Effortless Entertaining: Homemade Hummus

A friend, who happens to be an excellent cook himself, gave me this wonderful recipee for his mother’s Hummus. Break out the white wine, some antipasta and you have an instant party! Thanks PT. Note- I like to use the leftovers (if we have any) to jazz up my favorite sandwich.

Ingredients and Equipment:
Food Processor
1 15.5oz can garbanzo beans (rinsed)
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup canola oil (he recommends Canola as it has a lighter flavor, but you can use corn or olive oil in a pinch- just note that the flavor will just be a bit stronger)
Juice from 1 large Lemon
1 Tbsp. Tahini
Dash of Milk
Water or Chicken Stock
Olive Oil to drizzle over top at end
4-5 Olives (or more as desired) sliced with some juice (Note- PT only adds a handful of olives and the slightest bit of juice- and his recipee specifies Calamata olives, though you should feel free to substitute whatever olives you like and have on hand)
Paprika
Pita cut up into triangular wedges- (serve plain or brushed lightly with olive oil and toasted under the broiler if desired)

Directions:
Using food processor blend the beans with the canola oil, lemon juice, garlic and Tahini. Add a dash of Milk for flavor and then add water or chicken stock to thin to your desired consistency. Put olives and juice on top with a dash of olive oil and mix into the hummus. Sprinkle the top with Paprika for color and serve with pita wedges.

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Effortless Entertaining: Lasagna

One thing you can do with the Slow Cooker Italian Tomato Sauce is make two trays of lasagna.  Lasagna is one of those dishes that my Italian mother in law says is a lot of work to make. But I have figured out how to make lasagna preparation super easy.  One large tray will serve 12 persons. Since the slow cooker sauce makes enough sauce for two trays of lasagna, I make two trays- one plain and one with sausage and then freeze any leftovers for my family to defrost and eat another time.

Ingredients and Equipment for two trays of Lasagna:
2 trays to cook and store lasagna in (I have two pyrex glass 9×13 inche trays that came with a cover)
Ladel or large serving spoon
Offset spatula (optional. Substitue a regular spatula or knife. However, this is very handy for spreading the ricotta and makes the job go much easier)
Italian Tomato Sauce- cooled
Sausage from Italian Tomato Sauce- cut up into small rounds
1 48oz container Part Skim Ricotta Cheese (I use Polly-O)
2 16oz blocks of Part Skim Mozarella Cheese (I use Polly-O and I shred with the food processor myself)
1 1/2lb block of Parmesan Cheese (I shred with the food processor myself)
2 Eggs
3/4 tsp dried Basil (or more to taste)
3/4 tsp dried Majoram (or more to taste. I prefer to use Majoram instead of Oregano but Oregano works equally well)
1 10oz package frozen Spinach (cooked in microwave, squeezed when cool to wring out water and then chopped. This is optional)
2 packages No Bake Lasagna Noodles (Note- you will need 9 sheets of pasta per tray or 18 total… you will have some left over in the second package)

Directions
1. In medium bowl mix eggs, ricotta, basil and majoram together. (Add chopped cooked spinach if desired and mix to incorporate. This is optional)
2. Ladel a small bit of sauce on the bottom of the trays (just enough to cover the bottom). Lay 3 sheets of lasagna on top of sauce.
2. Spoon out 1/2 of the ricotta mixture (dividing evenly between the two trays) and spread across the noodles and to the edges of the tray using an offset spatula or knife.
3. Spread 1/2 of the sausage on top (I usually make one tray with sausage only and the other tray plain- so I do not divide the sausage evenly between the trays). Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded mozarella and 1/3 of the shredded parmesan on top of mozarella (dividing evenly between the two trays).
3. Ladel 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese mixture (dividing evenly between the two trays)and spread with offset spatula or knife to edge of tray.
4. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top of sauce (3 noodles per tray).
5. Spoon out the other 1/2 of the ricotta mixture (dividing evenly between the two trays) and spread across the noodles and to the edges of the tray using an offset spatula or knife.
6. Spread the remaining 1/2 of the sausage on top (if you are making one tray with sausage only and the other tray plain, like I do- do not divide the sausage evenly between the trays). Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded mozarella and 1/3 of the shredded parmesan on top of mozarella (dividing evenly between the two trays).
7. Ladel the second 1/3 of the sauce over the cheese mixture (dividing evenly between the two trays)and spread with offset spatula or knife to edge of tray.
8. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top of sauce (3 noodles per tray).
9. Ladel the last 1/3 of the sauce over the noodles (dividing evenly between the two trays). Wipe the offset spatula or knife clean to make sure that there is no ricotta cheese on it. Sread sauce with offset spatula or knife to edge of tray.
9. Sprinkle last 1/3 of the shredded mozarella and 1/3 of the shredded parmesan on top of mozarella (dividing evenly between the two trays).

Cooking Instructions
Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover with aluminum foil and cook on middle rack for 40 minutes. Remove foil. Cook for an additional 10 -15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes to set lasagna.

Serve with a tossed salad and some red wine and get to enjoy your guests as you won’t be stuck in the kitchen with this easy crowd pleaser.