Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

FullSizeRenderMaking your own fresh, creamy hummus is a snap, and once you do it you’ll never want store bought again. We’ve been making a basic Spicy Hummus for years now (found a fave on Rachel Ray’s site) and I can’t remember the last time we bothered buying. Tahini paste—a paste made from ground sesame seeds—is the secret ingredient that makes hummus so, well, hummalicious. But I wanted to mix things up a bit, so I added a jar of Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Peppers to our basic Spicy Hummus recipe.

How was it? My handy taste testers Mitchell and Justin (sons) and Emily (boarder) said they loved it! (Too bad it looks so fleshy in the picture here. Rest assured, it tastes better than it looks!) The only thing that might improve it, would be an added teaspoon of my favorite seasoning, smoked Spanish paprika. I think the smokiness with the roasted peppers would take this dip up a notch. But that’s just my humble opinion.

Makes 6-8 servings

1 (14.5-ounce can) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (also called chickpeas)
1 jar (8 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained
2 rounded tablespoons tahini paste
¼ cup olive oil
½ of a lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Course salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon)

Combine all ingredients in food processor bowl or blender and pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer to small bowl and serve with corn tortilla chips or veggies. Or store in airtight container in frig for 2-3 weeks.

NOTE: Be sure to drain and pat the red peppers dry, or they add a lot of extra moisture to the dip.

Spinach Artichoke Hummus

FullSizeRenderA can of artichokes, and a few handfuls of fresh spinach make for a new twist on classic hummus. I found this recipe in the Fall 2016 edition of Lunds & Byerly’s Real Food magazine, and couldn’t wait to try it. My son Mitchell loooooves spinach in everything, so I wanted to see if this would be another way to give him his spinach fix next time he’s home from college. It was a nice dip for corn tortilla chips, and would actually be great with cukes, carrots, and jicama sticks as well. And if you’re a raw broccoli dipper, go for it. (I personally avoid broccoli in a raw veggie tray at gatherings. That, and raw cauliflower florets…those veggies are best eaten when roasted, if you ask me. But I digress!) If looking for some interesting appetizer ideas, this would be good to include in a hummus trio, with Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus (previously posted), and the classic hummus, for the true hummus aficionados. Serve with warm pita bread triangles, and your family and friends will gobble these up.

Serves 6-8

1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans*, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained
3-4 cups fresh spinach
2 garlic cloves
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini paste
½ teaspoon salt

Combine garbanzo beans, artichoke hearts, spinach, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini paste, and salt in food processor, and pulse until smooth. Stop to scrape down side occasionally. Serve. Leftovers may be stored in a covered container in the frig for up to five days.

*NOTE: The original recipe called for soaking dry chickpeas overnight, and then boiling them for an hour, and letting them cool. That sounded like waaaaay too much work for me, so I used the canned chickpeas (aka: garbanzo beans). Also, I added more lemon (as noted above) then called for in the magazine recipe, as it seemed to need more zing.

Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus

FullSizeRenderWith the holidays in full swing, you can’t leave your house without a plate of something to share at a gathering, and most often it’s an appetizer involving a brick or two of cream cheese. Here’s a recipe that strays from that formula, yet tastes rich and creamy sans the cheese. This sweet potato hummus was posted on Yummly, sent in by (a food blogger who gives top billing to her dog…go figure!). I made several adjustments to her spice amounts, most notably to the cayenne pepper. The 1½ teaspoon suggested seemed excessive. I preferred to up the smoked paprika and cumin, so there were other flavors and less heat. 

Now let’s talk about the blessed sweet potato we’re all so obsessed with, and give credit where credit is due! Admit it. We’re all guilty of it. Lumping yams in with sweet potatoes, that is. Truth be told, most of us have never even tasted a yam, but since our grocery stores use the names interchangeably, we think yams are darker orange versions of the sweet potato. But true yams have black or dark brown skin, white flesh, and are drier and starchier. You have to go to a specialty grocery store to find them, if they can be found at all in the USA. Sweet potatoes come in two categories: firm sweet potatoes (with golden skin and paler flesh, sometimes even close to white), and soft sweet potatoes (with red or copper skin and orange flesh). We tend to prefer the soft sweet potato, which cooks up moist and creamy. The soft sweet potato that’s prevalent in our stores closely resembles the true yam, so that’s why they are often labeled as such in the bins. 

Enough with the food source education! Let’s get back to this delicious dip! It’s awesome with Simply Naked pita chips, corn chips, or the gluten-free “Food Should be Good” brand cracker-chips (sold at Costco and other stores). I made this for a couple parties over the weekend, and was told it was quite tasty. I myself have yet to verify that, as I’ve got a nasty cold and can’t taste a dang thing. But I trust my taste-testers. They wouldn’t lie to me. Although one of my taste-testers (and son) Justin said there was zero heat in the dip. The guy who practically puts Sriracha sauce on his Cheerios thinks I’d say mayonnaise has “kick.” So consider the source.

Serves 8-12

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans (aka: chickpeas), rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, peeled, and quartered
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼–½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I used ½ teaspoon. Add ¼ first and taste!)

Preheat oven to 375° or 400°. Place 2 potatoes on a sheet of aluminum foil and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender when pressed. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Scoop sweet potatoes out of the skins, and place in bowl of food processor or blender. Add garbanzo beans, olive oil, tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, and cayenne. Process until smooth. Serve with chips or cucumber slices and carrot sticks. Store in airtight container and refrigerate any leftovers.

Fabulous Fajitas

IMG_1020Fajitas can be quick and easy weekday fare, and are a great way to use any meat you may have leftover from grilling. My husband loves to grill or smoke a pork roast or large pork chops for dinner one night, and then we can use the leftovers to make fajitas or stir fry another time. Grilled beef roast or flanks are also awesome in fajitas. Or sometimes he sears the meat on the grill just for flavor but doesn’t cook it all the way, and then we finish it up on the stove top with the peppers and onions. If you don’t have time or space for grilling, chicken can be sautéed in a pan with the veggies.

I can assure you the recipe I’ve come up with below is easy (Judy easy!) and perfect for a couple or small family. The trick with fajitas, is to cut everything—meat, onions, and peppers—in strips so you can grab the meat and veggies with tongs when loading up your tortillas. And the secret flavor booster is the sesame oil, a wonderfully nutty and earthy addition. It’s found in the Asian food or oil aisle of your grocery store.

Serves 4-6

1 pound pork roast, beef roast (or 8 chicken tenderloins)
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
Drizzle of olive oil
Garlic salt
1-2 large yellow onions, halved then sliced
2 green peppers, or 1 green and 1 sweet red pepper, sliced in strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds


One recipe Spicy Hummus, or purchased hummus
Crumbled feta cheese

One recipe tortillas, or store-bought tortillas

Put meat in bowl and drizzle with soy sauce. Turn to coat. (Use 4 tablespoons soy sauce for the pork or beef, and 2 tablespoons for the chicken tenderloins.) Grill meat until just pink in center, sprinkling with garlic salt while grilling. Or use chicken if making your whole meal indoors. If using chicken, drizzle olive oil in a large sauté pan and heat on high. Add chicken to pan and sear on each side about 2 minutes, sprinkling with garlic salt while cooking. Remove to plate to cool.

Drizzle olive oil in pan and heat to high. Add onions and saute for 1-2 minutes. Turn down to medium-high heat and continue to cook until onions are translucent. Add peppers and cook until pepper are tender-crisp. Add garlic, stir and cook 1 minute more. Turn heat back up to high. Slice meat into long, thin strips and add to pan. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Stir to combine, and then let ingredients sauté about 1-2 minutes more.

Heat tortillas on hot skillet for a few seconds on each side. Add fajita mixture to tortilla. Add hummus and feta cheese. Roll up and eat!

Spicy Hummus

IMG_0899We used to think Trader Joe’s hummus was da bomb, until we tried this recipe from Rachel Ray’s website. Now we mix up our own fresh hummus whenever we have a hankering for a dip to use with pretzel flats, pita chips, or cukes, carrots, and pea pods. This is also great on fajitas, and it keeps in the frig a couple weeks, so no need to make it when you’ve got a bunch of other stuff to chop and saute. (Note: You will need a food processor or blender to get the desired smooth consistency.) I’ve tweaked the recipe each time I’ve tried it, and those changes are reflected below. Turns out tahini (a sesame seed paste found in either with the olives, or in the ethnic food aisles) is the secret ingredient that gives hummus it’s creamy texture and slightly nutty taste.

(Hey Judy! Here’s another recipe that uses the coriander you bought to make the Savory Sweet Potato Biscuits.)

Makes 6-8 servings

1 (14.5-ounce can) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (also called chickpeas)
2 rounded tablespoons tahini paste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Course salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in food processor bowl and pulse until mixture is smooth and creamy. Transfer to small bowl and serve with pita chips or veggies. Or store in airtight container in frig for 2-3 weeks.