’t know what it is! Since I started making this salad myself, I’ve discovered that there’s almost no limit to the fruit it can contain. I regularly alter it according to what’s available and who’s eating. (i.e. Marshmallows and I don’t get along very well, so I usually skip them.) As long as the fruit is compatible with egg, sugar, and cream, you’re good to go. If you’re short on fresh fruit, canned fruit works just as well.

And if the idea of fruit sitting overnight in cooked, creamy eggs is absolutely unappealing, forget it and just use the heavy cream whipped up with a little sugar. It’s not religion, just a tasty and light fruit salad.

24-Hour Salad


For the custard:

1 egg
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar
pinch of salt
(for the next day – 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream)

For the salad:

1 cup chopped pineapple, fresh or canned and drained
1 cup chopped orange or 1 small (8-9 ounce) can of mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup sliced seedless red grapes
1 cup chopped apples
8-12 sliced maraschino cherries (or sliced fresh cherries, if you’re lucky enough to get them at this time of year!)
1 cup mini marshmallows (optional)
(for the next day – 2 sliced bananas)


Day one
In a double boiler or single sauce pan over low heat, beat the egg and stir in the lemon juice, sugar, and salt. With a wooden spoon, constantly stir the mixture until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove custard from the heat and cool.

Combine all fruit together, except the bananas, in a large bowl. Stir in the custard, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Day two
Drain any excess liquid from the salad and stir in 2 sliced bananas. Whip the cream until thick and stir into the salad. Can be eaten immediately or chilled.


This salad is best eaten the day its made as the bananas will quickly go brown in any leftovers. You can freshen up any remaining salad with a bit of extra whipped cream, if necessary.

Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.


The Best Molasses Cookies in the Entire World

And when I say “entire,” I mean E-N-T-I-R-E. And I’m very serious about it. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m also serious about cookies, so this post is doubly serious! Seriously delicious!

Hahahaha! Ha..ha… …ahem…

In my neck of the woods, December is month of cookie swaps, which are really little more than an excuse to drink gin and eat cookies before dinner. Or coffee…and cookies. What did I say? Anyway, I picked up this recipe from my mother years ago. She always made molasses cookies around the holidays, and I loved every last crumb of those rich, spicy delights. Turned out that what I thought was a “secret family recipe” was, in fact, pilfered from the back of the molasses jar, with one little difference. If you happen to have Grandma’s® Molasses in your local stores, that’s where you’ll find this recipe. But, that one little difference added by my mother — coffee — sends these cookies to the moon. It’s optional, and the change in the flavor is subtle, but it’s there. Give the recipe a try with and without the coffee and see if you can taste the difference.

Or just enjoy some darn fine cookies with another glass of gin. Coffee. You know what I mean.

The Best Molasses Cookies in the Entire World


1/2 cup butter or shortening, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup liquid gold, er…coffee, the stronger the better (optional, but…c’mon)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
a couple tablespoons of white sugar in a small bowl (also optional)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease cookie sheet(s).
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into a small bowl.
  • In a large bowl, blend butter and brown sugar. Mix in egg, molasses, and coffee.
  • Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until everything is just moistened.
  • Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. (Dough can be made and chilled several hours in advance.)
  • Roll the dough into small balls. (Golf ball-sized dough balls will produce cookies that are about 3-4 inches across, which makes about 18-20 cookies, so judge accordingly.)
  • If you want a frosty, crispy topping on your cookies, dip the balls into the bowl of sugar, coating one side only.
  • Place dough (sugared-side up, if applicable) on sheet pans. For an extra crackly look, sprinkle a couple drops of water onto the tops of each cookie.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and set. (Don’t overbake!)

The cookies are great warm or cooled with gin coffee.

Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.

Goat Cheese Salad

With hot and humid temperatures still in full swing, here’s one of my favorite summer salads. Granted, this is a “cooked” salad, and maybe the results are closer to “veggies on toast” than “salad,” but it works nonetheless. I adapted it from a recipe by the same name from one of my favorite cookbooks — Favorite Recipes: Vegetarian (Parragon, 1999). I added in a couple things and deleted others (olive paste — yuck). I also changed things up a little in order to utilize our toaster oven rather than the regular oven, which heats up the house in a flash. Instructions for both are below.

This recipe makes four portions, each with three pieces of goat cheese. A couple portions of this salad are filling enough for a light dinner, or single portions serve as a great accompaniments to just about any meal.


Goat Cheese Salad


1 loaf rustic bread — anything that’s crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside
A couple medium tomatoes, sliced thin
1 shallot, also sliced thin (length-wise, if you can manage it)
Several artichoke hearts, marinated or in water, sliced in half
About a dozen or so basil leaves — fresh, not dried
2 four-ounce logs of goat cheese, each cut into six slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1-2 garlic cloves, slightly mashed
Salt and pepper to taste
Bunch of mixed greens

  • Depending on your toaster overs settings, heat it to high or 400 degrees. (A high “toast” setting can also be used, but the bread might turn out a little lukewarm.) If using a regular over, preheat to 450 degrees.
  • Cut the bread into four flat slices of whatever shape you like, each about a half-inch thick. Place the pieces on a cooking pan.
  • In a screw-top container or salad bottle add olive oil, vinegar, thyme, and sage  Put on lid and shake vigorously to mix.
  • Rub the mashed garlic cloves on each piece of bread. Then brush each piece of bread with a little bit of the oil and vinegar dressing.
  • Layer on top of each piece of bread tomato slices, shallots, artichoke hearts, basil, and cheese.  Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
  • Bake bread in toaster oven for 8-10 minutes or in regular oven for 5-6 minutes, or until edges of bread and cheese start to brown.
  • Arrange greens on plates, drizzle over remaining dressing, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place toasted bread on greens.

Enjoy while warm.

Let’s see just how many blogs Cary can put on her roster before going mad! While you’ll find her here on occasion, you’ll more likely to catch her over on United We Game or Geek Force Network; or better yet, working on her own blog about gaming and nostalgia and such, Recollections of Play.