Wonton Crackers

Another kitty visitor!

Can you tell I’m getting married on Sunday by the tone of my recent posts?  I certainly hope not.  I like to think I’ve been very calm and collected through this entire process.

How have I accomplished this you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure that’s just the kind of girl I am.  I never imagined what my wedding would be like growing up; that’s not the kind of girl I was.  I was out getting dirty and playing sports or reading, but never daydreaming about what the centerpieces at my guests’ tables would look like or how big and fluffy my ball gown would be.

I guess what I’m trying to convey is that, this wedding has no standards to live up to, no dreams or wishes to disappoint.  For me, it will be what it will be, and as long as I actually get married and the people witnessing it have a good time afterwards, then it’ll be a great wedding in my mind.

And it all kind of starts tonight.  Tonight is Luke’s bachelor party.  Which leaves me at home, making crackers?  No, but I am preparing for something.  We’re having our friends over for a house party on Saturday, so while Luke’s out partying (don’t worry, my party is on tomorrow night), I’m planning, baking and cooking for Saturday.

Part of the spread will be dips, chips, etc, and since I’m getting into this whole DIY thing, I decided to make my own crackers.   Why is it that making something as simple as crackers can bring such joy?   I felt such satisfaction when I pulled these out of the oven, that it almost seemed unmerited.  But the crackers are crisp and tasty, so who cares.

Wonton Crackers

Adapted from Andrea’s Recipes

Makes 50-80 crackers*

1 package wonton wrappers
baking spray
2 large egg whites

Topping ideas:
coarse sea salt
poppy seeds
sesame seeds
black sesame seeds
cumin seeds
curry powder
garlic powder
chili powder
cinnamon + sugar

 Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°.

Take a stack of about 10 wonton wrappers and cut them in half into triangles. Leave the rest in the package so they don’t dry out. Lay the triangles on the baking sheet close together and cut more triangles as necessary to fill the sheet. Spray some canola oil on the triangles, then flip them over. Brush the top side of the triangles with the egg white.

Sprinkle on whatever combination of toppings you like.  I used leftover everything topping from this recipe.  Sprinkle spices first, then add seeds and salt. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and crispy, about 7 to 9 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. Remove and allow to cool on the pan, then keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*You can always make this recipe using whatever amount of wonton wrappers you happen to have.

 

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Crispy Baked French Fries

Does my girl have nice legs or what?  Man, I love Wednesdays.  I love that I have set aside this day to talk a little bit about my bunny.  I realize I’m slightly obsessed with her, but if you got to sit on your couch and have that creature accompany you, you’d want to gab about it too.

As of yet, I have watched her unsuccessfully mount the couch twice.  I know she can jump high enough, but she seems to be holding back, probably because she has no idea what’s up there.  A few nights ago she tried to jump up practically onto Luke’s lap while we were watching a movie.  Needless to say both parties were a little surprised.

Also, today I learned Izzy is completely down with the vacuum cleaner. I vacuumed the carpet while she was sitting on it, and she just calmly watched it, loud noise and all.  But opening the dishwasher scares her.  Rabbit brains are weird.

Human brains are easier.  Just give them loads of carbs and they are happy.  Or maybe that’s just me.  Sit a plate of these bad boys down in front of me and I am a one happy clam.  I mean, french fries minus all the greasy, oily business?  Win.

Though I guess if I put a carrot in front of Izzy she’d be the same way I am toward a hot plate of baked fries.  Maybe rabbit brains aren’t so tricky after all.

Crispy Baked French Fries

Adapted from Cookie & Kate

Makes about 2-6 servings, depending on how many potatoes you use

2-4 medium russet potatoes

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp canola or olive oil

sea salt and ground black pepper*

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes and cut them, lengthwise, into 10 to 12 even wedges. The trick is to first quarter the potatoes lengthwise, and then cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 to 3 wedges.

Place the sliced potatoes into a large bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for 10 minutes (this releases some of the starch in the potatoes and lets them absorb moisture, which leads to crisp outsides and moist interiors).

Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and 1/4 cup oil, then sprinkle evenly with about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Toss the potatoes with the remaining teaspoon of oil and mix evenly.

Arrange the fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and cover the sheet tightly with foil. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the underside of the potatoes are spotty golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and scrape the fries loose with a spatula. Then use tongs or the spatula to flip over each wedge, keeping the potatoes in an even layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Rotate the pan as necessary to help them brown evenly. Season with salt and pepper (or other spices of your choice) and serve hot.

*I like trying out different spices, like an Italian herb blend or curry powder.  Feel free to experiment.


Homemade Pizza Snacks

I love pizza.  You love pizza.  Who doesn’t love pizza?  Even the weird people who don’t like cheese and pull it off their pizza still…eat pizza.  Though I don’t think I’d call that pizza anymore, it’d call it a sad mess.

I like tomato sauce and melted cheese on just about any baked grain surface.  It’s amazing how many things you can turn into “pizza” by just adding these two simple toppings.

Just so we’re clear on things though, these pizza snacks involve more than tomato sauce and cheese.  There’re also some extra onions and garlic thrown into the mix, making them even better.

Though I should admit, I was a little skeptical about how these would taste at first.  Would wonton wrappers stuffed with pizza toppings actually fool my taste buds into thinking there was real pizza in my mouth?

Yes.  I was shocked.  And quite delighted.   They totally taste just like pizza, only they’re smaller, so you can eat like 10 of them at once.  The edges of the wontons get crispy, but the middle stays soft because of the filling, creating its own notion of a “pizza pocket.”

At first I made a half recipe with leftover wonton wrappers from my curried shrimp wontons.  Later, I made a full recipe, and still have a container of them in my fridge.  Before you make them, I should warn you: they are addictive, and are really tasty late night snacks.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Homemade Pizza Snacks

Adapted from Back to Her Roots

Makes about 45-50 pieces

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided use

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cups marinara sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese you want really)

1 package wonton wrappers (about 48 wraps)

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add in garlic and onion. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in marinara sauce and cheese.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Line two baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  On a work surface, work with one wrapper at a time.  Using a finger dipped in water, run along all the edges of each wrapper.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling into the middle, and then fold wrapper in half and press down to seal.  Continue until baking sheet is filled with pizza rolls (spaced about 1″ apart). Brush the tops of the wrappers with remaining olive oil and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until rolls are golden and crispy. Repeat process with remaining wraps and filling.

Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving and enjoy!


Onigiri

Monday has arrived, so I want to share something fun to lighten the mood for this week.

Onigiri fillings

Onigiri.  Oh-nee-gear-eee.  Also known as Japanese rice balls.  Also known as a tasty, fun and interesting dinner.

They’re also great to snack on.  When I was in Taiwan, I would buy packaged onigiri at the nearest 7-Eleven practically every day.  Or multiple times a day.  Don’t blame me, there were 7-Elevens everywhere. 

When I went to Tokyo, I got to experience authentic onigiri.  Pure heaven, even if I can’t handle the more traditional fillings like umeboshi (pickled plums).  So I make mine with canned tuna.  (Which they do in Japan as well, so there.)

Luke’s were filled with a spicy mixture, while mine was mild.  I also sprinkled mine with furikake seasoning, a Japanese condiment, and wrapped them in nori (dried seaweed).  You can get furikake and nori at your local Asian supermarket, and if you can’t procure, the rice balls will still be great without them.

So if you’re feeling adventurous this week and want to try something new, I’d recommend onigiri.  It’s just so much fun to say and eat!

Onigiri (Japanese rice balls)

Makes about 10 rice balls (depending on how big you make them)

4 cups short grain (sushi) rice, cooked and cooled

1 can tuna, drained

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

2 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

¼ cup hummus

2 sheets of nori, cut into 2” strips

furikake seasoning for garnish

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package, or in a rice cooker.  Let the rice cool completely before starting assembly.

While the rice cools, make the fillings.  In a small bowl, scrape out half of the tuna, add mayo and hot sauce and mix until evenly combined with a fork.

In another small bowl, mix remaining tuna and hummus (with a different stirring apparatus).

Before you begin working with the rice, make sure your hands are wet.  This will keep the rice from sticking to you.  When the rice is cool, use a large spoon or rice paddle to scoop out about ½ cup of rice.  Cupping it in your palm, flatten the rice out and spoon about 2 Tbsp of filling in the center.  Close your palm and use your other hand to bring the rice ball together.  You can also shape the ball into the traditional triangle shape, but I think spheres are much cuter.

Once the rice ball is firmly packed and no filling can be seen, wrap a strip of nori around the ball and put it on a plate.  Garnish with furikake if desired.

Continue this process for remaining rice and filling, and enjoy!


Everything Crackers

I deem yesterday’s graduation a great success.  Traffic actually wasn’t all that bad, the ceremony only took 2 hours, lunch was fabulous, Diego loved his present, and I was feeling so good, I even helped him move out.

And by that I mean I watched him pack, and occasionally carried things down some stairs.  The amount of trash and unwanted items littering the hallways of his dorm was mind boggling, especially since it all gets thrown out.

It got so bad, the hallways became so narrow that only one person could travel down them at once.  College kids…you’d think they’d know better.

Still, I must admit that my offering of help was an overlay for a deeper ulterior motive.  When I moved out of college last year, I wasn’t going far.  My mom lived 10 minutes from campus, and since my next closest housemate was going back to New Jersey, all of the fridge and freezer goods were mine for the taking.

With Diego and his roommates all returning to CT, the fridge and freezer fodder were once again up for grabs.  I mean, they didn’t have room in their cars for random food stuffs so I was really doing them a favor by taking that ice cream and milk and assorted jams off their hands. Ohhh yes…how I love being a good friend.  But oh how I don’t love the sunburn I got even though it was cloudy.  I suppose it was worth it though.

I posted about hummus a little while ago, and when I made it, I realized I wanted to make crackers to go along with it.  I wanted them to be light while still packing a lot of flavor.  Enter the everything cracker: a whole wheat dough rolled thinly and sprinkled with the ubiquitous bagel topping.  Maybe you need something to adorn your cheese platter this Memorial Day weekend?  Well this might be it my friends.

Everything Crackers

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Makes 20-40 crackers, depending on how large you cut them

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter

½ cup milk

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp poppy seeds

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

2 Tbsp minced onion

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, pulse flours, salt and sugar until combined. Add in cold butter and pulse until mixture is combined and the butter is in course crumbs. Stream in milk while pulsing the processor until the dough forms.

Form dough into a ball with your hands and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, flour a surface and a rolling pin, and roll out the dough until it is very thin.   Like super thin, otherwise your crackers will not be crispy.  Gently lift dough and place it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Don’t worry about it being a perfect rectangle.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, and brush onto dough. Sprinkle seasonings on, then lightly press to make sure they adhere.

Bake for 5 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for 5 minute more. Check crackers and bake in 3 minute intervals until crisp and golden brown. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly.  Cut them up with a large knife or a pizza wheel.

Serve with cheese, vegetables or fruit, or hummus.


Chive Parmesan Crackers

And the chive train keeps on chugging, pulling into the snack station.

Cheese and chives.  It’s like the savory version of peanut butter and jelly.  Except I don’t think I’d want a chive and cheese sandwich.  Unless it was a grilled cheese sandwich made with the herb pull apart bread.  OH MAN, dinner tonight, done.

 Or maybe I’ll melt a hot mess of cheese all over these crackers.  That’d be about the same thing.

I’ve made homemade crackers once before, and was not all that satisfied.  I was trying to make crispy cheese crackers, but they never crisped, and were too thick.

So I tried again.  Still not as crispy as I hoped, but better.  I’m guessing it’s because I baked them on a pizza stone.  Love that thing.

They smelled fabulous in the oven, and tasted great too.  The whole wheat flour gave them a subtle nuttiness that complimented the chives really well.  These were great when I needed a break from snacking on cold pancakes.

Parmesan Chive Crackers

Adapted from Playing House Blog

Makes about 20-30 crackers

½ cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

½ cup whole wheat flour (you can use all all-purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
about 1/4 c. water, plus more as needed
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
8 chives, chopped

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Make sure to place your pizza stone in the oven before preheating if using.

Place the flour, salt, and butter together in a large bowl or in the container of a food processor. Blend with a fork or pulse, until the flour and butter are combined. Add about 1/4 cup of water and blend, then continue to add water a little at a time until the mixture holds together but is not sticky.

Add in parmesan and chives at this point and give a final stir or pulse.

Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1/4 in. thick, or even less.  Score lightly with a sharp knife so you can break them into nice squares or rectangles later on. Bake on a lightly floured baking sheet, or on a pizza stone, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack, break apart and serve warm or room temperature, and store extras in an airtight container.

 


Curry Roasted Chickpeas

There’s nothing like an early March snowstorm.  When March arrives, it seems spring can’t be too far away, and then winter reminds you that there’s no escape until at least May with a mighty snow-slap in the face.

Thanks for that.  I was hoping to make it until next winter before getting a new shovel, but Mother Nature’s is not helping.  So I’ll help myself by staying inside and making an awesome snack.

I love chickpeas.  Like, open a can, drain it, and eat them straight up with a fork.  That kind of love.  If it were up to me, chickpeas would find their way into a lot more of the dishes I make, but sadly, Luke does not share my love for garbanzos.  In fact, his feelings are quite the opposite.  Extreme sad face.

But I shall persevere.  Snowy days call for cooking something that makes your house smell great.  These chickpeas filled my apartment with scents reminiscent of the curry puff vendors in the street markets of Taiwan.  Which is a good thing, I promise.

Winter blues ain’t got nothing on these tasty morsels.

Curry Roasted Chickpeas

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1 15 oz. can chickpeas

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

2 tsps cinnamon

½ tsp cayenne powder

2 tsps fresh grated ginger

2 tsps sea salt

 Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Toss the chickpeas in the oil, then put them into a bowl. Combine all the spices in a separate little bowl for your spice blend. Give it a good mix, then sprinkle it over the chickpeas, and toss to coat evenly.

Put the chickpeas onto a baking sheet and into the oven for about 30 minutes. About halfway through, give them a bit of a shake. At the end of the 30 minutes, taste! If they are still soft, back in they go! You want them to have just a little bit of a soft center. When they cool, they will crisp up more.