Friendly Food Snobs

appetizer

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!

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!

 

Mexican style grilled corn

mexican style cornCorn on the cob (eaten outside) is a staple from my childhood. I have joyful memories of crunching down on freshly boiled and buttered cobs with my family and grandparents. I was inspired to make this recipe after eating in the taco joints that have opened up in Toronto over the past few years. It is so simple to make in the summer when local corn is fresh and delicous. I picked mine up at Metro as well as all the other ingredients. The sweetness of the charred corn tastes incredible alongside the lime and slightly spicy sauce. Note: it is not too hot, I lightly sauced the cob I gave to my toddler and he gobbled it up.

Traditional recipes would call for the cheese to be cotija cheese. If you have time to get to a Latin grocery store you can find it there. Feta is an excellent substitute, and that’s what I used.

Ingredients:

4 cobs of corn
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp chili powder
juice of half a lime (slice up the other half for garnish)
optional toppings: fresh cilantro and crumbled feta

Husk and wash corn. Boil the corn in salted water for five minutes. While the corn boils combine all the remaining ingredients for the sauce. Drain corn once done and heat barbeque to 400 degrees. Grill the corn for 10-15 minutes until browned on all sides. Take the corn off the grill and top it with the sauce and a sprinkle of feta while it is still warm. Serve with lime wedges, chopped cilantro and more feta. I had a little sauce leftover and used it in a chicken sandwich and it divine. So you can feel free to put it in the fridge and use for another dish, just give it a quick stir first.

This post was sponsored by Metro and all ingredients used in the recipe were purchased there. I only accept sponsorships and collaborations from brands and companies I love and trust, and I always share with my readers when a post is sponsored. In this case I was thrilled to work with Metro to purchase all these healthy summer ingredients and develop this recipe. Hope you enjoy it!

best kale salad

kale salad I brought kale into my life with this recipe! Two years of tinkering and I thought it time to share. The secret tricks to this being healthy and absolutely delicious are fresh lemon juice and a quick massage of the kale with the dressing. Unlike most salads, the kale leaves hold up to the dressing, and once tossed and dressed this salad tastes better an hour after mixing or a day later. It’s a great side dish for just about any protein, or stirred into quinoa for a quick quinoa salad. Hello leftover lunches.

best kale salad

Ingredients:
head of kale washed and chopped into 1 or 2 inch strips
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 and 1/2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 and 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic chopped
pinch red pepper flake
3/4 cup grated parmesean cheese (half goes in dressing, half on top)
handful toasted slivered almonds
handful dried cranberries

I find it easiest to chop the kale, then wash it in a salad spinner. Another quick trick is to measure the olive oil and whisk the dressing together in the same glass measuring cup. Less clean up! Combine all ingredients for the dressing, reserving half of the grated parmesean. Pour the dressing over the kale in a large bowl. Massage the dressing into the kale (30 seconds max). Top with remaining cheese, nuts and cranberries and that’s it. I have made this dozens of times and find it tastes best after hanging out covered with cling wrap in the fridge for an hour before serving.

grilled halloumi caprese salad

grilled halloumi caprese saladRipe tomato slices play well with grilled salty halloumi in this grilled halloumi caprese salad. A rethink of the traditional tomato and mozzarella caprese, and I think maybe even better! It was a super busy weekend at our house Oscar turned two and we hosted a big family BBQ and Sunday was Father’s Day. My quick to make but still yummy Father’s Day dinner for Neil was BBQ flank steak and this salad, and some fresh garlic thyme pita bread and hummus. Fresh and tasted like summer.

I first tried halloumi about 15 years ago backpacking in Cyprus and we’d have it wrapped with grilled meats in a pita (usually at 2am after a night out). This meal reminds me of all those flavours.

As with all simple recipes, quality ingredients are key. Thankfully they’re not hard to find for this salad. I let my tomatoes ripen on the window sill for a few days, and just bought the halloumi from my local grocery store. You can get cow or sheep and both are great. The basil came from my garden, the olive oil from my mother-in-law’s recent trip to Italy and the balsamic reduction is store bought. You can find balsamic reduction at any major grocer now. It’s reduced balsamic vinegar (make sure you read the ingredients) and so handy to drizzle over a salad, BBQ meats or cheeses. I use it for salad dressing instead of honey often too.  My boys gobbled this salad up and used the fresh pita bread for the leftover olive oil on the plate. So if you occasionally eat carbs like we do, serve up a little good bread for this recipe – worth the calories to sop up that good olive oil! Makes four side portions.

grilled halloumi caprese salad

Ingredients:
250 gram package halloumi cheese
2 large or 3 small ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper
10 whole basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Cut the halloumi cheese into 1/4 inch pieces. I usually get 10-12 slices per package. Pat dry with paper towel. Heat a non stick pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Grill cheese for 2 mins a side until golden brown. Use a rubber spatula to check it every minute or so. I do it in two batches to not crowd the pan. Slice tomatoes in 1/4 inch slices and layer on serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Layer grilled halloumi on top of tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and toss basil leaves over top. Eat right away or can sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so until serving.  Recipe can easily be doubled. Enjoy and happy summer eating!

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