Deviled eggs: one tasty dish that I associate with the return of Spring. I first remember eating them at my grandma’s house for Easter dinner, then as part of the potlucks during Memorial Day and Fourth of July cook-outs. It never occurred to me why my deviled eggs never tasted like those that I remembered eating at family gatherings. I had been following, what I thought were, fairly standard deviled egg recipes; they all included some sort of mustard. It turns out that the deviled eggs I grew up to love only had three ingredients — eggs, sugar and “salad dressing” (a sprinkling of smoked paprika was my addition). I learned this fact when I made deviled eggs with my mom this past Easter, her way. She turned to her recipe box and pulled out an index card describing her mom’s recipe. We laughed at the spelling of the title, and she told me, “I typed this recipe card the day before I left for college.” Slightly sweet and simply egg-creamy. Now I look back at these photos and think of the promise of Spring and the comforts of home.
A fresh batch of granola for my upcoming road trip! This go around, I changed up Melissa Clarks’ recipe with some dried mango, candied ginger, and walnuts. Packed and ready: a tasty remedy for the munchies and a potentially queasy stomach, along with a hint of summertime flavor.
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (regular or gluten free)
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup coconut
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped (or torn) dried mangoes
1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add mangoes and candied ginger, tossing to combine.
Among the tea time snack treats I enjoy this time of year are Anna’s Ginger Thins and Caramel Bugles. Bugles used to be a special after-school treat at my babysitter’s house (when you could still buy them in boxes!). All of us kids would put them on the ends of our fingers and pretend that we had creepy pointed fingers like the Wicked Witch of the West. Bugles are also the perfect shape for making little witch hat desserts, usually stuck on chocolate cookies and dipped in chocolate. I decided to make a more earth-toned witch hat with my favorite snack treats using sunflower butter as the glue. The flavor combo is salty, sweet, spicy, nutty, and crunchy like fall leaves.
Those two! I cannot imagine my life without those women. Sometimes it’s funny to call them women, because we met right around the time we turned into teens. I am usually the one to bring up the fact that we are aging, but this time when we reunited, I felt completely opposite. Maybe it has something to do with happy and healthy futures? I am encouraged and just generally glad to have these special relationships.
So what do you snack on in the hot summer air? We had produce munchies and these totally addictive roasted chickpeas that Mary makes. I told her that I even prefer them to Chex Mix! Light summertime eating in the backyard is a fresh way to spend time chewing the fat without literally chewing the fat.
I have been making a concerted effort lately of packing magnesium-rich foods into my daily eating habits. Halibut and cooked spinach makes a tasty meal, but I cannot eat that every day. Also, munching on a variety of seeds can get boring pretty quickly. Then I realized, it doesn’t have to be that way: cocoa beans are a natural source of magnesium too!
Inspired by the Domestic Goddess herself, I modified this tasty crunchy snack. Goal: make in-taking more magnesium most enjoyable. Like Nigella says, the most difficult part of making granola is actually assembling the pantry ingredients (her granola recipes also appear in one of my favorite cookbooks, Feast). Almost every ingredient in my modified recipe is high in magnesium, and bonus points when added to yogurt, whole or soy milk. P.S. Also easily Vegan-friendly
1/4 cup natural cocoa
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1/3 cup clover honey
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses*
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups cocktail peanuts (nut allergies – replace with more seeds)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 300-degrees.
Mix everything together very well in a large mixing bowl (sometimes clean hands are the best and easiest tools for thorough mixing here). Half the mixture and spread in two baking tins (I had cookie sheets and lined them with parchment) and bake for 40 minutes, turning over half-way through baking. Allow to cool, break apart, and store in an airtight container.
*if you care for less of a molasses tang, use light molasses or substitute brown rice syrup/rice malt syrup like Nigella uses. I used blackstrap due to magnesium content and also because I happen to enjoy the molasses tang.
I love storm clouds, especially when they are topped with salty and sweet things and shared with my favorite people. Are you surprised to know that Barrett’s tale of the town of Chewandswallow was one of my favorite books (I am afraid to watch the movie – should I?), and perhaps one of the purchasing influences behind one of my favorite cookie cutters? I get a lot of use out of my Herriott Grace cloud cookie cutter for cookies (once I took pictures of the applesauce donut clouds I made with it), but this time I used it for snack pizzas! Pizzaclouds are a bit tedious but fun to individualize. During this round I made three varieties: chèvre/sweet onions (caramelized in olive oil, cinnamon & sugar)/sundried tomato-stuffed green olives, fresh mozzarella/basil pesto/tomato, smoked provolone/marinara/pepperoni. Wishing your stormy Spring days to be sweet and savory.
They do exist! Mind you, I have never been to Paris, but the macarons at Madeleines Bakehouse are worth my (and your) while. I have mainly had their fruit macaron selections (Apricot, Raspberry, Key Lime, Blackberry) up until this weekend. My mom and I stopped in the bakehouse for some French Pressed Coffee yesterday and took a few macarons to go. She chose Coconut, and said that “it is five times better than a Snoball!” I chose Crème Brûlée and Pumpkin. Pumpkin was yummy, with a fresh pumpkin butter center, but Crème Brûlée is my new favorite. The “trinity cream” dessert is in a sparkly, bite-sized sandwich poof of light, sweet indulgence. Airy flavor vibrance, AHOY.
You know surprise cupcakes; the ones where you bite down and find there’s more than just cake in there? I actually never make them myself (my sister does them so nicely with the chocolate cake, cream cheese, and chocolate chips), but I have been tasting out different popcorn ball recipes, and I thought, “these balls could stand a surprise inside.” Chocolate was my initial instict, but chocolate alone seemed much too boring. Something with extra gooeyness and more flavor dynamics… a Snickers, YES. If you eat one of these surprise balls within an hour of assembly, the chocolate is still melty. It’s like you have this great ballgame or movie snack compacted into one efficient junk food treat: mallow, popcorn, peanuts, nougat and caramel, all in the palm of your hand.
I made the less-traditional version of popcorn balls with marshmallows and butter. They are much simpler to make, softer, and there is extra “molding” time in which you can properly stow and hide the Snickers surprise.
Chop or unwrap surprise middles.
Melt 3 T unsalted butter over medium heat.
Stir in 1 C mini marshmallows until melted.
Add 4 C popped corn.
Mix until evenly coated with stickiness.
Scoop out popcorn mix into greased muffin tins or small bowl forms. Press popcorn down into the form and place candy bar bit in center. Cover with remaining popcorn mix and mold into a ball (leave no Snickers trace!). It may be necessary to coat your hands in oil or butter to keep excessive sticking away. Wrap balls in wax paper and store in airtight container until munchie time. Makes 3 baseball-sized treats or 6 mini-balls.
It seems as though the minute I landed in Philadelphia, it was Spring. The past few days have been unseasonably warm. I ate a Geno’s cheese steak in 70+ degree weather! The outdoor basketball courts and city playgrounds were packed. Fruit lined the narrow city streets of the Italian Market. On a conference break, I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Ripple ice cream in a pretzel cone. Pretzel cone, more on that later. Spring bulbs were in bloom by Independence Hall, Rocky and “The Thinker.” All pleasant Philadelphia Spring surprises.
I realize that homemade chocolate chunk fudge rounds are far more desired baked goods than muffins made from mashed up pickled beets. You probably either detest pickled beets or devour them (like I do). I am spoiled by the fact that every summer my grandma cans several batches of homemade pickled beets grown by local Amish farmers. She stores them in her cellar and will often give them as gifts to neighbors and relatives. My packed lunches often include a short stack of these beets alongside cottage cheese. The tangy pickled flavor is cut by the creamy curds, with a pinch of ground black pepper to round it out (I also think it is fun to watch the cottage cheese turn a glowing rosy scarlet color as the two mingle).
If you have made it this far, then you will probably be interested in the recipe that I came up with that was inspired by these flavors.
Red Beet and Ricotta Lunch Muffins
Preheat oven 350-degrees.
2 C self rising flour
1 t cloves
2 eggs @ room temp
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C ricotta cheese + more for serving
1/2 C mashed beets*
Sift together flour and cloves (or cinnamon, depending on your taste). Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk eggs together and add the sugar in several steps. Whisk in melted butter. Add ricotta cheese and mashed beets alternately until combined.
Fold flour mixture into batter just until incorporated. Scoop out into muffin tins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick test comes out clean.
Serve with ricotta cheese.
*I used pickled beets. They were quite tangy! I imagine straight roasted beets to be more mild and probably more appropriate with cinnamon.