Category Archives: Appetizers

How to Make Hummus and More Grilling Tips

It is not every day that I get this excited about sharing a recipe. There is so much that I want to share but most of it gets put aside in my mind while I change another exploding diaper or save a restless child from trying to put a sharp shiny object in its mouth.

Life is just like that right now. And then there are barbecues. The kind of barbecues that remind you that dinner can be easy and quick and you don’t have to plan too much.

I am well aware that barbecue for you is not barbecue for me. When I say barbecue, you might think of ribs or steak or chicken wings. When I think of barbecue, it all ends and begins in the same place, around a plate of hummus.

Yes, hummus! I can not eat food on the grill without hummus somewhere on the table.

It has to be on a round plate and have layers of flavors and colors. I can’t do it any other way. Hummus is like the round table of legumes. You need to use your bread to wipe the plate. You need to sit around the plate with a friend or your spouse and keep talking and eating until it is gone. And keep swiping your bread in a circular motion. I can’t have it any other way.
Every meat tastes better with hummus. Bread tastes better with hummus. Heck even lettuce tastes better with hummus. I could eat a whole head of lettuce wrapped in hummus.

The recipe is on the bottom but first let me tell you some more about what I like to grill.

Grilling for me has to be easy and fast. Applegate Farms hotdogs are a quick and tasty way to get food on the table. They are not the hotdogs that you get that are full of the icky bits of meat that nobody wants. Applegate farms meats don’t have antibiotics, their livestock eat a complete vegetarian diet, they are grass-fed and made with natural and organic ingredients. They are popping up all over Seattle and Portland lately and I have come to love this easy alternative for dinner.

This post is part of the Applegate blogging program (full disclosure below) but I have absolutely no problem telling you that I am very picky about my hotdogs, especially since I know my little boy is going to eat them. The products are made from whole muscle meat and no mystery ingredients. I also love that the company says that if you are not familiar with an ingredient, you can email them and they will tell you all about it. Plain and simple, I don’t do well eating fake stuff so I feel good knowing what goes into the hotdogs I serve my kids.

A weeknight barbecue dinner in my house includes hotdogs, hummus, corn on the cob and at least one salad.

There is always a large salad. I will put every vegetable I find in it. And my secret ingredient is pickles. They add just the right amount of crunch and I don’t need to add salt to the salad.


And now for the hummus. It is not a recipe but more of a ritual. Here is how you can do it at home.



2 Cans of chickpeas (or use dried chickpeas soaked over night and cooked).
1-2 cloves of garlic (optional)
Juice of half a lemon- one lemon (depends on preference)
2-4 tablespoons of tahini
olive oil
*Za’atar Spice
Salt of choice

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend made up of dried herbs, sesame, sumac and other spices. You can find it at any specialty spice shop such as World Spice Merchants, Market Spice or any Middle Eastern Specialty store.

Start by draining the chickpeas (you can save some liquids to thin out the hummus later) and then putting them in the food processor. Add the tahini, I use between 2-4 tablespoons (start with 2) and process until you get a paste. Now taste. Add more tahini if you like it that way. Add the lemon juice. Keep tasting. Add cumin to taste, start with one teaspoon and then add another if you like. Add Salt. You can always add a few drops of the leftover liquids if it is too thick.

Now take a small round plate. Use the back of a spoon or a spatula to swirl it around the plate in large circular swirls, making the rounds around the plate. Cover the whole plate.

Drizzle oil between the lines of the circles. This is not the time to be stingy. Be generous.
Now get some of the za’atar spice if you have some. Sprinkle away generously again. Add paprika and sprinkle away.

Now top it with parsley.

Sometimes I also like to fry mushrooms and onions and put those on top.

That’s it! Use your bread to dip into the hummus in kind of a wiping motion (kind of like wiping the counters down). If you have pita, even better. We like to use tortillas that have been heated in the oven until crispy. And lettuce, particularly iceberg lettuce is great for dipping.
This is easy for the kids too. My son loves it with crackers or baby carrots. M Even my babies love it. Hummus on a spoon without all the spices in it is a perfect snack for teaching babies how to hold a spoon. They just hold it and lick it.

If you don’t feel like going “the whole nine yards”, you can buy hummus but find the time to layer the rest of the stuff on top of it. It will make a world of difference.

Who needs spoonfuls of peanut butter when you can snack on spoonfuls of hummus?

Do you want to know more about Applegate Farms, follow them on Facebook.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Applegate blogging program, to earn My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own. To read more posts on this topic, click here.


Filed under Appetizers, Grilling, Recipes, Salads and Spreads

The New Food Processor Bible and Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashana is one of my favorite Jewish holidays. Literally, translated into the “head of the new year”, it is the Jewish new year. Now if you know me, then you know that my posts are far from kosher I eat everything and anything around but when it comes to tradition it is a different story, I love tradition and culture and love the holidays for this reason. What I really love is an excuse to get family or friends together and a reason to tear up Challah bread with my hands (yes, no knife required) and eat as much as you want. Usually, a trip to Macrina is all this girl needs to make this challah fantasy complete.

In our family, there is one lady we go to for Jewish recipes and she is Norene Gilletz, the fairy godmother of Jewish cooking, she has them all, in the simple most convenient way. Her books have been passed on from my grandma, to my mom and to all of her friends. Her most recent cookbook is the “The New Food Processor Bible”.
As the busy mom that I am, with an almost 3 year old and twins on the way, on weekdays, her recipes have become my gateway to a home-cooked meal. I am obsessed with my food processor, especially on days when I am in a flurry to get everything done, this one magic machine can chop, grate and mince giving me time for other things.

Her revised and updated version of the Food Processor Bible is an enormous collection of recipes, that you can make every day; basic ingredients and easy dinner options that will feed hungry monsters of all kinds. This book is focused on everything from Food Processor-related tips and how to use it to appetizers, desserts , latkes, kugel and other Jewish favorites. Not necessarily a Jewish cookbook but you can’t take the Jewish mom out of any of her books. This book is a must-have for busy cooks and you can get it here on Amazon.

Our family’s favorite recipe has become the tuna patties. My son calls them tuna pancakes and will ask for them every time. We top them with sour cream or truffle honey. Recipe is below.

And before you start making these. I must post her recipe for sweet and sour meatballs because I post it yearly and these are favorites of kids all over the world. And they are fast, freeze well and can be made a couple days in advance. For more about Norene Gilletz, here is a link to her site.

If you are on a hunt for Jewish recipes, you will also want to check out some other favorites of mine. There is Chef Paula Shoyer for Jewish Baking and for Jewish cooking with a twist of Indian cooking, check out Food Wanderings.

Tuna Patties (Recipe Permission/ Whitecap Books)

1 medium onion, cut in chunks
1 carrot, cut in chunks
3 cans (6 oz/170 g each) tuna, drained
4 eggs (or 2 eggs plus 4 egg whites)
½ cup dried bread crumbs or matzo meal
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp oil for frying

Steel blade: Process onion and carrot until minced, about 8 seconds. Add tuna, eggs, bread crumbs or matzo meal, salt and pepper. Process until mixed, about 10 seconds. Shape into patties or 1-inch balls.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Brown on medium heat on both sides, until golden. Drain well on paper towels.

117 calories per patty, 4.6 g carbohydrates, 0.4 g fiber, 13 g protein, 4.7 g fat (0.9 g saturated fat), 83 mg cholesterol, 174 mg sodium, 150 mg potassium, 1 mg iron, 24 mg calcium, 107 mg phosphorus

Yield: 6 servings (12 patties). Keeps 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. Freezes well.

Mixture can also be shaped into a loaf and baked at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes or fill muffin tins two-thirds full and bake for 25 minutes, until golden. Makes 10 to 12. May be sliced and used for sandwiches.


Filed under Appetizers, Cookbooks and Books, Nut Allergy Friendly, Quick Dinners, Recipes

Baked Scallions Recipe

One of my guilty pleasures is going to The Pike Place Market to my secret corner.  No matter how crazy my day is, if I am downtown, I like to stop at Corner Produce. In the corner of the corner, there  are dollar bags (I can’t believe I am sharing this), little bags of imperfect produce all priced at a dollar. If you get there in the morning, you get some really good stuff. A few times I got 4 peppers for a dollar.

I decide what I am making for dinner only after I fill my purse with some one dollar specials.  Friday morning, I saw two very generous bags of scallions in the dollar section and decided to make one of my favorite vegetable recipes, baked scallions.

The taste of baked scallions is very different from raw scallions. The taste is soft and almost sweet.

Baked Scallions with Tahini



Olive oil

Your favorite salt (I use Secret Stash Salts Nicoise Salt)

Fresh Thyme



1. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Put the scallions on a baking sheet.

3. Drizzle the olive oil on top.

4. Scatter the fresh thyme on top.

5. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soft. Drizzle with Tahini.

Notes: I really like using flavored salts and my friend Janna is the mastermind behind Secret Stash Salts along with her partner Joseph.  These salts give it that extra flavor that makes the taste  pop. You can use any salt you want to use.


Filed under Appetizers, Recipes

Train Cakes and Automobiles

It was his first lick of frosting, ever!
It really was about him. I don’t care what anyone says about first birthdays being all about the parents. Come on. When do babies get to shake parachutes, play with bubbles and shove frosting in their face? Yes, on their first birthday.
The cake was a train. He celebrated with two of his buddies so I figured that a train would be something that all the little boys would agree on.

I got the instructions from Betty Crocker. I had to adapt the decorations a bit since the babies were very young and I didn’t want any tiny candies for babies to choke on. I also used India Tree natural food coloring which I found on Chef Shop.Com .I went to pick them up since they are located in Seattle. They also have other hard to find spices and imported food products.
I tried to limit the use of artificial flavors except for the licorice, jujubes and mini Oreo cookie wheels.

 I love party sandwiches but wanted something a little different and healthy since I knew the babies would be eating too.

I made three different spreads for the sandwiches the night before. This morning I went to Macrina to pick up 6 loaves of bread and I assembled the sandwiches.
The three types:
Tahini-eggplant yogurt sandwiches with roasted peppers
Cilantro-basil pesto with goat cheese
Olive tapenade with mozzarella and arugula
I will leave you with the recipe for the tahini-eggplant sandwiches. It was a hit with the babies and parents. Yogurt adds a special creaminess to this Baba Ganoush.
I used ciabatta but you can use any bread.
The tahini spread recipe is from a Hebrew Cookbook called ” The Healthy Kitchen” . “The Healthy Kitchen” is a compilation of recipes from “On the Table” which is a Hebrew food magazine.
roasted peppers in a jar
Recipe for spread:
1 eggplant
2 tablespoons of tahini
1-2 cloves of garlic
6 tablespoons of yogurt (I used low-fat)
juice of half a lemon
1. Roast Eggplant (I poked holes in it and put it in oven at 450 for one hour)
2. Scoop out eggplant and mix well with all the other ingredients. Season with salt.
This spread can be kept in the fridge for up to one week.
3. Spread on Ciabetta with roasted peppers.



Filed under Appetizers

Pappa Al Pomodoro

My version of Holly Smith’s recipe

Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita is an inspiration for so many chefs.
She has her own highly successful restaurant, her own James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northwest 2008 and even has a son.
For those of you who don’t know what the restaurant world is like; many long hours, hardly any free time on the weekends, strenuous physical labor in hot kitchens.
A women that can mother a child while doing all this must be some kind of super hero.

Last week Chef Holly Smith did a cooking demonstration at Whole Foods. She showed some foodies how to make Pappa Al Pomodoro. It was one of those times when a recipe isn’t necessary because you actually remember all the ingredients just from watching. Not complicated just mouthwatering.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I lay in bed the next day and thought about how I was going to make this soup. Plotting how I would choose the juiciest tomatoes and squeeze them liberally while waving olive oil into the bowl like a genie with a magic wand and dabbling basil into the bowl like a fairy does with her fairy dust.
I made a lot of soup the next day and fought with my hubby over the last drop.

I will link to Rebekah Denn’s PI Blog where she posted the recipe. Do not hesitate.
Holly Smith made it with heirloom tomatoes and she didn’t use any canned tomatoes in her demo. In the recipe, she adds a can of San Marzano tomatoes. I am sure this has to do with the high cost of heirloom tomatoes.

Oh and as if Holly doesn’t do enough already, you can find her Pocco Caretto Gelato at the neighborhood farmers markets.

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes

Rhubarb Jam

Life has been hectic. I recently moved to a new place, my in-laws stayed with me for 3 weeks and I have been running around a lot. It took a little while to get settled in my new kitchen but I have finally started cooking again. The recipe here is for rhubarb jam, I made this with many other brunch items when I had my family over.
I have to say that I made it as simple as I can. I didn’t peel the rhubarb nor did I add anything fancy.
As simple as life gets……….

Rhubarb Jam

2 cups of rhubarb, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 cup of orange juice ( I used Tropicana)

1) In a small saucepan, bring ingredients to boil.
2) Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
3) Puree in food processor and let cool.

The consistency is a bit like apple sauce. It is so tasty! I made warm rolls to go with it which I will post about soon. I want to make them one more time so I can make sure that my recipe is exact.
The next day I ate the jam on Ritz crackers, not the best choice but definitely hit the spot.

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Salads and Spreads

Quinoa and Corn Summer Salad

The corn at the market was yelling “Keren, rescue me! Take me Home!” I couldn’t look away. I took it home and experimented with some flavors.
This is the salad that saved the corn.
I just couldn’t stop eating it!

Quinoa and Corn Summer Salad

2 cups of cooked quinoa (just cook according to package directions)
2 ears of corn
1 onion (diced)
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and thinly sliced
Juice from 1 lemon
Juice from 1 lime
1 tablespoon or more fresh sage

1. Shave the corn of the cob (just cut off with your knife)
2. Heat some oil in a pan and saute corn for about 5 minutes
3. Add onion and continue to sauté until corn is cooked. Add salt.
4. Take of the stove and mix with quinoa. Add all other ingredients and
taste. Add more salt if needed.

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Salads and Spreads