The Best, Creamiest Homemade Hummus (+ A Secret Hack)
I was never the biggest fan of store-bought hummus. It does in a pinch, but the taste and texture have never done it for me. So I’ve been really excited to find what I think is the easiest and best homemade hummus recipe around.
What makes me say this is the best hummus recipe?? Well, mostly because it takes one extra (but super easy) step…before we blend everything together, we simmer the chickpeas in water with baking soda for a while. In testing recipes out, this did make a big difference in texture.
Why use baking soda in hummus? Normally used in baking, baking soda raises the pH levels of the water, which makes the chickpeas more soluble and breaks them down, which then lets them puree into an ultra-smooth mixture.
I think we sometimes underestimate the beauty of hummus…it’s incredibly versatile, whether as a meal, side dish, snack, or appetizer. You can dip veggies or pita in it, or pile it high with spicy chicken shawarma and veggies.
As with most recipes that are simple, it’s key to use high quality ingredients for the best result. I’ve fallen in love with these organic chickpeas, which I buy in bulk and use in all sorts of recipes, and I’ve found that this squeezable tahini is so much easier to use than the jars.
Super Easy Onion Pakoras (Without a Deep Fryer)…with Tamarind Chutney
Veggie or onion pakoras are SERIOUS comfort food for me. As I mentioned with my deep kheer recipe explorations, I’m not really sure when or how this came to be since I didn’t grow up with Indian food, but now they’re one of my go-to’s when I want to indulge.
Are onion pakoras and pakodas the same thing?
Yes, pakora and pakoda are different names for the same thing (you might also see pakodi or even just “fritters”. Regardless of what they’re called, I LOVE them.
I think there are a few main differences between this onion pakora recipe and restaurant ones. 1) I refuse to use a deep fryer, and so I can’t make more of the ball-like doughy ones, 2) I’m not using a mixed veg, and 3) I’m not using fresh curry leaves because finding them in southern Indiana is…not a thing.
But from a flavor and overall experience standpoint relative to effort, these tick my boxes. And I can whip them up when a craving strikes in like 10 minutes, which is a major win for me.
I have made these at least a dozen times at this point, trying to get them perfect, and here are a few hacks I read about and tried.
- Add a little oil to the batter to help make it crispier, so it won’t absorb as much oil while frying
- Add a pinch of baking soda to the batter for extra fluffiness
I tried both of those at times, but didn’t see a meaningful difference so don’t know if it’s worth it, but mentioning in case those work well for you.
One of the main things you need to know is that, because we’re shallow pan-frying (vs. deep-frying), you want to keep them fairly small and flat rather than balls, to get them to cook through and not be raw inside. Think latke rather than hush puppy.
Salted Peanut Butter Chocolate Shortbread
Figuring out this salted peanut butter chocolate shortbread recipe has been the BANE of my existence, and yet somehow I couldn’t give up on it.
Initially, I found a recipe and was like “oooh yes please!” But after trying to make it a couple different times and having trouble—the dough was dry and crumbly, wasn’t flavorful enough, etc.—I set it aside.
Then a year or so later I decided to try it again, with different alterations. Better…but still not there. And finally, Nicola Lamb came to the rescue by solving a lot of the recipe problems I’d been having with SCIENCE!
I love her Kitchen Projects newsletter, where she takes an incredibly rigorous approach to recipe testing, particularly the chemistry element…for instance, how various proportions of fat impact a particular recipe, how much liquid it needs, etc. It’s nerdy but even if you don’t want to get that detailed, you can benefit from what she learns.
You might also like: The Kitchen Tools & Gadgets I Swear By
And so finally I had a peanut butter chocolate shortbread recipe that I loved and could depend on. The cookies aren’t too sweet, which is a selling point for me (and the flaky sea salt helps a bit too with that sweet-savory feel).
Part of why they aren’t too sweet is that I accidentally left out the brown sugar once when making them, and I actually think they were more delicious that way (the recipe below reflects both options).
You could also omit the chocolate bits and instead melt some dark chocolate and coconut oil, and dip the cookies in that instead. Or do both because I’m not the boss of you.
Jam & Goat Cheese Phyllo Cups (Easy, Fancy Appetizer)
CHEESE AND JAM! Y’all who have been around here long enough know that this is a marriage made in heaven for me. And add crispy phyllo cups?? Yep, I’m on board. What’s even better is that these jam and goat cheese phyllo cups are super fast and literally dummy-proof.
(I’m not calling you a dummy. You’re great. Just sayin’ that even dummies can do this)
I was looking for something to bring to our Night to Be Much Observed dinner that would nicely complement what others were making. I’d settled on some fancy phyllo cup appetizers, but it wasn’t until I found this goat cheese and jam version that I was totally on board.
I’d initially bought phyllo dough…then realized that phyllo cups were an actual thing and that made much more sense. Literally zero effort.
And while I was completely sold on the goat cheese and fig jam flavor combo, I couldn’t find the right kind of fig jam (Trader Joe’s is too dark and grainy). So I pivoted to a chunky papaya lime jam that I bought in Jamaica last year. Gives off a similar flavor profile (weirdly), and was perfect.
It took me maybe 5 minutes to assemble these goat cheese phyllo cups and pop them in the oven…and that was with running upstairs in the middle to help my sister figure out what to wear.
Once they’re out of the oven 10 minutes later, just dollop your jam on them and put them on a pretty plate! VOILA!!!
The Easiest, Juiciest Poached Chicken Breasts (& How to Shred Chicken in 10 Seconds)
This recipe is a two-in-one kitchen hack, and it actually blew my mind. How did I not know this was a thing??? Because today I’ve got for you not only how to make the easiest, juiciest poached chicken breasts, but also a 10-second hack for how to shred chicken.
I am all about having some cooked chicken in the fridge to snack on, or to add to pasta, rice, or a salad for a super fast meal. But I overdid it on grilled chicken for a few years and needed to mix it up a bit.
This super moist shredded chicken made with poached chicken breasts was the perfect answer. I keep a container of this at all times, and sometimes add it to recipes (like the loaded Thai chicken salad shown below), but often just put a bit of BBQ sauce on and eat it straight out of the container.
I made an Instagram Reel of the technique so you can see it in motion…this link will take you to the video on IG (and follow me @findingtimeforcooking) for recipe inspiration, videos, & more!).
What temperature should chicken be cooked to?
More modern thinking says 145 F to be done and safe inside (previously was considered 165 F which can be quite tough & dry). For poaching, you’ll have trouble getting the chicken much higher than 145-150 due to the gentle cooking method in water. Make sure to insert your thermometer at the thickest portion of the breast.
Spicy Unleavened Cheese Straws
So I don’t totally know what to call these, so have landed on unleavened cheese straws. But as you can see, they’re not straws exactly. Cheese…fingers doesn’t exactly sound as delicious. And they ARE delicious!
Every year I like to try out at least one new unleavened bread recipe for the Passover season, and I’m pretty excited about this one.
My usual disclaimer: I keep the Days of Unleavened Bread (the week following Passover) as laid out in the bible, so I avoid leavening (sometimes called a rising agent). This can be things like yeast, baking powder, etc. (definition here). My understanding is that some Jewish people (particularly Orthodox Jews) may keep these days differently and also avoid flour and certain grains. I can’t speak to that in any way, and only you know how you keep the Days of Unleavened Bread. So please don’t send me angry comments, you have been warned 🙂
Okay, back to our cheesy biscuits. Now, the “spicy” part is up to you…the first time I had these, they really had a kick! It had a bit more cayenne than my taste buds prefer, so when I make them I back off of that.
I’ve also added some smoked paprika for depth and a bit of heat. I feel like you could experiment with different spices or herbs in these cheese straws depending on your mood.
You might also like: The Kitchen Tools I Swear By
These do take a pretty crazy amount of cheese, and you want to go with a nice sharp cheddar for lots of flavor (and less moisture). And here’s the key—if at all possible, grate it yourself rather than buying grated cheese at the store (which has stabilizers that mess with the texture).
If I were doing this on a box grater this would be so annoying (I’m WAY too lazy), but I used my cheese mill/grater, which has a turn handle and is so much easier.
Speaking of easy, you can freeze these cheese straws, either before baking or after…this is handy since it makes a ton. To do it before, go ahead and cut the dough into pieces, lay on a baking tray (with parchment) and freeze for an hour or so, then you can transfer to a ziploc. Bake for a few minutes longer from frozen.
Grilled Sourdough Bread with Whipped Ricotta & Toppings
That picture might be true perfection. Golden grilled sourdough bread, creamy whipped ricotta, tart berries, and a drizzle of honey?? Sign me up!
Given that I’ve been almost entirely avoiding bread for the better part of nine months for some health reasons (issues with processing carbs) and the fact that I’m not really a bread person to begin with, I’m honestly not sure why this idea took hold in my brain so much.
But I started seeing different versions of ricotta toast, avocado toast, crostini, and more all over food blogs I follow and I was just like…YESSSSS. So my sister snagged me a loaf of quite good, thinly-sliced sourdough bread from the store and I played around with it.
So what I’m bringing you here today is less true recipe and more technique + toppings. It’s so versatile, and can be customized to your whims…what’s in season, sweet or savory, what happens to be in your fridge at this very moment…you get the picture.
Shaken Iced Brown Sugar Cinnamon Vanilla Latte
When I first saw a post about a shaken iced brown sugar latte, I thought “COLOR ME INTRIGUED”. I’m known to make my own iced lattes from time to time, but had never thought to shake the mixture. And yet, it makes perfect sense and I knew I had to try it.
Why should you shake espresso or coffee? There are a few answers to that, and it’s very similar to why you shake certain types of cocktails (but not others).
First, it blends and emulsifies the ingredients so they are truly mixed and take on a kind of creamy mouthfeel even without any dairy. The shaking also aerates the mixture, which releases flavor compounds (esters??) and really highlights the different flavor notes in the coffee.
And it chills it quickly, preventing it from getting watered down—CLUTCH.
I believe without milk this would be called a “shakerato“…and it achieves a similar effect to using or “pressing” my Aeropress directly over ice cubes to make my favorite iced coffee ever (releasing flavor!).
And apparently this is a copycat recipe of Starbucks’ iced brown sugar oat milk latte (which I’ve never tried), but I feel confident that this homemade version is healthier, it’s definitely cheaper, and I’d personally hazard a guess to say it’s yummier too.
One key is to shake all the ingredients EXCEPT the milk. I tried shaking it with the milk as well, but it deadens the strong flavors of the espresso and brown sugar syrup—I was not a fan. Simply pour your shaken, foamy mixture into the milk and stir a bit instead.
Sweet Corn Cake with Tart Lemon Glaze
Somehow I’ve gone all summer without making a recipe using fresh sweet corn. And that is a travesty. To be fair, it’s been a strange summer with foot surgery laying me up the last six weeks (and thereby no baking), but my corn-less summer can’t stand. So when I got an email from Bill Clark about his sweet corn cake, I was intrigued.
This recipe was from his A Piece of Cake newsletter #36, but Clark recommends—and in fact it’s the main reason for the recipe, I think—a Crisco and Country Time lemonade powder frosting. I don’t keep Crisco on hand (or lemonade powder), and it didn’t feel up my alley as much.
I’m really not a frosting person in general, and “grease icing” doesn’t make me go MMMM! But I liked the idea of some tart lemon (citric acid) to play a balancing role between the rich, moist, lightly sweet corn flavor, so whipped up a super easy lemon glaze.
I also made one other big change to the original recipe, subbing in oil for half of the butter. I don’t tend to favor butter cakes as much, as they’re denser and drier, and in this case I was really craving a moist, lightly sweet cake that would be an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.
While the recipe already called for a tiny bit of oil, I wanted to up that quite a bit, but still maintain some butter for flavor. The result is a perfect balance of flavorful and moist, with the subtle sweetness of the fresh corn shining through.
I was tempted to add an herbal note to either the batter or a bit to the lemon glaze, such as a little basil, rosemary, thyme, or tarragon. I ended up deciding not to mess with the recipe more in my first time making it, but would definitely play around with that in the glaze the next time.
Dark Chocolate Puppy Chow with Sea Salt
In general, puppy chow is at the top of the list of “foods I’m never, ever allowed to have in my house”. Because I will eat it ALL—I love it. But I think this specific recipe may literally be my favorite food in the world. It is that good. Life-changing, even.
When I first saw this recipe on Food 52, I was obsessed, and couldn’t wait to try it out. The dark chocolate twist was right up my alley (I’m definitely dark vs. milk), and I knew the sea salt would add a perfect balance to what can sometimes be an overly sweet snack. I also made a few changes based on my own preferences…I decreased the amount of powdered sugar and increased the peanut butter (and the chocolate chips, a little) to tailor it to my exact tastes.
And I done good. Now *this* is what I call a Sunday night…
I took this into work (okay fine, what I hadn’t already eaten the night before) and we devoured it in no time flat. READ THE POST
Summer Staple: Corn & Black Bean Salsa
I originally got this corn & black bean salsa “recipe” (in quotes because the word implies consistency) from my awesome friend Casey, who brought it to a Mexican-themed summer get-together we had with friends. I was immediately smitten because it didn’t include 1) green bell pepper, 2) hot peppers, or 3) cilantro. I’m just not that fond of those ingredients, and finding a salsa without them is quite difficult.
However, that’s not to say this salsa CAN’T include them—its beauty is in its versatility. I’m pretty sure I’ve never made it the same way twice (let’s face it, mostly because I can never remember how).
So I’m just going to give you the guidelines and some other thoughts on how to adapt. You’ll have to play around with it to figure out how you like it best. People seriously scarf this, and rave about it every time I bring it somewhere.