Lentil Hummus

Lentil Hummus

Lentils are a great protein source. They are inexpensive and can be prepared in a variety of ways. Their creamy texture makes them an excellent alternative to chickpeas when making hummus.

There are many different types of lentils, so you can use your favorite for this recipe. I almost always have brown lentils on hand, so that is what I use. Red lentils would be perfect too.

Lentil hummus is great as a dip with pita bread or chips and/or fresh veggies. It is also wonderful as a spread for veggie wraps or sandwiches. I like it on a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and black olives.

Lentil Hummus

1 cup dried lentils (your favorite kind), picked over and rinsed
at least 2 cups water
salt
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)

Cook lentils (according to package directions) in the water until they are very tender, almost mushy. The cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentil you are using. The brown lentils I used took about 35 minutes. You may need to add water to the lentils as they cook. Keep an eye of them. Towards the end of cooking, season the lentils to taste with salt. Once done, take the lentils off the heat and drain off excess cooking liquid. Let the lentils cool.

In a food processor, blend the cooked lentils, garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne until very smooth. You may need to add a little water, about 1 tablespoon at time, to help blend the mixture. I let the food processor run for several (4 – 5) minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl and check the consistency of the lentil hummus. Blend in the desired amount of salt. Taste the hummus and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.


Creamy Chile con Queso

Creamy Chile con Queso

A processed cheese product (like Velveta) is often used in making Queso because it melts more smoothly. Using evaporated milk in this recipe helps the “real” cheese melt smoother and makes for a creamier consistency. The results are pretty fantastic. You can use your favorite milder, harder cheese (like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, or a Mexican cheese blend) in this recipe, but don’t use cheeses like Mozzarella, Brie, Swiss, or Goat Cheese (or obviously, Bleu Cheese).

This Queso keeps well for several days in the fridge. It reheats very well too. You can just zap it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until warmed through.

A simple dish of Chile con Queso with tortilla chips is wonderful, but you can take it to greater heights with the addition of toppings. Queso can be serious business. One of my favorite restaurants in Austin, Texas is Magnolia Café. They have the best Queso ever. Their Mag Queso is topped with avocado and Pico de Gallo. It’s amazing! The Kerbey Queso at Kerbey Lane Cafe in Austin is great too. I have also had Queso with shredded BBQ brisket, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, and Pico that was delicious. There are no limits.

Chile con Queso

Creamy Chile con Queso

2 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 -2 jalapenos, to taste, seeds removed, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (mild Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mexican cheese blend, etc…)
1/2 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
salt, to taste
dash garlic powder
1 – 4 tablespoons milk, if necessary

tortilla chips

Possible Toppings:
fresh cilantro, chopped
fresh onion, chopped
fresh avocado, diced (or guacamole)
fresh tomatoes, diced
pickled jalapeno slices
Pico de Gallo
sour cream
black beans, warmed
refried beans
shredded brisket, chicken, pork
cooked ground beef or sausage

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the evaporated milk a little at a time, whisking well to dissolve flour lumps. Reduce heat to low and whisk in the shredded cheese, a little at a time. Continue to whisk until all of the cheese is added and the Queso is smooth. Add the drained diced tomatoes, salt, and garlic powder. If the Queso is too thick, you can add a little milk, about a tablespoon at a time, to thin to desired consistency. Serve the Queso warm, topped with desired toppings (I like fresh avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, and chopped tomatoes) alongside tortilla chips.

 

 

 


Black Bean Dip

Black Bean Dip

I haven’t had much luck with black bean dips until now. This one is excellent. I served it at a small get-together recently and it disappeared quickly. I think the recipe can be easily doubled, if need be. I adapted this recipe from one for Black Bean Hummus with Queso Fresco found in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light.

Black Bean Dip

For the dip:
1 15.5 ounce can black beans, drained (set aside about a tablespoon of the black beans for topping)
3 tablespoons water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

Toppings:
goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 tablespoon)
red onion, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 tablespoon)

Serve with:
tortilla chips  (or pita chips)
fresh crudités (carrots, celery, cucumbers, etc…)

Process all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Transfer the dip to a serving dish and top with the reserved whole black beans, crumbled goat cheese, chopped red onion, and fresh cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips and/or fresh crudités.

 


Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush

After hearing about my eggplant dilemma, my friend, Donna, directed me to this recipe for Baba Ganoush. I am a big fan of Mediterranean food, but surprisingly, had never had Baba Ganoush. I simplified the recipe a bit and it turned out well. I included it as part of a mezze-type-thing with fresh pita bread, kalamata olives, hummus, sliced grilled zucchini and fresh tomatoes with balsamic glaze, and sweet mini peppers. There was also a salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet onions, and bell peppers. I intended to add feta to the table, but totally forgot. I served Vinho Verde, a young, light, and slightly bubbly Portuguese wine with our meal.

Baba Ganoush

1 large Italian eggplant
1/4 tahini (plus more, if needed)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (plus more, if needed)
pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Using a fork, pierce the eggplants all over. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 1 hour, turning half-way through cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Cut off the ends of the eggplants and discard. Peel off the skin. Use a spoon to scrape off any flesh left on the backside of the peel. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant.

Add the 1/4 cup tahini, garlic, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.

Spread into a serving dish and drizzle with the olive oil. Serve with pita bread.


Carrot Hummus

Carrot Hummus

I let my 5 year old pull the remainder of the carrots in the garden to make room for something else. I decided to use them to make carrot hummus. My carrots were lighter orange than the ones you typically find in a grocery store. My hummus is not as vibrant of an orange color as I assume using more deeply colored carrots would produce.  No matter, the overall result is a tasty variation of hummus and would be a colorful addition to any table of food.

Carrots

I adapted this recipe from one found in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light. This issue has 7 variations of hummus and they all look interesting.

Carrot Hummus

1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
shredded carrots
sliced almonds (optional)
paprika

Place the chopped carrots in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the carrots are very tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Save the water to add to the hummus.

In a food processor, add the chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, kosher salt, cumin, and cooked carrots. Add about 3 tablespoons of the water the carrots cooked in and process, stopping to scrape down the sides from time to time, until smooth. This may take up to 5 minutes. Spread carrot hummus in the serving dish and top with shredded carrots and sliced almonds (if using). Sprinkle with paprika.


Beet Hummus with Bleu Cheese and Pecans

Beet Hummus

I’ve been experimenting with some different hummus recipes lately. So far, this one has been my favorite. The color is gorgeous and the beet flavor is subtle. The addition of the bleu cheese and pecans brings this hummus to a new level. I think goat cheese instead of bleu cheese would rock too. I adapted this recipe from one I found in the April 2015 issue of Cooking Light.

Beet Hummus with Bleu Cheese and Pecans

1 beet, peeled and chopped
1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
bleu cheese
pecans pieces

Place the chopped beet in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the beet is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Save the water the beet cooked in to add to the hummus.

In a food processor, add the chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, kosher salt, and cooked beet. Add about 3 tablespoons of the water the beets cooked in and process, stopping to scrape down the sides from time to time, until smooth. This may take up to 5 minutes. Spread beet hummus in the serving dish and top with crumbled bleu cheese and pecans.


Hot Cheesesteak Dip

Hot Cheesesteak Dip

I made this hot dip to take to a New Year’s Eve party. It’s super rich and loaded with beef and cheese. Paired with toasted baguette slices, it tastes just like a cheesesteak sandwich, although not exactly like the cheesesteaks we had in Philadelphia. Cheez Whiz, not provolone, was the “cheese” on the cheesesteaks we had in Philly.  I’m glad I took this to a party and shared it with other people. I could easily see myself eating the whole thing.

Hot Cheesesteak Dip 2

Hot Cheesesteak Dip

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, quartered, and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 cups provolone or a mix of provolone and mozzarella, shredded (I found a shredded provolone and mozzarella mix at Target)
8 ounces roast beef (from the grocery store’s deli), sliced thin (not shaved, but not too thick)
salt and pepper, to taste

Baguettes, sliced (and toasted if you like)

Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the sliced onion and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until veggies are tender and starting to caramelize. There will be browned spots on the vegetables and that’s fine. Add the minced garlic and cook one minute more. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit while you prepare the rest of the dip.

In a large bowl, mix the softened cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, provolone cheese together. Season with salt and pepper (I added about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper). Mix in the cooked onion and pepper mixture. Coarsely chop the roast beef and add to the dip. Mix well to combine. Pour the mixture into a small baking dish that has been lightly coasted with cooking spray.

Bake at 375° F. for 20 minutes, or until heated through and slightly browned around the edges. Serve with toasted sliced baguette.

You can prepare this dip up to a day in advance. Cover the dish with foil and place in the refrigerator until ready to bake.