Friendly Food Snobs

nuts and bolts – a christmas classic

nuts and bolts

Nuts and bolts are a Christmas classic at my parents house when I was growing up. This is my take on my own mom’s recipe. Her nuts and bolts were so infamous she would make two or three huge batches between November and January and it would get devoured. I make it these days to have a stash at home and also give it away to friends and family tied up in clear bags. I have to do this pretty quickly. (Before Neil and I eat bowls of it while watching a movie after the kids go to bed!) I love having a container of this kicking around the kitchen to put out if guests pop by over the holidays and Oscar absolutely loves it as an after nursery school snack on these cold wintery days we’ve been having here in Toronto. It is the perfect salty snack and so addictive. It is not my typical whole food healthy recipe, but is tastes like my childhood Christmas and being home and cozy and really what is better than that in November?

Ingredients:
5 cups shreddies
2 cups cheerios
2 cups cheese bits crackers
3 cups pretzels
2 cups mixed salted nuts
2 cups salted cashews
4 tablespoon butter (I use salted)
4 tablespoon olive oil
5 teaspoon worcestershire
2-3 teaspoon garlic powder (we like 3 but if you are not a huge garlic fan, try 2)
2 teaspoon onion powder
pinch chili powder

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. I use a large aluminum roasting pan (the disposable kind) from the grocery store. Combine all the cereal and crackers and nuts in the pan.  Melt the butter in the microwave and add the oil and spices. Pour over the nuts and bolts and I use a large wooden spoon to mix well. (You want that yummy coating on everything.) Bake for 90 minutes and stir every 20-30 minutes. Let cool completely before you package them. Keeps well in a sealed container for two weeks. But it never lasts that long in my house. If you need any more holiday inspiration check out my chewy ginger cookies  or arugula pomegranate salad or cheddar thyme shortbread. Happy Christmas cooking, friends!

Scotcheroos

scotcheroosWhat is not to love about the scotcheroo? Peanut butter, dark chocolate and crunchy crispy bottom. It is simple to make (no bake) and gluten free and ridiculously yummy. I have been making them for the holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) for years and they are my sister’s absolute fave thing I think I make. Recipe makes a 9 x 13 dish so there will be LOTS of leftovers. I love to hide a few of these in the freezer (just for me) for a rainy day. I already made a batch for Canadian Thanksgiving and plan to whip up another the week before Christmas. Dashel will be 8 months at Christmas for his first one and I cannot wait. Oscar is 3 1/2 and will probably be gobbling up these scotcheroos as soon as he can get his hands on them after dinner. I follow the recipe from food52.com but make a tiny tweak by adding cinnamon. Onto the recipe below, hope you love them!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I use the natural stuff I have on hand)
6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi sweet)
1 cup butterscotch chips

Line a 9 x 13 dish with foil or parchment for easy lifting. Measure the Rice Krispies into a large bowl and set aside. Heat the syrup and sugar in a small pot. Stir and remove from heat as soon as it starts to bubble. Add the peanut butter to the syrup and sugar. (I use a spatula for this recipe and it is so easy.) Stir the peanut butter and mix it well with the syrup and sugar then pour over the Rice Krispies. Adding the cinnamon and stir to combine. Pour this into the bottom on the lined 9 x 13 dish and press down firmly with your hands to make an even base.

In a microwave safe bowl mix the chocolate and butterscotch chips and heat in microwave for 30 secs then stir, and repeat twice. (So in the microwave for 3 x 30 seconds = 90 seconds total.) You want to heat the chips JUST enough to combine them and melt them. Wisk the chips and them pour over the Rice Krispie base. Leave to set for two hours before you cut them. Hint: if you want them to be perfect then run the knife you are using to cut them with under hot water and then dry it. The warm knife will help make clean cut squares. Store in a container at room temperature for a week or in the freezer for up to three months. Just thaw one hour before serving.

 

arugula pear walnut parmesean salad

 

This is my go-to salad for guests. So simple and so good. I’m hosting a big family meal on Christmas Eve and plan to make a batch of this. I love a salad on a holiday table to lighten things up. The bitter arugula plays so well off the sweet pear, salty parmesean, walnuts and lemony dressing. I will often toss this all in a big white bowl to show off how pretty it is. This is how salads should taste to me, hearty, satisfying with every mouthful leaving you wanting another. Salad pairs well with any grilled meats, or as a standalone lunch.  Hope you love it as much as I do.

arugula pear walnut parmesean salad

Ingredients for the lemon dressing:
4 tbsp olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 and 1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the salad:
4 large handfuls baby arugula
seeds of half a pomegranate
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (lightly toasted in a dry pan)
parmesean peels (use a potato peeler) to taste (I like A LOT)
1 ripe pear cut into slivers

Whisk the dressing together. Mix the salad ingredients. Toss and serve. Bonus points – dressing can be added 30 minutes before serving with no fear of wilting. Recipe serves four to six.

Cheddar Thyme Sea Salt Shortbread

cheddar shortbreadcheddar shortbread

Shortbread means means “short” AKA a high degree of fat/butter. That’s what makes this recipe so delcious, addictive (you’ve been warned!) and perfect for the holidays.  I like to package these in bags with ribbon to give with homemade soup or a bottle of wine as a gift. They’re also awesome on a cheese platter with some more cheese (is there ever enough?) and dried fruit or preserves. These shortbread last exactly two days in my house, sometimes less because they are that good. Recipe makes 24. I use a little trick to make the clean up easier and form the dough using cling wrap – a time saver because it keeps your kitchen counter from getting dirty. More details in the recipe below.

Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Keen’s dry mustad
pinch black pepper
1 cup grated old white cheddar cheese (packed)
1 egg slightly beaten
1 stick salted butter room temperature (half a cup)
flaky salt for sprinkling (I love to use fleur de sel or flaky sea salt)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a spatula. Dough should be crumbly.  Kneed 30 seconds and form a disc. Set out a large piece of cling wrap. Transfer the dough to the cling wrap and shape it into a long log with your hands. Roll the cling wrap around the log. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place log in fridge for one hour or freezer for 10-15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Once dough is cold use a sharp knife to slice it into 1/2 thick rounds and place on parchment lined sheets. Bake for 20 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown. My oven took exactly 20 minutes. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of flaky salt on each cookie when they come out warm from the oven. They already have salt from the butter and cheese, so a little pinch goes a ling way. Let cool on the baking sheets and then serve with coffee, tea, wine or a cheese plate. You can also store the log in the freezer for up to a month and bake just before company arrives. Makes 24 cookies. Enjoy!

 

easy chicken parmesan

chicken parmesan

Super easy chicken parmesan. This is one of my weeknight faves this fall. It is gluten free and takes about half an hour to come together including cooking time. I serve it with steamed or oven roasted broccoli and rice, or just a simple green salad. Neil and Oscar love this one. I should probably start making a double batch so that I can get some leftovers for my lunch! Recipe makes four pieces of chicken so four portions. You could easily double the recipe if you are serving more. Dash is six months old now and a little more consistent with his night sleep, chatting up a storm, eating anything and everything. This is giving me a few more windows of time to cook which I love. But the best part of this mom of two gig is watching Oscar make Dash giggle. Crazy to think in a few months Dash will be eating this as well. Hope you enjoy the recipe.

Ingredients:
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 14 oz can Italian diced tomatoes
olive oil to lightly coat bottom of pan
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all spices and salt and pepper. Slice the chicken lengthwise making four smaller, thinner pieces. Heat pan to medium heat with oil. Season each side of chicken with spice mixture. Cook chicken in pan a few minutes until golden on each side. FYI You will only need about half of the can of diced tomatoes for this recipe so I like to just freeze the rest for a soup or chili. Spoon two tablespoons of tomatoes onto each piece of chicken. Top with parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for ten minutes. I like to reserve a little cheese from the 1/2 cup to plate with. After ten minutes your house will smell amazing and the cheesey warm chicken is ready to eat. I like to use some of the sauce that is in the bottom of the pan to spoon over the chicken when I serve. Enjoy and tell me in the comments or on IG how you like it.

 

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