Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Savoring the Holiday Season--Easy Entertaining and Hummus Recipe

Once again I am repeating an older post for the sake of newer readers--and truthfully, to keep the blog going when I don't have time to write an entire new post. I hope you enjoy it.

What is better than laid-back time with friends? Here Maggie, our shih-tzu, enjoys having a couple of buddies over.

My husband and I also enjoy entertaining friends at home. It can be relaxing and budget-friendly. However, since I enjoy digging through recipes and planning special dishes, I sometimes make too much work of entertaining. That has its place and time, but can get in the way of fun and spontaneity. We also have some favorite, well-worn, quick and easy recipes. During the holiday season, especially, we rely on these favorites to make getting together easy.

The first step is a well-stocked kitchen, I think. Who wants to hunt store shelves for obscure ingredients just to have an informal gathering? All Maggie needs are a few milk bones and a big bowl of water, and she is ready to party. For us, homemade hummus is a favorite snack, so I keep the ingredients on hand. It is simple, healthier than cheese, and feels festive to me.

Instead of dinner, sometimes we invite people for wine and snacks (plus maybe beer and/or iced tea or soda, depending on their preferences). Late Sunday afternoon is a good time to hang out and graze. Among the easy snacks on the coffee table would be roasted almonds, fresh pears, apples or grapes, and homemade hummus with raw vegetables and grainy crackers (or pita, if it happens to be around). We are seldom without baby carrots and bell peppers--jicama sticks are also yummy with hummus.

My friend, Sarah Bayley, wins the prize for best quick hummus recipe, and I almost always serve hers--sometimes with a different twist, depending on my mood or what is in the kitchen or herb garden. You can either prepare it ahead or serve it immediately. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing your recipe with all of us.

1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained & rinsed

3 - 4 green onions, in two or three pieces

2 small cloves garlic, in big chunks

1/4 cup olive oil*

2 Tblsp. bottled lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

a few shakes of hot sauce

For extra flavor, add either

1/4 cup fresh cilantro or

2 Tblsp sun-dried tomato pesto or

2 Tblsp. sun-dried tomatoes, cut in chunks, plus a couple of fresh basil leaves

*I use sun-dried tomatoes in herb & garlic flavored oil and add 1 Tblsp. or so of the oil from the jar in place of some of the plain olive oil.

Puree all in a food processor until creamy. If the mixture is too thick & stiff, you can add a small amount of water (a tsp. or so at a time). Careful--it should be about as firm as a spread.

That's it--instant party--and people always love it, even when we have served it to them a number of times before.

Question of the day: What snack or appetizer do you rely on for informal entertaining?


  1. oooh.... I love hummus!! Thanks for the recipe! I also go overboard sometimes too.... but this year I resolve to enjoy myself!!

  2. You are welcome, Manon--hope you like this recipe for hummus. We think it's great. Have a wonderful holiday season; I know you will enjoy yourself.

  3. I've never had hummus but it sure sounds yummy! I wish we had people around that we could invite over or vice versa. I have always enjoyed people and it would be so much fun!

  4. I hope that you find a way to have more people over in 2010, Autumn.

  5. I really like this entertaining idea Mary. My spouse is really big on formal dinners but the work.... She says she loves to cook but informal on the deck seems better to me. One little problem here though - winter. :)

  6. Well, at least winter won't last forever, TB. In the meantime, you could be informal with friends inside around the fire. Hope you have a wonderful holiday season.