Hummus

I laughed at my parents when they bought a small freezer for their garage.  In fact, I thought they were silly for needing extra freezer space.  I told them to just clean out their freezer and it’ll open up lots of space for them.  Well, I ate my words recently.  I seem to eat my words often :)

Our freezer in the house was filled to its capacity, from top to bottom.  I even cleaned out the freezer and tossed out foods that we were no longer going to eat.  But it was still full.  We were shoving things into every little nook and cranny that we could find.  So much so that one of our shelves toppled over because it was weighed down so heavily with meats/seafood.  It was also getting to a point where we would have to take out all the items from one of the shelves just to find one item we needed.  It was just ridiculous.  I finally broke down.  I, too, bought a small freezer for the garage.  We moved all of our meats and seafoods to the extra freezer.  It was liberating!  We can actually see what’s in our freezer in the house, and pull things out without everything tumbling onto our toes!

I was embarrassed to tell my parents about the purchase, but sucked it up and told them.  This time they laughed at me :)

Hummus

2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), no sodium added
1/2 cups tahini sauce
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, mashed
2 1/2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup water, plus extra if needed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Paprika (optional)
Toasted pine nuts (optional)
Parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Drain the chickpeas and rinse under cold water. Drain excess water.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, water, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Add salt, starting at a half a teaspoon. Process. Adjust seasoning again with a half teaspoon of salt. Repeat until the seasoning is to your liking.  [If you like it creamier, add a little more water. If you like it more citrusy, add a little more lemon juice.]

Spoon hummus into a serving dish. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top of the hummus, and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley.

Makes 3 cups.

Shish Taouk – Lebanese Chicken Skewers

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Spring is here!  Maybe not officially, but it seems to have finally come.  My favorite time of the year has to be Spring, while Fall is a close second.  I love when the trees and flowers start to blossom around town, and throughout the countryside.  It’s absolutely beautiful, but it wreaks havoc on my seasonal allergies.  But hey, that’s what medications are for :)  Here, I go, getting off topic again.  Anyhow, the Spring time offers the perfect weather for outdoor activities, such as cycling, running, hiking, and gardening!  The only problem with spring is that summer is right around the corner, which means hot, dry desert weather.  It can get up to 115 degrees during the hottest part of the day during the summer months.  Blech.  The thought of it is nauseating.  But the great part of spring and summer is the longer days, and the endless time spent grilling anything and everything!

My grill has been on a hiatus since late fall.  I wish I could be an avid griller all year around, but I’m just not hearty enough to grill during the dead of winter.  And plus, it’s too dark to grill outdoors during the winter months.  I suppose I could buy some lighting accessories, but I guess I’m not THAT motivated.  Besides, that’s what the broiler setting is for!  Anyhow, the weather is supposed to be in the upper 60s during the day for the next few weeks.  So it was the perfect time to redo my drip irrigation system around the front and backyard, plant some vegetable seeds and starter vegetable plants, and cleaned the grill!  Yes.  It was a busy day for me.  But I was really excited because I got to fire up the grill to make chicken kabobs as left overs for pita sandwiches, wraps, and as a topping for my lebanese fattoush salad.  Winning.

Shish Taouk – Lebanese Chicken Skewers

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon paprika
3/4 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic, yogurt, tomato paste, olive oil and lemon juice. Add in the dried spices, salt and pepper, and whisk together. Coat the chicken with the marinade and cover bowl. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours up to 8 hours. Any longer and you’ll have mushy chicken because the acidity of the lemon juice and Greek yogurt will “cook” or break down the texture of the chicken.

Thread chicken on skewers and grill or cook under a broiler. Grill the chicken over moderately high to high, or broil for about 5-7 minutes per side, flipping once, until you see visible char marks and the chicken is cooked through.

Makes 2 servings.

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