Friday, May 25, 2012

Creamy, Dreamy, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus!

With Memorial Day Weekend upon us and with graduation parties and cookouts being planned I thought it might be nice to make some thing you could take to the party; homemade hummus. People will be delighted & impressed!

My son in law to be makes a delicious hummus. I'm anxious for him to try mine this weekend and let me know what he thinks.  Just because I'm soon to be his mother in law (June 23rd), shouldn't affect his opinion.  What do you think?
 My daughter said "Bring it on." They are such a cute couple!

The process is really very easy and you may already have all the ingredients on hand.  The trick is to get the hummus that nice, creamy consistency we all love.  I've read two things that home cooks have found to be the key to this:

1. Cold liquid mixed with the tahini before adding other ingredients
2. Taking the skins off the chick peas before blending them into the mixture.

I didn't do either and IMHO, mine came out just as creamy as store bought. I might try the above methods next time around just see if there is a difference.

I've only made basic hummus.  This time I thought I'd try Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.   In looking through my pantry and refrigerator, I had all the ingredients on hand, so why not give it a try?

I had a 2 lb.bag of fresh chick peas(I only used 1 lb.), but as you'll see in the second recipe, canned chick peas work just as well.

After doing a search for "roasted red pepper hummus" and "how to cook chick peas in a pressure cooker" and came up with two recipes from the Food Network site.

To cook my raw, fresh chick peas in my 6 quart Fagor pressure cooker, I used Alton Brown's method.


  • 9 cups water
  • 1 pound dried chickpeas, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Special equipment: a 7-quart pressure cooker ( I used my 6 qt)
YIELD:    6 cups cooked chick peas.


Place the water, chickpeas, and salt in a 7-quart pressure cooker (the water should cover the chickpeas and come to the 1/3 full line). Cover and lock the lid. Bring to pressure over high heat, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, so that you barely hear hissing from the pot. Cook for 45 minutes. Release the pressure by running cold water over the lid for 5 minutes. Open carefully. Drain and serve

To prepare my roasted red pepper hummus I DOUBLED the below recipe to accommodate the 6 cups of cooked chick peas made in the above recipe. Because it didn't come out as creamy as I wanted, I made a few adjustments (see Note).  These directions say to use a Vitamix.  I used my Cuisinart Food Processor, and chopped the garlic and roasted red pepper before adding them into the food processor.


(Double these ingredients if you use the above 6 c. chick pea recipe)

  • 3 cups (720 g) canned garbanzo beans, drained    (I used freshly cooked & drained from the pressure cooker)
  • 6 ounces (170 g) roasted red peppers
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) tahini paste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (38 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


1. Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2. Select Variable 1.
3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
4. Blend for 30 seconds until smooth. Add water as needed to keep mixture flowing freely through blades.

One pound (1/2 bag) Fresh chick peas in
Fagor Pressure Cooker with 9 cups of water.

Ingredients to make roasted red pepper hummus.
Except for the chick peas, which were cooking when I took this photo.

All the above ingredients blended in the Cuisinart,
before adding the cooked chick peas.

Cooked chick peas.

Drained chick peas.
While reading through hummus recipes, some suggest
removing the chick pea skins for a creamier hummus.
I did not remove the skins.

Adding the still hot chick peas to the red pepper,
tahini , spices puree.

Pureed chick peas & spices.

Well blended, but thick. If you like thick, stop here.

Final product from following the exact recipe.
Blended it a little more, but it was still  a little too thick for my liking.

NOTE: Adjustment: I added 1/2 cup of the very cold liquid
that is in the jar of Roasted Red Peppers into the food processor
until it reached the creamy consistency that you see above.
You could also add very cold water.
Optional:  Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil
over the top of the hummus before serving.
It gives the hummus a little extra something!

This made approximately 6 cups of hummus.
I portioned it out into freezer containers to save for future use.
I kept the larger container of hummus to serve with
the Pretzel Crisps shown.  Wedges of fresh pita bread
makes for a great hummus dipper,
as well ads fresh vegetables.


My sister in law recently bought the Fagor that is listed second. She loves it and finds more uses for it daily.
 I know this because she calls me with her exciting new pressure cooker recipes. 
I have a couple I'll post at a later date.

(These Rubbermaid containers can also be found at Walmart for $10 less.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Italian Family Favorite Recipe: Pasta Con Aglio E Olio - Pasta with Garlic & Oil

If you've ever been to an Italian festival or Italian church fair, you've probably seen this being served: hot bowls of pasta with garlic and oil. The aroma of sauteed garlic reels you in.

Pasta with garlic and olive oil is a staple meal in every Italian household.

When I think of comfort food, this is a dish that comes to mind.  It's also a meal that I can whip up when I don't have I'm lost as to what to have for dinner.  I always have pasta, garlic and oil in the house.  It's fast, and tastes divine.  Served up with a garden salad, it makes for a speedy, satisfying dinner.

In the post title I say "recipe", but it's more like a creation because none of my family members actually has a recipe.  We just make it. A little of this and that and throw in our own touches.  For the purpose of this post, I'll try to measure what I use today to make our family recipe, but use your cooking judgement to add more or less to your taste.

Gadgets used:



1 lb. Pasta, our preference is Linguine
6 to 7 cloves of garlic, chopped (adjust depending on your taste and the size of the cloves)
1/4 cup  Good quality olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Topping (optional)
Grated Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Bring 4 - 6 quarts of water to a boil.  Add 1 Tbsp. of salt to the water.

While you are waiting for the water to boil, add the oil to your large saute pan. Set heat to medium.
Add the chopped garlic and saute, do not brown the garlic, add red pepper flakes if you'd like.
Remove from heat.

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  Do not drain. Lift colander out of the pot and slide the cooked, wet, pasta into the saute pan with the garlic and oil. Stir with silicone covered tongs. Add pasta water as needed to create a broth.
Serve with freshly grated Italian cheese & enjoy this traditional Italian family favorite at your dinner table.

Gadgets & Farfalle (bows) pasta ready to go.

Ingredients ready to go.

Sauteed garlic, olive oil, & red pepper flakes.

Sliding the pasta into the saute pan.

Adding pasta water to the steaming pan of bows, garlic,
olive oil & red pepper flakes.

Warm, aromatic, flavor filled plate of pasta with garlic and oil!
Top off with cheese if you please & enjoy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rice Cooker Oatmeal & More!

Here's an easy, cleaner way to make oatmeal.

One of my favorite things to have for breakfast is oatmeal. That wasn't always the case.

I didn't like cooking oatmeal. Oatmeal is good and good for you, but it can be messy to cook. In the past I've made oatmeal on the stove in a pan,then I changed over to making it in the microwave. Both methods worked, but boil overs could result in a cleaning disaster.

 The rice cooker forever changed the way I make oatmeal. It's fast, easy to clean, and no boil overs. Use the real deal oats. I use the traditional Quaker Oats, or steel cut, or Bob's Red Mill. The pre-packaged, flavored envelopes are tasty, but have additives & sugar.

For one serving of the Quaker Oats, I use 1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water. Then you can get creative. Options are to add dried cranberries, raisins, prunes, plums, nuts, cinnamon.

On most rice cookers, once you plug them in, and close the lid, there is a lever to push down to the "Cook" setting. In a few minutes the lever will pop up to the "Warm" setting. At that point, open the lid, use the rice paddle to slide the hot, cooked, oatmeal into a pretty bowl. Serve with real maple syrup.

 Note: Even with non-stick surfaces, some rice bowl inserts will have a bottom layer of oatmeal or rice that gets a little bit browner and comes out of the bowl easily. That crunchy bit is pretty tasty and is not to be considered as burnt.

 Some rice cookers come with a steamer insert for making healthy, steamed vegetables quickly. Other foods you can cook in your rice cooker: Quinoa & Lentils; risotto, some pastas can be made in here as well.

 The other good feature about a rice cooker, is that you aren't heating up kitchen making rice or veggies. That's a good thing for summertime cooking and any of these foods cooked in a rice cooker would make a good side dish for anything on the grill. If you have electrical outlets near your picnic table, you can set it up to cook outside.

If you don't have a rice cooker,and would like to give one a try, start with an inexpensive 6-cup Rival. Walmart has them for about $13.00. Asian markets carry different brands and sizes. Amazon has a good variety of sizes and prices


Oatmeal, Raisins, Tatung Rice cooker w/steamer insert.
One half cup oats, 1 cup water. Then some walnuts, raisins, craisins, dates,
can be added to your rice cooker

All ingredients went into the bowl.
Red "Cook" light is on, lever is down.
Orange "Warm"light is on, lever is up.
Steaming oatmeal mixture ready to plate.

Emptied bowl insert, using rice paddle.
Added a bit of Massachusetts pure maple syrup.
What a great way to start the day.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Down Home Pot Roast with Veggies. Gadget: Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker

Simple, and simply delicious comfort food that would be welcomed at any table. 

For this recipe I used my Cuisinart Electric Pressure cooker.  
I also have a new Fagor 6 quart stove top pressure cooker. 
This recipe can be used in either pressure cooker or in a Dutch oven (see note below).

Down Home Pot Roast & Veggies - One pot meal

2 1/2 lb.  Beef Bottom Round Roast 
  Pat dry - season liberally with Adobo seasoning (or salt) & cracked pepper 

1 1/2 cup water or beef broth

4 peeled carrots cut into two inch pieces

3 celery stalks cut into bite size pieces

3 Yukon Gold potatoes washed - cut each potato into four wedges

Two bay leafs 

1/2 large onion roughly chopped

Note: If you do not have an electric pressure cooker, you can make this recipe in a Dutch Oven on the stove top or oven.  Cook it for three hours, check periodically and add water/broth if needed.

Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker Method

Select Brown on menu, Brown meat on both sides.
Turn setting to Time and High Pressure. Set for 90 minutes
Add all other ingredients. Close cover. Press Start.
Release pressure as directed.