Another year, another holiday season

28 Dec

“I’ve been on a diet for two weeks and all I’ve lost is two weeks.”
  -Totie Fields

Christmas has come and gone and Hanukah winds down tomorrow. And with the onset of the new year this weekend, we can all look forward to January – a ka – the month of storage and dieting.

Yikes, we’ve no sooner savored our last glass of eggnog and/or feasted on crispy potato latkes and Chinese food – when we’re faced with the harsh realities of the new year. Clean up your house and your diet. I, for one, will relish the last few days of 2011 by enjoying the leftovers in my refrigerator and feasting on something (as yet undecided) on New Year’s eve and the following day.

Sure you can stop by Trader Joe’s for delicious quick-to-prepare frozen appetizers but why not create your own tasty tidbits to bid 2011 adieu? A Sandler favorite is homemade hummus. Yeah, yeah I know you can buy it in any deli case, but try making yourself. It’s quick, fresh and oh so tasty. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, pack it up for lunch (kids love it, too) and enjoy it with cut-up carrot and celery sticks OR spread it on your favorite sandwich instead of the customary mustard or mayo!

One of my specialties! Don’t be afraid to add additional (or less garlic).

3-5 garlic cloves, peeled (I use at least 5 cloves!)
2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained (liquid reserved)
3 tablespoons tahini paste* (look for it in the Kosher food section)
2- 3 tablespoons (or more) olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (or more)
1 tsp. (or more) salt

With food processor motor running, add garlic cloves through chute – process until minced. Remove lid and add garbanzo beans and tahini paste. Process by pulsing food processor several time just until beans and paste are combined. Through chute, with motor running, add olive oil, lemon juice and salt – andd liquid from beans if a fluffier texture is desired. Taste and add additional oil, lemon or salt as needed. If made ahead, add additional olive oil and/or lemon juice before serving.

Serve with pita bread, pita chips or lavosh.

*This magical “paste” comes in a can and must be refrigerated after opening but can be used safely for up to a year! Just make hummus a few times a year!

Here’s another house favorite – it’s from the original Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Food for Show, Food on the Go Cookbook – an easy and glamorous appetizer to throw together quickly.

Baked Gouda

1 8-ounce package crescent style dinner rolls
1 7-ounce round Gouda cheese
1 egg white, beaten
Sesame seeds

Unfold crescent rolls and smooth out perforated marks to form a solid rectangle. Remove casing from Gouda and place cheese in center of dough. Bring up all corners of dough to totally encase cheese, making sure all openings are sealed. Brush top with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool a few minutes before cutting into wedges.

Until the next time….

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