Category Archives: Snacks

Olive Oil Crackers

Olive Oil Crackers

Listen, I am not going to try to convince you to always make your own homemade crackers because I am not insane. I buy so few things pre-made, but crackers are one that I do—even dedicated home bakers need a convenience food every now and then! You know, like when you get home at 10pm after working 14 hours straight and if you have to cook one more thing, you will throw a toddler-style tantrum of epic proportions right there on the kitchen floor.

Not that I’ve ever done anything like that. Ahem.

Olive Oil Crackers

That said, sometimes it’s fun to DIY, especially when it’s both fancy and easy, and it doesn’t get much fancier or easier than homemade Olive Oil Crackers. The recipe is only five ingredients long, takes less than an hour start-to-finish, and makes the most delicious crispy, crunchy crackers I’ve ever had.

The recipe itself is a breeze—just mix together flour, salt, olive oil, and water, then roll, cut and bake ‘til crispy—but there are a couple of unusual things that I want to explain before I get to it.

First, you need to rest your dough before rolling it out. This isn’t a prolonged thing, just 15 minutes to let the gluten in the flour relax before you roll it out paper thin. If you skip this step, the dough will shrink back somewhat dramatically at the edges when you roll it—not the worst thing that’s ever happened, but not the best if you’re seeking wafer thin crackers, which I very much am.

The other thing is the way you roll, cut, and bake these crackers, which happens to be on the back of a sheet pan. I learned this technique from my favorite food writer, Julie Van Rosendaal, and it’s…well, it’s genius. This allows you to get the crackers extra thin with your rolling pin without running into those pesky pan edges and negates the need to transfer each individual cracker to the pan, which usually results in thicker, irregularly shaped results. No thanks! If you have coated pans or simply don’t want to use this method, roll your dough out on a large piece of parchment and transfer that to the pan.

Olive Oil Crackers

These crackers bake up in about 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re perfect when the edges are dark and the center has browned in places. In my experience, it’s better to brown them a little too much than leave them pale—nobody wants chewy crackers. You may have to sacrifice some of the edge pieces, but honestly, I kind of dig the overdone parts.

Olive Oil Crackers

Olive Oil Crackers are a great blank slate cracker because their primary flavors are—you guessed it—olive oil and salt. You can absolutely leave them plain, but I love dressing them up with whatever spices sound good. The batch pictured was seasoned with cracked pepper, Maldon salt, and dried rosemary, but I’ve included a bunch of suggestions in the recipe.

You can save this recipe for your next get-together or cozy night in with someone you like, or you can just make them for yourself, like I do. Because I like to eat Olive Oil Crackers and extra sharp cheddar for dinner after 14 hour workdays. And also because I’m a little bit fancy (but only a little bit).

Olive Oil Crackers
Olive Oil Crackers
makes lots

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup warm tap water
spices of choice

Spice suggestions: freshly cracked black pepper, flaky salt, dried rosemary, dried thyme, everything bagel seasoning, za’atar, sesame seeds, poppyseeds

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Add oil and warm water and whisk just until combined. Divide dough in two. Wrap each portion in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly flour the backs of 2 sheet pans.

Roll out the crackers. Place one half of the dough on one of the floured pans. Use a rolling pin to roll it as thinly and evenly as possible (without being transparent) in all directions. The edges will shrink back slightly; if they are snapping back dramatically, cover the partially rolled dough with plastic wrap and let rest for another 15 minutes. Once rolled out, the dough should cover most of the pan and have irregular edges. Repeat with remaining dough and pan.

Sprinkle desired spices over the dough and lightly roll the rolling pin over the top to adhere.

Cut the crackers. Use a sharp chef’s knife, pizza cutter or bench scraper to cut dough into crackers. Mine are roughly 1 1/2 x 2 inches, but you may cut them as big or small as you like, keeping in mind that baking time may be affected. Prick each cracker with a toothpick or fork.

Bake crackers for 15-18 minutes, or until dark at the edges with some browning in the center. If they are pale, in the center, return them to the oven for a minute or two until they develop some darker spots.

Let crackers cool completely on their pans. Serve with cheese, cured meat and/or fruit.

Crackers will keep in an airtight container for at least a week.

Crispy Chickpeas

Crispy Chickpeas​

I first tried making Crispy Chickpeas when I moved to NYC back in 2007. They were weirdly trendy at the time, so I decided to brave the tiny kitchen I shared with five people and give them a shot. Following a recipe written by a former Food Network personality who I won’t name, I drained a can of chickpeas, patted off as much of the moisture as I could, and then roasted them at a high temperature for a short period of time. I was very excited to see what all the fuss was about, but my efforts were for nothing. The resulting chickpeas weren’t crispy at all, just vaguely dry and mushy on the outside and steamy on the inside. It may have been the recipe or user error—I don’t know. I ate them because I don’t like to waste food, but needless to say, I never attempted them again after that.

Crispy Chickpeas​

Or at least I didn’t until the last day of our trip to Maine in the fall of 2020, when I needed to do something with the large amount of chickpeas I had on my hands after using their aquafaba (cooking/canning liquid) in a multitude of vegan bakes. With limited time and groceries, I decided to try Crispy Chickpeas again. If they didn’t work, I’d just blame it on the faulty oven and call it a day.

But they did work. They worked *well.* By roasting them at a lower heat for a longer time and tossing them frequently, I ended up with a perfect crispy, crunchy snack. After that, there was no turning back. I’m a Crispy Chickpea machine, y’all.

The big secret to homemade Crispy Chickpeas is no secret at all: you just need heat and time. In 35 minutes and a few shakes of a pan, the chickpeas go from damp and soft to crispy and light-textured, perfect for a snack or garnish for soup or salad.

You can make Crispy Chickpeas in any flavor you like. Get fancy by combining miso & maple or sriracha & lime zest, or use pre-mixed blends from your spice cabinet; garam masala, taco seasoning, za’atar, and everything bagel seasoning would all be great. Oh, and Spicy Chili Crisp is perfect on them, too. Of course, you can also just mix and match whatever is in your spice cabinet or your condiment collection—you’ll need 2-4 teaspoons of flavorings total per can of beans. The chickpeas pictured are flavored with chipotle and maple. Whatever you choose, taste as you go!

Crispy Chickpeas​

Crispy Chickpeas are incredibly cheap to make, clocking in at just a couple of dollars per batch. Though they shrink a bit as they roast, one can’s-worth still makes enough for at least a couple of people to nibble on. That said, if you’re quarantining or maybe just don’t like to share, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble putting these away on your own.

Crispy Chickpeas
makes 1 1/2 cups

1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt (to taste)
2-4 teaspoons spices or flavorings of choice

Preheat oven to 400F.

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Scatter them onto a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and blot well to remove excess moisture. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes, shaking the pan every 10 minutes. Add spices of choice (taste and adjust as you go).

If using only ground spices/flavorings, you may eat the crispy chickpeas immediately. If using hot sauces or syrups, I recommend returning them to the oven for up to 5-10 minutes to set, if you prefer (I do!). Do not burn. Let chickpeas cool for at least a few minutes before serving.

Crispy Chickpeas will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days. They may soften very slightly over time.

Corn Muffins

Corn MuffinsIf you’re thinking “Doesn’t she already have a cornbread recipe on here?” the answer is yes. In fact, I have three. Don’t worry, this isn’t a fourth. Ohhh no. You see, these are corn muffins, not cornbread. Sure, both recipes share a lot of the same ingredients, but I am here to tell you that these corn-centric sides are two different things.Corn Muffins

You read that right. This is not a cornbread recipe, or at least it’s not the cornbread I know. The southern-style stuff I grew up with is super savory, sugarless, grainy and crumbly, while corn muffins are a sweeter, softer, more northern thing—they’re like cornbread and cupcakes had a baby. A sweet little corn muffin baby…or twelve sweet little corn muffin babies, if you want to get specific.Corn Muffins

These evoke everything I love about Jiffy corn muffin mix (the only baking I ever saw my mother partake in), but better and completely from scratch. Sure, they take an extra minute or two since you have to measure everything out before mixing, but that’s really no trouble when the results are this soft, sweet and delicious.Corn Muffins

The secret to really excellent corn muffins? Sour cream. I made eight test batches with whole milk and buttermilk, and while both will work in a pinch, the gorgeous muffins you see here are super moist and tender from rich, tangy full-fat sour cream. It keeps my corn muffins in perfect shape for days after baking—nothing sad or dry here!

Corn Muffins come together with almost no fuss. You’ll see in the recipe that you need some ingredients to be at room temperature, but that’s pretty standard and no real trouble—I routinely get eggs to room temp by putting them in a bowl of warm water and pop milk in the microwave for 30 seconds to take off the chill. The simple truth is that room temperature ingredients combine more evenly than cold ones do; that’s very important in baking. If these tiny steps sound like too much “extra” effort for you, remember that adding cold milk and eggs to melted butter will un-melt (?) it and then you’ll have to start all over again. Talk about a time suck. I promise that all your room temperature-ing will be worth it when you pull a pan of corn muffins from your oven.Corn Muffins

Oooh, y’all. These are pretty irresistible. Soft and corny (in a good way!) with a solid sweet and savory balance, homemade corn muffins are the perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken or chili on a cold night. And, pro tip: should you have leftovers, you should split and toast them with butter and jam for breakfast the next day. Or do what I do and eat them cold, straight out of the fridge in the middle of the night for days on end. Really, you can’t go wrong.Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, sour cream, butter and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups, about 3 tablespoons each. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 12-13 minutes.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for five minutes before serving or removing to a rack.

Leftovers will keep well tightly-covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.Corn MuffinsCorn MuffinsCorn Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsIt’s been gloomy out lately, but I’m keeping it sunny in my kitchen with these classic Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThey’ve got loads of bright lemon flavor from fresh zest and juice, a little crunchy texture from poppy seeds, and they stay moist for days thanks to ingredients like eggs, oil and whole milk.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThese muffins come together quickly and easily and don’t require a mixer. In fact, a mixer would be a detriment here. The secret to tender Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (and most muffins and quick breads) is to mix them as little as possible. You can stir the wet and dry ingredients separately as much as you like, but once they’re in the same bowl, you want to stir just 15 or 20 times.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThe batter is divided into 12 muffin cups before being baked at 400F for five minutes, and then 350F for fifteen more. That initial blast of heat helps them to dome, while the remaining bake time ensures they cook evenly.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsOnce baked, let your muffins cool a few minutes before drizzling on a quick lemon glaze. You could skip it in the name of breakfast or health, but…why?

Life is short. Muffins are breakfast-appropriate cupcakes. This glaze is “secretly” an icing.

Don’t. skip. the. glaze.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsServe your Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins up with coffee or tea or whatever makes you happy. Good luck resisting a second. I’ve been known to eat three or four of these throughout the day, which seems like a lot, but can you blame me?Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 medium lemons)
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2-1 medium lemon)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use your fingertips to rub lemon zest into sugar. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, lemon juice, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined—no more than 15-20 strokes.

Divide batter among muffin cups—they will be full. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350F and bake for an additional 14-16 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment or wax paper.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least five minutes before removing to prepared rack.

Make glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice until thick, but pourable. Pour or drizzle over muffins. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving. Glaze will set completely after several hours.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days. Unglazed muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsLemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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