Spice Rack

Quartersnack options: Whether a Ravens or 49ers fan, preparing creative new dishes can make this Super Bowl Sunday one for the ages

Guacamole with Blue Cheese and Almonds

I know this sacrilegious guacamole combination has some guacamole purists shaking their heads, but trust me — you have to give this a try. After eating this guac, I’ve had a hard time going back to the regular stuff.

–      2 tablespoons white onion, finely chopped

–      1 tablespoon jalepeno pepper, finely chopped

–      a heaping ½ teaspoon of kosher salt

–      ¼ cup chopped cilantro

–      juice from ½ a lime

–      1 large or 2 small ripe Hass avocados

–      3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

–      1 tablespoon chopped roasted, unsalted almonds

Place the chopped onion, jalepeno, salt and cilantro either on a cutting board or in a mortar (if you’re lucky enough to have one). If you’re using a cutting board, mash the ingredients into a chunky paste using both the blade and side of the knife. If you have a mortar, use your pestle to do the same.

Place the mixture into a bowl or leave in the mortar. Stir the lime juice into the mixture. Halve the avocado(s) and, with the blade of your knife, pierce the pit to carefully remove it. Still using your knife, make cross-hatching marks in the flesh of the avocado.

Scoop the avocado flesh into the bowl or mortar with a spoon. Add the rest of the cilantro and half of the almonds and blue cheese. Mash the avocado, combining all of the ingredients, with a fork or pestle until avocado is well-mashed (I have also had great success using a whisk).

Sprinkle the rest of the almonds and blue cheese on top. Serve immediately with tortilla chips, if you like.

Serves four

Honey-roasted Cashews

Salty. Sweet. Perfect.

–      1 ½ cup raw cashews

–      2 tablespoons honey

–      a splash of maple syrup

–      ½ tablespoon unsalted butter

–      ½ teaspoon kosher salt

–      a dash of cinnamon

–      1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Place cashews in a medium bowl. In another medium, microwave-safe bowl, place honey, maple syrup and butter. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the butter is melted. Stir in the salt and cinnamon.

Pour the honey mixture over the cashews and stir thoroughly until all of the cashews are evenly coated.

Spread the cashews onto the baking sheet and place the tray in the oven for six minutes. After six minutes, take the sheet out and give the cashews a good stir. Place in the oven for four more minutes, watching closely to make sure the cashews don’t burn.

Remove cashews from oven and place into a medium bowl. Add sugar and toss to coat. Let cashews cool completely, periodically breaking up the cashews to prevent them from clustering. Serve or store in an air-tight container.

Yields: 1 ½ cups 

Buffalo-roasted Cauliflower (with a lightened-up bleu cheese dressing for dipping)

A healthy vegetarian version of a comfort food classic.

–      1 head of cauliflower separated into medium florets.

–      1 tablespoon canola, vegetable or grapeseed oil

–      salt and pepper, to taste

–      3 tablespoons hot sauce (I used Anchor Bar Buffalo Hot Sauce, but any other brand, like Franks RedHot, would work)

–      Bleu cheese dressing for dipping (recommended but optional, see below) *

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss florets with oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes.

Toss cauliflower with hot sauce and serve with bleu cheese dressing.

* For a healthier take on bleu cheese dressing, mash 1/3 cup of bleu cheese with 2/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Add 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I used vegan, canola oil-based mayonnaise), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and stir until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yields four servings

Boston Lettuce and Cilantro Salad with Radishes and Walnuts

The tang of the dressing compliments the herbaceous cilantro, slightly spicy radishes and nutty walnuts. The trick here is cutting the radishes, either with or knife or mandoline, as thinly as possible.

Dressing:

–      1 tablespoon white vinegar

–      Juice of half a lemon

–      ¼ teaspoon maple syrup or honey or agave

–      2 tablespoon olive oil

–      salt and pepper, to taste

Salad:

–      10 radishes, cut as thinly as possible using a knife or mandoline

–      3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

–      2 scallions, thinly sliced

–      1 head of Boston (bibb) lettuce, washed and dried

–      2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

For the dressing: Combine the vinegar, lemon juice and sweetener in a large serving bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the salad: Cut radishes, chop cilantro and slice scallions. Separate the lettuce leaves from the head, tearing the larger leaves into halves or thirds and keeping the smallest leaves whole.

Add the lettuce, radish, scallions and cilantro to the dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the salad. Serve immediately.

Serves six

Baked Pancake with Sweet Sausage

Basically comfort in a pan.  The batter puffs up in the oven, enveloping the sweet sausages.

–       1/3 cup milk

–       ¼ cup water

–       l medium egg

–       2/3 cup flour, I used half all-purpose and half whole-wheat, but feel free to use all all-purpose

–       3 6 oz. Italian sausages

–       1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

–       1 TBS. canola oil

–       salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Put the milk and water in a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine.  Add the egg and whisk  until the liquid is homogeneous.

While whisking, slowly add the flour.  Once all the flour has been added, whisk thoroughly until no lumps remain.  Set the batter aside to rest.

Prick the sausages all over with a fork and put into a medium, oven-proof skillet.  Add onions and oil to the skillet.  Place skillet into oven and bake until the sausages are browned and cooked, about 18 minutes.

Take the skillet out of the oven.  Pour the batter over the sausages as evenly as possible.  Place back in oven for 30 minutes, until the pancake has puffed off ad has browned on top.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Peanut Butter Cornmeal Cookies

These are gluten and dairy free.  The cornmeal makes the cookies a bit drier, but served with a glass of milk they’re perfect.

–       1 cup peanut butter (I used a natural, creamy variety)

–       ½ cup granulated sugar + plus extra for rolling

–       1 medium egg

–       2 tsp. maple syrup

–       ½ tsp. kosher salt

–       6 TBS. yellow or white cornmeal

–       1 TBS. water

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchament paper or grease with cooking spray.

Place peanut butter and sugar in a medium mixing bowl and cream together.  You have two options for creaming: one is to use a hand mixer and the other is to cream it by hand, stirring viguously using a spatula, until the peanut butter and sugar are one homogeneous mixture.

Add egg and mix until combined.  Add maple syrup, salt and cornmeal and mix until well combined again.  The mixture will be very thick.  Add the water and mix to slightly thin the batter.

Place some sugar for rolling on a plate. Take a tablespoon of the cookie dough and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in the sugar until coated.  Place on baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the dough, placing the balls two inches apart.

Flatten the balls slightly using a fork.  Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the cookies have hardened slightly at the edges, but are still soft in the middle.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet.  Transfer to a wire wrack to finish cooling if storing or to a plate and serve.

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