Thursday, January 26, 2012


For this recipe you will need:

1/2 to 3/4 cup Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), dried
7 Tbsp. Olive Oil
6 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
Salt to taste
**Optional: 1/4 c. Plain Greek Yogurt

I want to start by saying Hummus usually has Tahini in it, which is a paste usually made from sesame seeds & olive oil.  It can be found in most of your local grocery stores, I usually forget to buy it.  I do, however, usually have a bottle of Sesame Oil in my fridge & find it can be a nice substitute when combined with the olive oil.  Feel free to make hummus both ways & make up your mind as to how you like it.  I do recommend keeping Sesame Oil in the fridge after it's open so it doesn't go bad as fast.  You will notice that it does get a little cloudy when cold, that's perfectly normal.  As it comes back to room temperature the cloud will disappear.  If you decide to leave it at room temperature, just be aware that it will probably oxidize in about a month or so.

You may also have noticed that I use dried chickpeas in my recipe.  I just find that they have a better flavor and add a nuttiness to the finished product.   I also like to use the cooking liquid in the hummus to help reduce the amount of fat/oil I'm adding.  You probably could used canned beans (drained & rinsed) and vegetable broth, but you'd have to play around with the amounts/ingredients a bit.

Start by putting your beans in a pan and adding water to cover the beans by a couple inches.  Throw in a pinch of salt.  Bring the beans to a boil, reduce heat to medium (to simmer the beans, you still want a couple of bubbles rising to the surface) for an hour to 90 minutes.  Go ahead & taste one of the beans to make sure they are done, but blow on it first, so you don't burn your mouth!  You don't want them to be mushy, you want them to have some bite/texture to them, but you don't want them hard either.  Basically the texture is like a soft peanut.

Here are what my beans looked like in the pan:

Pour around 1 cup of the cooking liquid off the top of the beans, and set aside.  Drain the beans the rest of the way.  Place beans into a food processor.  Add garlic, 4 Tbsp. of the lemon juice, the sesame oil, 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and 4 Tbsp. of the olive oil.  Pulse and then run the machine until a smooth paste is formed.  you will probably need to scrape down the bowl at least one time.  Now taste what you have.  Adjust as needed.  Add more lemon juice if it needs to be a little more tart, add more salt if you need it.  If you want more creaminess, add more olive oil & some more of the cooking liquid.  **Here is where you can also add that little bit of greek yogurt.  It will provide an extra creaminess to the texture without adding more fat.

If you want more garlic, go ahead & add more!  Pulse again and taste.  It should be close.  Adjust seasonings again if you need to, otherwise, go ahead & put it into a serving dish and enjoy!  I have heard about people adding kalamata olives or roasted red peppers to their hummus.  I haven't tried it, but it you want to add them, give it a try.  Just remember to adjust your salt down if you're using olives.  You can also add a dash of cumin & ground red pepper as well.

Here is what mine looked like in the food processor:  

Since I used my small food processor, it did take a couple of batches to do the amount of beans I had.

 And here is what my finished Hummus looked like:

I like to eat my hummus with Pita Chips & carrots.  I know others that like colored peppers, celery, or pretzels.  You can also use it as a spread on sandwiches.  Let me know what you think if you try this recipe out! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ham & Cheese Quiche

For this recipe you will need:

1 prepared pie crust, I used a Pillsbury refrigerator crust, but you could easily use one of the frozen crusts that come in the pan in the freezer section.
1/2 - 1 LB of Diced Ham
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
6 eggs
1/2 cup Milk (I used 2% since that's what we have in the house)
1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Salt and Pepper to taste, Dried Herbs (or fresh) of your choice

Quiche is such a great, easy dinner.  You can fill it with so many wonderful things, especially leftovers you may want to try a different way.  I originally wasn't going to post this to the blog, but since I had a couple of my facebook friends ask for the recipe, figured others would be interested and that I would share.  Preheat your oven to 375 F.

The first thing I did was cooked my onions in a small saute pan over medium heat on the stove until they were translucent with a little bit of browning, about 10 minutes.  These probably would cook in the oven in the quiche, I just don't like my onions overly crunchy coming out of the oven.  I set my onions aside and then put the ham into the pan that the onions were in.  I turned the pan up to medium high and sauteed the ham a little to remove the extra water.

When ham is processed, water is typically added to it.  My ham we purchased from a local butcher, so it is minimally processed, but I had pulled it out of the freezer, so knew it probably still had a little liquid in it.

While the ham was in the pan, I went ahead and scrambled the eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, and I used several shakes of a Fine Herb Blend from Penzeys Spices.   

So, toss the ham and onions together, and put them into a raw pie crust.  Pour on the eggs, and then top with the cheese.  Place into the oven for 30-40 minutes.  I would suggest either putting your pie pan on a cookie sheet, or putting a cookie sheet on the oven rack under your quiche.   This way if things bubble over a bit the clean up is much easier than having to clean the entire oven.  A  knife inserted into the center of the quiche should come out cleanly.  Well, you might pull out a little melted cheese, but you shouldn't feel a soft, gooey center and see egg come out on your knife.

Bear in mind that if you have a smaller crust/pan than mine you may not use all of the eggs, or if you have a super deep dish crust you may need an extra one or two.  Also if you don't like cheddar cheese or happen to have a different cheese or filling in your house, go ahead & use them!  This is a suggestion based on what we had for dinner last night. 

*edit - I forgot to mention if you want to reduce the calories a bit make a crust-less quiche.  I used to make one with imitation crab & scallions without a crust that was pretty tasty on its own.

Here is what my finished quiche looked like: 

And a single piece.  SO tasty!

I served it with Honey Corn Bread, and wished I had a salad to round it out the rest of the way.   We had apple pieces instead. Just remembered we actually had grapes I found on sale yesterday.  I also had roasted a couple of beets I had in the fridge with the other half of the onion.  I still think a salad would have been nice.

So, still think Quiche would be hard to make?  What types of quiche do you enjoy most?

A Reader's Question: How do I Blanch Vegetables?

I had one of my friends text me this morning asking how to freeze broccoli, and I asked her if she knew how to blanch in response.  She said she didn't know, so I told her I was going to turn it into a blog post.  Too much to type in a text, and I think it's something that others would want to learn about.

This basic guide should help you when preserving your fresh vegetables.  I used this method quite a bit this past summer, and I'm sure I'll get some pictures taken this coming summer to update this post.

First things first, what do you need to blanch vegetables.  Well, you'll need a cutting board & knife, alarge pot of boiling water, a colander or spider tool (basically a handheld better than a slotted spoon, especially if you're working with a bigger batch of vegetables), a large bowl filled with cold water and ice, and a sheet pan.  Once your vegetables are frozen you will also need a bag or container to store them in.

First things first, wash and cut your broccoli into florets, or spears or whatever size you know you will want to use it in later. 

Second, put broccoli into your pot of boiling water.  Now here comes the tricky part.  Depending on the size of your broccoli will depend on how long you boil it for (usually at least 2 minutes).  Watch for the color change.  The color of the broccoli will turn a brighter green.  Once you see that color change, immediately pull it out of the boiling water using your spider tool, or drain into your colander.  Shake off the excess hot water & immediately put it into your large bowl.  The reason you have water in the bowl with your ice is to transfer the cold faster.  The idea is to stop the cooking process as quickly as possible.  Go ahead & move the broccoli in the cold water to speed the process.  Another thing that will help speed the process is to add additional ice once you see how fast your other ice is melting, or to even add a little salt to the water.

You will see the ice melt slow as your product cools, and you can leave it in the cold water for a minute or two.  The reason I prefer the spider tool to the colander method is because you can do more than one batch of vegetables in your boiling water.  First corn, then cauliflower, then broccoli or beans or peppers.  It's easiest to learn what to look for with the green vegetables first.  Then you can get a better feel for the timing of the piece size with your equipment.  If you boil for too long, your vegetables cook too long and will get mushy.

So, once your broccoli is cooled pull it out of the cold water with the spider tool or drain into a colander.  Pick out any extra ice by hand.  Spread into an even layer on your sheet pan and then place in the freezer for about an hour.  You can leave it in there overnight as well & then pack off your broccoli in the morning.  Just depends on how many pans you're putting into your freezer.

Finally, package your broccoli into freezer storage bags, vac seal, or use containers.  Don't forget to label & date your product so you know what to eat first.  First in, First out is a saying we learned in school and it makes sense to use up your oldest product first. 

Hope this helps simplify the blanching process.  Let me know if something isn't clear!