Witchy Kale Hummus with Tomato Garlic “Snake” Sticks

Halloween and October is always a fun time for me, and I love to get fun with the spooky theming of the holiday. While last year Amanda and I made something sinfully sweet to celebrate the day, this year we wanted to go “Spooky savory.” Amanda went incredibly brave with a scarily unfamiliar protein to our kitchens, but I decided to go a different route. I’m not sure if I would have had the access to such a disparate delicacy, but I certainly did not have the enthusiasm or fortitude to seek it out. Instead, this dish is a much more accessible in terms of grocery availability and friendliness of flavors to all palates.

This white bean and kale hummus is as easy to make as it is crowd-pleasing. The green color, while also packing a nutritional punch throughout the year, is easy to incorporate into an Halloween party plans as a very appropriate, on theme, munchie. The breadstick snakes, while a bit more time consuming, really accent this dip with both visual and flavorful contributions. The tomato and herbs in the bread, while also making these “snakes” more colorful, pair excellently with the lemony-garlic flavors of the hummus. Whether you’re dressed as Frankenstein or Wonder Woman, this appetizer is sure to keep the horrors of “Hanger” away.

White Bean Hummus:

  • 1 can of great northern beans rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice from one lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 cups packed kale (stalks removed–about 3 stalks)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Hummus Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until the kale is incorporated to your liking, and the mixture is smooth. I did mine for at least 5 minutes, so settle in.
  2. If you like room-temperature hummus, this is ready to serve immediately. However, I prefer mine chilled and allowed it to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Could be made up to 3 days in advance and will last in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Serve with “Snake” sticks or any hummus accompaniment of your choice.

Snake Breadsticks Ingredients

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • Black sesame seeds for eye garnish
  • 1 egg+1 tsp water

Snake Bread Stick Instructions:

  1. Add the lukewarm water and the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow the yeast to sit with the water for 2-3 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Add the flour on top of the yeast/water. then the salt (be sure it does not touch the yeast), tomato paste, garlic powder, basil, and rosemary. Turn the mixer to low speed for 1-2 minutes everything is mixed together. Then, mix on medium speed for 4-6 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 45 minutes at room temperature.
  4. After those 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 300°F and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 25 equal portions and roll into long strips. Make one end taper slightly to form the tail and keep the other end wide and flatten slightly to form the face. Repeat with all portions and place on a baking sheet in your preferred pose (slithering waves, coils, etc).
  5. Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl and brush the egg wash over the prepared breadsticks. Add two black sesame seeds to the snake faces to form the eyes after the egg wash is applied.
  6. Bake at 300°F for 50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy with the Witchy Hummus or as a spooky accompaniment to any dinner.

Wine Pairing: With the Mediterranean flavors of both the hummus and the bread, a refreshing Sangiovese would be a nice choice, but if you want to go all out, check out this “I’m Ready for Fall” cocktail that would be a great addition to any Halloween party.

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Sushi Two Ways–Fish free

Well, it’s the middle of summer and it…is…HOT! As if the outside temperature weren’t enough, my giant kitchen windows face west. While having the setting sun’s rays streaming across my prep areas is aesthetically pleasing, it certainly raises the temperature of the kitchen noticeably. This, combined with the fact that the oven loves to radiate heat in any way it can makes for a sweaty dinner preparation. After a long day, any recipe that allows me to keep my cool is welcome in my house in the peak of summer for sure.

While my spring rolls are also a great choice, I do like to look towards sushi in times of serious heat. While it does involve cooking the rice, those of us lucky enough to automatic rice cookers (you’ll have to pry that appliance from my fingers–I’m never living without one) means that we can push the button and run away.

Since my palette has not quite graduated to raw fish, and living in a landlocked state hardly places confidence in any fish available, I love to make this fruit sushi as inspired from DK Sushi in Austin. About once every few months I get a craving for these flavors that can only be quenched by bringing out the sushi mat. For a more savory version, I have also made a cucumber and turkey roll that showcases the regional favorite, provel cheese.

If this post has ignited a need for sushi but you’re still craving that fish, I’d suggest checking out Amanda’s too-hot-to-cook post, the Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice, for some fish marinade suggestions that can easily be incorporated into a roll of your choice. For now though, enjoy these alternative options!

Yogurt Drizzle Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of strawberry yogurt
  • 2 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions:

  1. Stir together the yogurt, pineapple juice and sugar until you have a smooth consistency and sugar is dissolved. Chill until ready to serve.

Sushi Rice Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of uncooked, short grain white rice
  • Water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Rinse the uncooked rice in cold water until the water is clear (this is very important!). I usually like to add rice and water to the pot in which I’ll be cooking and then use my hand as a claw to agitate the starches. Then drain the starchy water and repeat until the water is clear.
  2. Add 2 cups of fresh water to the rice pot and either cook using a rice cooker or the traditional method (bring to boil over stove, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes and fluff).
  3. Add the sugar, rice wine vinegar and salt to the rice and stir until well incorporated. Traditionally these are heated together to form a syrup but we’re trying to use heat as little as possible here and I find the residual rice heat can help dissolve the granules.
  4. Allow rice to cool for 15-20 minutes. It can still be slightly warm when you are ready to assemble.

Sushi Assembly Ingredients:

  • Fresh Pineapple, thinly sliced
  • Apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Fresh Mango
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Nori Sheets
  • Black sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over your sushi mat and then spread 1/3 of your rice evenly onto the mat it in a square, about 1/4″ shorter than the nori height. Then add the nori, shiny side down.
  2. Place the slices of avocado, apple and pineapple about 2/3 of the way down the nori sheet trying to fill in as many gaps as possible. However, try not to overfill.
  3. Roll your mat over the filling ingredients and continue to roll. s you complete a rotation, press to make sure the roll is coming together. Pull the mat away from the roll as you keep going.
  4. Slice the roll into 8 equal portions.
  5. Using a vegetable peeler, peel slices of mango so you have a small 1 inch sheet of mango.
  6. With a pastry brush or your finger, brush a little bit of your yogurt drizzle onto the mango sheet and lay it over the top of one of your sushi pieces. Place a slice of strawberry on top.
  7. Once all pieces are assembled, drizzle the yogurt over top and enjoy!IMG_2880IMG_2882

Quick Cucumber and Turkey Sushi

  • Sushi Rice
  • Nori Sheets
  • Cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • Provel cheese (can also use cream cheese)
  • Sliced turkey, deli meat.

Instructions:

  1. Place the nori sheet, shiny side down on your sushi mat. Spread a thin, even layer of your sushi rice over the nori sheet and leave about 1/4″ of the nori visible at the top.
  2. Place the cucumber, turkey and cheese about 2/3 down the nori sheet avoiding gaps.
  3. Roll your sushi; when you get to the top, brush some water onto the nori to help it seal itself.
  4. Slice into 8 equal portions and enjoy.

Wine Pairing: Obviously, we’re going for refreshing here so a chilled white or rose wine sounds fitting. Something like a riesling is an excellent choice!

Basic Tomato Sauce

This is a great, basic sauce that can be enjoyed on your favorite pasta or can be part of a bigger recipe, such as the “Grown Up Spaghetti-O’s”. You can customize this recipe with your preferred tastes by adding more herbs of your liking, but this can be a great starting point wherever your saucy cooking may take you.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin) or vegetable oil
  • 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced.
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tbsp basil, chiffonade
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • Salt & Pepper

Instructions: 

  1. In a wide saute pan or saucepan over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and garlic and stir for 1-2 minutes. Do not let the garlic brown.
  2. Add the onion and bell pepper to the pan and saute until the onions are becoming translucent and the mixture is fragrant.
  3. Add your tomatoes, basil and a bit of salt and pepper (you can add more later) and lower the heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.
  4. Using an immersion blender or allowing the mixture to cool slightly and transferring to a regular blender (be careful of the heat) break up the larger chunks of vegetables to your preferred consistency.
  5. Taste your sauce and adjust the salt/pepper level to your liking and it is ready to serve on top of pasta, as a bread dipping sauce or any other purpose you’d like. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Although you can also wait until you choose a protein to choose your wine pairing, tomatoes can certainly be the dominating flavor of a dish. A Sangiovese might pair nicely with this sauce which is usually tart, and can be rustic with higher acidity. This can be a nice addition to the tomato sauce here. Enjoy!

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Summer Dishes: Zucchini Fries

Continuing the summery theme, there is no vegetable that I enjoy more with the summer months more than summer squash, particularly zucchini. Something about it is so light and delicious, even when hot it’s somehow refreshing. I adore how versatile zucchini is–whether spiralized to create noodles, shredded into hashbrown type patties, or just sliced and roasted, I’m willing to try zucchini in all forms. So, with this versatile, summery vegetable I knew it had to make it’s way onto my plate. Since this was an accompaniment to the sweet potato and black bean burger, why not baked zucchini fries? Still somewhat nutritious while also providing a satisfying crunch to the meal. Also, definitely easy to make:

You will need:

1-2 zucchini’s cut into fry-like strips

3/4 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp italian seasoning

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400

Set out three bowls and fill the first with flour, the second with the beaten eggs and the third with the panko and spices.

Dip a few zucchini strips into the flour, then the eggs, and then the panko and set  on a baking sheet. If you have a rack to elevate the fries above the pan, that would be ideal.

Repeat this process with all remaining zucchini strips and arrange on baking sheet so as much air can move between them as possible.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until panko begins to turn brown.

Summer Dishes: Veggie Burger

As the summer is getting into full swing, I am always craving to be outside this time of year. It’s the season to have a party in the backyard with friends gathered around the patio and the smell of meat on the grill. Unfortunately, Amanda and I are apartment bound at the moment and don’t quite have the backyard for epic grilling as our parents do. So, we wanted to cook a few dishes that remind us of all the tastes of summer while still being able to use our own kitchens. When I think of summer foods, burgers on the grill are one of the first things that comes to mind. How could I compete though with that chargrilled flavor that only fire (which I didn’t have) could provide? So, I wanted to make something that was still a burger, but with a twist. I’m also feeling the consequences of my structureless diet as of late, so I wanted to make something that might have a bit extra to freeze for later, and wouldn’t mess with my waistline. So, I present to you: The sweet potato and black bean burger! I had never had a veggie burger of any sort before this, and I must say, this is something I’m going to add to my regular meal rotation for sure.

 

To make this you will need:

2-3 small sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed (I prefer to steam mine)

2 cups soaked  and rinsed black bean (canned will work)

3/4 cups of oats

2 eggs

1/4 cup red onion

1/2 cup bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • Add oats to food processor and process until a powdery/floury consitency
  • Combine onion and bell pepper in food processor and pulse until blended
  • Mix sweet potato, black beans, onion/bell pepper mixture, egg and spices in a bowl and combine with your hands
  • Roll handfuls of the mixture into balls and flatten to form a patty-repeat until you have 8 patties about 3/4″ thick.
  • Place patty in a pan and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until browned.
  • Enjoy on your favorite bun (I used a pretzel bun), with some avocado or whatever makes you happy!
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Peanut Butter Soup

When Amanda first suggested this blog as something for us to do together, despite our distance, I was definitely excited. The next question after “Do we really want to do this?” (which was a resounding “Hell Yes”) was “where do we start?” Amanda and I really seem to bond over our love of flavorful and exotic spices and so we knew we wanted to start with something new. We chose African inspired dishes because it had both a combination of interesting flavor layers and it was certainly a cuisine I had never cooked before so it was something new and exciting with intriguing familiarity.

We chose to do different recipes for this week’s installment as it was a bit last minute and my newly relocated pantry was a bit lacking. While Amanda was able to make a beautiful and interesting Moroccan Chicken, I was looking for something somewhat simple to start with ingredients I had on hand and something on the healthy side (having just moved across country my pants were/still are a bit tight from road snacks). So I decided on a simple, vegetarian Peanut Butter Soup recipe which, although not traditional, is inspired by the West African dish.

I decided to use the recipe adapted from Hurry the Food up at http://hurrythefoodup.com/african-peanut-soup/ however, after 2 harried trips to the crowded grocery store I returned home only to be unloading my groceries from the car and saying to myself disappointedly “tomato paste!” I had forgotten to grab it and I then decided I was going to improvise because I certainly wasn’t going to deal with people any more that day.

So, before I began to cook the actual soup, I had to fashion some tomato paste substitute out of my only tomatoes in the house, a can of diced tomatoes. Apparently to make a workable substitution tomato paste the steps are very simple:

  • One 8 oz can of tomatoes
  • Puree in blender or food processor
  • Cook in a saucepan over medium heat for around 12-15 minutes until liquid is reduced enough that it will not add too much liquid to the dish.

I found that one 8oz can of tomato gave me around 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Now I was ready to start on the soup, which was quite easy and quite delicious. The recipe on the the website was straightforward. To up the nutrition content, I added a few handfuls of spinach leaves as I ate the leftover portions.

If you have never tated this dish before, it tastes exactly as you wish it would. One giant, steaming bowl of peanut buttery goodness that would be the perfect comfort food for a cold day or really any day.

Wine Pairing:  To combine with the nuttiness in the dish I was craving a white wine tonight, which I can say I have never craved before. Generally I tolerate white wine if it is included in an tasting cases I order. However, tonight I paired this with a chilled Chenin Blanc which provided a light tartness to cut the strong peanutty taste as well as added an extra layer of temperature change.