Monday, February 13, 2012

Snacks - Stuff I Eat for Dinner

So, ya, I haven't posted in a long time. I made a New Year's resolution to be better about it, and like so many other NY resolutions, I haven't stuck to it. The problem is, the cooking I have been doing lately can hardly be called cooking. I am too busy and get home too late for fabulous meals, so I find myself eating strange salads, rice topped with whatever is around, and snack food. Yes, I have many times eaten popcorn for dinner.

The thing about eating popcorn many times for dinner is that you learn to make it perfectly. And who doesn't want to know how to make perfect, non-microwave popcorn? No one.

Here is a selection of delicious snack food I have been eating.

The popcorn, as previously mentioned, is a tried and true method for making great stovetop popcorn.

The pecans are a recipe from my mom. I ate them for the first time sometime last fall, maybe at Thanksgiving time, and I love them. I don't even like pecans, but something about these crunchy sweet and spicy morsels has won me over. You'll love them too.

The olives in the picture aren't actually olives I made, they are Stuffed Queen Sevillano olives from Trader Joe's. But as previously mentioned, I am a busy girl, and I don't actually have three snack foods prepared on one night to photograph. I am giving you a recipe for very good homemade olives, and let's pretend they are pictured instead of olives that I am way more likely to use in a martini than eat for dinner.  

Perfect Popcorn
3 Tbsp oil (I usually use peanut oil, but any high smoke point oil is fine)
1/3 cup popping corn

1.  In a large sauce or saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, with one popping corn kernel in the pan. I tend to cover the pan, but if you do, pay attention so that you hear the kernel pop. If you leave the pan uncovered, the kernel will probably pop out of the pan and hide somewhere in your kitchen, never to be found again. 

2.  Once the kernel pops, add the rest of the popping corn to the pan, cover, and take off the heat for 30 seconds. This allows all the kernels to get to approximately the same temperature so they will all pop at approximately the same time. This means less unpopped kernels.

3.  Return to heat, and pop the corn. It is done when there are a few seconds between pops.

4.  Salt and eat. I sometimes salt at the same time that I put the kernels into the oil. It seems to work well that way.

Spicy-Sweet Toasted Pecans
1 cup raw pecans
2 Tbsp sugar
Some shakes of cayenne

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2.  Blanch the pecans for 5 minutes (blanch = boil them).

3.  Drain the pecans.

4.  Toss pecans with sugar and cayenne. I add multiple shakes of cayenne because I like spice, but you can add as much or as little spice as you like.

5.  Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer and place in the oven.

6.  Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. It usually takes me a bit longer than 10 minutes to fully toast the pecans, but my oven sucks. Just check them and see how they're looking after 10 minutes, and leave them longer if necessary.

Marinated Olives
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp dried chili flakes
1 cup green olives
1 cup black olives

1.  In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until warm.  Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and chile flakes and simmer for 3 minutes, or until the oil is aromatic and the garlic turns golden.

2.  Add the olives, adjust the heat to low, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

3.  Remove from the heat and let the olives cool in the oil.

4.  Remove and discard the rosemary before serving.  Serve immediately, or store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for about 1 month.

Because eating popcorn, nuts, and olives is not a sustainable way to live, another of my New Year's resolutions is to start eating, and cooking, better.  I sort of have to in order to continue with this blog, right?

Bon appetit.

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