Tired of Regular Hummus? Try a Roasted Carrot Version!

Yes – really.. carrots.. ok so it’s not really “hummus” (unless you actually add the Garbanzo beans) but the creamy, grainy texture that the roasted carrots and sesame paste creates with this recipe gives you great mouth feel and flavor. I found the recipe initially on the Joanne Weir website for CreateTV and adapted it some for my taste (and the fact I had forgotten that I ran out of cumin).

Here is my version of the adapted recipe;

This version makes about 1 -1/4 cups of dip  – but its pretty forgiving and I  say double there recipe, it’s that good.
  • 3 large carrots, (about 12 ounces) roughly cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil*
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste in a pinch peanut butter or almond butter will work too I bet), well stirred (I might use up to 2 teaspoons more next time)
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (original recipe used 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • Pinch crushed red chili pepper, or cayenne  (or to taste)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons water
  • Fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste
* I am thinking good quality using flavored oils like Lemon, Blood Orange or Chili might rock this dish too
Heat up the oven to 375°F.
  • Place the carrots, salt, and olive oil on a large piece of foil or parchment paper. Toss together. Wrap them up and seal the edges so the steam doesn’t escape.IMG_0458 (1)
  • Bake in the oven until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Open the paper and continue to roast for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  • Pour the entire packet of carrots and oil into to the food processor with the remaining ingredients (except for the water and lemon juice).
  • Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  • Add water if needed to make a thick dip the consistency of hummus.
  • Season with salt and lemon juice to taste. This is also when you can add more honey, spices etc.
Joanne Weir’s recipes calls for serving the dip with thin sliced root vegetable “chips” but for me I used Terra Brand chips. Anything that can scoop will work. To check out the original inspiration for this version, visit Joanne Weir’s recipe here
This will keep in the refrigerator for a few days but I take it out about 20 min before serving.


Night Terrors

Channel surfing and landed in “Night Train To Terror” with Paul tonight. A bizarre portfolio of the 80’s; reflecting all the angst, hair, blood & gore, scream queens, claymation special effects, good vs evil, clothes you don’t want to admit you wore, skin shots and more.  

Definitely was the kind of “train wreck” that you want to cover your eyes, yet can’t control the urge to keep your fingers open just enough so you could peek through.



Adapted Chicken Ribollita Chili style soup

This is a recipe adapted from Giada’s Italian cooking show on food network, that has become a household favorite. I found a repost here on a variation of the recipe: Here


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil ( I find I can do this with less and add if I need to later on)
  •  1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds ground chicken (turkey works well or any non-meat type protein)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin (I use about 1/2 this)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds (I use about 1/2 this and toast it in the pan first)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (I use about 1/2 this unless you like smokey flavor)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces ( I use 2 bunches)
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed (worked with frozen ok – and I used the whole bag large kernels)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Hint: Want to kick this up a notch – stop by the cheese store and ask for a parmesan rind, about 2 inch piece will do – toss it in the soup early on and let it slowly melt. If you try this – don’t salt until you taste – the cheese has a salty flavor – so you want to taste as you go. Remove whats left of the rind before serving.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder and cook until you can smell
the cumin and fennel, add the ground chicken (The original  recipe had you adding chicken first then adding seasonings but on the broadcast she did it this way and it makes for a better seasoned dish i think).

Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir the  flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, Swiss chard, corn, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add pepper flakes earlier in dish if you want more heat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley*

* I found that I needed something to brighten the dish – so a few minutes before I served it I tossed in sweet grape tomatoes and heated them in it just long enough to get the warm – but still pop when you bite them.  But I bet a side dish of chopped tomatoes on top like a traditional chili garnish would work too as would a sharp chedder cheese

Easter Family Dinner Prep

Planning for family dinner Sunday with cousins before they leave the Bay Area. So first up; my version of Pear & Cornmeal cake with Rosemary Sryup (gluten, dairy & soy free).


Fresh out of the oven with a few modifications; I substituted 1/2 olive (4 tablespoons) oil & 1/2 corn oil (3 tablespoons) for the butter and used dairy free milk (lactaid free milk works too) treated w/lemon juice to stand in for buttermilk.

For the main recipe; 

Sons Of Italy

OSIA creates a space for bringing the past into the present of our blended experiences past & present in its Italian America publication. The clever thinking behind it manages to create a reader to appeal on levels as complex as the 12-hour sunday “sauce” (or “gravy” depending on your region). The writing is clean and accessable without being dumbdowned. So the multi-generational readers will find it equally useful, funny, bittersweet and forward thinking. This issue from fall 2015 is a perfect example.


Rainy Sunday Dinner

Roasted glazed chicken & veggies for dinner adapted from the ONE PAN HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN AND VEGGIES recipe on Damndelicious.net with a few minor modifications such using chicken tenders over full breasts,  as switching sweet potatoes for red, adding carrots and maple sryup.

Inspired by the recent trip the Russian River over the weekend – the meal was a nice mix of local and regional finds. The honey I picked up at Beekind (http://beekind.com), they have a huge assortment of flavors to choose from and happen to be across the street from one of my fav resturants Hole In The Wall which we stopped at for lunch on the drive up.








The maple syrup came from my recent visit to KayCee Farm in CT which offers small batch, artisanal fresh harvested maple syrup. you can find them on facebook here

Then a special dessert picked up on our rainy drive back at Mom’s Pie, a local institution for those who love pies.

Oven baked cheese & broccoli egg-cups on crescent dough

Quick prep breakfast and brunch idea, with plenty of leftovers for the work week.
Oven baked cheese & broccoli egg-cups on crescent doughFile_001
This quick version used store bought crescent roll pastry dough (I used pillsbury but any will do) but can also be made with the rolled biscuit or even pizza doughs.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or 375 degrees if your muffin pan is lighter color.

Spray or lightly butter the muffin pan.

Crack 8 large eggs, whisk with a splash of milk till blended.

Add salt and pepper to taste, a dash or two of tabasco, 1/4 cup of greater cheese, stir well. Add fresh or dried herbs to taste.

Unwrap the dough and cut into rough squares. Don’t worry about making a full “cup” as long as the bottom is covered and you have at least 1/2 inch up each side- press into the bottom of each cup
and press up the sides as far as each will go. I found that 2 rolls of crescent will do a 12 muffin cup pan.img_0209

Add chopped broccoli florets, ham or turkey, shredded cheddar cheese.
Hint: this is a great way to use leftovers from dinners.
Pour the egg mixture into each cup. They will raise a bit so leave some room. Sprinkle with cheese it wanted.
Place on muffin pan on a cookie sheet and back for 15 or until set and brown. Remove and serves with salsa

Rainy night dinner in; Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Herb Biscuit Topping

This weekend was definitely one of those – lets stay in and cook ones. Between the rain and the miserable drivers; it just was worth it to me to head out on Saturday night. So while figuring out what to make, Paul suggested I do Chicken Pot Pie.

Seemed like a good idea and one that would be able to handle a casual night at home. The is the adapted recipe I use.

img_0201Note: For this version I worked with what was already “almost, almost” home made. That meant I used a boxed biscuit mix (2 of them), Cooked and shredded chicken; our local grocery store roasts them and started selling the shredded meat. To make this even easier – use the pre-chopped veggies. the other important thing to remember about this recipe is that the amounts are suggestion – customize it to what you have handy.

What to have handy:

  • 1-2 tablespoon of canola or corn oil (coconut or olive oil will work too I am thinking)
  • 1 clove of garlic (or 1-2 teaspoons of pureed Garlic from the tube)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups chopped Carrots
  • 2 cups cubed Yams
  • 1 cup chopped Celery
  • 1 med Onions chopped
  • 1 bag frozen Peas
  • 2 packages of cooked touch shred chicken (between 3-4 cups)
  • 7 cups of Chicken Stock (low sodium)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoonPepper
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Poultry spice mix (or any combination your prefer)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

In a heavy skillet; over medium-high heat (for cast iron pan, you may want to used medium heat and gauge the heat level once hot):

Toss in the oil, carrots and yams, stir to coat with oil for 2-3 minutes, then add celery, onions. Stir and cook another 3 minutes, add garlic, salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of the poultry spice mix. Stir and continue to cook until veggies are cooked through but not browned.

 Add 1/2 cup of flour (or a gluten free alternative) on top of the veggies and stir, cooking for a few minutes more.

Add 6 cups of chicken stock, holding back 1 cup for later if needed.

Now – if by now you realize your skillet isn’t large enough (which happened to me),  take out 1/2 of the mixture and add it to your casserole dish. If you are using a 1/2 recipe you can actually back the whole dish in the skillet.

Add the chicken, carefully stir the mixture slowly until it boils, them lower the heat and simmer 8-10 minutes. TASTE IT!  Does it need more salt, pepper, etc.

(It should thicken some – it you find it isn’t thick enough, add some of the remaining flour to 1/2 cup of the remaining stock, whisk and add to the mixture, stirring until you get the consistency you want)

Remove from the heat.

Add chopped parsley (or other fresh herbs to your taste), stir and pour into your casserole pan (or leave in the skillet if is over safe).

For the topping;

Mix up a prepared biscuit mix as instructed. I used Red Lobster Cheddar Herb Biscuit mix but any will do or you can make your own.
Spoon (or use your hands its a pretty sticky dough) to cover the “pie”. This creates the top “crust”. Try not to layer it on thicker than an inch or so – if you do – you may need to let it cook longer. to make sure the under side of the biscuits cook.


Place casserole on a cookie sheet, and place in the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for  35 – 45 minutes.

 Around 30 minutes check the biscuit topping; if the top is browning too much – loosly place foil over the top for the rest of the cooking time.


While baking- melt butter and mix with herbs ( I used 1/2 packet of the herb packet from the biscuits – but any will do).

img_0201When you remove from the oven, brush the melted herb butter over the top of the biscuit topping.

Casino & LaCrosse In CT

Overall The Arena at the Mohegan Sun Casino a nice facility; good sized, and has a solid sound system. It’s clean and does’t feel as “cold” as some arena’s. Staff are pretty cordial from scanning through food consessions. My biggest disappointment and the reason I don’t to give it more than a three if I were rating it out of 5, is around its no “outside” food rule.
We were traveling with a senior, and  had stopped to have a meal in the casino while the kids were watching the lacrosse game. Our plan was then to head out to watch the kids actually get a chance to play on the field after playing in the casino and eating.

IMG_9971We had eaten at Hash House A Go Go, so as the real game ended and we entered to see the kids,  they wouldn’t let us bring the leftovers in. Forcing us to toss it.

So that was a disappointment and with the money spent in the casino and for the meal that we had enjoyed, the experience “left a bad taste in my mouth”.

If I were in town and planning to use the Arena again I would be less inclined to make use of the casino and food as part of the package evening in the future.