Category Archives: Snacks

Not Just for Vegans….Nutritional Yeast

Does Nutritional Yeast sound good to you? Me either. But, I was introduced to it recently, and guess what? It’s actually really good—and better yet, it’s good for you.

Sugar-free, dairy-free, & gluten-free, nutritional yeast is naturally low in fat and sodium. Since it has a cheesy, nutty flavor, it works as a cheese replacement in many recipes, making it a vegan’s best friend. Since it’s healthy and tasty, I’ve made friends with it too.

So, what the heck is it? Well, for the full scientific explanation, check it out on Wikipedia….but in short, it’s a deactivated yeast sold as powder or flakes. It’s a source of protein and vitamins, and it’s often available fortified with vitamin B12.  You can find nutritional yeast in health food stores….I bought it at Whole Foods. It’s not cheap, but neither is cheese, and a little goes a long way.

I’ve used nutritional yeast in pesto, I’ve breaded chicken cutlets with it, and I’ve sprinkled it and on pasta and salads. Nutritional yeast makes a really tasty topping for popcorn, too, plus you can really enjoy it knowing it’s good for you.

Not-So-Cheesey Popcorn

(makes eight 1-cup servings)

  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • • 2 tablespoons of melted clarified butter, or 2 tablespoons of a vegan spread, melted
1. Place the popcorn in a large bowl.
2. Mix the nutritional yeast, italian seasoning mix and garlic powder together in a small bowl.
3. Drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss it.
4. Sprinkle on the nutritional yeast mixture and toss again.
5. For a little extra zip, sprinkle on a little Cajun seasoning.

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Filed under Appetizer, Entertaining, Popcorn, Snacks, Vegetarian

Wait. What? Watermelon!

Take a close look at this picture. You’re right, that’s not chopped tomato; it’s fresh watermelon!

Last week Cathy was looking for a quick and easy summer appetizer that would take advantage of the season’s fresh produce. We think she scored a home run with this sweet ‘n tangy watermelon bruschetta. You’re gonna love it!

Watermelon Bruschetta

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups diced watermelon, drained on paper towel
1/3 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon diced red onion
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 baguette, thinly sliced

• Combine all ingredients except for the bread.

• Cover and chill at least 30 minutes. Serve with bread slices.

Tips

• Do not prepare more than an hour before serving or mixture will become too soft.

• Try the watermelon over grilled chicken or salmon. Yum!

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Filed under Appetizer, Breads, Cheese, Entertaining, Foodies, Fruit, Snacks, Vegetarian

Three Tasty Mice

 

Here’s the story behind these adorable little morsels!  I had dinner with my friends from PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) last night. The conversation always turns to animals, and we all share our stories in one way or another.  At dessert time, my friend Alexis presented a tray of adorable edible mice.  They were actually quite simple in design: a chocolate-covered cherry (with stem) for the body and tail, a Hershey’s Hugs Kiss for the face, sliced almonds for the ears, and icing for the eyes and nose.  Serve them over a triangle of cheese… genius! Or should I say “Micey” Nice!

Cathy

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Filed under Dessert, Entertaining, Snacks, Sweets

Touchdown Treat for a Crowd

Gimme a F-E-S-T!   Football Fest.  Beer Fest.  Fan Fest.  Media Fest.  And  last but not least, MAJOR Calorie Fest! Yep, it’s Super Bowl time. For me, the Super Bowl is all about two things: the Doritos commercials and, of course, the snacks. However, I am so over the predictable calorie-heavy buffalo wings and the cheese-laden nachos. Yet, a vegetable platter just doesn’t seem like football fare. Hmmm, there must be some middle ground! This afternoon, I remembered that ALC shot a yummy recipe recently for the Popcorn Board that fits the occasion perfectly.

Touchdown Popcorn Peanut Treat
makes about 4 quarts

4 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup unsalted cocktail peanuts
1 cup seedless raisins
1 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice

– Preheat oven to 300F.
– In a large buttered bowl, combine popcorn, peanuts and raisins.
– In small saucepan stir together honey, water and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or hard ball stage  on a candy thermometer.
– Pour over popcorn; quickly toss to mix thoroughly.
– Turn onto a buttered jelly roll or large baking pan.
– Bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Tips

– Use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor.

– The cold water test is a sure bet when testing for the hard ball stage of a candy  mixture.  Drop a small amount  of the syrup into cold water. It will form a hard ball.  If you take the ball out of the water, it won’t flatten. The ball will be hard, but you can  still change its shape by squashing it.

– Add dried fruits such as cranberries, cherries, pineapple, blueberries, apricots to mix it up a bit.

Heather

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Filed under Entertaining, Popcorn, Snacks

Milk & Cookies = Cookies & Milk

Hey fellow foodies, wanna play a fun food game? Try A LA CARTE’s Classic Food Pairings Test! Here’s how it works.

Step. 1: Think of a classic food pairing and say it aloud. (i.e., “Spaghetti & Meatballs“) Does it sound delicious? Proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Transpose the food pairing and say that aloud.  (i.e., “Meatballs & Spaghetti“) Does it still sound delicious, or is it a bit awkward? If it’s still delicious, add it to your list of winners. If it’s awkward, try another combination.

You’ll soon find that this is a rigorous test and that very few food pairings make the list of winners.

When I played this game, Milk & Cookies was my first clear winner. It immediately reminded me of a shot our A LA CARTE team took of chocolate chip cookies and milk. This shot may look familiar to you since it’s the icon we use

in our Comments section. I love the shot because the cookies look warm and melty from the oven, plus the tall glass of milk looks cool and inviting—perfect for dunking. Cathy added toasted chopped pecans and extra chips to the cookie dough just before baking, and the way they catch the late-afternoon sunlight brings back happy memories of years of after-school snacking.

Other pairs on my list of winners? Red Wine & Chocolate. Bacon & Eggs.  Tea & Toast. Tomato & Basil. I could play this game all day…

Please send us your own winning food pairs, and we’ll comprise a master list to feature in an upcoming post. Happy pairing!

Heather

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Filed under Chocolate, Cookies, Dessert, Snacks, Sweets

Caramel Macchiato Popcorn Balls

Why shouldn’t adults enjoy the whimsical play of a dessert on a stick?  Here’s a popcorn ball that’s not just for kids!

Traditional popcorn balls are usually loaded with gooey sweetness, but I’ve created a contemporary version with more grown-up appeal.  These coffeehouse-inspired popcorn balls are made with caramel, chocolate and espresso powder—what a combination!

Did you know that macchiato means marked or stained?  In this case, the popcorn is “marked” with a little espresso.  You have to try them—I’ve already eaten 3.  Okay, maybe 4!!!!

as photographed by our team, alacartepartners

Caramel Macchiato Popcorn Balls
Makes 6 popcorn balls

8 cups popped popcorn
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon warm water
20 caramels, unwrapped
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 popsicle or craft sticks

– Place popcorn in large bowl. In small bowl, stir together espresso powder and warm water.

– In medium glass bowl, microwave caramels, chocolate chips and espresso mixture on HIGH (100%) power, 1 and 1/2 minutes. Stir
mixture until completely melted.
– Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and quickly stir until popcorn is well coated.  Using greased  hands, shape mixture into 6 balls.
Insert a stick into each ball.

– Store in airtight container up to 1 week.

Tips

– You can use store-bought popcorn; air popped popcorn or your favorite microwave popcorn.

– For a sweeter treat, use kettle corn.

– Instead of forming the popcorn mixture into balls, spread it in single layer on a baking sheet.  Let sit for 30 minutes and break into clusters.

– For added coffeehouse flavor, stir 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon into the espresso mixture.

Cathy

10 Comments

Filed under Caramels, Chocolate, Dessert, Popcorn, Snacks

Put Some Pop In Your 4th!

A  Fourth of July tradition dear to my heart is the annual party given by my friends John and Terry. We have been a part of it for the past 30 years, give or take a few missed ones. Things change from year to year, whether it be moving to different towns, kids growing up,  or jobs changing, but two things that stay the same are the excellent company and the delicious food John & Terry serve. We all bring appetizers and desserts, and  this year I’m going to steer away from the norm and bring a little “pop” to the party!!!  Seems appropriate, yes?

We photographed this recipe for the Popcorn Board back in December, and we thought it would be a perfect sweet treat for  the Fourth since Heather propped it with an all-American theme.

Parties, pools, baseball, fireworks, and popcorn—what could be better than that! Enjoy this recipe — I know John and Terry’s guests will!!!

Homerun Sugar Popcorn
Makes 8 cups

1/4 cup vegetable oil for popping
1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
3 tablespoons white sugar

– Heat oil in medium-sized pan until hot.
– Add popcorn and sprinkle all of the sugar over it.
– Cover and shake continuously until popped.

Recipe courtesy of the Popcorn Board…

as photographed by our team, alacartepartners

Cathy

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Filed under Popcorn, Snacks, Sweets

Back, by POP-ular demand!

Back in April, we ran a post, Pop ‘Til You Drop, that featured a recipe for an addictive snack recipe, Popcorn con Pesto. That post generated so much interest that we thought we should introduce you to another studio favorite from our December shoot for the Popcorn Board. This spicy-hot recipe for Cajun Corn is just perfect for casual summer gatherings where a little southwestern flavor is just the ticket. Serve this with a few frosty Margaritas by the pool… yes, that’s happy snacking!

Recipe courtesy of the Popcorn Board….

Cajun Corn

Makes 2 1/2 quarts

  • 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  1. Pour butter over warm popcorn.
  2. Combine remaining seasonings and sprinkle over popcorn; toss to mix.
  3. For crispy popcorn, bake in 300° oven for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring once.

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Filed under Entertaining, Healthy, Popcorn, Snacks

Nuts About Almonds

Ah, almonds. Natural, blanched, toasted….sliced, chopped, slivered, ground, or whole—all good, so so good!

There are countless ways to cook with almonds. They can be added to  your favorite salads; sprinkled over vegetables; stirred into cake, cookie and muffin batters; used to coat chicken or fish; ground into nut butter; well, the list goes on and on. But, perhaps the simplest and best way to enjoy almonds is as a snack straight from the shell.

Joe keeps a large container of almonds in the studio, and after the three of us “catch up” with a cup of coffee and treats from Stew Leonard’s (believe me, it’s the best part of the day), I head straight to the almonds for a great big handful!

According to the Almond Board of California, almonds are cholesterol-free and just a handful a day may help you maintain a healthy heart and healthy cholesterol levels. They are also an excellent source of vitamin E,  and a good source of fiber. So why not make your heart happy and pop a few almonds into your mouth each day?  You (and your heart) won’t regret it.

p.s Let me know what your favorite almond recipe is!

Cathy

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Filed under Healthy, Snacks

Pop ’til You Drop!

Some of the most fun we’ve had in the studio of late was a recent shoot we did for The Popcorn Board. We photographed  (and sampled!) a variety of pop-a-licious recipes for their website redesign. We shot popcorn snack mixes, popcorn balls, popcorn pie, popcorn bars, and more. It seemed like the popping never stopped! Our hands-down favorite recipe was the Popcorn Con Pesto. Warning: it’s highly addictive!

Popcorn Con Pesto
Makes about 5 quarts

5 quarts popped popcorn
1/2 cup  butter or margarine
1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried parsley, crushed
1 teaspoon garlic powder

– Put popped popcorn in a large bowl and keep warm.

– In small saucepan, melt the butter; add pine nuts, Parmesan, basil, parsley and garlic powder.

–  Stir to blend.

– Pour over popped popcorn, stirring well.

Heather

Recipe courtesy of the Popcorn Board

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Filed under Entertaining, Popcorn, Snacks

Do You Fondue ?

I used to think fondue was a throwback from the 1970’s.  Remember those bright-colored earthenware pots with those tiny little forks? But fondue is not just a throwback anymore. Last week, I was in Trader Joe’s desperately  looking for a quick, but interesting appetizer to serve to last-minute guests.

In the cheese section, I happened upon a package of Swiss Beer Fondue that just called for heating and serving. Perfect!  I don’t have one of those vintage bright-colored pots but, having a food background, I knew I didn’t need one.  I figured I could heat the fondue in the microwave oven or in a double-boiler just before serving and it would be fine.  And sure enough, it was.  I served the fondue in small ramekins and when it needed to be re-warmed, I just put it in the microwave for about 15 seconds.  I served the fondue with chunks of warm crisp sourdough bread and fresh veggies.  Perfect with a cold beer or glass of wine. And my guests loved it!

If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area (you poor soul!), I have noticed pre-packaged cheese fondue in the produce sections of supermarkets.

Another way to “fondue”  is to make a dessert fondue.  Dark, milk or white chocolate fondues are delicious served with strawberries, pound cake or angel food cake cubes, biscotti, ladyfingers, marshmallows, banana chunks, pretzel rods, and more.  Flavor the chocolate with your favorite liqueur or extract.

Here’s a quick recipe:

Easy Chocolate Fondue

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces chocolate (semi-sweet, milk, bittersweet, or white), chopped
2 tablespoons favorite liqueur (such as Chambord, Grand Marnier, or Creme de Menthe) or 1/4 teaspoon favorite extract flavoring (optional)

– Heat cream in small heavy saucepan over medium heat just until small bubbles appear around edge of pan.  DO NOT BOIL.

– Remove pan from heat; add chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.  Stir in liqueur, if desired.

– Serve warm directly from pan.  If fondue gets too thick, thin with 1 tablespoon heavy cream.

Tip

– For a Mexican favor, using the darker chocolate, add  1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper. Olé

Cathy

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Filed under Appetizer, Dessert, Snacks

Make Your Own Granola

What is granola anyway?  Those yummy sweet clumps of crunch.  I never really thought about it until we decided to photograph a healthy breakfast image and developed our own recipe for it.  Granola is typically a mixture of oats, dried fruit, nuts and a sweetener such as honey or maple syrup, baked and broken into those “sweet little clumps.”  It can be served as cereal either hot or cold, eaten as a hand-held snack,  or sprinkled over yogurt, ice cream or fruit.

I am a real maple syrup fan, and if it were just for me, I would have developed the recipe using all maple syrup, but I decided it would be better to round out the flavor by using both honey and syrup.

Tips

– Use old-fashioned rolled oats, not quick cooking or steel-cut oats.

– “Add in” ingredients are endless.  Start with the base granola recipe of oats and sweetener, then add your favorite extras.

– Be creative with add-ins and spices! Try dried fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, apricots, apples, raisins, dates, & pineapple. Also experiment with nuts, flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, and candy bits.  Choose from spices such as ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, or ground cardamom.

– Nuts should be added to the oat mixture before baking, as this will toast them, bringing out their flavor.  Dried fruit will taste fresher if added after the granola is baked.  Chocolate chips and candy bits should be added after granola has baked and cooled.

– If adding spices to your granola, add them into the warmed sweetener (honey, maple syrup) before pouring it over the oats.

– Recipe can be made with just honey or just maple syrup depending on your taste buds.

– To store, place cooled granola in a storage container with tight-fitting lid.

Here’s the recipe!

Makes about 7 cups

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup unsweetened shaved coconut

– Preheat oven to 275F. Place oats in large bowl.

– In small microwave safe bowl, microwave  honey, maple syrup and cinnamon on MEDIUM until warm about 15 seconds. Pour over oats and toss until well coated.

– Spread oat mixture evenly on baking sheet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes just until it starts to turn golden in color.

– Cool in pan on wire rack.  Break into small pieces. Transfer to large bowl and stir in cranberries, apricots and coconut.

– Store in airtight container up to 3 weeks.

Cathy


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Filed under Breakfast, Healthy, Snacks