Friday, August 17, 2012

New House, New Food

Moving is an exhausting experience.  I'm not just referring to the actual moving of furniture and boxes piled high with your most prized possessions, I mean the entire process.  I think the worst part of moving is the few weeks before moving out and after moving in when all the kitchen gadgets are packed away in boxes.  During this time there is always a moment when you want to make something interesting for dinner, you go to find that absolutely essential gadget... and it's already in a box.

HOWEVER, that really just makes the moment when you are finished moving and can start making real food again all that much sweeter.  My partner, Harry, and I recently moved to Richmond, Virginia and we'd been suffering with an incomplete kitchen for quite a while.  After finally managing to find room for the myriad of pots, pans, and processors, we were ready for some high class cuisine - or at least something that didn't come directly out of a microwave.

Tonight's dinner was developed in stages.  This afternoon, while waiting for a cake to finish in the oven (more about that later), I whipped together some hummus from basic canned garbanzo beans.  If I had to guess the recipe was something like this:

Zesty Thai Hummus
  • 1 (10 oz.) can of garbanzo beans
  • 1-1.5 tsp of Thai green curry paste
  • 15-20 large mint leaves
  • 1/4 tsp of lime zest
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Tip: Every time that I need to use limes or lime juice for something, I zest the lime even if the recipe doesn't call for lime zest.  All of that tasty zest can be put in a little jar and frozen, keeping it nearly as good as new for quite a long time and you'll always have some zest on hand for delicious hummus like this!

All you have to do is put all of these things together in a food processor and voilà, hummus!  I had no idea what I was going to do with this hummus, but I knew I wanted to eat it for dinner.

As the day went on and I kept working on the cake, I thought about how I could use the hummus without just spreading it on a tortilla and calling it a day.  As I reached in to the fridge to grab the strawberries for the cake, I saw some Mucho Nacho Peppers we got in Texas from Harry's parents.

Teaser for more cake to come!
 Now, these peppers are really very pretty.  As they are ripening, they develop from a typical jalapeño green into a deep red.  With these peppers as inspiration, I developed this recipe while I frosted that delicious cake.

Baked Hummus Mucho Nacho/Jalapeño Poppers
  •  6-10 peppers, halved and seeded (make sure they are fairly dry as well)
  • 3/4 cup of hummus (really any kind will probably do, but I obviously used the Zesty Thai Hummus)
  • 3 oz of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese (I used a "Mexican" blend)
  • 2 eggs
  • Bread crumbs
 Tip: How much hummus and cheese you will need is really dependent on how big the peppers are, as well as how many there are, so try to plan according to size.  This recipe would probably work best for 10 medium sized peppers, thus making 20 poppers.

The reason why I liked this recipe so much was that it enabled me to add some protein to our dinner without defrosting any chicken - there are about 15 grams of protein in 1 cup of garbanzo beans!  For some reason, I was too lazy to defrost chicken, but not too lazy to make both hummus and poppers - go figure.

Now, to construct the poppers, take your seeded peppers and place a nice, big, rounded mound of the hummus/cheese mixture into the hollow.  After you do this for each pepper half, place them in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes.  This hardens the hummus/cheese mixture enough that this next step is easy.  While the poppers freeze, beat your eggs in a bowl and pour out some bread crumbs onto a plate.  When they are ready, dip the poppers into the egg mixture, then roll in the bread crumbs.  I like to place them, pepper side down, on the bread crumbs, then sprinkle crumbs on the top - it seems more efficient.

Finally, bake them at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  You should keep an eye on them since they tend to bubble out of their bread crumb shells - but even if they do bubble out, they are delicious and you can just put the escaping hummus/cheese back on top of the popper.

When they are finished, they should be crispy and golden, like this:

You can see some of the bubbled hummus/cheese, but we didn't care, it was too tasty to worry about!
We ate these delicious and moderately healthy (don't forget all the protein and that they aren't fried!) treats with some tasty spaghetti and diced tomatoes.  All in all, I am quite satisfied with this foray into our new kitchen and I'm looking forward to many more.

Now, denizens of the internet, it is time for me to go to bed, which means you will have to wait to hear about that delicious chocolate cake on a different day - but believe me, it's worth it!  

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