Bavarian Inspired Cheese Spread (Obatzda)

This week for our DistanceDishes date, Amanda and I had German foods on the mind with both of us recently attending local Oktoberfest celebrations in our respective states. While Amanda arrived in style with her spiffy new dirndl to an impressive Florida/German celebration, my experience was a little less…authentic. While the local brewery’s Oktobertfest event was wonderful in the beer selection department, the food was a bit lacking. This inspired me to have a little home-based Oktoberfest celebration of my own, complete with a few Bavarian-inspired munchies.

Full disclosure, I had never heard of Obatzda while in Germany (although food wasn’t really my thing past french fries when I was there) and this recipe is more “inspired” than authentic. Typically this cheese spread was a way to use up leftover Camembert or brie cheese, and the spices were added to change any “off” flavors into something else delightful. Now, I love me some brie, but it’s never quite the same the next day and I certainly don’t need to be eating a whole wedge in one sitting (can…but shouldn’t…). Since I had some leftover from a cheese plate, why not? An extra creamy cheese seems to sometimes be optional and is usually cream cheese. However, since I was introduced to Laughing Cow cheese while living in Germany, I thought it seemed appropriate (and it’s delicious in this). While it may not be the exact same being served in the tents over in Munich, this recipe is certainly going to be making more of an appearance in my home all year round.

Ingredients:

  • 5 oz brie cheese, softened (rind and all)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter, softened wedges
  • 4 Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss cheese
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 tbsp finely minced onion (depending on your desire for “bite”)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp German Beer (I used Hoegaarden)

Instructions: 

  1. Allow the brie cheese to come to room temperature. In a small mixing bowl, mash  brie and butter with a fork, food processor or immersion blender until mostly mashed with minor lumps.
  2. Add laughing cow, paprika, onion, salt, caraway, and beer and stir with a wooden spoon, your food processor/immersion blender to make sure everything is incorporated. If you would prefer your cheese spread to be a little more spread-y, feel free to add more beer if you prefer.
  3. Return mixture to the fridge to allow flavors to mingle for at least 2 hours but overnight is even better.
  4. Before serving, allow the cheese to come back to room temperature and serve with a nice slice of rye bread, pretzels or any other vehicle of your choosing. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: You could finish the rest of that beer you opened to add to the cheese, but if you’re set on the wine route, I would say a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc might go well with the caraway and other biting flavors in the spread. 

 

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Appetizer Sliders Three Ways

With the turn of the season and the heat in full swing, something about the start of the summer makes me want to entertain. For this theme week, we wanted to do some easy appetizers with a running theme that could be crowd-pleasers without being too much effort. While Amanda did amazing and fancy things with Balsamic Vinegar, I decided to go a little more “game day” with a series of sliders.

Since I was making a couple options, I knew I didn’t want any one type to dominate my time. With the electric pressure cooker to do the heavy lifting for the pork sliders, I was freed up to work on the other two options. I thought I’d cover my bases with the shredded pork in the pressure cooker, ground buffalo chicken sliders with ranch dressing and a vegetarian option of goat cheese and zucchini sliders. The zucchini was the surprise hit, and the herb yogurt sauce was such a great addition to this yummy little snack.

It is worth mentioning, if you don’t feel like standing over a pan or two waiting for all of these little patties to cook, you could always make these full size. Or if you don’t think this is enough slider options, check out our previous burger recipes, the Greek Chicken and Chickpea burgers which could easily be divided into more patties just before cooking.

Pork Slider

Blackberry Pulled Pork

  • 12 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 pork tenderloin (can also use about 1 lb pork shoulder preferred)
  • Salt &  Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Slider Buns

Instructions:

  1. Generously coat your pork tenderloin with salt and pepper on all sides. Add it to your instant pot along with the chicken broth. Seal your instant pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally when done.
  2. After the pressure has been released, remove the pork tenderloin and shred the meat with two forks. Return the shredded meat to your instant pot to keep warm while you cook the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stir together the blackberries and wine. Allow the mixture to boil and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes.
  4. When reduced, pass the mixture through a sieve to filter out any seeds and bits of berry.
  5. Place some of the shredded pork on a slider bun and top with a spoonful of the sauce. These are now ready to serve and enjoy!

*Mer’s Note: So there are some flavor combinations that are just classic, and I completely forgot Amanda did something similar previously. Because I was trying this one as a keto recipe, you might want to check out hers as an alternative as well. Both could be converted into sliders!

Buffalo Alternate

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

  • 1 lb of ground chicken
  • 5 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1 stalk celery finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 3 green onions, greens and whites minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Ranch Dressing to serve
  • Slider buns to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Combine the ground chicken, buffalo sauce, celery, carrot, green onions, 1 tsp salt & pepper, garlic powder and breadcrumbs. Combine with your hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Separate the mixture and form/flatten into 16 equal patties.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat or a grill, cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Place the cooked patties on slider buns and top with a dollop of ranch dressing to serve. Enjoy!

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Zucchini Sliders

  • 2 medium zucchinis, coarsley shredded
  • 1 tsp salt plus a pinch extra for seasoning zucchini
  • 2 oz herb goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp neutral, high smoke point oil (like canola)
  • Slider Buns to serve

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

 

Instructions: 

  1. Sprinkle the zucchini with the pinch of salt and squeeze the shredded zucchini over a sieve and sink to release as much water as possible. If time allows, wrap the zucchini in paper towels and place in the sieve with something heavy on top to drain over an empty container for 30 minutes to an hour. While allowing the zucchini to drain, mix together your yogurt sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, herbs and lemon juice together and allow to sit in the fridgefor at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
  3. Once you have released as much moisture from the zucchini as possible, combine the zucchini with the goat cheese, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, and the egg. Mix together and form into 16 flat patties (they will be very delicate).
  4. In a wide bowl or container, combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining salt and pepper to your liking. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with the oil over medium heat. Dip each zucchini patty into the breadcrumb mixture until you have an even coating and transfer directly to the heated pan. Until cooked, these patties are very delicate so I would recommend as little handling as you can manage.
  5. Heat the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side until a brown and crispy, and the egg firms up the patty a little bit.
  6. Transfer to a slider bun and top with a dollop of your yogurt sauce to serve. Enjoy!

 

 

Chocolate Ganache Truffles

I just recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas so naturally I had lavish and over-the-top themes running through my head because of it. I had the opportunity to taste so many delicious meals and I wanted to bring back those feelings of relaxation and luxury back home to my own kitchen after the vacation was ended. Amanda also had a free weekend and was in the mood to treat herself, so we were both wanting to make something that truly felt like we were chilling in the lap of luxury. Still getting over the jet lag though, I didn’t want to spend my whole day making my “treat,” and ganache truffles were the perfect mix of fancy and elegant, but still not too labor intensive. With Valentine’s Day approaching as well, these make a great homemade gift for your sweetie if you’re up for whipping up a batch. Otherwise, they make a great afternoon treat any day you want to feel a little fancy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Instructions: 

  1. For coatings: 1/2 cup crushed oreos, crushed peanut butter cookies or cocoa powder (or all 3!).
  2. Over medium heat in a small saucepan, heat the cream until just simmering.
  3. Remove from the heat and add your chocolate chips, butter and bourbon and stir until the chips are melted and everything is combined. Transfer the chocolate to a stand mixer bowl and fit your mixer with a whisk attachment.
  4. Whisk the ganache mixture for 3 minutes on medium speed to ensure that everything is combined. Transfer the bowl to the fridge and let chill overnight or at least for 3 hours until set.
  5. Once set (if too firm, remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes), use a dough scooper to portion one inch balls and roll quickly between your hands to smooth. It does help to wear gloves at this step. You will also want to move quickly and not overwork the ganache to keep it from melting.
  6. Roll your ganache balls through the coating of your choice and place in a mini-cupcake liner for easy snacking later. Store your truffles in the fridge until ready to eat or give to your valentine. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: I personally would probably want something peppery to complement the sweetness of the truffles like a zinfandel. However you could go with a dessert wine as well and savor everything. It’s hard to go wrong with wine and chocolate!

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Miso Ginger Soba Noodle Soup

The winter sick season is real this year. Right after the New Year, both Amanda and I got hit with maladies and were both craving something that would bring some kind of comfort. As we each huddled under a blanket of tissues in our pjs on our respective couches, we both craved a dish that would warm our bellies and bring a bunch off flavor. You must know by now how we both feel about curry and Amanda made herself a wonderful curry meal. I wish I could have gone the same route, but since my nose was hopelessly stuffed up, I couldn’t taste a thing. I knew that the nuances of a delicious curry would be lost on me and better saved for a healthier day. The one thing I both craved and knew I could taste was a nice, brothy soup.

This Miso-Ginger noodle soup hits all the criteria I was looking for in a sicky meal. The saltiness and punch of the miso, I knew could fight past my currently restricted senses. Broth and fluids are always a good choice when sick, and ginger helps to settle the stomach. Plus, I just wanted to slurp something–enter soba noodles. This soup made me feel all warm and fuzzy, an impressive feat while sick, but is also good enough to enjoy when you’re feeling 100% as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 6 cups broth (I used homemade chicken broth Amanda’s recipe but vegetable broth could easily be used to make this dish vegan. I would definitely recommend low-sodium though)
  • 1/4 cup miso paste (I used half and half red and white, but any combo would work)
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 carrot, sliced into half moons, about 1/4-1/2 in wide
  • 3 green onions, sliced with greens and whites separated
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • Cooked Soba noodles, amount of your preference.
  • Soy Sauce to taste
  • Sriracha to taste

Instructions:

  1. In at least a 2 quart pot, drizzle the oil into the pot over medium heat. Add the whites of the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add the broth, miso, mushrooms, carrot, ginger and garlic. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Once the carrots are fork tender, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the spinach and cabbage. Once they are wilted to your liking, taste the soup and add soy sauce and sriracha to your preferred taste.
  4. Add some cooked soba noodles to the bottom of your soup bowl (however much you want) and pour the miso soup over the noodles. You are ready to serve and enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Well, if you’re up for a glass with this soup and not currently getting over an illness (or if you still are, you do you), a full-bodied Chardonnay would probably be able to stand up with the heavy flavors of the miso. Plus, a nice chilled glass of wine with a hot bowl of soup might be a nice mix. Enjoy!

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Shakshuka Breakfast Pizza

For this week, Amanda and I were in the mood for some brunch. Since with the holiday and the new year, it’s definitely brunch hosting season. We wanted to share some interesting, low maintenance, and somewhat nutritious brunch ideas that would definitely please a crowd, just in case you still had a few people around to share a meal and you were sick of something too heavy. This breakfast pizza, a twist on the classic Shakshuka, might be something that is a little different, has a little bit of a kick to wake everyone up and is easy as can be. In addition, if you have a big day of eating ahead of you, as I often do when family is around, this will both be likely a different flavor profile than your future meals and has at least some nutrition. Overall, it’s a nice meal to add to your breakfast rotation, even if it’s not a special occasion and just a random Saturday, and its convenience is big selling point.

If you’re hosting a New Years Day get-together, sometimes being alone in the kitchen preparing a feast can be a much needed social pause (introverts ftw!). Often, though, at breakfast I just want to enjoy my tea and not dirty too many dishes. Since this pizza’s sauce and crust can be made in advance, it’s fairly low maintenance (which, I mean, I don’t know how you celebrate New Year’s Eve, but it you might not be in the mood to do too much). However, the results are pretty impressive so if you still need to get away, feel free to relax and sip your tea while hiding in the kitchen and pretending you’re slogging away.

Pizza Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Hungarian Half-Sharp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or grapeseed oil
  • Pinch of salt

Sauce Instructions:

Heat a small saucepot over medium heat and add the oil. Add your diced onions and salt to the pot and sweat them for 2-3 minutes until translucent in color. Add the minced garlic and stir in with onions, cooking for an additional minute.

Add your remaining sauce ingredients and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before adding to your pizza or make ahead of time and store in the fridge for up to 3 days in a sealed container.

Other Pizza Ingredients:

  • Pizza Crust (I used premade Naan but any flatbread would do, or you can make your own)
  • Feta Cheese crumbles
  • Eggs
  • Spinach Leaves

Pizza Assembly:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (if using a pizza stone or baking steel, preheat the oven for 45 minutes at least).
  2. Spread a nice dollop of sauce onto your pizza crust (up to you how much you want although I went a little thicker than I normally would since Shakshuka is all about the sauce).
  3. Top with a few spinach leaves and feta cheese evenly distributed.
  4. If you’re planning on using a pizza stone, I would recommend transferring your crust and ingredients at this point in time. If using a baking sheet, no worries. Create a divot in the pizza sauce if possible and crack an egg or two into the divots or wherever you think the egg will not run off the sides. Try to make your egg placement so that the pizza will have good egg coverage. 2E77123B-C890-4740-B6FC-B17B999211F6
  5. If using that pizza stone/steel, quickly and carefully crack the egg directly onto the pizza on the stone.
  6. Bake for 12-18 minutes, monitoring how the eggs are set. Ideally you want set whites and fairly runny yolks. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and serve. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: I mean, I know a Mimosa is my go-to breakfast drink, but that’s what I’d probably have. If you’re going the breakfast for dinner route or if you wanted to just go full on glass of wine (I’m not above it) I think I’d still pick a light wine like Pinot Grigio but a Beaujolais would go well also.

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Pumpkin Spiced Granola with Chocolate

This is the time of year that is both incredibly cheerful and magical with the twinkling lights on all the houses and sweet aromas filling our kitchens, it can also be incredibly stressful as we all rush to make a dish for the office potluck we forgot or shop til we drop for the perfect gift for all our loved ones. While we know there are so many people in our life we want to show that we appreciate, some can slip through the cracks until it’s too late. With Christmas inching closer, Amanda and I wanted to share our answers to some homemade tokens of friendship to give to someone in your life even if that person is yourself (hey, it’s yummy ok?). Plus, with everything else we have to worry about this season, we definitely didn’t want you to have to log any extra kitchen hours then you already are. Granola was my low effort, but still glamorous was my answer to this challenge.

Granola is something that is widely enjoyed but people don’t tend to have it that often or bother with making it themselves. With the pumpkin and wintery spices, it is the perfect festive treat that dresses up nicely in a jar and a ribbon. The ingredients are fairly inexpensive as well so it won’t break the bank, and it’s a nice change of pace from all the Christmas cookies going around (although I love those as well). This granola goes so well topped on a bowl of plain yogurt, which might be a nice switch after all those family slightly heavier family breakfasts that seem to go with the season, or it can be enjoyed as a little sweet snack after dinner. It keeps for a while in the fridge as well so it’s something that can be enjoyed long after the season ends.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Combine the oats and almonds in a large mixing bowl.
  3. On the stove over low heat, combine the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, spices and salt and stir until everything is warm and well mixed.
  4. Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and pour over your oats. Stir the oats with a wooden spoon until the pumpkin mixture is fully combined.
  5. Spread the oat mixture over a lined baking sheet as flatly and evenly as you can.
  6. Pop the baking sheet in your oven and cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. This will ensure that the granola doesn’t burn.
  7. After baking, allow the granola to cool fully and then stir in your chocolate chips. You may then transfer to an airtight container and your granola will keep in the fridge for up to two months.

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Curried Potato Dumplings

This was the second course of our “one ingredient: 3 courses” dinner and I knew I wanted something a little different than the first course, the Potato and Mushroom Galette, but also that still had potatoes as the star of the dish. Since potatoes can be a little heavy and we had three courses to get through, I also wanted something that wouldn’t leave me needing to change to elastic pants halfway through the meal so these pierogies-meet-Indian flavors were the perfect choice–albeit labor intensive.

I opted to use pre-made wonton wrappers rather than make my own dough, since I had a big day ahead of me and don’t always have luck with making my own wrappers. If you have your own recipe, feel free to use it. I know I usually like to make everything from scratch when I do these posts, but as our dinner date approached and my back started to ache from stuffing these dumplings, I had no regrets. This will make quite a few dumplings and if you use full fat yogurt they should freeze nicely.

So, if you aren’t sick of potatoes yet, here is course #2:

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups roughly chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup plain, full fat yogurt
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Potsticker or wonton wrappers

Yogurt Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup plain, full fat yogurt
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp lime juice

Instructions:

  1. Peel and cut the potato into quarters. In a medium size pot, add your potato pieces, enough water to cover them and a heavy pinch of salt.
  2. On the stovetop, bring the pot to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes and mash. with a masher, ricer or food mill.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat, add 1 tbsp of oil, onion and the minced garlic.
  5. Stir the garlic and onion, careful not to burn it, until fragrant: about 1-2 minutes. Add the garam masala, curry powder, cumin and turmeric and stir for an additional minute.
  6. Add the spinach and cook until fully wilted and turn the heat to low. Add the potato mash, yogurt, butter, and salt and pepper (to taste) and ensure that everything is fully incorporated in the potato mash. Remove from heat and allow to cool so that you can safely spoon it in the wonton wrappers.
  7. Once ready to start your dumplings, lay out your potsticker wrappers and a small cup of water to dip your fingers for sealing.
  8. Spoon 1 tsp of the potato mixture into the center of the wrapper and using a finger dipped in the water, wet one half of the outer 1/4″ of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half being sure to push out any air and making sure the filling does not come out. Press the two sides of the wrapper together firmly to make sure the dumpling is sealed.
  9. Repeat until you have no more filling. At this point, you could freeze these for later by lining the dumplings up on a cookie sheet and freezing flat for 30 minutes. Then, transfer the frozen dumplings to a plastic bag for freezer storage.
  10. When ready to cook the dumplings, first, whisk together the yogurt, curry powder and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside.
  11. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan and cook the dumplings on each side for about 3 minutes, until the skins look crispy and brown.
  12. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate and drizzle with the yogurt sauce and some fresh cilantro or green onion slices. Enjoy!

Mushroom and Potato Galette with Manchego

Still on the heels of our favorite food competition shows, Amanda and I were looking for a new challenge. This time, we wanted to see if we could use a single ingredient in three different courses. Of course, one would want something that could be used both in a savory and sweet capacity, which does limit some options. Being an ingredient that I love in basically all forms, I chose the lovely, yet humble potato. I am quite sure I would be able to and enjoy going off on a Bubba-esque from Forrest Gump speech regarding all of the potato forms and how delicious each one is. So, for this challenge, the potato seemed like a natural and budget friendly choice.

For the appetizer, I was still feeling the effects of watching one too many Food Network chefs create some fancy tasting menus and so I wanted a delicate and pretty appetizer for the first course. While this one is a bit labor intensive, they are very delicious and would for sure impress at a gathering. The savory mushrooms and cheesy potatoes make for a lovely combination. Stay tuned for the other two courses!

Ingredients:

  • 1 potato, shredded and kept in a bowl of water until ready to use
  • 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 oz manchego cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • High smoke point oil for frying (like vegetable or canola)
  • Green onion for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add the shallots, garlic and the whites of the green onion. Saute until the shallots become translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue cooking until the mushrooms have released their moisture and have turned more brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Mix together your shredded cheese and potatoes.
  4. Heat a cast iron skillet with about 2 tbsp of oil until the oil is shimmery.
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon worth of the potato/cheese mixture into the pan and flatten, and repeat until the skillet is full, but none of these potato beds are touching. You may be able to cook about 4-5 at a time.
  6. When the edges of the potatoes are beginning to look brown, after about 1-2 minutes, flip with a spatula and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  7. When crispy and brown, remove the hashbrown beds and drain on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath.
  8. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, plate with a spoonful of the mushrooms on top and garnish with the greens of the green onions. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: The manchego cheese would probably go nicely with something simple, like Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Witchy Kale Hummus with Tomato Garlic “Snake” Sticks

Halloween and October is always a fun time for me, and I love to get fun with the spooky theming of the holiday. While last year Amanda and I made something sinfully sweet to celebrate the day, this year we wanted to go “Spooky savory.” Amanda went incredibly brave with a scarily unfamiliar protein to our kitchens, but I decided to go a different route. I’m not sure if I would have had the access to such a disparate delicacy, but I certainly did not have the enthusiasm or fortitude to seek it out. Instead, this dish is a much more accessible in terms of grocery availability and friendliness of flavors to all palates.

This white bean and kale hummus is as easy to make as it is crowd-pleasing. The green color, while also packing a nutritional punch throughout the year, is easy to incorporate into an Halloween party plans as a very appropriate, on theme, munchie. The breadstick snakes, while a bit more time consuming, really accent this dip with both visual and flavorful contributions. The tomato and herbs in the bread, while also making these “snakes” more colorful, pair excellently with the lemony-garlic flavors of the hummus. Whether you’re dressed as Frankenstein or Wonder Woman, this appetizer is sure to keep the horrors of “Hanger” away.

White Bean Hummus:

  • 1 can of great northern beans rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • juice from one lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 cups packed kale (stalks removed–about 3 stalks)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Hummus Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until the kale is incorporated to your liking, and the mixture is smooth. I did mine for at least 5 minutes, so settle in.
  2. If you like room-temperature hummus, this is ready to serve immediately. However, I prefer mine chilled and allowed it to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Could be made up to 3 days in advance and will last in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Serve with “Snake” sticks or any hummus accompaniment of your choice.

Snake Breadsticks Ingredients

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • Black sesame seeds for eye garnish
  • 1 egg+1 tsp water

Snake Bread Stick Instructions:

  1. Add the lukewarm water and the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow the yeast to sit with the water for 2-3 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
  2. Add the flour on top of the yeast/water. then the salt (be sure it does not touch the yeast), tomato paste, garlic powder, basil, and rosemary. Turn the mixer to low speed for 1-2 minutes everything is mixed together. Then, mix on medium speed for 4-6 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 45 minutes at room temperature.
  4. After those 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 300°F and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 25 equal portions and roll into long strips. Make one end taper slightly to form the tail and keep the other end wide and flatten slightly to form the face. Repeat with all portions and place on a baking sheet in your preferred pose (slithering waves, coils, etc).
  5. Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl and brush the egg wash over the prepared breadsticks. Add two black sesame seeds to the snake faces to form the eyes after the egg wash is applied.
  6. Bake at 300°F for 50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy with the Witchy Hummus or as a spooky accompaniment to any dinner.

Wine Pairing: With the Mediterranean flavors of both the hummus and the bread, a refreshing Sangiovese would be a nice choice, but if you want to go all out, check out this “I’m Ready for Fall” cocktail that would be a great addition to any Halloween party.

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Chickpea Burgers with Pineapple Salsa

Its settled down now, but a few weeks ago it was raining nonstop here in Florida. We badly needed the rain, but it left outdoor dining options pretty limited (and gave me a good excuse to sit inside and enjoy the cloudy night!) Not having a grill anyway, I decided to go for a baked chickpea burger. The pineapple salsa was a last minute addition and made dinner feel tropical on a stormy night!

Ingredients

Chickpea Burger

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg (or equivalent egg substitute)
  • Hamburger buns (I used Hawaiian sweet rolls!)

Pineapple Salsa

  • Pineapple chunks, drained
  • Salt
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Cilantro

Instructions

Chickpea Burger

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Add garlic, onion, chickpeas, and salt and pepper to taste to food processor and drizzle oil into bowl. Blend until it forms a rough paste.
  3. Empty food processor into medium bowl. Add egg and bread crumbs and combine.
  4. Mold chickpea blend into palm-sized patties, about 3 inches across and half an inch thing. If they cannot hold their shape, add a little more olive oil.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes.

Pineapple salsa

  1. Drain pineapple through colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Move pineapple to bowl and toss with red wine vinegar and cilantro to taste.
  3. Serve on top of chickpea patty.

Rosé Strawberry Punch

Mix ingredients in a pitcher and serve!

  • 1 bottle rosé
  • Juice from can of pineapple, drained
  • 1 liter Sprite
  • Frozen whole strawberries (to chill your punch)

Enjoy!