Archive for July, 2010

I can’t remember when I first tried hummus, but I’m fairly certain I was an adult at the time.  I would guess that people have been eating it forever in other parts of the world, but I can remember having a hard time finding it at the local supermarket about 10 or so years ago.  Now you can find it in about 25 flavors in every grocery store in the US.  The only thing that annoys me is that a little tiny tub of it can be $4.00 – $5.00.  Hummus is beans and a few other things.  Beans are cheap!  Cheap as dirt!  Maybe even cheaper!  As long as you have a Cuisanart (or other food processor) why not make it at home?  So I looked up a recipe and gave it a whirl, (the jokes are just pouring out today!).  The basic recipe makes 3 cups of hummus, so I left half plain and used the other half to make a sun-dried tomato version which is fantastic with celery. 

This recipe is from The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook.  It claims you can have this ready in 6 minutes.  It took me about 15 minutes with a 3-year-old helper.  Since it’s from Cooking Light there is no olive oil in the recipe.  They used liquid from the chickpeas as a substitute to save a few calories.  I made mine this way and it was really good, but didn’t have the richness of store-bought.  Use olive oil in place of the chickpea liquid if you prefer.

Tahini is sesame seed paste. I found it in the “International” aisle by the Middle Eastern food.  It smells just like peanut butter but has a slightly bitter, rich flavor, and there is no sugar.  I might be wrong about it smelling like peanut butter because I haven’t been close to an open jar of it in 5 years.

Basic Hummus

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, undrained
  • 3 small garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon tahini
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Sea salt

Drain chickpeas, reserving ¼ cup liquid, and set aside.  Drop garlic through food chute with Cuisanart running; process 10 seconds or until minced.  Add chickpeas, reserved ¼ cup liquid, tahini, lemon juice, water and about ¼ teaspoon sea salt.  Process 3 minutes or until smooth, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Serve with pita triangles or raw veggies.  Makes 3 cups.

Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

To make the sun-dried tomato version, remove about half the basic hummus from Cuisanart bowl.  To the remaining 1 1/2 cups hummus add 4 – 5 sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of the oil/vinegar from the jar.  Process until smooth.

* Excluding garlic and sea salt, it cost me about $2.50 to make 3 cups (24 ounces) of basic hummus.  The tahini is the most expensive component at $5.99 for a 16-ounce jar.  This recipe used about 2 ounces.


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So my summer tomato craving has extended to canned tomatoes.  I use jarred pasta sauce often, but every once in a while I like to make my own sauce.  This is a 40 minute meal from start to finish.  You could cut down on the prep time by simply browning the ground beef and adding it to the sauce instead of making the meatballs.  My kids love meatballs so we almost always make them.  I used fresh basil and oregano from my yard for this recipe.

You may find it strange that I use oatmeal instead of breadcrumbs in my meatballs.  I wanted to use something whole grain that served the same purpose and oatmeal is great alternative.  Just be sure to use plain quick cooking oats.  Start heating your pasta cooking water after you get the meatballs in the pan so that it boils while the sauce simmers.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

For Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef (ground round or leaner)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons quick cooking oatmeal
  • ¼ milk
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper


  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounce can peeled crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup total fresh basil and oregano leaves roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper

Mix together the meatball ingredients with a fork until well combined.  Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a 12 inch non-stick pan (I like Calphalon’s hard anodized 12 inch sauté pan).  Form 1”meatballs adding them to the pan as you form them.  Make sure to leave some room in between each one.  Brown well, about 4 minutes, flip them carefully and brown the other side.  Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate to drain.  Pour all but about 1 tablespoon fat from the pan and add onion and garlic.  Sauté until fragrant, about 90 seconds and add the chopped fresh herbs.  Sauté briefly then carefully pour in the canned tomatoes.  Season with about 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the meatballs back to the pan and very gently stir to submerge most of them in the sauce.  If you like your sauce thinner cover the pan and turn heat to low.  If you like a thicker sauce like me, leave the pan uncovered and the heat on medium low.  Simmer for about 10 minutes while your pasta cooks. Serve with whatever kind of pasta you like and parmesan cheese.  We like the non-fancy kind in the green can.  Serves 5.

New Camera = lots of pictures 🙂

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