Tag Archives: snacks

Whipped Feta Dip and Herbed Goat Cheese Dip

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated with a relatively relaxing day of football and then dinner and drinks with friends. I don’t think there is a much better way to spend a Sunday 🙂

On Saturday I stopped by Starbucks post-Body Pump for a soy latte and noticed that Godiva has a new “truffle flight” out that is dessert themed. The truffle flight features flavors like Red Velvet Cake, Crème Brulee, and Chocolate Lava Cake. Needless to say, I couldn’t resist buying it. It seemed like the perfect birthday treat!

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When the cashier rung me up at the counter, she noticed that I was buying truffles and offered me a free truffle “sample” (it was a whole truffle) that they had been giving away earlier that day. Free truffle? Yes please! It was a great start to my Saturday. On Saturday night, Heather and I went to the Jason Aldean concert at Jiffy Lube Live. It was a great show, although the weather was a little chilly. I guess fall really is almost here!

Ever since my Mom and I tried the goat cheese dip at Café Caturra I have been obsessed with re-creating it. Well, I think I succeeded at making a homemade version! 🙂 This Sunday I whipped up a few cheese dips to enjoy while watching football, including a goat cheese dip. I had to restrain myself from eating all of it. This is a quick and easy recipe that I will definitely be making for many football gatherings (and non-football gatherings) to come!

Sidenote: I went to Café Caturra last night for my birthday and again failed to take any pictures. #bloggerfail I think the problem is that when I see food, I instantly start stuffing my face. #thingsIneedtoworkon

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Herb & Goat Cheese Dip

    – 1 log goat cheese (I used a small one – just a few ounces)
    – an equal amount of ricotta (I used this to tone down the tangy goat cheese, you can use less ricotta and it’ll be more tangy)
    – a pinch or two of oregano
    – a pinch of herbs de provence, Italian seasoning, or other herb blend
    – 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    – 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt

Process or blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Serve with chips, crackers, or toasted bread.

Once I made the goat cheese dip, I figured I could apply the same technique to some feta cheese I had to use up. It turned out great!

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Whipped Feta Dip

    – 1 container feta
    – 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
    – 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
    – 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    – a pinch or two of dried oregano

Blend or process all ingredients together in a food processor and serve with chips, crackers or toasted bread.

I also think either one of these would be great spread on a sandwich or in a pita! 🙂

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Pumpkin Granola Recipe

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was jam-packed with fun activities. Friday night Heather and I got dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant then went to see The Mortal Instruments. Heather was a big fan of the books, which I’ve never read, but I thought the movie was pretty good. Saturday morning we went to Body Pump where I managed to stay up on my toes for all 10 push-ups in the shoulder track! 🙂 They weren’t full-on 90 degree “real woman” push-ups though so I’m not counting it as something I can cross off my bucket list just yet!

On Saturday, we went to the Toby Keith concert and had absolutely beautiful weather. Toby Keith is one of my all-time favorite performers to see in concert. He just puts on such a show, and you really can’t compete with someone who’s been making hits for 20-ish years. Heather and I did lots of dancing, and really enjoyed ourselves.

On Saturday I also decided to make some more granola (because I ran out) and decided to make a pumpkin version to celebrate the fact that I found canned pumpkin in the grocery store! I used the same basic recipe as before, but changed it up a little to accommodate the pumpkin and the pumpkin pie spices. It turned out delicious! It’s a different type of granola than my last recipe though. The last recipe was very crisp and not very clumpy – but this version has a lot more chunks and the chunks are crisp on the outside but chewy in the center, because of the pumpkin. I think it’s a delicious new texture for granola!

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Pumpkin Pie Granola
Makes 5 1/2 cups.

    – 4 1/2 cups oats
    – 1 cup pecan bits, or chopped pecans (optional – but they just seem to go with pumpkin to me!)
    – 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    – 1 teaspoon ground cloves
    – 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
    – 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    – 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
    – 1 can pumpkin puree
    – 3 tablespoons honey (or maple syrup or other sweetener)

Mix all ingredients together. I found that because of the pumpkin it takes a while to really get it all incorporated. Spread the mixture onto a greased baking pan (I used coconut oil), breaking up any big chunks as you go. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until crisp.

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I added pecans to this granola because pecans and pumpkin seem to go hand-in-hand to me. I think it’s because every year for Thanksgiving my mom makes a pecan pie (because it’s my stepdad’s favorite) and a pumpkin pie (because it’s my favorite). Either way, it turned out delicious! 🙂

Travel-Friendly Snacks

So on my aforementioned work trip, I was vaguely concerned about starving to death. This happens to me every time I travel. I’m a big snacker, and I obviously love to cook for myself, so when I’m away from my home kitchen and forced to eat on other people’s schedule I tend to starve. Ok, I’m being dramatic. It’s not legitimate starving. Like, I haven’t eaten in three hours when I’m used to eating every two kind of starving. I realize this is a first world problem.

Also, thanks to Murphy’s Law, my work flight ended up on the same week that I was traveling for personal reasons, so I get back late Thursday night and fly to Florida first thing Friday morning. I’m spending less than 12 hours back in DC before heading back to the exact same airport to leave again. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Snacks are going to be needed to power through.

To solve both of these problems, I decided to pack my bag with snacks like a squirrel packing up for the winter.

Therefore, let me share some travel-friendly snacks that I came up with! 🙂

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Protein/Granola-Type Bars
I didn’t want this category to be straight protein bars, as a good quality granola bar serves the same purpose. My personal favorite is Lara Bars thanks to their short-and-sweet ingredient list. Unfortunately, Lara Bars can also be very expensive. Luckily I discovered that Lara Bars are pretty reasonably priced at Target (of all places). The boxes are usually around $4 which is much better than the $2.50 a bar I’ve seen at some places (*cough*Harris Teeter*cough*). They are still a pretty pricey snack, but since they’re not an every day snack for me I accept the expense. It’s worth it to have something healthy in the cabinet in case I need a snack.

Nuts
Nuts are a great snack because they have a ton of health benefits and even though they are high in fat, it’s mostly the heart-healthy unsaturated kind. Also, that fat helps give you that “full” feeling! A handful of nuts is a great healthy snack, but watch the portion size if you eat any more than that. I was particularly excited about the bag pictured above (which I also found at Target) which is unsalted and has a wide variety of nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, etc). I also learned from the package that hazelnuts are also called ‘Filberts’ – what a dorky name for a nut! 🙂

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Nut Butter
Speaking of hazelnuts, I found these individual serving packages of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter! Delicious! They also had packets of almond butter at Target, but I stuck with the chocolate because it looked so delicious. It’s sort of like Nutella, although it does have a slightly gritty texture. I was happy to find individual packets, as apparently peanut butter counts as a gel when traveling through airport security. There’s no need to unnecessarily provoke TSA seeing as on my way back from my Orlando vacation I accidently left a half-drunk water bottle in my carry-on and I swear the guy almost threw me out of the airport. Just a friendly tip! I think it’d be a great idea to pack crackers, or some sliced up veggies to go with the nut butter – unless you’re shameless like me and sometimes eat this stuff straight from the packet. Try not to judge me.

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Sliced Fruits and Veggies
Sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, as well as grapes or apples all make great travel-friendly (and TSA-friendly!) snacks. And compared to the fruit and veggie boxes at the airport, you can save a bundle by packing your own. Plastic baggies were definitely my friend for this trip! 🙂

What are your favorite snacks to take with you when you travel? Is anyone else as snack-obsessed as me?

‘Everything’ Cookies Recipe

On Sunday night I was seized by the urge to bake a version of these Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Bon Appétit Magazine. I wasn’t craving cookies, actually I didn’t have any intention of eating the cookies – I just really wanted to cook something new. And this cookie recipe had been haunting me for a few days.

And thus we’ve arrived at the crux of the problem. The reason I have way too much food in my house for a single girl. (Seriously, in case of apocalypse, everyone should assemble at my house and I can keep us alive) And the reason I should really change my career to something food-related. So that I don’t bake two dozen cookies on a Sunday evening for no reason at all.

Luckily, I found a solution that allowed me to bake cookies, and keep myself from having two dozen cookies around the house in need of a home. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First off, I pulled up a copy of the recipe. Why is it cookie recipes always make so many damn cookies? The original recipe says it makes 4 dozen. I can’t think of many circumstances when I would need 4 dozen cookies – that’s just excessive. So I cut the recipe in half. Which of course means the entire time I’m cooking I have to re-calculate the recipe and constantly remind myself not to put in the original amounts. Unfortunately, I’m usually singing and dancing around my kitchen in a very distracted manner and forget and end up putting in twice as much butter as necessary or something to that effect. But this time I think I came through un-scathed. Who knows? I guess there’s a possibility that I accidently doubled the baking powder at some point but the cookies turned out okay, so I’m not going to question them.

The original recipe called for just raisins, but I didn’t have any raisins. Plus I find it fundamentally odd when people over the age of 4 eat raisins. It may be just me, but when I picture raisins I picture those tiny snack boxes that adult fingers don’t fit in to. Plus, eating an oatmeal raisin cookie that looked like it was a chocolate chip cookie is, frankly, why I have trust issues. Which I always have on hand. So I ended up switching out the raisins for cranberries, adding walnuts (because I love cranberries and walnuts together), and dark chocolate chips because…well let’s be serious, you don’t need a reason to add dark chocolate chips. Therefore, I’m going to re-christen these cookies “Everything Cookies.” Because there’s a whole lot of everything packed into these cookies and it sounds so much better than “Oatmeal Cranberry Walnut Dark Chocolate (Whole Wheat) Cookies.” Phew, that’s a mouthful! And not as tasty as a mouthful of cookie!

’Everything’ Cookies
Makes two dozen cookies

    – 1 cup whole wheat flour
    – ¼ teaspoon baking powder
    – ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    – ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    – Pinch ground nutmeg
    – ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    – ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
    – ½ cup light brown sugar
    – ¼ cup sugar
    – 2 large eggs
    – ½ teaspoon vanilla
    – 1 cup old fashioned oats
    – ¾ cup dried fruit (I went with cranberries)
    – ¼ cup chopped walnuts
    – ¼ cup dark chocolate chips

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Mix the first six (dry) ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. Cream the softened butter together with the brown and white sugars. This process is much easier using a mixer of some kind, but I obsessively do it by hand. I figure if I’m going to make full-on sugary, fatty cookies – I’m going to work for it. Once the butter and sugar are thoroughly combined (which is a time-consuming process), add eggs and vanilla. Then add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and combine. For me, this part was a little dry so I added a few splashes of milk and it came together after that. Fold in the oats, fruit, etc. It will look like this.

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So here’s where my idea comes in. The original Bon Appétit article was to roll the cookie dough up into a log and then freeze it, so you have a log of frozen cookie dough ready to use when you need it. It also suggests that you can just slice off the cookies you need and bake them up, thus helping with portion control. While I like this idea, I don’t like the idea of having to slice portions off of a frozen log of cookie dough. That doesn’t sound like it would be as easy as they’re making it out to be. Sure, I’ll just saw through this log of dough and end up with perfect little round cookies and no injuries? Highly unlikely.

So I decided to roll the dough into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet, then store in a ziplock bag. Here are the cookies all rolled up and ready for the freezer.

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And, after freezing for 2 and a half hours, happily hanging out in their storage bag.

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Now, when I want a cookie I can just pop a cookie dough ball or two into the oven and enjoy a fresh baked cookie! That’s an idea I can get behind.

I know what you’re thinking, you didn’t read through this whole recipe not to have some cookies get baked! I figured I’d cook up two as testers so I popped them into the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Here they are:

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They were delicious! They have a very trail-mix like texture to them. And they were warm and chewy. For future reference for baking the frozen balls, I would bake them at the same temperature but they might need a minute or two longer to account for the lower starting temperature of the dough. I’ll update this post once I bake one from frozen if there is a huge difference! 🙂

Update: I baked two cookies up from frozen last night at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and it worked beautifully! 🙂 it didn’t look like it was going so well for the first 5 minutes or so but after that they evened up and turned out even better than the first batch! 🙂