Italian White Bean Hummus

If you’ve ever eaten at an Italian restaurant I’m sure that you’ve enjoyed a nice piece of crusty bread dipped in olive oil.  But have you ever had the pleasure of tasting white bean hummus served with that olive oil?  I was recently at a restaurant where they stirred herby, creamy white bean hummus into the oil and I absolutely loved it.  I liked it so much, in fact, that as soon as the meal was over I decided that I was going to make my own white bean hummus at home so I could eat it by the spoonful!

To be honest, I didn’t actually intend to eat this hummus by the spoonful, but as soon as I blended together the rosemary, beans, garlic and lemon juice I couldn’t help but lick the spoon 2 or 3 or …7? times!  It was just SO delicious!  The rosemary is fragrant, the lemon is bright, the garlic is strong (as it should be!) and the white beans are blended into a smooth, creamy consistency perfect for dipping.

Italian White Bean Hummus with Rosemary, Garlic and Lemon.  Delicious and so easy to make!!

 

Italian White Bean Hummus
(Recipe from Racheal Ray)

You will need…
1 – 15oz. can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
3 sprigs Rosemary, leaves removed from the stem and roughly chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Olive Oil (approximately)
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons Tahini

Directions:
Add all ingredients to the bowl of a blender or food processor.  Blend together until smooth, adding more olive oil as you go if needed.  I used a Vitamix and found that blending on low between speed settings 2-4 while using the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades worked well.  Once the hummus has reached a creamy consistency use a spatula to scrape the dip into a bowl.  (Don’t leave any hummus behind… you’re going to want to eat every last drop!)  Serve with crackers, crusty Italian bread, or just a spoon.  🙂

Italian White Bean Hummus 2-

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Roasted Corn Salsa

Last night I made my third batch of Roasted Corn Salsa in less than a month which can only mean two things…  One, this salsa is awesome and two, it’s high time it makes an appearance on the blog!!

Roasted Corn Relish 1

This bright, flavorful salsa features grilled corn, roasted peppers, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice.  It pairs perfectly with grilled fish and grilled avocado (<– my new favorite way to eat avocados).  We’ve also tried the salsa on shrimp tacos and, although Matt thinks it’s a bit too lime-y for eating straight, I personally really enjoy eating it with tortilla chips.

Last night’s batch of salsa is being refrigerated until we have Matt’s parents over for dinner tomorrow night.  Making it ahead of time will save me prep time on Saturday and the extra hours in the fridge will allow the salsa flavors to fully combine.  I’ll post pictures of the final meal (grilled salmon!) next week.

Roasted Corn Relish 2

Roasted Corn Salsa  (adapted from MyRecipes.com; makes 6-8 servings) 

You will need…
Cooking Spray
4 ears Corn, husked
4 Anaheim Peppers or 4 Cubanelle Peppers (for less heat), or a combination of the 2 types
1 cup diced Tomatoes (from approx. 2-3 Roma Tomatoes)
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed Lime Juice (from approx. 3-4 limes)
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Pepper

Directions:

Lightly coat the grates of a grill* set to medium heat with cooking spray.   Place the corn and peppers directly on the grill.  Allow the corn and peppers to cook, turning occasionally, until the corn kernels start to brown slightly and the peppers become soft and dark splotches start to form on the green skins.  Transfer the roasted corn to a plate to cool.  Place the roasted peppers in a large bowl and cover for 10-15 minutes.

Cut each corn ear in half, then place the flat end down on a cutting board and slice the kernels off of the cobs.  When the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins and remove the stems, seeds, and membranes.  Slice the peppers into 1/4″ pieces.

Combine the corn, peppers, tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Serve immediately or cover tightly and refrigerate up to 3 days to allow the flavors to intensify before serving.

Serving suggestions:

  • Serve over grilled salmon or another grilled fish (salmon recipe coming soon!)
  • Spoon over grilled avocado (slice avocado lengthwise & remove pit; brush grill with oil and place avocado halves directly on grates for 2-3 minutes until grill marks appear)
  • Serve as a fresh, citrus-y salsa with tortilla chips

Roasted Corn Relish 3

*If you don’t have a grill, use boiled corn on the cob or thawed frozen corn kernels.  The peppers can be roasted in an oven… here are some basic instructions on how to do this from Ina Garten.

Quick and Easy Hummus

Did you know that it’s incredibly easy to make your own hummus?  I never realized this until we received a Vitamix blender as a wedding present.  Now smooth and creamy home made hummus is just a few basic ingredients and a minute of blending away!

Quick and Easy Hummus Recipe

I like to think of this as a basic “building block” hummus recipe.  After you familiarize yourself with the standard ingredients you can play around with the flavors to come up with your own variation.  We haven’t tried tweaking the recipe yet but I have a feeling that next time we make a batch we’ll attempt to duplicate our favorite Trader Joe’s hummus flavors.  My favorite is Cilantro Jalapeño Hummus and Matt’s go-to is TJ’s smooth and creamy Mediterranean Hummus with pine nuts.  Of course, you could also try adding roasted red peppers, chipotle en adobo, pesto, sun dried tomatoes… the possibilities are endless!

Quick and Easy Hummus (from the Vitamix ‘Create’ Recipe Book)

You will need…
2 – 15 oz. cans Chickpeas – one can drained, the other with liquid
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1 clove Garlic
1 teaspoon Cumin (plus more for garnish)
Salt, to taste

Directions:
Place the first six ingredients in the jar of a Vitamix* blender in the order shown above.  Set the Vitamix to variable 1 then increase speed to variable 10 and switch to high.  Use the tamper to push the mixture down into the blades and blend for 1 minute.  Stir in salt to taste and transfer to a bowl.  Garnish the hummus with cumin and serve with pita chips or your choice of veggie.  Enjoy!

Hummus and Pita Chips

* This recipe came from our Vitamix ‘Create’ Recipe Book, meaning that it’s designed to be made in a Vitamix.  When I used our Vitamix to blend the ingredients together the hummus turned out creamy, smooth, and perfectly blended in just one minute.  If you have a different type of blender the consistency might turn out a little less smooth (those sesame seeds could be hard to blend) so you may want to opt for a recipe that uses tahini (sesame seed paste) instead.

Tasty Treats for the Big Game

Have you ever noticed that everyone always refers to this weekend’s championship sporting event as The Big Game rather than just saying the Superbowl?  I guess it’s a legal thing – am I even allowed to type “The Superbowl” here without the NFL’s permission?? – but I digress.

For this weekend’s ‘big game’ we’re going bowling at the awesome, tater-tot-filled North Bowl in Philadelphia right before the game and then we’ll head over to Matt’s sister’s house for pizza, beer and commercial football watching.  Even though I won’t be doing any cooking of my own, I still wanted to share a few recipes that I know would be delicious to snack on during the Superbowl.  Enjoy!

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas – A delightful combination of shredded chicken, cilantro and barbecue sauce, all held together with plenty of melted Monterey Jack cheese!

Jalapeno Poppers

Jalapeño Poppers – A baked, spicy treat filled with low fat cream cheese and part skim mozzarella (they’re practically healthy!)

Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa This bright green dip is packed with roasted tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, onion and jalapeños.  Make the day before and serve cold!

Caprese Skewers

Bite-Sized Caprese Skewers – Tomato, basil and mozzarella on a stick!  Perfect for healthier eaters.

Easy Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

In addition to our Shrimp with Penne and Herbed Cream Sauce Matt and I made a double batch of traditional Tomato-Basil Bruschetta for Christmas Eve dinner.  The bruschetta was surprisingly easy to make and everyone loved it!

Super Easy Bruschetta!

Super-Easy Tomato-Basil Bruschetta (from The New Best Recipe)

You will need…
8-9 medium Tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2/3 cup Basil, shredded
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 loaf of crusty Bread – we used Ciabatta
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1-2 cloves Garlic, cut in half lengthwise

Directions:
Combine the tomatoes, basil and salt and pepper.  Cut the loaf into 3/4 inch thick slices and place on a baking sheet.  Toast the bread under a broiler, flipping once, until both sides are golden brown.  Rub the cut sides of the garlic clove over the top side of each slice of bread and then brush on a small amount of olive oil.  Top the slices with a generous helping of the tomato-basil mixture and serve immediately.

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

In the last two weeks my “big boy” Jalapeño pepper plant has been producing giant green peppers at an amazing rate.  It seems that every time I go outside I discover a new 4-5″ long pepper hiding under the plant’s leaves just waiting to be picked.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to make 1-2 recipes a week that use Jalapeños, but what the heck am I supposed to do with 15 peppers that all ripen at the same time??  Tonight I found the perfect answer… turn them into Jalapeño Poppers!

These peppers all came from one plant. Time to put them to good use as Jalapeño Poppers!

I found a recipe for Jalapeño Poppers from Emeril on the Food Network.  There are lots of recipes for Poppers on the internet but I liked this one because it was highly rated and involved baking the peppers rather than deep frying them.  I modified Emeril’s recipe slightly to use reduced fat cream cheese and mozzarella (this was our dinner, after all) and the Poppers turned out spicy, cheesy, and delicious.

Emeril’s Baked Jalapeño Poppers (from the Food Network)

You will need…
12 Jalapeño Peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and veins removed
6 oz. Reduced Fat Cream Cheese, Softened
1 1/2 cups Shredded Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
8 teaspoons Emeril’s “ESSENCE” (mixture of onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and thyme; click for ratios)
1/2 cup Flour
2 Eggs
2 tablespoons Milk
1 cup Bread Crumbs or Panko

Directions:
Combine the cream cheese, mozzarella, cayenne and cumin together with a stand mixer or handheld mixer and then fill each halved jalapeño pepper with the cheese mixture.  Stir the flour and 2 teaspoons of Essence together in a shallow bowl.  In a second bowl, beat the eggs, milk and 2 more teaspoons of Essence together.  In a third bowl, combine the bread crumbs and the 4 remaining teaspoons of Essence.

One at a time, dredge each stuffed jalapeño half in the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs.  Place stuffed side up on a lightly greased pan and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 30 minutes until the cheese starts to melt and ooze over the sides of the peppers.  Serve alone as an appetizer or over rice as dinner.

Shh… It’s a Surprise!!!

Last weekend my mom and I threw a surprise birthday party for her fiancé.  I don’t want to get into too many personal details, but suffice it to say that he was VERY surprised to walk into his own kitchen after a day at the golf course to find 20+ of his closest friends and family ready to party!

My mom and I had a blast planning the menu and secretly hiding the food in the days before the party.  By the morning of the party my mom had managed to successfully conceal 2 dozen brining chicken breasts, impressive amounts of peppers, onions and potatoes, and all of the dips, dressings, and glazes in the refrigerator behind little walls of soda and beer cans and a few strategically placed bags of salad greens… good job, Mom!

One of my culinary contributions to the party was a platter of single-serving Caprese Skewers.  Combining each bite of cherry tomato and mozzarella onto skewers allowed our guests to snack on the caprese with just one hand (leaving the other free for a beverage!) which made this a great appetizer for a party.  It’s also an easy dish to make for a party because you can assemble the skewers several hours ahead of time and then simply garnish with some fresh basil right before serving.

Bite-Sized Caprese Skewers with Tomatoes, Mozzarella, Basil & Balsamic Glaze

You will need…
2-3 small handfuls Arugula
25-30 Marinated Mozzarella Balls, approx. 1″ in diameter
2 pints Cherry Tomatoes, cut in half and kept “paired” with their halves
Toothpicks; can use the slightly longer “sandwich picks” for a little extra space
6-8 extra Cherry Tomatoes, cut into quarters
Balsamic Glaze (use a bottled glaze or make your own balsamic reduction)
10-15 Basil Leaves

Directions:
Arrange the arugula along the center of a serving tray.  Slice each mozzarella ball into 4 pieces by slicing off the rounded ends (2 pieces) and cutting the center of the ball in half (2 pieces).  Set the small rounded ends aside.

Skewer the top of a tomato half with the toothpick and slide the tomato onto the stick.  Next, slide one of the center mozzarella pieces onto the toothpick.  Skewer the bottom half of the tomato and slide it into place on the toothpick as shown in the photo.  Repeat with all of your halved tomatoes and mozzarella, arranging the skewers onto the arugula as you go.

Sprinkle the rounded mozzarella ball ends and the quartered tomatoes onto the arugula as a garnish.  Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the entire tray.  If needed, you can refrigerate the tray until party time at this point (that’s what we did!).  Before serving, roll up the basil leaves and use kitchen scissors to cut them into long slices.  Arrange the basil slices over the caprese skewers.  (The basil isn’t shown in my photos since I took them a few hours before the party started.)