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I often forget how versatile and easy beans are to work with. Tonight, as I prepared for a meeting at home, I wanted to have a healthy and simple snack for those in attendance that would be satisfying and unique. I didn’t want to make hummus (although I love hummus), or anything with ranch dressing in it. So I googled spicy bean dip and came across a recipe for some spicy Asian bean dip on another blog. It was very popular, and incredibly easy. With a few modifications based on my pantry, this is the recipe I followed:

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Ingredients – serves 8 as an appetizer

dip
-1 cup dried white beans, cooked in a pressure cooker with 3 c water for 35 minutes (you can substitute 1 can white beans)
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-2 tsp sesame oil
-Juice from 1/2 lime
-2 tsp hot sauce
-2 tsp soy sauce
-1/2 tsp curry powder
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-1/8 cup hot water

veggie sticks
-4 carrots, cut into sticks
-3 stalks celery, cut into sticks
-1 red pepper, cut into sticks

Directions

Combine all ingredients for the dip in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. I like to add the water last and drizzle it in while the motor spins. Blend for 3-4 minutes, until fully smooth.

Serve with an array of veggies (add any of your favourites!), and you’re sure to have a crowd-pleaser! This also makes for great snacks for work or school.

Have a wonderful week!

-Sitelle

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With the rush of every-day life it can be difficult to think of new recipes, and although the internet can be very helpful, I find sometimes it prevents me from being truly creative with my own cooking. I love the practicality of being able to be creative on the spot with what ever ingredients are available in the refrigerator and on the shelf. Lately, I haven’t had as much time or opportunities for creativity as I’m cooking for myself only most of the time, as one meal will last me days and days. Today, however, I had the chance to try something new, and it was delicious and fun as well!

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Ingredients: 4 servings (as a meal), appetizer for 8+

Carrots

-6 large carrots, cut into thin sticks (quarters or eighths)
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-2 tsp cumin
-2 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper

Hummus

-1 generous cup dried chickpeas, boiled and soaked overnight; then skins removed (if you’re crazy like me, but I’m sure it’s not necessary – you can also use canned chickpeas I’m sure)
-1 head roasted garlic (400F oven roasted for 40 minutes wrapped in tin foil)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp cumin
-2 tsp paprika
-1 tsp (or to taste) hot pepper flakes
-juice of 1 lemon
-2 Tbsp warm water
-2 tsp dried parsley flakes
-1 Tbsp tahini
-1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

To make the carrots, preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the carrots and place in a bowl with all the seasoning and the oil. Toss until evenly covered and then lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer, with no carrots touching (it’s the key to perfect roasted veggies!). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden-brown. Serve with hummus if you like!

To make the hummus, soak the chickpeas or use canned, and roast the garlic. Then combine chickpeas, garlic, water and tahini in a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Then add remaining ingredients, and process for another 1-2 minutes. Place in serving bowl.

I envision the carrots and hummus would be great as a finger food for a dinner party: just have tooth picks on hand and enjoy!

-Sitelle

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I had been eyeing spinach dips for a while, and finally had a good excuse to whip up a batch on mother’s day. Artichokes can only add deliciousness to food, so when I came across this recipe in Julie van Rosendaal’s Grazing, I knew I had to give it a try. The resulting dip was flavourful and smooth, perfect served warm over crackers. It also made for delicious leftovers the next day, which only seem to have intensified the flavours.

If I were to do it again, I might use cheddar on top and sprinkle it on top just for the last 10 minutes – it would be just a little sharper in flavour and softer in texture for the top. But overall, a winning dip.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Serves 8

Ingredients
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1-10 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed with excess moisture squeezed out
1-14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped, reserving the liquid
1-8 ounce package light cream cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk
1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Saute the onions and garlic in about 2 tablespoons of the artichoke heart liquid until translucent. Add the spinach and saute until all the liquid has evaporated.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the artichokes, cream cheese and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts. Stir in the sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and cook until heated through.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Delicious serve with crackers, tortilla chips, or vegetables!

– Catherine

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