Hummus Recipe

"Homemade Hummus Spread"

“Homemade Hummus Spread”

 Here is my Make Life Special Hummus Recipe that is so good!  

This hummus recipe is easy for even the beginner cook to make.  Hummus  is a dip or spread made from chickpeas ( otherwise known as garbanzo beans). You can buy canned chickpeas in any grocery store.  Garbanzo hummus dates back to at least the 13th century with many foodies describing it as “ancient food”.  Certainly hummus has been around a LONG time!  I have heard Nicole and Luke rave about hummus for several years but my first experience with hummus just happened a year ago.  Bruce and I found a great restaurant that we love and one of their specialties is a Mediterranean Platter that features hummus.  As soon as I tasted it, I knew I had to recreate it at home. Be sure to check out my post on assembling the Mediterranean Platter!

How do you serve hummus?  As an appetizer, scoop hummus with a toasted flat bread such as pita.  My Toasted Pita Bread Triangles are perfect!  Garnish hummus very simply with a sprinkle of paprika as I did.  Other garnishes to “jazz it up” would be chopped tomato, chopped cucumber, parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, chopped hard boiled eggs,Kalamata olives or pine nuts.     

Once you start ordering  hummus in restaurants you will discover that hummus tastes different everywhere.  The basic ingredients are Chickpeas or garbanzo beans, lemon, garlic and Tahini.  Some types of hummus have a strong lemon flavor….others more spicy or garlicky.  When making your own hummus, you can vary the amounts of the ingredients to suit your own taste buds.

My hummus recipe is pretty basic, but I add parsley to the mix.  I like the freshness parsley brings to the table and the added burst of color.  The second thing I do to make my hummus recipe over the top is a recommendation from my daughter Nicole.  Use your fingertips and PEEL the garbanzo beans.  This is the most time sonsuming part of the recipe ( you will need about 10 minutes for this step) but I agree that it makes a smoother textured hummus.  Just remember, once you get the basic recipe mastered, you can add a little of this or a little of that to create your own masterpiece!  Try adding roasted garlic or sun dried tomatoes.  Be adventurous and enjoy your kitchen!  

Hummus Recipe
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced ( or add a couple of cloves of roasted garlic)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Tahini ( sesame seed paste)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 15½ oz can garbonzo beans, drained and peeled
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate several hours before serving.
  3. Note: You can store hummus in the refrigerator up to a month but it probably won't last that long.

Ingredients for Hummus Recipe

Homemade Hummus Ingredients

Tahini is basically like peanut butter but it’s made from sesame seeds.  It is a sesame seed paste that’s available in most grocery stores or can be ordered online.


Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)

Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)

I refrigerate Tahini after opening to keep it fresh. 


Peeling Garbonzo Beans for Hummus Recipe

Peeling Garbonzo Beans for Hummus Recipe

I was really amazed at the peels in one can of garbanzo beans!  It’s no wonder the hummus is smoother when your remove all of these!

Garbanzo Beans Peels

Garbanzo Bean Peels

Homemade hummus is the star when served on a Mediterranean Platter.  

Mediterranean Platter

Mediterranean Platter

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by shraing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!” 




Prizewinning Pulled Pork Recipe

Wish you had a great pulled pork recipe that’s  EASY?

slow cooker pulled pork

Prizewinning Pulled Pork Recipe

This prizewinning pulled pork recipe only has three ingredients and you cook it in the crock pot so you can go about your busy day and not worry about “What’s for dinner?”.  This is a perfect example of a Make Life Special recipe:  

  • It has only a few ingredients
  • The ingredients are readily available in your local grocery store
  • The recipe is quick and easy

The ingredients are :

  • 2 pounds of pork tenderloin
  • 12 ounce can of Root Beer
  • 18 ounce bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce

Recipes like this help you get a great meal on the table and your family will be asking for seconds!  The key to making this pulled pork recipe a mouth-watering meal is the slow cooking time.  So grab your crock pot and get ready to give your taste buds a real Southern treat – BBQ Pulled Pork!  I love to serve my Pulled Pork Recipe with either chips ( as I have done here) or with my Cowboy Baked Beans and Potato Salad on the side.  As far as toppings go, many people love to put coleslaw on top of the pulled pork sandwich.  I like it that way too but I also like to just add the simple dill pickle slices to top off this yummy sandwich.  The choice is yours… so let’s cook!

Prizewinning Pulled Pork Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1 12 ounce can Root Beer
  • 1 18 oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce ( I use Sweet Baby Ray's Sweet and Spicy Sauce)
  1. Spray the crock pot with Pam and place the pork tenderloins in the crock pot.
  2. Pout the can of Root Beer over the tenderloins.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours ( until well cooked and it shreds easily)
  4. Drain the juice and Root Beer off of the tenderloins and shred the meat using two forks.
  5. Add the bottle of BBQ sauce and warm on low another 15 minutes.

The Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet and Spicy sauce gives this just the right amount of “Kick”!  It’s just like the pulled pork I loved in Kentucky.  

Now, one other quick note….

While the shredded pork is warming in the sauce, use the extra 15 minutes to toast the buns.  Just spread the buns with a little butter and heat them on a griddle or large skillet until they are golden brown.

Pulled pork has an interesting history. In the South, BBQ is synonymous with pork.  It is also usually smoked pork that is cooked until you can pull it apart with your hands.  However, BBQ’s are more than food.  They are frequently events where everyone gathers to enjoy great food.  

This BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe with all the fixin’s can’t be beat! Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special  by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!” 








Oven Roasted Garlic

"Oven Roasted Garlic"

“Oven Roasted Garlic”

For The Love of Garlic…….

I may as well admit it right now….I LOVE garlic!  I’ve always loved to cook with garlic but oven roasted garlic is pure culinary magic!  I mean really…’s amazing.  You can take the strongest, stinkiest ingredient in your kitchen and in less than an hour, garlic can be roasted in the oven to a sweet, mellow, caramelized …. AND  spreadable wonder!   

I was first introduced to the unbelievable taste of Roasted Garlic when I was in my early 30’s.  Nicole was about three years old and she and I went to Colorado. (Please don’t try to do the math!)  A new Bistro had opened up at the resort and the chef/owner actually came out of the kitchen to talk to us.  He said he had just roasted some Elephant Garlic and wanted me to try it on the hot crusty french bread.  I was a little skeptical because up until that point in my life, I only knew the strong side of garlic.  Well…. let me tell you… It was LOVE at first bite!  The caramelized… gooey… nutty flavor was out of this world!  I had no idea garlic could be so good.  After that experience, I began experimenting with Roasted Garlic and discovered that there are so many ways to enjoy it.

The most basic way to eat roasted garlic is to spread it on lightly toasted pieces of Italian bread or baguette, just as I did in Colorado.  At one point in my life, I had a wood oven.  I have made thousands of wood oven pizzas and I always topped every pizza – no matter what kind it happened to be — with some roasted garlic cloves.  You can add roasted garlic cloves to mashed potatoes for  killer Garlic Mashed Potatoes.  You can even make a delicious Roasted Garlic & Roasted Tomato Pasta by tossing together cooked spaghetti, roasted garlic cloves, some roasted cherry tomatoes, olive oil and fresh basil.  Magnifico!    

Roasted Garlic
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
In less than an hour, garlic can be roasted in the oven to become sweet, mellow, caramelized ... and SPREADABLE!
  • Garlic bulbs
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual bulbs intact.
  3. Using a knife, cut off ¼ to ½ inch of the top of the cloves, exposing the individual tops of the garlic.
  4. Place the garlic bulbs in a baking pan, or a muffin pan. Drizzle lots of olive oil over each head, making sure the garlic heads are well coated. If you want to end up with garlic infused olive oil, use extra olive oil in this step.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed.
  6. Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it. Cut the skin slightly around each clove and use a cocktail fork or your fingers to pull or squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins.

Raw Garlic Cut Top Off of Garlic


Place Garlic in Muffin Cups Drizzle Garlic with Olive Oil


Then… cover with aluminum foil and bake.

Cover Garlic with Aluminum Foil


I like to serve Roasted Garlic with my Homemade Hummus Spread and Toasted Pita Bread Triangles on a Mediterranean Platter.

Mediterranean Platter 

And one last note….I mentioned using extra olive oil when roasting the garlic in order to end up with garlic infused olive oil.  This added bonus is delicious drizzled over homemade pizza before baking, rubbed on your Thanksgiving turkey or chicken before roasting or for frying potatoes.  

Remember….”Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!” 


Toasted Pita Bread Triangles



Hot Out Of The Oven



Pita bread is used to make pita wraps and sandwiches, but it is also wonderful as a bread on an appetizer tray for dips.  I remember the first time I had toasted pita triangles and how simply delicious they were served with hummus.  To use it for appetizers, it does need to be toasted or crisped.  Toasted Pita Bread Triangles are one of many appetizer ideas I will be sharing over the next few weeks.  Start with a package of  pita bread or flatbread.



You can use either the flat bread as I have done here or the pocket pita type — it really doesn’t matter.  You can also use either the traditional white pita bread or whole wheat.  Try it plain the first time you make it to just enjoy the simple goodness of this bread.  Then, add some extra pizzazz the next time you make this by adding salt or different types of dried herbs before you bake it.  

Toasted Pita Bread Triangles
Toasted Pita Bread Triangles are wonderful served with dips...especially my Hummus Spread and Mediterranean Platter. These are quick to make and add a special touch to any appetizer.
Serves: 4
  • Pita bread or Flatbread ( white or whole wheat)
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush both sides of the pita bread with olive oil.
  3. Cut the bread into quarters or smaller wedges. Use kitchen scissors to cut the pita.
  4. Place bread on cookie sheets and bake for 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Turn bread over and bake for 3 to 5 minutes longer until a rich golden brown.
Use kitchen scissors to quickly cut the pita triangles.

Brush both sides of the pita bread with olive oil.

 Brush with Olive Oil


Cut into triangles

Cut into Triangles


Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, turn over and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

Mediterranean Appetizer Platter

Here you see the Toasted Pita Triangles served on my Mediterranean Hummus and Appetizer Platter – with hummus, cubes of feta cheese ( either marinated or plain), roasted garlic,artichokes, olives and roasted red pepper slices. Make ahead appetizers such as this are great for easy entertaining.  All of this can be made ahead and served when your guests arrive. 

Toasted Pita Trizngles Served With Mediterrean Platter

Remember, “Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends! Enjoy!”


2010 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Wine Reviews

Franciscan Estate Cabernet

Looking for wine reviews for red wines?  I am often asked to do a wine reviews and I was excited to try  the Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.  I decided to pair it with my Rib Eye Peppercorn Steaks with Brandy Sauce.  I have not had this wine before so I was excited to give it a try.  The price point for the wine is around $ 28 and as we enjoyed it with our steak dinner, I definitely thought it was worth it.

The wine had a good body to pair with the steak, but it wasn’t so big as to completely overwhelm it, or too little as to overwhelmed by the steak.  We used our wine aerator when we poured each glass and the wine really opened up nicely.  

The wine was very dark in the glass and garnet in color.  As we sipped the wine, we caught hints of cherry and violets and also some herb and cocoa tones.  

Winemakers Notes: Deep garnet in color with complex and vibrant aromas of red plum, anise, cherry, violets, and tobacco accentuated by notes of black currant, dried herbs, toasted oak, and cocoa.  Elegant and supple texture on the palate make the frame for generous flavors of sweet plum and dark cherry with notes of vanilla and mocha that linger on the finish.  

All in all, we enjoyed this wine — especially as a wine to pair with steak.  At under $30, this wine is worth a try.  We will definitely have this wine again.

Be sure to check out my other wine reviews as well.

Note:  I received a bottle of this wine as a free sample.  The opinions are honest and my own.    No other compensation was received.

Remember ” Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”


Slices Sangria Sparkling Wine Review

Slices Sangria

 Slices Sangria Sparkling Wine is perfect for summertime sipping!

Have you ever made Sangria?  Well, Slices Brand has taken the great taste of Sangria and made it better by adding tons of tiny bubbles!  The resulting taste is so crisp and refreshing!

Get ready to try the world’s first sangria sparkling wine in two refreshing flavors, Slices Sparkling White Sangria and Slices Sparkling Rose Sangria.  I was happy to offer a wine review of these two refreshing wines.  These are great for some easy summertime sippin!

Slice Sangrias are made in Spain, where Sangria originated and where it’s been enjoyed for hundreds of years.  The winemaker uses an authentic Spanish recipe, combining carefully crafted wines made from traditional Spanish wine varieties with all natural fruit juices.

I thought these wines were fresh, fruity and easy-to-drink.  As with most sangrias, this wine is a little sweet, but I did not find it too sweet.   The sparkling bubbles really make these wines refreshing and surprisingly different.  The wine costs between $8.00 and $9.00 per bottle so it is affordable and great for entertaining.  It would pair well with appetizers, picnic fare, grilled chicken and even grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  You can check the Slices Website for retailers in your area or you can also order it online from several different sources.       

The Sparkling Rose Wine Sangria is a rich, juicy wine with succulent flavors of citrus and spice. 

Then there is the luscious Slices Sparkling White Sangria.  Put on some soft music….light candles…and open this White Sangria Sparkling Wine.  This wine is zesty and perfumed with thousands of tiny bubbles.  Who needs a spa?

Note:  We were provided with a sampling of these wines by OffBeat Brands PR. The opinions expressed in this review are true and my own.  No compensation was received.     

Bourbon Dogs Easy Appetizers

Bourbon Dogs


Bourbon Dogs are great for easy appetizers and will have your friends begging for more!  Better make a double batch for your next party!

We love to entertain so I’m always adding easy appetizers to my recipe file.  This recipe for Bourbon Dogs has been an old standby of mine for many years.  It’s quick and easy and everyone LOVES it!!!  I have four other cocktail franks  easy appetizers  I’ll be sharing along the way but for now…enjoy these Bourbon Dogs!

Bourbon Dogs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ¾ cup bourbon
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1 pound Lit'l Smokies
  1. Combine the ketchup, bourbon, dark brown sugar and onion in a saucepan. Stir and heat until combined.
  2. Add the Lit'l Smokies and simmer in the sauce for about 1 hour.
  3. If mixture thickens too much....thin with a little more bourbon!!!


Bourbon Dogs Ingredients 

Combine the ketchup, Bourbon, dark brown sugar and grated onion.  Heat and stir the sauce well.  Stir in the Lit’l Smokies and simmer for 1 hour.  If sauce gets too thick, thin with a little more Bourbon!

Combine Ingredients for Bourbon Dogs Bourbon Dogs Simmering on Stove

When serving appetizers, plan on making two or three different ones so your guests will have a nice selection to choose from.  I like to always make my Cheese Ball recipe and then add two other recipes to the mix.  This recipe for Bourbon Dogs can be made ahead of time, refrigerated and then reheated right before your party.  That makes it such a great recipe for BUSY schedules.  Don’t let lack of time keep you from enjoying entertaining in your home.  Most of the Make Life Special recipes will fit into your schedule with a little planning.  And.. the step-by-step photos and  cooking video tutorials make it easy for even the novice cook to shine in the kitchen.

Remember…”Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”

Contest Closed Super Mom T-Shirt Giveaways

Enter to win Super Mom T Shirt

Make Life Special Giveaways

This giveaway is now closed.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and in honor of that, Zazzle is sponsoring this great giveaway for Make Life Special readers! Enter to win this fun “Super Mom” T-shirt! This is one of several giveaways going on currently.

Super Mom Starburst Shirt

This FUN T shirt says it all!  This is contoured for a feminine fit and would be a great basic for any closet.  But you have to hurry on this giveaway!  It ends next Sunday May 5, 2013 at 8:00 PM CST.  

Be sure to also check out the other great Mother’s Day gift ideas from Zazzle!  Click Here for Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

If you want to also order this T-Shirt, here is the link:  Super Mom T-Shirt

This great giveaway is valued at over $30 and there are several ways to enter.  You can enter more than once.  Winner will be chosen by

Enter to Win the Super Mom T Shirt!!

1.  Tell me what makes your mom a “Super Mom” in the comments section below……

2.  Tell us what you enjoy/enjoyed doing most with your mom in the comments section below……

3.  Tell us what you will do this Mother’s Day …..

4.  Tell us about your best Mother’s Day gift….

5.  Tell us why you would like to win this “Super Mom” T Shirt….

Good Luck!!!

Note:  This giveaway was sponsored by Zazzle.  Thank you!!!



Contest Closed Bertolli Olive Oil Giveaway!!!!

Bertolli_ExtraLight_Front_RGB (1)


Now announcing our Bertolli Olive Oil Giveaway!

Most of our kitchens would not be complete without a bottle of olive oil.  It’s great for marinating, cooking and of course for dipping hot crusty bread!  

Bertolli is offering a giveaway to one lucky Make Life Special reader!  

Want to know the differences between Bertolli’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Classico Olive Oil and Extra Light Olive Oil?  Check out this minute and a half video that explains all about the olive oils and the preferred ways to cook with each one.


Enter for Your Chance to Win!!

Contest ends Wednesday May 8, 2013 at 8:00 PM Central time

Winner chosen by

Good Luck!!!

1.  Tell me how you would use the Bertolli Olive Oil….Just tell me in the comments section below.

2.  Subscribe to Make Life special’s daily feed in the “News and Updates” box at the top of this post and then tell me that you did it in the comments section below.  

3.  Share this giveaway on your FaceBook page, leave the link in the comment box…or tell me you did it.

4.  Click the link and become a subscriber to the Make Life Special YouTube Channel :  Make Life Special Cooking Channel     Tell me you did it in the comment section below.

5.  “Like” Make Life Special on FaceBook and comment below.  Make Life Special FaceBook Link  

6.  “Like” Bertolli on FaceBook and comment below.  Bertolli FaceBook Link

You can enter this giveaway more than once.  Goodluck!!

Note:  Bertolli is sponsoring this giveaway for Make Life Special readers.  Thank you!



Creamy Apple Walnut Chicken Salad Recipe

Creamy Chicken Salad

This chicken salad recipe is a great summertime meal!

Here is a delicious chicken salad recipe that’s loaded with fresh chunks of chicken that are quickly sauteed in olive oil and combined with celery,apples and a dreamy…creamy sauce made of low fat sour cream, a little lemon juice and stone ground mustard.  By using the low fat sour cream you will save on some calories and it tastes delicious too. Toss in some walnuts and you have a feast!

If you are short on time, remember that you can always use a rotisserie chicken from your local deli instead of cooking the chicken breasts.  There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of time savers here and there when cooking.  

Creamy Apple Walnut Chicken Salad Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts ( about 1¼ lbs) , cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 Tbs Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup low fat sour cream
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 2 apples, cored and cubed in bite-sized pieces
  • 2 ribs of celery, thinly sliced diagonally
  • ½ chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbs. chopped chives
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat Bertolli Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil in skillet and cook chicken, about 10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Cool chicken.
  2. Combine sour cream, mustard and lemon juice in medium bowl. Stir in chicken, apples, celery, walnuts and chives. Serve cold.
  3. Serve, if desired, with crusty Italian bread or over salad greens.
  4. Enjoy!

Chef Fabio Viviani shared this yummy chicken salad recipe.  Watch how easy this is to make!


And, if you live near a BJ’s Wholesale club, they are offering a $ 1.00 off coupon for the Bertolli Olive Oil.  Here is the link to print your coupon:   PRINT COUPON

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”

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