Category Archives: Snacks

Memories of Meals Past: Quesitos, A Pastry By Any Other Name

Crunchy, cream-cheesy bites of sweetness!

Crunchy, cream-cheesy bites of sweetness!

Things that go together: doughnuts and coffee, sugar and spice, cheese and crackers, me and anything chocolate, and…cooking and drag queens?!???

Apparently so! The other day I came across a funny youtube video when I was surfing the net for cooking videos. The title of the series is “Cooking with Drag Queens“, and it is, literally, a cooking show where the hosts cook with drag queens. In full drag. The dishes seem nice if not polished to a T, but the drag queens are definitely polished and then some! (I wish my hair was half as good). The show isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I did find it fun, and liked the documentary parts of each episode the best. And then of course I had to try one of the recipes!

Which recipe? Quesitos! Because they sound like a version of the Venezeulan cachitos that the DH introduced me to (my waistline will never be the same). Quesitos are a pastry filled with sweetened cream cheese; very easy to nom upon. Cachitos are sort of like mozzarella sticks covered in dough and fried, but much tastier than that description. Personally, I wonder if there are many versions of cachitos/quesitos/cheese-filled pastries-savory-sweet-or-otherwise floating around Latin America.

Whether or not there’s any relationship between the two cheese pastries, I decided to try the recipe shown in the youtube video, but with a classic me twist (substitutions, oh YEAH!). Instead of the filo dough that the hosts suggested, I used spring roll wrappers that I had sitting in my freezer. And instead of the brown sugar that they suggested to sprinkle on top, I ground up some of the cane sugar block that I had in my kitchen cupboard (courtesy of a shopping trip by the DH to a South American store).

The results? I loooooved that filling! So yum! The spring roll wrapper pastry I wasn’t super thrilled about, and the filo pastry, eh, I’m just not feeling it. I’m not sure what the best wrapper would be. Any suggestions, my cooking confreres?  Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: Buns, buns, bunnnnnnssssss…aka Dinner Roll Odyssey. I’m pretty sure. Or maybe chocolate cake.

Salads I Have Known & Loved: Lentil Salad Sprinkles, Blog Traffic, and a Contest Entry

Sprinkled right out the jar!

Sprinkled right out the jar!

In my on-going quest for foodie fame, fortune, and blog traffic, I’ve decided to enter a contest. I heard about it through the Canadian Food Bloggers, a group of which I’m a member, and I thought it would be a great way to try something new in terms of food as well as my blogging.

The contest is called the “Canadian Lentils Recipe Revelations Contest Challenge 2015” (a bit of a mouthful, eh? <– look, already my Canadian-isms are coming out! That’s worth a point…eh? *giggling to self because self is funny*), and is put on by the Saskatchewan Pulse Growers. Which is a non-profit that I didn’t know existed but apparently does. Did you know that there are over 18,000 pulse growers in Saskatchewan? Neither did I. (I now envision Saskatchewan as one giant pulse farm, fyi. Green sprouty things as far as the eye can see!)

I also didn’t know exactly what a pulse was. In case you don’t either, it’s a “leguminous crop”. That totally clears it up, right? No? Basically, it’s a legume, like chickpeas, beans, and peas. Or, as I like to say, it’s ‘bean-ish’. “Leguminous crop” vs ‘bean-ish’. I think my explanation wins.

I checked out the website, and wow, was I ever surprised! I had no idea that you could put lentils into so many things! Baking delicious baked goods? Throw in some cooked lentils for extra fibre. Cooking savoury stews? Throw in some lentils for thickener. You’d never know the dish contained lentils, and you’d be healthier for it!

Speaking of healthy, I’ve mentioned before that I have IBS, so I eat a lot of salad for the fibre (where am I going with this? You’ll see!) As well, I’m a vegetarian, and I tend to be low in iron, which lentils actually have quite a bit of (a 1/2 c. contains about 1/2 the iron one needs each day). I also need to eat some more non-dairy protein (I rely a bit too much on probiotic Greek yoghurt for my protein), and lentils get about 30% of their calories from protein. As such, lentils are kind of the perfect food for me!

But…aren’t they kind of blah? Not so, my friend! Sure, if you only eat lentils in lentil soup, or as a mealy side dish, then yes, you’d get sick of them. But they don’t have to be boring!

I made…lentil salad sprinkles! That’s right, they’re a crispy, savoury snack that can be sprinkled on top of salad, to pump up the fibre, protein, and iron of your salad, while still managing to taste delicious!

You think I jest? Try out this easy peasy recipe!

ready for roasting

Ready for roasting! Add in seasoning at will. Mix it up! This batch will be savoury. But…what about a sweet batch? Of course, my mind goes straight to chocolate covered lentils. I wonder if that’s a thing?

Savoury Lentil Salad Sprinkles

  • 1 c. cooked lentils
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil (you can use vegetable oil, but olive oil is healthier)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Mix all ingredients together. Spread out in a thin layer on a foil-lined cookie tray, and bake for 15 min. at 375 degrees. Stir them all up and spread them out again, and bake for another 10-15 minutes. They should be dry and crispy, but not burnt. Let cool, sprinkle on salad, and enjoy!

I’ve brought these to work and had colleagues rave about them. Think wasabi peas without the wasabi, but just as savoury and crunchy and yummy and with some heat and just hitting the spot! My first batch is already gone and I plan on making another asap, because a) healthy, b) delicious, and c) easy — it’s a cooking trifecta! In other words…make them! And then eat them and be smugly healthy.

Next Post: Finally, my bok choy dish! Or…slow cooker vanilla rice pudding? Probably bok choy. Is sooo good! But then, so is the vanilla rice pudding! Decisions, decisions.

Linking up at A Proverbs 31 Wife

Granola Energy Bars & Eating Lighter (in theory, if not in practice)

Nutrient and calorie dense. Also delicious!

Nutrient and calorie dense. Also delicious!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of an on-line baking group, cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. Today’s recipe is Granola Energy Bars. Hereafter christened Granola Extremely High Caloric Intake Energy Bars. Why? Read on, mes amis!

I started out using Dorie’s base of 2 cups of oats to 2 cups of dried fruit and nuts. And then I modified the recipe, because of course. Instead of pepitas (which I forgot to put on my shopping list and therefore did not have in the house), I just used more pecans. I used dried cranberries for the fruit, and then I used unsweetened shredded coconut to make it a tad healthier. I mean, you’re adding rice syrup — that should make it sweet enough! And then I mixed in a half cup of chocolate chips. Because sugar from chocolate does not count.

Pre-mixing! The benefits of the oats and nuts cancel out  the calories of the  chocolate and rice syrup, right? I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

Pre-mixing! The benefits of the oats and nuts cancel out the calories of the chocolate and rice syrup, right? I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.

I had read on the Baking with Dorie group site, that others had tried adding chocolate chips, but that they had melted, so I thought I’d let the butter/syrup mixture cool before adding it to the granola. Then I mixed it all up before adding in the chocolate chips just before pressing the mixture into the pan. Did this work? Um, no. I should have let the granola cool after toasting it, but I didn’t, so the mixture turned into a melty, chocolate tinged-and-tasting bowl of yumminess. Melty chocolate? A serendipitious kitchen win for me!

The chocolatey goodness, prior to melting.

The chocolatey goodness, prior to melting.

While I can’t give you the recipe, you can definitely check out the book from the public library. Or buy it! I’m definitely learning some new techniques while baking through this book, so despite my occasional frustration, it’s actually a good book.

I can give you the brief gist of things though: toast, mix, bake, squish, cut, and eat. Er, squish?

That’s right, squishing is integral to the…integrity…of the finished product. The batter/dough/granola-whatever-you-call-it, bakes up light and a tad airy, so you have to squish it all down with a spatula in order for it to stick together enough that you can cut it into bars when it’s cooled.

I cut mine and then decided to spread melted chocolate on top. (Who needs a reason to add chocolate? Not I!)

Chocolate makes everything better. It also hides a multitude of (slightly burned) sins.

Chocolate makes everything better. It also hides a multitude of (slightly burned) sins.

I calculated the calories in each of these bars. Are you ready for this? 365 calories in each leeetle bar. At least in my version of them. They might be choc-a-block full of nutrients, but they’re not a diet food!

The DH and I are trying to eat healthier this season, which means lots of salad. (I do like my salad.) It also means that I’m trying to cut down on the amount of baking that I do. These high-energy bars will have to last me for two weeks. Do you think it’s possible, given my love of midnight snacking? Just thinking about the lack of snacking makes me want to eat another bar. So if you’ll excuse me, off I go to nibble on a chocolate-infused granola bar!

Next Post: Rum balls. So much for healthy! Followed by bulgur salad, repentantly.  

Candy Confections: White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

Plated and ready to be devoured. At least what's left of it.

Plated and ready to be devoured. At least what’s left of it.

Creamy white chocolate in holiday colours with a sprinkle of crushed candy cane on top — what’s not to like? Just like my Customize-Your-Own Chocolate Bar, this would make for great Christmas gifts!

I thought this up after seeing variations on foodie sites, and whipped it up yesterday. Oh so good! I was hard-pressed not to eat it all last night, but managed to save most of it for a gathering of friends at my place today. Where it was all eaten! Down to the very last crumb. I think that means it was good!

Let’s make some! (Because I want more. Because it’s so good.)

putting it kind of together

Yes, it’s this easy. And crushing candy canes is fun!

White Chocolate Candy Cane Bark

  • Belgian white chocolate wafers
  • green coloured chocolate wafers (a smaller amount)
  • red coloured chocolate wafers (a smaller amount)
  • candy canes

Choose a plastic container (I used a fast-food container — a plastic one, not a Styrofoam one). Melt the white chocolate in a mug or ceramic vessel in the microwave, using 15 second bursts, and stirring in between. Once melted, pour into the plastic container. Melt the red chocolate the same way, and drizzle if over the white chocolate. Do the same for the green chocolate wafers. Using a knife, swirl the colours together gently. Crush your candy canes with a mortar and pestle (or a baggie and a rolling pin) and sprinkle on top of the chocolate. Cool in fridge until chocolate is set. Turn over onto a clean plate, and smack the bottom of the plastic container until the chocolate comes out. Break into small pieces and eat! Or give away as gifts. Or serve to friends. (But it’s so good that you’ll want to eat it all yourself!)

Swirl and sprinkle. Marble-y goodness!

Swirl and sprinkle. Marble-y goodness!

As in the Customize-Your-Own Chocolate Bar post, I’m not giving quantities, because it really depends on the size of the container that you use. And on how thick you want the bark. My advice is not to make it too thick, because it will be hard to break. And remember, you can always re-melt the chocolate or add another layer!

This is such an easy recipe, you’ve got to try it! It looks fancy, but I always feel like I’m cheating by making it, because I’m really just melting chocolate, swirling, and sprinkling. It’s also not TOO peppermint-y, which I like. You could probably up the peppermint factor by adding another layer on chocolate and swirls on top, but I like it as is. If you make, let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

Next Post: Maybe a review of the Gingerbread Buche de Noel from the Cook-A-Long I’m in? Tasty seasonal fun!

Linking Up at Candy Plan Monday!

Candy Confections: Make-Your-Own Customized Chocolate Bar

Wrapped and ready to be gifted! Or eaten. By me.

Wrapped and ready to be gifted! Or eaten. By me.

I went on a weekend road trip with some friends last week, doing some cross-border Christmas shopping (I *may* have done some shopping for myself) in the Niagara/Buffalo area. My friends and I went into a shopping area in Niagara and saw a candy shop, which of course I had to go into. It was a make-your-own chocolate bar shop, with walls of chocolate and candy, as far as the eye could see. There were some children there, making their own chocolate bars, and I watched as the staff instructed them through the process. When I realized how simple it was, I couldn’t believe that people paid a premium for it.  So obviously I had to replicate it for myself!

This makes for a great last-minute Christmas gift, especially if you want to get children involved in gift-giving. They can choose the candy toppings, and actually help with the whole process, because it’s just so unbelievably simple. I also think this would be a great activity for a kids’ birthday party — the kids could go home with their own customized chocolate bar! Activity and loot bag in one!

Have I piqued your curiosity and/or appetite yet? Let’s get candy-making!

All you need: candy and chocolate wafers. And the willpower not to eat it all right away.

All you need: candy and chocolate wafers. And the willpower not to eat it all right away.

Make-Your-Own Customized Chocolate Bar

  • Belgian chocolate wafers (white, milk, or dark chocolate)
  • assorted candy
  • a plastic container

Melt the wafers in a mug in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring it each time you check it. When it is melted, pour it into your plastic container. (You don’t need a fancy chocolate mold — I used a mini Ikea food storage container. As long as it’s plastic, it’s all good!) Give the container a good tap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Sprinkle the candies on top. Place in fridge until chocolate is set. Turn container upside down and de-mold. Wrap in a cellophane bag. Keep in a cool place until eaten. Revel in your inner Charlie-And-The-Chocolate-Factory!

Customize away! And then eat the leftovers. #wastenotwantnot (especially in regards to candy!)

Customize away! And then eat the leftovers. #wastenotwantnot (especially in regards to candy!)

I didn’t provide any quantities in the recipe ingredients, because it really depends on the size of your plastic container and your personal candy preference. The combos are endless: white chocolate bar with malted milk balls; rice krispies in milk chocolate; the list goes on! What’s your favourite chocolate & candy combo? Let me know in the comments!

Next Post: More candy confections! This time, Chocolate Candy Cane Bark!

Linking Up at Candy Plan Monday! And at Meal Plan Monday!