Category Archives: Snacks

Easy, Boozy, Homemade Balls O’ Goodness

Rum, bourbon and hazelnut liquer balls.
Rum, bourbon and hazelnut liquer balls.

This summer we had another in a long line of great interns. But one of the things that set Mandy Simpson apart was that she plied us with treats while she was here. (Note to all future interns: baking is a bonus skill.) She made us strawberry pie, and some going-away goodies called bourbon balls.

They were an instant hit, and I knew this summer that I’d be making them for Christmas. I mean, how can you go wrong combining holidays and chocolate-y, little, boozy balls?

The recipe came by way of Mandy’s mom in the form of a copied newspaper clipping from a Judy Cunningham of Roanoke, Virginia. So thank you all to Mandy, her mom and Mrs. Cunningham, wherever you are now.

I made them and some adaptations for a recent cookie exchange and will be giving some soon as Christmas gifts.

Here it is:

Continue reading

Quick Fix: Crispy Cheese Wafer Snack with One Ingredient

I made these little cheese snacks this weekend, and the friends I shared them with seemed to enjoy them.

I’m not kidding about the one ingredient, though you can spiff it up with herbs, spices and/or a mix of cheeses.

Done right, they can be an airy, crispy snack that happens to be low-carb (though perhaps high-fat) .

So here’s how you do it. Shred some parmesan cheese, sprinkle it in circles on parchment paper or a lightly oiled baking pan, bake at 350-degrees for about 7 minutes, remove immediately from the pan to cool, and you’re done. If you want, you can shape them immediately out of the oven by draping them over something or forming little cups.

You can play around with it by mixing in pepper, cayenne pepper or other herbs and spices with them. I added finely chopped rosemary to one batch, but the herbs burned before the wafers were done. Tossing in a little oil beforehand may have helped.

There were a few lessons I learned while making them:

Watch them while baking:
The cheese can scorch and taste burnt pretty fast. Pull them out when they start to just become golden.

Grate your own: I tried it at first with some pre-shredded parmesan from the grocery store, but preferred the cheese I shredded myself using the tiny shredding part of the grater. The store-bought had too much powdery grated cheese, which melts together in a clump and ends up being either chewy or thickens into something that’s hard.

Keep it thin: When sprinkling, just put a thin layer for each chip, leave a lot of holes. Most of it will melt a little together. I preferred something a little more delicate, so this colors my judgement. I think it’s something that you just have to play around with.

Not all cheeses mix: Mixing parmesan and swiss seemed to work well and parmesan with Asiago or other similarly hard cheese came out great. Cheddar, however, at least the sharp Tillamook I tried was not a good choice. They don’t melt at the same rate, so the cheddar ends up being just a burned mess. I didn’t try it, but mozerella or other cheese with a higher fat content is probably more likely to melt.

Beer and Crab … Need I Say More?

Beer Batter Crab Fritters
Beer Batter Crab Fritters

Somehow, I managed to hold on to a half pound of crab meat without eating it immediately! For those who know me, this is quite a feat. I can barely wait for a crab to cool before I start ripping the thing open, let alone let shelled meat wait to become part of a cooked dish.

But I’d decided on making crab cakes.

My past attempts have been OK, variations on some flour, egg, maybe a few herbs and, of course, crab. The best I’d previously done was one that included very few of the former and a whole lot of the latter. It was basically crab meat loosely held together by some stuff you couldn’t taste at all over the crab.

But I wanted to do it up right and fancy. Plus I’d recently thumbed through Seattle culinary icon Tom Douglas’ “I Love Crab Cakes!”, 50 recipes that examine different cake styles, different crabs and recipes from all over.

And then I happened upon a recipe that included another one of my favorite food-like substances: beer.

So it ended up being not exactly a crab cake, it’s technically a deep-fried fritter.

It turned out well, though I could have used a little more crab for my personal tastes. I used a pilsner so as not to overpower the flavor, which also ends up being a great leftover to pair with the fritters afterward. I lack a hot oil thermometer, so I probably had it a little too hot, not cooking the inside quickly enough before getting a deep browned outside and allowing the whole thing to crisp. I paired it with a garlic-y remoulade dip, that was OK, but not spectacular so I’m not adding the recipe here. The book has one that I’ve yet to try. I also served a side salad and a corn cornbread.

And without further adieu, here’s the recipe: Continue reading

Chunky Avocado Dip for Avocado Lovers

Chunky Avocado Dip
Chunky Avocado Dip

I love avocados. It’s a new-found love of my adulthood, and after shunning them and the ubiquitous guacamole for years, I somehow several years ago found myself craving them: sliced in salads, on sandwiches, even raw with a dash of salt and pepper.

Oddly enough, I’m still not a huge fan of guacamole. It must have been the texture or bad guacamole that had turned me off for so long. So a few years back, about the start of my avocado adoration, I became wild about a fairly simple avocado dip that didn’t involve smashing the fruit.

The portions and additions in the recipe change nearly every time I make it depending on how much I make and my mood. But the key to the whole thing is scoring the avocado while it’s still in its skin and scooping out the chunks and being gentle while mixing so you don’t mash the avocado (or mash away if that’s your taste).

The recipe can be doubled or quadrupled if you’re thinking of putting it out for a party (um, like that thing happening on Sunday that doesn’t involve anything close to a Seattle team). Continue reading

Experimenting with Homemade Potato Chips

Homemade Potato Chips
Homemade Potato Chips

I’ve been trying to make more of the food I eat at home both to save a little money and to make meals and snacks healthier. So last night, I worked on homemade potato chips. Yeah, I know. Potato chips are like the embodiment of all that’s unhealthy.

I decided to try baking them to reduce the oil, and I played with sweet potatoes, which have higher nutritional value.

I broke out my mandoline and tried making them at various widths, adjusted the temperature of the oven, the amount of oil and threw a sweet potato in the mix because I love sweet potatoes. Continue reading