Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | January 30, 2012

Something different for Super Bowl Sunday: Guaca-hummus or Hummus-acado?

You may have read a previous post of mine for Hummus in a Hurry.  It couldn’t be any easier to make your own hummus.

Recently I saw a posting for Green Garbanzo Guacamole.  I wasn’t able to find frozen green garbanzo beans so I decided to play around with the recipe. One thing led to another and here’s what I created:

Guaca-hummus or Hummus-acado : Call it what you wish, but either way you’ll like it!

2 cloves of garlic (chopped) (more, if you are a garlic fan)

1 can of garbanzo beans (chick peas), ranging in size from 15 to 19 ounces (drain the liquid BUT be sure to save it for use in the recipe)

Fresh squeezed lime juice (I used one large lime plus some extra lime that I happened to have around – – about 1/3 more lime. Again, if you like the flavor of limes, add more to your liking.)

2 Tablespoons of  tahini

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

1/2 of a red onion, chopped (You can use a yellow onion, but the red onion is generally sweeter. If you prefer, wait and sprinkle this in at the end to maintain the crunchy texture.)

a dash of salt (optional – I omitted it since the canned chick peas contained salt)

1 Tablespoons olive oil

1 avocado, cut in half, scooped out

1 jalapeno pepper (optional) – I added one large jalapeno pepper after removing the seeds

Add all of the above ingredients  to a food processor (or blender) and blend well to a smooth consistency. If the mixture is too dry, gradually add some of the drained liquid from the can of chick peas until the consistency is to your liking. I added approximately 1/4 cup. For creamier hummus, add more liquid.

Adjust flavor, adding more garlic, lime or any other spices you prefer.  If you’d like, you can add a chopped tomato to the mixture.

Scoop it up with fresh pita or pita chips, fresh veggies or crackers. Add it to a salad, or spread it on a sandwich. So many great ways to enjoy this versatile game day or any day recipe!

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | January 2, 2012

Hearty Udon (or soba noodle) Soup With Tofu And Spinach

So, tell me, are you still feeling full from all the eating the past few weeks? I am, but I don’t regret any of it. Everything was delicious!

In between all the eating, and once the holiday meals have passed, we eat a lot of soups.  They are true comfort food this time of year, and generally the recipes I turn to are wholesome, filling and nutritious.

This recipe for Udon soup with tofu and spinach is a terrific last-minute meal. It’s nearly a one pot meal, and so quick and easy to make.

Hearty Udon (or soba noodle) Soup With Tofu and Spinach

6 ounces of cooked udon or soba noodles (I prefer the Soba noodles, since they are heartier and have more taste and added protein. The noodles can be undercooked, since they will cook further once they are added to the soup.)

6 cups of chicken broth (I prefer low sodium. I can always add salt, if needed. Another option is to use 4 cups low sodium soup, and 2 cups full sodium soup.)

14 ounces of tofu, drained, cubed

Spinach (I prefer baby spinach) – at least 4 handfuls, though I usually add an entire bag from Trader Joe’s

5 scallions, thinly sliced and chopped

1 tsp hot sesame oil (Since I don’t have hot sesame oil, I add hot chili oil and sesame oil separately, to taste.  Additional oil can be added to each portion.)

Cook and drain the noodles, and rinse with cold water. Set aside. You may want to cut the noodles in half or in smaller pieces.

Place the chicken broth in a large pot and boil. Add tofu and udon/soba noodles, and boil again.  Stir in spinach and cook just until soft. Add scallions,and sesame and chili oils. Adjust seasonings to your preference.

Be creative, you can easily add other veggies (snow peas, snap peas, edamame, cilantro…..)

This recipe makes approximately 4 servings.

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | December 28, 2011

Roasted String Beans (Haricots Verts) and Mushrooms

We spend Christmas Eve with friends, an annual tradition. The past few years I’ve been making this vegetable recipe, which is always a huge hit. Trust me, this recipe will appeal to even your fussiest eaters.  You know the ones; they avoid anything green whatsoever.  It couldn’t be any simpler to make. And, it’s flexible. So, when your oven is filled with casseroles  requiring varying temperatures, this can continue to cook, no matter the heat.  It’s especially delicious when carmelized, so if at all possible, increase the temperature during the final minutes of cooking, until the ends of the string beans are a deep golden brown.
Roasted String Beans (Haricots Verts) and Mushrooms
* String beans (I prefer using Haricots Verts, French green beans which are longer and thinner than regular string beans. However, any string beans are fine. Just a note, I buy a 2 pound bag at Costco or Trader Joe’s, which feeds about 10 people. Fresh are best, though frozen, while less crisp,  can work in a pinch. )

*Mushrooms (I use 16 ounces per 2 pound bag of string beans)

* olive oil

*salt and pepper to taste

Note: You can reduce or add to the quantity based upon your needs.
Wash the string beans and mushrooms and place in a large casserole dish, large enough to allow you to toss the beans periodically while baking.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil until coated. Add salt and pepper.  Toss until well coated.
Bake at 400 degrees until roasted (and carmelized). The time will vary, depending upon what else is in your oven and how carmelized you like your string beans. Allow 30 minutes to an hour.
You can easily add other ingredients, such as chopped potatoes, garlic or whatever you prefer.
Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..
Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | December 20, 2011

One Potato, Two Potatoes, Latkes and more!

Chanukah begins at sundown this evening and along with it comes the smell of potato latkes frying on the stove.

Feeling adventurous? Give this recipe a try. The latkes will be consumed faster than you can transfer them to a plate!

Potato Pancakes (Latkes)
1 pound potatoes shredded; squeeze out excess liquid (I do not peel them, though it is optional.  Trust me on this one, you won’t know the skins have been left on the potatoes.)
1/2 small onion, chopped

Add the following to the potatoes and onions and mix well:
1 egg
1 rounded t. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 c. matzo meal or cracker meal
1 t. salt
Pepper to taste

This recipe can be made by hand for small batches. A food processor is particularly helpful when preparing larger batches. You can utilize the shredding disk for the potatoes and the onions. Then change to the steel blade when incorporating the remaining ingredients. Consider using the steel blade for the entire batch until the mixture is sufficiently smooth, OR add only half the potatoes and onions and stir them in at the end. By withholding half the shredded potatoes and onions, the latkes will have more texture (similar to hash browns).

In a deep heavy skillet, heat half an inch of oil (canola). Add the potato mixture by tablespoons, flattening with the back of a spoon. Fry until golden brown, flipping when the edges begin to darken in color. Transfer the latkes to a paper towel to drain.

Latkes can be made ahead of time and frozen. As an alternative, try making them with sweet potatoes and scallions, in place of the potatoes and onions.

Serve with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Believe me, they will be begging for more! And remember, latkes are not just intended for Chanukah; they are the perfect accompaniment to any holiday meal. For years I brought them to our annual Christmas Eve celebration.

Happy Chanukah to all!

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | November 7, 2011

Stuffin’ Muffins with Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing

The holiday prepping continues and the freezer is gradually filling up with some of our all time favorites. Nearing the top of that list is a recipe for Stuffin’ Muffins, using a Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing. I’m hungry just typing that.

This recipe for Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing has been a winner the past few years. It can be baked in a casserole, or, as is our preference, baked in individual muffin cups, hence the name “Stuffin’ Muffins”. The recipe freezes beautifully.

Caramelized Onion and Cornbread Stuffing

2 T. butter (I prefer a light drizzle of olive oil instead)

2 onions, chopped

6 large cornbread muffins (like the oversized ones you purchase in your grocery store bakery), crumbled (I use a box of Trader Joe’s cornbread mix – prepared)

A handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped (This is one of those popular Thanksgiving herbs that can be hard to find. Even 4 weeks ahead of the holiday, I had trouble finding it. I was able to locate it in a 1 ounce package at Trader Joe’s, but I had to call ahead for a few days until I found it in stock. I use the entire 1 ounce package when I double the recipe. See notes below.)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper (I omit the salt since it’s in the muffins and chicken stock)

1 beaten egg

¼ cup heavy cream (skim milk works fine)

¼ cup chicken broth (reduced sodium chicken broth in a can)

Drizzle a light coating of olive oil in a large pan, over medium heat, and add the onions, cooking until soft and lightly caramelized. While the onions are cooking, blend the egg, milk and chicken broth. Add the blended liquids to the remaining ingredients above in a large bowl and mix well. Incorporate the caramelized onions and stir to combine.

For the casserole: spray a 13 inch casserole dish with Pam cooking spray.

For the Stuffin’ Muffins: Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. Fill each muffin cup to the top.

Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes. If you are freezing the Stuffin’ Muffins, consider baking the recipe until the tops are not quite golden, since you will reheat them in the oven on Thanksgiving.

Notes: I double this recipe, yielding approximately 30 plus muffins. If you do a search online, you will find a variety of stuffing recipes made as Stuffin’ Muffins.

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | November 4, 2011

Apricot Cranberry Relish

The holidays are creeping up on us.  Whenever possible, I prefer to start my cooking early and stock my freezer with some of my favorites.

This recipe couldn’t be easier to make, whether you make it and freeze it ahead of time, or even at the last-minute.  So quick and easy, and always a hit!

Apricot Cranberry Relish

1 lb bag of cranberries (I’ve noticed that many brands now sell them in 12 ounce bags.  This recipe is very forgiving, so 12 ounces will work fine.)

1  1/2 cups of dried apricots, cut in small pieces

1 c. seedless golden raisins

1 Tablespoon grated orange rind

1/4 tsp of ginger

2  1/2 cups of water

Combine all ingredients and boil on low heat. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat and simmer until cranberries pop and the water is absorbed.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar and mix well. Note regarding sugar: I add the sugar slowly.  We prefer it slightly tart.

I also make this recipe in half batches, if I’m making it for a smaller crowd. It freezes beautifully. Often if I make a full batch, I will freeze it in many smaller containers. If I have a larger group I can always thaw more containers.

Serve cold.  It is a delicious accompaniment to turkey or meat.  Add it to a leftover turkey sandwich. Delish!

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | November 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Soup

I’m a huge fan of Ellie Krieger. If you aren’t familiar with her, she’s a registered dietitian, with a cooking show, who creates healthful recipes. Last week, my husband and I went to hear her speak about one of her new cookbooks. She’s not only a terrific cook, but a dynamic speaker, not to mention truly gorgeous!

I’ve been making her recipe for Nutty Sweet Potato Soup for about 4 years now. It’s a winter favorite, so hearty, flavorful and satisfying.

Nutty Sweet Potato Soup

1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots, diced (about a cup)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I like to add a bit more)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
1 tsp peeled and grated ginger (I always keep this on hand in my freezer and use it as needed)
(I added turmeric to the recipe – – about 1/2 tsp)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (2 cups) (I’ve added more – – up to 4 cups worked well, too)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or veggie broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes, with their juices
2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter (I use no salt added, chunky)
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup chopped scallion greens (about 3 scallions) – – for garnishing – – I omit

Unlike most of the recipes I post on my blog, this one takes a little more time to prepare, but it’s really worth it. I advise that you cut and chop everything prior to heating the oil.

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper and carrots and cook, stirring until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes
Add the cayenne, black pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the sweet potato, broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in a regular blender in 2 batches and return the soup to the pot. Add the peanut butter and honey and stir, over low heat, until the peanut butter melts. Serve warm, garnished with scallions.

When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquids to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the
vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high-speed until smooth.

This recipe serves 6.  It also freezes beautifully.

Give it a try. It tastes even better the next day once all the flavors have had time to meld!

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | October 18, 2011

Asian Cabbage Salad

I recently found myself left with a lot of shredded cabbage (bagged) and needed to find a way to use up the remainder of the bag.  You know me by now, “quick and easy” is my mantra. I suppose it’s really “quick and easy AND delicious”.

So, I opened the cabinet and grabbed a few items that sounded like a  good match for cabbage.  Here’s what I came up with.

Asian Cabbage Salad

Mix 1 tablespoon of sesame oil with 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar. Add a pinch of sugar and pepper (to taste).

Mix well and toss with a bag of chopped cabbage, cole slaw or broccoli slaw.

If necessary, double the dressing.

I added a few miscellaneous veggies from my fridge(carrots, scallions, snap peas…..nearly any veggie will work).

To add a bit of a crunch, sprinkle the cabbage with sunflower seeds or almonds.

It gets better with time, so it can easily be made a day ahead.

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | October 17, 2011

Homemade Hummus In A Hurry

I’m not sure why I stopped making my own hummus, but it had been quite a long time since I made it from scratch. Hummus is so much more flavorful when made fresh and seasoned to your personal taste. I’ll be making this again soon, swapping other beans for the chick peas.


2 cloves of garlic (chopped)

1 can of garbanzo beans (chick peas), ranging in size from 15 to 19 ounces (drain the liquid BUT be sure to save it for use in the recipe)

4 Tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 to 3 Tablespoons of  tahini

a dash of salt (optional – I omitted it since the canned chick peas contained salt)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Add garlic and chickpeas to a food processor (or blender) and blend well. Add lemon juice, tahini (start with 2 Tablespoons, and add more as needed) and olive oil and continue to blend. Gradually add some of the drained liquid from the can of chick peas until the consistency is to your liking. I added approximately 1/2 cup. For creamier hummus, add more liquid. Adjust flavor, adding more garlic, lemon or any other spices you prefer. You can be creative and add cilantro, or cumin, or any fresh herb or spice that appeals to you. You’ve probably seen a huge selection of hummus at your grocery store. The possibilities are endless!

Scoop it up with fresh pita or pita chips, fresh veggies or crackers. Add it to a salad, or spread it on a sandwich. So many great ways to enjoy hummus!

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

Posted by: 4whateveritsworth | October 15, 2011

Black Bean Soup

As soon as there’s a slight chill in the air, I start craving soups.

Today’s recipe is not only easy to prepare, but extremely nutritious. Like many soups, it freezes beautifully. Cut, chop and cook once, but by doubling the batch, and freezing it, you can later defrost and enjoy it on those evenings when your time is tight or you just don’t feel like cooking.

***Note my tips at the bottom of the recipe, before you shop for the ingredients and begin preparing.

Black Bean Soup

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable (I use two 14 1/2 ounce cans)
3 15 1/2 oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
Juice from 1 lime (we enjoy it with extra lime juice added to the soup and added as a condiment, and suggest purchasing extras)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt (optional)
condiments: sour cream (non or low-fat), salsa, cilantro, additional lime juice

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Stir in the cumin and cook 1 minute. Add the celery, carrot, stock and beans. Heat to boil. Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and tomato paste. To thicken soup, puree the beans in a blender/food processor and return to pot (I like to keep some of the beans whole and only puree part of the soup).  Be extra careful when transferring the hot soup to the blender and don’t fill the blender more than halfway. You can add it in small batches. If you don’t have a blender, you can use a potato masher or an immersion blender. Add salt (optional). Serve with sour cream, salsa, cilantro and lime juice.

*** Tips
All good chefs learn ways to cut back on ingredients and costs. Once you gain experience in the kitchen, you’ll easily learn to modify recipes.

First of all, follow the sales. When your time is limited it’s hard to spend time reading the ads. It’s challenging enough to get to the grocery store, much less plan and cook a meal. When you are at the store, keep your eyes out for sale signs on some of your preferred products.

Try different olive oils. They can vary in taste and price. I use extra virgin olive oil. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, they sell a nice, moderately priced olive oil.

While I prefer keeping a head of fresh garlic in the kitchen, it may save you time if you purchase a small jar of minced garlic and store it in your refrigerator. It’s a close second to fresh, though nothing beats fresh garlic.

Consider purchasing products (black beans) that are store brands. The least expensive brand of black beans will work fine for this recipe, and for most other recipes utilizing black beans.

Since I use black beans and low sodium chicken broth quite often, I keep my pantry well stocked with extra cans of each.

Often when you use tomato paste, you open a can and only need a tablespoon or two. Take the remaining tomato paste and spoon it out by tablespoons and freeze it on a tray or on waxed paper. Once frozen, remove the individual tablespoons of tomato paste and transfer them to a plastic container to be stored in your freezer for later use. Next time you need a tablespoon of tomato paste, you’ll be all set. You needn’t even defrost it, if you are adding it to a recipe on the stove.

Spices can be a huge drain on your budget. In recent years, I’ve read numerous articles suggesting the purchase of spices at the dollar store, odd lot, closeout stores, or similar places. It’s a huge savings and I’ve been equally satisfied with the taste. Otherwise, look for the generic brands and spices that are on sale, to replenish your supply. There’s no reason to pay $3 or more for spices when you can find them for $1.

The condiments for this recipe are optional, but are a great addition, and from my perspective they really enhance the flavors. Choose the ones that you are more apt to enjoy.

Until my next post, 4 whatever it’s worth…..

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