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.

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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.


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 – Surfs Up!

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Ah, Valentines Day.  I’m being honest when I tell you, it has always seemed a bit contrived to me.  But I am still a girl, so I wear pink, put a heart wreath on my door, and want to do something special with my boyfriend.  This year, we decided to do a dinner out and a dinner in.  On Friday night, we went to Brasserie Beck, a fantastic Belgian restaurant in DC.  Delicious mussels and frites, amazing coq au vin, and beer pairings to match…a great place we will definitely be returning to.

 

Saturday night, it was dinner in and my turn to build a yummy menu.  I decided on surf and turf, with crab cakes for an appetizer.  I have not made crab cakes in ages, so I did a little searching for a good recipe.  The one I used was great, very flavorful, the cakes stayed together but were still very “crabby”, and the lemon aioli was a good compliment.  Below is the recipe, along with the modifications I made.  Highly recommended…make the whole recipe and enjoy some awesome crab cake sandwiches the next day. 

 

Up next…our turf main course!

 

Spicy Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli

Recipe courtesy of The Neelys (modifications in parentheses)

 

*Combine the following in a saucepan, lightly sauté, season with salt and pepper and allow to cool:

 

2 tablespoons butter

1 shallot, chopped fine (I used red onion…Safeway had no shallots!)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper

 

*In a medium bowl, combine the following and stir well:

 

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used 1/3 of a cup)

1/2 cup Dijon mustard (I used 1/3 of a cup)

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon crab boil seasoning (Old Bay!)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs (I used plain, since I had them…worked fine)

1 large egg

Hot sauce, to taste (about 1 TB for me)

1 pound lump crabmeat

 

*Add sautéed vegetables and combine.  Make cakes with approximately 2 TB of mix, flatten and coat in more bread crumbs.  Sauté in vegetable oil until brown, about 5 minutes per side.  Serve with Lemon Aioli, on a bed of fresh greens.

 

*Lemon Aioli.  Combine the following in a small bowl:

 

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chopped chives

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Salt and pepper

 

Perfectly brown, if I do say so myself.

Perfectly brown, if I do say so myself.

 

 

Super Bowl Treats – Appetizers

These did not last through the first first down.

These did not last through the first first down.

Despite not being the biggest football fan, we always do something for the Super Bowl.  I was determined to not let the lure of battered, breaded, and fried treats ruin me this time, so I invited some people over and took matters into my own hands.  I sent out an email and asked for health conscious treats only, please, and even name checked The Biggest Loser, which always seems to scare people healthy.  (I am surprised no one brought Extra Sugarfree Gum, or Jennie-O Turkey. The product placement on that show is amazing.)

 

The results overall were very good.  For our first course, before kickoff, I made a few spreads, put out some veggies and baked pita chips and made the awesome shrimp above.  Whole Food was having A SALE (Whaaa? For real) on shrimp, so I stocked up.  These were simple, and delicious.  The dips, of which there are no pictures, were also great and went really well with veggies or pita chips.

 

Simple Spicy Shrimp

  

*Coat 2 lbs of peeled, cooked (mine were cooked, frozen, and thawed) shrimp with 1 tsp each of the following:

 

Cumin

Chili Powder

Canola (or veggie) oil

Garlic

Hot Sauce

Salt and pepper (more or less to your liking)

Lemon Juice (about one small lemon)

 

*Allow to sit in the spices for a few minutes, and then grill until heated through and nicely caramelized.  Serve with cocktail sauce.

 

 

White Bean and Artichoke Dip

 

*In a food processor or blender, combine the follow:

 

2 cans cannellini beans

1 can artichoke hearts

1 lemon, juiced

¼ parmesan cheese (maybe a smidge more)

Salt and pepper

 

*After these ingredients are well mixed, stream olive oil into the running food processor until smooth, probably ¼ cup. 

 

*Remove from the food processor and stir in a large handful of finely chopped basil.  Serve with veggies, pita chips, or eat with a spoon!