Party snacks by candlelight – is there anything better?
There’s a song my husband plays sometimes that echos the refrain “There will be snacks.” Sometimes we sing it to each other even when the music isn’t playing.
And while the song seems to be about the end of days, mentioning survival kits and crumbled financial institutions, it still seems to imply that even the apocalypse can be made better by snacks.
Which is an idea I can totally get behind.
There’s just something about snacks that make me happy. Perhaps because making them (and eating them) suggests that friends, laughter, a nice glass of wine and plenty of fun are in my near future. Or maybe it reminds me of sitting exhausted on my couch, after the last guest has gone home, and being left alone to finish off the last odds and ends from the plates.
Whatever the reason, out of all the meals or menus I plan or partake in, it’s always the snacks that I love the most.
Lemons to lemonade…The standby cliché that has encouraged optimism for years is certainly a useful one to keep in mind in the kitchen.
Even though I’m pretty confident in my culinary prowess, every so often my cooking projects don’t turn out the way I expect them to. Occasionally, no matter how determined I am in conquering certain recipes or ingredients, they remain untamed and I am forced to dine on humble pie instead.
This is where some culinary finesse comes in handy — if you’ve spent enough time in a kitchen, shouldn’t you be able to take a problematic dish and turn it into a delicious success?
I’ll say with total and utter assurance…sometimes.
One of the more frustrating food failures I’ve experienced was a few years ago, involving a chicken leg, sweat and tears. The picture in the magazine was of a perfectly lacquered piece of poultry, whereas mine (even after plenty of last-ditch efforts) remained lackluster and insipid. It was edible, sure, but I didn’t enjoy eating it. The taste of disappointment was too strong.
My most recent foray into the land of food flops came with a slightly ironic twist. Back in 2007, I ripped out a recipe for a Crisp Salami Cocktail Mix from the December issue of Food & Wine. I don’t know what about it intrigued me so much, but it seared itself in my brain. I wasn’t sure when I would make it, but I knew it would happen.
The Background: My love for cooking magazines is well-known so it’s no surprise that this recipe is straight from Bon Appetit (March 2013). What might actually surprise you is that my fellow-blogger Liz from Food For Fun/deLizious food communications beat me to making it! Her post/recipe review, found here, is what inspired me to make this banana bread immediately instead of letting the recipe get buried in my pile of things to make “someday.”
I’ve been on an oat and flax kick lately — making lots of granola, oatmeal and those no-bake energy balls that you see all over Pinterest. I’ve also played around with some granola bars, including the cherry almond ones that I made a month or so ago. They were delicious, but it’s hard for me to just keep making the same thing over and over, no matter how tasty it is.
So it should come as no surprise that when I saw a recipe in Food & Wine for Cranberry Pumpkin Seed Energy Bars, I decided to give them a go. And if you’ve been reading my blog at all, it should also not come as a surprise that I made some changes to the recipe.
The Background: It seems silly to do a long post about granola — lots of people make it and it’s so versatile that any recipe you have can be tweaked one way or another depending on your personal taste. And yet, this recipe in particular called out for me to do a post about it. Why? Because of this ingredient: candied orange peel.
I not only love homemade candied citrus peels, but I happen to have some leftover from Christmas and had never thought to use them in granola. It seemed like such a stroke of genius, though I was worried the candied part might make the granola too sweet. Thus, the recipe needed testing!
There’s a definite line between good healthy food and bad healthy food. I’ve been on a kick recently to try to make things healthier (yeah, yeah, New Year’s resolutions) and it’s had some interesting moments. Good things have come of it — I’ve discovered that I really love flax seeds, that baking with whole wheat flour isn’t scary and that coconut oil is possibly the best thing ever.
But bad decisions have also been made.
Have you ever cooked something so singly terrifying that you instantly feel ashamed of yourself? I recently traumatized my co-workers with a batch of (oh godSean — please don’t judge me for this!) white bean blondies. Yes. I said it, white. bean. blondies. As in I took something that should have been filled with butter, sugar and eggs and used a can of pureed white beans instead.
I even used a well-tested recipe filled with comments like “no one ever guessed there were beans in here” and “these taste better than the real thing.” Those people are liars. They tasted exactly like beans — trust me, they weren’t fooling anyone. And even though I placed a disclaimer by the offering noting that it was both “vegan and gluten-free” (which really should have been enough of a warning), I was still a little worried I was going to get lynched.