Brown bag meals: Delectable sandwich spreads

Image: Hemera | Thinkstock

If you’re feeling a bit disheartened at the thought of facing the same old sandwich in your brown bag at work, how about “spreading” a little creativity to liven things up?

Take a break from the everyday mayonnaise or mustard, and try some olive spread or hummus to awaken from the sandwich doldrums!

Olive Spread
· 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
· ½ cup mayonnaise
· 1 cup chopped black or green olives (or a combination)
· 2 tbsp. olive juice (from can or jar of olives)
· ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
· Pepper to taste

Combine cream cheese with mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Add olive juice, then fold in olives and pecans. Cover and refrigerate.

Serving suggestion: Spread on Italian or ciabatta bread with roast beef, salami, prosciutto and/or pepperoni.

Shopping list for Olive Spread:
· 8 oz. cream cheese
· 1 small jar mayonnaise
· 1 15 oz. can black olives or 1 medium-size jar green olives, or both
· 1 small package pecans (optional)

Hummus Spread
· 16 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained
· ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
· 2 tbsp. lemon juice
· 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 tsp. dried oregano
· ½ tsp. salt
· 1/8 tsp. pepper
· 1 red bell pepper, chopped
· 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
· 4 green onions, sliced

In food processor or blender, combine drained chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper. Blend well until desired consistency, then add remaining ingredients. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.

Shopping list for Hummus Spread:
· 1 16 oz. can garbanzo beans
· 1 small jar tahini (if your local grocery store doesn’t carry it, check a health food store)
· 1 small bottle lemon juice or 2 lemons
· 1 small bottle olive oil
· 2 cloves garlic
· Dried oregano
· 1 red bell pepper
· 1 yellow bell pepper
· 4 green onions

Serving suggestion: Spread in a pita pocket with lettuce and chicken or turkey.

Foodie Websites
Whether you’re starting to explore the world of cooking or are a seasoned cook, it can be educational—and a lot of fun—to check out some online cooking sites and blogs. Here are a couple to try.

· A Bushel of What?: Written by Nicole Kutcher of Easthampton, Mass., who describes herself as having “no James Beard Awards, no culinary training and no cookbooks published under her name. She does, however, like to eat.” Her vegetarian-focused fare includes recipes such as cilantro corn salad and vegetable pancakes.

· Livefire: Dedicated to taking “kitchen cooking and adding the flavor of fire to it, whether in high-heat grilling, low-heat smoking or indirect heat for baking.” Posted recipes include smoked chicken salad and cornbread.

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