Sunday, March 27, 2011

Almond Apple Spread

Peanut butter on toast is a nostalgic snack for me. When I eat it, my mind is instantly transported back in time... (insert dreamy flashback music here) Mom is in the kitchen fixing lunches for the day, Dad is getting ready for work, and my brother and I are fighting for time in the bathroom. As I meander down the stairs and head for the door, mom hands me 2 pieces of peanut butter toast, lovingly nestled in a paper towel. As a nod to this simple childhood memory, I decided to make a nutty snack of my own. I started by roasting blanched almonds with a pinch of salt. In a skillet, I simmered shredded red apple with a hint of maple syrup and a healthy dose of cinnamon. Once the almonds were toasty and the apples were soft, into the Cuisinart they went. After a drizzle of oil and a few minutes of pulsing, a wonderfully sweet spread emerged. Slathered on a piece of warm toast, this updated throwback was everything I had hoped for. To be fair, though, nothing is as good as the memory.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Parsnip Gnocchi

Every so often I like to break out the step ladder, crawl up to the shelf above the refrigerator, randomly grab a cookbook, and read a new recipe. Today, I snatched The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and landed on the gnocchi page. That's where my culinary adventure began. Since I am not one for actually following recipes, I perused the instructions, closed the book and placed it back on the hard to reach shelf. I had gleaned the basics from the recipe and inspiration had set in. I wanted to put a spin on the traditional, so instead of using potatoes I decided on parsnips. Ok... 5 parsnips and 1 large potato to be honest. The finished gnocchi were fluffy pillows of flavor all on their own and the taste of the parsnip was intensified by some herby almond pesto and freshly grated parmesan. Parsnips, and pesto, and parmesan......Oh My!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snack Madness

March Madness is upon us. Tonight, the brackets will be announced and the frenzy of competition will ensue. We will start prognosticating at the water cooler, wearing the colors of our favorite teams, and incessantly checking the sports ticker while at work... all for the love of basketball. One common problem for fans of The Madness is fatigue. It's easy to forget to properly feed the machine when there are 60+ games to think about. Stamina is crucial for a successful tourney run and true fans must maintain their energy for couch coaching and executing all the superstitions required to ensure the "W". Here is a power packed snack to kick off Selection Sunday. Let the games begin, and may the best team (you know who you are) win.

1/2 C popped amaranth
1/2 C chopped raw almonds
1/2 C golden raisins
1/2 C pepitas
pinch of salt
1/2 C dark chocolate chips

Melt chocolate in double boiler. In a separate bowl, mix together popped amaranth, almonds, raisins, pepitas and salt . Pour melted chocolate into amaranth mixture and stir to coat all the ingredients. Drop by the spoonful onto silpat or wax paper and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes. Enjoy.