White Bean and Basil Hummus

Michelle’s White Bean Basil Hummus

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So I kinda’ have a problem… I mean I kinda’ had a problem.  I was addicted to TJ’s white bean and basil hummus (thank you so much, Heidi, for introducing this to my mouth!) Thank goodness that problem is behind me.  Whew!  Now that I make my own version of this delicious stuff I’m addicted to it, instead.

See?  Problem, uh, solved…? 🙂

Ingredients:
15 oz can Garbanzo (chick peas) drained and rinsed
8 oz (1/2 can) white beans (navy, northern, any will do) drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I squeezed one large lemon)
3-4 tbsp. olive oil (plus a little more on top when finished if you like)
3-4 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. cumin
I fresh garlic clove (diced or crushed)
1-2 tbsp. fresh chopped basil
salt to taste (I used less than a tsp.)

Directions: place all ingredients in food processor.  Puree, dip, enjoy!

Unsolicited tips: Most of the above ingredient quantities are approximate.  My food processor is on the fritz so I had to use the blender which, with such a thick dip, got a little tricky so I had to add more olive oil and water to get it mixed properly.

Remove the white beans and basil from the ingredient list above if you’d rather make a simpler hummus.  Great dip for fresh vegetables, crackers, pita… I even like a dollop mixed in with my salad.  Adds a bit of texture and zing.  Perfect addition to a holiday party spread.  Happy New Year!

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Broccolini

photo(3) Where I have been?

Broccolini is not exactly new or news-breaking, but for some reason it has escaped my ravenous appetite and hands all these years.  Well, Josie and I put a stop to that!

Fresh broccolini is all over my local farmer’s market and according to my Italian girlfriend, Cat, it’s one of the Italianist and tastiest veggies around.  I agree.

The vendor described the taste to me as “a cross between broccoli and asparagus.”  I agree (again.)  The easy-tasty-healthy recipe you are about to see could also be made with broccoli or asparagus but I made it with my new friend: broccolini.

Michelle’s Broccolini and Chicken Pasta

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Ingredients: two bunches of fresh rough-chopped broccolini (approximately 2 1/2-3 cups), 2-4 fresh minced garlic cloves (I, of course, used 5), 5 tbsp. olive oil, 2-4 tbsp. butter (maybe), juice of one lemon, salt and pepper to taste, whatever pasta you like, left over diced cooked chicken.  Grated Parmesan cheese.

Directions: In a saute pan, heat oil, broccolini and garlic.  Toss, cover on med heat.  Toss again after 10 or so minutes and cover on med heat.  Let this go for about 25-30 minutes (depends on the size of the broccolini pieces.)  When greens are tender you are done.  Squeeze that lemon juice over top and inhale… oh my.  In separate pot make your pasta.  When cooked, drain pasta and mix it up with the broccolini.  Add some butter if you need a little more “yum” to coat your noodles.  You’re not making a sauce here, but you’ll want to get all the goodness to all the important corners of your dish.  Add diced chicken and top with Parmesan cheese.

Unsolicited Tips: Yes.  I know that sounds like a lot of oil and butter–but it will coat the entire dish including pasta so you’ll need more than just enough to cook veggies.  This is such a quick and satisfying summer din-din and a complete meal in one bowl.  Get outa’ hee-ya!

Zingy Honey-brushed Chicken

 

honey chicken

Look who’s back!  Hi.

OK.  Moving on.  So this recipe is actually called Spicy Honey Brushed Chicken, but you can make it just zingy if you live with little people who don’t like spicy foods.

The trick to making this recipe work is to remove the skin from the chicken before baking so that all the yumminess doesn’t get wasted on the part that you (probably) don’t eat.  If you have skin-on chicken, try using a paper towel to better grab and pull that dang skin off.  It helps a lot.

Zingy-to-Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken

Ingredients: 2 tsp. garlic powder, 2-3 tsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper, 8 or so chicken thighs, 6 tbsp. raw honey, 2-4 tsp. cider vinegar

Directions: Mix up all that yummy stuff, pour it over your skinless chicken and pop it in the oven at 350 for about an hour or until done.  Wah-lah!

Tips: So, obviously if you like it spicy, go heavier-handed with the chili and red pepper.  I used a whole cut-up chicken tonight thus needing a bit more of pretty much everything so I just sorta gave a few extra shakes here and there.  My kitchen smells like heaven (ask Teri who just stopped in if you don’t believe me.)   There’s just something about the way the honey and vinegar do their voodoo that is exotic and simple at the same time.  I’m not sure why that works out, but what’s life without a little mystery?

Paired with my roasted potatoes and cole slaw tonight.   Also nice with rice.  Yum!

Additional helpful, yet unsolicited, tips: If possible, splurge for the raw honey rather than the pasteurized type.  Waaayyy healthier.  And then get outa’ here with your cider vinegar benefits!

Tortilla Soup

tortilla soup As promised, welcome to my tortilla soup.

OK.  So, like most of ya’ll, we have some family traditions this time of year.  Besides the more-people-than-places-to-sit type celebration which is the only way I know how to give thanks in November, one of my favorite traditions is making tortilla soup with the turkey leftovers.

Now my dad is Mexican and nothing would please me more than to say that I will soon be revealing my Grandmother’s family recipe from the hills of Tabasco.  Unfortunately that is not the case.  Nope.  This is because like in most homes, it was my mother’s culture that influenced our meals.  I think my mom–Michigander of German descent–found her tortilla soup recipe in a magzine years ago.  I will say this: we have altered and, dare I say, perfected the recipe.  (Yes.  I dare.)

You can go to 20 Mexican restaurants and have tortilla soup served 20 different ways.  I actually don’t order it out any more because, well, I like my Michigander-German-descent-from-a-magazine-but-now-doctored-up-just-right concoction just fine.  Before reading on, don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients.  There’s nothing too exotic in here, which is yet another reason to love it.

Michelle’s Tortilla Soup

Soup Ingredients: 1-2 lbs chopped chicken, turkey or beef, 3 tbsp. olive oil, small can diced chilis, 2 medium chopped onions, 2 diced red bell peppers, 2 cans drained black beans, 28 oz. can chopped tomato w/juice or a few diced fresh tomatoes, 6 cups chicken/turkey/or beef broth/or a combination of meat broths, 1 can tomato sauce, 1-3 tbsp. cumin, 1-2 tbsp. chili powder, 2 tbsp. worchestershire, 3 cloves garlic, salt and pepper to taste. 

Toppings: diced green onion, diced fresh cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, corn tortillas cut into squares, tortilla chips

Directions: If the meat is raw, cook it in the oil with the onion, bell peppers and garlic.  If meat is cooked, put it aside while cooking onions, peppers and garlic.  Then add all other soup ingredients (including the meat), bring to a boil and then let simmer on low for about 45 minutes.  If possible, make this a day ahead of time, refrigerate and then reheat.  Chilling the soup and then warming it back up helps all the yumola flavors really get to know one another.  That said, it can be really hard to wait to eat this soup!

Regarding the toppings, Mike loves his tortillas to get heated up with the soup so they get sort of melded into his steamy bowl.  I actually just like a few crunchy tortilla chips on top with the cilantro and onion.  You do what works for you. K?

Tips: I made this batch of soup with a bone broth I made for 36 hours in the crock pot after Thanksgiving.  It. Is. So. Good. Oh; this recipe is pretty mild so my kids and mother can eat it.  You can also add diced jalapenos to the soup and/or include some spicy salsa on your list of toppings.  Final tip = don’t worry about quantities in this here recipe too much.  If your soup is too thin, add more toppings.  Done. 

 

 

Real Time Teriyaki Turkey Sandwiches

teriyaki sandwich done

So I still have leftover turkey (can I get an “Amen, sista!”) and by “real time” I mean that I am, in fact, making these sandwiches right now.  it is 10:30 in the morning and if you think this is a strange time to be making dinner, you obviously haven’t attended my Meal Planning 101 Workshop. 🙂

Teriyaki Sandwiches (could also be made with chicken, pork or beef but I got turkey so there)

Ingredients: 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 diced stalks of celery, 1/2 diced med. onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 diced bell pepper, diced left over turkey, 2-3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 2-3 tbsp. soy sauce, 1/4 cup or so brown sugar.

Directions: Place oil and onion on stove top and cook at med/high heat till onions turn a bit translucent (about 5 mins.)  Add celery, garlic, bell pepper.  Mix and let simmer until the other veggies begin to soften (another 5 or so mins.)  Then add 2 tbsp. vinegar and soy sauce and most of the brown sugar.  Mix, cover and set heat on low so the veggies can really cook down and soak up all that yummy sauce.

When veggies are cooked, add your diced meat, stir and heat for a few minutes.  Taste and add soy sauce, vinegar or brown sugar as needed.

I was feeling very snappy whilst simmering away this morning, so if you are a visual learner, here are some photos for you:

teriyaki sandwich 1 Here are the veggies getting started.  Aren’t they gorgeous?

teriyaki sandwich 3 And here are our veggie friends after they’ve been reduced a bit and tossed together with the meat.  I wish you could smell this photo…

teriyaki sauce Finally, these are my good friends, teriyaki sauce ingredients (aka: brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.)  For a simple teriyaki sauce situation I use the the 2-3 tbsp. soy/vinegar plus a 1/4 cup loose packed brown sugar, then adjust to taste.  If I need more liquid–like if I’m making stir fry over udon noodles or something like that–I sometimes toss in a splash of orange juice or a little meat broth.

I plan to serve these guys on whole wheat buns for dinner, but it would be also be delicious on rice or a baked potato!

Savory Rice

Rice with turky broth

So my late-summer turkey craving needed a side kick, or side dish I guess.  Enter: savory rice.

I have read about the many health benefits of both brown and white rice, and I cook same as I vote: straddling the fence with compromise in mind.  We’ve had white rice a few times recently so I decided to go with brown for this recipe.  I chose wisely.  It was super tasty and just the right partner for my September turkey–savory and rich tasting, but not too heavy as it’s still warm ’round these parts.

Michelle’s Summer Savory Rice

Ingredients: 2-3 tbsp. olive oil, 1/4 chopped onion, 2 cloves pressed garlic, 1 cup diced carrots, 2 stalks of celery diced, 3 cups brown rice, 6 cups chicken broth.

Directions: Rinse brown rice and drain.  Meanwhile, place olive oil and onion in pot on stove top at medium heat.  Heat for three minutes or until the onions begin to become translucent– I love when that happens), add everything except the broth to the pot.  Stir it all up till the carrots, celery and rice start to cook a bit/get a tad brown from the heat.  Then add the broth, bring to a boil and reduce hit to simmer until all liquid is absorbed (about 30ish minutes.)

Tip: This is a ton of rice, even for my hungry crew.  All part of my master plan as two days later I put it all together and made turkey soup!  Wanna know more about that?  I’ll tell ya soon.  Promise!

Let’s Talk Turkey

cooked turkey

P.S. (that’s ‘pre’ script!) I left my turkey in the pan even though the bottom of it blackened.  Yup.  It happens and even though I love my blog I am just not the kind of girl who is going to place her turkey on a pretty platter just for a photo.  Who has time!?

Yes it is late September and I am in the mood for turkey.  I love me a nice roasted turkey.  The aroma of that heavenly non-chicken savory-ness permeated my house while it cooked away.  Mmmmmm…

We Americans have become so Thanksgiving-ingrained about turkeys that they can be down right hard to find outside of November, but I knew Whole Foods wouldn’t let me down (and at their prices, let’s face it: they’d better not!)

So I got myself an organic turkey yesterday for $3.99/lb.  For a nine pound bird that’s, ahem, close to FORTY DOLLARS.  How the heck does the full time homemaker–married to a public school teacher–swing a 40 buck-bird for dinner?  Well I am just so glad you asked.

I don’t.  That is; I don’t swing it for one dinner.  My friends, to make this purchase worth it I go Native American on my bird.  Oh yeah.  NOTHING IS WASTED.  The only way I can justify spending this kind of loot on a turkey is to stretch that meat into a bunch of meals.  Don’t you want to know what I do? (yes.)  Would you like me to walk you through all the stages? (yes.)

OK.  Here we go.

1. Prep your turkey.  Super easy plan here.  Fall has actually descended in So-Cal (thankyouthankyouthankyou) and the weather is a tad cooler, but it’s not cold enough outside for me to have a hankering for some stuffing and that sort of thing.  So I kept my plan pretty light:

turkey stuff

After removing the neck and the bag of whatever-the-heck-that-was from the cavity of Mr. Turkey, I put in a quarter of an onion, two garlic cloves and a lemon (ends chopped off with holes forked around the sides.)

2. Then, you may have noticed that my turkey doesn’t look like June Cleaver’s (and never will, thank you very much.)  Just like when I roast a chicken I always place the breast side down to insure the largest pieces of meat will stay tender and juicy.  My sister calls this “downward dog style.”

raw turkey

Then, on top I used the following ingredients: 1/2 cup white wine, 1/2 cup orange juice, drizzle olive oil.  Sprinkle top with whatever yummy stuff you’ve got in your spice drawer.  I used several dashes of thyme, garlic powder, garlic salt, black pepper and I think some oregano.

3. Also just like when I cook a chicken I set the oven at 425 degrees and cook for 25 or so minutes.  Then reduce temp to 325 and cook approximately 25 minutes per pound.  This was a 9 pounder so I left it for about 2 1/2 more hours.  I checked it at about 2 1/4 hours and it was done.  How did I know this?  My handy meat thermometer (inserted into thigh after taking out of oven to check) read just above 155 degrees.

Back to the justification piece…  After the turkey cooled I de-boned it and had two sets of leftovers.  All the meat:

turkey meat

And then the bones or carcass:

turkey carcass

This is, in fact, my favorite part as I will boil these bones in water (with the lemon, onion and garlic) for about 90 minutes to get the most delicious broth you’ve ever tasted.  If my house smelled good with the turkey in the oven, just imagine what it will smell like with these bones simmering away.  Yu-uhm.

So, last night we had turkey with rice and broccoli.  I will use the leftover meat and soon-to-be broth to make, likely 3 more meals (including soup which I am so excited about I can hardly stand it!)

If you do the math now, I spent about 40 bucks on the turkey, but if I use it for four meals for five people that’s around $2.00 per person per meal.  For organic turkey that’s pretty good, right?  And if I can squeak another meal out of the meat I could drop that cost even more.

How many recipes can a girl make with turkey?  Again, so glad you asked.  Turkey soup is coming pronto.  I’m also thinking about turkey enchiladas, toasted turkey sandwiches and maybe turkey fajitas… or maybe turkey stir fry… or wait… so hard to decide!

Do you want to see my recipes for turkey leftovers?  (yes.) Coming soon!

Turkey ingredients recap:

Ingredients: 9 pound turkey, two garlic cloves, 1/4 onion, fresh lemon, 1/2 cup OJ, 1/2 cup white wine, drizzle olive oil, generous dashes of garlic salt, garlic powder, black pepper, thyme and oregano.

Direction recap: Cook at 425 for 25 minutes and then lower temp to 325 and cook for 25 minutes per pound.  Internal meat temp should read 155 when done.

Tips: I place a piece of aluminum foil in the bottom of my roasting pan to help with cleanup.  Also, I added water this time about 1/2 way through roasting as the sizzling pan started to create a bit of smoke.

Savory Late-Summer Tomato Pie

whole tomato pie

(Quick, before my internet crashes again!  I hate Charter Communication and I don’t care who knows it!)

OK.  So the without-a-doubt exquisite photo you see above actually started from another completely amazing photo you will now see below:

Didi's tomatoes! These are Didi-delivery tomatoes.

Didi has a patient (she’s a physical therapist) who has a hobby farm and he brought her these tomatoes which she shared with me.  Do I have some awesome girlfriends or what?

So to thank Didi I baked her (OK, yes, and myself) a tomato pie.  Didi called me, pie in mouth (it’s hard to stop once you start) to say that the pie rocked–which I already knew but it’s still fun to hear.

My mother is a gluten free girl and she breaks her routine for two foods I make: pina colada pancakes and this here tomato pie.

Yes.  It’s that good.

Michelle’s Late Summer Tomato Pie

Ingredients (most measurements are approximate): pie crust (see below), 2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, 1/3 cup chopped basil, 3-4 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup cubed bread or bread crumbs

Directions: pop your pie crust in the oven at 375 for 5-10 minutes while you prep everything else.  Then mix tomatoes, basil, garlic, half of the amount of each of the cheeses.  Place in crust.  Add bread crumbs, rest of both cheese to top of pie.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Pie crust from scratch: 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 cup butter, 4-5 tbsp. cold water.  And no, I do not make my crust from scratch.  Although I generally avoid prepared food items, the non-baker in me cannot reconcile the effort that goes into a pie crust that, when completed, tastes the same as a store bought one.  Sorry.  Just comin’ clean.

slice tomato pie

And now, if you’ll excuse me…

Baked Beans for Labor Day!

baked bean casserole

Shocked as usual, I cannot believe that the unofficial end of summer–also known as Labor Day–is one week from today.  Wow.

My family loves baked beans.  LOVES them.  For a potluck party we attended a few weeks ago I decided to bring a baked bean hotdish (Yes, I’m from Minnesota and we do that.  And we make it in Corning Wear which is featured above.  So there.)

Baked beans are so cool because, although they’re a bit heavy on the “sugary side” of life, they are still a great source of fiber, complement a million different entrees (burgers, brats, BBQ chicken, pasta–no, not pasta!  Just checkin’ to see who’s awake this Monday morn. :)), and are super cheap-ola to make.  That’s a win-win-win in my book.

So, to create this giant pot of yum I Googled Baked Beans and basically pulled bits from a handful of recipes that looked pretty dang tasty.  I grabbed what I already had in the cupboard and fridge and through it all together.  It was the right approach.  The beans ROCKED!

Michelle’s Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Baked Beans

Ingredients:

Step one:  1 large onion (I used a Maui which is sweet) diced, 1 diced bell pepper, 1 diced tart apple, 3-5 crushed cloves of garlic, few handfuls of leftover diced ham (recipes called for bacon but I didn’t have that), black pepper, two tbsp. olive oil

Step two: 5 15 oz. cans of baked beans (I used Bush’s, plain), 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup mustard, 1/4 cup brown sugar, many dashes of chili powder, chipotle powder, black pepper, few glugs of Worchestershire, soy sauce, dash of balsamic vinegar, splash of beer (kinda fell in…)

Directions: take your step one ingredients and saute in a pan until the onions and pepper soften (approximately 10 mins) like this:

pre-beans

Then toss it all together with the step two ingredients in a giant pot.  Mix it up and pop’er in the oven at 350 for 60 or so minutes.  I broiled the top so it would get that nice darker crust situation goin’ on.

(Side note for my measuring friends: this is a great example of a time when it’s really best to just wing it.  I mean with a list of ingredients like the one above, how can you go wrong?)

The party guests made quick work of this dish, and I was glad I had made so much.  The leftovers for dinner the next night were even better!

And, if I get invited to a Labor Day celebration, I do plan to make these beans.  Just puttin’ it out there…

P.s.  Quick shout-out to my South Pasadena Mom’s Club peeps who attended “Thinking Outside the Lunchbox” last night!  It was so much fun!!!

Rub-a-dub… RIBS!

ribs with slaw

OK, so I don’t know about your husband, but there’s something about Father’s Day that brings out Mike’s inner cave man.  And when I say “inner cave man” I am referring to the innate, undeniable desire for a big ‘ol piece of meat on his plate for dinner.

We eat meat.  I like it too.  I’m just sayin’ that it seems like guys like it a whole lot more than we do.

Funny enough, although I’m not a big meat eater, when I do eat meat, I really prefer it on the bone.  Cooking meat on the bone always yields more flavor; any foodie can tell you that.  But I like the bone there too.  Can’t really explain it but there you go.

Over the past few months I’ve been checking out some fun Southern Foodie blogs and playing around with different rub situations.  There are many ways to make tasty meat rubs that include everything from coffee grounds and dry mustard, to celery salt and paprika.  ‘Round here we have agreed that the one I’m posting today is a real winner in the taste department, and I love it because all the ingredients are likely in everyone’s cupboard already (or, if not, they’re not so exotic that they’ll go untouched after you whip up these babies.)

As a Midwestern transplant to the west coast, I will admit to having a very limited rib background.  My journey thus far have taught me a few things: First off, the key to yum-ola ribs is definitely slow cooking them on a low heat.  Smoking them over hickory and coals would likely be ideal, but I hardly have the time–or, let’s face it, the inclination–for that kind of rib action.  My oven does the trick just fine.  Secondly, rubs ROCK.  I really love the voodoo they do to ribs and other meats too.  You can use today’s recipe on  chicken, a pork roast, etc…

So as we are not even close to getting into a summer groove yet, allow me to get right to the point and back to a bunch of tasks that, for whatever reason, have yet to be completed in my home.

Michelle’s Caveman Ribs (These are super easy to prepare, but they do need 3 1/2 hours to cook.)

Ingredients: (which, by the way, I do not actually measure.  Big shocker, I know.)  your basic rack of pork ribs–3 or so pounds, 1/2 cup loosely packed cup of brown sugar, 1 tbsp. chili powder, 1 tbsp. oregano, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1-2 tsp. cayenne, few healthy shakes of salt and black pepper.

Directions: grab yerself a cookie sheet.  Place a piece of aluminum foil on it.  Pat rack of ribs quick-dry with a paper towel.  Spread/pat rub on both sides of the ribs and place them on the foil.  Sprinkle any last rub on top with the “u” shape up so that all that yummy stuff can rest there and turn into a de-lish glaze when all is said and done.  Should look something like this:

pre cooked ribs

Wrap the foil around the ribs and cook all cozied up like that at 250 for 2 hours.  Then open foil up and cook like that for another hour and a half.  When they’re done they will look something like this:

cooked ribs

And they will taste like heaven.  At least I hope they have these in heaven…

I recently served my ribs up with some cole slaw, as pictured above (see my recipe under salads) which was pretty much the tastiest dang combination we’ve had in a while.  Cave man happy = good Father’s Day.

Play around with your rub.  It’s cool and very “in” right now!  Try things like onion salt, cumin, celery salt, paprika, chipotle powder… Hope you enjoy!