My family isn't crazy about this dip, but I find it quite tasty.  Serve with pita bread/chips or tortilla chips.

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained (reserve liquid)
3 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground tumeric
Juice of 1 lemon (I usually reduce this by about half)

Paprika for garnish

Put everything in a food processor and begin to process; add the 2-3 tbsp chickpea liquid (or more as needed) to allow the machine to produce a smooth puree.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.  Serve, drizzled with the olive oil (I don't usually bother) and sprinkled with a bit of paprika.

Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Over the past few months, I have been making more of an effort to cook/bake from scratch.  I finally tried this recipe from Barefoot Contessa the other night (after a few pancake flops) and I can honestly say, I will not be making pancakes from a mix ever again.  They were so delicious and filling;  we were still talking about how amazing they were hours later.  I did make a few without the bananas, and I can't wait to try them with blueberries!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I left this out)
Unsalted butter
2 ripe bananas, diced, plus extra for serving
Pure maple syrup

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles.* Ladle the pancake batter into the pan. Distribute a rounded tablespoon of bananas on each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute, until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used. Serve with sliced bananas, butter, and maple syrup.

*I used an electric griddle and didn't bother to grease it and they came out perfect;  make sure you do wipe the griddle down between batches though, so the banana that is left behind doesn't keep cooking!

Ham Chowder

January23 (5)For some reason I always want to say chowder with a Boston accent. Oh well, any way you say it, it’s delicious.
1 cup ham, diced
1 cup potatoes, diced and cooked (I actually used about 2 cups of red skinned potatoes with their skins on)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 (15 oz.) can corn, drained or 2 cups fresh or frozen corn, cooked
1 (10 1/4 oz.) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 1/2 cups milk (I used powdered milk from my food storage and you could not tell—it tasted great!)
salt and pepper to taste
In a pot, cook onion in butter until soft but not brown. Add all other ingredients. Blend well and heat thoroughly. Yummy. This is good with biscuits as a side. This feeds my family of 6 with no leftovers.

The Best Pound Cake

I realize that "best" is subjective, but this really is. 

1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but not quite room temperature
1 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened slightly (I have used "light" cream cheese successfully)
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray four mini loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray, and place on a cookie sheet.  In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese. Pour in sugar and mix until smooth. Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well until each is incorporated.  Add vanilla.  While ingredients are mixing, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Slowly add flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Distribute batter evenly among the four pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes (in my mini loaf pans and oven it was closer to 40 minutes).  Let cool and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Wrap any extras tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month.

Split Pea Soup

For Jill. :)

1 lb. dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
8 c. water (sometimes I'll replace part of the water with chicken broth)
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. pepper
salt to taste
1 ham bone (if I don't have one, I usually just cut up a ham steak and add at the end)
3 medium carrots, sliced or chopped

Heat peas and water to boiling in 4-quart Dutch oven. Boil uncovered 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Stir in onion, celery and pepper. Add ham bone. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 1 hour 30 minutes or until peas are tender.  Remove ham bone; remove ham from bone. Trim excess fat from ham; cut ham into 1/2-inch pieces.  Stir ham and carrots into soup. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes or until carrots are tender and soup is desired consistency (I like to cook a bit longer until the soup gets "creamy" -- so that you can't really see the individual peas anymore).

Wheat Pancakes

These might sound weird, but if you don't tell people that they are whole wheat pancakes, they honestly don't know. They are fantastic. My mom made two batches for myself, my brother, sister in law, and sister in law's cousin. She nearly was talked in to making a third batch, we were going through them so fast.

3/4 cup of whole wheat kernels
1 cup milk
pinch of salt
*Blend in a blender for 5 minutes
Add 2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
*Blend for 1 minute
Add 2 tsp baking powder
*Blend for 1 more minute

Cook on skillet... like pancakes. :D

It's a great way to rotate some of that food storage. What else were you using the 100 lbs of wheat in your storage room for??

Jiffy-like Cornbread

I am from the North.  In the North, we like our cornbread sweet.  So sweet, in fact, that many times we will serve already sweet cornbread with honey or jam.  Delicious.  This recipe makes a yummy pan (11 x 7) or tin of muffins (approximately 12).

1/4 c. oil
1 egg
1 c. milk
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbl. baking powder
1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal

Combine oil, egg, milk, sugar, and salt.  Add baking powder, flour, and cornmeal until combined.  Pour into greased pan/tin.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia

A recipe from an issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.  I serve it with either wild rice and a steamed vegetable, or white rice and black beans (mixed with a jar of salsa and heated through).

1/3 c. yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. paprika
Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 (6 to 8 ounces each) skinless tilapia fillets
3 Tbl. olive oil

In a shallow dish, combine cornmeal and paprika; season generously with salt and pepper. Separate fillets into thick and thin sides. Dredge each piece in cornmeal mixture, patting it on to coat completely.  In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Cook as many pieces as will fit (without crowding) until golden brown and firm, about 2 minutes per side for thin pieces and 4 minutes per side for thick ones. Transfer to a plate; sprinkle with salt, if desired, and cover loosely to keep warm. Wipe skillet with a paper towel. Repeat with remaining oil and fish.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

This is a favorite dish of my husbands. I have made it a few times for company and it is always a well loved dish.

30 frozen or prepared meatballs
1 TBSP vegetable oil
1- 20 ounce can of pineapple tidbits, reserving juice
3 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP soy sauce
3 TBSP vinegar
6 TBSP water
1/2 cup brown sugar (probably why my husband likes it so much!!)
1 lrg green pepper, sliced in to strips

About 5 cups of prepared rice

In a large skillet, combine oil and 1 cup of drained pineapple juice, adding water if necessary to make 1 cup. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, water and brown sugar. Stir into juice mixture and cook over medium heat about 5 to 7minutes until thick, stirring constantly. Add meatballs, pineapple tidbits and green pepper. Simmer 20 minutes until heated through. Serve over hot, cooked rice. Makes 6 servings.

Chunky Cheddar Chili

I know everyone usually has their own favorite chili recipes, but this tasted so good on a cold, rainy night last night that I thought I'd share it. It is fairly mild as chilies go but zesty enough for my weakling taste buds.

1 pound of ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 pound can of whole stewed tomatoes (I often use diced)
1 (15.5 oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Grated cheddar cheese for topping (4 ounces or more)

In a large skillet, brown hamburger with onion. Drain off extra grease. Add tomatoes, beans and spices stirring well to combine. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. I usually add a tomato can full of water too. This is really thick and hearty and it does lose even more liquid as it cooks so if you don't add the extra water make sure it doesn't burn to the bottom of the skillet. Serve topped with plenty of grated cheddar cheese. I usually top it with a dollop of sour cream as well and serve with corn bread or corn muffins. Also good with oyster crackers or corn chips.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

My friend, Lindajoy, gave me this recipe. I love spinach artichoke dip! This one was no exception. I love the red peppers in it. It made it so colorful.
I made it for a New Year's Eve party that I went to. A few ladies parked themselves right by the bowl. :)

Baked Artichoke Dip
* 1 cup mayonnaise
* 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, well drained (marinated or not)(I chopped mine up)
* 10 oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
* 1 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
* 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. Stir in artichokes, spinach and bell pepper. Place in 1 quart ovenproof casserole and sprinkle with Monterrey Jack cheese. Bake at 350 degrees 15-20 minutes until heated and bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with baguette slices, crackers or pita crisps. (I like tortilla chips, personally!)