Cilantro Hummus with a Zip

This recipe is for my daughter, Kaitlynn.  I have to openly confess to all that if you would have asked me about a year ago, if I liked hummus, I would have been polite and told you it was "alright".  When I think back on it, and using my own slide rule, I must have had some bad hummus in the past, cause it was never something I craved.  Along came Kaitlynn.  She moved back home for awhile and when she did, she brought with her a collection of food tastes that I must admit were not because of my sphere of influence.   Goat cheese and hummus were (and still are) on the top of her list.  She would come home from the grocery store with all kinds of uniquely flavored hummus and I quietly thought to myself, "that makes sense, add some flavor to the stuff, cause alone it tastes pretty nasty".   I never tried it.  UNTIL, I was at a friends house the other night for dinner.  She had come home from house hunting in Florida and brought with her a hummus recipe that their hosts had prepared for them.   I kept quiet and obligingly tried some.  Holy cow!  What had I been missing.  This was NOT the hummus of 1993 North Carolina that I remembered (and kept a healthy distance from for 17 years).   This had flavor, it was moist, it was really all I cared about eating for dinner!   THANK YOU AUTUMN!

By Wednesday of the next week, I had a hankering for hummus.  (How quickly our tastes can change when we try something well-prepared versus something not so well-prepared.) I remembered Kaitlynn saying how much she liked Cilantro hummus.  I thought Hmmmmmmm and so away I went.   Here is what I came up with and my family seemed to devour that night.   I hope you like it!

Cilantro Hummus with a Zing

2 (15.5 oz) cans of garbanzo beans (or chick peas), well drained
1 jalapeno rinsed, seeded and cut in half
2 gloves garlic, peeled
1/4 to 1/3 c of coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
3-4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 t ground cumin (I only had cumin seeds and it worked just fine)
1/2 t of kosher salt
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

Place garbanzo beans, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin, salt and olive oil into a food processor.  Process on high until well mixed and smooth.  This make take some pulsing, but eventually it will become a nice smooth consistency.  Taste.  Add salt and lemon juice to taste.  Add fresh black pepper if desired for a nice contrast.

Place into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.  Garnish with thinly sliced lemon wedges, cilantro leaves and serve with pita wedges, celery, carrots and or crackers.

Thanks Katy!  Mom's learn from the daughters every now and then!



Pasta Chicken Salad

I have a sister-in-law that in the summer has five salads that she makes, one for each night of the week. She serves the salad with a chunk of fresh bread and cool lemonade.   This is one of those five salads and is very good on a hot summer night!

2 pounds of pasta (bow-tie, seashell, or smaller pasta noodle)
2-4 ribs of celery, diced
1 c seedless red grapes, rinsed and cut in half
1-2 cans mandarin oranges, drained well
4 green onions, sliced fine
2-3 c of seasoned cooked chicken, cooled
1 c of cashew halves
1 bottle of T Marzetti or Kraft Coleslaw dressing
1 c mayonnaise

Cook pasta until done.  Drain and rinse in cold water.  Cool complete.

In a large mixing bowl add cooked pasta, celery, grapes, oranges, green onion, and chicken.  Mix well.

In small bowl combine coleslaw dressing and mayonnaise.  Mix thoroughly, until smooth and creamy.

Add the dressing mix to the chicken/pasta mix.  Do not add all at once, but add half and then continue adding until desired consistency/taste is reached.   Salt and pepper to taste, if needed.



Morels - Repost to Archive

Yellow Morel Mushroom - Wisconsin
photography by TAGilephotos
 Morel season.  A friend called me up the other night and asked if I wanted a bucket of Morels.  I quickly said yes.  I have fond memories of escaping the house to the woods across the street and hunting for morels for my mother.  The forests near my childhood home were full of Elm and Ash trees and in the spring, she would send us out for a hunt.  (I don’t know if that is because she really wanted the mushrooms or if she wanted us out of the house?).  We would come home with a few buckets full of the mushrooms and she would fry them up.    My husband has similar memories of eating the great wild mushrooms also as a child.  For those of you in and near Wisconsin, this last weekend was Morel Mushroom Festival in Muscoda WI, the morel capital of Wisconsin.

Now my friend wanted to know how to cook them and I thought, what a great idea for the What is… for this week.   Here is the Midwest (where one half of the Plucky Housewives resides), morels are plentiful.   I am not one to try and redo what has lready been well-done, so I will point you in the direction of a great photo article in Field and Stream that really goes through the how to hunt and cook morels.    In quick summary, they are most commonly found in the Midwest/Great Lakes regions, early spring (April to May) near ash, sycamore, dying elm, cottonwoods and apple (look near an old, abandoned apple orchard).  Right now, its later in the spring, so they will be tall.  The first early crop they are pretty tiny and easy to miss.   Pick them before they edges start to dry and turn brown.  Finally BEWARE of false morels.  If it doesn’t look like the picture, chances are its not a morel and you could get a really bad tummy ache.

The Great Morel  is a comprehensive website on all things morel.  Check it out!

Here are a few recipes.  ENJOY! 

Fried Morels

2 c of flour
1-2 T seasoning salt
2 t ground pepper
½ t salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 c of buttermilk
2-3 T butter or oil. 

Prepare mushrooms by removing stem, dirt and then splitting in half.  Avoid washing in water.  Edges of the mushroom are delicate and can easily break.  Mix flour and seasonings.  Place flour mix into a shallow bowl or pan.  Mix beaten egg with buttermilk in small bowl.   Dip mushroom half into wet mix and coat thoroughly.  Then dip into dry mix, making sure there is a flour coating on both sides.  Heat pan and melt butter.  When bubbly, place coated mushrooms into pan.  Brown on one side (about 2-3 minutes) and then turn, repeating the same.  Do not cook too long or get too dark.  The mushroom is delicate and will begin to break down.  Remove from pan onto a paper towel and enjoy!

Stuffed Morels
photography by TAGile Photos
Stuffed Morel Mushrooms

10-15 medium Morel mushrooms
1 lb of sweet Italian sausage
½ c onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
½ tp 1 c Parmesan cheese
2-3 oz goat cheese or cream cheese.  
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Melted butter seasoned with salt and pepper

Brown Italian sausage in a frying pan with the onion and garlic, until almost done.  Make sure it is finely crumbled.   Turn off the heat.  Mix in the Parmesan cheese, goat cheese,  salt and pepper. 

Stuff this mixture into the prepped whole mushroom caps.   Place mushrooms in a shallow baking dish.  Carefully brush the mushrooms with the seasoned melted butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes. 


Strawberries and Strawberries...

When I was first married, I went to a fathering for women in our neighborhood.  It was a brunch, so everyone brought something to niddble on.  For dessert, this recipe was served.  It is a great dessert if you need to feed a lot of people, or you can reduce the recipe in half to just feed your smaller family.   You will love it.  I have used frozen strawberries and fresh ones.  Of course, the fresh ones are to die for, but the frozen ones are a snap to use.  You get to decide which one you want.  Its all yummy!

1 pkg Danish Dessert (you can find this in the same area as the jello)
1-2 pkg fresh strawberries (or 1-2 pkg frozen strawberries).  How much you use depends on how strong a flavor you want.
1 white cake mix
1 pkg (8 oz) of cream cheese
1 c of whipped topping (regular whip cream does not work as well with this recipe)

Make the Danish Dessert sauce according to the pie glaze directions on the package.  Add the berries at the last few minutes if you want to cook the fruit.  You can wait until the pudding has cooled and add uncooked berries then.

Make the cake mix as directed on the package.  This is where you have to make a decision.  If you are serving more than 10-12 people, then use a jello roll pan (greased and floured or sprayed with PAM).  If you are not serving that many than use a 9 x 13 pan.  This can serve as many as 18-20 people with the jelly roll pan.  Cool the cake completely.

Soften the cream cheese and whip it smooth.  Fold in the whipped topping carefully.  Mix well.

Frost the completely cooled cake with the cream cheese mixture.  Top with the fruit topping.



Strawberry Cheesecake for a Crowd PRINTABLE RECIPE


Asparagus:  Yes, we all know its a spring vegetable, it can be cultivated or found growing wild, but did you know it was once classified in the same family as a lily?  AND that its considered a flowering perennial?  For all you vintage cookbook aficionados, did you know that there is a recipe for asparagus in the oldest book of recipes:  De re coquinaria Book III by Apicius - 3rd century.  They were mad about it in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, but it lost its favor during the European conquests until Louis XIV took a hankering to it and built some special greenhouses!!

Asparagus is low in calories, low sodium and it a super source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, let alone a good source of dietary fiber!  In fact, this special little stalk is loaded with almost all the most important vitamins and minerals, so you really cant go wrong.

While my husband and I were in England, I had some delicious fresh asparagus cream soup.  In April, they were ahead of us when it came to all things spring.   When I got home, I searched for a Cream of Asparagus Soup recipe and after a little conglomeration, this is what we brewed up in our kitchen.  DO NOT be put off by the finishing touch of adding a poached egg to the soup.  Think about it.  What is the most traditional sauce accompanying asparagus?  Hollandaise.  And what is hollandaise sauce made from, eggs and butter.  So free yourself of your first reaction. ENJOY!

Cream of Asparagus Soup

2 bunches of trimmed green asparagus
1 leek, washed, trimmed & cut into 1/2" pieces
5 T butter (I used a nice Irish butter for this recipe)
1 pint of good chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you are a vegetarian)
2 T heavy cream
1 T olive oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground cracked pepper
4 small eggs for poaching

Prepare the asparagus by cutting into 2 inch pieces, leaving the tops for garnish later.
Melt 4 T butter into a large, heavy bottom sauce pan.  When melted, add the leeks and asparagus.  Saute for about 4 minutes.  The leeks and asparagus will be soft, but not completely cooked.

To the same pan, add the stock.  Bring the entire mixture to a boil.  Simmer 10-15 minutes until the vegetables (mainly the asparagus) is cooked completely through.

While the vegetable are cooking in the stock, put the tips of the asparagus into a small bowl and mix with the olive oil.    Quickly fry the tips in a hot fry pan (or preferably on a grill or grill pan).  This should only take about a minute or two.  Do not overcook!

Once the vegetables have cooked through, remove the soup from the heat and process the entire mix with either a hand blender (my preferred choice) or put into a food processor and blend until completely smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.   Return the mix to the pot, adding the cream and reheating to desired temperature.

Serve the soup in a good-sized soup bowl.  Add the poached egg to the center of the soup bowl and the grilled asparagus tips on top of the egg.

This soup can be served cold (minus the poached egg, of course).  You can poach your egg, immediately before serving!

Hawley and Jenni's favorite way to make asparagus: 

Roasted.   Just wash and trim the ends of the asparagus and remove the woody portion.   Toss the whole spears with some olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and place in one layer on a large baking sheet.  Roast in preheated 350 degree oven about 20-30 minutes, keeping an eye on it, to make sure its not overcooked.   Remove and serve with a little bit of shredded parmesan cheese over the top!

Sauteed:  Prepare asparagus as above, cutting the spears in half.   Heat a nonstick frying pan and add olive oil to the hot pan.  Then add the asparagus, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt, pepper and a little crushed red pepper to taste!


EMAIL THEM TO:  INFO@THEPLUCKYHOUSEWIVES.COM and we will add them to the Featuring blog!

Pie Birds (a repost to archive)

About 10 years ago, I received a present from my mother-in-law.  It was a beautiful red (wonderful color) pie dish with this ceramic bird in a plastic box.  The plate I was thrilled with, but the BIRD?  Why was this bird in the pie dish.  It was cute, but so are a lot other things!  I used the pie plate a lot, but put the bird away.  Then, one day, I was reading in one of my favorite magazine, Country Living, and saw that there were people out there actually collecting pie birds!  I remembered receiving a pie bird and quickly looked through my kitchen gadgets and found it.  I made an apple pie with the bird in the middle and it came out fun and delicious.

What the pie does is it gives the pie (a double crust fruit pie) an outlet for the steam to escape, thus making it so your pie filling stays in the pie and not all over your oven!!

Take your pie crust and cover the bottom of the pie dish.  Center the pie bird in the pie plate, on top of the crust.   Place the filling into the pie and around the bird.  make two slices with your knife in the center of the top crust (allowing enough room to let the pie bird come through) and place the crust over the filled pie.  Nestle the crust around the outside of the bird.  then bake your pie as usual.  VOILA!  you could be like the kind and four and twenty black birds baked in a pie!  Only for this one, you just use the one bird!  Enjoy!  - HAWLEY

Pie Birds available on Amazon.com.

Look for several pie recipes later this week, featuring the pie birds!

Potato Pancakes (Latkes)

I love potato pancakes. My mother made the best potato pancakes and when I lived in New York in the early to mid 80s, I refined by potato pancake making abilities! My children (especially one daughter in particular) could love and could live off potato pancakes. My husband now loves potato pancakes. So here, try our potato pancakes!

You can eat them alone, or with a meat (they go well with a brisket or a pork chop (for those that eat pork). They are good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

8 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled
1 sweet (Vidalia) onion
Lemon juice
1 c flour
1 c half and half (whole milk can be substituted)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 T baking powder (or matzo added to the flour)
2 T melted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Grate potatoes using a food processor or the large-hole side of a hand grater. Chop onion into a size similar to the grated potato. Combine onion and potatoes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and let drain. Mix flour, half and half, eggs baking powder together. (if using Matzo, add the Matzo to the flour, before mixing in the egg and half and half). Squeeze any excess water from the potatoes and onions. Add the flour/egg mix to the potatoes. Add melted butter. Shape into 3-inch diameter patties, about 1 inch in thickness.

Heat oil in pan. There should be about 1/2 inch of oil in the pan. Make sure oil is hot. You can test by placing a small piece of the batter in the oil. If it sizzles, bubbles and crackles you are good to go. Make sure you remove the test piece. Place no more than four patties into the pan. Let them cook and brown completely on one side before turning. Do not play with them. Just let them be! You will notice that the patties are ready when you can see the potatoes along the side, becoming golden brown. Turn them over and allow them to cook thoroughly on the other side. Remember, you should only turn then ONE TIME!

Remove from pan and place onto a paper towel to drain. Before adding more patties to the oil, remove all pieces. If you keep in the pieces, it will affect the temperature of the oil. Repeat the process until all the patties are cooked.

Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce.