Garam Masala Hummus

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Hummus is a great side dip for parties and gatherings; however, store bought hummus can be expensive for the amount you receive. Eating out at Indian restaurants can be expensive as well. Solution? Homemade Hummus–it’s inexpensive and extremely versatile. From garlic to roasted bell pepper, hummus can be appreciated by all taste buds. The garam masala hummus today brings a big bite of the Mediterranean home.

Garam Masala is a popular Indian spice consisting mostly of black and white peppercorn; cloves; black and white cumin seeds; cinnamon and black, brown and green cardamom pods. Some masala may be toasted before use to extract flavor and aroma. Garam refers to the intensity of spices, which one can sense from just a whiff. Surprisingly, there is no single garam masala. Recipes and ingredients differ according to region as well as a chef’s individual preferences. From turmeric to fennel seeds, variations can arise to accompany the dish’s flavor; consequently, most pre-made spice mixes in grocery stores contain the basic ingredients.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used homemade tahini, but you can use store bought. Most kinds of tahini are found in the healthy, ethnic or refrigerated sections of your supermarket.
  2. I used bottled lemon juice. If you use fresh, be sure to squeeze the lemon over a mesh colander to keep the seeds and strings from falling into your hummus.
  3. You may want to use more olive oil depending on the consistency of the hummus.
  4. Feel free to add more than a pinch of paprika to balance out the garam masala. I
    love paprika.
  5. Use about ¾ tsp of garam masala and add more to your tasting. It can be a potent spice if you are unfamiliar with the flavors.

garammasalahummus2Again, hummus makes the perfect party platter or side at lunch.  Pair hummus with chips and crackers or add to a wrap for an extra umph.  There are several variations of hummus to keep your stomach happy. Experiment to find your favorite recipes after trying the garam
masala hummus.

Leave a comment with your favorite hummus dip recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from the Cooking Bug.

Tahini

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I never thought about the ingredients of tahini. It was not until I tried my hand at making hummus that I took a greater look into the ingredients. Surprise, surprise to find the main ingredients listed: sesame seeds, salt and oil–a lot simpler than I had realized. In a few short minutes, I created an ingredient to add flavor to my favorite Middle Eastern dishes.

Tahini is ground sesame seed paste, similar to peanut butter. It is a creamy, oily and smooth nut butter rich in calcium. Tahini is an important ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine and recipes such as hummus, baba ghanoush, halva and vegan or goddess dressing. Plain, unprocessed sesame paste with no added ingredients, like the one mentioned here, is known as “raw” tahini. Like many nut butters, tahini is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and protein. It supports higher levels of fiber than ordinary peanut butter and lower levels of sugar that compliment many nutritional diets.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Use unsalted sunflower seeds. Unsalted seeds allow for you to add salt based on your taste buds.
  2. Roasting the seeds brings forth the nutty flavors that can be hidden.
  3. You can toast them in the oven or stovetop. They take no more than 10 minutes; keep your eyes peeled because they can burn easily.
  4. I used olive oil; blending with olive oil creates an adhesion of creaminess between
    the seeds.
  5. Making your own tahini keeps those pesky preservatives from surfacing into your diet.
  6. Because of tahini’s high oil content, I recommend refrigeration to prevent spoilage.

tahiniTahini possesses the ability to transform many ordinary dishes into extraordinary meals. It works for dressings; it works for dips; it works for flavor. The nutritional information of homemade tahini is leaps and bounds above store bought fakers. Who knew simple ingredients and a simple process could make such a flavorful additive to my Middle Eastern cuisines? I do, and now, you do too!

Leave a comment with your nutty, tahini recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Pesto and Halibut

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As we all know, fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.  But, fish can be, well, fishy with its bland flavor and slimy coating.  However, cooked properly and seasoned gracefully fish can be quite tasty and satisfying to your taste buds.  Halibut fits into these categories.

The pesto that I created was so delicious that it couldn’t be too nutritious.  Yet, when using fresh ingredients with no added preservatives and in moderation, anything can be healthy.  The pesto adds a nice flavor that tames the fishiness of the Halibut.  It can be used as a topping to any fish of your choice, tossed in with sautéed vegetables, added with spaghetti squash or with another dish of your imagination.

What you’ll need:

2 cups basil;   3 garlic cloves;   ½ cup walnut pieces;   ½ cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese;   1 tsp lemon juice;   salt & pepper;   ¾ cup olive oil

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. I chopped my basil so that it would be easier to blend, but you can keep yours whole.
  2. You can use walnuts or pine nuts in a 1-to-1 ratio for your pesto.  I think walnuts give it a softer taste than pine nuts which are a bit more robust ground up.
  3. Add everything to the food processor except the olive oil.  Adding the olive oil separate allows for it to incorporate the ingredients evenly.pestoshrimpcaulipizza2
    4.  Add the olive oil slowly while the ingredients are blending.  Again, this process allows for an even incorporation of ingredients.
    5.  Blend for 30 seconds after adding the olive oil making sure to scrape the sides to create a more pastier pesto.
    6.  You can use Manchego or another type of cheese in replacement to the Parmesan.

If you are a pesto lover like myself, you’ll have no problem taking nibbles to make sure your seasoning is perfect before topping your food.  Remember, since pesto has so much olive oil that you will need to mix it before using it each time or the ingredients will separate.  Also, keep in mind that a little goes a long way so use the pesto sparingly.  Now, all that you have to do is top your fish or main dish with a tablespoon of pesto and enjoy.

Leave a comment with your pesto pairings.  Follow my Pinterest for more delicious recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Sirloin Burger w/Cilantro Cumin Sauce

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You might be negotiating with the fact that most doctors recommend staying away from red meats.  While that may be the case, you need to constantly be changing your dietary foods.  Don’t go crazy now that you know the secret, but keep it in mind that a little red meat won’t hurt.  And what can be made best with red meat?  A grilled and juicy burger!

Now, this sirloin burger comes with a punch in the sauce department.  If you’re like me, a little spice can go a long, long way; however, I’ve been learning with Jillian Michael’s Master Your Metabolism recipes that spice is the new black.  It seems that she wants to kick your butt into gear and spice up not only workouts but recipes as well.  This sirloin burger w/cumin jalapeño sauce does her justice.

For these 430 calorie burgers serving four you’ll need, 3 jalapeños, cilantro, garlic, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tbsp water, salt, pepper, olive oil for brushing, 4 slices pepper jack cheese, and 1½ lbs sirloin.  Along with those ingredients you’ll need lettuce, tomato, and 1 slice of bread for serving compliments.  Knead the sirloin, ½ cilantro, and ½ tsp cumin for your burgers.  After cooking add your sliced cheese.  All the rest of the ingredients are blended for the sauce.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used a piece of pepper jack on top of the burger.  Incorporating it into the burger will help as a binding factor, but since we’re using sirloin the meat compacts and holds
    well already.
  2. Make sure to wash your hands after handling the jalapenos.  **AT NO TIME SHOULD YOU WIPE YOUR FACE OR EYES**
  3. I used a food processor in place of a blender because it’s what I had on hand and I believe they work a little better.
  4. Blend the sauce a few times before taking it out making sure to scrape the sides each time.  This process will prevent large chunks from developing.
  5. I cooked my burgers in the oven instead of the grill only because Arizona can be too hot in the summer standing next to a grill.sirloinburgerw:cuminjalapenosauce

Beware that the sauce is spicy, but it adds a punch of flavor to the burger.  Don’t be hesitant to spread some all over the top.  Even for me, a wimp in the spiciness department went all out.  It evens the flavors and give the burger an
extra UMPH!

Leave a comment on how you handle your spice.  Be sure to follow my Pinterest.  Check back next Wednesday for more tips from The Cooking Bug.

Rosemary Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Apples

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I love Brussels sprouts.  They can be eaten a various ways making them a great mix in salads and other dishes like rosemary roasted Brussels sprouts and apples.  The added nutrients of hemp seeds create a protein bonus–great for vegetarians and vegans.  While hemp seeds and Brussels sprouts have a bad reputation, the mix created here can help change those horrible statuses.  They provide a satisfying delight that will leave you full of green love.

Brussels sprouts are a great vegetable to add to your diet.  Like all green vegetables, you can eat as many as you’d like.  The Brussels sprout is a cruciferous vegetable related to the cabbage.  Removing the outer leaves reveals a compact, leafy vegetable that provides beneficial nutrients in each sweet and nutty layer.  Sauté Brussels sprouts to caramelize and enhance the sweet side or steam for a more direct approach.  Veggies may not top your list of protein foods, but a 3.5-oz. serving of Brussels sprouts provides 3.4 g of protein or 7 percent of the Institute of Medicine’s minimum daily recommendation for women.  Protein is important for rebuilding damaged skin tissue and producing enzymes that transform food to energy.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. The recipe makes about 8-10 servings; ergo, I suggest halving the recipe.
  2. Fugi apples should be used because they are tart and sweet.
  3. I used twice the amount of olive oil.  Make sure to coat the apples and Brussels sprouts; the olive oil helps them brown and cook.
  4. Hemp seeds are a great crunch to the dish.
  5. It took about 35-40 minutes to brown the Brussels sprouts.  I suggest browning them 25 minutes before adding the hemp seeds to prevent burning.
  6. Be sure to flip the sprouts and apples halfway through.
  7. I like to cook my Brussels sprouts a little longer to rid them of their natural
    cabbage flavor.
  8. If you are conscious of the amount of oil you use, like myself, I suggest spraying the Brussels sprouts with pam in place of olive oil.

rosemaryroastedbrussles&applesHemp seeds come from a plant that is similar to the marijuana plant, but has lower levels of psychoactive cannabinoid compounds.  Hemp seed extract has an unidentified compound in it that may help to promote learning, memory and immune function.  It may stimulate the brain enzyme known as calcineurin, according to the University of Michigan.  Calcineurin plays an essential role in some brain synapse activities.  Hemp seeds are rich in essential fatty acids.  The oil in the seeds is a source of the omega-3 fatty acid.  Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body.  They also may lower risk for cancer, heart disease and arthritis.  Hemp seeds can help you if you are constipated because they act as a
bulk-forming laxative.

I love the crunch that the hemp seeds provide; I love the sweet tartness of the Fugi apples; I love the depth of flavor all the herbs create.  All in all this recipe will convert anyone into becoming a Brussels sprout lover.  This dish works well as an introductory dish to young children and adults alike to expand their palates with nutritious vegetables.

Leave a comment with your favorite side dishes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Jambalaya

We’re throwing a little healthy Louisiana your way this week with a Jambalaya from Jillian Michaels.  Jambalaya originated in the Caribbean Islands.  The Spanish culture mixed with the native foods created what is known as Jambalaya closely related to the saffron colored paella cousin found in Spanish cuisine.  Jambalaya is traditionally made in three parts, with meats and vegetables, and is completed by adding stock and rice.  The most common is Creole jambalaya (also called “red jambalaya”).  First, meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers, and onions; the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as Andouille or smoked sausage.  Next, vegetables and tomatoes are added to cook, followed by seafood.  Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end.  The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 20 to 60 minutes (with infrequent stirring) to develop flavor.  Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after cooking all the ingredients.

jambalaya

The recipe today is inspired by Jillian Michael’s recipe in her book, Making the Cut.  It calls for 1½ cup peppers (mixed colors), 7 oz turkey kielbasa, 1 chicken breast, onions, pepper, red chili flakes, ½ tsp ground thyme, 32 oz chicken stock, 17 oz canned diced tomatoes with juice, shrimp, 1½ cup long grain rice, hot sauce, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 cup water.

In a Dutch oven add olive oil, chicken, peppers, onion, and turkey kielbasa to cook for about 5 minutes.  Next, add your rice, stirring constantly for about 1 minute before adding seasonings and liquids.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Cover and let it sit for 15 minutes, stirring infrequently.  Spoon into a dish with a dash of hot sauce and enjoy!

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Dice the peppers and onion finely so that they cook through with the time limit.
  2. Use a variety of colored peppers to add brightness to the dish.  Each pepper has a different taste, so mix it up.
  3. Dice the chicken breasts to allow even cooking.  Slice the turkey kielbasa into coin sized bites.
  4. You can use long grain rice, brown rice, or minute rice just make sure to use the amount listed or reduce the liquid amount.
  5. I left the shrimp out and cooked them separately so that the dish could be stored longer in the refrigerator or freezer.
  6. Adding the hot sauce individually allows for each person to individualize the meal and spice profiles.
  7. Let the ingredients sit for the full 15 minutes.  The process allows for the rice to absorb the liquid, flavors to develop, and the liquid to reduce down.
  8. You can add celery to the dish for an added crunch without adding tons of calories.

The dish is flavorful, healthy, and a great way to enjoy jambalaya on a cold, winter day.  Who knew that Louisiana cooking could be made healthier?!  Try out the recipe and make your personalized touches.  Bring some southern cooking into your home in this healthy dish.

Leave a comment with your flavor ideas.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes to try.  Check back again next Wednesday for more recipes from The Cooking Bug.

Honey Roasted Chickpeas

Midnight munchies begin to call your name and your hand slowly reaches for a chocolate-coated bar when something catches your eye.  A small, roasted, honey and cinnamon
wafted chickpea.

honeyroastedchickpeas

These tasty little bites are a great snack to have when those munchies begin screaming your name.  The roast gives them a hard outer shell and crunchy texture.  The honey and cinnamon please your sweet tooth.  All of these combined for a healthier snack when the time comes.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. You can eat them two ways: coat them after baking them and begin eating or cook them again for a more caramelized, outer shell.
  2. Make two or three of these batches for a snack at a party or just for yourself.  They are addicting!!!!
  3. They store well in the fridge and keep their hard shell if they are baked twice.
  4. I nixed the sea salt because garbanzo beans are already salty as it is.

These tasty treats are a great find.  Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein but are still a sugared carbohydrate.  Make sure to give yourself a serving size, then place the rest away or else you’ll eat them all at once.  Curve those midnight cravings with a healthier treat.

Leave a comment below and follow my Pinterest for more healthy, delicious bites.  Check back again next Wednesday for another yummy recipe from The Cooking Bug