Friday, October 9, 2015

Cheesy, Spicy, Sweet and Nutty Snack Mix

Bring this snack mix to a party and you will be a hero. Make it for a party at your house, and your guests will never want to leave. Or they won't leave until the mix is gone. It's sweet, salty, cheesy, nutty, and spicy. It's like regular snack mix turned up to 11 with the addition of cheese and sweetness. It's irresistible.

Oh, and if you need to boot those guests out of the house, pack up little to-go bags for them to take home after the party. This would be a welcome hostess gift, and a great dorm snack.

Cheese powder can be found online from spice shops, or from companies that sell popcorn supplies. There is also a cheese-flavored popcorn topping that you can find at grocery stores, but I don't recommend it - it can be way too salty, well before you taste enough cheese.

Even so, taste the cheese powder before you start. If it seems salty, you can skip the salt in the recipe and keep the saltiness in mind as you add the cheese powder.

The nuts I used were from Truly Good Foods that were supplied for this challenge.

Cheesy, Spicy, Sweet and Nutty Snack Mix
Donna Currie, Cookistry

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch of garlic salt
5 cups Chex cereal (mixed or all one type)
1 cup Cheerios cereal
1/4 to 1/2 cup cheese powder
1 cup Buffalo Nuts
1 cup Butter Toffee Peanuts

Put the butter on a large sheet pan and place it in the oven while you heat it to 250°F. When the butter is melted, add the Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle on the salt, onion powder, and garlic powder so it's fairly well evenly distributed.

Add the cereals and stir and toss to coat the cereal with the butter and seasonings.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

After 45 minutes of baking, add 1/4 cup of cheese powder and stir. The cheese will stick to the cereal. Add more cheese powder, if desired. I added another 2 Tablespoons and I was happy with that, but more would not be terrible, either.

Add the nuts and stir to combine.

Cook an additional 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and let the mix cool before storing.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sweet, Salty & Spicy Dessert Treats

Kir Jensen created an amazing dessert bar. Her "Seven Layers of Sin Bars" are a delicious blend of sweet and salty. I decided to tweak her recipe for this challenge to not only give you sweet and salty, but also a big POP of spice by using the Buffalo Nuts from Truly Good Foods. Kir’s recipe has sweetened shredded coconut, but I’m not a fan. So, my bars are six layers instead of seven. If you are a coconut fan, you may want to add a cup. Either way, these will be a huge hit!

Sweet, Salty & Spicy Dessert Treats
by Linda M. of Seasons to Seasonings
Inspired by Seven Layers of Sin Bars from The Sugar Cube by Kir Jensen

1 1/2 cups graham crackers, finely ground (about 12 double crackers)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus additional unsalted butter for sides of pan
1 cup milk chocolate chips (I used Toll House)
1 cup butterscotch chips (I used Toll House)
1 cup Truly Good Buffalo Nuts
1 cup potato chips, crunched up but NOT pulverized
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1) Preheat Oven to 350°F.

2) Line 9 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan.

3) Combine ground cracker crumbs and melted butter in large bowl, mix thoroughly.

4) Press crumbs in to the bottom of the prepared pan. It needs to be evenly spread across pan.

5) Sprinkle chocolate and butterscotch chips on top of the graham cracker crust.

6) Sprinkle the Truly Good Buffalo Nuts and potato chips over the chocolate and butterscotch chips.

7) Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the Buffalo Nuts and potato chips. Cover completely.

8) Bake for 15 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.

9) When cooled completely (about an hour), cut into squares. Will keep in an air-tight container for several days.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Blackened Pumpkin Seed Romesco with *Grilled Vegetables

Romesco is traditionally made with almonds, but with all the drought issues in California and knowing how much water the California almond industry uses, I’ve looked for alternative nuts and seeds in recipes. I decided to try Truly Good Foods Blackened Pumpkin Seeds in place of the almonds in a classic Romesco sauce. It’s a great substitute and I didn’t miss the almonds at all.

Romesco is a versatile sauce/condiment from Spain that is usually served at room temperature. It is great on grilled/sautéed fish, grilled chicken, grilled or steamed vegetables, and even on sandwiches! It is essentially ground almonds, roasted red bell peppers, olive oil, a bit of stale bread, some tomato, maybe a bit of chili pepper, a touch of garlic. I’ve seen it without tomato, but always with peppers, bread and almonds. Here’s my rebel version without the water-hogging almonds.

Blackened Pumpkin Seed Romesco with *Grilled Vegetables

by Woo

3 ripe tomatoes--roasted, peeled, seeded, save any liquid
1 head of garlic--roasted, pulp mashed
1 large red bell pepper (2 if small)--roasted/peeled/seeded
3/4 cup of Truly Good Foods Blackened Pumpkin Seeds
1 slice of stale bread--torn and toasted
1/8 teaspoon ground Ancho chile powder
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons of sherry vinegar (or to taste)
2-4 dashes of Worcestershire (sooo not traditional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine first six ingredients in a food processor, pulse to combine, then process for 2 minutes. With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil and add the sherry vinegar one Tablespoon at a time. Turn off machine and taste. Adjust seasoning with a few dashes of Worcesterhsire, additional vinegar, salt and pepper. If the mixture is too thick, add a touch of water, one Tablespoon at a time.

Yields a little more than 2 cups.

*Grilled Vegetables--I used a mix of zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, baby bellas, and shishito peppers. Brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat.

P.S. Don’t forget, it’s awesome on grilled fish!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chipotle Cheesecake with Blackened Pumpkin Seed Crust

Several years ago, a friend brought a chipotle cheesecake to a potluck at work. I had never had a savory cheesecake before, but immediately fell in love. It was delicious! I decided to make mine with a blackened pumpkin seed crust, which goes perfectly with the smoky chipotle flavor. It is served like a cheese ball- cut out a wedge and spread it on crackers, slices of zucchini or cucumber. The cheesecake gets spicier after baking, so if you don’t want it too hot, add a little less adobo than you think you’ll need.

Chipotle Cheesecake with Blackened Pumpkin Seed Crust
by Jennifer Scantlin
Adapted from a recipe given to me by a friend

3/4 cup Truly Good Foods Blackened Pumpkin Seeds, finely ground in food processor
1/4 cup cracker crumbs (I used 8 melba crackers and ground them in the food processor)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 egg, room temperature
2 Tablespoons sour cream, room temperature
1 Tablespoon half and half (or milk)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
1-3 teaspoons adobo (depending on how spicy you want the cheesecake)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For crust: combine ground pumpkin seeds, cracker crumbs, and melted butter in small bowl. Press into bottom and up sides of 7” tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool while making filling. Decrease oven temperature to 325°F.

With an electric mixer, whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add egg, sour cream, half and half, and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in chipotles and adobo on low speed until combined.

Pour cheese mixture into crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Truly Good Praline Pecan Ice Cream

One of my favorite memories of childhood, was heading off to Baskin Robbins on a hot summer night. My dad always got Daiquiri Ice sorbet, my mom Butter Pecan or Pralines and Cream, my brother, David, some sort of chocolate concoction and me, whatever was new (especially if it contained coconut).

I also remember when my dad came home with one of those hand crank ice cream machines. You know, the one that you put rock salt in and it seemed to take days to make some sort of ice cream soup. It was well worth it, though.

A few years back, I received my first electric ice cream machine (from my brother, of course) and I've been hooked ever since. I'm always trying to come up with an excuse to make some. When I read about the various nut and seeds we were going to receive. I immediately signed up for ice cream. I've already made 2 batches and can't seem to keep it around for more than a few days here. I'm assuming there's an ice cream fairy eating the stuff while I'm sleeping. So, keep that in mind when you make this recipe. It's decadent and guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of those who are lucky enough to get some.

Truly Good Praline Pecan Ice Cream
by Holly of Holly's Table
Adapted from Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe - David Lebovitz

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with a paring knife to expose seeds
5 large egg yolks
1 cup of Truly Good Foods Praline Pecans, roughly chopped

In a medium non-stick pan, over medium-low heat, warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the heavy cream, kosher salt, nutmeg and split vanilla bean. Stir often to avoid sticking and burning. When the mixture is hot, remove from heat, cover and let steep 1 hour.

Place the other cup of cream in a bowl.

Re-warm the vanilla milk over low heat. Do not let boil. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until well blended. Remove vanilla bean. Ladle in half a cup of the warm milk to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining warmed milk and stir well. Heat over medium-low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon or spatula.

Strain the mixture into the cream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and mix into the custard. Place the bowl into an ice bath and continue to whisk until chilled. Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator overnight.

On the next day, pour the custard into your ice cream maker. Mix about 15-20 minutes (or according to your machines directions) until it forms a soft ice cream. Add the praline pecans and mix another 5 minutes or until thoroughly blended. Scoop ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.

Serve with additional pecans if desired.

Note: Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar. That sugar can be used for baking and, of course, for future ice cream making.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cherry and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Praline Pecans, Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

I love the combination of tangy and sweet together. This salad fits that perfectly with the tangy Lemon Basil Vinaigrette and the sweet crunchy Truly Good Foods Praline Pecans. Fresh cherries are seasonal, so if you want to toss this up in the fall, just soak some dried cherries in orange juice for about 30 minutes then drain off the liquid.

Cherry and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese and Praline Pecans, Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
by Tracy Hersh

Lemon Basil Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
5-ounce package arugula
1/2 pound Truly Good Foods Praline Pecans
8 ounces goat cheese

Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Toss cherries and arugula with 1/4 cup of Lemon Basil Vinaigrette. Divide tossed ingredients on to 4 salad plates, sprinkle with goat cheese and Truly Good Foods Praline Pecans. Serve.