Hummus

Hummus is a divisive subject in my family. Some of us like it creamy, some like it a little chunky (I’m with you; I think the chunky hummus lovers are crazy too). Some adore store brand hummus such as Sabra, while others scoff at its pasty texture (yeah, this is the chunky hummus lover).

Personally, I’m fine with store bought or homemade, but I recently had a hummus awakening that drove me to make some myself and to try a couple new seasonings. “What could this revelation have been?”, you wonder. Answer: I went to a restaurant on the west side a few months ago called Hummus Kitchen. And. Their. Hummus. Was. Phenomenal. Like, can’t stop talking about it phenomenal. Like, told my coworkers that they have no option but to go there phenomenal. It was warm, covered in chicken shwarma, and drizzled with olive oil. The addition of olive oil to the top of hummus is probably completely normal but my family has never made it that way, so it was a lightbulb moment for me.

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The restaurant itself was frigid because of its petite size and my table’s proximity to the street, but the food and friendly waitstaff completely made up for it. Oh, and did I mention their freshly made lemon-mint lemonade? I’m a sucker for flavored lemonades. Lavender, mint, whatever… I’m there.

This recipe is ever so slightly adapted from Bon Appetit.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained

½ cup tahini, well mixed — this will take a couple minutes but don’t despair, it will become smooth!

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a garlic press)

¾ teaspoon (or more) kosher salt

10 cranks freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 pinch dried oregano

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DIRECTIONS:

Combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, cumin, and water in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to process the mixture for about a minute more.

Put the hummus in a shallow bowl or a plate with raised edges. Drizzle a tad more olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle on the sesame seeds and oregano.

Enjoy with veggies, pita, or on a spoon!

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Boloco Buff Chick Burritos

When I was going to school in Boston, the ultimate treat was heading over to the Boloco on the corner and snaggle-snagging one of their hot and tangy buffalo chicken burritos. If it was a really special occasion I’d get the biggest size, but usually I stuck with a regular, or a mini if I was feeling particularly guilty about my purchase. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Boloco is a New England based chain restaurant that specializes in non-traditional burritos and shakes. And it’s amazing.

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The blue cheese and hot sauce look so happy together

Even now when I visit Boston I always stop by. I still relish the sound the tinfoil makes when it’s gingerly peeled back to reveal a steaming tortilla, ready to burst with hot sauce and blue cheese dressing. Just as you can hear the ocean when your ear is to a conch, you can hear the song of Boloco foil when your ear is to a ‘rito.

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My mouth waters every time I look at that sauce!

Since it’s not entirely feasible to drive to Boston every time I have a hankering for this edible bundle of joy, I made this copycat version. And if I do say so myself, it’s pretty darn close. It’s not a science, so these measurements are not exact. Add more or less of what you do or don’t like. Also, if you’re wondering why I used tofu instead of chicken,it’s because I’m just not in a meat mood this week! And this burrito is fantastic either way.

INGREDIENTS:

2 small whole wheat tortillas

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 stalk of celery, sliced

1/2 cup cooked tofu or chicken

2 tbsp Frank’s buffalo hot sauce

2 tbsp lite blue cheese dressing

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To cook tofu, simply sautee in about a tbsp of oil and seasoning for a few minutes on medium-low. I used sesame oil since tofu is so bland on its own.

DIRECTIONS:

Lay each tortilla on its own square of tinfoil. Split all ingredients between the two tortillas. With a spoon, swirl each pile of ingredients so that everything is mixed in. Tuck the flaps on the left and right sides of the tortilla inward, then roll away from you while continuing to tuck the sides in. Wrap in tinfoil. Eat!

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Served with hibiscus rooibos tea– very refreshing

 

 

Watermelon Caprese Salad

I think it’s safe to say that summer is finally winding down. Last week I thought it was, but she gave us the old fake out and now we’re still encountering 80 and above weather. Oh, well. That just means that fall will start and end later, if all goes according to plan- my plan being controlling the tri-state area weather. Obviously.

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Anyway, when I look back on all of my summers, they all have some things in common: they’ve all taken place on Long Island (for the most part), they’ve all involved at least one dip in a salty ocean and/or chlorinated pool, and they’ve all included caprese salad. Caprese salad is simply sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sometimes balsamic vinegar, depending on who’s making it. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that my grandma made this for us every time that we came over in the summer, or at least it felt like she did. She’s not Italian, but she lived in an Italian neighborhood for most of her life so she picked up some delicious traditions, this included. The house that she and my grandpa owned wasn’t on the water, but for some reason (probably their amazing amount of lighthouse themed paraphernalia), it felt oceanic. I think I sometimes pretended I was on a ship while I was there. They also had a pool, so maybe that contributed to the water vibe. Who really knows. But caprese salad encompasses all of those memories for me.

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Since I *tragically* cannot eat the traditional version, I decided to try mixing it up by replacing the tomatoes with watermelon. They’re relatively similar in texture; the biggest difference is that watermelon is tremendously sweet and bursts with liquid, whereas tomatoes straddle the vegetable-fruit border (though yes, they are really considered fruit).

This salad (you can call it an insalate if you’d like to stick with the Italian theme, or if you feel like being pretentious) is perfect for a barbecue, or an indoor appetizer on a hazy summer evening. I can’t say I’ll miss much about summer, but I will miss after dinner walks on the beach, sitting on my stoop eating ice cream sandwiches and drinking lemonade, and the refreshing smell of air conditioned air hitting my face after emerging from the swamp-like outdoors. But those sentiments aside, BRING ON DA AUTUMN.

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INGREDIENTS:

1/4 medium sized watermelon, cubed into 1 inch chunks

6-8 large basil leaves, torn

8 oz. “cherry sized” mozzarella balls, drained and cut in half (get the ones that are packed in water, not olive oil)

2 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup good balsamic vinegar

1 pinch of table salt

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DIRECTIONS:

Put the cubed watermelon in a strainer. Place the strainer in a larger bowl. Toss the watermelon with the pinch of salt. Let sit for 30 minutes.

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In a small pan over medium-high heat, warm the balsamic vinegar. Add the reserved watermelon juice from the bowl underneath the strainer for sweetness. If it’s still not sweet enough for your taste, add a tsp of honey. Allow the vinegar-juice mixture to become syrupy, then remove from heat.

Take the watermelon cubes out of the strainer and put in a serving bowl. Add the mozzarella and basil, and toss with the olive oil. DO NOT add salt as you would with tomato caprese; the salt and the watermelon do not mix well. They are not friends. They should stay far apart. Drizzle with the reduced balsamic to your liking– take note that though sweeter than regular balsamic, this reduction is quite strong, so use very sparingly. Serve ASAP.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Buffalo Chicken Blue Cheese Pizza

Right now, my best friend Lauren is lying on my sofa and “Modern Family” is playing on TV. Actually, at this precise moment a Purina commercial is playing on TV, but you get the picture. Lauren and I are in this quasi comatose state because of what we did this afternoon. Or, I should say, what we ate this afternoon. Not only did I make buffalo chicken pizza covered in nuggets of mouth watering blue cheese, but I also made my favorite chocolate chip cookies, which we ate while watching the Hillary Duff-Heather Locklear classic, “The Perfect Man”. (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of those perfect late 90’s meets early 2000’s romcoms).

It’s been a couple of hours since the credits rolled on that and our cookie eating, so we just ordered Chinese. But don’t be too worried for our health; we kept it light, only ordering wanton soup and egg rolls… That’s light for us.

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Buffalo chicken with blue cheese is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and I absolutely LOVE buff chick pizza, especially from the pizza parlor Rosa’s out in Huntington. Their sauce is tangy and spicy enough to make you cough and down a glass of water. Sadly, they’re not handing out the recipe, so I used Sweet Baby Ray’s, which is still tangy but not quite as tear inducing.

Update: Lauren is now fully asleep on my sofa. She’s probably enduring some horrible heartburn. I’m sure the wanton soup will fix that…

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Makes 1, 12-14 inch pie. Serves 2 people.

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag Trader Joe’s pizza dough

1/2 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s buffalo sauce, plus 2 tbsp.

Scant 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1/4 cup chopped red onions

1/4 cup sliced celery

1-2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes

1/4 blue cheese dressing, if desired

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DIRECTIONS:

Let the pizza dough sit on the counter for 20 minutes in the bag.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Lightly grease a baking sheet, or cover it in parchment paper. On a separate, floured work surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin. It wouldn’t stretch as far as I wanted it to, so I picked it up and rotated it through my hands in order to help the process along. Once it’s the size and shape you want it to be, relocate it to the baking sheet.

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Toss the chicken in the 2 tbsp of buffalo sauce. Set aside.

Pour the buffalo sauce on the center of the dough and spread around, leaving about an inch of the circumference bare for the crust. Sprinkle the mozzarella on the sauce covered portion. Pour the chicken on top and spread evenly. Cover with onion, celery, and blue cheese chunks.

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Bake for 10-14 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. Make sure that the cheese is melted fully before taking it out. The crust should spring back when you poke it. Drizzle blue cheese dressing on top if desired.

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Deb Perelman’s Cucumber Avocado Salad

Yesterday, I ate 9 Reese’s peanut butter cup brownies and penne a la vodka pizza. So today I had to eat a salad, whether I liked it or not (though it should be said that I ate 5 more brownies and had a slice of pizza for breakfast). I found this salad on one of my my go-to food addiction websites, smittenkitchen.com. It appealed to me mainly because it consists solely of cucumber and avocado, 2 of the most tolerable salad ingredients. It’s also a genuinely healthy salad; the dressing only has 2 tbsp of mayo in it, which isn’t a lot considering the ratio of dressing to salad.

I made this alongside curry chicken tenders from Trader Joe’s, and a baked potato. It would have been better with brown rice or quinoa, but I wanted something that I could top with sour cream. Wow, I really did not eat healthily today after all. Whoops.

Original Recipe: http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2015/04/obsessively-good-avocado-cucumber-salad/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 large cucumber, cut into large chunks

1 large avocado, diced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

2 tbsp mayo

1 tsp sriracha

Juice of 1 small lime

Parsley, for garnish

Salt, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Combine cucumber, avocado, and scallions in a medium serving bowl. Set aside.

Whisk together remaining ingredients, except for parsley. Drizzle this over the vegetables, stir gently until most of the veggies are dressed. Sprinkle with parsley.

Enjoy!

Leslie

Toasty Tuna Tartlets

It’s snowing. It’s blizzarding. I’m almost out of Oreos. Consequently, I’m hungry and bored. So I decided to make these warm and toasty tuna tartlets, which is really a boujis way of saying “tuna melts”. The biggest difference between these and traditional tuna melts is the use of puff pastry as the bread component in this recipe. I didn’t have quite enough tuna to go around, so I also made a few ham and cheese tartlets, using most of the same ingredients.

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As good as these are for munching on a cold winter day in front of your computer while Netflix reloads (or after shoveling your driveway, as the case may be) they’re also great as a casual hors d’oeuvre since they’re simple but delicious. I highly recommend pairing them with a glass of lemonade or iced tea. I know that doesn’t totally make sense since it’s snowing, but it’s a great combo.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed and cut into 12 squares

Gruyere cheese, grated

Few slices low salt ham cold cuts

Honey mustard

1 scallion, green part only thinly sliced

Fresh lemon juice, plus a few pinches of zest

1 can tuna

1-2 tbsp mayonaise

Black pepper

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp heavy cream

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place puff pastry squares on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.

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Tuna Tartlets:

Combine tuna and mayo; mash together with a fork. Squeeze in a bit of lemon juice, being careful not to drop in any seeds. (Hold the lemon with the cut part facing upwards). Grate in some zest, and stir into tuna mixture. Spoon tuna evenly onto puff pastry squares. Keep the edges of the pastry clear so that it can rise around the filling. Grind some black pepper over the tuna. Cover with cheese. Set aside.

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Ham and Cheese Tartlets:

Spread a dollop of honey mustard on the remaining puff pastry squares. Rip up a few cold cuts, and place them on top of the mustard, leaving the edges of the pastry clear as you did with the tuna. Grind black pepper over the ham, and cover with remaining gruyere.

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Scramble the egg yolk in a small bowl, and add the heavy cream. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the mixture onto the bare edges of the pastry squares.

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Put baking sheet in oven and let bake for 14-16 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. The puff pastry should be golden brown and risen when you take them out.

Put 2-3 scallions on each square.

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Enjoy!

Leslie