Thursday, March 17, 2011

Poppin' Munch Madness!

Besides being my birthday month, March is also host to other fun food-friendly activities! With a full month of March Madness basketball, you'll need to to pace your game-time snacking. Keeping that in mind, here's a budget and healthy snack!

The friendly folks at popchips contacted me about a Boston Blogger recipe challenge for their "Munch Madness"  celebration. I had a blast creating a poppin' recipe for my Healthy Snack Wednesday series, so I knew I was was on board for this challenge! The winner gets to take home $250 to Roche Brothers, a $100 AMEX gift card, and a one-year supply of popchips! As an entrant in the recipe challenge, popchips provided me with a snack pack of popchips, coupons to pick up popchips, and a handy recipe notebook. 

A quick note about the contest. All entries will be posted on the popchips Facebook page in the Munch Madness photo album. The two bloggers with the most 'likes' on March 21 will be pop into the 'champion-chip' round! The final round will be an taste test event at Roche Brothers where the winner will be selected by a panel of expert snackers. If you like my poppin' creation, I hope you'll vote and 'like' my photo and spread the word! You can get to the album and vote by clicking here! You also have to 'like' Popchips on Facebook.

With my snack packs ready and assorted ingredients in the pantry, I put on my thinking cap and started brainstorming.

Chicken fingers...too easy. Mini-quiches...already done. What would show off the flavor of the popchips, be delicious, and still be healthy? The idea struck and I got to work - baked falafel!

In order to please fans of multiple teams, I decided to make a few pieces of falafel in each flavor. First step is  creating the popchips crumbs. Start with one flavor at a time and give them a whirl in the food processor. Be careful to label your flavors (I scribble when I write recipes, don't mind my spelling error)! 

Your popchips crumbs should be light and fluffy, and small enough to substitute for breadcrumbs. Each snack sized bag of popchips yielded approximately 1/2 cup of crumbs.

The next step is to make your falafel mixture. Using the food processor, blend garbanzo beans, parsley, scallions, a dash of olive oil and eggs until well combined. The texture should be like a chunky hummus. Split the mixture into five even portions for mixing. Starting with one portion of falafel mixture, add in half of one of the flavors of crumbs. Mix and continue to add crumbs until the mixture comes together, but is not completely dry. The first picture below is the falafel mix. The second picture is after mixing in the popchips crumbs.

Score each combined falafel and crumb mixture into four equal parts. Form balls and flatten slightly. Add the patties to a labeled baking sheet (you don't want to mix up the flavors!) and continue the process until all flavors are completed. I used a pencil to write the flavors on parchment paper, you can see it at the top of the rows below.

Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and continue baking for 10 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. I served these with low-fat plain sour cream. To spice up the celebration, you could make flavored sour cream or yogurt dip to match the flavors. Another great idea would be to use your favorite hot sauce and mix it with sour cream for a spicy dip. Really, there is no limit to what you can add! The patties themselves are healthy and leave room to add more decadent toppings!

Here's a look at each of the flavors, topped with a garnish representing the popchips flavor. Cheddar for cheddar, salt for salt and vinegar, barbecue crumbs for barbecue, peppercorns for salt and pepper, and scallions for sour cream and onion! The flavor of the chips came through and really worked with the falafel!

An interior look at the patties:

Here's hoping that  my bracket picks will be as successful as my poppin' recipe! And remember, if you have  minute to vote, head over to the popchips Facebook page and 'like' my photo in the Munch Madness photo album! You also have to 'like' Popchips on Facebook.

Poppin' Munch Madness Baked Falafel

5 snack sized bags of popchips (Salt & Pepper, Sea Salt & Vinegar, Cheddar Potato, Barbecue, and Sour Cream & Onion)
2 15-ounce cans of no-salt added garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 scallion (whites and greens), cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and label 5 rows with your selected flavors
Working with one flavor at a time, process popchips until the consistency of breadcrumbs and set aside
Add garbanzo beans, eggs, parsley, scallion, oil, and salt & pepper to the food processor
Pulse until the consistency of chunky hummus
Pour equal amounts of the garbanzo mixture into five separate bowls
Using one flavor of crumbs at a time, mix into a bowl of garbanzo mixture until well combined (you may not need all of the crumbs)
Form four equal sized patties and place on the parchment paper lined baking sheet
Continue until all flavors are used
Bake for 10 minutes and then flip and continue baking for 10 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through
Serve with sour cream, greek yogurt, or hot sauce

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Food processor, cutting board and knife, bowls, spatula, baking sheet, parchment paper, serving plates and utensils

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Restaurant Week, Hard Hats, and Frites, Oh my!

Thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes! I had a great week celebrating with everyone. The celebration stretched out all week with delicious eats across the city! While I'm eating healthy snacks today (it is Healthy Snack Wednesday!), here's a look at some of the treats from last week.

A big thanks to the hubby for my new camera! These shots were all taken with my new Canon G12!

Birthday Lunch @ Marliave
These pictures are courtesy of Renee and her fancy new camera!

We went back forth on a list of potential restaurant week lunch spots and ended on Marliave. Neither us had been there and they had a large list of options on the menu. The dining room was bright and lovely, the server was delightful, and the portions were plentiful! Oh yeah, the blueberry crumble was so good it turned our teeth blue!

Giant bowl of French onion soup with short ribs
underneath that cheesy piece of in-house baked bread

Scrambled eggs with black truffle and farmhouse cheeses,
served with in-house baked bread & delicious fries

So good we turned blue

Del Frisco's Hard Hat Tour
Renee worked her social media magic and we got a personal hard hat tour of the new Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House down at Liberty Wharf. The kitchen construction was almost done (look at those ovens!) and the beautiful mahogany wood was going up on all the walls. The general manager gave us 45 minute tour of every nook and cranny of the restaurant, including the newly tiled bathrooms. It will be fun to see how the finished space looks compared the pre-completion photos we shot.

KO Catering and Pies 
Whenever you are in the neighborhood, there is no excuse to miss a stop for pie at KO Catering and Pies. We stopped in to chat with Sam and order pies for lunch and pies for later. I enjoyed a delicious pie of the month (shepherd's pie) for lunch and took home Irish beef stew pies for dinner. This is my favorite photo that I've taken with my new camera. It was shot on my desk at work with natural light from the window streaming in.

Inaugural Trip to Saus Boston for Frites & Waffles!
I've been tweeting with Renee of Saus & her crew for the past year as they put together their business. It was great to stop in to see the results of their hard work! We enjoyed poutine, frites and sauces, and an incredible waffle with salted caramel sauce. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Poutine with deliciously tangy cheese curds
and fun mini-forks!

Frites & a fried egg.
Saus: Homemade mayo, green monster, ranch,
 truffle ketchup, and cheddar duvel.
Thanks to everyone who helped make my birthday celebration a blast!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daring Cooks Challenge:¡Me Encanta Peru! Ceviche and Papas Rellenas

After a great challenge last month (tempura and soba noodle salad), I was excited for another Daring Cooks adventure.

This month our challenge took us south, to Peru! Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra. For a full recap of the challenge, visit the Daring Cooks challenge description.

I was thrilled about the papas rellenas! Fried mashed potatoes are a little excessive, but so delicious. For our wedding we served what was essentially fried mashed potato patties (they had a much fancier name, of course). Needless to say, we really enjoyed the results of this challenge.

Tackling this challenge for one meal required a lot of organization. It was important to map out all the steps and organize the ingredients before starting. I tackled the potato preparation first. There were two papas rellenas recipes provided - one with meat and one vegan. I created my own combination using ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry. I paired a tofu and vegetable filling with the 'dough' from the meat papas.

While the potatoes boiled, I prepared the filling. First step, cutting up a block of extra firm tofu. I placed it under a towel and a weighted plate to remove excess moisture. Using a mixture of leftover vegetables, I sauteed onions, mushrooms, garlic, a diced hot pepper, and some spinach. I can't remember what spices I used, probably some paprika, salt and pepper. After the tofu dried out, I crumbled it and added it to the pan. I didn't take any notes as I went along, I was just giving everything an eyeball measure. I ended up with a lot of extra filling to add to lunches for the rest of the week.

Next step, assembling and frying! I made six giant papas rellenas, but found that the first one fell apart when I tried to flip it over in the frying oil. I cut the remaining five in half and reshaped them into smaller balls. This made them much easier to fry and a more manageable serving size. They were crispy, delicious, and very filling. I'll refer you to the Daring Cooks recipes, since I didn't follow them very closely.

Before I started frying, I prepared all of the components needed for the ceviche. Once I started frying I put it all together and into the refrigerator to 'cook' for about 15 minutes. I cut the ceviche recipe in half knowing that we were having papas rellenas on the side.  I used a Wild Alaskan Halibut steak and plenty of fresh lime juice and cilantro.

I used a red fresno pepper to add a little kick to the dish. One thing I learned the hard way is that hot pepper oil on your fingers does not mix well with contact lenses. No matter how much you wash your hands, you will still scream when you take your contacts out at the end of the night. Thankfully, I found a solution to the problem - a finger guard! It seems silly, but it is completely worth it. It keeps your fingers off of the pepper and lets you slice and dice without any painful side effects.

I let our fish cook for about 10 minutes, until just opaque. Here's the fish in the 'cooking' liquid:

When the potatoes were all fried and the fish was ready, we sat down to a delicious dinner! Thanks Daring Cooks for the opportunity to try out another new cuisine and technique!

Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche):
Adapted from recipe by Annik Franco Barreau
1 lb. Wild Alaskan Halibut steak
1 garlic clove, mashed
1 red fresno chili pepper, minced
1/2 - 3/4 cup  freshly squeezed lime juice (enough to cover fish)
1 tablespoon  fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Rinse fish and pat dry
Cut into 1 inch cubes (anywhere from 1/2 inch - 2 inches, depending on your preference)
Place fish in a thin layer in a non-reactive dish
Combine lime juice, chili pepper, garlic and cilantro in a dish
Pour marinade over the fish and lay sliced onion on top
After 10 minutes (approximately) fish will be 'cooked'
Remove from the liquid and serve


Related Posts with Thumbnails