Easy Homemade Cilantro Lime Hummus

It's been a long time since I have posted.  Too long as a matter of fact.  I promise to make a point to try to update more often.  This past year has brought a slew of changes including a slap in the face reality that we need to change our diet and lifestyle.  I will go into that later.

We are slowly but surely changing our lifestyle into one that makes a point to have fruits and vegetables as our main course and to replace low nutritional value per calorie foods with those that have higher nutritional value. I don't know about you, but I personally like dressing on my salads or for dipping.  Something I know adds extra calories with low nutritional value. It's hard to give up the flavor! In order to provide nutrition without loosing my urge to dip, I have been experimenting with homemade hummus.

Hummus is jam packed with nutrients and health benefits.  Check out this webpage for a good explanation of the nutritional goodies.  My favorite concoction, and least complained about by my son, is my Cilantro Lime Hummus.

*Please note that most Hummus includes Tahini.  This certainly is not an ingredient that I have in my kitchen so I left it out.

Cilantro Lime Hummus

1 Can Chickpeas, drained - SAVE THE LIQUID
1 clove garlic
1 handful of cilantro (about 1/2 a bunch. more or less to your taste)
Juice of 1 lime
1 T. Olive Oil  (I omit.  You can leave it out too. It's healthier that way)
1/4 t. Cayenne Pepper (or more if you like it hot)
Salt to taste

*Extra - add a little cumin powder as a variation

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and start blending.  Slowly add the remaining liquid (I don't measure but I think it I add around 1/4 cup, give or take) until it reaches the pasty, nicely blended consistency.

That is it. Experiment with the portions of the ingredients to find the exact flavor you desire.  I will place some in a nice leaf of Kale and add some shredded carrots, kohlrabi and other veggies for a veggie taco.  It is delish.

Enjoy and if you have any variations I would love to hear them.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

For years I have been wanting to make homemade vanilla extract.  I never got around to ordering the Madagascar Vanilla pods that are highly suggested to be used in all the recipes.  Maybe I thought they were too expensive and I couldn't rationalize paying shipping on top of it.  Anyway, I put it on my wish list of things to do and forgot about it.

Saturday I visited a new favorite spice store.  This place smells wonderful before you even step in the door.  What do you know, they had a jar of fresh Madagascar pods sitting on the shelf behind the register.  I bought 5.

I have never purchased fresh vanilla beans before and wasn't prepared for the overwhelming wonderful smell they emit. Of course it smells of vanilla but this was so pure and fresh.

If we had smell-a-net right now, your nose would be glued to the screen.  I started with 5 beans.

I took some bottom shelf vodka (from what I have read, vodka does not interfer with the flavor of the vanilla.  You can use rum or bourbon should you choose.)  You may notice that the end result is not in this canning jar.  I decided to go with smaller jars after I took this picture.
Begin by slicing open the beans.  You will need 5 beans for 1 cup of vodka.
Sealed the jars and set them on a shelf in my basement.  Now the waiting begins.  Once a week, I need to flip the jars and at the end of 8 weeks, the homemade Vanilla Extract will be ready to be used.
I have read that you can replenish the amount that you use with more vodka.  I will keep you updated on the progress of the vanilla extract over the next 8 weeks.

Canning Zucchini Relish, reduced sugar recipe and review

         It's that time of year again, the time where zucchini is coming in at full force. The time of year that you can check your plants one day and see nothing then the very next day, you find a mutant two footer. 
         With the overgrown mutants, I love making Zucchini Relish. Quite a few of my blog visitors have asked about a low or reduced sugar recipe.  Until today, I haven't had a clear answer as to what the taste impact would be by reducing the sugar.
          I started by reducing the amount of sugar by 1 cup (the recipe calls for 3 cups total).  I let the complete mix process for 20 minutes and gave it a taste test.  Typically I have a hard time staying out of the relish before its processed but not this time.  I found the relish tart.  Much too tart for my taste. 
          I couldn't can it that way. My family would never eat it and it would go to waste.  I figured I attempt to stay the reduced sugar route and added a 1/2 cup more.  This made the recipe tolerable with a passable amount of sweetness.  In my opinion, if you are wanting to reduce the amount of sugar, only reduce it 1/2 cup.
          Conclusion, even though I have tried to reduce the amount of sugar in other canning recipes, this one is simply not one to mess with.  It is beyond good and the most excellent addition to any chicken, hot dog, hamburger and more. 

Here is the orginal recipe.  It is wonderful and makes a wonderful gift...that is if you can part with it.