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Hummus

Photo By Tamorlan (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

As an appetizer and dip, hummus is traditionally scooped with flatbread (such as pita) but you can also use chips or crackers. I particularly like to use baked pita chips. Hummus can also be used as a sandwich spread. Hummus is popular throughout the Middle East, and has become a favorite appetizer all over the world. It's so easy to make, you may never want to buy store-bought hummus again! This is a recipe for classic Lebanese hummus, which is delicious as-is or can be spiced up with a topping of roasted pine-nuts, parsley, etc.

Ingredient Note: Tahini is a sesame paste used frequently in middle eastern cooking. Tahini has a consistency of a slightly thinner natural peanut butter. When first opened, the oil will have separated to the top so you'll need to stir it very well to re-mix the oil and sesame. You can find tahini in middle eastern groceries, many natural foods stores, and at Trader Joe's.

Preparation

Add the garbanzo beans (drained, with some of the liquid reserved) to a food processor with the tahini, lemmon juice, and garlic cloves. With processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil a little at a time. Check the consistency. Add some of the reserved liquid to thin out the hummus if it's too pasty and thick. Add the salt while the processor is running. Add more olive oil as necessary. (Note: you can also drizzle olive oil over the top once the finished hummus is ready to serve, to give it a nice presentation.) Check flavors and adjust as necessary. Garnish with optional parsley and a light sprinkling of cumin or paprika.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 - 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3-5 cloves fresh garlic
  • Italian parsley (chopped) for garnish (optional)
  • light sprinkling of cumin or paprika for garnish (optional)

Chili Squares

Photo by flickr user jackie_newgent

These tasty squares are great for a potluck or party. Just be sure to have napkins handy, as your guests will have greasy fingers.

Preparation

Saute onion and garlic in oil until onion is soft and translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Remove from heat.

Beat eggs, then add remaining ingredients (including onions and garlic) in a large bowl. Pour into 8x8 baking dish. Optionally sprinkle top with cayenne pepper for a little extra kick.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 bunches green onion, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 8 eggs
  • (2) 4 oz. cans diced green chilies, drained
  • (2) 2 1/4 oz. cans sliced olives, drained
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 dash tobasco (or other hot sauce)
  • 3 cups shredded Monterrey jack cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian parsley
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)

Artichoke Fritta

Photo by flickr user shutterbean

This tasty appetizer is always a favorite. Be sure to have a stack of cocktail napkins handy, as these tasty squares will leave your fingers a bit greasy (tasty, but greasy).

Preparation

Drain 1 jar of artichokes, put marinade in fry pan. Sautee onion and garlic in the marinade until limp.
Drain other jar of artichokes, and chop all artichokes.
Beat eggs in a large bowl, then add all remaining ingredients, reserving a few breadcrumbs.
Pour mixture into a 7x11 greased baking dish. Sprinkle remaining breadcrumbs on top. (Optionally, sprinkle a light dusting of paprika on top for added color.)
Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.
Cool completely then cut into squares.

Ingredients

  • 2 6-oz jars marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 lb (2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp Tabasco
  • 2 Tbsp minced Italian parsley

Blue Cheese Dip

Photo by flickr user peachyogurt

I've only ever had this with baked chicken strips, but I imagine it would be good with other things as well.

Preparation

Put blue cheese in a mixing bowl and mash it with a fork. Stir in remaining ingredients, adding salt and lemon juice to taste.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. crumpled blue cheese
  • 1 cup nonfat sour cream
  • 3 Tbsp. onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice (fresh)
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Spicy Baked Chicken Strips

Photo by By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands

These are a healthy and delicious alternative to buffalo wings. Perfect for watching the big game. Serve with Blue Cheese Dip for a tasty combo.

Preparation

Cut chicken breasts into strips. Put strips in a medium or large bowl and stir in buttermilk to coat, plus 2-3 Tablespoons of the Tabasco. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix paprika, cayenne, pepper, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, and crumbs.

Place flour, egg whites, and crumb mixture in separate wide-bottom bowls or plates. Dip chicken strips into flour, then egg whites, then crumbs. Coat well.

Tip: Use tongs to dip the chicken strips, otherwise you'll end up with batter all over your fingers!

Lightly coat baking sheet with non-stick spray. Arrange chicken strips in a single layer, then spray tops of strips with nonstick spray (to help brown the strips). Bake 15-20 minutes, turning once.

Transfer to a platter and drizzle with remaining Tabasco. Serve with Blue Cheese Dip.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 Tbsp. Tabasco
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • Non-stick cooking spray

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