Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bon Voyage!

It will be quiet 'round these parts for the next 10 days. I'm off to visit family in California, and do a bit of vacationing in Napa Valley and San Francisco. I'm looking forward to sampling some of the local cuisines and wine, and I'll be sure to bring back plenty of pictures.

Until then......

San Fran

Monday, July 17, 2006

Fusion Black Bean Dip

Bean dips are such a great alternative to fattier dips and spreads loaded with mayo and sour cream. Not only that, but you're adding some lovely protein and fiber in there as well.

This is a great tasting dip, and the addition of fresh ginger really takes it over the top. Serve with fresh veggies, tortilla chips, or use as a base for a great layered dip. No matter how you eat it, you'll love it!

Fusion Black Bean Dip

Fusion Black Bean Dip
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/4 c cilantro, roughly chopped
2 scallions, diced
1 (29 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c tomatoes, chopped

In a food processor, combine garlic, lime juice, ginger, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and hot pepper sauce. Process until well combined. Add remaining ingredients, except tomato, and pulse a few times until combined but still chunky. Transfer dip to a bowl and stir in tomato. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour before serving.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tropical Apricot Mousse

Summer is probably one of the most social times of year, other than that November/December holiday season. People are out and about, having cookouts and barbeques, and just getting together more often.

At most picnics, there's usually heavy pasta and potato salads, chips and other nibblies, and tons of other diet killers. The last thing you want to do is finish it off with a heavy dessert.

That's where this comes in. It's light, refreshing, and relatively low in calories and fat. It's also very tasty, and would work very well as a breakfast item too.

Tropical Apricot Mousse I

Tropical Apricot Mousse
1/2 c dried apricots
1/2 c pineapple juice
1 c soy yogurt (or plain yogurt)
2 bananas, peeled
2 ice cubes

In a small saucepan, add apricots and pineapple juice. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Place apricots and juice into blender or food processor. Add remaining ingredients and puree until smooth. Chill for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with freshly cracked pepper if desired.

Smoked Mozzarella Eggplant Rolls

You know how your tastes change as you become older? Eggplant was one of those things I hated as a child. It always felt too mushy and had a really bad flavor. Even though my mother was an exceptional cook, there wasn't anything she could do to make eggplant pleasing to my underdeveloped palate.

However, now I adore eggplant. It's got a lovely flavor, and provided you don't overcook it, it has a lovely texture. This is by far one of my favorite appetizers. The smokiness of the mozzarella combined with the fresh tomato and pesto is quite delicious. This is a great appetizer as it can be assembled ahead of time and then reheated when needed.

Sm. Mozz Eggplant Rolls III

Smoked Mozzarella Eggplant Rolls

1 large eggplant
8 slices smoked mozzarella
2 plum tomatoes, cut into 8 thick slices
3 tbsp pesto
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil for drizzling (optional)

Cut eggplant into 10 thin slices, discarding 2 outside pieces. Sprinkle with salt on both sides and set aside. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, then rinse well under cold water to remove salt. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat grill or grill pan on medium high heat. Spray liberally with oil. Grill eggplant slices for 8-10 minutes, flipping once. Remove from heat. Place a slice of mozzarella in the center of each slice. Top with a small dollop of pesto, then place tomato on top. Fold the eggplant over the filling, and place seam side down back on grill(pan). Heat until cheese begins to melt. Serve with drizzled balsamic vinegar and oil if desired, or serve with marinara sauce.

Monday, July 10, 2006

39-Spice Hummus

Since hummus is so easy and quick to make, I haven't purchased pre-made hummus in years. But I was at the grocery store, needing something quick to throw in the fridge at work, and the Tribe of Two Sheiks happened to be on sale. On a whim, I picked up the rather tasty "40-Spice" version.

Although I doubt the inclusion of 40 different spices, I liked the name. I'm sure I didn't hit all the spices with my version, but I think you'll find it pretty darn tasty.

39 Spice Hummus

39 Spice Hummus

1 (30 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 c minced onion
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp garam masala*
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oil

Process chickpeas in processor or with potato masher until well mashed. Stir in remaining ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so for flavors to meld. Serve with tortilla chips or fresh vegetables. (If you can't locate garam masala in your grocery store spice section, here's one to make your own.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chipotle Dip

I know I say this all the time, but seriously - this is one of my most favorite recipes to make. If I had to pick my top 5 "most made" recipes, this is definitely one of them.

I'm a huge lover of chipotle chilies, and of course anything with cilantro in it gets my vote too. With the full amount of chilies called for, it's a fairly spicy dip, but the coolness of the sour cream helps to temper it.

Chipolte Dip

Chipotle Dip
3-4 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 tsp adobo sauce
2 scallions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh cilantro, minced
1/4 c monterey jack cheese
1/2 c mayonaise
1 c sour cream
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp cumin
Salt/pepper to taste

Puree chipoltes in 1 tsp of adobo sauce. Place into medium sized bowl, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well and allow to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. Serve with fresh crudite or chips.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho

Nothing says "Summer's Here!" to me like a bowl of fresh gazpacho. I normally make this version a few times each summer, and it just makes me happy. I'm not sure if it's the bright pineapple flavor paired with the cilantro and cucumber, or the festive color of it, but either way, it's perfect.

Pineapple Gazpacho

Pineapple Cucumber Gazpacho
3 c fresh pineapple, cored and diced
3 c cucumber, peeled and diced
3/4 fresh pineapple juice
1 green onion, chopped
1 tsp lime juice
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 handful fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Place 2 cups of fresh pineapple and cucumber in blender, along with pineapple juice, onion, lime juice, and jalapeno. Blend until smooth. Add fresh cilantro and remaining pineapple and cucumber and pulse. Gazpacho should remain chunky. Season to taste with salt and pepper.