Tag Archives: snack

Pretzels for 2014

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I know it’s February and I should stop wishing people “Happy New Year!” and that I desperately, desperately need to drop those Christmas Thank You notes in the mail. I sincerely do apologize to 2014 for dragging my feet, but what is it about this year that has just not quite yet felt like an appropriate fresh start? I can’t be the only one feeling this way. January in Los Angeles typically consists of packed gyms (lots of neon Lululemon to break in), juice cleanses (both master and minor) and strictly regimented dental hygiene upkeep (what – flossing isn’t at the top of your resolution list??) Maybe it’s just me, but none of that has felt appropriate yet. There’s usually a newness in the air that is optimistically cutting through the city smog, but this year it’s felt like we’ve had to push, pull, heave-ho, pray, manhandle and pray again just to get the ball rolling. The crap from 2013 just will not be left behind!

With all the work to clean up last year’s atrocities, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve allowed many things to fall by the wayside to make time for important activities such as sleep and meal eating. Sometimes life gets ahead of you, and you’re forced to run to catch up. It happens.

So last weekend, I made a point to step off the hamster wheel and regain some sanity with a good long run, a little baking, some good wine, and some great friends. It was just what I needed.

Simultaneously, something called “The Superbowl” ignited Pinterest boards and food blogs across America with posts of snack stadiums (here’s my personal favorite), wing recipes and odes the infamous nipple slip of ’04. Also quite popular this year were recipes for soft pretzels, so I thought I’d have a go.

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I decided to try a batch of cinnamon raisin pretzels as well, since that was my go-to flavor at Auntie Ann’s back in my mall rat heyday. (I was a frequent buyer at the Santa Monica Place circa 1995) The pretzels turned out great! All were gobbled up within two days – and I swear not just by me.

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Sometimes it just makes sense to stop and bake!

Soft Pretzels

Recipe from here. See additional video tutorial here.

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Fueling for Panamania


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Sam and I just returned from a 10-day, 26-mile trek through the insanely beautiful Panamanian rain forests, beaches and headlands with one of our closest friends. It was, to say the least, a trip of a lifetime. We experienced fairy-tale like circumstances that circulated between The Jungle Book, Peter Pan and Cast Away (minus the Tom Hanks crazy), discovered the art of the salted rim on a perfect Chelada, sweated like mo-fos under 90+ degree weather and 100% humidity, and learned the many ways one can appreciate the kilt (don’t ask). Of course, waking up before the sun rose everyday (EVERY. DAY.) to embark on these treks left us insatiably hungry during the course of our trip, but being the Asian Martha Stewart that I am, I stocked us up with an arsenal of snacks that included dozens and dozens of power bars. We ended up needing every last morsel – I actually ate the last granola bar right before I boarded my flight back to LA.

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Our stockpile of adventure snacks included the granola bars here as well as two date-based power bars. My dad said (via text) that they were the “bombest protein bars in existence” and I can’t decide if it makes me prouder to say that he conveyed his approval over text message or that he colloquially uses “bombest” as an adjective more often than I do. Nonetheless, his wise words attest to the greatness of the recipes that follow:

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Spice Date Power Bars

Recipe adapted from here

1 cup almonds
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup Medjool dates
1 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon sea salt
Place nuts, dates and cherries in a food processor and pulse until well ground. Pulse in vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and salt and remove mixture from food processor and press into an 8×8 baking dish. Refrigerate overnight (6-8 hours) and cut into squares and serve.

Coconut Apricot Power Bars

Recipe adapted fron here

1/2 cup cashews
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup shredded coconut
2 tablespoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Line a 8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, set aside. Place cashews in a food processor and process until nuts are evenly chopped, set aside. Put dried apricots in the food processor and process for 3-4 minutes to finely chop. Add coconut, oats, agave syrup, coconut oil, hemp seeds, ginger and salt. Process until mixture comes together. Add the chopped cashews and pulse until well combined.

Put the apricot coconut mixture in the parchment lined baking pan and firmly press into pan. Cover the bars and place in a freezer for one hour. Unmold bars, trim ends and cut into even rectangles. Bars will last up to one month if stored in an air tight container in the fridge.

Staying classy

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A great friend of mine graciously gifted me with the Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook for Christmas last year. Now, I typically cannot commit to a recipe without an overload of imagery (of both process and final product – note to foodisbomb.com) but the recipes in this cookbook have made me finally overlook my pictorial needs.

In a genius move, each recipe is grouped not only by course but also by season, with notes on picking the freshest batch of the bounty. These shortbread cookies are categorized as “evergreen” and thank god because they are so simple and perfect for any occasion. Even just having some frozen dough on hand for an impromptu tea or wine sesh with friends would be absolutely clutch.

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Something about eating a shortbread cookie makes you feel so proper: perhaps it’s the way you have to daintily hold each cookie between thumb and index finger while ever-so-slightly cocking your chin out to gently take a bite (and avoid an unnecessary crumb attack). Or, maybe it’s because they are always an accessory to a high tea or coffee date. Whatever it is, these cookies are definitely a snack to stroke our inner elitist, which is ironic since they are unbelievably easy to make.

I drizzled some orange honey on top for a little extra somethin-somethin but I also think these would make great jam sandwich cookies.

Happy shortbreading my classy friends!

Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from the Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook

1/2 cup roasted and unsalted pistachios
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup pistachio meal
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbs honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a good 24 whole pistachios and finely chop the rest. Sift together flour, salt and set aside. Cream together the butter and powdered sugar on high speed untel blended. add the pistachio meal and beat until creamy. On low speed add the flour mixture.

Scrape dough onto parchment paper and shape into a log about 8.5″ long (like a sushi roll). Make sure there are no cracks in the dough. Brush all sides with the egg. Roll the dough in the chopped pistachios and chill for at least an hour.

Take the dough out of the fridge and let sit for 10-20 mins before slicing into 3/8″ rounds. Place on an ungreased baking sheet 1″ apart and press one pistachio in the center of each cookie. Bake for 16 mins or until cookies are slightly golden and puffed. Let cool and drizzle with honey to your hearts content.

Just go with it

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I’m going to be straightforward – this is a recipe for something called cracknuts. They are a fiery, addictive, hellish, fantastic mix of sweet, spicy, salty nuts that my roommate Molly famously makes and the rest of us famously eat despite our best efforts. They are given their name for this very lack of control that they induce on people. I finally asked Molly for the recipe and made them for my office christmas potluck and will be making them much more often now.

This recipe is pretty simple – mixed nuts, thrown together with sugar, water, salt, and insane quantities of fennel seeds (yes, fennel, go with it) and chile peppers. It may sound crazy, but the combination is insane in the best way. Molly first had them at a bed & breakfast and asked the owner for the recipe. And now they continue to sweep the nation!

These delicious nuts are not for the faint of heart – there is a truly outrageous amount of red pepper in there, and like all spicy foods they are vaguely masochistic. When making this recipe, it really feels like you put as much fennel and chile as you do nuts. Just go with it, though. It works. Especially when the fennel gets all stuck up in the walnuts (these are the moments us cooks savor). One of my new year’s resolutions (yes, here is where I tie it all together) is actually to embrace JFDI (just effing do it) – whether “it” is paying a parking ticket or going to grad school. So in cooking and in life, I will embrace being a little bold. And trust me, these are some bold nuts.

Cracknuts (Fennel Chile Nut Mix)

4 cups of mixed nuts – almonds, walnuts, and cashews
3/4 cups brown sugar
4tsp salt
4tsp crushed red pepper
8tsp fennel seed
4tbsp water

Mix the sugar, salt, red pepper, and fennel in a bowl. Add to the nuts, along with the water, and combine with your hands. Place on  a baking sheet lined with foil (don’t try skipping the foil – because you are essentially making caramel around the nuts, this stuff sticks to a pan like you wouldn’t believe). Bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. WATCH THESE NUTS LIKE A HAWK. They will burn if left unattended, faster than you will expect.

Let cool before storing away, breaking up into smaller clusters if needed. Serve, or leave out on the counter and let your roommates nibble away.

Granola Bars, Part Deux

Good morning hunger pains! Per the usual, I woke up this morning completely ravenous, eagerly anticipating stuffing my face voraciously with granola (also quite typical). Shuffling my sleepy self to the kitchen with a craving for peanut butter, I realized I had prematurely gobbled up my granola supply (#firstworldproblems), so I quickly scrounged up the ingredients for these rockingly easy granola bars. This is a recipe so simple that any pre-caffeinated brain can handle on the emptiest of stomachs. However, waiting for these buddys to set before cutting may be a different story… These are definitely a new essential to keep on handy for satiating frequent morning (or afternoon, midnight, 3am…) hunger pains. Customize with chocolate, nuts and dried fruit to your hearts content! Peanut Butter Granola Bars adapted from here

2/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup agave syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

3 cups oats

1 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes

Optional Add-ins:

1/3 to 1/2 cup raisins (or any bite-sized dried fruit will work)

1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped (or walnuts, pecans, peanuts…)

1/3 to 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a 9 x 13″ baking dish with tin foil. In a large microwave-safe bowl (think big, you’ll be mixing everything in here), combine brown rice syrup, peanut butter, agave, and heat on high power for 1 minute; stir to combine. Add vanilla, cinnamon, salt.

Add oats and coconut to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add any dried fruit, nuts and chocolate and fold to incorporate. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread parchment paper over mixture, and pack down firmly with a fists. Place pan in the freezer for at least 1 hour, or until you can’t take waiting anymore. Slice bars and wrap in parchment or tin foil for easy snacking and/or breakfasting!

50 Shades of Green (+ a granola bar)

If you know me, you know my love affair with granola. If you know me well, you know I actually hate granola – that I despise myself for how I love it so: the power it has to weaken my knees as well as my will power to stop at one bowl. You also now know that I am crazy.

To mitigate such severe morning predicaments (and ridiculously important internal stuggles), I have created a new morning ritual: a green smoothie and an *individually wrapped and proportioned* grain-free granola bar. The green smoothie has been a standing ritual for a while now, but alone I tended to burn it off by 11 – my eyes involuntarily wandering to the top right corner of my computer screen, aching for a socially reasonable time to take a lunch break. We’ve all been there. I am a big believer in a respectable breakfast, so a supplement to the green smoothie was definitely in order. These bars are the perfect solution: suuuuper easy (no bake!) and have enough fat and sugar to keep you energized all morning long.

Every morning I tend to blend up a slightly different shade of green, making slight variations to keep it interesting – but the recipe that follows is definitely my favorite. Its pretty calorie packed, so definitely not an every day indulgence – I’d categorize it as a weekend smoothie. (Again, yes: crazy.) Typically, I just throw in almond milk, half a banana (or half an avocado), a more-than-generous handful or two of spinach or kale and a tablespoon of chia seeds. But we like to keep it exciting here, so I’m giving you the best of the best.

Make this your morning ritual and thank me when you finally glance at the clock mid-afternoon after an insanely productive morning has miraculously flown by sans hunger pains.

Breakfast of Champions:

1. Green Pineapple Coconut Smoothie 
(Adapted from here)

1½ cups fresh or frozen ripe pineapple
2 cups filtered water or raw coconut water
1 handful curly green kale (about 1½ large leaves)
1 ripe banana
2 dates
2 tablespoons dried unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons cup raw almonds or cashews (optional for extra protein)
1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional for them omega-3s)

Pour the coconut water in your blender, then pineapple (if using fresh pineapple, throw in some ice cubes) then the rest of the ingredients and blend, blend, blend! Add chia seeds at the very end so they don’t stick to the blender, making a bitch of a situation to clean. Pour and enjoy!

2. Grain-free Granola Bars
(adapted from here)

2½ cups assorted nuts and seeds
1 cup dried fruit
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup coconut oil
½ cup honey
splash of vanilla extract
splash of almond extract
½ teaspoon salt
generous sprinkle of cinnamon

Roughly chop 1 cup of the nuts and throw the rest into a food processer. Pulse until you have finely chopped bits and pieces. Stir to combine with larger nut chunks and add dried fruit and coconut.

In a small saucepan, heat coconut oil and honey over medium-low heat. Add vanilla/almond extracts and salt and stir constantly until the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and pour over dry mixture. Stir to coat fruit and nuts completely.

Dump the mixture in a parchment or tin foil lined 9 x 13″ baking dish. With another sheet of parchment paper, press down the mixture REALLY HARD to condense and make the bars stick together. Like, use all you man-power to pack the suckers tightly.

Wait at least two hours to cool, or stick in the fridge for an hour or so. I left them overnight. The mixture will be hard enough to cut into bars.

Individual wrapping for the obsessive-compulsive and granola-addicts only.