Happy Hummus

I recently discovered hummus on a recommendation from the family doc suggesting sources of protein for my toddler. After trying a few kinds I thought I would try to make it myself and see how it turned out.

I had the garbanzo beans, but when it came time to follow the recipes I had found, I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I improvised… and wow, it turned out yummy! It was fun to make and even my 1.5 year old was able to help out.

happy hummus

This is what we now call Happy Hummus:

1 can garbanzo beans
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp seasoned pepper (McKormicks steak seasoning)
1 1/2 tsp parmesan cheese
1/4 c. cream cheese
1 tsp caesar salad dressing
1-2 T salad topping (the type with onions and bacon and additional seasonings)

Put the garbanzo beans, caesar dressing and oil in a blender, chop until a fairly creamy mixture. Add cream cheese mix until blended. Add remaining ingredients and mix until blended.

Scoop into a serving bowl, grab some chips or crackers or pita and dig in!

Makes approx. 2 C. of hummus dip.

Table for one. . .

We all have to do it from time to time. A lunch alone. Dinner by yourself.  Whether you are single, dating, married, have a ton of kids with activities hither and yon, empty nesters…every once in awhile you have a meal alone.

So what do you eat?

Most people I know will high tail it to the closest drive through or chinese take out or make that somber pilgrimage into a restaurant for a table for one, but frankly if you have to do it on a regular basis that’s hard on the budget, the arteries and the waistline. Lord knows I’ve done my share of staring blankly at a pantry of stuff when it’s only a meal for myself bemoaning the fact there’s nothing to eat and grouchily settling on oatmeal with an ice cream chaser. (Yes, it ain’t pretty! No, I’m not doing that any more.) It’s not any fun.

Better solution…cooking for one.

If you flip through a modern cook book, a lot of recipes are for 4-6 people and make a ton of food, which is fine if you have other people to help with the leftovers. But if you’re just looking for an entree and a side for one, you don’t need to toss the cookbook in a pique of dining rage. You just need to find something that will work. Look for recipes that are made in a single skillet and are easily divided. Check out the appetizers and party food sections for things that are easily made in small amounts. If you are lucky enough to have a cookbook from the 50s, look for a section specifically for dining for two…many of them have great recipes and tips.

Be sure to stock up on a few staples too such as individually frozen chicken breasts and various frozen mixed vegetables. Frozen fish fillets are good too and you can find them individually frozen many places now as well. I always try to keep a few things on hand in the fridge too…having apples, carrots, celery, broccoli, onions and garlic available makes just about any dinner simpler.

So here’s a pair of great recipes for all those times you really don’t want to deal with the drive through on the way home or just for something nice to have on those nights when everyone else is off doing their own thing and you have to eat by yourself.

Fish en Papillote – fancy talk for fish in parchment (or tinfoil!)

1 frozen lean fish fillets (perch, sole, just about any white fish)
1 C frozen mixed vegetables (broccoli, carrots & cauliflower)
1/4 tsp dill
salt & pepper
1 TBSP white wine (leftovers work fine if you don’t feel like opening a new bottle, or get a nice bottle of kitchen wine)

Do this on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Very little clean up that way! Heat oven to 450. Place the fish on a 12 inch square of foil and top with the vegetables, dill, salt, pepper and wine. Fold up foil and seal edges to hold in the steam. Bake about 35 minutes on a cookie sheet or until vegetables are done and fish flakes with a fork.

You can do this in parchment paper too, but rather than a square, you’ll need to cut the parchment in a heart shape. Brush the parchment with oil and put everything on one side of the heart, fold over the other half and roll the edge to seal.

This recipe is -very- versatile as well, just multiply and make enough packets for however many people you’re having over for dinner. It’s also crazy easy for camping and cooking over coals.

Maple Syrup Apples & Carrots – great with a nice pork chop or chicken

1 medium carrot, sliced
1 medium apple, sliced thinly (hint…slice like you would a potato,  then cut out and discard the centers)
1 TBSP butter
2 TBSP maple syrup
1/4 tsp cardamom (use nutmeg if you don’t have cardamom handy)

Heat about an inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add carrots, cover and heat to boiling then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 12 to 15 minutes or until tender, but not overcooked and smushy. Drain. While carrots cook, heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook apple wedges in butter for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in syrup and spice and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes stirring frequently until apples are evenly coated. Stir in carrots.

What’s your favorite thing to make when you are dining alone?

Kim’s No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

Last night I found myself craving the yummy goodness that is a chocolate crinkle cookie, so I decided to whip up a batch only to find that I was too low on flour to make them! Unbelievable. If you know anything about my kitchen, you would know that I’m usually overstocked on 6 things: sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, butter, coffee…and flour. I couldn’t believe that I was so low on flour!

Stumped and kicking myself over my purchasing snafu and a wee bit cranky that I hadn’t been able to satiate my chocolate craving, I returned to my computer to find a twitter message from my good friend Kim from ShoppingBookmarks.com about the No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies she had just made. I clicked on the link to her recipe and bingo! No flour necessary!

These cookies were easy to make, took very little time and only one saucepan to heat everything up. They are a little sticky, but other than that, they are incredibly rich and chewy and I would definitely recommend pairing them with a tall glass of milk!

Here’s Kim’s recipe:

Kim’s Incredible No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
2 Cups white sugar
3 TBSP Unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli’s Unsweetened Cocoa. Yum!)
1/2 Cup butter (you could use margarine if you like that sort of thing)
1/2 Cup milk
1 pinch salt
3 Cups quick cooking oats
1/2 Cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a saucepan, bring sugar, cocoa, butter milk and salt to a rapid boil for 1 minute over medium high heat for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and working quickly add oats, peanut butter and vanilla. Stir with a spatula or spoon until well combined and drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper or parchment. Let cool and consume!

Bourbon Milkshake Recipe from Mr. BBQ

I wanted to thank our good friend Bruce Bjorkman of Cooking Outdoors with Mr. Barbecue and The Libation Station for an awesome recipe that he gave us during our podcast yesterday. I am trying this one this weekend and it sounds absolutely lights out.

The Bourbon Milkshake: So the other nite, I’m sitting out on the patio with my Bar-B-Cutie and I get this hankering for a bourbon flavored milkshake. “Should be lots of recipes on the net,” she says.

Not!

So we devised our own. Gotta admit I’m hooked! What a treat! But remember…for folks 21 and older please.

Ingredients:
6 ice cubes
2.5 cups premium vanilla ice cream
2 cups milk (whole preferred of course)
1/4 cup bourbon (a sweeter tasting brand like Knob Creek or Maker’s Mark is best)

Preparation:
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend for about
20 seconds-to break up ice cubes and make a thick, smooth shake.
Pour into glass. Makes 3-6 oz. servings. Ohhh it’s so yummy!

Like I said, I am making one of these (let’s be honest here… probably more than one) this weekend and will report back. Meanwhile, we’re always happy to get reviews of recipes from our visitors in the comments.