Sunday, December 2, 2007

Cookie Exchange Luncheon

As I mentioned in a previous post, I held a cookie exchange with friends today. I'll post the cookie recipes next, first though, I figured I'd post some of the recipes from the lunch I made!!

First up, White Bean Hummus (no picture, sorry). I know a lot of people are not down with Hummus, but I am, so I made it anyway and served it with crackers. At least I thought it was good, and my friend Lisa did too :-)

White Bean Hummus

1 can (15 oz.) small white beans, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (shhhhh...I used dried thyme!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper

In a food processor, combine beans, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fresh thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Whirl until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and set on a platter. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or fresh veggies :-)

Then I also made a lasagna. While I definitely just "wing it" when it comes to lasagna, I used homemade marinara in it. I got this out of my Cooking Light magazine a couple of months ago. It's great, healthy, and unthaws well from the freezer.

Basic Marinara

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 (28-ounce) cans no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients (through fennel seeds); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 55 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

To store in the freezer: Ladle room-temperature or chilled sauce into plastic containers or zip-top plastic bags. Seal and freeze for up to four months. Consider freezing the sauce in one-cup increments (two servings' worth). That way, you can pull out exactly as much as you want for future meals.

To boost taste: Long stints in the freezer can dull the taste of tomatoes. To perk up thawed sauce, add one-half teaspoon finely grated lemon rind or one teaspoon balsamic vinegar while reheating.

About 12 cups (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Lastly, as far as "food" goes (recipe worthy ones - ham & cheese sandwiches don't exactly qualify), I made this Paula Deen creation (with a couple of tweaks on my part).

You have to love Paula this world of "fat free" and uber healthiness, Paula still embraces that artery-clogging kind of cooking you know you all love deep down. This was a big hit, I'll definitely be making it again!! (p.s. I did not put the celery in this - as so many do not like it - and I left out the almonds....because I don't like them...haha!)

Hot Chicken Salad

2 cups cooked chicken breast meat, cubed
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
2/3 cup crushed potato chips
1 teaspoon dried thyme (my addition)
1 teaspoon celery salt (my addition)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, celery, almonds, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and cheese. Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spread the crushed potato chips on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

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