Posts in the Snacks and finger foods Category

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Breakfast can be a tricky meal in my house. During the week the kids are up quite early for school and need to be out the door on the double. On the weekends I like to sleep in just a bit, so they’re on their own as far as food is concerned. It’s really easy to pick up some muffins at the market or maybe some chocolate babka and call it a day. But then I read the labels and think; with just a bit of effort I can really do better than store bought pastries loaded with refined sugar, fat and fillers. Enter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. These muffins are delicious and so easy to make. They are made using just one bowl and you basically throw everything in (I actually Google recipes that use melted butter or oil for baked goods because I hate having to drag out the Kitchenaid). While, I can’t claim to make homemade muffins every week (my name’s not Martha after all), I do make an effort to pick up those brown, over-ripe bananas whenever I see them.

INGREDIENTS:
3 very ripe bananas
6 teaspoons butter (unsalted), melted
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1½ cups of all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of Kosher salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan. In a medium sized mixing bowl mash the bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir in the melted butter. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Then mix in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla. Finally add the flour. Stir until just combined. Mix in the chips.

Scoop (about 1/4 cup) batter into each muffin cup. Bake about 18 minutes. Edges will be just lightly browned and the top spongy. Remove to a cooling rack.

*Adapted from Simply Recipes Banana Bread http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

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Quinoa with eggs, tomato, onion, and jalapeno

Its’ that time of year again…final exams! It’s the first year in the Solomon house that we are going through exam week. Snack food is at a premium, as I seem to have a revolving door of study buddies and tutors arriving and leaving at all hours of the day. What are the best foods to eat when studying?   Can foods help you to study better? Can the correct foods give you the energy you need to study for long periods of time? The answer is YES.

Here’s some information to boost your brain while studying…

Many of the foods that are generally considered healthy for you are also the best foods for shoring up your mental acuity. Foods that contain protein like lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy, quinoa, Greek yogurt, spinach and broccoli are ideal because our brains need protein to function most effectively. Many of these foods also contain iron (red meat, spinach) and vitamin B (whole grains, eggs, nuts, fish, soy) both of which have been found to improve brain function. My favorite dish is quinoa with eggs, sautéed tomatoes, onions and jalapenos.  Make some quinoa according to the box directions.  Then dice up some tomatoes and onions and sauté them in a bit of oil with a sprinkle of salt.  Fry up an egg or two and top with raw jalapeno for spice and crunch.

potato skin

Brains also need complex carbohydrates to function properly. That means whole grains, legumes or beans, potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice. Complex carbohydrates don’t lead to the same crash in energy levels that you get from refined (or simple) carbohydrates and sugars. This is really important. White bread, pasta, pizza, chips, cookies and candy all contain lots of sugar and give you a short-term boost followed by a crash in energy. Want something savory? Try a baked potato filled with cheese and broccoli. Or want something sweet? Try these Mango Creamsicles. Or a few pieces of dark chocolate.

Mango Creamsicle

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Feeling like something sweet, but want to stay alert and focused? Try having a handful of berries. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are all excellent snack choices. They produce clean energy for your body and are filled with antioxidants that improve blood flow to the brain. Bananas offer the same brain benefits. Try these Greek yogurt and dark chocolate covered blueberries. They are super easy to make and perfect to eat. Take 1 small container of flavored Greek yogurt, add a pint of blueberries and spoon them out onto a wax paper covered sheet pan or plate.  Freeze for 1 hour.  Melt some dark chocolate in the microwave, drizzle on top, and re-freeze for 15 minutes.  Eat frozen or at room temperature.  You can also try a banana and almond butter roll-up.

Greek Yogurt Blueberries

Greek Yogurt Blueberries

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Ever heard of omega-3 fatty acids? These are found in salmon, tuna, walnuts, egg yolks and flaxseeds. One of their jobs is to keep your brain healthy. Omega 3’s even lead to stronger neural function. Ground flaxseeds are easy to add to smoothies and cereal.  For a brain-boosting snack try smoked salmon on whole grain toast with cream cheese and diced red onion (red onion contains a flavonoid called quercetin which has been found to enhance memory function ).

Salmon toast

In a study conducted at Harvard, cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts have all been identified as foods that have a positive effect on memory retention. How cool is that? Eat more broccoli and improve your memory.

Here are a few additional brain-boosting tips to remember when studying for finals. Eat 5-6 small, though well-balanced meals each day, don’t skip breakfast, and stay hydrated.

Good Luck!  And please tell me about your favorite foods to eat when studying…


Fried Wontons

This summer has been a crazy whirlwind. I am not sure when the summer even began, though I know its here because it’s HOT! I started teaching cooking at a new camp called Next Level Camp for Girls. It’s an amazing new place that allows children to choose different activities and really fosters confidence, independence and friendship. I teach cooking to different kids every week and it’s been so fun getting to know them. I also have a great counselor, Nora, who is a tremendous support, hard worker and excellent chef. She’s also super nice and great with the kids.

We’ve made lots of delicious things so far including Strawberry Shortcakes and Smoothies. We also had Cupcake Wars, which was a huge success. I was blown away by the amazing cupcakes and fabulous designs. Last week we made Fried Chinese Chicken Wontons. We did a test run at home and my 3 children made, then polished off, 50 dumplings and begged for more. We tried them in different shapes and cooked different ways (fried, boiled, and a hybrid method). My kids voted hands down for the fried version – go figure! They were equally successful at camp and enjoyed by both campers and counselors. Tomorrow is a brownie bake off: Chocolate Zucchini Brownies vs. Chocolate Avocado Brownies . . . Which brownie do you think will win?

INGREDIENTS:

Wontons:

3 cups finely chopped Napa cabbage (salted and drained onto paper towels)
1 lb. ground chicken
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 scallions, finely chopped
3-5 twists black pepper
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1-tablespoon rice wine
1-tablespoon sesame oil
1 package square dumpling wrappers

Canola oil for frying (they can also be steamed or boiled)

Sauce: (Just mix it all together in a small bowl)

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup rice vinegar
1 tsp. ginger, minced
Pinch of hot pepper (flakes or sauce)

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium sized bowl, add all the dumpling ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.

Using an assembly line approach, lay out 8 dumpling wrappers, using your finger moisten the edges with water, add about a teaspoon of filling, and fold into a triangle. Then take the 2 outer corners of the triangle and fold them together. Put them on a cookie sheet (not touching) and cover with a moist paper towel.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan and add oil to just cover the bottom. When hot, add the dumplings and fry about 3 minutes per side. The timing is important and you want to make sure the filling is cooked. If they are cooking too fast turn the heat down, too slow, turn the heat up. Eat hot with dipping sauce.

 

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Greek Salad Bites

So I’ve been completely lame with my posting! My FM kids are patiently waiting for their recipes and my followers (turns out I do have 1!) are ready for some new ideas. Thanks to my friend Melissa for reminding me where my compass should point. These Greek salad bites are perfect for summer entertaining. They are vegetarian, gluten-free, and yet surprisingly filling. And if your kids like veggies, they’re also great as an after-school snack.

INGREDIENTS:

4 oz. pitted Kalamata olives
3 oz. cream cheese (I use ⅓ less fat)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 English cucumber
1 box petite cherry tomatoes (grape tomatoes work well too as long as they are small), halved
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

DIRECTIONS:

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the olives. Then add the cream cheese, feta cheese and lemon zest and pulse until well mixed.

Slice the cucumber into ⅛” rounds (they should be thin but firm). Dry the cucumbers slices on a paper towel. Spread each slice with a bit of olive paste and top with half a tomato and a few fresh thyme leaves.

Makes about 30-36 pieces.

 

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brushetta

So I’ve been down and out the past few days recovering from an overnight in the hospital. All is fine, just some rest and relax to get me back on my feet. My husband has been amazing (I think he is drunk on power – finally he gets to boss everyone around), my babysitter has been working tons of overtime to help with the kids, and family and friends have really pitched in to. I am doing exactly as the doctors suggest, lots of rest, tons of great chick flicks like Leap Year, How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, Blended, The Devil Wears Prada, you get the idea. I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I’m done with the rest and relaxation. I’m actually bored out of my mind. So here I am sitting at the computer, my usual past time, writing a post.

Today is Bruschetta, and oldie but goodie. I actually spent some time learning to cook in Italy and we made Bruschetta. I’m pretty sure it was delicious, though drinking and cooking started simultaneously at around 9am and the eating happened from about 1-3. Best cooking classes ever!

There are lots of recipes out there for Bruschetta but I keep mine really simple; fresh ingredients, good olive oil and fresh bread. It is literally one of my favorite meals.

INGREDIENTS:

4 tomatoes (I buy whatever looks fresh, firm and ripe), if using beefsteak I might seed them to reduce the amount of liquid.
1 clove of garlic, minced (I use a microplane)
3 glugs of olive oil (go around the bowl 3 times)
Fresh basil, chiffonade
Kosher Salt
Fresh bread, sliced into thick wedges, either lightly toasted or grilled

DIRECTIONS:

Mix it all in a bowl. Taste and season as needed. I like to serve it a room temperature.

 

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