Creamy Hummus Dip

Traditional HUMMUS DIP
by Christine Hughes

I love this #hummus recipe because it’s very #traditional and #withoutcumin!


1-14.5 oz can of chickpeas (undrained)
1-14.5 oz can of chickpeas (drained, but reserve liquid and a couple of chickpeas for garnish)
1 large clove of garlic (for garlic lovers, add more to taste)
1 tsp of sea salt
1/4 cup of tahini (try to use Lebanese tahini bought at a Middle Eastern market #Mediterranean Bakery in Alexandria, VA or the Greek tahini, #Krinos , found in the grocery store)
Juice of 1 Fresh lemon (do not use lemon juice from bottle)
Extra Virgin Olive oil-Garnish


Add 1 whole can of chickpeas (undrained) in a food processor and let process for about 1 minute. Add the 2nd can of chickpeas (drained), but reserve the liquid. Process for about 30 seconds. Add tahini, salt, garlic, and lemon juice and process for about 1-2 minutes. Add very small amounts of the reserved liquid until mixture has reached the desired consistency and keep processing until creamy, about another minute. Be sure to add small amounts at a time to avoid making hummus too thin. Add more salt to taste. Once the hummus is ready, serve in a platter and sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with parsley, an olive, or a couple of chickpeas and drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil for a nice touch.
Serve with warm pita bread, pita chips, or some fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, and red bell peppers.


Rice Noodles with Vegetables in a Garlic and Chili sauce

Do you ever have a craving for Chinese noodles? Rice noodles are a good alternative to egg noodles because they’re gluten-free and are a lighter option. I’ve been trying to eliminate wheat from my diet to see how it affects my body. Here is one of my fast 15 minute “Go to” recipes. Add any meat to it for added protein,but this recipe just has vegetables, specifically sugar snaps and bean sprouts. You might think that this recipe calls for quite a bit of bean sprouts, but I always use a lot of bean sprouts in noodle recipes and reduce the amount of noodles since it’s a little healthier. Feel free to use less bean sprouts or eliminate the ingredient altogether.


4 oz of rice noodles (medium)
1 cup of sugar snaps
1 cup of fresh bean sprouts
2 green onions (chopped with white and green parts separated)
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon of hot chili oil
1 teaspoon of cornstarch
1 teaspoon of rice wine (not vinegar)
2 tablespoons of water
2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped

First, cook noodles like you would spaghetti, except only cook for a minute or 2 and check for texture. You want to cook the rice noodles until right before they are “al dente” because the noodles will continue to cook while you are sauteeing. Drain and run under cold water and set aside.
For the sauce: In a bowl, whisk the chili oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, and water together and set aside.
In a wok or large saute pan, heat sesame oil in a wok or frying pan on high heat for about one minute, then add garlic and white parts of green onion, and cook for another minute or two, constantly stirring the ingredients. If you are going to add tofu, poultry, or meat, do it before you add vegetables and cook until almost fully cooked, set aside in a plate, and then add vegetables to the same pan. Add sugar snaps or snow peas and bean sprouts and continue to sauté for about one minute. I like using sugar snaps because they are really crunchy and still hold much of that crunch after heating. Add noodles and green parts of onion to vegetables and saute for about a minute and toss until everything is mixed evenly and then pour sauce over the noodles. Toss in sauce for about a minute or two, but be careful not to mix too much because the noodles will get too soft. Serve with chili oil (with little specs of chili in it) on the side for added heat.

Mediterranean-Style Quinoa


This is my first experiment with Quinoa. It was really tasty and I am definitely going to use this power grain again. I used the rice cooker method and used the 2 to 1 ratio, two cups water or broth to one cup quinoa. I also added 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and quinoa before turning the rice cooker on.
The finished product above was really easy. This is for one serving.
Use one cup of cooked Quinoa, one tablespoon of Christine’s Greek salad vinaigrette ( and add any of the following ingredients: Sun dried tomatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes, green or red bell pepper, artichokes, chickpeas, red onion, pitted Greek olives, pine nuts, and feta cheese. Toss and Enjoy a guiltless meal or side dish.

If you have any questions contact me at


Christine’s Greek Salad and Dressing

Last night we had an unexpected visit from friends we hadn’t seen for a few years, and it was a lazy Saturday night for us. I decided to whip up a Greek salad for dinner, and finally, after many times having made this dressing, I’m sharing it with the world. I hope you like it as much as my family does.
Kali Orexi (Greek equivalent to Bon appetit in French)

Salad Ingredients:

2 heads of romaine lettuce
3 cups of vine ripe tomatoes, cut in quarters (see photo)
1 red onion, diced
1 english cucumber, sliced
1 green bell pepper, core and seeds removed, and diced
1/2 cup of Greek pitted olives (optional)
Feta Cheese (use block and crumble into fine pieces)

The Dressing (Makes 1 cup of dressing):
3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of fine red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon of fine sea salt
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
3 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of dried mint
1 teaspoon of Cavenders Greek Seasoning (optional)

Combine all the dressing ingredients and place in food processor, blender, or use an immersion blender. For this recipe and for all dressings, I use the immersion blender, specifically the Cuisinart Smartstick 200W hand blender. Please see the picture of what the dressing should look like. I used about half the dressing for the amount of salad above, and poured the dressing over the ingredients and then topped with feta cheese before serving.

Tomatoes on the Vine

Greek Dressing

Christine’s Greek Salad

Healthy Baklava Bites…REALLY!

So my friend Kristin had shared a recipe for Healthy Cookie Dough Balls, and it inspired me to make a Lebanese version. After experimenting and substituting some ingredients, I’m pleased to find my go to recipe for Baklava when I’m on a diet and it’s SUPER EASY! I topped them with walnuts, but you can roll them in crushed pistachios or walnuts when you are done as an alternative. Also, if you don’t have Agave Nectar, you could substitute honey. I was told that Costco is carrying the nectar as well as almost any natural foods market. See Note below regarding Orange Blossom Water, the key ingredient in Lebanese Baklava.
Share this with all your friends and family who love the classic Middle Eastern and Greek dessert, Baklava and want a Gluten Free version without the Phyllo dough.

Makes about 20 balls

Healthy Baklava Bites

2 cups of old fashioned oats
6 tablespoons of Agave Nectar (use less or more for desired sweetness)
1 cup of pistachios
1 cup of walnuts
3 teaspoons of Orange Blossom Water (see Note)

Place nuts in Food Processor first and pulse until all nuts are chopped finely. You can use a pestle and mortar if needed. Add oats and pulse for about 5 seconds until mixture resembles a coarse sand mixture. Add nectar and orange blossom water and mix for about 5 seconds until mixture resembles a thinner than normal cookie dough. Form into balls and either top with walnuts or roll into crushed pistachios and drizzle honey or more nectar over when serving. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes, but it is not needed.

Note: Orange Blossom Water can be found at any Middle Eastern Grocery.

Chipotle at Home

One of the fast food restaurants my husband and I miss while living in Europe is Chipotle restaurant. The meals are quick, healthy, and so tasty. Since we couldn’t get there last Thursday night, I decided to bring it to our home. It was super easy and satisfying. Also, if you are on a gluten-free diet, then this recipe is for you, too!
First Task: Lime-flavored cilantro rice
Here’s how to do it: Cook your rice as you would normally do according to the package. For every cup of rice, add a 1/4 teaspoon of lime juice and a half a cup of chopped, fresh cilantro.
Second task: Meat or Poultry
-Use either one pound of the following: chicken, ground meat, or steak
-Season with:
1 teaspoon of cumin
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Saute in 2 Tbsp of canola or vegetable oil to cook.

Third task: The Veggies
-Diced tomatoes
-Shredded Lettuce
-Diced Avocadoes
-Diced Onions (optional since your using cooked onions in the meat)

Fourth Task: Miscellaneous Toppings
-Cheese (use monterey jack blend, mild cheddar, or even better, QUESO BLANCO)
-Beans (we like black beans)
-Salsa (Blend 1 can of mild Rotel, 1 cup of fresh cilantro, juice of 1/2 lime, salt, 1/4 cup of onion)
-Sour Cream (optional)
-Habanero Hot Sauce

Here’s what it looks like:

Try this tonight or on a night when you don’t feel like doing much cooking!
Let me know how it turns out…


Gluten-Free Barbecue Sauce

Since I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce as my go to BBQ Sauce, I had to see if it is Gluten-Free for my readers with Celiac Disease. Good News! It is.
Check out their website at and then head over to my recipe for Pulled Pork


Pulled Pork in the Pressure Cooker

Serves 4-6
Difficulty: Easy


4 pounds of Pork Shoulder
1-28 ounce bottle of gourmet barbecue sauce (My personal favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s)
6 garlic cloves
1 cup of diced onion
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon of canola oil
1 tablespoon of natural cane sugar or brown sugar.


Saute the garlic and onion in the oil for about 2-3 minutes in an UNCOVERED pressure cooker. Add the pork and brown it on all sides with the garlic and onion in the oil. Once the outside of the pork shoulder is browned on all sides, remove from heat, and wait until pressure cooker cools down before covering it and pressuring the pork. Once cooled, add water and half the bottle of barbecue sauce and cover (follow your pressure cooker’s directions). Cook for 35 minutes in the pressure cooker and then turn stove off, but leave the pressure cooker until pressure is reduced (follow pressure cooker directions). The key to tender meat is to avoid using the “Quick Method” to cool the cooker by placing it under cool water. Once cooled, remove pork from pot and transfer to an oven friendly dish. Discard liquid. Using a fork, pull the pork apart in strips. I use a fork and knife, but you can also use two forks. Once all the pork is pulled, add the remaining barbecue sauce (or more) and sugar over the pork, and place in a 300 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes. I’ve never baked the pork after it was cooked, but by baking it in the sauce, it absorbs all the flavor and really makes a difference. My husband said this was the second best pulled pork he has had next to that found in Louisiana! What a compliment! 🙂
The next time I try this, I’m going to add ginger to the pressure cooker and see if it makes a difference.
This dish pairs well with fresh corn on the cob, baked beans, french fries, and of course, a tall glass of cold beer. Since we are in Germany, I served this with a German Hefewiesen. If you are in the states, try a Yuengling.
What else do you add to Pulled Pork to get it tasty?
Contact me if you have any tricks that made your dish a success!


Green Bean Stew (Loubia B’Zeit)

Green Bean Stew (Loubia B’Zeit)

Difficulty: Very Easy
Serves 4

1-28 ounce bag of frozen cut green beans (Family Size)
2 teaspoons of Ground Allspice
1 cup of onion, diced
2 teaspoons of salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon of dried mint flakes
1-8 ounce can of tomato sauce (Hunts is best)
½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup of water (more if necessary)

Sauté onions on medium-high heat with mint, allspice, salt, and pepper until onions are almost fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Add green beans, water, and tomato sauce and cook on medium heat for about 40 minutes or until beans are tender. Add more water if needed in ¼ cup increments until mixture resembles a thick stew. See picture below: