Category Archives: Spreads and Dips

Basil Pesto

I’ve grown basil every summer for many years–sometimes in a garden, but lately in a large pot, since I don’t have space for a garden right now. I love making homemade pesto with my basil! It’s really easy to make and there’s nothing like cutting fresh basil from your own garden or pot to make it. What probably takes the longest time in making this recipe is picking the basil leaves off the cut stems…but even that task is enjoyable because you get to sniff the wonderful aroma of fresh basil while you’re doing it! Here’s a simple recipe I use…it’s a good starting point, and you can adjust the amount of certain ingredients (like the garlic, for example) to suit your taste. You can use a food processor or blender–a food processor probably works best, but a blender will work, too.

BASIL PESTO by NancyC

Makes 2/3 to 3/4 cup

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves. packed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. pine nuts (I often substitute pecans or walnuts, because they’re less expensive)
  • Dash or two of salt, to taste (optional)

In a food processor or blender, add the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic; blend or process until smooth (the mixture is on the thick side, so if you’re using a blender, you may have to stop the blender and stir with a spoon to help it along). Add the Parmesan cheese and nuts (and salt, if desired) to the basil mixture, and blend well. Spoon it out of the blender or food processor into a small bowl (or covered container if you’re going to use it later).

I mostly eat pesto spread on a thick slice of crusty bread. It’s also really good on the Asiago cheese bagels you can buy at Panera Bread or Atlanta Bread Company. If you’re a sourdough bread fan like I am, it’s good on that too!

Do you grow your own basil too? What do you like to make with it?

Sharing at Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me MondayFiesta Friday

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Red Beet Hummus

Beets were never on my list of favorite foods as a kid, but I’ve grown to like them. And I especially like that they are so healthy and good for you. I make recipes with beets every so often–probably not as often as I should–and I had the perfect opportunity to make a beet recipe when I received a complimentary package of Gefen’s Vacuum-Packed Beets, which are organic and also pre-peeled, making them very handy and convenient to use.

These beets work great in everything from salads to smoothies. I decided to make Red Beet Hummus. I love trying different hummus recipes and hadn’t tried one with beets yet. I really like this hummus! It doesn’t have a super-strong beet flavor, since it just has about 1 medium-size beet in it. I think the mild beet flavor goes nicely with the other hummus ingredients, and adding beet to the mix makes this hummus so healthy! If you don’t happen to have any Gefen’s beets on hand, you can use precooked beets or roasted beets instead.

RED BEET HUMMUS by NancyC

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of Garbanzo Beans (also called chickpeas)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped, cooked (or roasted), peeled red beet (about 1 medium size beet)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove minced garlic (you can use 2 cloves if you want a stronger garlic flavor)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of paprika

Add garbanzo beans, chopped beet, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Puree until mixture is smooth. Add sea salt, pepper, and paprika and blend everything together. Add more seasoning to taste if desired. Serve with crackers or veggies or use as a spread on bread or bagels.

I’ve learned that beets are a great source of of vitamin C, iron, fiber, and essential minerals. I really need to get more beets in my diet! Do you make any dishes with beets?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Stovetop Apple Cinnamon Butter

Stovetop Cinnamon Apple Butter @ NancyC

Last fall, I made some homemade applesauce. I thought it was so much better than store-bought. After making that, I decided I needed to try making homemade apple butter sometime. Several friends have given me homemade apple butter the last few years–it makes a wonderful food gift, especially around the holidays. I discovered you can make apple butter with the slow cooker or on the stovetop, and for my first try I decided to make a stovetop version.

This recipe is really easy and it’s weetened with honey and apple juice or apple cider. You basically just put all the ingredients in a large pot and let it cook on low for an hour, until the apples get all tender and mashable. Then you let the mixture cool a little and puree to a smoother consistency in a food processor or blender. I love the cinnamony taste and I think that homemade apple butter, like homemade applesauce, is so much better than any you can buy!

STOVETOP APPLE CINNAMON BUTTER by NancyC

Makes 3 3/4 cups

  • 8 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples (about 8 medium, or 2 1/2 pounds)–I used Gala apples; if using organic apples, you can leave the skin on if you want
  • 2/3 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

In a large pot or saucepan, combine chopped apples with the rest of the ingredients. Stir well, cover pot, and cook on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Let mixture cool for 15 minutes, then, in several batches, put mixture in blender and puree until smooth (be careful not to overfill your blender or food processor!).

Store in jars with tight-fitting lids or airtight food containers and refrigerate for up to one week.

This apple butter is great on toast, muffins, biscuits, and scones. You can stir it into plain or vanilla yogurt to flavor it up more, or layer it with yogurt and granola for a breakfast parfait.

Have you ever made your own homemade apple butter?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck.

Blue Cheese Dip

Blue Cheese Dip @ NancyCIf you like thick, creamy dips and blue cheese, you’ll have to try this! This Blue Cheese Dip is made with plain Greek yogurt (or you can substitute light or fat-free sour cream). I like to use fat free Greek yogurt. I know not everyone is a fan of blue cheese–in fact, people seem to either really love it or hate it. I’ve always liked it. Actually, I can’t think of any kind of cheese that I don’t like! 🙂

This is a good recipe for summer, if you want to have a snack with fresh veggies. It’s good with crackers or chips, too. And it would also be yummy with something spicy like buffalo chicken wings. It’s super quick and easy to make and if you have time, you’ll want to make it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it–for some reason, this dip seems to taste better when made ahead!

BLUE CHEESE DIP by NancyC

Makes about 1 2/3 cups (tastes best when made a day before serving)

  • 4 oz. finely crumbled blue cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream (or 1/2 cup of each)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • Optional: salt and pepper to taste; you can also add in some garlic or onion powder too, if you like!

In medium size bowl, mix blue cheese crumbles with plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Add in the lemon juice and mayonnaise, blending everything well. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Spoon mixture into serving bowl and serve or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve–it tastes best if you make it the day before serving it!

Serve with crackers, veggies, or chips. Also tastes great with spicy foods like Buffalo Chicken Wings!

So are you a fan of blue cheese too? Do you have a favorite blue cheese recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Show and Share.

Cucumber Dill Hummus

CucumberDillHummus@NancyCreative.com

If you’ve ever grown cucumbers in your garden, there’s a good chance you end up with more than you know what to do with! So here’s a recipe you can use some of those cucumbers in. If you’ve never tried making hummus before, this would be a great time to try it out–you can whip it up in a blender or food processor–it’s very easy to make! This hummus has a mild cucumber and dill flavor–if you really like dill, you might want to add in a little more for a stronger flavor.

CUCUMBER DILL HUMMUS by NancyC

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

  • 1 (15-ounce) can Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), rinsed and drained
  • Half of a medium-size cucumber, washed, peeled, and coarsely chopped (about 1  cup)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 Tablespoon fresh dill (for a stronger dill flavor, add a little more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • optional garnishes: a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh or dried dill, a sprinkle of paprika, 1 1/2 Tablespoons finely chopped cucumber

In a high-speed blender or food processor, add the Garbanzo beans, cucumber, and lemon juice; blend until smooth. Add in the olive oil, tahini, dill, salt, paprika, and minced garlic; blend all ingredients until smooth.

Spoon hummus into a small serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of fresh or dried dill, a sprinkle of paprika, and/or some finely chopped cucumber. Serve with toasted pita bread, crackers, or veggies–cucumber slices are great with this! Cover and refrigerate any leftover hummus for up to 5 days.

It’s hard to believe there are just a few weeks left of summer! I’m really going to miss those long, sunny days and the abundance of home-grown fresh fruits and veggies. Have you grown any cucumbers in your garden this year?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Simply Sundays, Sunday Features, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Handmade Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Inspiration Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Treasure Hunt Thursday, Share Your Style, Feathered Nest Friday.

Watermelon-Peach Salsa

Watermelon Peach Salsa@NancyCreative.com

I enjoy trying different fruity salsa flavors in the summer months. So far I’ve made Peach Cucumber Salsa, Mango-Jalapeno Salsa,  Zesty Watermelon Salsa, Blueberry Salsa, and Savory Strawberry Salsa. I recently found a new one to try at MyRecipes.com. This summery salsa combines watermelon, peaches, basil, and chives, flavored with some lime juice and hot pepper jelly. The pepper jelly makes this quite spicy, so if you don’t like spicy, you could try substituting a peach jelly or jam. The original recipe says to serve the salsa in cups over baby heirloom tomatoes, kind of like a fruit salad, but you can also serve it in a bowl with tortilla chips for more of a snack–just omit the tomato portion of the recipe. Or you can mix the tomatoes right in with the rest of the salsa ingredients. I like it both ways–with or without the tomatoes–so you may want to try both ways, too.

WATERMELON-PEACH SALSA by NancyC, slightly adapted from MyRecipes.comMakes 6 servingsFor the salsa:

  • 1/2 cup hot pepper or red pepper jelly (if you don’t like spicy, use a peach jelly or jam)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice, fresh or bottled
  • Optional: 1 Tablespoon lime zest
  • 2 cups seeded and diced watermelon
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced fresh peaches (I used a combination of yellow and white peaches)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

For the tomatoes:

  • 3 cups cherry, grape, or baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together pepper jelly, lime juice, and lime zest (if using); stir in watermelon, peaches, basil, and chives. Season halved tomatoes with salt and pepper to taste, then spoon into cups. Top tomatoes with the salsa mixture and garnish with basil sprigs. Note: if you serve the salsa with tortilla chips, you can omit the tomatoes and serve the salsa in a bowl (you can also mix in the tomatoes with the rest of the salsa ingredients and serve in a bowl that way, too).

Fruit salsa is great for summer snacks! Have you made any fruit salsa this summer?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Inspiration Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Let’s Get Real Friday.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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It’s been awhile since I tried a new hummus flavor. I’ve made quite a few different kinds of hummus already–like Avocado Hummus, Lemon Artichoke Hummus, Black Olive Hummus, Black Bean Hummus, Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus, Pumpkin Hummus, and good old regular Hummus! Roasted Red Pepper Hummus was next on my list. It was worth trying–the roasted red peppers, blended with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and other spices give this hummus a nice flavor and a creamy consistency that’s great for spreading on pita bread or other breads (I also like it on sourdough) and also for using as a dip with veggies, tortilla chips, or crackers. If you’re a hummus fan like I am, you just may want to try this out!

ROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS by NancyC

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 3/4 cup roasted red bell pepper pieces from a jar, drained
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil (start with 2 and add 1 more if consistency is too thick)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1 to 2 Tablespoons additional finely chopped roasted red bell pepper from jar, for garnish

In a high-speed blender or food processor, add all ingredients and mix until everything is well blended.

Spoon hummus into a serving bowl and garnish with chopped roasted red bell pepper if desired. Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, fresh veggies, or warmed or toasted pita bread. Note: the garlic and pepper flavor get a little stronger the day after this hummus is made.

I’m glad hummus is healthy, because it’s one of my favorite things to eat or snack on. What’s your favorite healthy snack or dip?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me MondayShow and Share Tuesday, Let’s Get Real Friday.

Texas Trash Warm Bean Dip

ncTxTrshWrmBnDp1nm I made this dip against my better judgement. I say that because it’s so hard to stop eating it–it’s totally addicting if you love creamy, cheesy, southwestern-style dips! You bake this in the oven and when it’s done, you dig in while it’s still warm with your favorite tortilla chips. And you may have to force yourself to stop! I added some chopped green chiles to the recipe I had found at Food.com and made it slightly different. All I can say is, wow–this dip is good! You need to try it sometime!

TEXAS TRASH WARM BEAN DIP by NancyC, adapted from Food.com

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans refried beans
  • 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 13″ baking pan; set aside. In large bowl, blend softened cream cheese and sour cream. Add in green chiles, then mix in refried beans until combined. Stir in taco seasoning mix, blending everything well, then mix in 1/2 cup each of the Cheddar and Montery Jack cheeses (a total of 1 cup), blending into the mixture well. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses (you’ll have a total of 3 cups of cheese to sprinkle on top). Bake at 350˚F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with tortilla chips.

ncTxTrshWmBnDip2nm This dip is great to make for parties, game-watching, or even when you’re watching the Oscars. Are any of your favorite movies or actors and actresses nominated for awards?

Sharing this recipe at Meal Plan Monday,  Weekend PotluckInspire Me Monday, Wow Me Wednesday, Show and Share Tuesday, Full Plate Thursday.

Texas Caviar

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The Super Bowl is just about here and if you’re planning on watching the game, you’re probably deciding on what kind of snacks you want to make. If you’re still looking for ideas, this Texas Caviar is a great recipe to try! Some people also call this Cowboy Caviar. I’ve seen lots of variations on this dip and decided to come up with my own version. Most recipes you’ll see have black beans, black-eyed peas or pinto beans, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, and onion. I like adding chopped green chiles and avocado to mine. And olives–don’t forget the olives! It’s actually quite a healthy mix of veggies and beans. I used canned diced tomatoes, but you can dice up some fresh ones, and you can use fresh or frozen corn instead of canned. And it tastes great! Serve it with those scoop-style chips and enjoy every bite!

TEXAS CAVIAR by NancyC

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 small red onion (or 1/2 large), finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (or use an equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained (or use a 10-ounce bag of frozen corn, thawed)
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives (I used sliced Kalamata olives)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles (or use fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 2/3 cup Italian salad dressing (regular or light)
  • 1 large avocado, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Mix all ingredients, except for the Italian salad dressing, cilantro, and avocado in a large bowl, blending so all ingredients are distributed evenly.

Add the Italian dressing; toss well so all ingredients are coated with dressing.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours. Then toss with chopped fresh cilantro and avocado.

Put mixture into a large serving bowl or several smaller bowls and serve with tortilla chips.

When it comes to watching the Super Bowl, I have to admit I actually enjoy the commercials the most! I like going to sports games, but watching them on TV just doesn’t hold my interest. What do you like best–the game or the commercials?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy.

Mini Fiesta Cups

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In my last post, I shared a recipe with you called Mini Cannoli Cups–a yummy bite-size dessert made with Nasoya® Won Ton Wraps. And I mentioned I’d be sharing another recipe that’s made with these wraps, so here it is! When I was developing this recipe, I was thinking about the great flavors that are in Tex-Mex style layered dips. So I thought, why not make a mini version–a little bite-size portion of all those great flavors nestled in a baked won ton wrap–a perfect appetizer or finger food for holiday gatherings or parties. If this isn’t Christmasy enough for you, you can always try it out for New Year’s Eve or for game-watching on New Year’s Day! These mini cups are filled with guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, black olives, tomatoes, and green onions–all in tiny bite-size portions. Tiny in size, but very big on flavor! After baking the won ton wraps in your mini muffin pan, keep the baked cups in the pan while you’re adding the fillings, then after they’re filled, arrange on a serving plate.  I thought these were very yummy–hope you do, too!

MINI FIESTA CUPS by NancyC

Makes 52 mini fiesta cups

  • 1 (12-ounce) package Nasoya® Won Ton Wraps
  • 2 cups purchased or homemade guacamole
  • 1 cup sour cream, regular or lite
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped black olives (or use sliced olives; 1 to 2 slices per fiesta cup)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped tomatoes (or substitute a dab of chunky salsa for each fiesta cup)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion stems (you’ll need about 4 green onions)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Using a mini cupcake/muffin pan, press won ton wrappers into cups. Lightly spray them with cooking spray and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until cups are golden brown.

Let cups cool about 5 minutes, then fill each cup with 1/2 Tablespoon guacamole, 1/2 teaspoon sour cream, and a light sprinkling of finely shredded cheddar cheese, chopped black olives, tomatoes, and green onions.

Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

ncMiniFiestaCups2nm

I have to warn you, once you start eating these, it can be hard to stop! Are you planning on making any appetizers over the holidays?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create With Joy.