Category Archives: Snacks and Hors D’Ouevres

balila hummus.

Remember my obsession with my neighborhood Lebanese restaurant? Seriously, I miss it already, and I haven’t even left yet. But one of the things I can take home with me is my newfound love of Lebanese food.

Along with the moussaka, this is our favorite tapas dish to order there. Whenever we order it, the owner always asks, “Do you know what this is? Because often people order it and are surprised when they get it.” Of course, at this point, we know what we’re getting. And it’s great.

It’s not your typical smooth, creamy hummus. Consider it hummus, deconstructed, and served warm. So basically, it’s a hot dip of mashed chickpeas, cumin, and toasted pine nuts. Sounds basic, but trust me, it’s awesome. We like to have potluck parties here, and my homemade version of this dip has become a staple. Serve it with warm pita and/or veggies, and you’ve got a hit on your hands.

Balila Hummus


  • 1 can chickpeas, undrained
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • juice of half a large lemon (or one small)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmery.
  2. Add garlic, and cook for about 10 seconds, stirring, before adding the cumin. Cook just until the garlic starts to brown (be careful not to burn it!), and add the chickpeas with liquid in the can. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spray a small skillet with a bit of cooking oil. Add the pine nuts in a single layer, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until just browned. Remove immediately and put in a small bowl to the side.
  5. Once the liquid in the sauce pan has reduced a fair amount, add the parsley and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and give a quick stir. Cook on low, covered, for just 1 minute more, and remove from heat.
  6. Using a fork, mash most of the chickpeas. You want to keep it chunky, so don’t go overboard, and leave some of the chickpeas completely whole. Put in a serving bowl, and stir in some of the pine nuts, sprinkling the rest on top.
  7. Serve with warm pita and fresh vegetables.

Comments Off on balila hummus.

Filed under Appetizers and Sides, Eat, Gluten Free, Snacks and Hors D'Ouevres

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (8 Varieties)

So we have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, our street’s power lines are so badly damaged that we will probably be another few days without power.

The good news is, now that others are beginning to get their power back, many hotel rooms have opened up and we are now in warmth with internet access. YAY.

At home, one of the upsides of this power loss situation is that the stove still works. Thus, once I carved our pumpkins on Sunday, I immediately got to roasting the seeds. And when you’re bored and the spice cabinet is at your disposal, your mind wanders to a million flavors. The amount of seeds I had on hand limited me to 8. Sweet and savory, these are all great as both snacks and little appetizers. I’m sure they would make adorable gifts as well!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

To start all: Spritz a skillet generously with cooking spray and heat it over medium heat. Add a handful of pumpkin seeds in an even layer, and toast each side until slightly browned (you may even want to test to see if they are crunchy).

  1. Pumpkin Spice: Add a large scoop (about 2 tbsp) of canned pumpkin. Stir/ scrape with a spatula constantly to keep from burning. The pumpkin should reduce/caramelize slightly. Add 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt and stir until seeds are completely coated. Remove. 
  2. Salted Caramel: Reduce heat to low. Add 2 tbsp brown sugar and stir very quickly (it will burn fast!). Add a sprinkle of salt and remove from heat once the seeds are coated with a praline (hardened) like coating. 
  3. Maple Brown Sugar: Reduce heat to low. Add 1/4 cup maple syrup, and then 2 tbsp brown sugar. The maple syrup will simmer pretty furiously; keep stirring until it reduces. Remove once the sugar starts crystallizing on the seeds (if you wait too long, it will caramelize and/or burn). Note: the seeds might still seem gooey but once removed the sugar hardens/crystallizes. 
  4. Curry: Spritz with more cooking spray and add 2 tbsp curry, a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper. Stir until coated and remove. 
  5. Soy Ginger: Add a few tbsp soy sauce and quickly sprinkle 1 tbsp ginger powder (soy sauce reduces very quickly). Stir and remove. 
  6. Tomato Basil: Add 1/4 cup of tomato juice or sauce and stir as it reduces. Add 1 tbsp dried basil and a bit of salt and pepper and stir until reduced to a coating. Remove.
  7. Chipotle Barbecue: Add a few tbsp Worcestershire sauce and quickly sprinkle 1 tbsp chipotle chili powder (sauce reduces very quickly). Stir and remove. 
  8. Garlic Rosemary: Spritz with more cooking spray. Add 1 clove of minced garlic and stir. Add 1 tbsp dried rosemary, a bit of salt and pepper and stir until coated. Remove. 

They were all really good, but the consensus in my family was that the Pumpkin Spice, Maple Brown Sugar, and Garlic Rosemary ones were the top 3. I also really loved the chipotle barbecue, but they definitely have a kick!

Happy roasting!

Comments Off on Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (8 Varieties)

Filed under Eat, Gluten Free, Snacks and Hors D'Ouevres