Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to Roast Red Peppers

Only in the past year have I discovered these red little beauties. Growing up, I thought I didn't like vegetables (besides maybe broccoli). It still isn't my favorite food group, but I am slowly finding more & more vegetables that I can eat.

I used to think that red bell peppers were spicy (it's a pepper, after all!), but at the encouragement of my mom I finally tried one. It was nothing like how I imagined it! It's one of the very few vegetables I will eat raw- I like it dipped in things, in salad, etc., but my FAVORITE way to eat it is roasted. It makes it so sweet, smoky, and delicious!

I add these to fajitas, pasta salads, burritos, eggs, and my new favorite- roasted red pepper hummus. I don't know how these compare to the kind you can buy in a jar (because I've never bought those), but I like that with these ones, you can make whatever amount you need, there are no preservatives, and they're super fresh. They keep for at least a few days in the fridge, or you could freeze them. Enough talking, now on to the directions. :)

1. Rinse & dry pepper(s), cut off most of the stem.

2. Line a metal baking sheet with foil, lay the pepper on its side on the pan.

3. Move the oven rack to its highest slot and turn broiler to high (or on). Put baking sheet in oven.

4. Watch closely. Remove from oven when top side is blackened (mine took 7 minutes), flip to the next side, and put back under broiler.

5. Repeat process until all sides are blackened. (The remaining sides only took a few minutes each.)

6. Put pepper in a paper bag & fold the top down a few times. Let sit for 10 minutes. (Alternately, you could put the pepper in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap.)

7. Remove from bag, and peel the skin off.

8. All peeled! All that's left is to make a slit down the side, pull out the seeds, and cut into desired size pieces.

Printable version with pictures HERE, text-only version HERE.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

For the past month or so, I have been trying to eat better- I feel like my diet wasn't too bad, but it could definitely benefit from eating less sugar. One healthy snack I've been eating more of is hummus. I decided to try making it from scratch, and I love this version I have come up with!! I love eating it with crackers (they make even the plainest, healthiest cracker taste good), and have found that it makes a great spread on bread! I could also just eat it off a spoon... :)

You could use roasted red peppers from a jar, but it's also easy to make them yourself. You can make them up to a few days before making the hummus, then it makes it go even faster. HERE is how to make them.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Printable version here

2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 oz. can garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas), rinsed, drained, & skins off*
1 roasted red pepper
3 tbsp. lemon juice (approx. 1 med. lemon)
2 tbsp. tahini
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. After about a minute, add the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and pour garlic mixture into a food processor. (Be careful, because garlic burns easily if cooked too long or the heat is too high.)

2. Add remaining ingredients to food processor. Process until hummus is a smooth consistency. Transfer to a covered bowl & store in the refrigerator. Yield: about 2 cups.

*Garbanzo beans have a papery outer skin. This is a little time consuming to peel off, but it makes for a smoother hummus. One way to get it off faster is to put the rinsed beans on a clean towel, and rub the beans vigorously with the towel. That helps loosen the skins.

Why I love it? The main reason I love this is because it tastes great!! The flavors go together so well- not one of them stands out to me. I can taste the red pepper (which also helps give it a nice color), and the cayenne makes it just the right amount of spiciness. It has less preservatives than store-bought hummus, and it's cheaper, too. Another advantage of making it yourself is that you can adjust the ingredients to your tastes. You could easily make this more or less spicy, more garlicky, etc. I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Giant Cookie

I got this recipe, once again, from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I have not been let down once by that site! On her site she shows how you could wrap up these cookies to give as gifts. So far I've just made them when I (or the kids) need a little snack. Sometimes you just need cookies, you know?? Especially my 3 year old daughter... she likes sweets, just like her mom! :)

Giant Cookie
Printable version here

1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix well, then stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Press into a 1/4" thick circle on the baking sheet. (Make sure there is some room for the cookie to spread while baking.) Bake for 14 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let the cookie cool on the baking sheet. Once cool, gently use the foil to lift the cookie off the pan.

Yield: 1 large cookie. Recipe can easily be doubled to make 2 large, or 1 giant cookie (although I haven't tried making one that big- you would need a very large baking sheet for that).

Recipe source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Why I love it? It's super quick to throw together, and you don't even have to scoop it into individual cookies! Just mix, press into a circle, bake, and cut (a pizza cutter works well). I like the size of the recipe, too- it's good for a snack or after dinner dessert, but it's not so big that I have tons of cookies leftover (to tempt me to eat them!).