Category Archives: Snacks

Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets

Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsWhen I think back on the Super Bowl parties of my youth (and since I am Texan, there were a lot), I don’t remember who played or much else, except for the food. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (probably on Friday): I don’t care about football or the Super Bowl at all, but I *love* football food. If it’s rich, salty, creamy, cheesy, meaty and/or buttery, and can be used to distract me from a sporting event in which I’m uninterested, I. am. in.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsSometimes when I am bored, I tune out and think about recipes. That said, you won’t be surprised to learn that the idea for these Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets popped into my head during the last Super Bowl.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsThese are the sorts of things I think about instead of thinking about things that are actually important. I mean, *someone* has to think about the game day food, right? No? Just me? Anyway…Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsPuff Pastry Pigs in Blankets are exactly what they sound like: classic pigs in blankets (aka cocktail wieners wrapped in yeast dough), made with puff pastry. Miniature hotdogs wrapped in flaky, buttery pastry? Sign me up!Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsThese little morsels are super easy to make. Start by rolling out a sheet of puff pastry. I like to use Rough Puff, but any all-butter puff pastry will do.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsSpread a thin layer of dijon mustard over the top and then slice the pastry into strips. Wrap each strip around a cocktail wiener…Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsPuff Pastry Pigs in Blankets…then brush them all with egg wash and sprinkle them with poppyseeds and/or sesame seeds. This is purely for aesthetics, but I like the added texture it provides.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsBake the pigs in blankets for 15 minutes at 450F. The pastry will be gorgeous and golden when they’re done.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsServe ‘em with ketchup and more dijon mustard, or any condiment you like. Make sure to hoard a few for yourself before putting them on your Super Bowl table though because they’ll disappear before you know it, especially if I’m invited.Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets

Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets
makes about 40 pieces

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For assembly:
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) prepared dijon mustard
1.5 packages cocktail weiners (about 30 per package)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon poppyseeds (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

For serving (optional):
ketchup
mustard

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Preheat oven to 450F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Assemble the pigs in blankets. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Use a large, sharp knife to trim any uneven edges. Brush surface of the dough with dijon mustard.

Use a floured chef’s knife to slice the sheet of dough in half lengthwise, and then into 3/4-inch thick strips. Working with one strip at a time, place a cocktail wiener at one end and roll it toward the other end, so that most of the wiener is coiled in dough. Place each piece, dough ends down, on prepared pans. Repeat until you run out of strips, chilling dough for 15 minutes if it becomes warm or soft.

Make an egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush all exposed dough. Sprinkle with poppy and/or sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake pigs in blankets for 15-17 minutes or until pastry is golden. Let cool a few minutes on pans before removing to a serving platter.

Serve with ketchup and/or mustard, if desired. Pigs in blankets are best the day they are made. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Preheat oven to 450F.”Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsPuff Pastry Pigs in Blankets

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Spicy Cheddar Shortbread

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadI figure you’ve all got your Thanksgiving menus nailed down by now, but can I just suggest one more thing? Just one?

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadOkay, good.

You don’t want to miss these Spicy Cheddar Shortbread. They’re the slice-and-bake cheese plate addition that you didn’t know you needed. But make no mistake, you do.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadYou may not need them on Thursday (because you probably have it all together and have already started making your cornbread and rough puff–you’re totally killing this Thanksgiving business 🙌🏻), but sometime between now and January 2nd, you’re going to be very happy you have this recipe in your back pocket.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadI mean, these savory shortbread are basically cheese crackers for adults. They’re crispy and light-textured with a full-bodied cheddar flavor because, unlike the cheese crackers you can buy at the grocery store, these guys are made with real cheese. Oh, and on top of all that, the dough comes together in five minutes in the food processor.

You’re welcome.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadThis dough really couldn’t be simpler. Start by grating half a pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadPut some flour, black pepper, cayenne, and salt in a food processor.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadThrow the cheese in there and pulse everything into a rubble.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadSpicy Cheddar ShortbreadAdd some cold butter and a teaspoon of mustard…

Spicy Cheddar Shortbreadand process it until it’s dough.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadForm it into logs, wrap it in plastic, and give it a chill. Then slice…

Spicy Cheddar Shortbreadand bake.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadMaybe serve them next to a big pile of apple slices, just to be extra seasonal. Or maybe put them on a cheese plate. I’m gonna do that for aaaallllllll the holiday parties.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadBut I’m also going to pile them in a jar and eat them by their lonesome because they’re so good, they don’t need any accoutrements. I suggest you do the same.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadHappy Thanksgiving, dear readers 💗

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadSpicy Cheddar Shortbread
makes about 4 dozen shortbread

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
8 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard

Combine flour, cayenne, black pepper, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter, cheddar, and mustard, and process until a dough ball forms. Divide dough in half and form into two 8-inch logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and place at least an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until light golden at the edges. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Shortbread are best the day they are made. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to two days.

Tropical Cashew Granola

 It’s officially summer, and I can’t wait to get to the beach. I’m only four weeks away from a trip to Maine with a bunch of friends–it can’t get here soon enough! It’s super woodsy and we definitely won’t see any palm trees, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be eating tons of tropical fruit while we’re up there.

How, you may ask, will we have tropical fruit in the wilds of Maine? In the form of my new favorite granola! 
Yes, I am that person who packs homemade granola into her luggage. And why wouldn’t I? It’s full of whole grains, nuts, and fruit, so it’s super satisfying. It’s also refined sugar-free, gluten free, and vegan, so this is one recipe that will fit all my friends’ various dietary needs.

Between easy breakfasts and snacks, I know we will go through the full two-quart batch in no time. I mean, who can resist this Tropical Cashew Granola?! It’s loaded with dried mango and pineapple, toasted coconut, and cashews–perfect for any day at the beach. 
Normally, I am not a huge fan of dried fruit (especially in granola), but I make exceptions for dried mango and pineapple. I’ll eat a whole six-ounce bag in a day! The sweet mango, tangy pineapple, and toasted coconut work incredibly well with the crunchy oats and cashews. A moderate amount of sweetener and a full teaspoon of salt keep it all just sweet enough to enjoy with your favorite yogurt and fresh fruit. I can’t get enough. 

Having made a lot of granola in the last few years, I can tell you that the homemade stuff is a snap to put together and infinitely better than any boxed variety. When you make something from scratch, you can control the ingredients and customize it to your taste.

For instance, I love my Maple Pecan Granola (which I used as the base for this recipe), but sometimes I want my granola to have more clusters than that recipe allows. So, I took the basic formula and swapped half the maple syrup for brown rice syrup. It’s super thick and allows the oats and cashews to cluster a bit without adding excessive amounts sweetener. And since brown rice syrup has a mild flavor, the maple is still front and center!

Tropical Cashew Granola is like summer in a bowl! Don’t be surprised if the combination of mango, pineapple, coconut, and buttery cashews has you packing a jar for your vacation, too! 

  Looking for more granola? Check out my Peanut Butter Granola!

Tropical Cashew Granola
makes about two quarts

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup*
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups raw unsalted cashews, chopped
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
6 ounces unsweetened dried mango, chopped into bite-size pieces
6 ounces unsweetened dried pineapple, chopped into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats, cashews, and coconut. Spread mixture on prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks to prevent burning.

When granola is done baking, let cool five minutes before stirring in dried mango and pineapple pieces. Let granola cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

Note:

Brown rice syrup can be found near the honey and syrups at most well-stocked grocery stores, or on Amazon. If you cannot find it or do not wish to use it, you may use an equal volume of mild honey or maple syrup. Your granola will not have many clusters, but it will still be delicious.

Blackberry Lime Scones

 The calendar may say it’s May, but we New Yorkers are still in coats. After a few glorious warm days, wind and rain have returned with a vengeance. Being from a place where the only seasons are summer and Christmas, I wait all year to be able to wear shorts and sandals and go to picnics in the park. Unfortunately, I’ll probably have to wait another month to spend all my time outside.

But it is starting to feel like summer in one part of New York: my kitchen. The green markets are full of berries and rhubarb, and I just can’t get enough! I can’t wait for sour cherries to hit the stands, but until then, I’m going to eat Blackberry Lime Scones with my black iced coffees and daydream about going the beach. 

These buttery, lime-scented scones are bursting with blackberries. Literally. Each one is studded with sweet, juicy fresh blackberries that burst when you take a bite. <–Yum!

The outsides are golden brown and just the slightest bit crunchy, while the insides are super soft and moist. Oh, and they’re drizzled with an easy lime glaze that brings these already fantastic little breakfast treats over the top! 

 Blackberry Lime Scones can be on your table in under an hour, which means they’re perfect for a casual Mothers’ Day breakfast. The dough takes just ten minutes to come together, and the scones only need to bake for 15 minutes or so. 

Let them cool just a few minutes while you whisk together the lime glaze. Drizzle that over the golden brown tops, and let it set for ten minutes. All that’s left to do is grab your favorite iced coffee and dig in! 

 Blackberry Lime Scones
makes 8 scones

2/3 cup half-and-half + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons honey
zest of 1 lime
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
6 ounces fresh blackberries

Glaze:
1/2-3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about one lime)

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, stir together half-and-half and honey. Refrigerate to keep cold.

In a small bowl, combine lime zest and sugar. Use clean fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar until combined.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, lime-sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender (or two forks) to cut in cold butter until the largest chunks are the size of small peas. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in milk-honey mixture and blackberries until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough onto a well-floured surface and form into a 1-inch thick circle. Cut circle in eight wedges. Transfer the wedges to prepared pan, setting them at least 1.5 inches apart. Brush the tops with additional half-and-half. Bake 15-18 minutes, until golden. Let cool ten minutes.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar and salt. Whisk in lime juice until a thin icing forms. Add more confectioner’s sugar or lime juice to alter consistency. Drizzle glaze over warm scones. Glaze will set after ten minutes.

Scones are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

New York City is not the place to move if you’re a salsa snob.

I should know. I’ve lived here almost nine years and have yet to find a Mexican restaurant whose salsa is not obviously from a jar. The worst experiences have been one that was mostly ketchup and Tabasco, and another that contained basil.*

*Note to Mexican restaurants everywhere: salsa and marinara are not interchangeable.

Luckily for me, I love to cook, so I have not been doomed to only eat subpar salsa for my tenure in NYC. I’ve learned to make several different varieties–my red Restaurant-Style Salsa is the favorite among my friends. I could definitely make that and some tostadas for Cinco de Mayo and have a perfectly good dinner. But lately, I’ve been seeing gorgeous green tomatillos at my favorite vegetable market, and they are just begging to be made into salsa. Being a total salsa fiend, I am happy to oblige.

This Roasted Tomatillo Salsa is my favorite salsa ever. It’s a little sour from the tomatillos (but not overly so) with pops of freshness from the cilantro and lime, and has a rich, smooth texture. Thick and chunky salsa is not my style.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa takes slightly more work than the Restaurant-Style Salsa, but it’s still a breeze. Most of the 35 minute prep time is just waiting for everything to roast and cool, so it really is a snap.

  Slice some fresh tomatillos in half and place them on a baking sheet with half an onion, two fresh jalapeños, and a couple of cloves of unpeeled fresh garlic. Drizzle everything with olive oil and roast it in a 425F oven for about twenty minutes. Let the vegetables cool for ten minutes, squeeze the soft garlic from its peels, and blitz everything in a food processor (or high-powered blender) with some fresh cilantro, lime juice, and salt. That’s it! This salsa is hardly any work at all, and is infinitely better than any prepared salsa you can imagine.

  Serve Roasted Tomatillo Salsa with nachos, quesadillas, tacos, tostadas, or tortilla chips. Use it as the base for an amazing chicken soup! Pour it over chicken enchiladas before they go in the oven. Spoon it over eggs scrambled with tortillas and cheese and have migas for breakfast <– did that yesterday. Highly recommend.

Any way you serve it, this Roasted Tomatillo Salsa will be a new favorite.

 Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos,* husked and rinsed
1-2 fresh jalapeño peppers, stems removed
1/2 medium white onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, not peeled
olive oil, for drizzling
1/3-1/2 cup fresh cilantro, washed
juice of 1 lime
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Slice tomatillos in half. Slice jalapeños in half, and seed if desired. Place on baking sheet along with onion and garlic. Drizzle all vegetables with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes, until starting to brown. Let cool ten minutes.

Squeeze garlic out of its skins. Place roasted vegetables in the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender. Add cilantro, lime, and salt. Purée until smooth.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

Note:

Tomatillos and green tomatoes are not interchangeable.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa