Olive and Red Wine Hummus {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I am currently blogging from #BlogBrulee at beautiful Smuggler’s Notch Vermont. I’m only half a day in and already I feel like I’ve learned so much and met the most amazing, inspiring bloggers. More on that to come – or if you can’t wait, check out my last post, which explains all about the awesomeness that is Blog Brulee.

I owe my ability to even go to Blog Brûlée to Recipe ReDux, which not only gives me creative recipe ideas every month and allows me to connect with fellow Recipe ReDuxers; it also means I get introduced to awesome foods/food brands/commodity boards like California Ripe Olives. They’ve challenged us ReDuxers to utilize and highlight California Ripe Olives in a unique and tasty recipe that also includes other flavors represented in the Mediterranean Diet e.g. vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish/seafood and more.

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I received free samples of California Ripe Olives mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Ripe Olives and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

 If you haven’t gathered from my blog/social media food posts (which make up about 99% of my posts), I am a HUGE fan of Mediterranean foods, and being half Armenian, grew up eating the best.

My favorite Mediterranean food – hell, my favorite food period – is hummus. Hummus has the perfect blend of lemony-garlicky-olivey flavor that works just as well as a dip, spread, condiment or to eat with a spoon (guilty). Beyond the deliciousness, hummus provides great nutrition. My clients often think that hummus is “fattening.” Grrrrrr, the “fattening” comment AKA one of my dietitian pet peeves.

[Stepping on soapbox] First off, foods that contain fats, specifically the good ones – monounsaturated, omega-3s, etc. – do not make you fat. In fact, those fats bring down inflammation in your body, which can make you feel better and also decrease your risk for various health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory issues like rheumatoid arthritis and IBS.

Second, let’s compare hummus to other condiments such as BBQ sauce, ketchup, premade salad dressings and all the other junk. Hummus generally contains whole, real ingredients, barely any sugar and not much sodium. It is an infinitely better condiment than the other aforementioned sauces, which are generally LOADED with salt, sugar/high-fructose corn syrup, weird oils, preservatives and more. [Stepping off soapbox]

Okay, back to my love affair with hummus and also my love for olives, which I’m not sure I’ve mentioned yet but which is real and true.

Olives are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and contain monounsaturated fat (1.5 grams per 4-olive serving) – the good fat, as we’ve discussed. California Black Ripe Olives are as nutrient-loaded as they are tasty. They contain vitamin E (0.25 mg per serving), iron, (0.49 mg per serving), vitamin A (60 IU per serving) and fiber (0.5 grams per serving). California Ripe Olives are extremely versatile in the pantry.
Since I love hummus already, I figured why not pump up the olive flavor with California Ripe Olives? Oh, did I mention there’s also red wine thrown in the mix? Because sometimes when you’re making California Ripe Olive Hummus and drinking red wine, you have crazy ideas like adding said wine to the hummus. And sometimes these ideas actually turn out great, as they did here. Cheers to that!

California Ripe Black Olive and Red Wine Hummus

Serve this savory, briney hummus with your favorite vegetables, cheeses and meats or enjoy it spread on a sandwich or “dilute it” with some oil and vinegar like I do to turn it into a salad dressing.

mediterranean_hummus 

Ingredients:

  • 2 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans, drained and well-rinsed
  • 1 can California Ripe Black Olives, drained, with 2-3 olive reserved
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil plus 1 tsp.
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients, except for olive oil, to food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Drizzle olive oil through the feed tube and process until well-incorporated.
  3. Chop reserved olives and add to the top of the hummus as a garnish. Drizzle with 1 tsp. olive oil.

For more California Ripe Olive recipes, check out the link below.

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Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro-Lime Pesto {Vegan}

Because you know I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. I’m all about that beet, bout that beet, with pesto. Hey!

I’m bringing beet soup baaaaacccckkk!

I could totally continue on with my Meghan Trainor/beet soup song, but I have an important recipe that needs sharing. For soup, no less. And while this soup is totally about the beets, it’s also about the butternut squash, coconut, curry and THE PESTO. [Vegan] Cilantro Lime Pesto that I posted yesterday. The combination of that pesto and this soup is money.

coconut_curry_butternut_squash_beet_soup_vegan

Who calls a soup + pesto combination “money”? I called a sandwich “money” the other day while out to eat with the boy, who proceeded to tease me about using the phrase to describe food.

I guess that’s just how I roll.

Okay, back to soup.

I’m not generally a soup maker. I make big batches of chili all the time but for some reason I’ve neglected soup.

I think it’s because, until now, I didn’t appreciate the beauty of soup. Soup is a fantastic way to use up ingredients — produce, proteins, etc. — that are on the verge of going bad. While soups can take a little longer to prepare, they yield a giant pot of deliciousness that can then feed you for days. Soups also let you play around with flavor combinations and can be relatively fool-proof.

The curry-coconut-cilantro combo (with beets + butternut squash) is seriously delicious. The richness from the coconut is perfectly balanced by the acidity and freshness of the Cilantro Lime Pesto.

And while I’m not a vegan, the vegan principle of using real, whole ingredients is one that I totally get behind. If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really do processed foods.

coconut_curry_beet_squash_soup_vegan

Coconut Curry Beet and Butternut Squash Soup with Cilantro Lime Pesto

This soup would be perfect to serve at parties, for the holidays or just make whenever you want a warming, delicious and satisfying meal. If you’re not a vegan, I suggest pairing this with a grilled chicken breast for some protein.

Servings: 6, 10 oz. cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 2 large, fresh beets
  • 1 can (13.6 oz.) light coconut milk + 1 can (13.6 oz.) water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • Cilantro Lime Pesto for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut butternut squash in quarters. Cut the ends off (the little nub at the top and tough part at the bottom). Scoop out the seeds (save these for delicious roasted squash seeds if you feel inclined).
  3. Wash/scrub beets well. Cut off top and bottom of each beet, then cut into quarters. No need to peel the beets — just make sure you scrub them well.
  4. Lay butternut squash, cut side down, and beets on a sheet pan and roast for about an hour, until they are soft. Peel the skin of the butternut squash off (it should easily come off). Let the squash and beets cool slightly.
  5. When beets and squash slightly cooled, add to a food processor and pulse mixture until smooth.
  6. Add blended mixture to a large pot, along with coconut milk, water, curry powder, salt, pepper and optional chili powder.
  7. Heat over medium until mixture starts to boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Top each serving with a spoonful of cilantro pesto and serve warm.

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Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.

I’ve learned throughout the years that one can never have too much cheese. Cheese adds creaminess, gooiness and deliciousness — and also can elevate a dish and make it so much more satisfying.

I should probably write a love song about cheese, but I’ll spare you for now.

Cabot Cheeses are a personal favorite. Because their cheddars are aged, they are naturally lactose-free. More importantly, they give 100% of profits back to the 1,200 dairy farm families that make up their co-op. While browsing their website, I also came across the story of Barstow’s Longview Farm, who actually use their cows’ waste to create enough energy to power their farm AND churn Cabot butter. Awesome! Truly making lemonade out of lemons (aren’t you glad I went with that analogy over others?).

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When Cabot tasked us Recipe ReDuxers with creating healthier appetizers fit for Super Bowl and awards show parties — and provided us with LOTS and LOTS of cheese samples — I came up with an infinite list of recipe ideas.

I love apples and cheese, so first I went sweet with my Loaded Apple Cheddar Nachos using Cabot’s Farmers’ Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar. After making those, all I wanted to do was make more apple-cheddar recipes. Those nachos were seriously delicious.

I was able to control that urge, however, and come up with an equally delicious savory appetizer that combines perfectly-spicy Cabot Pepper Jack cheese with sweet potatoes, black beans, red onions and cilantro to make a fresh and healthy side dish.

Southwestern Sweet Potato Romaine Wraps with Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese

These are the perfect appetizer for game day parties or for a tasty snack. Add chicken or crumble tofu into the sweet potato and black bean mixture to create a full meal. If you like things extra spicy, chili powder would be a delicious addition.

Serves 4 (2 romaine wraps/person)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup black beans (if using canned, go with a No Salt Added variety)
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Romaine hearts, washed with leaves separated (8 leaves total)
  • 4 oz. Cabot Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Add red onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add diced sweet potatoes and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add in the black beans, cumin, paprika, salt and black pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  2. While mixture is cooking, turn oven onto broil.
  3. Lay romaine leaves on a baking sheet and spoon 2-3 Tbsp. of the sweet potato and black bean mixture into each leaf. Top evenly with shredded Cabot Pepper Jack (1/2 ounce per leaf).
  4. Broil for 1-3 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  5. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve warm.

Southwestern_Romaine_Bites_Cabot_Pepper_Jack

See what other delicious Cabot cheese creations Recipe ReDuxers have created by clicking on the link below!

Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos {Sponsored Recipe ReDux}

I received free samples of Cabot Cheese mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe challenge sponsored by Cabot Creamery and am eligible to win prizes. I was not additionally compensated for my time.

Wowza. When Cabot Creamery tasked us with creating a lightened-up appetizer fit for game day and red carpet parties, I never dreamed that I’d create something as delicious as these Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos. But I did guys, and I would love nothing more than to share the recipe with you.

It all started when two packages filled with Cabot cheese arrived at my doorstep…so basically the best gift you could ever receive. At first I was a little overwhelmed with all the cheese, but then I snapped back to reality and realized that there is no such thing as too much cheese. It was time to create a delicious recipe.

loaded_cheddar_apple_nachos

It’s all about the cheddar here, guys. I fell in love with Cabot’s Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar. To me, it’s almost reminiscent of an aged Parmesan.

I also learned that Cabot’s cheddar cheeses are naturally lactose-free (can’t wait to tell all my lactose intolerance clients and friends)!

Even more awesome is the fact that Cabot Creamery is a family-farmer owned cooperative of more than 1,200 farms located throughout New England and New York. One-hundred percent of Cabot’s profits go back to their farmers. Can’t ask for anything better than that!

cabot_cheddar_cheese

I really do have to pat myself on the back for this recipe. It combines sweet and savory, lots of texture from the toppings and is warm and gooey and perfect for game-day parties. I hope you enjoy!

Loaded Cheddar Apple Nachos

Servings: 2-3

If you don’t have walnuts, use almonds or pecans. Don’t like cranberries? Try tart cherries or raisins. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup if you’re avoiding grain sugar. I used the ever-so-fast microwave method to make the apple chips, but if you’d rather bake them, you can cook each side in a 200 degree oven for about 1-1.5 hours.

loaded_cheddar_apple_nachos_baked

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium apples, such as Gala or Honey Crisp
  • 2 oz. Cabot Farmers’ Legacy Collection Alpine Cheddar, grated
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup crushed walnuts
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

loaded_cheddar_apple_nachos_ingredients

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice apples thinly using a mandolin or sharp knife. They look prettiest when you slice horizontally, though they are harder to control, so feel free to slice vertically if that’s easier. Don’t worry if you don’t get a perfect slice — slivers work just as well here.
  3. Line a large, microwave-safe plate with parchment paper. Working in rounds, lay apples on parchment paper in a single layer. Microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until edges of apples start to curl. Flip slices over and microwave another 1-2 minutes. Lay apples out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let sit. They will start to harden the longer they sit. Make sure to keep a close eye on the apples to ensure they’re not burning (ruined a few slices this way).
  4. Once all the apples are “chip-ified,” arrange them on the parchment-lined baking so that they overlap slightly. Sprinkle with cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon, sugar and then finish with grated Cabot Alpine Cheddar.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and slightly toasted.

loaded_apple_nachos_unbaked

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With all that cheese awaiting me in the fridge, there are bound to be more recipes coming. In the meantime, check out other Recipe ReDuxers’ Cabot cheese creations:

Cheesy Phyllo Bites {Recipe ReDux}

It’s almost Thanksgiving!! Have you figured out your Turkey Day menu yet? Holiday meny planning is a favorite activity, especially when done with my mom. Whether we’re physically together or discussing over the phone, we brainstorm back and forth to come up with the perfect menu.

Needless to say, we’ve been plotting what to make for Thanksgiving for a couple weeks now. We wanted to make something to honor my Grandma Sona, who passed away over the summer. She was truly a very special lady and we all miss her more than words can say.

My Grandma was the most amazing cook, even though she would tell you she really didn’t like cooking. While she’s made quite a few memorable dishes, my favorite was always Boreg. It’s an Armenian savory phyllo dough casserole similar to Spanikopita, but with the spinach subbed out for cheese and eggs. It’s seriously divine.

So when the folks at Recipe ReDux challenged us to share one of our favorite food memories and the healthier “redo” of the recipe, my decision was easy-peasy.

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I had made Boreg with my Grandma only one time, after convincing her to show me how. I quickly tried to jot down her recipe (or lack thereof) and eyeball how much cheese, milk, eggs, etc. she was using and managed to come up with a relatively straightforward recipe. We had a really great day cooking and hanging out together. And our Boreg was phenomenal, as always. She was very patient showing me how to handle the phyllo dough, brush the butter on, add the filling and bake it.

I had never actually made it myself, though, let alone made a healthier version of it.

boreg_bites

Grandma’s recipe called for one cup each of Parmesan, Romano and Feta cheese and up to one stick of butter. I’m all for eating fats, but that’s a LOT of fat!

To lighten it up a bit, I used low fat cottage cheese in place of some of the other cheese, cut down from one stick of butter to just 3 Tbsp., and used only about half of the package of phyllo dough, and I have to say that my version tasted almost as good — there’s no way I could ever beat Grandma’s — as G-Sona’s (our nickname for her).

Recipe: Cheesy Phyllo Dough Boreg Bites

These Boreg bites would be a perfect side or appetizer for the holidays. Try to work as quickly as possible when handling the phyllo dough as it dries out very fast. Don’t worry if the phyllo tears or gets crumbly — mine did and it turned out just fine.

boreg_ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 package phyllo dough, defrosted (you will only need about 1/2-3/4 of the package)
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup Romano and Parmesan cheese blend (or 1/4 cup of each)
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

cheesy_appetizer_bites

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a one-dozen muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Lay phyllo dough out on cutting board and cut into squares of about two inches by two inches.
  3. Lay 1-2 squares of phyllo dough in each of the muffin tin slots and gently press the phyllo into the slots. Brush the top layer with butter. Continue this process for 5-6 more layers.
  4. Mix 3 eggs, cottage cheese, Feta and Romano/Parmesan blend. Place a dollop of the mixture in each of the phyllo cups.
  5. Continue to layer 5-6 more layers of phyllo/butter over the cheese and egg mixture.
  6. Combine remaining egg with baking powder and water. Beat with a fork.
  7. Poke holes through the phyllo cups with the fork and spoon about 1-2 tsp. of the egg/baking powder mixture into each cup. It will nestle into the fork holes you just made.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until phyllo cups are golden brown.

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This one’s for you, Grandma! I wish you were here to enjoy them and know you would be proud of my work.

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What family recipes will you be preparing this holiday season? See what memories inspired fellow Recipe ReDuxers by clicking the blue guy below.