Tag Archive: snacks


Soft Molasses Cookies

It’s cold today. Well, cold for March, anyway. It feels like Winter is boxed into a corner and swinging, making one last effort not to get knocked out by warmer air, chirping birds, and budding flowers.

This day, with it’s chilly obstinance, deserves a cookie. A soft, chewy, warmly-spiced cookie.

These cookies definitely fit the bill.  The flavor is pretty much unbeatable —rich and earthy with molasses and just the right hint of warm spice from the cloves and ginger. Their wonderful texture is achieved by pulling them out of the oven while the centers are still soft and puffy. As they cool, the centers fall, creating a moist interior and a perfectly cracked, sugary exterior. They’re also the ideal cookie size—big enough that you can be satisfied with just one, but not so large that you feel guilty about eating a few. They’re fun and easy to make with the kids, too. My kids’ favorite part about making these cookies, other than eating them, is shaping the dough into balls, then rolling them in sugar.

Rolling the cookies in sugar gives them a hint of crunch on the outside, especially if you use large, decorative sugar crystals. If you can’t find those, then turbinado sugar works just as well, too.

Of course, like any good cookie, the best part about making them is eating them. They’re wonderful warm, with coffee, tea, a cold glass of milk, or vanilla ice cream. The leftovers store well in an airtight container at room temperature and, theoretically, keep for about a week. In my house, though, they’re usually gobbled up and gone within a few days.

Soft Molasses Cookies

adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion

  • 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine (to make these dairy-free, I use pareve margarine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup large sugar crystals or turbinado sugar for coating the dough

Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the molasses while mixing at a slow speed, then the baking soda, salt, and spices. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is incorporated. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Shape or scoop the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll them in the decorative or turbinado sugar and put them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between them.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. The centers will look soft and puffy, which is okay. As long as the bottoms are set enough to lift partway off the cookie sheet without bending or breaking, they’re ready to come out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 40-ish cookies.

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Sweet and Spicy Nuts

With this weekend comes Superbowl Sunday. Like most Americans, I will be watching, even though I really don’t care much about the game itself. I’m a die-hard Patriots fan, so, sadly, I haven’t needed to watch a  football game in almost a month. But, I know my husband will want to tune in and I won’t deprive him of that simple pleasure, even though I’d rather watch pretty much anything else.

So, since I hate the Steelers with the fire of a thousand suns (because their quarterback is a rapist) and the Packers are probably not going to win, I’ve decided to focus on the snacks. Snacks that will keep me happy while I watch two unlikeable teams play a dirty football game punctuated by some clever commercial breaks.

This is one of those snacks. It’s a happy snack.

It seems deceptively simple – spiced nuts are pretty basic and don’t require much effort. But, when I originally made these to munch on during the Pats first home game this season, my husband declared them “dangerously good” and started requesting them on a fairly regular basis.  So, I make them a lot and every time I do, he rewards me by joking that he’s lucky to have married a woman who’s so good with nuts. Oy. Oy vey.

But I do agree that they ARE good. What could be bad about crunchy, roasted nuts coated in a sweet, smoky, spicy glaze? Oh yeah. The fact that they’re addictively delicious and will be gone before halftime.

More Superbowl snacks to come this week.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

(adapted from Real Simple)

  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle powder
  • 2 cups lightly salted nuts (Mixed nuts are fine, but this also works well with a single variety. I like using almonds or cashews.)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg white, brown sugar, and spices. Add the nuts and toss to coat. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading evenly. Bake 15 minutes or until the coating is set.

Cool and enjoy!

Sumac Hummus with Pita Chips

I love when my travels take me through Inman Square. It’s a really eclectic neighborhood and a tasty place to visit, so I tend to linger there, paying visits to my favorite sandwich shop and the wonderful ice cream parlor just a bit further down the street. I fill my belly, I people-watch, I let the day slow down and I savor it like something delicious.

When I’ve had my fill of sandwiches and ginger-molasses (or chocolate orange…or burnt caramel…or almond khulfee) ice cream, I make my way over to the spice shop adjacent to the ice cream parlor. Never mind Inman Square or even the greater Boston area, this shop is one of my favorite places on Earth. When you walk in the door, you’re hit by the intoxicating, almost hypnotic smells of spices from every corner of the world.  Every available inch of the store is stocked with oils, vinegars, condiments, herbs, teas, tinctures, spices, and every type of grain, flour, and bean you can imagine. I never seem to make it out of there without bags full of hard-to-find pantry staples, like bitter orange, zaatar, harissa, baharat, smoked salt, and lots of different dried mushrooms and chiles. I also never leave without buying something new to add to my spice rack.

Being a huge fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, I love zaatar, which is a widely used spice blend. However, one of the components of zaatar – ground sumac berries – always seemed like an unnecessary purchase because it’s already in the zaatar, mellowed by thyme and sesame. But, during my last visit, I decided to buy it anyway and I’m so glad I did. On its own, it’s tart and bright, with a subtle herbal quality that complements pretty much everything.

I’ve been playing around with it for a few weeks and it’s been a delicious experience. I already have a few solid, sumac-spiced main dishes in my recipe arsenal, all of which I’ll share with you eventually, but since the Superbowl is coming up, I thought I’d make you a sumac snack!

Sumac Hummus with Pita Chips

  • 2 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 small lemons (preferably meyer), zested and juiced
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2-3 tablespoons tahini, to taste (I prefer less tahini, but feel free to adjust it to your taste)
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil, fresh parsley, sumac, black pepper for garnish

Pour the chickpeas into the food processor and pulse to mash. Add the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water, then allow it to mix for about one minute to combine thoroughly. Add the tahini and sumac, then, with the food processor running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Season with salt. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley, a little more sumac, and a few grinds of black pepper.

This hummus pairs well with veggies, olives, and…

Pita Chips

  • 4 whole pitas, cut into triangles
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon zaatar, if you’ve got it/want it (a 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, sumac, and cumin will work, too)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss thoroughly to coat. Spread the pita triangles out on a large baking sheet, making sure they’re evenly spaced to allow for even toasting.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Serve with hummus or your favorite dip.

Pumpkin Bread

I ran out of snacks for the kids yesterday.  So, I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up a bag of peanut-butter pretzels to stave off any late-afternoon belligerence. When I got home, I started dinner, then decided to make a pumpkin bread for the kids to snack on during the next few days.  It’s easy to put together and I thought we had all of the ingredients…

And we did…except for the cinnamon.

Blerg. I hate waiting to cook when the mood strikes.

Thankfully, Michael picked some up on his way home last night, so I decided to get up early this morning and bake.  A literal wake and bake, if you will.  It was already in the oven before the kids left for school, the pumpkin-spice scent delighting them with the promise of a homemade treat this afternoon.

They were kind of bummed that I didn’t put chocolate chips in it this time, though.

I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for about a year, but I’m finally happy with my adjustments.  It’s definitely a keeper!

Pumpkin Bread

(loosely adapted from Simply Recipes)

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 C olive oil (I know it sounds strange, but it really brings out the pumpkin flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 can of pumpkin, preferably organic (I just think the organic stuff tastes better)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 C dried fruit, nuts, and/or chocolate chips, optional

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

2. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil until fully emulsified and pale yellow. Gently stir in the pumpkin, vanilla, and spices until the mixture is smooth.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture until they are fully incorporated, but being careful not to overmix. Gently stir in the optional ingredients if you’re using them.

5. Pour into a well-greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pan or an 8×8 cake pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then turn it out and cool on a rack.

Makes one loaf, but can easily be doubled.  Enjoy!