Category Archives: Snacks

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

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Photo Credit:  www.Napidoktor.hu,  2015.

Making your own jam is a great way to use your slow cooker in the summer. It’s also a delicious way to use up overripe fruit.

Makes About Four 8-pints

Ingredients:
2 pounds of strawberries
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups sugar

Directions:
Wash the strawberries and drain in a colander. Remove the stems from the strawberries and cut in half. With a small, sharp knife, halve the vanilla bean lengthwise. Add strawberries and vanilla halves to a slow cooker along with the lemon juice and sugar. Stir well, cover, and cook on low for 2 hours.

Uncover the slow cooker and stir the jam. Continue cooking, uncovered, on low for an additional 2–3 hours or until the jam has thickened, stirring occasionally. Don’t worry if it is a little runny; it will get thicker as it cools. If you want a smoother consistency, use a potato masher to break up the fruit.

Discard the vanilla bean and ladle the jam into four  1-cup plastic or glass containers with tight-fitting lids. Allow to cool, uncovered, then cover and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Jam will last 3 weeks in the refrigerator and up to 1 year in the freezer.

Cook’s Notes:
Try swirling a spoonful of jam with plain Greek yogurt for breakfast or dessert.

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Croquetas de jamón Cubano

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Photo Credit: The Heart of Homemade, 2014

These Cuban-style ham croquetas are everything a croquette should be: smooth, flavorful, and delightfully crispy. Croquetas are found at Cuban food stands as well as birthday parties, weddings and quinceñeras. Croquetas are also very popular at restaurants, walk-up counters and bakeries all over Miami, Florida, where I first discovered them. There are countless versions  where you can also use chicken, fish, potato or cheese as a filling,  so feel free to adapt to your own tastes.

 

Makes 12 to 24 Croquettes

Ingredients:
For the filling (masa):
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onion, minced fine
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1   1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 Tablespoon dry sherry
1 Tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 pound smoked ham, ground
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground  black pepper, or  to taste

For the breading:
2  large eggs, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
1 cup dry bread crumbs, mixed with 1/4 cup  all purpose flour*
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying

 

Directions:
Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan, add the onions, and sauté until translucent.

Whisk in 1/3 cup flour to make a roux ;  add more butter if necessary to make a smooth roux. Gradually whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Continue cooking until the sauce thickens. Whisk in nutmeg, sherry, and parsley. Fold in the ground ham and one cup bread crumbs.

Let the filling mixture simmer for five minutes on low heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. NOTE: The ham probably has enough salt already.

Spoon the mixture into a baking pan and refrigerate until well chilled for at least one hour. NOTE: The mixture needs to be firm enough to form into rolled “logs”. If your mixture is too soft or sticky, add some additional bread crumbs.

Shape the ham mixture into logs about 3/4-inch thick and three inches long.

To set up the breading station:
Make an egg wash by beating the eggs with water until frothy in a small bowl.

Combine the bread crumbs and flour in a second bowl; add salt and pepper.

Dip the logs in the egg wash and roll the logs in the seasoned bread crumbs. Dip a second time and re-roll in bread crumbs.

Place the croquettes in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan lined with parchment paper and cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. NOTE: You may also freeze for the croquettes for later use.

In a Dutch oven, or a deep fat fryer, add enough oil so that it will cover the croquettes. Heat the oil to the frying stage at about 360 to 375º F. Fry the croquettes in small batches,for about three to four minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Always let the oil come back to 375ºF between batches. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

Cook’s Notes:

* For a lighter crispier breading, you can use about 1  1/2 sleeves of saltine crackers,finely ground in food processor or blender. Another option is to use 12 ounces of  cracker meal in place  of the bread crumbs when making the breading.

For a variation, an equal amount of  COOKED chicken, can be substituted for the ham. Grind the cooked chicken in a food processor. Add a dash of fresh lime juice to the ground chicken. In omitting the parsley, add a handful of chopped cilantro to the ground chicken for a nice flavor twist.

The breaded croquettes can be frozen in plastic wrap or aluminum foil indefinitely. Just thaw them before frying.

The traditional way to serve croquettes is without any sauce, but some restaurants serve them with a cilantro garlic sauce for dipping. They are also good dipped in ketchup!

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

BACON-WRAPPED AND BEER-BATTERED ONION RINGS

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Serves 3 to 4

INGREDIENTS:

2 large Vidalia onions
1 quart vegetable oil
12 ounces of your favorite  stout beer
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 pounds sliced bacon
2 cups cheese sauce (click here for the recipe)

 

 

 

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DIRECTIONS:

Cut onions crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices, peel, and separate into rings. Discard the inner bulbs.

Heat oil to 365℉ in a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed pot attached with an oil thermometer.

Combine beer with one cup flour; mix thoroughly. Place remaining flour in a shallow dish.

Dredge onion rings in flour, shake off excess, and dip in beer batter. Spiral slices of bacon around each onion ring to completely wrap it (you may need several slices depending on the size of the onion). Dip into batter again.

Deep-fry the rings, a few at a time, for 3-5 minutes, or until deep brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Serve while hot with cheese sauce.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Quick and Easy Nacho Cheese Sauce

Whether its game night, movie night or you just want to have a quick snack, nachos are always a go to. But why leave your house to go pay for nachos when you already have the ingredients at home to make them? Forget heading to the store. And who needs Velveta! You can make nacho cheese sauce right at home.  Here’s the step by step recipe in making the cheesiest of nacho cheeses!

Makes About 2 Cups

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flout
1 cup whole milk
8 ounces good quality shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Serving:
Corn tortilla chips
Sour cream
Chopped fresh tomatoes
Slice scallions
Pickled jalapeno slices



Step 1:

Melt butter in your skillet.

 

 



Step 2:

Add 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour.

 

 

Step 3:

Add 1 cup of whole milk.

 

 



Step 4:

Add a 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt and ⅛ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Then stir.

 

 

Step 5:

Add 8 ounces of  good quality cheddar cheese. Stir until cheese melts.

 

Step 6:

Take a ladle and add cheese to your tortilla chips.

 

 

 



Step 7:

Add tomatoes on top of the cheese, and scallions or jalapenos for extra flavor. Serve with sour cream on the side.

 

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Tofu Nuggets

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Adapted from
Alice Currah
Kitchen Explorers, 2015

These seasoned fried tofu nuggets make a great vegetarian option for the more popular chicken nuggets. Dipped in a seasoned batter and pan fried to a crisp golden brown, these nuggets are known to convert tofu haters into lovers.Unlike chicken, making a baked version of this dish is not easy or recommended. There is so much moisture the tofu holds that frying at a relatively high heat quickly gives the batter its nice crispy golden texture. If the tofu sits out too long, the batter becomes wet due to the liquid within the tofu. So enjoy them while they are warm. These seasoned tofu nuggets are irresistibly good and will make tofu haters into lovers. Enjoy!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1 package extra firm tofu
½ cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 vegetable bullion cube, slightly dissolved in 1/4 teaspoon of  water
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (available in the health food section, bulk spices)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup water
Coconut oil, for frying

Directions:
Place the block of tofu on top of a flat strainer and place a flat plate over the top of the tofu. Then place a heavy pot on top of the plate. This will allow the tofu to expel as much water as possible. Allow the tofu to drain for 1 hour.

Cut the tofu into rough, 2-inch cubes.

In a medium bowl, stir in the flour,  baking powder, baking soda, yeast,  dissolved bullion, garlic powder, salt,  five spice powder paprika and black pepper.Slowly add the water, whisking as you go. The mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter.

Pour 1/3-inch level of oil into a medium pan. Heat the oil on medium heat.

Working in small batches, generously coat the tofu cubes with the seasoned batter.

Without overcrowding the pan, fry the bottom of the tofu until the batter turns to a crispy golden brown. Flip the cubes and cook until the rest of the tofu cubes are crispy and golden brown. Place finished cubes on a plate lined with a paper towel.

Continue to do this until all the cubes have been fried.

The tofu will be very hot. Allow the tofu to cool for five minutes. Serve with your choice of condiment and enjoy while warm and crisp.

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Chickpea Onion Rings

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Scotch Quail Eggs

Proper Scotch eggs with lovely Scottish cheese and pickle
Photo Credit: Jamie Oliver, 2015

I am totally obsessed with the “Outlander” series of novels by Diana Gabaldon as much as I am about food and cooking. As with all of the books, the types of foods eaten by the fictional characters are often mentioned and in the 7th novel in the series, “An Echo In the Bone” mentions Scotch eggs in Chapter 74.

I have seen them before and they reminded me of a meatloaf with a boiled egg encased in ground meat. I never tried one, but after seeing them occasionally on cooking shows and eventually reading the Outlander books, my culinary curiosity went into overdrive…….

The London department store Fortnum & Mason claims to have invented Scotch eggs in 1738, but they may have been inspired by the Mughlai dish nargisi kofta or “Narcissus meatballs” once served from the Imperial Kitchens of Maharajas of India and were are composed  of minced or ground meat—usually beef, pork or lamb—mixed with spices and/or onion. For the most part, koftas are still a popular dish in Afghan, Arab,  Indian,Palestinian, Iranian, Jordanian, Kurdish, Moroccan, Pakistani, Romanian, Lebanese, and Turkish cuisines.

Given the origins of the Scotch egg, it would have most likely been influenced by Indian cuisine, since The British first arrived in India in the early 1600s and soon established trading posts in a number of cities under the control of The East India Company. By 1765 the Company’s influence had grown to such an extent that the British were effectively controlling most parts of the country.

The earliest printed recipe for Scotch eggs first  appeared in the 1809 edition of Mrs. Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery. Mrs. Rundell—and later 19th-century authors—served them hot, with gravy.

In these modern times, Scotch eggs are a common picnic food. In the United Kingdom packaged Scotch eggs are commonly available in supermarkets, corner shops and motorway service stations. Miniature versions are also widely available, sold as “savoury eggs”, “picnic eggs”, “party eggs”, “snack eggs”, “egg bites” or similar. These contain chopped egg or a quail’s egg, rather than a whole chicken egg, and sometimes contain mayonnaise or chopped bacon.

In the United States, many “British-style” pubs and eateries serve Scotch eggs, usually served hot with dipping sauces such as ranch dressing, hot sauce, or hot mustard sauce. At the Minnesota State Fair Scotch eggs are served on a stick. Scotch eggs are available at most Renaissance Festivals from Maryland to Texas.

Not fully committed to using full sized chicken eggs, I opted to use quail eggs for this recipe. And I must say, the results were spectacular!

Makes About A Dozen Eggs

Ingredients:
12  quail eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1 pound good quality bulk pork sausage
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 sprig fresh rosemary , leaves picked and very finely chopped
1 sprig fresh sage , leaves picked and very finely chopped
1 small bunch fresh chives , finely chopped
1 small bunch fresh parsley , leaves picked and finely chopped
1 whole nutmeg , for grating
Vegetable oil, for frying
English mustard

Directions:
Fill a pot two-thirds full of water and bring to a gentle boil. Gently add the quail eggs. Do not over crowd the pot and continue to boil for 4 to 5 minutes for hard boiled eggs. Remove the eggs from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge into ice cold water. Peel when cold.

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Put the sausage meat into another bowl with the herbs, paprika,a good grating of nutmeg, and a good pinch of salt and pepper.Gently mix until combined.Divide sausage into 12 equal portions.

Place flour in a wide shallow bowl and panko in another wide shallow bowl. Pat 1 portion of sausage into a thin patty over the length of your palm. Lay an egg on top of sausage and wrap sausage around egg, sealing to completely enclose. Repeat with remaining sausage and eggs.

Whisk your large egg in a medium bowl to blend. Working gently with 1 sausage-wrapped egg at a time, dip eggs into flour, shaking off excess, then coat in egg wash. Roll in panko to coat.

Place the coated eggs on a plate and store  in the refrigerator, uncovered for 1 to 2 hours.

Attach a deep-fry thermometer to side of a heavy pot. Pour in oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat over medium heat to 375°F. Fry eggs, turning occasionally and maintaining oil temperature of 350°F, until sausage is cooked through and breading is golden brown and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes.

Photo Credit: I AM A FOOD BLOG.COM, 2015

Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve warm with mustard.