Laura Leigh Bean
Illustration, Visual Branding + Design
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Posts in "food"
The Smart Lady's Guide to Homemade* Hummus

Have you ever looked up a recipe for hummus from a chef or blogger that's really, really good? The standard recipe is: garbanzo beans, olive oil, tahini, seasoning. Process it all together.

Then, there are those that reallyyyyy know their stuff, that go above and beyond, and they add one very special step. They are happy to tell you the secret to the smoothest, creamiest hummus.

Do you know what it is?

De-shelling the freaking garbanzo beans.

Seriously. Every, single one. Here's what you do. There's a really thin layer (membrane? Worst. Word. Ever.) that covers every single little pea bean and if you pinch the outsides of it gently, it'll pop right out of that shell. Discard the shell. High five! You did ONE bean. Now, do a thousand.

No thanks! I did it once and it was smoother and creamier but I like to think of things in terms of effort and return. I am not convinced the effort was worth the return.

So, I have my own, lazy cook's secret for hummus. This is mostly just for entertaining in my book, but if you regularly make yourself fancy homemade hummus, #respect. This will work for you too. Ready? It's.........

Buy Sabra!

I like the garlic kind, but any kind will work (and honestly, so will any brand, I just happen to be particular to Sabra.) Mix it up so it looks smooth and creamy, then take it out of that plastic container and put it into a proper bowl.

Drizzle it with olive oil. If you have flavored olive oil, this is even better. We have a chili infused olive oil that is out of this world. Then, add some chili flakes and a big sprinkling of oregano. It'll make glorious little rivers and pools of extra flavor that is my 30 second version of "above and beyond." Mix it up a tiny bit but don't combine it totally. It loses both flavor and effect!

Ta da!

It looks better, tastes amazing, and I'm pretty sure the Sabra factory de-shells those bad boys for you because it's perfectly creamy and you'll enjoy an hour of your life that otherwise could have been spent de-membraning those glorious but tricky little Mediterranean beans.

Cheers friends, and happy weekend!
The Pioneer Woman's Salmon, or The Easiest Dinner In The World

Say that thinking of The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Tonight, there were important things to get to than dinner. Building a coffee table and last week's DVR'd Scandal in particular. The fact that both of those things are happening right now, today, and not 4 months ago/one week ago respectively is bananas. The coffee table is one of the FIRST things we wanted for our new place and I've waited anxiously for months for Scandal to come back, so yeah. How do these things get away from me? WHERE ARE MY PRIORITIES?

I digress. Salmon! Oh my gosh, this is so good and so easy it's not even fair. I'm a sucker for a good love story and good food, so it was love at first read for me and the Pioneer Woman's blog. And now that she's regularly on the Food Network, I fully (irrationally? maybe?) think of her as my friend. She's so nice! She'd like me, I know it.

So, when I walked past these beautiful, huge pieces of salmon tonight at the grocery store, my mind went straight to my BFF Ree.

Her recipe for salmon (which is actually a recipe from a friend of hers) is so simple. Rub salmon filets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the filets on a baking sheet, put it in a cold oven and turn the oven on to 400. After 25 minutes, take out your salmon and you will guaranteed have perfectly flaky, perfectly cooked salmon on your hands.

A few tips:

  • Wrap your baking sheet in tin foil for minimal dish washing. I do this whenever possible, I am that lazy. With salmon, I consider this step non-optional.
  • This is a great base recipe for any sort of salmon you want. In my world, pretty much nothing is getting in my oven without at least two spices on it and salt and pepper do not count. Neither does garlic. I added a lot of lemon pepper and dill to the salt and pepper and it. was. awesome. I've also used this method for miso salmon and a mustard glazed salmon, both good too!
  • My salmon filets were quite possibly the biggest I'd ever seen, and were particularly thick. If that photo is not doing a good job of proving it, note that that is a DINNER PLATE, not a small plate. So, I knew they'd need a little longer to cook than 25 minutes and let them go just one extra minute, then took the pan out and tented it with foil, allowing very little air to escape. This helped the salmon keep cooking gently while the broccoli roasted.
  • Speaking of broccoli roasting, it's pretty much my favorite thing ever. Pop another sheet pan (use that foil again!) in the oven with chopped broccoli, drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder if you please. This should go in at the same time as the salmon, but it'll need an extra 15 minutes to get extra crispy (turn the oven up to 475 if you like it extra crispy like mine) which is coincidentally the perfect amount of time to make couscous and pour yourself a glass of wine.
The table's done! I clearly had nothing to do with this considering I just wrote nineteen paragraphs about the "easiest salmon ever." Anyway. I'd take a photo of the table but low-light photography and I are not friends yet. Someday, someday.

Olivia Pope (another good friend) awaits.

Cheers, friends!

Chocolate + Peanut Butter Popcorn

Oh man. With my limited-at-best self control, there are certain things I regret knowing exist. Carly Rae Jepsen's full-length album and the fact that you can melt parmesan cheese in the microwave into a giant cheese chip, for example. 

This recipe is being added to that list. I really thought this was my own brilliant idea until I did a Pinterest search and discovered its been done many times by many brilliant ladies. So much for originality, but I'm okay with being in the company of others who roll their popcorn around in melted peanut butter and chocolate.

I knew this couldn't really be BAD, but I didn't realize how dangerously, deliciously addicting it would be. Wish me luck. 


This makes a LOT (about 10-12 cups, depending on how much you sneak in the process!) so make sure you have a destination for your treats or some friends on their way, or you and your self control will be left alone with a bucket of sweet and salty goodness. Best of luck to you, friends. 

5 Tb unpopped popcorn
1 Tb and 1 tsp canola oil, divided
1 C peanut butter 
1/2 C maple agave syrup* 
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sea salt to taste

Pop your popcorn in 1 Tb of canola oil on the stove or in your popcorn popper. If you only have the microwave bags on hand, that'll work too! But please, someday soon, make it on the stove... you'll be a convert.

Pour the popcorn out on to a large baking sheet covered in foil. Be careful to omit any unpopped kernels!

Combine peanut butter and agave syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 1 minute or until it's very liquidy and smooth.

Pour the peanut butter and syrup mixture over your popcorn then toss with a spoon to combine. You might need to use your hands to get all of the popcorn coated, but be careful, the peanut butter and syrup mixture will be very hot!

Next, melt your chocolate chips in the microwave for about a minute with 1 tsp of canola oil. The oil makes it smoother and easier to pour over the popcorn.

Now pour your chocolate mixture over the popcorn and toss it all up to combine again.

Sprinkle with sea salt to taste then set the tray aside to cool and firm up. 

*I got mine from Trader Joe's and I'm a huge fan. Honey or plain agave syrup would work just as well.