By Elke Probkevitz
Fall season means back to schedules and routine, getting organized, and having groceries ready in the pantry so you can grab what you need to refuel and reenergize.
Snack foods that you find in the store are often loaded with sugar, artificial additives, and unhealthy ingredients. Making homemade snacks can give you the advantage of knowing exactly what ingredients are in the food you are eating. You can customize your snack for your own preferences and change it up to try something new. Here are some simple savory snacks you can make anytime to have on hand.
Chickpeas. Baked or fried chickpeas can be a great snack food or topping to add crunch or spice to a dish. Drain chickpeas well before frying with lemon zest, thyme, and fresh garlic. Toss with smoked paprika and salt. Alternatively, you can roast chickpeas tossed with olive oil and spices such as paprika, cumin, cayenne, garlic, or onion powder. Use any spices you prefer.
Party mix. Toss together Crispix cereal, mixed nuts, and pretzels with melted butter substitute, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, fresh thyme, and a pinch of cayenne. Bake at 250° for 45 minutes until crisp and toasted for a party-worthy snack food.
Granola. Granola doesn’t always have to be sweet. You can whip up a batch that can be a savory snack or a crunchy element to add to your salad or garnish for your soups. Make granola with oats, buckwheat, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and fresh rosemary. Substitute other grains, nuts, or herbs to try new flavors and combinations.
Biscotti. Biscotti are great all-around cookies that can be made with any combination of add-ins, from chocolate chips to nuts and dried fruit. Make a savory variety like black-pepper Parmesan, brown butter and sage, or mustard and cheddar.
Cheese straws. A surprisingly easy snack to make, cheese straws satisfy that craving for something cheesy without the trail of artificial orange left on your fingertips. Make with real grated cheddar cheese, butter, flour, and cream or half-and-half to make a dough. Roll it out, cut into strips, and bake.
Popcorn. An easy snack to prepare and so versatile, popcorn can be made with so many different flavor profiles. Make with coconut oil and a squeeze of lime, spice it up with cayenne, black pepper, or hot paprika, or use butter.
Pita chips. These are easy-to-make crackers: Cut a pita into wedges and spray with Pam or brush with olive oil and bake. Use fresh rosemary and thyme, garlic, and sea salt, or any mixture of spices. v
Cheddar Cheese Straws
1½ cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. crushed red-pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. half-and-half
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine cheese, butter, flour, salt, and red pepper in a food processor and pulse until mixture is course and crumbly. Add half-and-half and process until a ball of dough forms, about 10 seconds.
Roll the dough into an 8” × 10” rectangle about ⅛-inch thick on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Cut the dough into ¼-inch thin strips with a floured pizza cutter or knife. Gently transfer strips to ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment, spacing them at least ¼-inch apart. Bake straws on middle rack for 12–15 minutes until edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature.
For a prettier straw, twist strips into spirals.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.
By Elke Probkevitz