CreativEating

Try it, you might like it!

Archive for the category “Snack”

Banana Bites (and holiday food tips)

Alright people, it’s the season of desserts and snacks. As such, you really probably won’t be eating many meals. Seriously, I don’t think anyone eats one full meal between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and if you try, it’s foiled by dips, charcuterie (I love this word), and four types of cheese cake that you try to ‘plan for’ as you eat. So, instead of fighting this, let’s work with it, shall we? Here are my holiday food solutions:

  • Bring it: If you’re going to a party, bring something with fresh fruit/vegetables or healthy nuts etc involved that you can much on without feeling too terrible about yourself
  • (Dis)Own it: Unless at the threat of physical violence, do not bring home food from events. On the flip side, if you’re hosting, demand your guests take home leftovers (I fully endorse this double standard). The only time this should be reversed is with wine. Seriously, keep the wine you gain from hosting – that’s the best way to get through the post-party cleanup. 
  • Try it: Plan to try everything. Don’t load up your plate with one thing thinking that you’ll get full of that healthy option and not be tempted by other treats. You will be, so just try to keep it all balanced. And try a few new things that look weird to you – you can always leave them on your plate and no one will really know.
  • Move it: No, I don’t mean exercise (though clearly this IS a good idea, this is not my point here) I mean, step away from the food table. Everyone loves to hang out in the kitchen right next to the food. It’s inevitable. But when I stand next to the island covered in finger foods chatting away I can easily down 1/2 a plate of sausage and cheese (crackers be damned, I go right for the bad for me delicious parts) and really this is no good for anyone. So move towards the sink area, or even towards the drinks. It’s much easier to continuously eat bite sized snacks than to end up with 5 drinks going.

Alright, now that we’re done with that… a 10 minute (max) yummy desserty snack you can make at home when you have a little craving or to take with you to a party. Quick banana bites (none of that pesky freezing thing) I threw these together last night when I wanted dessert I didn’t really need and they were very satisfying.

What you need:

  • 2 bananas (I just did one last night and bagged up the toppings so I can make another easily tonight if I want… sneaky)
  • peanut butter
  • chocolate chips
  • shaved coconut
  • some type of nut (I used raw almonds but really any kind are good)

Step 1: Slice the Banana

This sounds more violent than I intended but it kind of made me chuckle, so we’ll keep it. You need to first slice the banana in half length wise.

mmm nanners

Then cut each of these halves into 3 or 4 bite sized pieces (depending on the size of the banana). The original recipe I saw for something similar had you cut little troughs in the banana pieces here. I tried it on one half last night… it’s not very easy, especially if you have greener bananas. That being said, if you want to endeavor to cut little troughs lengthwise in your banana peices for your toppings to set into, by all means, get out a mini melon baller or grapefruit spoon (yes, I tried both of these things) and go nuts.

Step 2: Smear Peanut Butter

Pretty easy really. Just take a knife and put a dollop of peanut butter right on the banana bit (if you’ve carved out a little crevice, put it in there)

See? No need to be neat about it. Why bother? Just get it on there.

Step 3: Chop up Chocolate, Coconut & Nuts

Get out your trusty food processor if you have one. If not, you can crush the nuts in a plastic bag (think about like muddling fruit or something – use a tenderizing mallet or a rolling pin to crush). But if you have one, get that out. Toss in 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts, 2 tablespoons each of coconut and chocolate chips. Pulse until the mix is fine, but not so fine you can’t recognize any of the ingredients.

There is no artistic way to photograph stuff in a food processor…. trust me, I really tried

Step 4: Sprinkle

Yup, that’s it. Just sprinkle the chopped up toppings right onto the peanut butter’d bananas. Press the toppings in a little so they stick, and then plate. You can freeze these if you like your bananas cold/frozen, but I just keep them room temp. You can layer them in a tupperware with wax paper and take them to parties too. Always delicious, not too guilty, snack or dessert.

*Alternate strategy is to melt the chocolate chips & peanut butter together in the microwave, just put the nuts and coconut in the food processor and then blend those together. It doesn’t look as pretty but it sticks to the banana pretty well and gives a bit more chocolate flavor since it’s melted throughout the topping. This does create a slightly more sticky fingers eating adventure however. Your call. Both are delicious obviously.

Advertisements

Pumpkin Seeds (3 Ways)

Ok, so I know Halloween was like 2 weeks ago. But between a hurricane, travel and other distractions we didn’t even carve our pumpkins until the day of anyway so there was no way to get up the pumpkin seed making ‘in time’ to be super useful to you. LUCKILY, pumpkins are still in season and perhaps you have some pumpkin pies or soups coming up in your recipe book yet that you can use fresh (instead of canned… though it’s pretty good too) pumpkin for and get some seeds. Alternatively, you can buy raw pumpkin seeds (called ‘pepitas’ for some reason) a lot of places, including Trader Joes.

Anyway, all that aside, I made 3 types of seeds this year:

  • Mexican cocoa (aka spicy chocolate)
  • Traditional (which for us is salty, slightly garlicy, paprika’d deliciousness)
  • Rosemary apple (totally because we had these items… but they turned out pretty damn good)

So first a few things about pumpkin seed making:

  1. They burn easily, so using slightly lower heat for longer helps prevent you from doing this. I like to go with 300 degrees Fahrenheit. I leave them in for 10 minutes, and then test them every 2 after that. It can take awhile, especially if they’re super fresh (right out of the pumpkin) or for things like cocoa that hold moisture rather than salt that wicks out moisture. You want to get the seeds to a point where they are crunchy, not chewy.
  2. You can either leave some pumpkin goop residue on the seeds to get flavors to stick OR wash and dry your seeds to get the goop off and then toss them in a teeny bit of egg white before adding spices etc. Either way is fine. This year I went with egg white, previously I’ve gone with goop. I don’t think it makes one bit of difference.
  3. Seeds don’t keep super long. Even in plastic bags they tend to get a little chewy after a day or so. You can re-roast them for a few minutes at 300 to recrisp them.

Ok, now to the flavors!!! First, the seeds came out of these two awesome pumpkins (kitty didn’t help, she’s just looking fierce here)

The first, and my favorite:

Mexican Cocoa

What you need:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Cayenne pepper (the ground powdery kind)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar (the really fine stuff if you have it)
  • Salt

In a bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, 1/3 tsp of cayenne, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon (or more, if you’re pro-cinnamon), 1 tablespoon of sugar and  1/3 tsp of salt. Stir these together.Then toss 1 cup of seeds (either with the pumpkin goop intact or tossed in 1 tablespoon of whisked egg whites) into the mix.

Here comes the fun part. Grease a cookie sheet. Now try to spread these out in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Most likely you’ll end up coated in fudgy goo while doing this (the egg white and the sugar and the cocoa make a delicious enemy). If you’re feeling like a risk taker, lick your fingers when you’re done though, it’s yummy!

At 325 these will take around 20 minutes, but start testing after 15 or so just in case. Mine took a good bit longer b/c I put in too much egg white… it’s a delicate thing. But it’s worth it – these were AMAZING. As a note, they will probably need to be re-crisped after 24 hours or so in a baggy, but at 300 degrees for a few minutes they re-crisp pretty well.


Traditional (Salty)

What you need:

  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

Ok, so same idea here. 1 1/2 tablespoons of paprika, 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt (if you don’t want them garlicy, but just salty, just use no garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon of salt) and 1/4 tsp (a dash or two really) of black pepper. These are really salty, so if you’re not keen on that, cut back the salty items and up the paprika or pepper. Just a preference.
Toss a cup of seeds (with goop or egg whites) in this mixture and spread in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet. This should be easier than with the chocolate ones, no worries.

Check these after 12 minutes. They cook up fast with all the salt, and are yummy fresh out of the oven! And they stay crispy crunchy longer than the other 2 flavors, so great for taking to work the next day or giving as a gift (within a few days)


Rosemary Apple

Ok, the invented flavor. What you need:

  • 1/2 an apple (any type, I used gala I think) diced into small pieces
  • Fresh rosemary (the leaves off one good sprig) chopped to the smallest bits you can muster
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt

You know the drill. Mix the spices (fresh rosemary chopped, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/8 teaspoon of salt) and the apples in a bowl. Then drop in the seeds. These actually probably need less egg white to them because of the moisture from the apple bits. I didn’t reduce the egg white and they took quite awhile, but really were tasty.

Put them on a greased baking sheet and toss them in. At 325 these take at least 20 minutes if not more. Depends on how juicy the apple was, really. Also, there will be some sticky browned apple juice on the pan this time, not much you can do about that. But these taste pretty yummy and look super festive and holiday-ish. Could be a great appetizer for Thanksgiving or Christmas for sure.

As a note, they will probably need to be re-crisped after a day in a ziplock, but at 300 degrees for a few minutes they re-crisp well.

Let me know what flavors of pumpkin seeds you made this year. Any plans to make more? I think I may buy some raw pepitas tonight to make up for a snack. Hmmm… which to make… ENJOY!

BBQ Pulled Pork Dip

Ok ok, this is not AT ALL in line with my ‘let’s try new healthy things!’ adventure. But I had to make something for the debate party we were going to, and I’d just made some pulled pork (the boyfriend is always craving bbq pulled pork sandwiches, and I’m sick of going to BBQ restaurants weekly). So I thought… what can I make with BBQ pulled pork as an appetizer? And SHOCKINGLY the internet was not that helpful. There are a few dips out there, or sliders… but honestly, nothing that impressed me. So I made one up. And it was a huge hit! Good for tailgating, parties and all splurge eating events… 

Things you need:

  • pork roast (and crock pot to cook it in preferably)
  • sweet liquid of any kind for cooking pork
  • bbq sauce
  • onions
  • 3 jalapenos (optional, but recommended)
  • coleslaw (pre-made, or fixings for it)
  • shredded cheese (any kind really)
  • cream cheese
  • sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • Something sturdy to dip with… we used fritos scoops to much success. (probably too dense for regular tortilla chips… maybe crackers though would work too)

Step 1: Make pulled pork. Get out that trusty crock pot again, and line the bottom with onions. Then lay a boneless pork roast on top of the onions (or not on top, not a huge deal really). If you’re feeling especially southern, pour a can of coke, or root beer or doctor pepper on top. If you’re not feeling that silly (or you’re anti-American), you can use any sweet liquid. I went with apple cider (and added a few apple slices for good measure), but you can also use 1/2 a cup of brown sugar or honey and water or broth… seriously, anything. Just make sure the liquid goes up at least half way up the roast.  Now turn on the crock pot to low and go to work, or go to bed. You can also put in some fresh black pepper and a little salt if you want… spices are always free form.

Step 2: Cook for 6-9 hours. (yup, that’s it)

Step 3: Remove the roast at the end of cooking and let it cool enough that you can shred it up. I use the 2 forks methods, or just my fingers. Whatever you prefer.

Step 4: Freeze about 1/2 of that shredded pork for later. You won’t need a whole pork roast for dip unless you have VERY hungry friends. Tear or chop up the remaining pork into smaller bits and poor on some bbq sauce (amount is up to you— we like it saucy)

Step 5: Alright, now it’s coleslaw time. You can use any coleslaw recipe you like. I usually a basic one like this one from Taste of Home and doctor it up. However, for this endeavor I was uncharacteristically lazy and bought the packaged Dole ‘coleslaw in a bag’ stuff and added some fresh cilantro and a little garlic salt. I know… I go against my own rules sometimes, but we were in a hurry. It did the job pretty well actually.

Step 6: In a bowl, blend together at least a block of cream cheese (more if you’re cream cheese obsessed like myself) and a few dollops of sour cream or greek yogurt. Feel free to heat this up a little if the cream cheese won’t stir. If you’re feeling sneaky, add some spices in here like celery salt, cayenne, minced onion etc. Totally optional and keeps it from being boring if you make it again.

Step 7: De-seed and dice up those jalapenos. Keep them small. Of course these are optional, but you don’t get too much kick really as they’re deseeded and you need a little bite to balance the sweet bbq sauce.

Step 8: FINALLY – layer! Set the oven to 400 or so. Then layer a 9×13 pan… Cream cheese blend on the bottom, then bbq pulled pork layer, then jalapenos, then shredded cheese (I used nearly 2 full cups… whoops). Ok, put this in the oven for like 15 minutes.

Step 9: Pull out the pan and let it sit for like 10 minutes. We just wanted to melt up the cheeses. Then layer the coleslaw on top. You can eat immediately, or over the next while at room temperature. You can’t reheat it with the coleslaw on there (gross), but it’s good at room temperature so no worries.

Enjoy with fritos or another dipping instrument, and let me know if you like it/what you’d adjust!

Also, what other uses do you have for left over BBQ  pork or chicken? Or perhaps a healthier version? Share in the comments!

Chia Seeds: Sesame Seeds or Bubble Tea Tapioca Balls? Both?

I was cruising facebook a few weeks ago, seeing what my ‘friends’ were up to (we really need a special word  for facebook friends… frienooks? faciends?). Anyway, one friend had posted a fruit parfait thing she’d made. But where I expected there to be yogurt there were weird gray blobs in it. See?

It reminded me a lot of bubble tea by appearance (which never was my cup of tea… pun intended), but it wasn’t tapioca. I was intrigued. She’d described it as a ‘chia seed parfait.’ So I looked into chia seeds some more. And ya know what? They’re definitely the new hip superfood we should all be eating that Myans and Aztecs ate all the time and we’ve ignored for a few thousand years. Now, while the Mayans and Aztecs didn’t fair so well, from all out accounts it’s not because of Chia.

According to health food experts, we should be eating this. Flax seeds? Meh – has to be shucked to get to the Omega-3 fatty acids. Not so with Chia seeds. Additionally, Chia has a plethora of anti-oxidants, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper (who knew my body could use this?), iron, B3, and zinc. As a bonus Chia can be stored dry for a long time without losing it’s oomph. All pretty excellent news, so I decided to give this stuff a try.  But two questions remained — where can I get it and how do I eat it?

I searched the local health food section at the generic grocery store – no luck. I could have driven out to a whole foods or something I’m sure, but instead I decided Amazon was my friend. So I ordered a pound of chia seeds. They arrived a few days later in a small box, and inside was a zippered bag like I was buying health food drugs (or at least what I imagine that might be like from watching The Wire, I’m too squeaky clean to know personally). Though I bought a different ‘brand’ of seeds, they all look about the same I think.

Ok, now onto eating!!! How do I eat these things? Two ways:

1)   Sprinkle them a tablespoon at a time onto anything right before eating. It adds a little crunch like sesame or poppy seeds. This is great with stir fry (even tofu stir fry if you go with the CreativEating blog thing). Also good on sauteed veggies if you throw them on as you serve, or tossed in with the granola you top yogurt with. See how chiaseedme.com shows these cute things on stir fry.

But be aware, when these little buggers soak in ANY liquid for about 20 or 30 minutes they morph like transformers from crunchy bits to gelatinous monsters.

2) Ok, not monsters. But they would be weird in stir fry or sauteed veggies. I did try this gelled method though and it was kind of fun (I bet kids would love this weird gooey transformation)!

I soaked about 6 tbsp of seeds in some orange/peach juice in cup overnight in the fridge. Then in the morning I scooped this weird seed-laden jello on top of some cut up bananas and strawberries. My friend’s parfait up top used almond milk (I believe) in place of the juice. A few other places out on the interwebs use soy milk or almond milk, fruit, AND greek yogurt for a breakfast cup. All in all, I bet they’re all good. My juice/chia seed goo was scrumptious though visually unappealing. See?

I will say that if you can, stir it a few times over the first 20 minutes so it doesn’t get set in clumps. But if not, it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened – you can pick them out if you want. You don’t notice them too much if you have a good balance of fruit.

I’m not sure how much I’ll use chia seeds as a normal part of the diet – as flavorless texture transformers they seem a bit risky. But I do have a pound to go through so I may be won over. I’ve heard chia pudding and chia muffins are pretty yummy and their gel can be a good egg substitute. Stay tuned for my explorations.

Post Navigation