Avocado Hummus and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

I guess these aren’t really sandwiches – they’re like half sandwiches.  Unless of course you eventually do what I did, and stick two half sandwiches together because they were just that good.  If you’ve been reading some of my most recent posts, you’ve probably noticed the avocado theme that’s going on.  Recent posts include Avocado Chocolate Chip Cookies, Quinoa Burgers with Avocado Sauce, and who could forget that protein packed Avocado Chicken Salad.  What can I say?  They’re delicious.  And I’m determined to work them into as many dishes as I can.  For a while now, I’ve been playing around in my head with the idea of an avocado hummus.  I’m happy to say that that idea has finally become a reality.  And oh, what a delicious reality it was.  

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

This recipe is soooooo easy.  It’s one of those “just throw everything in a blender and push start” recipes.  Sometimes those are my favorite.  As much as I love cooking and playing in the kitchen, let’s be honest–it takes a lot of time and energy.  And sometimes I am just too tired for anything complicated.  However, being un-complicated doesn’t have to mean boring, bland, or take-out.  I love easy, fast, and healthy recipes like this.  Perfect for busy days.  As delicious as this was on bread alone, I knew it would be awesome paired with cucumber.  The hummus itself is so fresh and light tasting.  It just screamed at me, “Top me with a cucumber!!!!!”  And when the food starts talking–you just have to listen.  (Disclaimer, I’m writing this post at 11pm after three sleepless nights, so forgive me if I sound somewhat crazier than usual.)

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

As little tea-sandwich-like bites, I think that these are super perfect for taking to any sort of summer get-together.  Bridal showers, baby showers, family reunions, fancy tea parties thrown on the sweeping lawn of Downtown Abbey–these are all excellent venues for Avocado Hummus and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches.  (If you are preparing for a big, food centered get-together, you may also want to check out 5 Tips for Surviving Get-Togethers without Blowing your Diet.)  Here’s how you prepare these crunchy little delectables…

Ingredients: 

1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed with cold water to remove excess sodium
1/2 cup of low fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup lemon juice (I love lemon, so if you aren’t as much of a fan, maybe start with 2 or 3 Tbsp and work your way up)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A French baguette, sliced thin
1 or 2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin into rounds, and then into half moons

Method: 

1.  Put avocado flesh, chickpeas, cottage cheese, lemon juice, garlic, and salt into a high speed blender or a food processor.  Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed. 
2.  Taste and be happy.  Or, add more salt or lemon juice if you think it needs it. 
3. Spread some delicious hummus onto a slice of baguette.  Top with a cucumber half moon.  Grind on some fresh black pepper.  
4.  Once again, eat and be happy. 

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

As mentioned, you can eat the little halves daintily, or if you’re more like me, then you can stack ’em up and make a sandwich. 

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

Avocado Hummus, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

If you are really into dips and spreads, you may also want to check out other fun recipes including Pumpkin Hummus, Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips, Smoky Sesame Crushed Pea Dip, Spinach and Artichoke Dip, and Tomatillo Bruschetta.  

Also, if any of you lovely readers are vegan (like my new friend Celeste over at Honk if You’re Vegan 🙂 ), then you can try making this without the cottage cheese and adding olive oil a Tbsp at a time to get a good consistency.  If anyone does try that, please let me know how it turns out in the comments section! 

Okay friends, it’s been a long week.  I hope this post gets your weekend off to a good start.  Here, this should help…..

Luna,  (healthy)Vittles&Bits

 

Luna was very attentive during this whole hummus-making process…

Luna, (healthy)Vittles&Bits

And of course, she was ever so helpful by licking my fingers clean 😉  
Maybe that grosses some of you–but any dog lovers out there understand, I’m sure.  

Have a very happy (and healthy) weekend everyone!  

 

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Deviled Eggs with Homemade Pickled Onions

Easter is one of my favorite holidays.  Mainly because I LOVE eggs. Seriously. Every year for Easter I make my mom boil about 6 dozen eggs.  So when I was put in charge of making an appetizer for Easter dinner, I chose to make deviled eggs.  But not just any deviled eggs. I decided to top them off with some homemade pickled onions like the ones I saw at the Chocolate Covered February Cooking Demo in Hershey.  The result? See for yourself….

Pretty.

Pretty.

First thing to do, is to make the pickled onions. These were very easy, so don’t get discouraged if you’ve never pickled anything before – neither had I.

Pickled Onions:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 rice vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp pickling spice mix (found this in the spice aisle at the local GIANT)
1 Tbsp ground mustard
1 red onion, very thinly sliced

Method:

1. In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, vinegar, and water and bring to a simmer.  Whisk to dissolve sugar.
2. Add salt, pickling spice mix, and dried mustard.   Simmer and whisk till spices and sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, add red onions and cover with pickling liquid (if your pickling spices were like mine and was made of larger spice pieces such as whole cloves and such, then I suggest straining this as you pour it over the onions to get all the bits out).  Set off to the side in the fridge and allow to sit for at least two hours.  Strain the liquid before using onions.

My onions just before I put them in the fridge to soak up all that good pickling sauce.

My onions just before I put them in the fridge to soak up all that good pickling sauce.

Now, this pickled onion topping could be added to any deviled egg recipe.  I don’t have a standard favorite that I turn to for deviled eggs. I usually just kind of make it up as I go. Here’s what I did this time:

Ingredients:

2 dozen eggs, hard boiled and halved longways
4 heaping Tbsp low fat mayo (low fat is different than light – it only has 1 gram of fat per Tbsp)
4 heaping Tbsp fat free sour cream
1 heaping Tbsp of mustard (spicy or standard yellow, whatever your preference)
2 cloves minced garlic
3 drops of hot sauce (i’m a wimp, so if you like hot sauce then by all means, be more liberal)
salt and pepper

Method:

1. Plop the yolks into a medium sized mixing bowl and lay the whites neatly on a cookie sheet that has rims.
2. Mash the yolks with a fork till they are all crumbly.
3. Add in the mayo, sour cream, mustard, garlic, hot sauce, and salt and pepper and continue to mix with fork until it’s a smooth, creamy consistency.
4.  Put all this mixture into a ziploc plastic baggie and cut off the end of the bag to use as a piping tool.  Carefully pipe the yolk mixture into the whites.  At this point should look like this…

You could eat them like this if you wanted to. But where would the fun in that be?

You could eat them like this if you wanted to. But where would the fun in that be?

5. Now you just take the pickled onions, strain off the pickling liquid, and plop some onions onto the eggs.

All ready for Easter!

All ready for Easter!

These eggs are definitely a change from your standard deviled eggs. The pickled onions bring a bold sweetness to them.  Perfect for Easter 🙂

I also prepared a savory, Easter morning bread pudding for tomorrow.  That will be the next post!

Wishing you all a most excellent Easter weekend!

 

Smoky Sesame Crushed Pea Dip

Today’s post comes to you just barely adapted from the Smitten Kitchen.  I saw this Crushed Pea Dip with Smoky Sesame Dressing and loved how different it was from all the other appetizers/dips that you come across.  Let me tell you – I was not disappointed.  Cool and crunchy, with that smoky sesame flavor coming through – this dip is sure to please.

I love how GREEN it is :-)

I love how GREEN it is 🙂

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups frozen peas (the original post on Smitten Kitchen mentions using fresh peas in pods, which I’m sure would be lovely, but let’s be honest, I don’t have time for that – frozen it is)
1/4 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp tahini (for those of you not familiar with this ingredient, don’t let it scare you away! Tahini is just ground up sesame seeds, similar to peanut butter. You can find it in most grocery stores, usually in the organic/natural section. It’s also that mysterious ingredient in hummus that makes it so deliciously creamy 🙂  )
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1 bunch of scallions

Directions:

1. Heat peas in microwave safe bowl for 5 minutes with a little bit of water in the bottom of the dish. Then drain the water off.
2. Mash peas using a blunt object – I used a meat pounder, but a potato masher would probably also work well.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, water, and spices.
4. Mix about 3 Tbsp of dressing in with the crushed peas and taste (of course, this is served chilled so your taste might be a little off due to the fact that the peas are still warm from the microwave).  Add more dressing if you like.
5. Chill in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Then, slice up the scallions into little round circles and sprinkle on top of the dip when you serve it. I ate these with the sea salt variety of PopCorn Chips and it was great, but pitas or other crackers would also work well I’m sure.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!

And just because a puppy a day keeps all bad things away…..

My sleepy baby watching from her nest of blankets :-)

My sleepy baby watching from her nest of blankets 🙂