Deliciously Garlicky Hummus

I have a confession to make: I’m a hummus addict. For breakfast, for lunch, for snacks, for dinner, and most often for a 4am post-drinking snack. It’s salty, it’s creamy, it’s garlicky, and you get to eat it with pockety pita bread (don’t eat it with flatbread, please. Ugh. Pocket pita only. Preferably locally made).

Unfortunately, I have several problems with this addiction:

One — store-bought hummus is expensive.

Two — store-bought hummus is bland (you hear me? very, very bland.)

Three — store-bought hummus only comes in tiny containers. I need lots of hummus. I like a 5:1 ratio of hummus to pita. That means that I can finish of a store-bought container of hummus in a day. Pricey.

Therefore, after researching every corner of the internet, I have come up with a brilliant, garlicky, flavorful and affordable homemade recipe for hummus. It cost about the same amount of money as a small thing of store-bought hummus, and made about twice as much. Of course, considering my big bowl of it is halfway gone already, I may have a new problem: this hummus is so good I just can’t stop eating it.

RECIPE

1 head plus four large cloves of garlic

2 tbsp tahini

1 tsp sea salt

Juice of half a lemon

Olive oil

1 can of chickpeas, drained, with 2 tbsp juice reserved

Garnishes: a few chickpeas, some olive paste/tapenade, za’atar, and more olive oil

1. Cut about 1/8” off the top of the head of garlic. Wrap the head of garlic in foil, then roast in a 425-degree oven for 40 minutes.

The head of garlic, after roasting for 40 minutes.

2. When it’s done, let the garlic cool for a few minutes until you can pull the roasted bits out of the skin and put them in your food processor (this is an essential tool: don’t try to do this with a blender. It will be messy).

3. Add the other four large cloves. Blend these together with the food processor.

4. Add the tahini, sea salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and reserved chickpea juice. Blend.

5. Add the can of chickpeas. Blend to desired consistency.

6. IMPORTANT: taste. Determine if you need more tahini, salt, lemon, olive oil, or chickpea juice. This is definitely a personal preference thing. I ended up adding more tahini and olive oil.

7. Spoon into a bowl, and top with a scoop of tapenade, some chickpeas, liberal sprinkles of za’atar, and some more olive oil. Enjoy with some warm pita bread, carrots, celery (or other vegetables), spread on your sandwich, or with a spoon after you finish your third martini.

A close-up of the toppings. The tapenade is in the center, topped with a few chickpeas, and surrounded by za’atar.

Advertisements

Recipe Tester: Whole Foods’ Apple-Berry Baked Oatmeal

I don’t always come up with my own recipes, but I want to share the best of what I cook on this blog anyway. Anytime I find a tasty, affordable recipe, I’ll share it with you in my Recipe Tester column. 

I worry sometimes about one of lovely roommates, because I’m a firm believer in breakfast. She relaxes in bed as long as she can, saving her makeup — even her eyeliner — for the train. This means that she also shirks breakfast (scandalous).

I’d already decided that I wanted to make this Apple-Berry Baked Oatmeal, and my roommate’s need for an easy morning meal was the perfect excuse to make it happen. We split the cost of the ingredients (which only came to $10 or $15 for the entire dish, with enough of everything leftover to make it one more time), and now we both have a grab-and-go breakfast for the week.

I also ate this for dessert tonight, hot out of the oven. It converted me to baked oatmeal: while I love a good microwaved oatmeal, this wasn’t slimy, and had a texture somewhere between a granola bar and a cake. It wasn’t too sweet, either, and the berries added lovely bursts of sweetness. I made it with strawberries and blueberries, because of my local grocery store’s deficiencies. But if I could have found blackberries and raspberries to put in with the blueberries, I would have done that instead (the fresh ones were too expensive).

You can find the whole recipe here. For other recipes that I love, check out my Food and Drink Pinterest board.

Prosecco Salad with Sautéed Chicken (Or, the best salad I’ve ever made)

Not to say I’m good at making salads, but I’ve tried my hand at a few. They are usually what I eat in between posts, and they are usually never worth posting. But this one, inspired by the dribble of prosecco leftover from my Pan Borracho, made the cut. Even better: the dressing is made with fat-free greek yogurt instead of oil, and the lean chicken breast keeps you full long after you’re finished eating.

Yeah, I know, why talk about how healthy something is when taste is really what’s most important? Two reasons. First, I had my first of several personal training sessions today, and felt inspired by all of the healthiness. Second, while taste (and texture, and temperature, and overall deliciousness) is everything, this recipe meets all of those requirements. So, it’s worth talking about the healthy parts — it’s like the recipe earns bonus points!

Chicken breasts, spinach, and tomatoes are pretty standard and affordable groceries. If you don’t have any prosecco in the fridge, of course it could be a little pricier. But if you happen to have a little leftover from the weekend, well, why not use it?

To help make things less confusing, I’ve separated this recipe into three parts: the dressing, the chicken, and the salad. I considered writing it Julia Child-style, but after a short internal debate decided that consistency on this blog mattered more.

The diced tomatoes. Tip from my mom’s kitchen: never leave a tomato unsalted. They taste much better with a little bit of our favorite seasoning sprinkled on their juicy parts.

RECIPE

The Chicken
Note: I used just one chicken breast, because I was making one salad for myself. Hungrier? Feeding more people? Multiply this recipe.

1 chicken breast

Prosecco

Salt and Pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

 

1. Cut chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Place in small bowl.

2. Sprinkle a liberal amount of salt and pepper on the chicken.

3. Pour prosecco over chicken until it just barely covers the chicken.

4. Mix so chicken is well covered in salt, pepper, and prosecco. Set aside (in refrigerator) to marinate while you prepare the dressing and tear up your greens.

5. Once you’ve prepared the dressing (see below: The Dressing) and torn up your greens (see below: The Salad), heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.

6. Cook the chicken in the olive oil, stirring and flipping occasionally, until the chicken turns a golden brown.

 

The Dressing (makes 8 fl oz)

Note: I used a salad dressing mix packet, but substituted all of the ingredients that the packet listed with other ingredients. My grocery store had Good Seasons Garlic & Herb, so those are the proportions I use here. For easy reference, I’ll list both the my ingredient and the ingredient listed on the package, so you know what the substitute for other dressing mixes.

1 package garlic and herb salad dressing mix

1/4 c Prosecco (instead of vinegar)

3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar (instead of water)

1/2 c Fat-free Greek Yogurt (instead of oil)

 

1. Combine prosecco and balsamic vinegar in a bowl.

2. Add salad dressing mix, mix until well combined.

3. Add Greek yogurt, mix until creamy.

 

The Salad

Torn spinach or baby spinach

12 cherry tomatoes or one large tomato

Salt and pepper

The Dressing

The Chicken

 

1. Dice tomatoes (I quartered my cherry tomatoes). Combine with salad and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss.

2. Drizzle 2-3 tbsp of The Dressing (or however much you prefer) over the greens and tomatoes. Toss and combine well.

3. Top with The Chicken.

4. Eat!

A close-up of the finished salad. Note how the chicken is golden brown! If you wait just a few minutes more after the chicken seems done, it caramelizes — or something like that — on the outside.

Confused? Let me know and I’ll write up a Julia Child-style version for you. Also, feel free to ask any questions or leave comments below! I’ll be happy to answer you.

Weekend Splurge: Max’s Pan Borracho (Drunk Bread) Mimic

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Drunk Bread!

Cheese, bread, and wine. All in one dish. I just finished my first piece and my tastebuds are still tingling.

Um, sorry. I had been craving a visit to one of my favorite haunts in San Antonio, Max’s Wine Dive. There’s nothing that a glass of La Marca Prosecco and a plate of pulled pork nachos can’t cure. Unfortunately, I’m a few states away. Around noon, I found myself staring at their dinner menu, thinking about what I would order. Then it hit me: I should try to imitate one of their recipes.

Because I didn’t feel like cooking pork belly, I picked the Ban Borracho, or “Drunk Bread.” I had this for the first time on my first visit to Max’s, on my 21st birthday…a, well, very memorable night. After that, my friend Abby and I developed a habit of visiting every once and a while and ordering three or four different bottles of wine. We usually invited other people to share with, but I suspect that we ended up drinking most of the wine ourselves.

Here’s the description that Max’s gives their dish:

Pan Borracho (“drunk bread”) 
torn sourdough baguette, prosciutto and fresh thyme, soaked in a savory white wine custard,
baked with Gruyère, mozzarella, provolone and Grana Padano cheeses

Since I’ve never made custard before, I used this recipe. Although I must admit I didn’t let it thicken completely. It still seemed to work well.

While it’s not my favorite La Marca Prosecco, this Mionetto still goes well with the cheesy bread.

Accompany this bread with a sparkling wine, or a red wine, or a white wine — like most things in life, it’s better with wine! It does take a little longer than most of my recipes, but it’s well worth it.

RECIPE

For the Custard:

2 c riesling

1/2 c water

4 eggs

1/2 c sugar

For the rest of the bread:

1 sourdough baguette (I actually used a normal baguette, because of that Brooklyn grocery store problem)

1 package prosciutto, shredded

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 1/2 c grated gruyere

1 1/2 c grated mozzarella

1 1/2 c grated provolone

1 1/2 c grated grana padano (Grocery store problems? I used parmesan instead)

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make the custard: first, combine all ingredients into a double boiler and set over boiling water. Then, cook, beating vigorously and constantly, until custard thickens (although as I said, I didn’t let it thicken   completely).

3. Tear the baguette into bite-sized pieces in a big bowl.

4. Pour the custard over the bread. Mix and let stand for 5-10 minutes.

5. Add grated cheeses, shredded prosciutto, and thyme. Mix well (I used my hands!).

6. Pack mixture into greased, 9×9-inch baking pan.

7. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

8. Slice, and eat!

Honeyed Ginger-Vanilla Tea

Why can’t we always live in sweatpants? Sometimes, all I need are sweatpants, a good book, and a cup of tea. I hadn’t made fresh tea before today, so after consulting the wide world of the internet, I came up with this (easy) recipe for a spiced but sweet tea. Warning: if you don’t like ginger, don’t try it. But for the ginger lovers out there…I might even call it heavenly.

Goes well with George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings.

Would also go well with a poodle in my lap, but both of my poodles are back in Sugar Land. Guess I’ll have to let my sister’s blog suffice.

P.S. Just kidding about the sweatpants thing. I do love dresses and heels.

RECIPE

2 cups of water

1 inch ginger root, peeled

1 tsp honey

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1. Set the water to boil.

2. While you wait for the water to boil, dice the ginger root. Many recipes say to grate it, but I felt a little too lazy for that. Dicing it worked fine for me.

3. Turn off the heat once the water begins to boil. Combine ginger, honey, and vanilla in the water and let steep for 5-10 minutes.

4. Pour into big mug and sip with a book, or while petting a cute puppy.

Leftover Madness: Late-night, Clean-out-my-fridge Pasta

Image

Once a week, my long-distance boyfriend and I do something a little silly: we both cook half-portions of the same dish to eat at the same time. Last week, we made pasta. Italian sausages only come in packages of six, though — and in my neighborhood, you can’t get spicy italian sausages unless you buy a package of 25 — so I had a few left over. Normally I might a jar of red sauce sitting in the fridge, too, but I let my roommate finish that a few days ago.

When I finally got hungry again yesterday (that Frito Pie kept me full until 10pm), I decided to use those leftovers, sans red sauce. I also had some chopped onions, tomatoes, and green peppers leftover from the Frito dish that I’d stuck in some off-brand Tupperware. The result? A decent pasta-dish-thing.

RECIPE

2 Italian sausages

Single serving of spaghetti or other pasta

1/2 diced tomato

1/2 diced onion

1/2 diced green pepper

2 cloves garlic

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Once you’re water’s boiling, add a few dashes of salt and some olive oil to flavor your pasta and keep it from sticking together.

2. Cook the sausages according to package directions (usually in simmering water) in a covered skillet.

3. Pull the sausages out, dump out the water. Slice sausages and brown slices in pan.

4. Drain pasta. Place pasta and sausage in medium bowl.

5. Squash your garlic (I used a press this time).

6. Heat up some olive oil in the skillet a medium-high flame. Sauté the garlic in the oil.

7. Add vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until softened.

8. Pour balsamic into skillet until vegetables are not quite covered. Cook off the vinegar, stirring frequently (this will take 3-4 minutes, depending on how much vinegar you put in).

9. Put the vegetables in bowl with sausage and pasta. Toss. Salt and pepper to taste. If it seems a little dry, drizzle a little olive oil over it.

10. Eat!

Comfort Food Craving: Frito Pie with Mole Chili

Image

First of all: HEB needs to haul ass up to Brooklyn. If Century 21 can find space for excessive amounts of designer clothes and chocolates that no one wants to eat, then HEB can find space for a decent grocery store.

I should never have to go to four stores to find a bag of Fritos. Duane Reade finally came through for me, but really — four stores? Really? The cashier in the third store didn’t even know what Fritos were. Brooklyn FAIL.

Anyway, after a morning spent checking the job websites hoping for a posting, I needed some fatty comfort food to make myself feel better. My dad suggested Frito pie, and since it goes really well with beer, I decided it would suffice. I found some mole sauce at the little grocery store (yes, the grocery store that didn’t have Fritos), and picked up some vegetables to add to the canned chili. From this day forth, I am forever adding some mole to my canned chili. And someday, I may try the recipe that gave me the idea.

RECIPE

1 can of chili – I only had one choice at the little-bit-better-than-a-bodega store. But whatever you prefer.

1 green pepper

1 onion

1 tomato

2 cloves garlic

1 jar mole sauce – I found this Doña Maria brand at my store

Vegetable oil

Corona (or Dos XX would work — pick your favorite, or the cheapest)

Fritos

Grated cheddar cheese

1. Dice half the onion, half the green pepper, and half of the tomato. Squash the garlic however you prefer. I use a meat pounder this time, but I also use presses or the side of my knife or chop, depending on my mood.

2. Dump all of the above ingredients into a sauce pan, add a little bit of vegetable oil (maybe 1 tbsp? I just drizzled it in there), and a scoop of the mole (maybe 1 tsp). Turn the heat up to high. Stir to combine.

3. Once the veggies have wilted a little, pour in some Corona. I would guess I put in 1/4c — but really, whatever you feel like. Just don’t put in too much that you don’t cook off, because it might make the chili too watery. Stir occasionally while you’re working on step 4.

4. Dice the other halves of each of the vegetables, for a topping later.

5. When the vegetables have softened, pour in the can of chili and stir. Add a couple more scoops of mole (again, maybe 1 tsp each). Turn the heat down to medium-low, and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Optional: for more heat, add some spicy chili powder (find it in the seasonings aisle).

6. Pour some Fritos into a bowl. I filled mine a little less than half full. Top with chili until you can’t see the Fritos in the top of the bowl anymore — or however much you want! I like my fritos coated with it. Throw on the fresh chopped onion, green pepper, and tomato. Top with cheese.

7. Eat. Drink the rest of your beer (or, if you’ve been drinking it while you cook, open another!)

Veggies are cheap, and so are canned chili and Fritos. The mole was $3 for the jar, and I only used 3 tsp of it (I’m thinking I may try my hand at mole enchiladas with those tortillas in my freezer, leftover from the breakfast tacos). The Corona was the most expensive part, and if you were on a budget, you wouldn’t need to add it — I’m sure the chili would be quite delicious without it! You don’t even need to try substituting water. Just skip the Corona step.