Food For Thought

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into
with abandon or not at all."

-Harriet Van Horne-

Happy New Year!

Another year has come and gone. I don't make resolutions as I tend not to keep them. However, I did start a diet and dropped some poundage. Yay! Even if you're not on a special diet, this low-fat recipe for Homemade Hummus and Pita Chips is a delicious and healthy treat for your party guests.

Spicy Hummus

  • 1 - 16 oz. can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas),drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenee peppers
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped scallions
  • 1 4 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 c. sliced black olives, for garnish

Combine the beans, lemon juice, olive oil, garlick, cumin and cayenne pepper in a food processor or blender. Process to the desired degree of smoothness. Add scallions and peppers and process just enough to mix.

Transfer the dip to a serving dish and garnish with the black olives. Serve with Pita Chips.

Pita Chips

  • 6 whole wheat or oat bran pita pockets (2 oz. each)
  • 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. grated nonfat or reduced-fat Parmesan cheese
  • Dried Italian seasoning (optional)
  • Garlic powder (optional)

cut each pita bread round into 8 wedges. Separate each wedge into 2 pieces so that you get 16 chips out of each round.

Arrange the chips in a single layer on a baking sheet with the inside of the pita bread facing up. Sprinkle the chips with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning or garlic powder (if using). Bake at 400° F. for 5 - 8 minutes. Remove from oven with lightly browned and crisp.

Serve with dips and spreads.

This hearty dish ia a New Year's tradition in the South, where it is believed to bring good luck when eaten on New Year's Day.

Hoppin' John

  • 3 c. dried black-eyed peas
  • 4 c. water or unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 8 oz. lean ham
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

  • 1 c. finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 c. finely chopped scallions
  • Hot pepper sauce

Place the black-eyed peas in a 4-qt. pot and add 2 1/2 quarts of water. Cover and soak for 4 hours or overnight. (Place the pot in the refrigerator if soaking for more than 4 hours.) When you are ready to cook, drain off the water and return the peas to the pot.

Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the toppings, to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until the beans are tender the liquid has thickened. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed. The liquid should barely cover the peas.

Serve hot over brown rice, garnishing each serving with tomatoes, scallions and hot pepper sauce.

For more holiday recipes, click here.

Start the new year with new soup recipes and food to warm the soul. Look forward to Tuscan Bean Soup and more in my next issue.

Happy New Year to everyone! May the new year bring happiness and peace to your families!