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Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

20 May

One peek into our pantry reveals our family’s obsession with granola bars.  Fruit-filled granola bars, nutty granola bars, and the kids’ favorite… chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  But because I’m uber picky about the ingredients that go into the granola bars I buy, it gets pricey keeping a replete supply on hand.

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Granola bars must be one of the best creations of all time.  Busy families can attest to their great worth.  After all, granola bars are a multi-hat-wearing kind of food.  They serve as the perfect breakfast-on-the-go, sans mommy guilt because they’re packed with good stuff.  They are an easy grab for the lunch boxes.  Perfect after school snack.  Car snack.  Shopping snack for the kids 😉

chewy chocolate chip granola bars

Whenever I can, I love making our own granola bars.  We’ve done all kinds of granola bars, but my kids’ ultimate fave are these chewy chocolate chip granola bars.  Like the store variety, they are chewy and sweet, but infinitely better because you made them yourself.  You know exactly what went into them.  No ingredients you can’t pronounce.  Only the good stuff goes into these yummy granola bars.

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Sweetened with brown sugar and honey, chock full of oats, and tossed with mini chocolate chips.  Exactly eight ingredients went into these addictive granola bars.  They store well for days, if kept in an airtight container.

Get ready for a quick and satisfying breakfast or snack.  You just might need to double the recipe.

Enjoy!

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CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP GRANOLA BARS (makes one 8×8 pan)

INGREDIENTS

1/4 – 1/3 cup  light brown sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/4 cup honey
4 TB salted butter
2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Butter an 8×8 baking pan and set aside.  In large bowl, combine oats and cereal only.  In a saucepan, melt brown sugar, honey, and butter over medium heat, stirring, until it reaches a low boil.  Immediately reduce to simmer, and stir another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, and stir in cinnamon and vanilla extract until fully incorporated.

Carefully pour melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture.  Mix until fully incorporated.  Press granola mixture into the buttered pan, pressing down to pack the granola tightly and evenly into pan.  Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over top of granola, using back of spoon or slightly wet hands.  (Mini chips may melt if you try to fully mix into the granola rather than sprinkle on top)

Allow granola to fully cool before cutting.  Store in airtight container.

Note:  If your granola bars break apart, it may help to chill the bars prior to cutting.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from browneyedbaker.com

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Chewy Mint Chocolate Brownies

10 Mar

We’re getting into that silly time of year.  Did anyone else miss that all-important hour of lost sleep for daylight savings like I did?  March equals rain and slush around here, with some days stuck in winter and other days hinting at the upcoming spring.  Warmer, cooler, sunshine, snowstorm… March cannot make up its mind, and it’s all wishy-washy this time of season.

Thank goodness we can depend on the yumminess of brownies when we need something consistently satisfying!

Chewy Mint Chocolate Brownies 3

These sweeties aren’t just any brownies, either.  They are Mint Chocolate Brownies, adapted from my all time favorite chewy brownie recipe.

Chewy Mint Chocolate Brownies

St. Patty’s Day is March 17, which is only a week away.  These deliciously chewy, rich Mint Chocolate Brownies are perfect if you’re looking for something with a little bit of green.

Chewy Mint Chocolate Brownies 2

These mint chocolate brownies are chewy, fudgy, and refreshingly minty.  I used a bit of peppermint extract to enhance the minty flavor, and it turned out nicely subtle, which I like.  If you want to up your minty-ness, just add more peppermint extract to your batter.

Enjoy!

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RECIPE (one 9×13 pan)

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup (1 oz) Dutch processed cocoa, unsweetened
1/2 cup + 2 TB boiling water
2 oz unsweetened, good quality solid chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup + 2 TB olive oil
4 TB regular butter, melted
2 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose, sifted flour
3/4 tsp table salt
1 1o-oz bag mint-chocolate morsels, or dark chocolate/mint chocolate combo

DIRECTIONS

Bring kettle of water to boil.  Adjust oven rack to second-to-lowest position and preheat to 350F.

Insert 2 long sheets of foil perpendicular to one another in baking pan, long enough to hang over edges.  Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil against pan.  Grease foil sling and set aside.

Whisk cocoa and boiling water (measure out correct amount from kettle of boiling water) together in large bowl until smooth.  Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted.  Whisk in oil and melted butter.  Whisk in eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and peppermint extracts.  Continue to whisk until smooth.  Whisk in sugar until fully incorporated.  Sprinkle salt and sifted flour into batter and mix with rubber spatula until just combined.  Fold in 1 cup of the mint/chocolate morsels.

Transfer batter into prepared pan, spreading into corners and smoothing the surface.  Sprinkle with remaining chocolate/mint morsels.  Bake about 30-33 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.  It’s done when toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached; should not come out completely clean.  It may seem underdone, but it will set upon cooling.  Do not over bake, or brownies will be dry.

Transfer pan to wire rack and cool for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove brownies from pan using foil sling.  Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely.  Cut brownies into squares and serve.  Can be stored in airtight container at room temp for a couple of days.

By:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by Cooks Illustrated

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Bread

28 Feb

Yogurt-Banana-Chocolate-Bread.  That’s quite a mouthful.  There’s no other way to describe this wholesome, rich, moist, thick bread!   This is a densely satisfying bread for breakfast, brunch, and snack.  It’s got everything I love in it, and more.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Bread 4

We just returned from our regular trip back to So. Cal., where we’re from.  It can be challenging to travel with kiddos, but the memory-making is important to us since our entire extended family is in CA.  Nobody wanted to relocate to the Arctic with us.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Chip Bread 2

It wouldn’t have been a real trip without the usual visits to our favorite Cali eateries, being the silly foodies that we are.  Actually, any trip we take tends to revolve around food somehow.  Yet no amount of In ‘n Out can rival my mom and dad’s home cooking.  And they cooked up a storm.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Chips Bread 3

I’m not sure what all that has to do with this Yogurt Banana Chocolate Bread, except that it’s obvious my parents’ love of cooking was passed down to me.  Hopefully, I’m passing it on with all the cooking/baking I do with my own family now.

Yogurt Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Back to the banana bread.   This sweetie’s loaded with super ripe bananas, protein-rich yogurt, flax, and a healthy dose of chocolate.  So rich, dense, moist, and just the right amount of sweetness!  I’d say this bread lasted about one day in our house.  We never have leftovers with this bread, but I’m guessing it would freeze beautifully.

Enjoy!

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RECIPE (1 9×5 loaf)

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup softened butter (room temp)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup dry flax meal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 cup over-ripe, mashed bananas
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels (minis melt into the bread better)

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350F with rack on lower middle position.  Grease a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

In large bowl of stand mixer, mix the softened butter and sugar until fluffy and light, several minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix to incorporate.

In separate bowl, combine flour, flax, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add butter/egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring by hand until fully incorporated.  Gently fold in the yogurt and mashed bananas with rubber spatula just until combined.  Gently fold in the mini chocolate chips, just until combined.

Spread batter evenly into greased loaf pan.  Bake about 60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out with tender crumbs attached (not totally clean.)  Cool loaf in pan 15 minutes and transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.  Cool completely before slicing.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Fresh ‘n Chunky Guacamole

29 Jan

Any game day gathering means plenty of chips and dips.  Whenever possible, this chunky guacamole makes an ever-popular appearance in our lineup of chips and dips.  The guacamole is always good to the last drop.  Or scoop.  After the party, there’s nothing left over where the guacamole once sat.

Chunky Guacamole

Last year, someone in our home (Hubby) found himself frequently hunting down a nighttime snack to help keep him awake for those late-night work deadlines.  Nights like that can feel like college all over again, except it feels a little worse when you’re no longer 19.

Snacks.  Our pantry is stocked with a variety of snacks….but alas, let’s not steal from the kids’ lunch box stash.

Super Guacamole for Game Day 2

Hello, Guacamole.  It’s the perfect fresh and healthy snack that curbs anytime munch attacks.  Fresh, ripe Hass avocados.  Freshly diced tomatoes, red onions, and cilantro.  Loads of garlic.  This is not for the faint of heart (aka those who worry about garlic breath.)  If you’re noshing on homemade guacamole, there’s gonna be some onion and garlic breath.  When everyone’s got it, nobody notices it 🙂

Super Guacamole for Game Day 3

We love homemade guacamole for its fresh, bold, and addictive flavor.  But what I secretly relish are the abundant antioxidants in this yummy dip…it’s a total win-win snack.

Serve up the guacamole with flaxseed corn chips, and you’ve got some Super Food…just in time for Super Bowl 😉

Munch on, feel great, and enjoy!

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RECIPE (makes about 2.5 cups, give or take)

INGREDIENTS

3 large, ripe Hass avocados
1 small-medium red onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ripe tomatoes on the vine, seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 TB kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Peel and mash avocados with fork.  Combine with juice of 1 lime and chopped red onion, mixing to combine well.  Add rest of ingredients and mix to thoroughly incorporate.  Serve immediately with corn chips, for best color/appearance.

If serving later, keep guacamole in airtight container, with cling wrap set directly on top of the guacamole, to seal out air.  Place in fridge until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Turtles: Chocolate, Caramel, ‘n Pretzels

12 Dec

I don’t know where these little guys have been all my life.  I’ve seen variations around, but I finally got the chance to throw a turtle-making party of my own.  Chocolate?  Yes.  Caramel?  Got it.  Salty, sweet, and crispy?  Check, check, and check.  The most dangerous part:  they are way too easy to make.  Way.

Pretzel Turtles

I mean, really.  It takes but minutes to assemble these delicious morsels.  I wrote assemble on purpose, because that’s all you’re really doing with these awesome treats.  The kiddos actually gave up play time so they could make their own pretzel turtles (not pictured, on purpose.)

Pretzel Turtles 3

These turtle treats are made up of salty pretzels, Rolos, and pecans.  If you can’t do nuts, use a candy like M&M’s for the topping.  I’ve made nut-free turtles using colored sprinkles on top, which are super cute too.  They are fantastic for a quick snack.  You can technically make just one or two, very technically speaking.  If you put a bunch of these out at a party, they’ll be a huge hit on that snack or dessert table.  Don’t expect leftovers.

Pretzel Turtles 4

A drizzle of white chocolate makes these pretzel turtles pretty and ready for gift-giving.  These goodies are the perfect no-fuss treat to give to all those peeps you appreciate so much.  You know…teachers, friends, volunteers, neighbors, bus driver, mail carrier…

Pretzel Turtles 5

Y-U-M.  Yum.  Want…need.  Grab a bag of pretzels, some Rolos, and toppings next time you’re at the store.  Keep it in your pantry for all those little emergencies in life. 🙂  Happy turtle eating!

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RECIPE (40 candies)

INGREDIENTS
40 salted butter pretzels, round
40 Rolo candies, regular (not mini)
2-3 oz chopped unsalted pecans, toasted
4-5 oz good quality white chocolate morsels

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 300F.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Arrange pretzels evenly on baking sheets in a single layer.  Place a Rolo on center of each pretzel (if not centered well, it can melt off the pretzel)

Bake 3 minutes on center rack.  Remove baking sheet from oven and immediately press on the toasted pecans. Cool.

Place white chocolate in a small bowl and microwave in 20 second increments, mixing in between, until smooth and melted.  Scrape melted white chocolate into a ziploc bag, cut a very tiny hole at bottom corner, and drizzle immediately onto pretzel turtles.  If chocolate hardens, just microwave for a few seconds and resume.

Source: Chew Out Loud, adapted from allrecipes

Note:  To toast pecans, I use my toaster oven and toast the nuts for 2-3 minutes.  If using your oven, you can lay chopped pecans in single layer on baking sheet at 325F.  Brush with a little melted butter, if desired.  Toast about 5 minutes, depending on oven.  Just until aromatic and browned, but watch that they don’t burn.

Double Chocolate Biscotti Cookies

10 Dec

Is anyone else in the heartland feeling the sudden freeze?  The frost has definitely found us in MN.

To all my beautiful Californian family & friends:  I love you dearly and miss you more than you know…but I just can’t read any more Facebook posts about your “weather” out there.   Because it makes me want to cry and go stare longingly at my collection of flip flops.

I need cookies.  Double Chocolate Biscotti cookies to the rescue.

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I know many people in our current Midwestern stomping ground who are enjoying the sudden blanket of heavy snow today.  True, I do enjoy how pristine and beautiful fresh snow can be.  To say the kids were excited is an understatement.  They immediately donned their rugged snow gear and threw themselves into the thick white powder, and “helped” Daddy shovel.

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But some snow days (today) are semi-crazy.  When huge snow plows can’t keep up, when too many cars are stuck on the side of roads, and when people (Hubby) spend all of Sunday clearing the driveway… well, that’s not such great fun.  Semi-crazy days like today are good for staying in.  Ok, we didn’t really stay in…not at all.  But it would have been a good day for it.

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For those mornings or afternoons when you can stay in and sip on a hot mug of coffee or tea… bring in these double chocolate Biscotti cookies.  They are the perfect dunking cookie.  I used to think Biscotti would be tricky to make from scratch, but I started making these a few years ago and fell in love with homemade Biscotti.  They are pretty straighforward, extremely flexible (any fave add-ins would be yummy), and best of all?  They keep so, so well.  Biscotti is classically crisp in texture (dunking perfection) and they stay nicely crunchy at room temp for days.  Or frozen for much longer.

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This recipe will make enough Biscotti to give away as yummy Christmas treats, or you can keep some in the freezer for a quick morning or afternoon treat when you need it.   In fact, I just made a batch to give to my girlfriend’s lovely family.  There was enough leftover to go with Hubby’s coffee at breakfast.  And kids’ afternoon snack.  And my breakfast + snack.

To make it Christmas-y, I added dried cranberries.  They are a perfect addition for a holiday breakfast/brunch or cookie exchange.  Enjoy these cookies, stay warm, and romp a little in the snow.  If you’re lucky enough to get snow 🙂

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RECIPE (approx. 40-50 cookies)

INGREDIENTS

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp fine salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup canola or light olive oil
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
4 large eggs
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 300F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.  Set aside.

In another large bowl, mix oil and sugar until well blended.  Add vanilla extract, almond extract, and eggs.  Beat until well incorporated.  Gradually stir egg mixture in with the flour mixture.  Mix in cranberries and semi sweet chocolate chips by hand.  Dough may be sticky; place in fridge for 30 minutes to help with stickiness.

Divide dough into equal thirds (using wet hands here will help with sticky fingers.)  Form each third into logs, about 12×3 each, on the parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake 35-40 minutes on middle rack, until lightly brown and mostly firm to the touch.  Place light cloth over logs and cool for at least 30 minutes or until they are almost room temp.  Turn oven down to 275F.

Carefully cut cooled logs on diagonal, into slices that are a little less than 1 inch thick.  Depending on your knife, you might either press down very gently to get clean cuts, or you might use a gentle sawing motion.  I use my sharp bread knife.  Lay Biscotti onto their sides, on parchment covered baking sheets.  Bake 10 minutes.  Flip and bake 10 minutes more.  Biscotti is done when they feel dry.  Cool on cooling racks.

Melt white chocolate in small bowl in microwave, in approx. 30 second increments, until smooth and melted.  Transfer melted white chocolate into a plastic baggie, cut a very tiny hole in bottom corner, and drizzle over Biscotti.  Happy dunking!

By: Chewoutloud

Note:  If desired, you can do an egg wash over the dough logs before baking.  Just beat 1 egg with 1 TB water and brush onto logs.

Brie en Croute

7 Dec

Ready or not, here it comes!  December has arrived and holiday season is absolutely in full swing.  The ongoing festivities beckon a cheerfulness that warms the chilly air, even for self-proclaimed cold wimps as myself.  Each weekend, we’re observing cars galore parked in driveways of homes, signaling a jolly party within.  Our own family created some merry memories hosting a couple of recent dinner parties.  If all goes as planned, we’re hoping to host and attend a few more precious celebrations this season.

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In honor of this magical season, I’m showing off the delectable little Brie en Croute that’s popular on my dinner party menu.  Cute, isn’t it?  Some of the best things come in little packages.  This adorable appetizer is gigantic on flavor, and will take the edge off those ravenous tummies while your family/friends wait for dinner to be served.  Beware of this phenomenal appetizer’s capacity to steal the show.  Definitely be forewarned that the recipe will be highly requested.  Either that, or you’ll be asked to make it every year thereafter.  It could easily become your annual contribution.

Brie En Croute 4

Brie en Croute.  It’s pronounced on-kroot, with gutteral and nasal-ish french accent.  Don’t forget to roll the “r.”  Keep repeating just for fun, oui?  In French, “en croute” refers to anything delish baked in a pastry crust.  That is indeed the sweet secret of this appetizer.  On the outside, it appears to be some kind of rotund pastry thingy flanked by crackers.  Oh, but once it is sliced into… that is the big reveal.

Brie En Croute 6

The first slice into the buttery, flaky pastry exterior reveals the warm silky Brie lying just beneath the surface.  Resting on top of the soft Brie cheese is a gorgeous layer of toasted pecans and sweet raspberry preserves.  We love how flexible this Brie en Croute is; select your favorite nut and fruit mixture, if pecans and raspberries aren’t your cup of tea.   Almost any combination will result in a fabulous treat.

Brie en Croute 7

My favorite part about Brie en Croute?  It is unbelievably easy to pull off.  It’s quickly assembled ahead of time, to be baked up right before you need it.  Just try to let it cool off a bit after baking before digging in, if you can wait.  It’s awesome to have on the holiday menu, whether you’re the host or the guest.  Or present it as a hostess gift and the recipient can bake it up when she needs a mouth-watering treat.  Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

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RECIPE (10 servings)

INGREDIENTS

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 whole wheel Brie, 8 oz
1/4 cup raspberry preserves (or other fruit)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 beaten egg
turbinado (or coarse) sugar for garnish
assorted crackers for serving alongside

DIRECTIONS

Defrost puff pastry about 15 minutes and unfold.  Preheat oven to 375F and set rack in middle.

Slice off a thin layer of top rind only (we leave the rest of rind on, but feel free to remove it if desired.)  Lay puff pastry sheet out on flat surface and roll out just a little bit if needed to cover entire Brie.  Place Brie in center of the pastry.  Top brie with nuts and preserves.  Gently pull up edges of pastry, wrapping the Brie completely, and gather pastry edges at the top.  Secure the gathered dough at top with kitchen twine.  Double check that none of the Brie is exposed, carefully sealing the dough on all sides.  Brush the beaten egg all over top and sides of pastry.  Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Place Brie on parchment paper on cookie sheet.  Bake 20 minutes or until pastry is a nice golden brown.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve with assorted crackers.

By chewoutloud

Note:  Baked brie should cool a bit before serving, to allow it to regain a bit of shape.  Otherwise, it will be too melted and spill out.  Also, you can use extra puff pastry to make cut-outs for exterior design, if you’re going for an ultra special presentation.

*I’m excited that this recipe will be entered in this month’s Shine Supper Club contest, so check that out!

Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

30 Nov

Despite the fact that fall leaves are long gone and bare branches lay in their stead, it’s technically still fall.  That’s hard to remember in these zones.  It’s been a rough year for apples, and apple pickings were sadly slim,  but our favorite Honeycrisp  variety remains plentiful at the stores.  Our fridge is happily stocked with those crisp apples with honey-like sweetness.

Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

After the Thanksgiving holiday, where some of us (me) indulged in more rich desserts than we (I) care to reveal, it’s time to gift you with a healthier treat.

Honey Yogurt Fruit Dip

This fabulous honey yogurt fruit dip is bursting with fall flavors.  It’s a no-guilt cure for the sweet toothed – real honey, vanilla greek yogurt, and cinnamon makes up this lively fruit dip.

We love adding generous sprinkles of crunchy granola to give it that extra crisp texture.  Dip your favorite varieties of apples or other fruits into this dreamy dip, and you’re set.  My little ones lapped it up, begging for more apples so they could scrape up every last bit of their dip.  They enjoy plain old apple slices, but the honey yogurt dip brings any slice of fruit to a dessert-worthy level.

Greek Yogurt Spice Dip 4

Greek yogurt tends to be higher in protein, and is thicker than many other yogurts.  If you use a thinner variety of yogurt, it won’t set up as thickly, but it will probably still taste fab.  I use honey or vanilla yogurt so the honey and cinnamon can take center stage, but feel free to experiment with flavors.    This will make about 1 1/2 cups worth of yogurt goodness.  It keeps very nicely in an airtight container in your fridge.

Grab some fruit, granola, and get your yogurt on!  Enjoy 🙂

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RECIPE (1 1/2 cups)

INGREDIENTS
1 cup honey or vanilla Greek yogurt
3 tsp honey (more or less, depending on sweetness of yogurt brand)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powder sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
*1/2 cup whipped cream
apple slices or other fruit slices
granola

DIRECTIONS
Gently mix together all ingredients except whipped cream.  Fold in whipped cream and chill.  Serve with slices of fruit and granola.

* To make awesome whipped cream:
Place beaters and medium bowl in freezer or fridge to chill.  Measure out 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup powder sugar.  Put cold ingredients into cold bowl and beat on medium/high until still peaks form.
(If you want a firmer, stabilized whipped cream, see recipe.)

By:  Chewoutloud

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

6 Nov Panko Mozzarella Sticks

If you are a cheese fan and enjoy a good crunch, you’ll really appreciate these Panko Mozzarella Sticks.  They are absolutely the perfect finger food.  These cheesy snacks will be snatched up in a wink if you serve them up for Game Day… or any day, really.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

Gooey warm Mozzarella is encased by a beautifully crisp exterior – thanks to Panko breadcrumbs, in lieu of traditional bread crumbs.  Panko is definitely in.  Thankfully, a bag of Panko can easily be found in Asian aisles of most large grocery stores these days.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

If you’ve never worked with Panko before, it’s only fair to warn you that you just might become addicted to the stuff.  It is extremely versatile.  Panko can be used to coat anything from these cheese sticks to seafood to chicken.  Just use them in place of your standard bread crumbs, and be prepared for an extraordinary crunch that surpasses the old stand by.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

The hubby and kids were all over this crispy, tasty finger food.  It’s so much fun to be treated to one of our favorite appetizers without setting foot in a diner.  Not to mention these mozzarella sticks are tastier, crunchier, and meltier when you do them at home!  But, do serve them up while still hot, so the yummy cheese is savored while it’s still very melty and delish.

Panko Mozzarella Sticks

Most of us won’t have a problem devouring these while still fresh and warm.  Chances are, they won’t be sitting around very long at your party.  Enjoy!

RECIPE (makes 32 pieces)

INGREDIENTS

16 sticks of mozzarella string cheese
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups Japanese Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fresh black pepper
1 TB dried oregano flakes
oil for frying (peanut oil is great for frying)
Marinara sauce for dipping

DIRECTIONS

Place flour in a small dish.  In another bowl, mix together the eggs and milk.  In a third bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and oregano.   Cut mozzarella sticks into halves.

Roll a piece of mozzarella in flour, dip into egg mixture, and roll well in Panko mixture.  Press crumbs in place so mozzarella stick is fully coated.  Continue until all pieces are well coated.  Place coated mozzarella sticks on a wax-lined baking sheet and put in freezer for at least 30 minutes.  (The flash-freezing is important in keeping cheese from falling apart in hot oil.)

Pour oil to fill a third way up to halfway up in a heavy sauce pan.  Using a thermometer, keep oil steady at 365F.   Remove frozen mozzarella sticks and fry a few pieces (don’t crowd) at a time, keeping oil temp at 365F throughout frying process (you’ll have to play with turning heat up or down as needed.)  Fry about 25-30 seconds, turning sticks until they are an even golden brown, and drain on paper towels.  Try not to let cheese leak, but a few tiny bubbles are fine.  Continue until entire batch is made.  Serve with your favorite marinara sauce and do eat these while hot!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook

Kettle Corn Popcorn – Sweet, Salty, Crunchy

3 Sep Kettle Corn

State fairs across the nation this past summer have been enjoyed by young and old alike.  Our family has braved the crazy sea of visitors at the state fair almost every summer.  This year was different, though.  This was the first year all our boys were old enough to really enjoy it.  With our “baby” at 3 years old now, we are finally able to do more all-day excursions with everyone participating in the fun.  The kids can all go on way more carnival rides, ask a million more questions per millisecond, and eat way more kettle corn.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn = very crunchy, slightly sweet, and little bit salty

Seeing how our family devours kettle corn, it only makes sense to pop them up fresh at home – because popcorn is the best when it’s freshly popped, still warm from your own kettle.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – unbelievably easy to DIY

My “kettle” is simply a large, heavy pot with tight fitting lid.  Otherwise known as my trusty large All-Clad pot.  You can use any such heavy pot.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – so addictive

The lightly sweet, slightly salty, and super crunchy qualities of this little snack make it extremely addictive.  Every time I make kettle corn, it’s gobbled up until all that remains are the broken crumbs at the bottom of the bowl.  Honestly, I had to keep my peeps (mostly self) from popping too many of these into our mouths during the photo shoot, because there had to be some popcorn to shoot.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – just a few ingredients away

Did I mention there are only 3 ingredients in this thing?  Oh, wait, it’s 4 ingredients if you count the pinch of salt 🙂  So, four ingredients it is.  Just oil, sugar, salt, and of course – popcorn kernels.  Get good quality kernels if you can, as it will make a bit of difference in how well they pop up.

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn – healthier munchies!

Considering the common snacking alternatives, I feel pretty good about the kiddos – and me- snacking on popcorn!  To make it even healthier but still yummy, I use less sugar and light olive oil (not extra virgin, due to its lower smoking point.)  I give the correct proportions in the recipe, but feel free to play with it.  The only thing you really have to do is make sure to keep shaking the pot so your popcorn doesn’t burn.  And, try to share… if you want 🙂

RECIPE (4-5)

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup good quality popcorn kernels
fine salt

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil with 3 test kernels in large, deep, heavy pot with tight fitting lid.  Once all 3 kernels pop, your oil is hot enough.  Add sugar and popcorn kernels, stir a bit, and cover.  Shake pot vigorously every few seconds (yes, every few seconds).  I alternate between setting pot down to rest a few seconds and shaking it a few seconds.  This is a bit of an arm workout, but it must be done so sugar/popcorn won’t burn.  Once popping has slowed, remove pot from heat and keep shaking until there’s no more popping.  Sprinkle evenly with a pinch or two of salt, give it another good shake, and immediately pour into large bowl.  Break up clumps as needed, and let cool just enough to dig in!

By chewoutloud, adapted from allrecipes

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