Category Archives: Snack Food

Moon Cheese

I warned you there would be more posts about hiking and now they’ve arrived.

I’m super familiar with the phenomenon of crappy food tasting good after 8 hours of hiking; even the most disgusting of dehydrated backpacker meal pouches will be devoured. However, the real test for backpacker meals is if you like them outside of hiking.

These I picked up randomly on an REI run for other backpacking gear; partially because I love cheese. And then there was the name, Moon Cheese.

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Three flavours: Cheddar, Gouda and Pepper Jack. I snatched the Gouda and took it on a hike across Bandelier, New Mexico (we’ll get to that later). Before getting too far into the 22 mile return trek I popped open the Moon Cheese. They are basically a substantial and crunchy version of Gouda; the flavour is true if not a little more intense. This is probably what happens when you dehydrate cheese.

The resealable pouch contains 5 servings according to the nutritional info on the back. Ok, whatever. I ate them all in one sitting. 70 calories per serving, 350 calories, about the same as the vending-machine Doritos I ate the previous day, only with zero carbs.

Definitely a keeper in the backpacking food category. Hopefully I can sneak a few of these into New Zealand without the Border Agriculture Nazis confiscating them like they did my almonds.

BLT Deviled Eggs

About those deviled eggs.

Whilst mulling over food pairings for Bourbon Tasting, I took the advice of Bourbon Guy who said you only need to consider three ingredients: bacon, pecans and peaches. I focused on the first of those to create this, a bacon lettuce and tomato deviled egg.

Very straight forward to make and everyone loved them.

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  • 1 dozen Eggs, hard-boiled, halved lengthwise, yolks separated
  • 6 strips Bacon, crispy fried, diced
  • 1 medium Tomato, pulp removed, diced
  • 3 T Arugula, diced
  • 1 ounce, Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 3 T Sour Cream
  • 2 T Mayonnaise
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt

Save off a little cheese, bacon, tomato and lettuce for garnish.

Put the egg yolks, sour cream, mayonnaise, salt and pepper into a medium bowl. Use a hand mixer to combine ingredients. It should be thick but not crumbly; it will harden up a bit in the fridge. Fold bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheddar into the egg mixture.

Using a spoon, take about 1-2 T of the egg mixture to top each of the empty egg white halves. Garnish. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

Nope, not at all healthy. But, if you’re doing a Bourbon tasting, you’re already setting the tone, so go all in and try these out. You can always eat a salad and jog 7 miles the next day.

 

Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips

Back to the dehydrator but with some additions. I’ve been experimenting with homemade chips: tomato, potato, beet, carrot and sweet potato. So far I’ve liked the flavours but the texture has been problematic. Mostly this is due to my knife skills and only being able to slice things no thinner than 1/4″ without risk of losing a body part. I’ve been resistant to purchasing a schmancy $100 mandoline slicer which would allow me to slice things down to 1/16″. Then a friend recommended this $39 OXO Mandoline. Click, 2-day shipping. Go.

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Then I fired up an older recipe to see how it would work with thinner sweet potatoes. Short answer – extremely well!

  • 1/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 C Olive Oil
  • 3 T Water
  • 4 Sweet Potatoes, sliced 1/8″ (on your new mandoline slicer)
  • 1/2 t Salt ( I used a smoked hickory version)
  • 1/2 t Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 t Smoked Paprika
  • 1 t Dried Rosemary ( I bought fresh then dehydrated)
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First, slice the potatoes. Next whisk together the vinegar, oil and water. Place the potatoes and vinegar mixture in a large Ziploc, gently turn over to coat then refrigerate for 4 hours.

Place salt, pepper, paprika and rosemary into a spice mill (aka coffee grinder) and process to a powder. Set aside.

Drain the potatoes of excess vinegar mixture. Load the potatoes into dehydrator racks, sprinkle with spice mixture then assemble the racks in the dehydrator.

Cook at 145 degrees for 45 minutes. Then cool it down to 115 degrees and cook for 14-16 hours. Why 115? No reason except I was curious about how these would turn out cooking under the principles of the raw food movement which dictates nothing can be cooked over 115. Raw food advocates claim food loses significant nutritional value when its cooked at higher temperatures. Sound reasonable but I was really interested in the flavour and texture and if it could be accomplished ‘cooking raw’. It can.

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These are crunchy almost like regular potato chips but of course they lack the crisp snap you will get with commercial frying. It depends on if you want crisp or if you want lower calories, tailored flavours and control over what types of fat you are ingesting.

Featured here with Beet Hummus which you can get from Trader Joe’s; its a little sweeter than regular hummus and pairs extremely well with these chips.

Roasted Figs | Goat Cheese, Almond, Balsamic

Passing through our middle eastern grocery I noticed fresh figs were making an appearance.  You probably already know there are two impossibly short seasons for figs; the first in May and the second typically in August. Locally they seem to come and go from markets within a week.

I took home a big bag and tried several different preparations; this one being my favourite.

Figs-1 Figs-2
  • 12 Fresh Figs
  • 12 Almonds
  • 4 Ounces Goat Cheese
  • 2 t Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 t Honey
  • 1 t Ground Black Pepper

Wash, dry, stem and slice the figs in half. Top each half with 1/2-1t goat cheese, then top that with one almond. Put the figs, flesh side up,  in a small roasting dish and pop them under a broiler for about 4-5 minutes. What you’re going for here is a browning of the cheese and a slight char on the almond just shy of burnt.

Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes then drizzle with equal parts balsamic and honey. Sprinkle with pepper and serve warm. Delicious, a little sweet contrast to the savoury;   a little crunchy contrast to the pillowy.

These will keep in the fridge for a few days but figs get soggy so its best to make and eat them all in one session.

Dehydrated Lemon Cinnamon Apples

After a few weeks of multi-system failure including AC, alarm system, internet, washing machine and dishwasher, it seems life has returned to normal.

Back to the dehydrator series; this one is also a keeper for those who like apples and cinnamon

  • 6-8 Apples
  • 3 T Lemon Juice
  • 1 T Coconut Sigar
  • 1/2 t Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Lava Salt
Apple-1 Apple-2

Wash, dry and slice apples into 1/4-1/2″ rounds. There’s no need to core the apples first, just pick off the stems and remove the seeds after you slice them up. In fact, if you don’t core the apples, you will be left with an interesting star pattern in the middle of the rounds. I imagine any apples will work here but I used a combination of Gala and Honeycrisp. The flavours of the apples will intensify considerably, which is expected after removing the water. The lemon adds a little flavour but its purpose is to prevent the apples from turning brown while on their multi-hour nap in the dehydrator.

About that, I tried leaving in the dehydrator for 12 hours at 145 degrees. They still do not come out crispy, more the texture of a fruit leather.

Whisk all ingredients except apples in a small bowl until blended. You might have to work a little to get the cinnamon to cooperate, it tends to clump. Place the mixture and apples in a large Ziploc and shake to coat. Drain the apples momentarily on a wire rack then load up the dehydrator trays with the rounds. I find items dry more evenly when you leave about 1/2″ space in between. Let them dry over 12 hours at 145 degrees.

 

 

Dehydrated Curried Tomatoes

Back story. I’m planning a multi-day hike across New Zealand later in the year. Going on a hike isn’t new for me but typically I do one day hikes. Multi-day hikes, particularly in regions where all the food you need must be packed beforehand, requires different gear. And a different mindset. You have to be conscious of what you bring since you’ll be toting everything on your back for many hours a day.

When talking with friends who routinely do multi-week hikes, they mentioned that dehydrating your favorite foods beforehand can keep prevent what some people refer to as GORP overload. GORP = good ol’ raisins and peanuts. Its a good hiking standby but not good enough 24 hours a day for 4 to 5 days.

I liked the idea of dehydrating. Removing the water makes everything much lighter which is a serious consideration when you’re already looking at lugging around 30 pounds. You can dehydrate food in the oven but I decided to give a dehydrator a try. Besides, you can never have too many kitchen gadgets. American Harvest Snack Master was the one I purchased, since the hiker set seem to use this one the most. I liked that the temperature range went from 100-160 degrees and the trays are stackable so you can purchase more (comes with 4) should you become obsessed with experimenting with your new toy. Not that I would know about that, nope.

I hit the farmers market and bought a butt load of tomatoes. Then I decided to season them up Indian style.

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  • 1 Buttload Tomatoes (4-5 pounds)
  • 1 T Sweet Curry
  • 1 t Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1 t Black Pepper
  • 1 t Garlic Powder

Cut the tomatoes into 1/4-1/2 ” slices. Mix spices then sprinkle on top of tomato slices. Load up the trays in the dehydrator then set on 135 degrees for 9 hours.

Notes

Goooood flavour, however some testers claimed a little too heavy on the curry. Boo hoo hoo hoo.

I wanted more of a tomato crisp but ran out of time. 9 hours at 135 will buy you a significantly dried tomato but its going to be more like a sun-dried tomato; a little chewy. Next batch I will try 140 for 12 hours.

I was impressed with how quiet this machine was in operation. There is a slight fan sound but nothing compared to other kitchen equipment.

The racks are fairly easy to clean. A sponge, soapy water and about 2 minutes for the lot.

The base has a small lip around the perimeter to contain anything that might drip. This did occur with the tomatoes but not to any significant volume.

I did refrigerate these tomatoes since they were still a little juicy, however they still taste fresh after almost 3 weeks!

I’ve dehydrated bananas, strawberries, kiwis, apples, carrots, mint, basil, lemons and cantaloupe. So far, so good. Next time I will write down the recipes and post.

 

Sweet Potato Fries, Homemade Ketchup

I’ve been known to break ranks and stop at McDonalds to get a large order of fries. Usually it happens once a year when I visit my parents; the fries and the 90 minute drive from the airport are inextricably paired. I usually regret it a few hours later.

When I have the fry craving outside of a parental visit context I typically go the baked sweet potato route and these are definitely keepers!

  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, cut into strips
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 T Smoked Paprika
  • 1 T Almond Flour
  • 1/2 t Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 t Lava Salt
  • 1/2 t Cumin
  • 1/2 t Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 t Garlic Powder
  • Smoked Paprika, Garlic Ketchup
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Whisk together almond flour and oil in a small bowl until blended. Whisk all other dry ingredients into the flour-oil mixture until blended. Pour the mixture into a large Ziploc bag add sweet potatoes, seal, shake to coat, then spread evenly across a metal or Pyrex baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 425 or until desired crispyness, flipping once midway.

My more picky friends swear the metal baking pan will yield better results. This has not been my experience; metal, pyrex, its the same. What does seem to make a difference is not overcrowding the pan; leaving a tiny bit of space between fries makes for more crispy fries. Your results may vary.

The smoked paprika, garlic ketchup is excellent with this version of sweet potato fries. So much so that I see I’m going to have to make another round of the ketchup sooner than expected.

Rolled Rye Granola

Another item I gave up recently were these so-called ‘cereal bars’. Don’t get me wrong, they have served their purpose many times over as quick carb boosts during long hikes or tie-over snacks when meetings are hijacked past their intended scope. However, I noticed that they have way too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup and the final straw last year, too much saturated fat.

Now I make my own granola as a surrogate. Sure it takes time, a little over an hour, but you can compensate for the time sink by making big batches. It stores well for 3 weeks.

This time I picked up some rolled rye to add as an experiment. I liked. Of course its all about what else you choose and this one was a keeper.

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The following makes about 15-20 snack size portions.

  • 1 1/2 C Rolled Oats
  • 1 1/2 C Rolled Rye
  • 1 C Shredded Coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 C Slivered Almonds
  • 1/2 C Cashews (roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/2 C Hazelnuts (roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/2 C Banana Chips (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 C Dried Strawberries
  • 1/2 C Dried Blueberries
  • 1/2 C Olive Oil (I used pistachio oil this time)
  • 1/4 C Agave
  • 1 T Coconut Sugar
  • 1 T Brown Sugar
  • 1 T Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 t Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 t Salt ( I used Lava Salt this time)
  • 1/2 t Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 t Chili Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 t Cinnamon

Dry Mix: Mix rolled oats, rolled rye, shredded coconut, slivered almonds, coconut sugar, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, pepper flakes and cinnamon in one large bowl.

Wet Mix: Mix olive oil, agave, maple syrup and vanilla in another.

Pour the wet mix over the dry mix then use your hands to incorporate both. Spread the lot over a baking pan (or two) then pop them into a 250 degree oven. Bake for about 1 hour, 15 minutes. At 15 minute intervals, stir. At the 45 minute mark add the remaining nuts, stir. At the hour mark, add the dried berries and banana chips, stir again. Cool then store in air-tight containers. This keeps well for 3-4 weeks, after that its iffy, but if it last that long I would be surprised.

Notes

What I liked most about this mixture was how the tartness of the dried berries played well with the agave dominant sweetness and the savory-sweet tongue riddle incurred by adding lava salt, red pepper flakes and ground black pepper.

 

 

Bacon Hummus

Is it wrong to add pork product to hummus? Probably but curiosity about how bacon would fare in my usual hummus recipe won out over protocol.

Ingredients

  • 4 strips bacon, cut 1/2″
  • 2 C Chickpeas, cooked – reserve 1/4 C cooking liquid
  • 1/4 C Tahini
  • 1/4 C Lemon Juice
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • 1 t Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 t Salt
  • 1/4 t Cumin
  • 2 Drops Liquid Smoke

Prepare

Fry the bacon in a pan over medium heat. Cook it through but don’t let it get crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In a food processor add the tahini. lemon juice and garlic, pulse for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides with a spatula. Add bacon and pulse for 30 seconds, do the scrape down again.

Add half the chickpeas, half the olive oil and 1-2 T of the cooking liquid, pulse for 30 seconds then scrape down. Repeat with remaining chickpeas and olive oil. Add the dry spices, pulse for 30 seconds, scrape it. Now adjust the consistency by adding more cooking liquid to thin, pulsing and scraping down until you have it the way you want.

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Deliver

Many possibilities like but here I tried it with pita chips.

Tasting Post Mortem

A friend of Middle Eastern origin told me I wouldn’t like it as much as the unadulterated version and she was right. It is good, slightly more smoky and weighty, but I do prefer the version without bacon.

Notes

You could use canned chickpeas here. If you do, omit the salt and strain off the liquid from the can; you can use that as ‘the cooking liquid’. I recommend going from scratch by soaking a bag of dry chickpeas in a big pot of water overnight,  strain, then cooking them in a slow-cooker with 2C water for 3-4 hours. It depends on what kind of time constraints you have.

Everyone has their personal preferences for hummus consistency. Me, I like mine thick so I don’t use much cooking liquid in the final pulse-n-scrape iterations. I do like it smooth, so I probably pulse-n-scrape more than most.

Tandem, everyone has preferences for hummus flavour – some like it more bland, in that case cut back on lemon and garlic and add more tahini. Me, I like a little more acidity and bite so I use more lemon and garlic than most people I know.

Lastly, never, ever ask anyone of Middle Eastern origin which country invented hummus or what is the ‘authentic’ recipe, this will lead to unnecessary diatribe and you’ll never get a reasonable answer.

Enjoy hummus your way.

Spicy Sriracha Granola

Sister texts me the most interesting recipes from her vegan collection. This one I modified a bit from the original, mostly because I didn’t want to go back out to the grocery. Typically I’m not a fan of granola, but this one is fantastic. Highly recommended to those liking a little savory-hot kick to their crunchy, messy snack foods.

Wet Stuff

  • 1 t Coconut Oil
  • 3 T Sriracha
  • 2 t Soy Sauce
  • 2 T Agave
  • 2 T Coconut Sugar
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 2 t Sesame Oil
  • Zest of one tangerine
  • 2 T Almond Butter
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Dry Stuff

  • 1 C Kashi Cereal
  • 1/2 C Grape Nuts
  • 1/2 C Puffed Rice
  • 1/2 C Rolled Oats
  • 1 C Roasted Peanuts
  • 1/4 C Dried Cranberries
  • 1/4 C Shredded Coconut (not sweetened)
  • 2 T Sesame Seeds
  • 1 T Red Chili Flakes
  • 2 t Black Pepper

Combine all the Wet Stuff except the zest and almond butter into a small sauce pot and heat over IMG_1825medium-high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, cool slightly,  add zest and almond butter, stir until blended.

Mix the Dry Stuff in a large bowl, pour Wet Stuff over Dry Stuff, mix thoroughly. Heat oven to 325. Spread the mixture over a large baking pan,  bake for 20 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent any burning. Remove from oven and cool.  You can push the mixture together with a large wooden spoon while cooling if you want clumpy granola.

After it cools, it can safely live in a Ziploc for quite some time.