Category Archives: Snacks

Snack Recipes

Andrew’s Superbowl Rice

I used to make something similar in college, though not by a recipe.  Here’s another quick, filling and satisfying Superbowl party snack.

Buy: 

  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 small can of chilies
  • 2 1/2 cups rice

Cook the rice according to the package.

While still steaming hot, stir in the cheese, sour cream, peppers and chilies in a large mixing bowl.

Cook in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes to melt the remaining cheese and heat the sour cream base.  If you like a crunchier topping, place the rice in the broiler with an additional sprinkling of 1/4 cup of cheese for 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Place in a serving dish that will keep the rice piping hot and serve.

Like I said, this is quick and simple.  The sour cream and cheese meld together to give the rice a creamy, cool base.  The chilies and green peppers add a bitter, spicy bite to the bland rice. If you like things spicier, toss in a jalapeno or habanero.  This would also taste good with green or black olives.  It’s perfect for the vegetarian in the group.

 

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Carmel Popcorn

Like Garrett’s popcorn, I went for a salty sweet mix with my popcorn, combining the cheese and carmel. Carmel corn turned out to be a bit more of a challenge than the cheese, but much tastier.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup popping corn
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup (optional)

Start by melting the coconut oil in a medium-sized pan at medium-high heat. When the solid becomes a liquid, toss in the popcorn kernels.

Again, a non-stick pan works best for making popcorn.

 

When the popping sound start to fade to approximately 5-10 seconds apart, pour the popcorn in a large paper bag and shake the bag around a bit to release any excess oil. I used the bags they give you at the grocery store.

Spread the popped popcorn out on either a roasting pan or 13″ x 9″ baking pan, basically something that has sides to hold everything in.  Set this aside.

In a medium-sized saucepan (you’ll want a larger pan because the carmel foams up when it cooks) begin melting the butter.  Stir in the salt, brown sugar, corn syrup, baking soda and maple syrup (use only real maple sugar, not Aunt Jemima’s). Keep stirring until everything is thoroughly combined, then place the candy thermometer on the side of the pan. 

You want it sitting in the liquid without allowing it to touch the bottom.  Let this heat, without stirring, until the thermometer reads 235 degrees Farenheit or the soft ball stage. 

In the meantime, preheat the oven to 250 degrees Farenheit.

Immediately pour your carmel sauce over the popcorn, attempting to cover it all (you will have a chance to cover everything as it cooks in the oven). 

Place the popcorn in the oven for an hour, intermittently flipping over the popcorn with a spatula every 10-15 minutes until all of the remaining carmel sauce on the bottom of the pan is coating the popcorn.  I took my spatula, scraped the bottom, then flipped the sticky mess of carmel back over the popcorn.

When the popcorn seems complete, immediately set the popcorn onto a cookie cooling rack, separating the large clumps as you go. If you wait too long, the carmel will start to harden, causing the popcorn to stick fast to your pan.  If this happens, just toss the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes and try again.

If you are combining the cheese and carmel popcorn, toss them together in a large container or another paper bag and shake until they disperse evenly. 

The carmel popcorn will last in your household for a week or two.  It has a sticky quality, but melts in your mouth unlike the store-bought kind.  The more carmel sauce the better, in my opinion, coat the pieces until they’re dripping.  The best part of making it from scratch is, if you aren’t like me, and like your carmel sauce lightly sprinkled on top of the popcorn, you can create it to your preference. 

Mixing both the carmel and cheese popcorn allowed for a salty sweet mix most people enjoy (think pretzel M & M’s or trail mix). The added cayenne really spiced up the mix, and was almost impossible to stop eating without having someone else pull the treat right out from your hands.  I chose to mix the two together in the bag I mixed the cheese popcorn in, then some of the remaining seasoning stuck to the carmel. Delicious. It was also a great substitute to passing out cookies or chocolate for Christmas.

 

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Cheesy Popcorn

I took a bit of a break to collect myself for the holidays. I’m back and have prepared quite a few dishes to share over the next few days.

I try to make a Christmas craft every year to pass out to work, family, or friends. This year I attempted several knock-off Garrett’s popcorn recipes adding a few other ingredients to spice up the mix.

To make this you’ll need:

  • 1 cup popping corn
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter popping oil (and more for coating)
  • 1 package of Mac ‘n’ Cheese powder (out of the box)
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. garlic salt

If you have never made homemade popcorn from the pan, you are in for a treat.

Start by heating the two oils until the solid coconut oil melts in a medium-sized saucepan.

I attempted this in a soup stock pot, but the pan doesn’t heat properly ending up with half a cup of browned kernels and quite a few burnt popped pieces.  Also, I pulled out my non-stick pots from college as the stainless steel pots my mom swears by kept burning the popped pieces. If you are cooking for someone with an allergy to coconut, substitute in olive oil.

Add in the popcorn kernels to the heated oils and cover the pan.

When the kernels start to pop, shake the pot every minute or so to get the unpopped kernels to the bottom. It also helps from scorching the popped popcorn pieces.

As the popcorn fills the pan, you can shake half out into a large brown paper bag if the popcorn starts to push open the cover on the pan. Continue popping the kernels until the popping slows to 5-10 seconds apart.  Toss the remaining popcorn in the brown paper bag.  Add in the powdered cheese, ground mustard, garlic salt and cayenne.

Close the paper bag and shake around. Sprinkle in a few drops of the buttery popping oil as desired to catch more of the seasoning.

 

The popcorn has a great spicy kick to it, but unlike Garrett’s Cheese, it doesn’t quite coat every morsel of the kernel leaving a greasy orange residue on your hands. Instead there’s a light, salty, cheesy taste.

I popped these into holiday inspired paper bags, layered caramel corn on top (or mixed them together) and passed them out to everyone I ran into over the holidays. On my way to our Christmas Eve destination I made the mistake of keeping the bucket of popcorn in my lap during the 45 minute drive. It was very hard to stop eating once I started, which several of my friends also admitted to not being able to stop eating it. It’s a healthier version of the usual array of holiday chocolates, cookies, cakes and sweets that we overload on.

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Garlic Ranch Ritz Bits

I totally experimented on the Thanksgiving party goers with my second appetizer.  A Paula Deen recipe, tweaked to my liking, went over so well that my mom asked me to make it again for the girl’s card game she was attending the following day.

To try it:

  • 2 boxes of Ritz Bits Cheese Sandwiches
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning
  • 1/2 Tbsp. (heaping) dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. celery salt

Start by emptying the Ritz crackers into a gallon-size Ziploc bag.

 

 In a small mixing bowl, toss together the vegetable oil and herbs. 

Pour the medley of spices into the Ziploc bag and zip closed.  Try and eliminate as much air as possible.  Shake the bag around, lightly grabbing handfuls of Ritz to press the seasoning onto the crackers. 

Place in the refrigerator for two hours or more before serving.  Occasionally turn the bag over to thoroughly coat the Ritz Bits.

This appetizer or party snack is extremely easy to make., and it looks personalized, because you actually took the time to experiment with more than just setting out plain crackers.  Not to mention, it tastes pretty good. 

The first bite I took, I wasn’t 100% sure on the flavor combinations stimulating my mouth.  After the second helping, I realized the ranch/dill combination, though strong, was similar to biting into a pickle without the crunch and a hint of garlic.  The recipe could also be compared to potato salad’s zesty bitterness with a sweetness from the buttery cracker.

The crackers were soft, with a creamy, cheese center to go along with the celery salt and highly flavored Ranch seasoning.  For the salty snack lovers, this is for you.

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Croquettes from Upma

A quick and easy Indian appetizer/snack you can create using leftover potatoes and vegetables.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup mixed vegetables
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 5 green chilies
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 Tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 sprigs Mint leaves
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp semolina
  • 1 Tbsp corn flour
  • Oil for deep-frying

I used left over red potatoes and mixed vegetables (a staple in our Irish household). I reheated the potatoes and mashed them with a potato masher. You can also boil skinned potatoes and mash them using a hand mixer.
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Place the vegetables (keep it simple using frozen mixed vegetables) in a separate dish and place off to the side.

In a small blender or Magic Bullet combine the garlic, fresh ginger, Mint leaves, peppers (I used two tiny jalapenos growing in the garden and a Habanero but the recipe calls for green chilies) and salt if desired.image
Blend until it becomes a chutney.

Combine the potatoes, mixed vegetables and chutney together.
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If they are too soft, refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

When you are ready to fry them, heat the oil in a deep pan on the stove or in a Fry Daddy (perfect for at-home frying as it heats to the right temperature and fries evenly).  Roll your combination into an egg shape.
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Roll in the semolina and corn flour. image
Fry until golden brown. Repeat until all the medley is gone.

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As you can see in my pictures, I didn’t use semolina and my croquettes didn’t properly cook to the browning stage.  The flour fell off in the oil and sank to the bottom of the pan. They still hit the spot, but cooking them in, say, a Fry Daddy may work better.

Enjoy with ketchup or sweet chutney.
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If you enjoy Indian food, but don’t have the spices at home to make the delicious dishes, this is perfect. Blending together ginger, garlic and spicy peppers brings that distinct flavor of South Indian Uttapam from Chowpatti replacing the pancake with a thick fried crust.  The Habanero/jalapeno conveyed a warming, spicy flavor sweetened by the garlic and ginger with a subtle minty, cleansing aftertaste. It was easy to put together and not over filling, as plain mashed potatoes can be, because of the added vegetables and jump kick to your metabolism from the spice.  I used ketchup to dip these. It was just okay, but the sweet chutney would taste superb with these croquettes.

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Sriracha Chex Mix

Since it rained all day Sunday in MI (surprisingly sunny in IL), Sarah and I decided to cook instead of go apple picking.  Our love of spicy, salty foods resulted in this snack mix.  The best part of cooking this yourself is you can adjust the spice level to your desired pallet.

Set aside:

1/4-1 cup sriracha hot sauce (Rooster sauce)
1 stick of butter
1 tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. 5 spice powder
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 box rice chex mix cereal

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In a saucepan combine sauce ingredients, adjusting levels to your taste buds, thoroughly melting butter and stirring well.

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In a large mixing bowl combine cereal and sauce. This may take several bowls, so start with the cereal and add the sauce once you know how much has been used.  Spread on 1 to 2 foil-lined baking sheets (preferably with sides). 

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Cook in the oven at 275 for 1/2 hour stirring after 15 minutes.  We only used one baking pan, resulting in both overcooked pieces and soft-chewy pieces.  When the cereal cooled and dried out, you couldn’t tell the difference.

The hoisin sauce paired with a little soy adds the right amount of asian-salty, slightly tangy flavor to the sriracha’s garlic-chilli thick sauce.  The garlic and 5-spice powder accentuate these flavors and paired with the right amount of honey,  the sauce will even out to a perfect palatable medium flavor.  It’s a great snack to bring for a football party goer to eat while drinking beer and watching your favorite game.  You can even add in a bland asian cracker mix such as this to add variety and additional texture.

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Brogan Dip

This simple dip for chips and vegetables is a staple for any Brogan event.  My grandpa whips this up anytime a crowd is coming, and seconds are a must.  We had it tailgating this past weekend, and I decided to make more for a cook-out the following day.

To make it:

2 packs of Philadelphia cream cheese
1/4 cup of milk
1 package of onion soup mix
Chips and vegetables for dipping

In a bowl, whip together with a fork or a hand mixer (creamier, well-mixed cream cheese with a hand mixer) the cream cheese and milk.  Use room temperature cream cheese or nuke it in the microwave for 15 seconds for better stirring.image

Add in a package of onion soup mix and stir until entirely mixed.

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My favorite things to dip into this dip are carrots, celery, raw red peppers, Ruffles chips, and pretzels.  Layer the goodies around the bowl of dip for a classic, colorful look.

Adding in two cream cheese packets mellows out the salty, sweet onion soup mix and adding milk softens the dip so your chips don’t break against the hard cream cheese.  We have also tried it with half cream cheese, half sour cream, and it is just as good.  The trick is the cream cheese for a fattening, creamy, textured mouthful.

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The “Brogan Dip” has taken out many a gallbladder in our family, it being said that most of our family ate this particular food before having their attack.  So you know it’s gotta be good.  I brought it to a cook-out at Daina’s, a non-dipper, who said, “Wow. I actually like this. I don’t usually eat dips.”

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