Category Archives: Snacks

Chicago Popcorn and Sleepovers

3 cones in glassMy youngest sister is a kindergarten teacher. I tell you this because it will help to explain the sentence that comes next. For my mom’s 82nd birthday, she organized a sleepover party. Mom’s 6 children, assorted spouses, and 14 grandchildren were all invited over to mom’s for the night, complete with pajamas and sleeping bags.mopmop with her grandchildrenSuch a momentous occasion called for an epic party snack. I knew immediately what I wanted to bring ….Chicago popcorn. In case you’ve never heard of it, Chicago popcorn is a mix of caramel corn and cheddar cheese popcorn.That sweet-salt combo is delicious and highly addictive.

I started with the cheddar popcorn first. Most of the recipes I found online called for a mixture of cheddar cheese powder, dried mustard and a pinch of cayenne. Melted butter was the instrument of choice for getting all that powder to stick. In the midst of all these similar recipes, there was one that stood out like a beacon, calling to me. It was the headline of this one that got my attention. “Alton’s convinced he’s “cracked the code” on the cheesy dust found on Cheetos.”

Cheetos are my guilty pleasure. But not all Cheetos are created equal. Alton Brown put it much more eloquently than I ever could, “The best flavor on earth is that of crunchy Cheetos. Not the regular ones. They’re crap. Just the crunchies.”

If Alton Brown could recreate that flavour to put on popcorn, I needed to learn the secret. cheddar ingredients 2The first ingredient is the requisite cheddar cheese powder, which you can buy at Bulk Barn, or online, or just rip open a bag of the powder that comes in the box of KD. In addition, Alton includes buttermilk powder, nutritional yeast and Kraft parmesan cheese (that stuff in the green can). Those last 2 ingredients are real umami bombs.popcorn in pot 2For the caramel corn, I started out with my favourite caramel corn recipe (minus the nuts).  When I tasted it with the cheddar popcorn, the texture was all wrong. It was way too hard. I did a quick online search and learned from Sally, that a tiny bit of baking soda added at the end of the cooking process will cause the mixture to foam up. This foam contains thousands of carbon dioxide bubbles. Once the caramel is poured over the popcorn and cooled, the trapped air bubbles create a softer texture. So you won’t break a tooth.

I slightly adapted the caramel corn recipe from the charming blog, Sally’s Baking Addiction.pouring caramel 2

Click here for recipe for Chicago Popcorn.

two cones with kernels 2

 

Granola Bark

3 bowlsIf you’re one of those people that pick all the big clumps of granola out of the bag, leaving the little crumbs for the rest of your family, then this granola bark is for you.broken into piecesThe recipe comes from the cookbook Tartine All Day, by pastry chef Elizabeth Prueitt. She and her husband, bread baker extraordinaire, Chad Robertson, are the owners of the Tartine Bread empire in San Francisco.

I recently sorted through all my cookbooks and got rid of a big pile that just didn’t bring me joy anymore. I wasn’t planning to buy any new ones.  We’re in declutter mode around here these days. But I’m happily willing to make room for this book on my shelf. It is filled with inspiration for way we want to eat now, melding new ingredients with old techniques. These are the recipes that Prueitt cooks for her family everyday.

Start by gathering the dry ingredients. Rolled oats (not quick cooking), pumpkin seeds, unsweetened coconut, golden flax seed, sesame seeds, cinnamon, whole almonds and ground almonds (almond flour). Feel free to substitute other seeds and nuts. Chia seeds and sunflower seeds would be good. Pecans instead of almonds would be delicious. For Nutella fans, try using hazelnut flour instead of the almond flour.Dry ingredientschopping almondsFor the liquid ingredients, maple syrup is simmered with water, coconut sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Prueitt calls for vegetable or olive oil, but I used coconut oil. The final liquid ingredient is an egg white, which helps make the granola bark extra crispy.Liquid ingredientsall mixedspreading out barkBefore baking, it is important to press the granola quite firmly into the pan. The easiest way to do this is to cover the granola with a sheet of parchment paper and press a second pan over the  bark.
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Once baked and cooled, break bark into big pieces and pile them into a big glass jar and set it on the counter for snacking.
in a jarOr crumble it up into your yogurt for breakfast.one bowl

Click here to print recipe for Granola Bark.

with a latte

Passover Party Mix

in 3 gold bowls On the next full moon, Monday April 10,  Jewish families, all over the world will gather to hold a Passover Seder. Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt over 3000 years ago, and the formation of the Jewish nation.

The word “seder” means “order” in Hebrew. It refers to the 15 parts of the Seder ritual which are followed in a very specific sequence. In the retelling of the story, the goal is to relive the Exodus, both symbolically and vicariously, with tastes, sounds, sensations and smells. We do this to link our past to our future, to teach the next generation. This is no mean feat and can make for a long night! 

Every family has their own unique customs and traditions. My youngest sister (I have 4) likes to decorate the table  with items that symbolize the 10 plaguesPlastic jumping frogs,  wild animals, cattle, and stale mini marshmallows (plague of hail). One year my mom covered the table in blue, green and purple jelly bellies to represent the River Nile. We have had Cadbury Cream Easter Eggs (much tastier than the roasted egg on the seder plate and the hard boiled egg dipped in saltwater we eat to represent the tears shed by the Israelites in slavery). I fully expect Dark Chocolate Moses this year.

That same sister is fond of making guest appearances at the Seder, dressed in various costumes. Some family members find this humorous. Others do not.Dressup Bunny 2Dressup Mascot 2Dress Up Steph and pigDress Up ProfessorThis year, I’m planning to get the party started by bringing little bags of Passover Party Mix to the table.

Salty, spicy, sweet and addictive. Not normally adjectives associated with a snack that contains matzoh and kosher for passover crispy o’s cereal! But, add mixed nuts, sugar, salt, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, coriander and smoked paprika and magic happens.Ready to mixWatch the culinary alchemy occur.

Put them out on the table in little bowls, paper cones or little bags and let everyone munch. I doubt anyone will be offended.in gold bowlIn paper conesbags 2

Click here to print recipe for Passover Party Mix.