Category: Snacks

Italian Inspired Garlic Olive Oil Bruschetta

Italian bruschetta

I just got back from a four day trip to Rome, Italy where I ate, walked, ate, visited some historic sites, ate, shopped, did tons of work for my real job, and ate some more. I enjoyed every minute of Rome. For a full recap of my week in Rome with photos, videos and my own commentary, check out last week’s This Week on Instagram post.

Italians know how to live, and most importantly, they know how to eat. At restaurants, you never feel rushed. The waiters don’t stop by your table every five minutes to take your plates away and offer you the check. In Italy, mealtime is a laid back time with flowing table wine, a starter, main course, dessert and dessert drinks (at the very least). The waiters give you space to enjoy your meal and conversation. They check up on how your dish– likely one they recommended– tastes. They definitely don’t rush the check. Most of the time in Rome, we had to explicitly ask for the check. I loved the food in Rome. I ate my weight in pizza, pasta and gelato, and drank wine like it was water. I’m almost positive the wine was cheaper than water.

Italian bruschetta

At most of my sit-down meals, I ordered a bruschetta starter. Bruschetta, pronounced broo-ske-tta, is made up of thick slices of grilled Italian bread, rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt. Popular to contrary belief, classic bruschetta doesn’t actually come with tomatoes. Tomatoes are an add-on. Other toppings could include veggies, cured meat or cheese. Another notable difference between our “Americanized” version of bruschetta and true Italian bruschetta is the use of grilled, thick, Italian bread, as opposed to small French bread rounds or even hardened baguette rounds.

Italian bruschetta

Every single bruschetta I had in Rome was delectable. I always ordered mine with tomatoes — except that one time a group of us went to dinner and ordered “bruschetta classico.” After waiting 10 minutes or so for the missing tomatoes, our waiter explained that we had ordered “classico.” Classico does not include tomatoes, it’s basically grilled garlic bread with olive oil. Luckily for us, he was very kind, and brought us new Roma tomato-topped bruschetta. The tomatoes! The Roma Tomatoes! They’re the most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever had. Packed with flavor, and not too hard or too soft, they were so perfect. Since leaving Rome, I’ve been dreaming about those ripe tomatoes over grilled garlic bread. I had to make some at home. Of course, I don’t have access to the same Roma tomatoes like I did abroad, but I made due with Roma tomatoes from Wegmans . Pro tip: the bread tastes so much better if you can grill it on an outdoor grill. 

Italian Bruschetta

Italian Bruschetta

 

Italian Inspired Garlic Olive Oil Bruschetta

Yield: 6 Bruschettas

Ingredients

  • 6 Roma Tomatoes
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil + 2 tablespoons for brushing
  • 2-3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 6 Slices Pane Italian Bread, sliced
  • 1 whole Garlic clove, for rubbing the bread
  • 1/2 cup Baby Arugula

Instructions

  1. Prepare the tomatoes by cutting a small slit at one end of each tomato
  2. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a large bowl with ice water for blanching
  4. Once the water boils, carefully place the whole tomatoes in the water. Cover and boil on high for 2 minutes then turn heat off.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the tomatoes and place them in the ice water. Wait about 2 minutes, before removing the tomatoes from the ice water onto a paper-towel lined plate.
  6. You'll notice that the skin has started to peel. Peel the tomatoes, then cut into small cubes
  7. In a medium bowl, mix together minced garlic, olive oil and red wine vinegar then set aside
  8. Place a grill pan over high heat (or use an outdoor grill)
  9. Cut the Pane bread into 1 1/2 inch slices
  10. Place Italian bread slices on the grill, cooking each side for 5-7 minutes (until slightly charred), then flipping over to grill the other side for another 3-5 minutes. Watch the bread carefully, especially if using an outdoor grill.
  11. Remove bread from heat. While still warm, use the whole garlic clove to rub one side of each piece of bread, then brush liberally with olive oil.
  12. Top each bread slice with the tomatoes and baby arugula
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Pecan Coconut Cranberry Granola

Pecan Coconut Cranberry Granola

I’ve been obsessed with granola lately. No really, I have. I’ve been taking it to work with fruit, chia, flax and honey. I’ve been adding it to yogurt. I’ve even added it to my favorite raisin bran cereal, and aside from that, I’ve been eating it in handfuls — straight from the bag. If you saw my mini fruit and granola bowl tutorial on Instagram last week, then you know I was already running low on granola. I’ve managed to finish off the entire bag, and in my typical procrastinating way, haven’t gotten out to the store to get any more. So what’s a granola-obsessed girl to do?! Make my own, duh!

Making granola at home is super easy.

I actually found this great infographic by BodyMindSou that breaks down all the different ways you can make your own granola. It’s amenable to all the dried fruit, nuts, seeds, and good-for-you additions you love. This batch of granola was completely dictated by the contents of my pantry… pecans, coconut, cranberries, and the inclination not to add 3 kinds of chocolate chips to the mix. We’re being healthy, am I right? Right.

Pecan Coconut Cranberry Granola

 

Speaking of healthy, please tell me I’m not the only person who doesn’t think about the amount of sugar in pre-packaged foods (yes, even granola), only to be completely shocked when I make it homemade and it’s half as sweet because I haven’t added 10 lbs of sugar. As a matter of fact, the same could be said for salt.

Pecan Coconut Cranberry Granola

I’m not the only one in my family completely obsessed with granola. Both my parents are too. So much so, that I had to hide the granola in an undisclosed location until I got a chance to take photos. I will say, though, that they’re usually really good about knowing that food must be photographed before it can be consumed in our household. Thanks for your support mom and dad!

Pecan Coconut Cranberry Granola

 

Pecan Coconut Cranberry Granola

Yield: 2 cups Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, or instant oatmeal
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • ½ cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, heat the honey and coconut oil 15 seconds at a time until melted. Stir to combine
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: oatmeal, pecans, cranberries, coconut, salt and cinnamon
  4. Pour in the honey and coconut oil.
  5. Using a large wooden spoon or spatula, stir all the ingredients until combined and coated
  6. Pour the granola onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread evenly
  7. Bake for 15 minutes
  8. Remove from the oven, stir
  9. Return to the oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the granola to cool before storing.
  11. Note: the granola will still be soft coming out of the oven. Once it cools, it will harden.
  12. Store in an airtight container
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Cashew Butter

Cahew Butter

Move over almond butter, there’s a new kid on the block. Like all things, fashion and food alike, we go through phases of fascination – or fads. We went through the carb-free Atkins phase, the “I must be allergic to gluten” phase, the cupcakes are the new dessert phase; we’re still in the gourmet donut phase, Pho everything phase, and don’t forget about the Nutella and Biscoff phases. Like all great food phases, we indulge until there’s something better.

We’ve sufficiently moved past peanut butter into an all nut butters phase. I’m sure you’ve at least heard of, if not tasted, almond butter. It’s delicious by the way. But be careful! Make sure to read the ingredients on your jar of almond butter. The best (and healthiest) almond butters are made with almonds (duh), and only almonds. If your jar indicates other ingredients, it had better be because you’ve picked up the jar with an added flavor – like chocolate. Otherwise, ingredients should read “almonds.” Believe it or not, the best almond butter is Costco’s Kirkland brand. Yes! You read that right; Costco.

My full intention when I walked into Costco on a random Tuesday afternoon was to get almonds to make homemade almond butter. I left with beach towels, cashews, Ziploc bags, salad stuff, snacks … oh yea, and almonds. As usual, I overspent and over bought, but I didn’t forget the almonds! Then when I got home, I decided I didn’t want to make almond butter anymore. Side note, I realized we still had a jar of Kirkland almond butter in the fridge. So I dusted off the food processor and experimented with cashews.

It works. Just stick the cashews in the food processor and let the machine work its magic. However, it takes patience (something I’m lacking). I watched the food processor crush the cashews and swirl them around and then … nothing. It honestly felt like the food processor wasn’t doing anything. I was ready to file this one under “failed kitchen experiments,” which would have sucked because I had already posted it to my Snap Story.  Just when I had run out of patience, I looked inside to see creamy cashew goodness being formed!

I’m just relieved this didn’t turn into a fail.

 

Cashew Butter

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Unsalted Cashews
  • Food Processor

Instructions

  1. Add one cup of cashews to the food processor and process until crushed (7 seconds, max)
  2. Add another cup and repeat, continue until you’ve added all 3 cups of cashews
  3. Turn the food processor on and let it work its magic – it will feel like nothing is happening. Be patient
  4. Once the contents start to become creamy, use a plastic spatula to scrape down the edges
  5. Continue to process and scrape the sides down until completely creamy
  6. Don't forget to refrigerate!
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BBQ Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

BBQ Pumpkin Seeds

My favorite brand of mixed nuts is Al-Rifai – a Lebanese company with branches in Jordan. I usually buy myself a few kilos at the airport before my outbound flight home. There’s really no comparison between salted or roasted mixed nuts here in the U.S. and the ones Al-Rifai has to offer. They’re roasted to perfection and the bag never lasts as long as I want it to. Once I get started, I really can’t stop myself from devouring 4 or more servings.

I’ve had roasted mixed nuts here at home. But they’re just not the same. Al-Rifai has some sort of delicious secret ingredients they use to make their mixed nuts irresistible. You won’t believe me until you try it. So the next time you find yourself in Lebanon, Jordan or any of Al-Rifai’s other branches, do not pass up the opportunity to get a mixed bag of nuts.

I mentioned my secret ingredient theory, but that didn’t stop me from making my own roasted pumpkin seeds. I’m still on that pumpkin kick, as you can see. The smoked paprika makes all the difference in this recipe. So before you think about swapping out smoked for plain-old paprika, consider that they won’t have the same roasted flavor.

BBQ Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Separate the seeds from the pumpkin strings
  3. In a medium pot, add the pumpkin seeds and water and bring to a boil
  4. Mix together smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and chili powder in a small bowl
  5. Add ¾ of the mixture to the water
  6. Boil for 10 minutes
  7. Drain the seeds
  8. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray
  9. Spread the seeds evenly on the baking tray
  10. Sprinkle the rest of the powdered mixture over the seeds
  11. Spray the seeds with a thin layer of cooking spray
  12. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly roasted
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Air-Popped Microwave Popcorn

 

 

 

Air-popped popcorn in the microwave? Yes, it can be done and it’s so simple! I was just reading an article in USA Today about the newly-discovered health benefits of popcorn (namely antioxidants). So popcorn lovers out there, this is for you. Air-popped is the healthiest, and lowest-calorie way to enjoy this crunchy snack. The best part is that you can season however you want! Don’t have an air-popper you say? Don’t you worry, you can make sir-popped popcorn in the microwave.

Air-Popcorn

I admit, it took me a couple tries before I got it right. The first time, I put it in for too long, not only did the popcorn burn, it started smoking up the house and I think I inhaled some before I opened up all the windows and doors and tried to get both the smoke and the smell out. Needless to say that bag made it into the trash. It’s not difficult at all – and if you follow my instructions, you won’t repeat the mistake I made.

Air-Popped Microwave Popcorn

Yield: 1 serving

Calories per serving: 120

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 brown paper bag

Instructions

  1. Pour the popcorn kernels into the brown bag.
  2. Fold the bag over twice, and lay sideways in the microwave, fold-side-down.
  3. Microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds to 2 minutes. 
  4. Remove from microwave, and sprinkle with your favorite topping - I used garlic salt. 
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Snack Time

A week or so ago, I was told we may have some friends over for dinner. So, of course, the planner that I am I made a menu and a list then went grocery shopping. It was the week before their wedding, so they weren’t able to make it – so I had some herbed goat cheese and Endives laying around which I had planned to use for an appetizer.

Not really sure what to do with endives, other than slip them in with some mixed greens on a salad, I made my appetizer anyway and served it while dinner was cooking in the oven.

 

 

 

Endive and Herbed Goat Cheese Appetizer Recipe

Ingredients

1 Endive (or more if you’d like)
3 Tablespoons Herbed Goat Cheese
¼ cup Chopped Walnuts

 

Directions

Wash the endives, peel apart carefully and dry on paper towels.
Mix together chopped walnuts and herbed goat cheese until mixed well.
Arrange endives on a plate, place a small piece of goat cheese on the end of each endive leaf.
Using the goat cheese walnut mixture, form a loose ball with your hands and place in the middle of the plate. Serve with crackers. 
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