Spicy Chocolate: Chocolate Diablo Cookies

I am an absolute ‘freak’ for anything spicy, so when it also includes chocolate you can count me in.   During an episode on Cooking Channel, they were highlighing a food truck that served ‘Chocolate Diablo Cookies’.   My ears perked up instantly and I was off on an internet search…..and there are tons of recipes.   I searched my pantry for the necessary ingredients and realized I had everything needed AND since I can be a lazy baker, it was all in one bag of Betty Crocker Double Chocolate Chunk cookie mix…..homemade cookies in 20 minutes.   The only needed ingredient was cayenne pepper…..which I always have in the spice cabinet.   These cookies are chocolate with huge chocolate chunks, obviously the reason I had picked up the package at my trusty Wegmans.   A girl has to be prepared for a chocolate attack.    I followed the package instructions & added 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper.   If you sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top prior to baking, it really pops the flavors even more.

There are no words to describe these marvelous concoctions.   Now I understand why people were standing in line at that food truck.   I made them for a Ravens tailgating party & my friends are in total agreement.   You can’t eat just one  !!!

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Now I have a batch made most of the time & I keep the cookie dough in the freezer.   When I feel the need for chocolate, it so easy to make just a few.   If not, the entire 3 dozen cookies would disappear I am sure.

In case you feel the need to make these from scratch….here is the recipe.

Chocolate Diablo Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (or granulated sugar, if prefered)

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly spray 2 baking sheets with oil.

Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, cayenne & cinnamon in large bowl.  Stir in chips.  Whisk eggs in a medium bowl.  Add both sugars, oil & vanilla.   Combine with dry.

Roll into balls & place on cookie sheet.  Slightly flatten & sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake in center of oven until cookies start to crack, 11-13 min.  They will be fudgy in the middle.   Cool & eat immediately.   Or store in covered container, if you have any leftovers.

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Frugal Gourmet: 39 Spice Hummus

A friend and I ride our bikes a lot on a local trail that is a 41-mile long converted train track.   It is really beautiful since it runs through the woods along a river.  The change of seasons is amazing to watch.   Relatively flat with a bit of incline in places,  I prefer going down much more than going up those long inclines.   We try to do 20-22 miles usually 3 times a week, which has been interrupted lately by a plethora of rain.   On occasion we do more….our longest ride was 35 miles.   To add a little spice to our exercise, we drive to different entry points along the trail,  so we’ve ridden most of it but haven’t been able to work up to the entire distance……yet.   Afterward we are really hungry, so we sit on one of our porches, usually with our ‘go-to’ snack of hummus and pita chips.   My favorite has always been spicy roasted red pepper hummus but one day she had 40 spice hummus which was really fabulous.   Since we can consume an entire container in a single sitting, we were commenting on how expensive it is.   So of course, we Googled it & found this great ’39 Spice’ at a blog called 28 Cooks.   I doubt there are 40 spices but even if we left out a few…..this is really tasty.   And since I realized how easy making hummus truly is……I am now a connoisseur or homemade hummus.  There are so many flavors & combinations, you can never get bored.   So far, I’ve made red pepper, lemon, green pea, pumpkin, beet and black bean.    This one is definitely a favorite !!

39 Spice Hummus (adapted from 28 Cooks)

1 (30 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 c minced onion
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oilProcess chickpeas in food processor until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients and whirl until creamy.
Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so for flavors to meld. Serve with chips or fresh vegetables.
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Summer Spicy: Curried Coconut Cauliflower Soup

I don’t usually make soups in the summer, especially spicy soups.   However I got this huge head of cauliflower in my CSA at the Farmer’s Market from One Straw Farm.  So, after making a bunch of it roasted, I still had enough left to be called an entire cauliflower.   And, it has been rainy….oh, so rainy everyday & unexpectedly cool for August.   Suddenly curried cauliflower came to mind & one of my favorite soups.   I did this soup after a day of hiking the Appalachian Trail for the group I belong to & everyone wanted seconds.   Yup, it is that good.   I make mine pretty spicy at home, but with a group I usually do it a bit tamer and put the bottle of sriracha within easy reach.   Hope you like it….Chow !!!

Curried Coconut Cauliflower Soup
(adapted from Food & Wine)

1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced
4 teaspoons curry powder  
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 can coconut milk (regular or lite)
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more according to your taste)
fresh cilantro, if available, or dried
fresh basil, if available, preferably Thai basil
thinly sliced jalapeno & cilantro or basil, for garnish
diced chicken breasts (optional)


Heat oil in a large pot & add onions, garlic & pepper.  Cook on medium until onion is transparent & then stir in curry powder.  Toss & heat together for about 1 minute.      Add broth & cauliflower, then bring to a boil.  Lower heat to simmer & cook, uncovered until cauliflower is almost tender.   Add coconut milk, cayenne & cilantro bringing soup back to a low boil or simmer for 5-10 minutes.    Adjust seasonings to taste.   Serve topped with diced chicken, chopped cilantro/basil & pepper slices.
OPTION: Some like this soup blended & served as a puree.  I prefer the chunky texture, myself.
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More Eat Pink: Strawberry Basil Frozen Yogurt

Between the garden & my CSA share, I am really eating some great food.   And, I’ve been biking 20 miles every other day, so I definitely needed a reward.   I had some strawberries left from last week’s Farmer’s Market and a plethora of basil, so when I saw a recipe for frozen yogurt, I decided I was justified.   Plus, I got my ice cream maker at Walmart last year as a Christmas mark-down for $9.00, so I feel obligated to use it frequently.   A girl can justify anything !!

Some part of my brain said frozen yogurt is better for you than ice cream…..and, it was pink, too !!  Obviously I’ve been into eating pink lately.   You know they have those ads for eating green, red, orange and purple….but what about pink ??

I’m eating a dish of this gorgeous stuff, which is very tasty & refreshing, as I write this blog post.   Won’t you join me ???   

STRAWBERRY BASIL FROZEN YOGURT  (adapted from Southern Living)

  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar (or Splenda)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (or juice)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fat-free half & half  (or whipping cream)
  1. Stir together strawberries, sugar, basil & lime zest in a medium bowl. Let stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Pulse strawberry mixture, basil, and lime zest in a food processor 9 to 10 times or until berries are finely chopped (almost pureed).  If the strawberries are very ripe, you can use a muddler instead of the food processor.
  2. Whisk together yogurt and half & half in a medium bowl until smooth; stir strawberry mixture into yogurt mixture until well blended. Cover and chill 1 hour.
  3. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container and chill in freezer for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

NOTE:  if using Splenda, the yogurt will freeze very hard & will need to sit out for 15-20 minutes prior to serving.

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Fresh & Healthy: Pink Hummus

I am a lover of hummus in all it’s varieties…..my favorites being roasted red pepper, spinach, black bean & 40-spice….but there are so many more choices.   I saw one the other day from 101 Cookbooks called Hummus with Green Goo….which is really good, but who wouldn’t love a name like that ??

After trying the Green Goo, I let my fingers do the walking with Google & my eyes (and my taste buds) caught sight of Pink Hummus made with beets.   I just happened to have leftover beets in the fridge from a salad I had made for a dinner party.   This stuff is amazing, so refreshing, super healthy and vibrant color & flavor.   Not sure if it is the beets, cinnamon or lemon….but there is a delightfully sweet taste that almost tingles your taste buds…..plus it is such a pretty color.  I used cannellini beans instead of chickpeas since they have a lighter flavor & would not overpower the taste of the beets.   So I say….Eat Pink !!!!

hot pink hummus

PINK HUMMUS  (adapted from Apron Springs blog)

3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup roasted beets, coarsely chopped  (if you must, use canned) 
1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
juice and zest of one lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Dump all the above in a food processor and obliterate !!  Actually I blend all the ingredients except the olive oil, which I add sparingly to get the consistency I want.    Plus, I tossed in some white pepper, too.   Enjoy !!

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Preserving Summer Greens: Pesto – Cilantro, Arugula & 5 Herb

Dragonbreath Pesto

Isn’t it amazing when the leafy greens come in, it is with abundance !!   And pesto is a condiment (isn’t it?) with so many differing uses.   So why not preserve some of that arugula or instead of drying herbs, make pesto….it is like preserving summer greens.

Now back to all those ways to use pesto.    Of course, there is pesto & pasta, but have you tried pesto with eggs, hummus, cheese & crackers, just about any sandwich instead of lettuce  (try a peach grilled cheese & arugula pesto), in cold salads, in a vinagarette, on grilled meats, instead of pizza sauce, dolloped on soup, tossed on veggies….and the list goes on & on.

Needless to say there is always a jar of Basil Pesto or my stand-by Cilantro Pesto (from Bobby Flay) in the fridge.   This year I have a plethora of herbs and lots of greens, so I experimented with Arugula Pesto and Five-Herb Pesto.  (which came from 101 Kitchens)  Wow, talk about flavor…..these are really good !!     Anybody ever heard of Swiss Chard Pesto or Spinach Pesto ??

Depending upon how the pesto will be used, I have been known to stir in additional items to small quantities of whatever flavor pesto I’m using.   Like, add a minced jalapeno or serrano to cilantro pestro when serving with cheese & crackers.   Stir in chopped walnuts or pecans, too.  Adding some chunky chopped nuts of any type is great with grilled or sauted veggies.     I got the idea from Whole Foods who sold a cilantro walnut jalapeno pesto that was really marvelous.


In all cases, add all ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor and pulse until you get the consistency you want.   With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until you have a smooth paste.   I like the cilantro pesto creamy, but the arugula pesto very finely minced.   Salt & pepper to taste.   The flavor is enhanced if served at room temperature.   Store in fridge for 30-60 days, or freeze for up to a year.

CILANTRO PESTO (from Bobby Flay)

  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

ARUGULA PESTO (from Epicurious)

  • 4 cups (packed) arugula leaves (about 6 ounces), blanched if preferred
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds (or 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted)
  • 1/4 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

FIVE HERB PESTO  (from 101 Cookbooks)

  • 50 medium basil leaves
  • handful of arugula leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves (I used more)
  • 1/4 cup minced chives  (I also added in some fresh parsley leaves)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Pecorino cheese, grated
  • lemon zest
  • ground coriander
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


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Sunday Morning: Strawberry Hand Pies

A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety……Aesop

There is something special about a leisurely Sunday morning with the newspaper and good food, sitting on the deck enjoying the beauty & peace of nature.     With fresh, local strawberries in the fridge,  it was easy to decide what I wanted to eat this morning.   But I wanted something other than toast & jam or cereal with fresh berries.   Then I remembered some peach hand pies that a friend made last summer and decided to try Strawberry Hand Pies with Thai Basil.    

Aren’t they pretty ??strawberry hand pies

And they taste pretty awesome, too !!!


adapted from Martha Stewart

1 c. diced strawberries

2 T. sugar

1 T. cornstarch

2 T. basil, diced (I used Thai basil)

1 pie crust, homemade or store-bought

1 egg, beaten

sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425.   Combine strawberries, sugar & cornstarch.   Roll out dough & cut in 3″ to 4″ circles.  (I used a wine glass)  Place half of the circles on a piece of parchment or cookie sheet.   Place a heaping tablespoon of the strawberry mixture in the center of the dough circles.  Top with the other half & press edges together to seal.  Brush with beaten egg & cut an small ‘x’ in each top to vent.   Sprinkle with sugar & bake for 15-20 minutes.   Eat while warm with a good cup of coffee.

NOTE:  You can use larger circles & fold over the dough like a turnover.

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