Category Archives: Side dishes

Hummus – quick and tasty

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Hummus – quick and tasty


Hummus has been around for a long, long time. It was the ultimate “fast” food that was easy to carry. When Bedouin tribes traveled with their herds from place to place, carrying dried grains that were ground up was a lightweight and economical option. It also was a great source of protein. I am so glad that it has become one of the “in” foods. High in protein, good quality monounsaturated fats and delightful flavor…what’s not to like? Here’s a fast, easy and very budget friendly version.
What makes it especially economical is the use of whole sesame seeds instead of Tahini in a jar. Tahini is a paste made of sesame seeds that adds tremendous flavor to this dish and It’s rich in minerals such as phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium and iron, not to mention essential amino acid Methionine, which aids in liver detoxification. It is also high in Vitamin E and a host of B vitamins and calcium. It’s the ultimate brain food.

Ingredients:  good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Ingredients: good quality olive oil, garbanzo beans, fresh garlic cloves and lemon

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Use sesame seeds instead of tahini paste

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

Drizzle a little olive oil before serving

So let’s get to the recipe.

2 cans (15 oz) of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame seeds
juice of half a large lemon
2 cloves of fresh garlic, roughly chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/2 cup good quality olive oil

In a food processor, dump in the garbanzo beans and pulse a few times. Add the sesame seeds (you pulse the garbanzo beans first so the sesame seeds don’t fall to the bottom of the processor) and garlic and pulse 3 or 4 times. Add in lemon juice and turn on the food processor. As the processor is doing its work, begin to drizzle in the olive oil through the lid opening until the mixture begins to get nice and smooth. Add salt to taste and pulse a few times. Pour into a bowl and drizzle a bit more good quality olive oil. Serve with Pita bread, vegetable strips or Pita chips and enjoy. Makes 2 1/2 cups. Serving size 1/2 cup. Cost per serving 48 cents.

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Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

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Blackeyed Pea, Corn and Mango Salsa with Homemade Chips

There’s nothing like a refreshing and hearty dip on a hot summer day.  I’m always looking for fun new ways of making salsas and dips that are not heavy and creamy.  The Caribbean side of my family love eating Pigeon Peas.  In fact it’s a staple of most Caribbean rice dishes.  Pigeon peas are hard to find fresh here and I have to go to specialty stores to get the canned version.  The closest cousin I have found to the Pigeon Pea is the Blackeyed Pea.  I love the texture and mild flavor of Blackeyed Peas.  The skin is not thick and it has an almost creamy mouth feel.  Perfect for a salsa. I used canned Blackeyed Peas and canned Corn in this salsa.  You can definitely use roasted fresh corn and pressure cook some Blackeyed peas.  Since this was one of many items I was cooking yesterday, I decided to just go with the canned.  It turned out great and saved me some time.  With the fresh ingredients, you don’t really notice that the peas and corn are canned. The heat from the chilies are nicely balanced with the sweetness of the Mangoes. Paired with fresh home-made BIG tortilla chips as a scoop, this salsa is “da bomb”!

Mix the dressing ingredients together (LOVE the Pomegranate vinegar)

Pour dressing over the dip ingredients and mix well before chilling in the fridge

Make large homemade tortilla chips

The extra large “scoops” are fantastic with this salsa

Blackeyed Pea and Corn Salsa

2 cans (14 oz) of Blackeyed Peas (rinsed and drained)

1 can (14 oz) sweet corn (rinsed and drained)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1-2 Thai chilis, take the seeds out if you want it less spicy

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, minced

15 or so green spanish olives, chopped

2 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 mangoes, diced

Dressing:

1/4 cup olive oil

zest and juice of one lime

1/2 cup pomegranate vinegar

fresh cracked pepper

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp sugar or honey

In a large bowl place the washed and rinsed canned Blackeyed peas and corn.  Add all fresh chopped ingredients and toss lightly.  Mix together the dressing ingredients and pour over the dip and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate at least an hour before serving.  Great with large home made tortilla chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

12 inch uncooked (or cooked) flour tortilla chips

Oil for  frying

Cut the tortillas into fourths and fry in oil until golden brown, drain over paper towels.  Can be made a day ahead and stored in airtight container or zip lock bags before serving.

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

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Garlic Herb Potato Bread

I made some garlic mashed potatoes to go with some meatloaf  a couple of days ago.  The meatloaf is all gone but I had about 2 cups of garlic mashed potatoes left over.  I hate throwing food away so I decided to ‘re-purpose” the potatoes. I have made potato bread before but not usually with garlic mashed potatoes.  I decided to fully commit and throw in a few dried herbs and see how the potato bread turned out.  I was delighted.  The bread was tender, yeasty, and the garlic along with the basil, thyme and dried onion gave it a wonderful flavor.  It was great for sandwiches, just toasted with a little fresh butter, tremendous as a grilled cheese sandwich, in a savory bread pudding and I even made some croutons out of a few pieces.  I think I have to make this bread again…really soon!

Mix up the mash potatoes into the dough

Let the dough rise for about an hour or until doubled in size

Shape into loaves and place into greased or sprayed loaf pan

The texture and flavor were fantastic!

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

Garlic Herb Potato Bread

1 cup garlic mashed potatoes

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp dried onion flakes

1 1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup warm milk

5 cups or a little more bread flour

2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast

Heat milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until warm.  Stir in sugar and yeast into the milk and let it sit for a little bit until it’s foamy.  In a large bowl mix together garlic mashed potatoes, dried onion, herbs, salt, eggs and butter mix well.  Add the yeast mixture to the potato mixture and add in 4-5 cups flour until a dough forms.  Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic.  Put dough in a greased bowl.  Flip dough over so that top is lightly greased.  Cover and let rise for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.  Punch down dough and shape into two loaves.  Place loaves into two greased loaf pans and cover let it rise for another 40 minutes or until doubled in size again.  Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when top is tapped lightly.  Remove from pans and let it cool on cooling rack before slicing. This bread freezes really well.

Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

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Cast Iron Skillet Quick Rise Rolls

I am the Thrift Store Queen. I love the stuff you can find, from clothes, to shoes, cookware, furniture and the variety of strange and amazing things.  Another man’s trash really can be your treasure.  Part of the reason for my fascination with Thrift Stores is to show others that you can dress stylishly, find amazing deals and feel no shame in the fact that you’re using previously owned things.  I  work with newly arrived refugees.  Most families when they arrive have very little in terms of material possessions.  Not only does an entire apartment have to be furnished but often clothes (especially here in Salt Lake we need clothes for four DISTINCT seasons) are desperately needed.  Thrift Stores are a must when buying entire wardrobes for a family all at once and picking up kitchen tools and small furniture items.  I like looking at my clients in the eyes and telling them that everything they see me wearing is from the Thrift Store and that we need to begin a new adventure by having a shopping fashion show.  Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun.  A few weeks ago, while taking a family of four from Burma through the Thrift Store, I came upon two cast iron skillets.  They were $4 each.  I was almost hyperventilating with joy.  I bought both.  One for the Burmese family and one for me.

The Burmese family love their new skillet.  I love mine as well.  I’ve already cooked with it on the grill outside, used it to press down on paneer as a heavy weight and made a pineapple upside down cake in it.  It’s time to make rolls.  This was my first attempt at making rolls in the cast iron skillet.  I loved how evenly they cooked and how long they stayed warm.  The roll recipe is QUICK.  There is extra yeast added to make it rise in 20 minutes so while you’re getting other things ready for dinner, you can put these rolls together.  They were just the right texture, warm, buttery and delicious.  The batch makes two dozen rolls, so I ended up with a dozen rolls in the cast iron skillet and pan full of garlic breadsticks.  Not a bad deal at all!!

Mix dough until a soft dough forms

Divide dough and shape into 12 round balls and place in a cast iron skillet

Let it rise for 20 minutes until doubled in size and brush with melted butter before placing in oven.

Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

Serve warm with butter

Other half of dough can be made into breadsticks…

Quick Rise Rolls

1 3/4 cups warm water

3 packets active dry yeast (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup melted butter and a little extra for brushing

2 tsp salt

Kosher salt for sprinkling on top

2 large eggs, beaten

4-6 cups flour (more if needed due to humidity)

Pre-heat oven to 400° F.  If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment and in the mixing bowl, mix together water, yeast and honey and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy.  Mix on low speed and slowly add in the melted butter and eggs.  Add in 3 cups of flour and continue to mix on low for a minute or so.  Add in salt and flour as needed until a soft dough is formed and it begins to form a ball.  Divide dough in half.  Portion half of the dough into 12 balls and roll smoothly.  Place in a cast iron skillet and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap.  Shape the remaining dough into rolls or bread sticks (can also be used as a pizza dough) if desired.  Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  They should double in size during that time.  Brush with melted butter and place the skillet in the pan.  Bake for 25 minutes until tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter and sprinkle each roll with a small amount of kosher salt.  Serve warm with butter, jam or any other topping!

Source: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/kelsey-nixon/rapid-rolls-recipe/index.html

Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette

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Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette

We eat a lot of chickpeas in South Asia.  In cooked food, in fried fritters, in sauces and especially salads.  I wanted a quick and easy salad with a little crunch and some protein in it so it could double as a filling lunch and not merely a side dish.  I loved how this salad came together.  Perfect for a summer Saturday after a killer workout!

Mix together the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk together

Thinly slice all the veggies

Let it sit for a few minutes before enjoying

Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette 

1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup of sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Vinaigrette

3 tbsp pomegranate vinegar

1 tbsp honey

lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp fresh chopped dill

2 tbsp flat leafed parsley, chopped

1 tsp dried basil

1/4 cup olive oil

fresh cracked pepper

salt to taste

Whisk together all the ingredients of the vinaigrette until an emulsion forms.  Toss together all the salad ingredients and pour dressing over the vegetables.  Let it sit for a few minutes before eating!

Romancing the Granola

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Romancing the Granola

I kind of have a soft spot for Granola.  You see, I had just stuffed my mouth full of some yogurt and granola in the university dining room.  I had misjudged how much my mouth could handle and the extreme chewiness of the granola so I was trying desperately to gnaw my way through like a chipmunk….when I saw HIM.  He had hazel eyes and long eye lashes and was wearing a dark green sweater.   It’s funny the memories that come up with certain smells, sounds or foods.  As I was getting all the ingredients together for this granola for Onjoli and I to have with our yogurt or just as a cereal, I was grinning to myself and thinking about that first “meeting”.  The best part of that encounter was what happened a few minutes later.  I finally gulped down the granola and decided that I should make myself memorable.  Earlier that week I had learned the English word “saunter” (I was trying to improve my English by learning and using new words everyday).  I understood “saunter” to be sort of like a supermodel walk down the catwalk.  Not accurate, but hey, I was 17 years old.  In my head I planned to “saunter” past this hunk of manhood in my female glory so he’d be amazed and wonder “who was that gorgeous woman?”  I was so busy “sauntering” that I ran into one of the closed doors of the cafeteria.  I mean a serious face plant on the door.

The plan did work, he did notice me, just not exactly in the way I was planning.  Something must have worked, because that was 28 years ago.  Next week we will celebrate 26 years of marriage!

I was inspired by the awesome Chef Connie and her recipe for granola (she has a great blog!).  The granola turned out fantastic and I know that each time I take a bite, I’ll smile just a bit.  Do you have food that brings back a flood of memories?  I’d love to hear it!

Mix the dry ingredients, spices and brown sugar together

Heat together the applesauce, maple syrup, honey and oil

Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture

Add the heated “sauce” to the dry mixture

Spread on a cookie sheet to bake making sure to stir every 10 minutes to keep it evenly browned

Chop up the dried fruits

Add dried fruit to cooked granola while it’s still warm and mix well

Delicious Granola

5 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans, rough chopped

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup flax seeds

1/2 cup raw peanuts, rough chopped

1 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted

1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of any type of dried fruit you like—I used dates, apricots and dried cherries

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cardamom powder

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sea or kosher salt

3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp oil

Mix all the nuts, oats and seeds together (reserve the dried fruit for later) in a large pan or big bowl.  Add the spices, brown sugar and salt.   In a saucepan mix the applesauce, honey, maple syrup and oil and heat all the way through.  Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.  Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350° oven.  Cook for 40-45 minutes but make sure and stir it every 10 minutes to brown it evenly.  Remove from oven and add in the dried fruits and mix well.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

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Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

Back in March when I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing.  I still don’t.  But one of the fun things about blogging has been reading other blogs whether food related or not.  I’ve learned new things, added new foods to my repertoire and improved my culinary skills.  Who knew it would turn out to be so much fun?  One of the blogs I fell in love with has been Tasha’s Foodashion’s blog.   I saw  her post on artichokes and the gorgeous pictures and I was hooked.  I finally made a variation of her original recipe and I gotta tell you it was delicious.  Mine was not nearly as visually stunning as Tasha’s but we ate them up in record time!

Trim off the sharp edges with kitchen shears

Trimmed artichoke

Cook or steam them for about 25-30 minutes until tender

Take out the sharp middle leaves

Clean out the choke

Stuff liberally with filling and bake

Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes

4 Fresh Artichokes

1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese

1/4 cup Camembert cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup chopped flat leafed parsley

2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 onion, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, zested and juiced

4-5 kalamata olives, finely chopped

Wash and trim the artichokes with kitchen shears.  Smash them down a little on your counter or cutting board (leafy side down) so they open up a bit like a flower and place them in a pan with water and lemon juice, (save the zest of the lemon in a separate bowl)and cook covered for about 25-30 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile assemble the stuffing.  Heat olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic together, add in kalamata olives and take off the heat.  Mix the cheeses with lemon zest, parsley and add to the onion mixture in a  small bowl.  When artichokes are cool enough to handle take out the middle part and clean out the “choke” with a spoon.  Divide the stuffing between all four artichokes making sure to stuff between leaves as well.  Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and dive into the gooey goodness!