because what is life without good food?

Dips

Crab Artichoke Dip with Asiago & Bacon

Crab Artichoke Dip with Asiago & Bacon ~ www.SumptuousSpoonfuls.com

My latest creation … please go over to my blog’s new “home” www.SumptuousSpoonfuls.com for the recipe!


Baba Ghanoush: a smoky, wonderful dip

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy wonderful garlic eggplant dip

If you have never had Baba Ghanoush, you should try it. It’s a creamy, garlicky, silky smooth dip somewhat akin to hummus in flavor, but lighter and smoky tasting and oh so wonderful. It’s made of eggplant, but if someone didn’t tell you it was made of eggplant, you would never guess.

I used the smaller, thinner long skinny Japanese eggplant for this Baba Ghanoush. If you use the larger, globe-style eggplant, you will want to adjust the other ingredients because you’ll end up with more pulp. After grilling your eggplant, measure the pulp and multiply the rest of the ingredients by the number of cups of eggplant you have.

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy, smoky wonderful dip

Baba Ghanoush

  • 3 Japanese eggplant (yielding about 1 cup of pulp after roasting)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 hot chili pepper (optional … baba ghanoush doesn’t usually have hot pepper in it, but I roasted these beautiful hot peppers last night and thought it would be a good addition … and it IS! I love the kick it adds to the dip!)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. To get the smoky flavor, you need to grill the eggplant, so start up your grill and if it’s one of those gas grills, throw some rosemary or apple wood chips or something like that on the coals to make a good smoke. Poke your eggplant all over with a fork and set it on the hot grill and roast it for quite a while … until the skin is charred and dark on all sides and the eggplant has gone totally limp and cooked down. Let it set for a few minutes to cool down enough to touch it, then pull off the peel, saving the soft wonderful roasted interior. It might not be the prettiest thing to look at at this point, but don’t worry. It will taste wonderful!
  2. If you are lucky enough to have a hot chili pepper around, roast that on the hot grill too till the skin is black and charred and bubbly on both sides (this won’t take long! only a few minutes on each side), then pull the peel off of the pepper. It should slip right off.
  3. In a food processor or handi chopper, add the roasted peeled eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, the peeled chili pepper and the parsley and blend until the dip is totally smooth and silky. Add salt to taste. Serve at room temperature (or a little warmer) with little toasts or crackers or vegies for dipping. Baba Ghanoush also makes a great sandwich spread and goes very well in a wrap too.

Baba Ghanoush: a creamy, smoky wonderful dip

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic ThursdayFoodie Friends FridayFit & Fabulous Friday, and Totally Tasty Tuesday.


Zummus {A zucchini-lima twist on hummus}

Zummus: A Zucchini Lima Bean Twist on Hummus

It’s funny how a recipe evolves sometimes. The other night I was talking to my yoga instructor/artist/foodie friend and she was telling me how she had made Baba Ganoush (a middle eastern eggplant dip) with zucchini, and she had done the zucchini on the grill so it had this wonderful smoky flavor and I was thinking to myself “I gotta try that” … especially because I have several lovely zucchini left that my sister brought me and I love Baba Ganoush ALMOST as much as I love hummus.

Then the next day, I got onto facebook and two of my foodie friends (Katrin from Running with the Deviled Eggs and Terra from Cafe Terra) had both done a hummus with lima beans. Lima beans? Seriously? Wow. They both looked totally yummy … but the really funny part about this was Katrin was challenging me and another of our friends to do this too.

Now I have never in my life cooked with lima beans, but I thought, what the heck, I’ll take your challenge. I stopped and got lima beans on my way home from yoga. As I went into the kitchen to begin making it, the idea struck me to combine these two ideas and make some sort of baba ga-hummus thing … see then I could have the best of both worlds all in one! … but with zucchini and lima beans in lieu of the eggplant and chickpeas.

I was trying to think of a good name for this crazy creation, mixing baba ganoush, hummus, lima beans, zucchini … I settled on “zummus” … mostly because I have a thing for the letter Z and hey, we are totally on a zucchini kick here lately. By the way, it’s every bit as good (or better) than any hummus or baba ganoush you’ve ever tasted. You would never guess it’s made with zucchini and lima beans. It’s got that yummy hummus texture and the garlicky tahini taste with a hint of smokiness. I totally love this stuff.

Zummus: A Zucchini Lima Bean Twist on Hummus

Zummus

This makes a small amount.  If you’re making it for a crowd, double or triple the recipe. You’re gonna need it … trust me.

  • About 1 cup of zucchini pulp
  • Smoked paprika
  • 1 cup frozen lima beans
  • 2 – 5 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you want it!)
  • 1 Tablespoon tahini
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • a handful of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • juice of 3/4 of a lime

Directions:

  1. Cut a large zucchini lengthwise and using a grapefruit spoon or other such instrument that’s good for digging into summer squash, hollow out some of the pulp inside. It’s quite alright if it’s seedy because this is all going to get roasted and blended into a puree. Chop the pulp into chunks. (Save the zucchini shells for stuffing …)
  2. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray, set the zucchini pieces on it in a single layer, and sprinkle liberally with smoked paprika. Bake at 350 for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the zucchini is completely tender. The zucchini cooks down as it roasts, so you should end up with about 1/2 cup of zucchini after you’re done roasting.
  3. Now, measure out your lima beans and put them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a couple tablespoons of water, cover the bowl with a plate and microwave for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring about halfway through, or until all the beans are nice and tender. (If you’re making a bigger batch, you’ll have to adjust the cooking time to get all the beans to cook.)
  4. Put the roasted zucchini and the lima beans (complete with cooking water!) in a food processor or handi chopper and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until everything becomes a lovely paste. Add water to get it to the consistency you desire. I like it a little thick, so it’s spreadable.
  5. Serve with toasted pita wedges or flatbread or vegies. It also makes a great spread for sandwiches, wraps and little toasts.

Zummus: A Zucchini Lima Bean Twist on Hummus

Check out the other lima bean hummus recipes:

This recipe was shared at Scrumptious SundayManic MondayThursday’s TreasuresFit & Fabulous Fridays, and Share It Saturdays.


Bacon Cheddar Spinach Dip

{a guest post for The Black Peppercorn}

Bacon Cheddar Spinach Dip

My friend Steve over at the Black Peppercorn is off on vacation, so I’m helping tend his blog while he’s away!

Steve is a great blogger who has some great recipes and beautiful photography. I’m proud to count him as one of my foodie friends.

So pop over to the Black Peppercorn for the recipe!

Bacon Cheddar Spinach Dip Recipe

This recipe was shared at Totally Tasty TuesdaysCast Party Wednesday, and Weekend Potluck.


Creamy Lemon Artichoke Dip

Creamy Lemon Artichoke Dip

I joined a new cooking challenge group called Eating the Alphabet. Each month we make a recipe featuring a fruit, vegetable, or bean/legume from a different set of letters. This month’s letters are K & L. Kale or Lemon was the first thing that popped into my mind. I asked my son and he gave me all sorts of K’s and L’s, and it’s funny I can’t even recall what they were now, but it was great fun thinking of them.

In the end, I went with Lemon because, well, lemon is so lovely and I needed a good dip for my Blog-iversary party last night. I think artichokes and lemons go splendidly together, and after making and sampling this creamy dip, well, I had a hard time saving it for the party.  I had to hide it from myself in the back of the fridge and wait till the day of the party for the photo shoot. The lemon flavor really shines through and compliments the artichoke really well.

I lightened up the recipe by using light cream cheese, light mayo, and nonfat greek yogurt and adjusting the proportions–I also added a bunch of sweet onions and some herbs for extra flavor. I don’t think you’ll miss the extra calories.

Eating the Alphabet: Creamy Lemon Artichoke Dip

Creamy Lemon Artichoke Dip

Adapted from WebMD. WebMD says to bake it and serve it hot, but it was so hot last night, I decided to just serve it cold. It’s delicious either way.

  • 1 – 14.75 jar of marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
  • About 2 Tablespoons of the marinade from the artichokes
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 4 small cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons gourmet prepared mustard (I used green peppercorn garlic, but dijon would be good too)
  • 1 teaspoon wortcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup (very loose) finely shredded Dubliner cheese (or other sharp cheese such as Asiago)
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped fine
  • The zest & juice of 1/2 of a fresh lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce

Directions:

  1. Drain the artichoke hearts, reserving the marinade. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Add the onions and garlic and sautee just briefly, then add a couple tablespoons of the marinade and cook until the juice from the marinade has evaporated and the onions are soft and translucent.
  2. Mix the hot onions with the cream cheese until well blended. (The heat soften the cream cheese and make it easier to mix.)
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. At this point you can cover and store it in the fridge till serving time. It
  4. If you want to serve it hot, put it in a square baking dish or pie pan and bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until it’s hot and bubbly. If it’s too hot to turn the oven on, this dip is great cold, too. (Admittedly, though, it IS better warm!)
  5. Serve with pita chips … or slice up a baguette into thin slices and toast them.
Creamy Lemon Artichoke Dip
Eating the Alphabet Challenge

This post was created for the Eating the Alphabet Challenge.

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This recipe was also shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Skinny Bloghop, Everyday Mom’s Meals, Scrumptious Sunday and Manic Monday.


#Tomatolove: Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing

Sundried Tomato Ranch Salad Dressing

After making Melissa’s Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette, I still had a few sundried tomatoes left and I thought perhaps I should try throwing them in some ranch dressing too? Yep, it works. Tastes mighty fine. The sundried tomatoes do make it thicker, so if you want a drizzle for your salad, you’ll need to thin it out a bit.

Sundried Tomato Buttermilk Ranch Salad Dressing (or Dip)

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 2/3 to 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. nonfat greek yogurt
  • 3 heaping tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
  • 2-3 big fresh cloves of garlic
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 green onions (tops only)

Whir all the ingredients in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add more buttermilk as needed to get the dressing to the desired consistency. Mine was pretty thick, but I was using it for a pasta salad so that was just perfect.

Use for pasta or potato salad, on green salads or as a dip with vegies. Store in a covered container in the fridge.

Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing (or Dip)

This is a post for #tomatolove.

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Click here to see all the other great #tomatolove posts…

This recipe was also shared at Summer Salad SundayScrumptious Sundays, Weekend PotluckManic MondayTip Junkie, Cast Party Wednesday and EveryDay Mom’s Meals


Avocado Artichoke Hummus

Avocado Artichoke Dip from Mia's Domain

Hello my dear visitors! I am so excited about my guest blogger today … Mia from Mia’s Domain has agreed to share one of her precious recipes. Mia ‘s recipes truly inspire me. I can’t remember a single post of hers that I didn’t absolutely LOVE … she leaves me drooling just about every time! In fact, Ally and I are arguing over who gets to go live in Mia’s spare room. If you’re not familiar with Mia’s Domain, go visit her beautiful blog or look her up on facebook or Pinterest and you will see what I mean.

Mia sent over this beautiful recipe for Avocado Artichoke Hummus! I love hummus! I am really wishing I had some of this to munch on today …

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guest bloggers this week. I’m having so much fun seeing what they have to share, I’m wondering if I should come back? … just kidding. I’ll be back in my own kitchen very soon!

In the meantime, enjoy this lovely recipe from my sweet friend Mia.

Avocado Artichoke Hummus

  • 1 cup baby artichoke hearts in olive oil
  • 1 cup avocado
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Handful fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
Blend artichoke hearts, avocado, almonds, beans, onion, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and parsley, while streaming in oil until you’ve reached the consistency you desire. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Keep refrigerated.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top to serve.

Hot & Cheesy Seafood Spinach Dip

Post #2 of 5 in my Five Favorite Things for my Five Thousand Foodie Friends series …

Hot & Cheesy Seafood Spinach Dip

I have to combine some of my favorite things or I’m not going to fit them all in five posts!

I am quite taken with appetizers … little bites … dips … party food! Also I looove seafood … although I don’t cook it that often, since we are quite land-locked and it is difficult to get good seafood here. Unless you count walleye, silver bass, northern pike … THAT is quite attainable in these parts. But I made an exception for this special occasion and splurged on some seafood. Shrimp and crab … ah yes!

This yummy dip also features wine. And cheese. Another two of my foodie flavor loves. And a few veggies, because veggies and I are buddies too.

Hot & Cheesy Seafood Spinach Dip

Let’s put this all together, shall we? Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you … it’s really quite a simple dip. You will be popping it in the oven to heat up in no time … it’s also great as a make-ahead-and-pull-it-out-and-bake-at-serving-time dip.

Hot & Cheesy Seafood Spinach Dip

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of Chardonnay (or other dry white wine)
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed, with the moisture squeezed out of it
  • 1/2 cup white beans (great northern or cannelini beans)
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup freshly shredded Romano cheese (or other sharp, hard cheese like Parmesan)
  • 1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese (or other soft, melty cheese like Swiss)
  • 1 Tablespoon (or more) of fresh snipped dill weed (or 1 teaspoon of dried dill)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 6-oz. can of crab meat, drained (or 4.25 oz. of fresh crab meat)
  • 1/3 cup of pre-cooked shrimp, chopped fine (I used medium frozen shrimp, but you could use any size … if yours are fresh, pre-cook them a little before adding them)

Toppings: a bit of extra shredded Romano and/or gouda cheese, some crushed crackers or breadcrumbs, and some chopped fresh chives and/or dill

Directions:

  1. In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, cook the onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the wine and worcestershire sauce and sautee until the liquid evaporates. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, combine the spinach, white beans, light mayonnaise, and light cream cheese. Whir until well pureed and everything is a fine paste. If the mixture is too thick, add the lemon juice as well and maybe even the yogurt.
  3. Now in a medium-sized bowl, mix the sauteed veggies, the pureed mixture, and the remaining ingredients except for the toppings.
  4. Spray an oven proof bowl or small casserole with cooking spray and pour the dip into the bowl. Spread it with a spatula till it’s flat, then sprinkle with extra cheese and crushed crackers or bread crumbs.
  5. Bake at 400 for 10 – 20 minutes or until everything is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted. Top with the fresh chives and/or dill before serving. It is good to put a shrimp on top to clue everyone in on what they can expect from this luscious dip!

Serve with crackers, toasted pita or bagel chips or vegies. (You can also put it in a mini-crockpot at a party to keep it warm.)

This is even better if you make the dip ahead of time and let the flavors meld overnight (or longer) in the fridge, then pull it out, top it and bake it just before you serve it.

Hot & Cheesy Seafood & Spinach Dip

This recipe was shared at Midweek FiestaCast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked Whole Foods Recipe Swap, Tastetastic Thursdays,  Full Plate Thursdays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Fabulous FridaysWeekend Potluck, and Strut your Stuff Saturdays.


Skinny Garlic Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dip

Skinny Garlic Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dip

This is an incredibly flavorful dip, but it doesn’t have to be a dip … add a little extra buttermilk and it’s a salad dressing. Or use it as the sauce for a pizza, instead of the red sauce. Spread it on little toasts and top with your choice of bruschetta toppings. It could be a sandwich spread. There are so many things you could do with this stuff!

I have actually shared this dip before, with my Blue Devil Jalapeno Poppers, but I made it again to use in a different way, and I think it deserves its own post. You can serve it with vegies or chips or jalapeno poppers or chicken nuggets. Add some blue cheese and use it for dipping buffalo chicken wings. This is such a versatile dip. You really need this in your life.

Skinny Garlic Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dip

Skinny Garlic Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dip

This dip has an intense garlic flavor … if you don’t like things too garlicky, reduce the garlic.

Inspired by Mother Thyme and Alice Q. Foodie

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. nonfat greek yogurt
  • 2-3 big fresh cloves of garlic
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Several fresh parsley leaves or ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • A few fresh dill twigs or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 green onions (tops only)

Whir all the ingredients in a handy chopper or food processor until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Skinny Garlic Basil Buttermilk Ranch Dip

This recipe was shared at Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, Midweek Fiesta and Fit & Fabulous Fridays.


Pumpkin Dip

Pumpkin Dip with Apples

I did the weirdest thing this year. As we were carving pumpkins, I saved the pieces we cut out of the pumpkins, chopped off the outer skin, put them in a bowl with a little water, covered the bowl, and microwaved it until the pumpkin was cooked. Then I put the chunks into my handi chopper and voila! I had a nice little treasure-bit of pumpkin. I didn’t know what I was going to use it for yet, but I knew I wanted SOMETHING pumpkin.

And then BranAppetit posted this dip and I was compelled to run into the kitchen right away and make it. It took all of a few minutes to put together. It even got me to eat an apple. Did you know I don’t eat apples? I really don’t like apples all that much. I love them in pie or other baked things, but I’m not all that fond of apples. My daughter eats them like crazy so we always have lots of them on hand.

But with this dip, I could eat apples every day.

Pumpkin Dip with Apples

Festive and delicious, quick, easy and healthy. A little addictive.

Pumpkin Dip for Fruit or Crackers

My twist on this ingenious pumpkin dip recipe from BranAppetit

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3 oz greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • just a pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a handi chopper or food processor and whir until smooth.
  2. Serve with graham crackers, sliced apples (or other fruit), or gingersnaps.

Pumpkin Dip with Graham Crackers

I did try the dip with graham crackers; it’s delicious that way too. I hear it’s heavenly with gingersnaps.

This recipe was made by We Heart Vegan for the Secret Recipe Club–I love her name for it! “Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Dip”

Shared on:

 


My Sister’s Simple Trick for Cooking Beans

A Simple Trick for Cooking Beans

Somehow I had convinced myself I couldn’t cook beans. I had tried and tried and every time I tried to cook up some dried beans, they just didn’t have the flavor I wanted. I could make a great chili and soups with beans IN them, but I couldn’t manage to cook up plain old beans that were as good in flavor as the ones you buy in a can.

So I resigned myself to buying canned beans. Yes, I’m fully aware of the BPA issues in canned foods. I tried not to think about that.

At holidays when we were all up at my parents’ place, my sister would bring a little container of black  beans she had cooked up  and we would toss them on chips with cheese a microwave them for a quick snack with salsa.

Her beans were so good, I asked her what her secret was. And she told me.

Here’s the secret:

A bay leaf. That’s it. She puts the dried beans in a pan with a bay leaf, some chopped garlic, some water and simmers them (partially covered) until they’re done. She says the secret is you do NOT salt them till they’re tender.

Okay, so I tried it, first with black beans and it turned out wonderfully! Just like hers. Then I did pinto beans. Perfect! YES! … and this batch you see here was some Cannellini beans for my Cannellini hummus. Sometimes I have to add some water because it cooks off, but I have finally mastered the art of cooking beans!

It takes an hour or two for the beans to get good and soft, but when they turn out this good, who needs to buy canned beans?

(My sister says the salting rule goes for salty meat too … if you want to add bacon or ham or other salty meat, wait until the beans are tender, then add the meat. Cook them for 20 minutes or so after you add the meat to let the flavor soak in.)

I LOVE YOU SIS!

(And by the way, you can freeze cooked beans. My parents insist that you can’t, but I do. I have even served some of the beans I cooked then froze and reheated and they couldn’t tell the difference. HA!)


Gorgeous Greek Layer Dip with Toasted Pita Chips

Greek Layer Dip with Hummus and Tzatziki

This is my first of a series of 31 Days of Connecting through Food.

I am on a total Greek food kick lately. I love Greek food and we have no good Greek places in town, so if I want Greek food, I have to make it. Greece is definitely on my mind. My daughter and I have been dreaming of going to Greece, but my son isn’t interested in Greece. He would rather go to Florida. Again. We went to Florida last year! Let’s go somewhere different. That’s what vacations are all about, right? I did talk him into going to Colorado this year somehow instead of going back to Florida. I have no idea how I’ll talk him into going to Greece, other than perhaps spending part of the vacation in France. But he isn’t that crazy about going to France, even though he’s taking French. Sigh. I’ve been told my daughter and I should just go without him. Perhaps we will!

So anyway back to Greece. No I haven’t been there. It’s very near the top of my list of places to go. I’ve seen pictures and studied their mythology and reveled in every Greek restaurant I could ever find in every place I’ve ever lived. I really LOVE Greek food. Garlic, oregano, feta, lemon, mint, creamy thick yogurt, cucumber, lamb. Gyros, hummus, spanakopita, dolmas, falafel, oh and that lovely Greek chicken! I love it all.

So when I saw this Greek layer dip from Avid Appetite, I wanted to make it right away. Except I didn’t have any hummus! So I had to wait until I had time to whip up a batch of hummus. And by the time I did that, I didn’t have much tzatziki left. But I used what I had to make a mini-layer dip. It was perfect for lunch/snacking throughout the afternoon … would probably be just fine for a snack for two. If you want to make a big party version, just use more stuff!

Greek Layer Dip

I ate this one all by myself. Just munched on it all afternoon. And now I am sad. It is gone. My tzatziki is gone. I ate what was left of my hummus for dinner. I miss them … want more. May have to start on a new Greek trip tomorrow. Wish it could be for real …

Greek Layer Dip & Pita Chips

*Adapted from Avid Appetite who adapted it from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat pitas or pita pockets, cut into chip-like wedges
  • Aboug 1/2 c. ground lean meat (I used venison, you can use turkey or lamb or whatever you like)
  • Hummus (I used my Cannellini hummus, but I think the Basil-iferous hummus would be nice too … or whatever you have on hand)
  • Tzatziki (I used my world’s best tzatziki that Kalyn taught me …)
  • Red onion, finely diced (ok, if you don’t have red, you can use white, but red is prettier)
  • Fresh garden tomato, diced
  • Feta crumbles
  • Kalamata olives, chopped (I skipped the olives … not my thing!)
  • A bit of mixed lettuce, chopped
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. To make the pita chips, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Layer the pita wedges on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Spray liberally with cooking spray. You can sprinkle with salt if you like–I didn’t bother with salt on mine. Bake for 7 minutes or until crispy.
  2. Brown the ground meat in a skillet over medium heat. While cooking, season with salt, pepper and oregano. Set the meat aside.
  3. Meanwhile, chop up the onion, tomato, olives and lettuce.
  4. Spread the hummus in the bottom of the serving dish. (If you use a glass dish, you could actually SEE the layers unlike with mine!) Next, sprinkle on the prepared meat. Carefully spread the tzatziki over the meat. Layer the onions, tomatoes, lettuce, feta, some fresh oregano leaves and olives over top.
  5. Serve with your lovely toasted pita chips and enjoy!

Greek Layer Dip with Pita Chips

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Game Day Blog Hop and Fit & Fabulous Fridays: Superbowl Edition.


Cannellini Bean Hummus with Feta & Oregano

Cannellini Bean Hummus with Feta Cheese and Oregano

I have a not-so-secret fascination with hummus. That creamy garlicky lemony dip with a kick of tahini … ah it is one of my very favorite foods. I snack on it, spread it on my sandwiches, would probably bathe in it if I had enough of it! Well, no, that would be a waste. Because I would want to eat every. last. little. bit. I would be licking the tub. That would not be pretty.

That is how much I love hummus. I have seen hummus made with cannellini beans instead of chickpeas, so I had to give that a whirl. Oh, it turned out delicious. Too bad it is already gone … I didn’t make enough! So I recommend you double the recipe. Or maybe triple it? I SO need to make some more.

Cannellini Hummus with Feta and Oregano

  • 1 c. cooked cannellini beans
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • A bit of lemon zest
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 T. crumbled feta cheese
  • A few sprigs of fresh oregano or 1/2 t. dried oregano
  • 2 T. pinon nuts
  • A few drops of sesame oil

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor till smooth. Add a little water if you need to for getting it to blend smooth. Serve with toasted pita chips.

Cannellini Hummus with Feta and Oregano

How to toast pitas into chips:

Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Cut the pitas into wedges and arrange in a single layer on the pan. Spray liberally with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp.

Cannellini Bean Hummus with Feta Cheese and Oregano


World’s Best Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce - Greek Cucumber Garlic Yogurt Sauce

I do sincerely have to thank Kalyn’s Kitchen for this Tzatziki Sauce recipe. I didn’t have everything that her recipe called for, so this is what I ended up using. You really have to go see her recipe for the step-by-step instructions with pictures. She did such an awesome job of it!

World’s Best Tzatziki Sauce

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen’s recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 BIG cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2 -3 cloves of garlic
  • 6 oz. (3/4 c.) plain Greek yogurt
  • 6 oz. (3/4 c.) light sour cream (or use all Greek yogurt … makes for a more traditional tzatziki … I just didn’t happen to have enough Greek yogurt on hand, so I substituted some sour cream)
  • a bunch of fresh dill (about 1 T. of the fine green ends, chopped … that’s what Kalyn says … I didn’t measure it!)
  • a few fresh mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Peel and seed the cucumber, then sprinkle with salt and put in a strainer to drain off the excess juices.
  2. Put the cucumber on a clean kitchen towel and pat off any excess moisture.
  3. Throw the cucumber with the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and blend till smooth.
  4. Use on Gyro burgers, felafel, or as a dip with crackers and vegies–or actually this might sound crazy but I think my favorite thing to dip in tzatziki sauce is french fries. Seriously! It’s SOOOoooo good.
Tzatziki Sauce - Greek Cucumber Yogurt & Garlic Sauce

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

I have a lot of fresh corn still and have already frozen plenty for the year. I really love hot, spicy salsas and I thought it would be fun to try a corn salsa. I just tinkered with it till I came up with a flavor combination that worked.

This works. The jalapenos give it a great bite. The sweetness of the corn balances with the hearty black beans, then the onion, garlic, peppers, cumin and cilantro round out the taste. It’s all the freshness and kick of summer in one little spicy bowl.

This might just be my new go-to summer salsa.

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. corn (about 3 cobs)
  • 1 – 3 jalapenos (I used 3, but I like it really spicy-adjust to your heat tolerance!), finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3  - 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • 2 c. chopped tomato
  • A bunch of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 t. Red Robin seasoning (or seasoned salt)
  • 1/2 t. salt

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Let sit for an hour or so to let the flavors blend. Keep any leftover salsa in the fridge.

It’s great with chips.

Spicy Corn & Black Bean Salsa

Or you can use it to transform an egg and tortilla into a lovely breakfast burrito.

Breakfast Burrito with Corn & Black Bean Salsa

This recipe was shared at Recipe of the Week: Superbowl Snacks.


Creamy Low-Fat Cucumber Basil Dip

Creamy Cucumber Basil Dip (Low Fat)

In my scramble to use up some of the many seasonal vegetables and some extra cottage cheese from the fridge, I made up this lovely, creamy, low-fat and healthy dip. Blending the cottage cheese gives it a lovely creamy texture. Your guests won’t even guess this is cottage cheese. I have a feeling it would taste even better with a few blue cheese crumbles … well, if you like blue cheese (I do!). It’s super-easy to mix up on the spot, too, in case you have last-minute guests and need something quick to serve.

Creamy Low-Fat Cucumber Basil Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c. low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 T. light mayo
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 of a regular-sized cucumber, sliced, seeds removed
  • 1/2 t. dried dill

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients into a food processor or handi-chopper. Blend till smooth.
  2. Serve cold with vegies and/or chips and crackers.
Creamy Cucumber and Basil Dip (low fat)

Eggplant Caprese Parcels

with Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

Eggplant Caprese Parcels with Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

It’s one of my favorite times of the year: eggplant season. My mother grows eggplant every year and it never fails she always has way more than she can ever use. I feel it is my duty as her daughter to help relieve her of the burden of some of those lovely purple fruit.

Oh it doesn’t help that purple is my favorite color, so I could just drown myself in the color of these magnificent vegetables.

Mom grows white eggplant, the big dark purple ones, the small skinny dark purple Japanese eggplant, and those lovely little lavender-colored fingerling eggplant. The white ones I have discovered are perfect for stuffing. They are just the right size to make 2 lovely individual meals. The smaller ones are fantastic tossed in pasta sauce, stir-fries, or made into eggplant parmesan “chips” … last year I made little breaded baked eggplant parmesan that were luscious to munch on either plain or with a dip or made into the classic eggplant parmesan.

Eggplant are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories. They are generally described as having a pleasingly bitter taste, but it really depends on how you cook them. Many recipes are designed to remove the bitterness. I think they are sort of buttery tasting.

eggplant for the parcels

This year I wanted to try something new with these precious purple eggplant. I found this beautiful recipe in my mediterranean cookbook. My eggplant are not as big as the recipe calls for, so I am making a mini-version.

Okay, really, I’m playing with my food. This made a very beautiful, tasty dish, but I need to warn you: they are a little messy to eat! Perhaps I shouldn’t have been eating them as finger food?

Eggplant Caprese Parcels

Ingredients for the Parcels:

  • Four small, long eggplant
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Asiago cheese, thinly sliced
  • Fresh tomato slices
  • Large basil leaves
  • Long fresh chives if you have them, for tying the parcels. (If you are using larger eggplant, you probably won’t need these, but they are cute!)
  • Seasoned salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Olive oil or cooking spray
Before you start the parcels, start the garlic (for the sauce) roasting: wrap a whole head of garlic (with peel!) in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until when you poke it, the cloves are mushy.

Directions:

  1. Remove the stems from the eggplant and cut each eggplant into long, thin slices. My eggplant were small, so I got 4 long, skinny slices per eggplant. Do NOT use the first piece covered with skin like I did! I thought since my eggplant were little that the skin would be tender, but it wasn’t tender enough! It’s way too difficult to eat if the slice has skin all the way across. If you want to use that piece, peel it first.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the eggplant slices for about 2 minutes, until just softened. Drain the sliced eggplant and dry on towels.
  3. Take 2 eggplant slices and place them across each other at a 90 degree angle, so they make a cross shape. Place a slice of tomato in the center, season it with seasoned salt and fresh ground pepper, then add a basil leaf, a slice of each cheese, another basil leaf, a slice of tomato and more seasoning.
  4. Fold the ends of the eggplant slices around the filling to make a neat parcel. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Chill the parcels for about 20 minutes. While they are chilling, make the dressing.
  5. It’s hot here today, so I’m using the “broil” feature of my toaster oven. Brush the parcels with olive oil or spray them with cooking spray, then cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden.
  6. Serve hot, spreading a bit of the garlic balsamic paste on the parcel and sprinkling with pine nuts and basil leaves.

Adapted from the cookbook: Mediterranean, a taste of the sun in over 150 recipes, by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow
Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

Roasted Garlic Balsamic Sauce

Roasting garlic like this mellows out the bite of the garlic and makes a lovely garlicky paste that is good for spreading on bread or making lovely dips. This part is my recipe … the book used a sundried tomato balsamic vinaigrette sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole head of garlic, roasted
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 of a lime

Take the head of garlic and squeeze each clove out of the peel. You should be able to separate the cloves and just squeeze each mushy garlic clove out of the peel between your fingers.

In a handy chopper or  food processor, whir together the garlic, the balsamic vinegar, and the lime juice until it forms a nice soft but sort of thick sauce. If you want a thinner sauce, add more vinegar or lime juice.

Eggplant Caprese Parcels


Basil-Lime Pesto

To me, basil has got to be one of the best herbs on the planet. I just love the intense rich and spicy, peppery flavor of it, with a hint of clove and mint. I keep basil in pots so I can enjoy it year round, and they keep me supplied with fresh basil for salads, pasta, pizzas, salad dressings, breads, sandwiches, etc. You can use it as a dip with hunks of good french bread. My little basil pots are great for every day use, but they don’t ever yield that much at once.

My new basil plant!

However, I am a VERY lucky girl because my mom and my friend are phenomenal basil growers and they often have more than they can handle! And I just tumbled into a lucky spot this weekend when I went to visit my good friend Sunday night. Her basil was growing like crazy! I cut and cut and cut and we dug a couple of the plants up for a potted basil plant and still you couldn’t even tell we’d taken any.

And whenever I get a lot of basil, I HAVE to make pesto!

Pesto is one of those wonderful flavorful things you can use in so many ways. It’s most traditionally used as a pasta sauce, but I like to use it on pizzas (instead of pizza sauce) and sandwiches. I also like to add some to the ricotta when I’m making lasagna. You can even add it to soup! It freezes well so it’s easy to pull it out whenever you need to add a little garlicky basil flavor to something. I have heard of people freezing it in ice cube trays then just popping out a pesto cube whenever they need pesto. I think that’s a great idea, but I never seem to have room in my freezer for ice cube trays! I do, however, have room for a couple little containers of basil.

Basil Lime Pesto, ready for the freezer

This time I added lime juice because my basil-growing friend always puts lime in her pesto and her pesto stays such a bright green color and mine used to turn to an ugly dark green over time. The lime adds a little tang too, which is brilliant, and so beautiful. Look at that color!

Ingredients:

  • A big bunch of fresh basil leaves, washed, stems removed (I had enough basil leaves to entirely fill my blender even after packing down the leaves a bit)
  • 2/3 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. pinon nuts
  • 1 c. freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 T. tequila
  • About 5 cloves garlic (you can adjust more or less depending on how garlicky you like it)
  • juice of 1 lime
Basil in the blender, awaiting the pesto-making

Directions:

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If it won’t blend well, add a bit of water to get it to blend. Just enough to get the blender to go–you want the pesto to end up a thick paste.
  2. Freeze whatever you don’t want to use right away in small containers (or an ice cube tray!). A little pesto goes a long way!
Basil Lime Pesto

This picture is larger than life size … I love the intense green of this pesto!

Nutrition Information:

Assuming you get 10 servings from this recipe. Pesto is high in fat, but much of that fat is the “good kind” of fat and it has a very intense flavor. A little bit of pesto goes a long way!
Nutrition Information for Basil Lime Pesto

Basil-iferous Hummus

Basil-iferous Hummus

Hummus is one of those amazing things I could eat and eat and never tire of … the soft texture of it on my tongue with the intense flavor of garlic, lemon, and sesame all blend together so wonderfully.

I have tried many hummus recipes over the years, but never found one that quite satisfied me as much as the store-bought stuff. It’s terribly easy to make, but you have to hit on the right combination of flavors and I never could quite achieve that. Until today! I finally found the perfect combination of ingredients. All I had to do was  add a good bunch of one of my very favorite herbs: basil.

It has a flavor reminiscent of pesto, but with the texture of hummus.

My inspiration for this was a link to 6 Health-Boosting Basil Recipes that my friend Jennifer sent me–they all look fantastic, but it was the basil hummus recipe that really intrigued me. But I am up at my parents’ place on the lake and there are no sundried tomatoes or cannellini beans, so I had to make up my own recipe.

Basil Hummus ingredients

My mom has both green and this beautful purple basil growing in her garden, so I used both.

Basil-iferous Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. cooked chickpeas (you can use canned ones if you like, drain them and reserve the juice)
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • a sprig of fresh dill
  • a spoonful of tahini
  • water (or juice from the canned beans)

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend until it’s really smooth. You will most likely need to add some water (or juice from the can) to get it to blend well.
  2. Enjoy!
Blending it up in my dad’s retro blender. Can you tell he paid a lot for it? He got it at a thrift store and it works great! Awesome color too, don’t you think?
Blending the hummus
Time to munch! I served it with Wheat Thins Toasted Garden Valley Vegie Chips. It also goes well as a vegie dip and makes a great spread on sandwiches & wraps. You can even throw it in a salad. But my favorite way to eat it is as a dip because I love to munch.
Basil-iferous Hummus

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