Classic Hummus

There is a great restaurant in Northern Virginia called Rustico.  Known for an extensive beer collection and yummy pizzas, I go for the carrot hummus. It’s delicious and topped with an amazing feta/herb/ground lamb mixture.  I made a copy cat version of this dish (minus the lamb) for a dinner party appetizer, and it was a pretty respectable homage to the original. 

So, why is this post ittled “Classic Hummus” as opposed to “Totes Amazing Carrot Hummus?”  Because I am a bad blogger, that’s why, and didn’t take any (non instagram) pictures.  But in the process of making the carrot hummus, I purchased a giant container of tahini (it was the only size available), which lead me to make classic hummus last weekend. 

Classic, yes, but boring, no.  Homemade hummus has a great freshness that store bought doesn’t, and it’s quite inexpensive to make.  All the ingredients are things I usually have in my fridge and pantry, minus the tahini, and the food processor makes for quick work.  It is also nice to be able to control the amount of salt and oil in the hummus.  I encourage you to whip some up for your next gathering…you’ll be surprised how simple it is!

Classic Hummus

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 TB tahini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of one lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus 1 TB spicy olive oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh herbs (optional)

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and a dash of salt and pepper. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil and hot oil (if using), blending until smooth.  You might add a little extra olive oil to reach your desired consistency.  Check for seasonings, add salt and pepper if needed.   To serve, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh herbs, if desired.

Pimiento Cheese Pinwheels

Savory pinwheels were (and still are) an entertaining staple in my house growing up, and now I know why.  These pinwheels are a cocktail party dream.  You can make them ahead of time, they bake straight from the freezer and are easily adaptable to different tastes.  I always loved eating the ones my mom would make, and I know these will be in my entertaining repetoire for years!

This is more a method than a recipe.  I made the pinwheels using homemade pimento cheese as the filling, keeping with my Southern theme, but you could easily use a different filling.  My mom’s standard is mustard, grated cheese, and salami.  Delicious.

Pimiento Cheese Pinwheels

  • Pimiento cheese, or filling of your choice. 
    • I made pimiento cheese following this recipe.  Slight modification…I added about 1/3 a cup of cream cheese and just under the cup of mayo the recipe calls for.  I mixed it all together in my stand mixer. 
  • Pre-made puff pastry

To assemble (can be done in advance):

Thaw puff pastry until it can be rolled out.  Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  Roll the puff pastry out to approximately a15x15 inch square, or until the puff pastry is thin, but does not easily tear. Spread a thin layer of pimiento cheese over the whole pastry, leaving a ½ inch border on all sides.  

If pimiento cheese is not your thing, try topping with: 

  • A thin layer of deli mustard, grated cheese and salami
  • Pesto, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes
  • Honey mustard, turkey and swiss

Starting from the right side of the dough, roll the pastry up to form a log.  Wrap the log in wax paper (to prevent sticking) and then tin foil (to seal) and put it in the freezer.   This can be frozen for several weeks.  If you want to bake the pinwheels right away, I would still recommend freezing the log for 15-20 minutes, to firm it up.  Makes slicing a lot easier! 

To bake:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Remove pinwheel log from the freezer and unwrap.  Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into thin rounds, less than a ¼ inch.  Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, or cover with parchment paper.  Lay the pinwheel down, about an inch apart.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until puffed up and lightly browned.  Cool and serve. 

Crab Salad in Wonton Cups

For the engagement party menu that is the basis of my blog rebirth, I was trying to go for a bit of a Southern, coastal feel.  The bride-to-be is from Florida, the wedding will be held on the water…and I wanted to justify the signature drink involving sweet tea vodka.  I also wanted to make sure not EVERYTHING being served was heavy.  I thought of doing crab cakes, but decided on these instead.

The crab cups aren’t really Southern, but they are definitely coastal, and definitely tasty.  I love these light, lovely bites.  The wonton cups are also a great trick to have up your sleeve, and could easily be filled with a variety of things.  I made a couple small modification to the original recipe, which I note below.

You can make both the wonton cups and salad a day in advance.  Keep the cups in a baggie on the counter, the salad covered in the fridge, and then put them together right before serving.

Crab Salad in Wonton Cups

Adapted (slightly) from Ellie Kreiger

  • Cooking spray
  • 18 wonton wrappers, thawed (if frozen)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the salad:

  • 1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over (I used lump and backfin for a doubled recipe, and it was fine and delicious)
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup finely diced mango
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (I actually used parsley, because of a known cilantro aversion)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2 mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.

Place each wrapper into a section of a mini-muffin tin. Gently press each wrapper into the tin and arrange so that it forms a cup shape. The wrapper will overlap itself and stick up out of the cup. Spray liberally with cooking spray, sprinkle with salt and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove from the tin and allow wrappers to cool.

Meanwhile whisk together the zest, lime juice, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Add the oil and whisk until well combined.

In a medium bowl, toss together the crabmeat, celery, mango, scallion and cilantro/parsley. Add dressing and toss to combine. Fill each cup with the crab salad and serve.

Cucumber Dill Dip

Everyone needs a good dip recipe in their entertaining arsenal.  Putting out vegetables makes you feel healthy, and putting out dip ensures people eat those vegetables.  Win win.  Plus, it’s easy, and delicious.

Cucumber Dill Dip

  • 1 large (17-18oz) container 0% or 2% Fage Greek Yogurt
  • 1 package Boursin garlic and herb cheese
  • ½ cup light sour cream, if desired
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ English cucumber, finely diced
  • ¼ cup chopped dill
  • Salt and Pepper

Combine Fage Yogurt, Boursin and lemon juice using a hand or stand mixer until smooth.  Mix in sour cream until desired consistency is reached; you may not need it all.  Add cucumber and dill.  Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with veggies, pita chips and crackers.


Spicy Shredded Pork Biscuits

These little sliders were definitely the biggest hit of the party spread I alluded to yesterday. Surprisingly, they were also one of the easist things to make, thanks to my trusty CrockPot. 

The CrockPot lives on the top of the fridge at our house, pushed towards the wall and completely invisible to people under six feet tall (so, me).  I rarely remember it is there, and when I do, I usually determine getting the stepstool needed for retrieval to be too much of an effort.  Well, I should really get over myself on this one, because the effort it takes to get the stepstool is NOTHING, since once the CrockPot is on the counter, cooking becomes effortless.  This whole dish took about 10 minutes of actual work, if that.

The recipe for the pork came from The Pioneer Woman, but I altered the method.  I promise, the whole thing will sound completely bizarre, but you will thank me when you are eating.

For the actual sliders, I used biscuits, piled on some pork, and topped with bread and butter pickles.  It was heavenly, but I can imagine this pork would be wonderful in so many ways.  Sandwiches with cole slaw, tacos, pulled pork nachos.  Whatever you can dream. 

Please note, the recipe below calls for making the pork the DAY BEFORE you will serve it.

Spicy Shredded Pork

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 1 whole Pork Shoulder (“pork Butt”) – 5 To 7 Pounds
  • 1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
  • 1 20oz bottle Dr. Pepper
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Cut the onion into large chunks, and place in the bottom of the CrockPot.  Salt and pepper the pork butt, and place, fat side up, on top of the onions. Pour the can of chipotles on top of the pork.  Pour Dr Pepper around the pork.  Place lid on slow cooker and set at low for 8-10 hours.  You do not need to do ANYTHING during these hours except occasionally comment about how good your kitchen smells.

When the pork is done, remove from the CrockPot.  It should be falling apart by now.  Place on a cutting board and shred with two forks, removing any large pieces of fat.  Place in a covered container and refrigerate while you prepare the sauce.

There are two ways to make the sauce out of the drippings left in the CrockPot.  You can either skim off the fat, or chill it.  I chose to chill, and this is how it works.

  • Place all the pan drippings, chunks of onion and chipotle, whatever, into a large bowl or plastic container.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  All the fat will rise to the top of the container and harden.  Discard all the hardened fat (I realize this is gross), and pour the remaining liquid into a pot to heat up.  Once warm, strain out the chunks, saving the liquid in the pot.  Add the pork and heat together until warmed through. 

You can add a bit of your favorite barbecue sauce if the pork is not saucy enough for you. I thought it was great without!

I’m a wife now.

And wives cook.  And wives listen to their husbands…right?  Sometimes?   Mine suggested I start blogging again, since I never stopped cooking.  So, here I am.

To kick it off, over the next few days, I will share the recipes for each little bit of deliciousness on the table up there.  A good jumping off point.  Stay tuned!

You want to know how to make these, I promise.

Well, I will not teach you how to make cheese. But I will tell you to go to Trader Joe's.

Surf and Turf Valentines – Turf Time!

How could you resist?

How could you resist?

 

 

So, we’re onto turf.  We all know men love red meat, but confession: I probably love it more than most of them.  My mom calls me her “meat eater” and said while the other 3 year olds wanted pasta and rice, I wanted steak.  What can I say??  I was made for the Atkins Diet (except that I particularly love meat on sandwiches, but my dietary struggles are not the point of this post!!).

 

Instead of a pricey filet, I bought the decidedly low key flank steak, which is my boyfriends favorite anyway (he’s so delightfully low maintenance, culinarily).  Flank steak requires a few hours of marinating, which I did.  We grilled it on the grill pan, and paired it with roasted veggies, a simple Ina Garten Back to Basics recipe I love.

 

 Low maintenance, low cost and absolutely delicious.  We had a bottle of Coppola red, heart shaped cupcakes to end the meal and watched a movie.  It was perfect. J

 

Easy Flank Steak Marinade

 

*Place the flank steak in a plastic bag, add the following, and marinate in the fridge for 2 to 12 hours, then grill or roast to your desired temperature:

 

1 cup red wine

½ cup olive oil

4-5 garlic cloves, rough chopped

½ small red onion, rough chopped

1-2 TB brown sugar (dissolve in wine first!)

Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Salt and pepper

 

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Oven Roasted Vegetables

Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten, Back to Basics

 

*Preheat oven to 425. Chop the following, and toss with ½ cup olive oil, 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper:

 

2 small fennel bulbs, cut into wedges

1 pound fingerling or small potatoes

 

*Roast for 25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, tossing once.  Chop the following, and toss in with the potatoes and fennel:

 

1 pound haricot verts (French green beans), trimmed

1 bunch asparagus

 

*Roast for another 10-15 minutes.  Sprinkle vegetables with ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and roast for another 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot!  

 

*NOTE:  If you think you don’t like fennel, try this anyway.  Even if you don’t want to eat the pieces (which I think are great), definitely still use it during roasting.  It adds an amazing depth of flavor to the other vegetables!

 

 

Good enough to eat...which is exactly what we did.

Good enough to eat...which is exactly what we did.