Hummus

The first time ever encountered hummus was in a Greek restaurant.  I don’t really remember which one or where it was.  I just remember thinking it might be time to think outside the box and try something besides a dolmades, stuffed chicken breast, or saganaki.  I was not disappointed and have loved it ever since.  Of course, I had to try to make it at home.

Hummus is easy enough to make at home if you own a blender or a food processor.  There is no need for packet mixes or buying it premade from the store.  Making it at home also allows you to control the fat content, flavors, and consistency of the finished product.

Garbanzo beans, aka chick peas, are fairly inexpensive and readily available at grocery stores.

Some people cook their own garbanzo beans, and I have tried without much success.  I can never seem to get my beans cooked well enough to avoid a lumpy and crunchy hummus so I stick to canned.  Bush’s does a great job of cooking garbanzo beans to perfection, so I’ll let them do the hard part.

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Margherita Pizza

Margherita pizza is one of my favorite summertime foods. It tastes the best with garden fresh tomatoes and basil. Generally, I am overrun with basil and looking for ways to use it. This year I bought a mint plant and a chocolate mint plant. They were both impulse buys since I have absolutely no clue what to do with them besides use them for photo props and making mint tea. Maybe I will learn how to make a mint julep this summer. Any suggestions for using it up in cooking I’d love to hear. Sorry, I kind of drove off course didn’t I? Back to the margherita pizza.

I have seen this made several different ways. Some use a red pizza sauce, some use white sauce, others garlic. I like mine best with a garlic infused olive oil base with juicy red or yellow tomatoes providing the tomato flavor. I make my own garlic infused oil by slicing 2 or 3 garlic cloves thinly and putting it in 3 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven proof small dish, like a ramekin. I place this dish in the oven as it is preheating for the pizza. I take it out when I can smell the garlic.

In the winter when the tomatoes aren’t so juicy and delicious, I add a spoonful or so of pizza sauce to the base. (Or I skip it altogether and go with a regular pizza.)

Any pizza crust will do too. I prefer my thin pizza crust recipe for this recipe, but have been known to use the prepackaged ones when I am being lazy or just don’t have time. Continue reading “Margherita Pizza”

Minestrone

I cook soups frequently. They are easy to make, easy to tweak, and hard to mess up.

Cooking Hint: I did NOT say soup is impossible to mess up.  I have proven it is, in fact, possible.  I have scorched chicken on the bottom of a pot before I even got started doing anything besides boiling a whole chicken. Words of wisdom, don’t be like me and try to salvage it. Throw it away! Or better yet, prevent a disaster before it happens and do not start anything on scorching high heat and walk away. See that tiniest bit of black stuff on the bottom of the meat? Do not even try to pick it off and rinse it off. That not-so-flavorful taste will permeate the entire dish.

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Grandma Hunt’s Tomato, Cucumber, & Onion Salad

This is one of those rare recipes my mother made well. But she made it all the time. The recipe for Tomato, Cucumber, and Onion Salad stayed taped to the inside of her spice cabinet. I don’t remember a time not seeing it anytime I went for a salt shaker.

It was always present at her parties by the pool. There would also be the required steaks on the grill, mushrooms, cucumbers and onions, boxed scalloped potatoes, and those little sponge cakes you can buy in the produce section of most stores alongside sweetened strawberries and vanilla ice cream (my mother’s version of strawberry shortcake).

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