Spicy nuts

If you’ve come here looking for something else, move along, my friend. We’re talking snacks here. Not THAT. Anyway, I may not have mentioned this, but I’ve stopped eating sweets. Yes, sad but true. So when I want to snack on something, I want something savory, not sweet.

Recently I found a page that had been torn out of the Food Network Magazine that offered a basic recipe for what appears to be a snack mix. I’m vague on that because I tore off the name of the recipe. (I was probably in a hurry.) However, after looking at it further, I realized it offered multiple ingredient choices to personalize your mix.

I used it to make chipotle-spiced nuts. Delicious and addicting. So much so that I gave the rest to the Spawn of He Who Must Be Fed, which is why I have no pictures of my own to share with you. Sorry about that. You can use your imagination, though.

Ingredients:

  • Raw-Almonds2 cups raw, unsalted almonds
  • 2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 ½ cups mini pretzels (I used small pretzel sticks)pretzel sticks
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 teaspoons chipotle chile power
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 large egg white

Preheat your oven to 350° and brush a rimmed baking sheet lighting with vegetable oil. Whisk your egg white in a large bowl until frothy. It doesn’t take very long. Add the nuts and pretzels. Sprinkle with the spices and toss the coat. Spread the mixture evenly on the baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. It’ll take 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet then store in an airtight container.

Ingredient substitutions

Follow the basic recipe but try these variations to personalize your snack.

Nuts

You any nuts you like:

  • Walnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Hazelnuts
  • macadamia nuts

Mix-ins

And you don’t have to use pretzels. Try:

  • corn nuts
  • potato chips
  • rice or corn cereal squares
  • oyster crackers
  • little cheese crackers

Seasonings

If you don’t want something spicy, one of these might suit your taste buds better:

Asian Sesame

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

Garlic and herb

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Cinnamon sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

More add-ins

For even more variety, add a cup of:

  • Raisins
  • Cooked bacon
  • Dried cranberries
  • Toasted coconut
  • Banana chips
  • Popcorn
  • Chopped dried pineapple

Feel free to add more than one of these ingredients if you’d like.

If you try a different variation — or create a totally new one — let me know. I’m always on the hunt for yummy snacks.

Barbecue chicken sliders

Everyone seems to prefer breasts, but give me a good thigh …

No, you have not stumbled onto a porn blog. I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.

I have come to greatly appreciate the lowly chicken thigh for two reasons:

  1. They’re incredibly flavorful and juicy, much more so than chicken breasts, which can get rubbery if you’re not careful.
  2. They’re so versatile.

I’ve already shared a couple of recipes with you that featured the lowly thigh, including braised chicken thighs with carrots, potatoes and thyme  and roast chicken with spring vegetables. Here’s another winner: barbecue chicken sliders, which I made after altering this recipe for Buffalo chicken sliders from Jeff Mauro.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot
  • Small rolls. I thawed and baked eight Rhodes frozen dinner rolls

Preheat your oven to 400°. Heat an ovenproof skillet – I used a cast iron skillet — over medium-high heat. Add in the oil. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, brown sugar and smoked paprika.SeasonedChickenSear both sides of the chicken until golden, about 4 minutes per side.

CookingChicken

Add the barbecue sauce to the skillet.

BBQChicken

Bring to a simmer and then place in the oven for 45 minutes.

ChickenInOven

Remove from the oven and shred with two forks. You’re going to want to be super careful. The chicken will be hot, and the barbecue sauce will be like molten lava. Yes, I write from experience.ShreddedChicken

Top a roll with a good portion of the shredded chicken and enjoy.FinishedSliders

 

Easy Calzones

I may have already mentioned this, but He Who Must Be Fed is an all-Italian boy. So, in order to keep him happy, there are times when I have to put on some Dean Martin or Louie Prima and cook something that will touch his Italian heart.

He loves calzones, but, I don’t make them often because I tend to think they’re a big pain. Plus, I was never sure what the difference was between calzones and Stromboli. I happened to be watching TV – it sounds like I’m a total couch potato, but I’m really not – and saw Ree Drummond making calzones  for her cowboys and girls. They looked pretty easy. And they were.

Ingredients:

  • frozen unrisen dinner rolls (I used Rhodes) or frozen bread loaves
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 whole medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound breakfast or Italian sausage
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 whole eggs plus 1 whole egg, beaten
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting

DoughBallsPlace the frozen rolls (or frozen bread loaves) on a baking sheet to thaw. Cover with a tea towel and let thaw and rise for 2 to 3 hours. Preheat the oven to 400°.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the sausage and cook until brown, crumbling the sausage as you stir. CookingSausageAdd the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Remove from the skillet and allow to cool.

In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, some pepper, parsley and 2 eggs.

MixingCalzoneFillingWhen the sausage is cool, stir it into the cheese mixture and set aside.

When the rolls are thawed and risen, roll them out on a lightly floured surface until paper thin. Spoon 3 to 4 tablespoons of the filling onto half of the dough circle. Fold half of the dough over itself, and then press the edges to seal.RawShapedCalzone

Brush the surface of each calzone with the beaten egg, and then bake until nice and golden brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Serve with warm pasta sauce. Fortunately for me, we had some already made.

BrushingwithEgg
These were easy and delicious. Since I was cooking only for the two of us, I had enough filling left over to make them again a couple days later.

finishedCalzone

If you want bigger calzones, use the frozen bread dough.

Hot Browns

When my dad comes to visit, I always try to make him something new that I hope will knock his socks off. Fortunately, that’s not hard to do for several reasons:

  • He’s the original foodie.
  • He loves to eat.
  • He eats a lot.
  • He’ll eat almost anything. Really.

I came across this recipe for Hot Browns, which apparently is a southern dish. Being a Northern girl I didn’t know what they were at first either. but when I watched Damaris Phillips make them on the Food Network, I knew immediately that Dad would eat these up. Literally. And he did. What’s not to love? Bacon, cheese sauce, turkey, tomatoes. All ingredients that when mixed together well create culinary magic.

When Damaris made it, she used cute individual dishes. However, since I didn’t have them, I made it in a 9×13 pan.  And, knowing how much my dad was probably going to eat, I doubled the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bone-in turkey breast (between 4 and 5 pounds)
  • 8 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces bacon, cut into pieces
  • 30 or so grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • 4 slices stale sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (a heaping 4 cups total)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Rub the turkey breast gently with 4 teaspoons of the oil; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 160 degrees° F. My turkey, which was just shy of 5 pounds, took about 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest.RoastedTurkey

Fry the bacon until crisp then drain on a paper towel.

Lower the oven temperature to 250°. Coat the tomatoes with the remaining 4 teaspoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Place RoastingTomatoesthe tomatoes cut-sides up on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake until they start to dehydrate and wrinkle, about 45 minutes. Doing this really brings out the flavor of the tomatoes.

While the tomatoes are cooking, start the cheese sauce. Add the butter to a medium saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the milk to a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir continuously so the roux doesn’t scorch, about 2 minutes. When the milk starts to simmer, slowly add it to the roux, stirring continuously so lumps don’t form. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the Cheddar and red peppers and stir until smooth. Remove the sauce from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

You are now ready to assemble the dish. Heat the broiler. Distribute the bread cubes evenly among the 9×13 pan.BreadCubes Cut the turkey into bite-size pieces, about 1/2 inch each, and layer on top of the bread. Pour the cheese sauce over the bread and turkey then top with the tomatoes and bacon pieces. I added just a bit more shredded cheddar. Place under the broiler on the bottom rack of the oven until golden and bubbly. It’ll take about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.HotBrownDone

If you are the observant type, you may have noticed that there are no red peppers in my sauce. That’s because when I went to get them out of the refrigerator, they had grown hair. But the next time I make this, I’ll add the peppers.

If you try this let me know how it turned out. We had no leftovers. You may not either.